January 22, 2015

a little history (or herstory): how it was, how it is, and how drenched we can still be in the old legacies than no longer serve us.

I was just witness to a long thread of nasty exchanges between a bunch of women in a facebook group...

It looked a lot like anger, jealousy, comparison & cattiness.


The claws were out. 

*le sigh* 


Archetypally Speaking
"Scared little girls"...the lot of them. 

It's no wonder women are still so competitive when it comes to other women. 

For years, and years, and years our very livelihood, the quality of life we were to live, the lives our children would have and the environment they would grow up in, all depended on getting the best man possible. 

We, as women, had to either be a wildly talented and skilled homemaker or if we weren't, we'd have better hoped to god that we were an absolute bombshell who was willing to turn up the heat at the tip of a hat.I remember when my mentor shared with me that women fell into two categories; they were considered either a drudge, or a doll


God forbid a woman went unwed- she became known a spinster and a shame. 

How we were to spend the rest of our lives depended on who and what we were able to attract and win over. 

If a man happened to be well-established, strong but gentle, family oriented, healthy and emotionally stable.... the fight was on between us women....and if he was incredibly handsome and charming to boot, it was war! He would have his pick from the conga line of women following and competing for his attention. Our very sustenance was at stake. 

That's not our story anymore though! We do not need to compete with other women for such an existence. 

Competing is actually counter productive in this day and age. Unfortunately old and outdated legacies have been wired into us; we have been hardwired to be jealous, to feel envious, to believe that we cannot give ourselves the life we deserve and desire, and to compare ourselves to other women.... and it is up to us to make the conscious effort to re-wire those legacies that have been passed down over the generations. It's an inside job, and collectively speaking, we still need a serious update. 

Collaboration is where it's at. The Next Era of the Women Movement is about reconnecting women with themselves and their personal capacities. 


Once we fully realize without a shred of doubt that....


1) You are the heroin that can save you. 
2) You are stable on our own two feet, even in stilettos 
3) Life is for the taking- you are your own permission slip!



...the need to compete and compare will organically fall to the wayside. 





January 20, 2015

gossip, shit disturbing and blowing the lid off the pot that gets stirred



I’ve been noticing just to what extent we use other people’s errs and stories as a means of self-medicating; a way to numb and deflect the realities of our own flawed human nature in an (often subconscious) attempt to draw attention to someone else’s.

We all have vices; coping mechanisms that we become addicted to. Some people drink, some overeat, others gamble, and some people chose to talk shit in excessive amounts as their poison of choice.

As I try to make sense of all the ways I’ve ever tried to numb out and feel better, I’m realizing that criticism and gossip is the coping mechanism used by those who in some way operate from a place of fear, helplessness and victim-hood, much like any other addiction. 


In my personal experience with criticism and gossip, the payoffs were:


1. It allowed me to stop associating my negative feelings with all my own crap and temporarily attached my negative feelings to someone else's crap. There is a temporary, albeit very real relief that happens. 

(It's a cleverly disguised blame game. Essentially, it's a behavior that passes the buck in the most passive aggressive way possible.)

2. I got to self-soothe while finding sanctuary behind the legs of our social acceptance for judgement and criticism. 

3. It doesn't disrupt denial which makes it an ideal coping mechanism. 


If there is someone in your life whose constant criticism of others is starting to wear on you, know this, it’s a desperate call for love.

Nothing more, nothing less.


If you’re tired of the drama, don’t engage in it. Criticism requires an audience; without it, it’s simply one person marinating in their own personal ridicule under the guises of drawing attention to another persons shortcomings.


Every time you hear them talking poorly about another person, try to hear whispers underneath what they’re really saying. If you listen closely, the message is almost always 

“I am scared of my own vulnerability... 

                                                             ...and have no idea how to keep myself safe” 





January 11, 2015

when nothing goes right — go left

At the beginning of last February I attended Simply Woman Retreat that was being held in a tiny town in Southern Ontario. 

By the time the retreat ended I was buzzing. Feeling strong, balanced, and powerful, I was heading back to my room at the Piano Inn to conquer the world…right after I ate something and got a good night’s sleep.

When I stepped out of the retreat center it was dark and the snow was falling in a way that made it pretty safe to say it wasn’t planning on slowing down any time soon. I was suddenly pulled into this state of nervousness. 

I didn’t want to drive. NopeNopeNope. 

When I initially booked the retreat, I knew I was going to have to drive in the dark. I can't be sure how the darkness affects others- all I know is that my vision is hugely affected by it. Very little street lighting or way too many bright lights creates the same adverse effect. I’m just not built for the dark. Driving at night definitely wasn’t going to be a deal breaker when it came to my decision to attend the retreat- I did however prepare myself as well as I could beforehand. I made sure to print up the right directions that would get me to and from the center. I even took it a step further and visited the area using Street View on Google maps so it wouldn’t seem all that foreign once I got there. I didn’t give it anymore thought— that was until right then…when I realized a little detail like a snowstorm would be thrown into the equation. Given that had been the first winter that I’d ever pushed myself to drive no matter what the weather conditions, this was going to be the worst weather I’d driven in up until this point.

Ick...


I brushed off my nervousness along with the rest of the snow on my car and reminded myself that it was only a short 10 minute straight forward drive back to the Inn.

Enter logic.

“The sooner I get out of here, the better the chances of getting back before the weather gets worse”

I pulled out of the parking lot and I was off. Very shortly afterwards I was driving down an unlit country road. I knew that it was only about 5 minutes before I’d be making a turn off, so I was okayish.

The road in its condition was very different than the roads back home. There weren’t any good tire tracks to drive in and I had no one in front of me whose lights I could follow. I suppose because I live in a heavily populated area, there’s always a lot of movement on the roads no matter what. With everything being snow-covered, I couldn’t tell the width of the road, let alone identify lanes. I had no idea where the roadside ended and the ditch began. Everything was white.My best thinking had me believing that my safest bet was to drive in what would normally be the unsafest bet… the middle of the road.  

The very few (and by few, I mean 3) drivers who were on the road could be compiled into two categories: 

1st  category being myself

and...

2nd category being  the Kamikaze-type-Crazy people who drive above speed limit in a snow storm. 
     
Man this is a dark road. Where’s my turn off? Did I miss it?

I looked at my clock and realized I had been driving for at least 10 minutes and I hadn’t turned off yet. Between my nervousness, poor visibility, disorientation, and feeling pressured by the car that was now up my ass, I was beginning to freak out a little.  I pulled over. 

Two cars blow past me and I’m alone again In complete darknessIn a snow storm In a town I thought to be Port Perry but couldn’t be sure because the road signs were all covered in snow.

What I remember the most from just sitting there by myself for that moment was how eerily quiet it was the kind where you can hear your own energy humming in your ears.

I look at the map I printed up and decided that I must have passed the street I was supposed to turn onto.

I drove all the way back up to where I came from, and started again.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat — let’s call it 3 times to pacify my pride. 

Eventually I was just trying to convince myself that any possible turn off had to be the one. 

This has to be it!

I fishtailed onto it, drove a few feet in and then stopped. There wasn’t a single indication that the road had been driven on recently which was weird the road I came from that morning was quite busy. The snow on the road showed no sign of disturbance whatsoever. I slowly moved forward and then stopped again.

 In broad daylight this would probably be the closest depiction of what I was facing.

Absolutely beautiful, right?







But In that moment, this is what I was seeing. 










I convinced myself that I was a woman of sound mind — I was pretty sure that I was still was, since I was only half-serious in my rumination over the possibility of the Blair Witch being real. 

There was a lot of inner conflict going on. I had my exasperation telling me that it just had to be the right way.I had an inkling of a gut feeling telling me this was the wrong road. I had my fear telling me that I’d be better off driving around all night rather than take it. And then my brain piped up and told me that I was just an unreasonable person, The End. 


And so my decision ended up sounding a lot like I don’t give a shit if that IS the way to get to the Piano Inn… I’m going to the Get the hell out!

I once again backtracked all the way to the retreat center, pulled into the convenience store parking lot across the street, turned my car off and just sat there for a few minutes to gather composure.

Did I think of going into the store and asking for directions? 

What? No. Why?

I had perfectly good directions sitting on my passenger seat…and anyway, I wasn’t technically lost…I was simply driving past the street I was supposed to turn onto. Repeatedly.
  
Even if I asked for directions, I knew exactly what they would say to me- they’d say “You’re going to stay on this road here for about 5 minutes and you’re going to make a left hand turn onto such and such a street. To which I would reply: “I know”. So unless someone was willing to physically point out the road once I got to it, asking for directions was useless.  

This time I drove so far down that I was starting to think the street I needed didn’t exist anymore. I put on my four ways and slowly pulled over to the side of the road. The weather was really bad by that point, maybe not as bad as my demeanor, but still bad.  

The car that had been following behind me at a short distance drove by.

...and then I got ripping mad.

It was a police car.

I don’t know what I was expecting to happen. I think I was hoping the police would have noticed that I looked like a lost driver. Possibly notice the Quebec license plate. Maybe pull over to see if the car on the side of the dark middle-of-nowhere road with the 4 ways on was in need of assistance.

Yup. That’s pretty much what I was hoping for.

Instead of yelling and screaming all by my lonesome, I opted to bang my head against the steering wheel. And when that hurt more than it helped, I revisited the yelling and screaming option because…well… how dare the Universe fuck with my perfect day of blissful empowerment!

“You know!!! I could really use some help right about now!!!!!!”

And then, just like that, I remembered my almost out of battery GPS.

Yeah, you read that right. Driving in loops for almost an hour with a GPS in the glove box ‘cause that’s just how I roll. 

So while I pleaded with myself under the guises of pleading with my technology to please don't die, I plunked in the address. 

Fed up, tired and annoyed… I gladly followed it back to where I had come from. The drive was much easier. The falling snow seemed to have slowed down a little and there were finally some substantial tire tracks to follow in (probably all my own). Twenty minutes later I found myself back in front of the retreat center…and I…. “What in the fresh hell?” ...drove right on past it.

Why are we going this way? Stupid GPS is taking me the wrong way!

But as Garmin would have it, a few minutes later I find myself at what is undeniably the left hand turn that I’ve just spent the past hour or so looking for.

Yeah, I’ll give you one guess where I went wrong. *eyeroll*

Roger that  that’s a left hand turn out of the parking lot, Captain.

And as Hubby is constantly reminding me after giving me directions…

“No-no, your OTHER left, Jen!”

And so Ladies and Gentleman, the Girl was lost before even leaving the parking lot.

Now, this is all very funny in retrospect and it remains a relatively inconsequential experience in the grand scheme of things, but it is a prime example of how fear affects us in any given situation.

There are many degrees of fear on the spectrum and I started out feeling a high degree of nervousness over driving visibility. My nervousness reached a higher degree at a rapid rate when I began fearing the outcome of my nervousness. I wanted so badly to stop feeling it that I quickly regarded it as something I could only run from. 

My focus was not on getting back to my room, but rather to get back to wherever I wouldn't feel such a discomfort. My fear based solution was to boot out of that parking lot without so much as a deep breath or moment to get clear on which way I had come from. I wanted to get it done and over with. 

Here’s the thing you can’t move through fear if you’re unwilling to be in it. 

We’re so fearful of fear itself that we often refuse to sit with it even if for a few moments to breathe and gather a little composure.

And yeah, perhaps by taking those few minutes I wouldn’t have stopped feeling entirely uncomfortable, but I most certainly would have turned out of the parking lot in the right direction. In which case, I would have gotten what I wanted in the first place; to feel fearful for the least amount of time possible.  

People very organically rely on their feelings every single day. It happens so naturally that most of us are unaware of the extent to which we are guided and affected by them. Often when we are successful in any area of our lives, we give undue credit to logic, knowledge, tools and education while underplaying the influence of our feelings. Likewise, we tend to blame the same things when we don’t achieve what we set out to achieve, while completely overlooking the detrimental role that resisting our emotions may have just played. The truth is, you can have the entire world at your fingertips but if you’re inner GPS is thrown off in any way, sadly, not even clearly written directions that have been hand fed to you on a silver spoon could get you to where it is you’re trying to go.      

We rely on our feelings in the same way a woodsman relies on a compass; and so we should, that’s why they exist.  

The compass was designed to align itself with true north at all times. Its accuracy relies on remaining in alignment with the earth’s magnetic field. As a navigational instrument that has been used for thousands of years it’s pretty safe to say its reliability has stood the test of time unless of course it’s exposed to a magnet. In close proximity a magnet will overpower the earth’s magnetic field causing the compass’ natural alignment to be thrown off.  Let’s just say you’d have a better chance of hitching a ride with me during a snowstorm in the dark, rather than navigating through the woods with  a compass in your hand and a magnet up your sleeve.

A magnet is to a compass’ navigational ability, as fear is to ours. It affects our reasoning, our memory, our basic common sense and our instincts it affects our ability to recognize the recognizable, as well as our ability to trust that something is unrecognizable with good reason. Fear has the capacity to convince you you’re going the right way when you aren’t, and it can have you questioning the very direction you should be going in. 

Fear’s goal is that you rely solely on its guidance, so it distracts you from all other resources. Even if you tap into the other resources, fear would have you question their reliability. Fear will tell you that a hero is needed, because it believes that while on your own, you are unqualified for the task at hand. And just in case you get bored, worry not...because when your hero doesn’t show up, Fear brings along its good friend Anger to keep you engaged.   

People who live with fear often lose precious time. What takes most people a small fraction of time, will take someone on the fear spectrum, a great deal more. Not because they’re time isn’t just as valuable to them as yours is to you, not because they want to take that much longer, but because navigating from a fear based place is like intending on catching a duck, while running after a chicken, that you may or may not have seen in the first place, and ending up on a wild goose chase that leaves you wondering where the duck went. 

Yeah. Exactly.  

I think we have to learn to sit with it all few minutes, even if it’s uncomfortable, especially if it’s uncomfortable. 

Acknowledging what we’re feeling allows us to take an honest assessment of what’s going on inside. The outcome of telling ourselves we’re not feeling something, or shouldn’t feel something, or should ignore the something, comes at a very high price. And although those few moments may not alleviate the discomfort, the clarity you gain may very well be the difference between finding your way while painfully travelling in time-consuming circles, and finding your way while uncomfortably traveling a road in a time efficient manner called “once”.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said that life is a journey, not a destination; with that in mind I will add that I think more so than the condition of the road, it’s the condition of the traveler that sets the tone for the journey.      
















that moment you become the biggest problem you have


November but especially December, were hands down the most difficult months of 2014 for me. 

What an emotional roller coaster ride. 

For someone who prides herself in an ability to manage her emotional state, times like these really do a number on me since I haven't mastered the art of letting go of control quite yet—not organically or easily, anyways. 

I'm far better at it than I use to be, but there are times where I really let it get the best of me and end up making choices from a fear based place. We all know how well that story ends. 

I can typically handle challenging months as they come and go, but this time around I let my discouragement take the wind right out of my sails. Once that happened, I became further disappointed in myself for letting it happen.

This is yet another example of how we believe we can control everything. 

This is yet another example of what happens if you hold onto ideas too tightly. 

This is yet another example of how we resist what is happening to us, because we don't want it to be happening.

Truth is, sometimes shit happens along the way.

The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off

Dear Gloria Steinem, you were right. Of course you were. 

I had this idea: that I was going to start 2015 with a clean slate. I had big plans. Strategic action steps, specific goals for a bigger vision and I worked hard all year to make that happen. 

When November and December came along with their unanticipated flighty life happenings, it put a massive dent in my plans. 

I was scared and utterly crushed by disappointment.

This wasn’t going to be a quick fix.

 2014 ended right about the time I got good and pissed off.

Really pissed off.

It took almost two months for me to stop feeling discouraged and fearful, and instead, get angry and insubordinate. 

I had to revisit a question that I first asked myself a long time ago when I set out on this journey: 

Are you willing to do whatever it takes, no matter what?

I answered yes at the time—that was bullshit, except I didn’t know enough to know it was bullshit.

What I realize now (Thanks to Dr. David Hawkins' work)

Doing whatever it takes resentfully and bitterly, does not mean you are willing to do what it takes. It means you're still stuck in your anger and moseying along from that place.

When you're willing to do whatever it takes, you've since succumb to what has happened and are able to loosen your death grip on what "could have been and should have been" 

It doesn't mean you get passive and become a victim of these circumstances. It doesn't mean you just miserably sit a midst the crap affirming oh well, it is what it is.   

It means that you’ve surrendered to what is happening in the moment and you've also made the decision to work with what is happening, rather than fight against it—you make choices, from the choices you do have. 


Whether or not we like what’s happening, it’s still happening.
And I had to ask myself... So now what?

I had to decide to believe that this chaotic shit storm didn’t derail me, nor did I have to let it derail me—I had to change directions, yes, but I am not off track. My destination hasn’t changed the route and direction has.

People with control-freaky tendencies [like me] aren’t huge fans of detours since they require some blind faith that they’ll take us in the right direction.  

It took me a while to notice that I was so hung up on how I got to where I wanted to go, I’d often give up going all together if my preferred way was no longer an option.

So yeah, a little bumped and bruised, I’m now moving in a different direction but heading towards the same destination. 

The goal hasn’t changed. Phew. 

I’m willing to do whatever it takes, no matter what.

                              





January 01, 2015

twenty-fifteen — the blank canvas

It’s 6:30 am New Year’s Day, I’m up and I feel energized.

The house is quiet. The babies are asleep, hubs included and the Ole Pup’s snoring at my feet—I feel peaceful.

I didn’t quite make it to midnight last night. New Year’s Ever 2014 marks the first year since I was a small child that I didn’t wait around for the countdown. I also didn’t riddle off a bunch of hefty resolutions than I won’t keep only to end 2015 feeling remorseful for not attaining what I promised myself I would.

Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, or maybe I’m becoming a tad insubordinate. Both are a possibility, but I was tired of feeling like I was broken and in constant need of repairs and upgrades—some problem that constantly needed resolving. Maybe I decided that just because I had problems didn’t mean that I was one—maybe I decided that just because I make mistakes, doesn’t make me a mistake—maybe I was just tired of living my life dangling a new year’s resolution list over my own head like a carrot. Maybe I’m just not good with resolutions.

I would hold my happiness hostage as the reward I would receive upon attaining a goal. That’s ass backwards. Do we not deserve to be happy every single day that we’re still working towards our attainment?

If you’ve ever heard of Danielle Laporte, you’ll know that her work is largely based on Core Desired Feelings.

She made a solid point in her book, the Desire map—that we create our goals, not because of the goal itself but because of how we believe attaining said goal will make us feel. We’re chasing feelings—feelings we desire to experience everyday—core desired feelings vary person to person and it’s up to us to decide how it is we want to feel in any given moment and then subsequently making choices that will make it happen.

I’m giving it a shot. See, I knew that I wanted to greet the New Year feeling energized yet peaceful, ready and clear. So instead of staying up late to party-hardy last night, I went to bed earlier than most toddlers do. I woke up before the sun this morning. As a result, I feel energized, peaceful, ready and clear.

Jen 1
Resolutions 0

I’ve made a promise to myself. I’m going to decide how I wish to feel in any given moment—every day, every week and every month this year.

Small choices that will evoke my desired feelings…If I want to feel successful, I’m going to make my choices based on attaining that feeling, right now, not in 3 months. If I want to feel affluent, I’m going to do something that will douse me in feelings of affluence. If I want to feel happy, I’m going to engage in something that makes me feel happy.

Feelings are flighty, the come and go—they’re forever changing. This morning I wanted to feel energized and peaceful but that might change. I’m going to have to narrow my Core Desired Feelings down to a few that will be responsible for how I end up living my year. So far I have 12 so I'll leave it as that for now.