Learning How to Date…Again…

“Thankfully, relationships aren’t like baseball, where it’s three strikes and you’re out. The universe keeps pitching us new opportunities to redo, repair, and reinvent ourselves with another person.” ~ Dr. Stan Tatkin

I never enjoyed the dating experience as a teenager. It always felt awkward and uncomfortable to me. I think this is, in part, because I am an introvert: so making small talk with strangers is a challenge. I much prefer spending time with people who I know and love well and engaging in deep, intimate conversation. This is generally not a great fit for the superficial nature of the dating scene.

I met my ex-husband when I was nineteen years old; and we stayed together for twenty-one years. I was overjoyed at the thought of having found my special person so young and I loved the idea of staying with him ‘forever’. I never wanted to date again. Check!

For a variety of reasons, I found myself at the end of my relationship two years ago; and now here I am starting all over again.  After experiencing deep heart-break, it is hard to imagine re-entering the arena of love. The vulnerability required to play the game is truly intimidating. You have to bring your whole self to the dating experience; and this means taking a deep breath and jumping into the unknown.

To start the process, a friend of mine recommended that I look into the work of Dr. Stan Tatkin. His is a relationship expert and his work focusses on how to build secure, functioning relationships.  He draws on principles from neuroscience and attachment theory to first help you better understand yourself and then your potential partner. I am currently reading his new book, Wired for Dating. It is a great resource and I highly recommend it to anyone considering entering the dating scene.

The interview with Dr. Tatkin posted below, hosted on the podcast Relationship Alive with Neil Sattin, is a good capture of his work and overall approach:

I really appreciate Dr. Tatkin’s description of the various attachment types (anchor, wave or island). I found it to be very revealing and I now much better understand my own preferences and approach (I am a wave). Additionally, I like the traits that he describes of a secure functioning relationship. It provides me with a clear outline of what needs to be in place for a romantic partnership to succeed. I also love it because it is so relevant to parenting my daughter and nurturing a healthy relationship with her as she grows into adulthood.

Traits of a Secure, Functioning Relationship

Security: We protect each other.

Sensitivity: We are aware of each other’s needs.

Justice and Fairness: We quickly repair any hurts that occur.

Collaboration: We are in this together.

True Morality: What is good for me, is good for you.

Although I am still nervous about the journey ahead of me, I feel like I have some really good tools on hand now to help me enter into this experience with an open heart and mind. I will let you know how it goes!

Something to Inspire

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The World Needs More Love Letters is a not-for-profit organization that uses the power of social media to write and mail letters to strangers all over the world.  They let anyone nominate someone in need of a love letter bundle.  In a world fueled by technology and isolation, this is a beautiful and meaningful exercise in human love and connection.  I am going to go out and buy some lovely stationary today.

http://www.moreloveletters.com/the-letter-requests/

Magical Thinking

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Art by Emily Balivet

When I was a child, I loved running around barefoot in nature; it made me feel deeply connected to the earth. I believed in fairies and unicorns. I dreamed of true love, myths and fairy tales.  I was confident in myself and connected to the strong beat of my own heart. I loved to sing and write and draw; and I did these activities voraciously and without inhibition.

As I moved through the school system, I was often teased for being too sensitive, naive and trusting. I was laughed at for believing in magic and mystery. And eventually, I came to devalue my gifts of creativity, communication and insight. Being a highly adaptive person, I soon learned to camouflage myself and assimilate with the group of the day. I lost touch with my core sense of being; and for most of my adolescence and early adulthood, I was very skilled at being just like the people around me.

Now that I have tipped over the edge of forty, and survived my marriage falling apart, I have spent the last year taking stock of the remains: and I discovered that under the ashes is me. The authentic, real me. She is a little cramped and sore from hiding all of these years; but there is love and hope shining brightly in her heart, and she still believes in magic. As Glennon Doyle Melton so eloquently describes it: “You have been offered the gift of crisis…the Greek root of the word crisis is ‘to sift’, as in, to shake out the excesses and leave only what’s important. That’s what crises do. They shake things up until we are forced to hold on to only what matters most. The rest falls away.”

During this difficult time of transformation and change, I have tried to approach my journey with curiosity and an open heart. As a result, I have discovered a range of healing tools that defy reason and logic; and they have reconnected me with the magical thinking of childhood. These little practices serve as a touchstone. They connect me to universal energy and flow. They give me hope and comfort; and through them, I have learned that everything does not always have to “make sense”. It can just feel right and give joy. And so, I trust my intuition, and I keep on exploring. I let myself play and laugh and believe.

Here are some of my favourites to date:

Crystals: For thousands of years, ancient civilizations have utilized the power of crystals to release mental, physical and spiritual blockages: facilitating the free flow of energy throughout the body. Mined from deep within the earth, these stones are believed to contain unique properties and support energetic healing and well-being. I like to wear them (necklaces, earrings, bracelets) and I also like to place them throughout my home and office. Some of my favourites are: moonstone; aventurine; carnelian; sunstone; citrine and labradorite.

Aromatherapy: This practice uses natural oils extracted from flowers, bark, stems, leaves, roots or other parts of a plant to enhance well-being. There are literally hundreds of scents and combinations, which provide many different therapeutic benefits. Some of my personal favourites are rose, geranium and lavender. They can be enjoyed in a number of ways. I like to use them in a diffuser in my home and in the bath at night.

Oracle Cards: Oracle cards provide insight and guidance for any situation. There are many different kinds of cards, with varying themes and intentions. I often like to use angel cards if I have a specific question or I am looking for a nudge in the right direction. I also enjoy having a set of cards on hand that simply provide positive daily affirmations and inspiration.

Spirit Animals: Many cultures believe that spirit animals are sent to give specific messages. I always take note when animals unexpectedly show up in my life. For example, when I first had my daughter, I suddenly started to see hummingbirds all of the time; they still continue to visit me in quite often. I have had owls and hawks fly in front of my car (in the middle of the city); and the other day a crane unexpectedly landed right beside me at the pond. I love this beautiful set of animal spirit cards by The Wild Unknown; it touches upon about the spiritual meaning behind them many of them.

Angel numbers and feathersAngel numbers are a series of repeating numbers — like 333 or 1212 — that appear in your everyday life, on a clock, on a billboard, or even in a magazine. But unlike regular numbers, many believe that these numbers are specific signs provided to us by our guardian angels. Coming across a feather in your path, or finding a feather in an unexpected place is also thought to be a message from the angels.

Sage BurningBurning sage is one of the oldest and purest methods of cleansing a person, group of people or space. The Latin for sage, ‘Salvia,’ stems from the word ‘to heal.’ The other qualities of sage when burned, such as giving wisdom, clarity and increasing spiritual awareness, are also indicated in the name. The ritual burning of herbs and herbal resins is common to many cultures in the world. From the ancient Celtic druids who used sage as a sacred herb alongside Oak Moss for burning as well as medicinal purposes, to the Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon whose Palo Santo (sacred wood) sage burning ceremonies are still practiced to this day.

How about you? Are you open to magical thinking? If so, I would love to hear about your favourite practices.

 

Desire Mapping

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This past weekend, I took part in a one-day Desire Mapping workshop, facilitated by my talented friend Jennie Alexis. We created a meditation alter and set positive intentions. We journaled. We wrote letters. We noted gratitude. We laughed – a lot. We ate good food and walked the beach. We created a despacho to honour Mother Earth Day.  It was a fun and transformative experience, enjoyed with some truly wonderful women.

The Desire Map process is intended to help you identify what you already have in your life, what you are grateful for, and where you are dissatisfied. You gain clarity on the root of your desire and create a map of how you desire to feel in five key areas of your life. You then work into identifying your core desired feelings (CDF).

The approach is simple but profound.  It flips the traditional goal setting paradigm on its head. Rather than creating another “to do” list based on what you want to achieve this year (next year, five years, ten years), this work focuses on identifying how do you want to FEEL in your overall life: each and every day. Every decision comes back to fulfilling your core desire feelings: asking yourself the question, “Will this action / decision make me feel….powerful, loving…etc?”

I really enjoyed my experience and I can highly recommend the workshop. It was exhilarating to work through this process with other like minded people. I left the experience full of clarity, as well as brimming with hope and possibility.  And, in case you are curious, my core desired feeling are: abundant; inspired; equanimous; divinely feminine; and nourished.

If you do not live near a facilitator, or prefer to do the work on your own, I encourage you to check out the book.

Desire on!

 

 

Love Expands

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I lost my beloved Brittany Spaniel companion, Maggie Mae late in 2016. She died relatively peacefully at age thirteen. She was a very important part of our little family and we loved her very much.

Not long after our loss, my daughter and I went on a trip to Mexico to visit my mother and step-dad. They live on a rural property with a large menagerie of animals: dog, cats, birds, horses and a donkey. We were surrounded throughout our stay by their gentle love and quiet companionship.

The highlight for us both was falling in love with a large, loping black dog named Guardián. We spent hours snuggling him and giving belly rubs. We laughed at his silly antics and enjoyed having him follow us around the property: trying to climb into hammock with us each afternoon. Guardián reminded us of the special, devoted love that a dog offers a family, and so the idea was born for us to start looking for a new companion.

I always knew that I wanted to adopt a dog this time around. There are so many animals in the world without a home; and I liked the idea of opening up ours to one. But how to choose? And where to start? There are many wonderful not-for-profit organizations that save animals domestically and bring animals into Canada from international locations.

It turns out that British Columbians like to adopt dogs. I discovered a frenetic, quick paced world where animals are posted online and adopted almost before you can respond. There is  little time for thought or consideration; and no opportunity to meet them before they join your home forever. This is not an easy fit for a slow and considered thinker like myself. I wanted to bring the right dog into our family, not the first available dog. After many frustrating and unsuccessful attempts to make the right connection, I eventually resolved to take a break from my search.

And, as so often happens, this was exactly the moment when things came together: precisely when I stopped trying to direct the situation. In the beautiful and synchronistic way that the universe often unfolds, my younger sister arrived home that weekend with a dog she had just picked up to foster for a Vancouver organization called Big and Small Rescue. This agency transports dogs up from a high-kill shelter in Los Angeles: where animals get three days before they are euthanized.

Lucky is not at all what I expected but just what we needed. He is a little, fifteen pound bundle of fluff and sass. Sweet, smart and cuddly. A gentle, kind and loving little fellow. He arrived into town covered in matts, dirt, urine and feces. His hair had grown so far down into his face that he could see very little, and he lacked depth perception for the first few weeks, after we trimmed it.

After a good hair cut and some TLC from our local vet (clearing up an ear infection and some muscle tension in his back end from being crated for exceptionally long periods of time in his last home), he is good as new. And what a wonderful little companion he has become for our family. My daughter considers him to be her own special pet and he has settled into our home like he never lived anywhere else.

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The resiliency of this little fellow is quite astonishing; and his ability to connect with and love us, despite his difficult start in life, speaks to the uncanny ability of these little creatures to survive and adapt. And for me, it has been amazing to experience the expanding of our hearts to make room for this little fellow. He does not take the place of our Maggie Mae but he now joins her at our family’s heart centre.

Something to Inspire

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One of my favourite writers and thought leaders is Dr. Brené Brown. She a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. Brené has spent the past thirteen years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame.

She is the author of three #1 New York Times Bestsellers: Rising Strong, Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection. Brené is also the Founder and CEO of The Daring Way and COURAGEworks – an online learning community that offers eCourses, workshops, and interviews for individuals and organizations ready for braver living, loving, and leading.

I am currently taking her online “Kitchen Sink” course on the gifts of imperfect parenting. I am really enjoying it so far and I look forward to telling you more about my experience of it in the coming weeks.

Brené’s 2010 TEDx Houston talk, The Power of Vulnerability, is one of the top five most viewed TED talks in the world, with over 25 million viewers. It is definitely worth a watch.

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This short piece on the importance of boundaries is very powerful too:

#JoyBlogging

“Where some people have a self, most people have a void, because they are too busy in wasting their vital creative energy to project themselves as this or that, dedicating their lives to actualizing a concept of what they should be like, rather than actualizing their potential as a human being.”  

~ Bruce Lee

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The state of the world is pretty overwhelming these days. There is a lot of negativity and fear circulating: both in the news and general talk around the water cooler. There is also so much pain and damage being inflicted daily, on a global scale, by fellow human beings: not only on each other but to animals and the environment. It is heartbreaking and I often feel such a deep sense of helplessness.

I am also barely keeping my head above water in my personal life these days. I work full-time. I am a single mother. I have a student living in my home. I volunteer in my community. I care for my relationships with friends and family members. And…I am trying to make new space for writing and creativity…It is a lot to hold together. My body is currently telling me, through sheer exhaustion, that I cannot sustain this pace – no matter how hard I push myself. As Kate Kerr says: “I can count on my body to know where I am.” And my body is saying: “Slow down baby. Breathe. Simplify.”

In our society, a lot of value is placed on getting things done. There is praise for productivity; and great importance is given to action and the ability to multi-task. As I start to pay closer attention to my own habit of busyness, I am also noticing the discomfort the arises when I am still.  It is a useful and enlightening practice. Speeding up and slowing down – noting the way each feels in the body.

I was talking with a friend about this recently. She put forward a perspective that made me think. She believes in the deep importance (and pervasive undervaluing) of self-care; and she contends that self-regulation and core awareness are radical acts in themselves. With many of us living disembodied and fragmented lives, it disconnects us from knowing our true selves. This ultimately leads to living our lives half asleep, which is of no use to anyone.

The things that most of us aspire for and work so hard to achieve are a reflection the collective values of our society, rather than the authentic calling of our own hearts. The truth is that we are all here, not to fit in and to be like everyone else, but to discover our own unique gifts to share with the world. When you slow down and become still, it is hard to ignore this calling: one that most of us have known clearly since we were very young.

For me, part of reconnecting with my core self is to start paying attention to what gives me joy. What are the things that light my inner fire? What makes me feel alive and connected? I recently started a visual journal on my social media channels to capture these things, under the hashtag #JoyBlogging. I am enjoying this exercise immensely so far. It is a positive daily practice and it is wonderful to see a beautiful tapestry unfolding: one that reflects my true and most authentic self.

As I become clearer on the things that I value and love, I can see what I need to make more space for in my life: the things that make my heart sing. My hope is that by regularly sending out these love notes into the universe, I am not only serving my own internal journey, but I am also doing my own small part to be a force of love and positive energy in the world at large. I would love for you to join me. #JoyBlogging

Something to Inspire

This is one of my favourite quotes (and people) of all time; and it is particularly relevant at this moment in history when there is so much fear and hatred in the political landscape: a very real challenge to democracy and the values we hold close. I use it as a touch point and a reminder to keep my eyes on the glimmer of light, even in the darkest of times.

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall, always.”

~ Mahatma Gandhi

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TED Talks: My life is my message

I love TED talks. TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.

I am going to start posting some of my favourite TED talks. I hope you enjoy them. xx

“Most of us do not take up nearly the space the universe intended for us…which is why when you see someone in the full flow of their humanity, it is remarkable.  They are at least a foot bigger, in every direction, than normal human beings; and they shine. They gleam. They glow. It is like they have swallowed the moon.”

~ Caroline McHugh, “The Art of Being Yourself”