Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Gift of Life: Part One

For most of my life I have had a constant feeling that I experience everyday life in a way that is unique and unknown to most people. I knew it when I was a young child, spending the majority of my time in nature, seeking its safety and wonder, listening to the trees, organizing my large collection of crystals and gemstones that were a magical gift from my grandma...and I was always surrounded with a plethora of various pets and wildlife. I felt that I could connect with animals (and plants) more than the others in my circle of friends and family (except maybe my little sister. I'm quite sure that she has these skills, and now her 8 year old son does, too).  I think my gift of animal communication was shattered when I had a severe horseback riding "accident" at age 14. I lost my lust and confidence for animal communication and felt like I had failed my horse. I "outgrew" my animal phase. 

At age 7, I was singled out with a handful of other students, tested, and labeled as "gifted and talented".  By who's standards? For the remainder of my grade school years, our group met weekly to hone our "gifts and talents". I never really thought much about it though. It seemed normal enough at the time. We all looked forward to an annual convention of the G&T called Odyssey of the Mind. From early elementary and onward, we did things like build balsa wood bridges to see who could engineer the strongest one. We also wrote, acted in, and directed our own plays -soundtracks included. We practiced brainstorming, had philosophical discussions and polished up on our problem-solving skills. It was a non-stop mind challenge.

Outside of school, I grew up in a household that was quite violent and very tense. There was lots of shouting, which I always ran and hid from, and even sometimes when it was really intense, there was throwing and smashing of various objects. There were often forceful physical assaults, which I was never once involved in, only a witness to on numerous occasions. 

I have always had a photographic memory. It is a curse and a blessing. I can remember things from at least 25 years ago in fine detail. The good, the bad and the ugly. It was extremely useful in school when it came time to take exams. I would have a flash of the exact paragraph in a textbook where the answer to a question was. I have pretty much everything from the last 32 years of life stored in my visual memory. On a regular basis now, random moments in history pop up in my consciousness. Things that I didn't even consciously know that I saw or experienced at the time. What people were wearing, the music in the background and what the weather was like on any given day. 

As a child with extremely high sensitivity to other people's (and animals') energy, I struggled with all of this. A LOT. I learned the habit of emotional eating from my parents. So I became the chubby kid. My big brother teased me relentlessly and had cruel nicknames for me until I was a teenager, when I finally joined sports teams, ate healthier and slimmed down to normal-ish. I also cried often as a kid. Pretty much daily. I was often very sad and so afraid for myself, my family and our pets. 

I was always the overachiever in the family, much to my two siblings' dismay. I was a straight-A Honor Roll student most of my 12 years of school and was always striving to prove myself to the world. Somehow though, nothing any of us did was ever good enough for our father. Why weren't the A-minuses A-pluses?? He had (and still clings to) extremely high hopes for me. He told me repeatedly that I would make a great doctor or lawyer someday.  I knew he was wrong. Those things were not in my destiny. At least not this time around. 

Finally one day in grade 11, at age 16, I couldn't cope with the violence and pressure at home and at school ANY. MORE. My body, mind and spirit started to crumble. I developed severe anxiety, including a debilitating fear of traveling in enclosed vehicles with other people (cars, buses, airplanes, subways, etc) regardless of who they were. 
When IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) was a brand new discovery back then, I was labeled with that, too. I felt just awful! I quit attending high school a few weeks before grade 11 final exams, and I insisted on homeschooling myself for grade 12. It took a boatload of convincing but I did it, with the help of a very supportive tutor and his wife, who became my second family for that year. 

My closest friends had no idea what was happening because I was really embarrassed and very confused at the time. I spent nearly the entire year of grade 12 holed up reading and writing and spending tons of time in nature. I was constantly asking myself "what is the meaning of all of this?!". I knew that my life just had to be about more than this ugliness that I had experienced so much of for those early years of life.

My search began for the answers to some really tough questions:  "Why am I here? What can I do to make my world a better place? Is this the reality that everyone experiences? Is life this scary for other kids? How did I end up in this family? Am I going nuts? Will I wake up and realize that this was all a bad dream?" 

To be continued...(it was too long to fit into one blog post.)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Lost Art of Committment

commit[ kuh-mit ]
verb (used with object) [com·mit·ted, com·mit·ting.]
1. to give in trust or charge; consign.
2. to consign for preservation
3. to pledge (oneself) to a position on an issue or question; express (one's intention, feeling, etc.)

Commitment. To people. To events. To your work. To yourself.
It's a rare thing these days. I, myself am guilty of the occasional "back-out" or avoidance of a situation that I wish I hadn't said yes to. However, I try my best to hold myself accountable to the people and events that I said I would be present for.

I have observed a few things lately that I will share about present-day humans and their commitment-phobias:

1. Texting/email/Facebook makes for (seemingly) very easy cop-outs. There is no emotion shown or exchanged, only emotions left to be interpreted via typed words. There is no disappointed faces to be seen (emoticons do NOT count, in case any of you were thinking that). No sad or angry hearts to contend with. One more huge strike against my opinion.

2.  If you don't want to do something....JUST.SAY.SO. Be honest. Waiting until the last minute is much worse and frustrating and disappointing for others. Geez! For Pete's sake, stand up for your right to make your own choices- but for Pete's other sake, stick with your first instinct. Be legit. Commit. Otherwise people may start referring to you as flaky. No one wants that label, right?

3. The grass is always greener? No. No, It's not. If you commit to something, do it. Don't back out because an easier or more fun offer came up last minute. 

4.  Think before you start telling everyone what your plans are. Make sure that you are fully committed in your own heart before saying you will help someone or show up somewhere. You are allowed to say "I'll think about that." Or "Let me consider that option."  Or "I'll get back to you."

5. Humans seem to be losing touch with our innate compassion for and connection to other humans. Start holding yourself and others accountable and set an example. Especially for the younger generations.

Let's stop being fickle flounder-ers and start being wonderful accountable, reliable, caring human beings again!

Ok. That's all for today. I hope you committed and read this whole post. 
If so, congrats. Give yourself a high five. You are one of endangered species of accountable humans left. Hopefully they will repopulate and be flourishing again soon. 

PS. I tried to partly write this post and then let myself get distracted and make up reasons in my mind why it wasn't that important. Then I called bullshit on myself. And finished the post. Yay me. Committed. 

PPS. Apparently there are two ways to spell the word commitment/committment.  Depending on which dictionary you are referring to. Seems ironic. 

Thursday, July 03, 2014

The Cocoon Phase

Images from Sugarboo Designs. 150 Love Notes booklet.  So lovely!

I just looked at my last blog post and it's been one month since I have had the inspiration to write. Whoa! That is the longest that I have gone without a post since I started this blog, just over a year ago. flag?

This actually confirms something huge for me: that I was feeling uninspired which means that I was living a relatively uninspired period of my life. How sad is that? Can anyone out there relate to that feeling?  Yeah, pretty much everyone? Which brings me to the topic of this post... Why aren't we all living and speaking our passions and feeling alive and inspired every single day of this short gift called life? You can try to make up a million and one excuses, but do yourself a favor and don't bother. I will have a comeback ready for all of them. There is no good excuse...just our own fears getting in the way of our happiness.

I recently realized that the job that I was  working for only four short months was not getting me any closer to living my passions. Like most "jobs", it was a great way to meet new people, make a wage and keep myself busy- because that's what we all seem to think we are supposed to do. Don't get me wrong. I loved all of the people that I worked with and the connections with customers and sharing laughs and teaching and learning. And helping people. Helping people to love and empower themselves. That's what I really love to do. This may not come as a surprise to you.

The pieces of the puzzle have been showing up for me for several years but it has taken me until now to realize what they all mean.  I feel like I should have realized this a year ago when I began blogging to help myself and others to live a more authentic life. Or maybe I could have clued in when I opened a used clothing store and everyday, for several years, dozens of people came in to talk, not to shop. Well it's never too late to start living your passions. 

So. This is me announcing that I will be embarking on a journey to help others to love and empower themselves and live their passions. I know this has already been happening to some degree. Now I am making it my main focus. It's what I love to do. It makes me happy to see others improving their lives and giving themselves the love that we all deserve. I'm still not totally clear on how this will all come together, but I know for certain that it's happening piece by piece. 

I have been working with a book called The Passion Test. It has really helped me to differentiate my passions from my hobbies and goals. I now have a clear list of my top passions as of today. Passions change. Life is full of change. So make sure you aren't stuck in that life that you wanted 10 years ago, but that isn't suiting you today. It happens too often

The last month has been part of my cocoon phase. I have had at least 3 or 4 other cocoon phases in my life so far. It's what happens when something big happens in life that forces me to stop and look at the bigger picture.
 I stop doing the things that aren't moving me closer to peace and happiness. I sift out the people who aren't enriching my life. I make more time to do the things that I love. The things that make me ME. All of these things combined creates a cocoon-like state where I can be and know myself. Unadulterated. Uninfluenced. Unwaivered. Each time, I have emerged as a brighter and happier version of myself. A butterfly. Try it. I dare you.

PS. PLEASE contact me if you are seeking some soul guidance. Even if you are across the globe, I will be happy to help you to live your soul's passions.