Stretch and Release

My word of the year for 2015 was stretch and it was a good word. A hard word. A rewarding word.

Hard because it required me to keep striving, to keep reaching, to keep working towards my dreams, my potential and to remember to rest but not to backslide.

Rewarding because I moved closer to, and achieved, so many things. I am in the full swing of being a novice glassblower. I’ve made friends to blow glass with, I’m practicing regularly and I’m near ready to take my “test” to move from Novice to Student. I have even sold a few pieces.

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On the left – my first plate. On the right – my most recent plate.

I bought a new condo in a neighbourhood where I’ve always wanted to live.  It enables me to ditch the car and bus, walk or water taxi just about everywhere (ironically except the glass studio!).  I am a 5 minute walk from the beach and seawall and can do most of my grocery shopping at a farmer’s market.

I made difficult changes in my spiritual practice that have resulted in moving away from the status quo, freeing me from rules that weren’t working for me. I spend more spiritual time outdoors, connecting with the earth and the land and the sea, and less time trying to colour within the lines of a picture that is not a vision I share.

And as I said in my mid-year stretch, I am “hashtag blessed” with good friends, meaningful work that pays me well, and a wonderful home. I lost two very dear friends to cancer this year and I am grateful for the time I had with them and for the love that rushes in to fill the empty space where I am missing them.

Other losses this year have been more difficult. Especially the friends who have just stopped talking to me. I never expect that people will agree with everything I do. Or that people won’t say “no” to my suggestions and requests. But I always find it difficult when friends choose to stop communicating rather than talking and explaining and understanding and resolving. I know that there are those who would say that those weren’t really friends if they do that. But, to me they are. Or, were, I suppose.

Which brings me to this year’s word … release.  In order to move forward, it means leaving some things behind.  To stretch, then release.  As I start to do more walking, I have to be careful with my Achilles tendon, which can become quite inflexible and painful. I have to actively stretch and release, stretch and release, in order to keep moving.

Isn’t the heart a muscle, as well?  As I stretch emotionally and in my relationships with myself and others, don’t I also need to release that which holds me back? To be conscious to take the time to process and let go. Actively release.

Release sadness and grief.

Release dreams and desires that are not going to be fulfilled.

Release self-doubt.

Release anger. And expectation.

Release what weighs me down, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

That is my aim for 2016. To release so that I can soar.

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Invisible Cleaning

I spent this weekend doing the kind of cleaning that only I am likely to notice.

I moved furniture and chased down a whole burrow of dust bunnies.

I went through drawers and cupboards and got rid of things I don’t need. Even that stuff way at the back where you have to get down on your hands and knees to reach.

I took care of tasks I’ve been putting off … cleaning the window sills, sorting through the treasures that had turned from “a few highlights” to “a pile of stuff”.

I said goodbye to energetic anchors, remants of projects long done or never to be finished, gifts from old lovers or friends that chain me to the past, clothes that will never be worn again.

I can tell I did good work. My body is pleasantly sore and I can look around and feel proud at the tidying up. I look around and I am happy.

But if you knew my home and had visited me here, I doubt you would notice. It’s subtle and it’s easy to miss.

It strikes me that self-care is a lot like that. The time spent sweeping the cobwebs from my mind, sorting through emotions to clean up the yucky mess, the sifting of memories to keep the good and move past the bad. Breaking energy connections that leave me sad and forging ones that highlight the treasures of friendships. And the sometimes heart sore feeling at the end of the process.

It’s easy to forget in the mess of the big things in life. But the invisible – or maybe just hard to see – cleaning brings and equal sense of quiet contentment at the end of the day. Peace of heart and home.

You might not notice if I didn’t tidy and if I didn’t work at self-care. But I sure would.

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Dancing on the edge

The last 5 days have felt like dancing on the edge of a pothole.

There is a really great poem called Autobiography in Five Chapters in which life is described in 5 beautifully short chapters of the process of learning to make changes. From falling into a pothole, learning to get out, learning to avoid the pothole and then, finally, learning to take a different route.

I love this poem because so often depression feels like falling into a pothole for me. Last week, the pothole opened in front of me and I have been dancing on the edge  of it ever since.  I keep trying to figure out what causes the pothole to appear. I know that depression and loneliness are doing their own little dance around the edge, intertwined in their downward spiral that often takes me with it.

I try to pull them apart, to separate their co-dependence. To convince my heart that the depression will pass no matter how much it hurts right now and that loneliness is not proof that I am unworthy of being loved.

And then I try and do my own dance of healing. Staying away from numbing comforts that sideline me in my own life (hello internet!), reaching out for support, writing about it, getting out for a walk, eating well. Trying to be gentle on myself and reminding myself that I am not a failure as I do each of these things imperfectly.

Trying to take the word “just” and “should” out of my vocabulary. Cracked.com had a great article recently on the 5 most useless pieces of advice ever given. Number 5 was adding the word “just” to your advice. You know, “you just need to snap out of it” or “you just need to eat less and get more exercise”.  If it was that simple, trust me, I would have done it by now!

I know that this will pass. And, that like a dance, it is complicated and dynamic and changing. It is a chance to understand myself better.  A chance to figure out how to adjust my sails in the wind.

As I dance around the edge of the pothole, I know that this time I didn’t fall into its depths. And, if I do, I know I can get out.

Maybe someday, I will know how to walk down a different street.

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An invitation to the Universe

The word that I picked for 2013 was joy and, I gotta say, I’ve spent most of the year feeling I was stood up for a date. I invited joy into my life and felt like I was left with a big no-show.

I am not talking about happiness or contentment, both of which are in my life, but the pure joy that makes me feel 100% alive. That makes me feel entirely present in the moment, spirit and body passionately united in perfect purpose. As I think back over the year, it was mostly a tough slog to heal my heart and get my feet back under me again.

But amidst that incredibly powerful healing journey (of which I am very proud) there were, in fact,  a few moments of pure joy.

In January, being within 10 feet of molten hot lava as it poured into the ocean, creating new life in a burst of heat and steam and fire.

In July, overcoming my fear and walking through fire over a bed of hot coals.

In November, running along my favourite stretch of coast in the rain with the smell of the ocean and the trees filling my lungs as my body revelled in the opportunity to move powerfully.

And what strikes me is that in order for these moments of joy to come into my life, I must establish the pre-conditions that allow joy to manifest. I can’t just invite joy on a date. I need to prepare the meal, set the table and dress up for the occasion.

So, here are my pre-conditions –

  • Be financially disciplined so that I have the money to travel to the places I want to see
  • Stay the course and not be swayed by what I *think* I should be doing or by what others want me to be/do
  • Be willing to venture alone
  • Use positive self-talk to overcome the fear that keeps me from trying and doing

Which leads me to my word for this year – fierce.

I want to be fierce about living my life to its fullest.

Fierce about allowing myself to be seen and heard and not silenced by fear.

Fierce about protecting my creative time and nourishing my passion.

Fierce about my self-care, treating myself with respect, exercising my body and feeding it well.

Fierce about my friendships.

Fierce about my connection with nature and the Sacred.

I want to be fierce about  setting the table and being the person I know I am meant to be.  I can’t wait to see how the Universe will show up to answer the invitation.

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