Sunday, 12 February 2017

My New Man

Yesterday a friend was sharing a story with me about her new man and said that he checked off all of the boxes of what she wanted to share with a life partner.  It reminded me of a project I undertook a little over a year ago. . . . I called it “My New Man”. At a time in my life when I wasn’t sure if I was open to another romantic relationship, I made a vision board about what that might look like.  My intention was to heal any wounds that prevented me from allowing love in, to break down the walls around my heart so that I could experience love openly and unconditionally.  I had put this board away a few months ago when MY new man came for a visit (ironically exactly one year after I made it). 

This morning I took out that board and as I looked at the pictures I could see it was all of the things that my new man and I like to do and the ways we spend our time together. I had also written down the qualities that I enjoyed from the significant men that had graced my life, as well as what I felt I had not experienced in a romantic relationship that I would like to, and even included what my own role was in creating this new relationship.  Today as I read the words I had written it struck me that not only did my new man have all of them, but more importantly I WAS THEM.  I had created the person in myself (or as I like to think, uncovered her) that I desired to share my life with.  What could be better than that??? (especially considering I do have to spend the rest of my life with her!!)  

My new man is a re-connection from my past (we went to high school together) and it has been a wonderful experience getting to know him again.  I am not sure where this life will take either one of us but I know this for sure . . . .  whatever happens I will be OKAY and I plan to enJoy every minute of our time together!

Working on yourself and your relationships is not always easy, but every once in awhile you get a moment that shows you that it is ALL worth it, this was one of those moments! Ever Grateful <3

Monday, 19 December 2016

How well do you REALLY know “yourself”?

From the time we are born we are being molded by our parents, our teachers, our friends and society.  At some point during our adolescence we start to exert our own independence and begin the process of “finding ourselves”.  This is a difficult task.  We have been “taught” what is right and wrong, good and bad, but we aren’t really taught to explore our own BEING.  Everything we are taught comes from someone else’s perspective, is this our reality or theirs?  During our getting to know ourselves phase we face many obstacles; our parents don’t agree with our choices, society disagrees with our look, friends don’t accept us, and so we begin the process of creating a “self” that is acceptable to ALL. We become the friend we think everyone will like, the daughter/son our parents will approve of and we change our look to satisfy society.  Then we chose a life partner and want to please them and their family and friends.  Next we have children and become focused on “teaching” them our way. Life happens; we become wrapped up in our daily existence then at some point along this journey (usually referred to as a mid life crisis!) some of us become aware of the fact that we have forgotten who WE are and we swing the other way, once again choosing the path of rebellion.  So how do we figure out who WE REALLY are? Without the labels? Without the expectations? Without the need for acceptance and pleasing others? Without all of the stories that we tell ourselves? We have spent so long creating this “person” it is a challenge to see what exists underneath.  I have often asked people “what is the essence of you?”, “what feeds your soul?” many times I am confronted with dumbfoundness.  The usual response is to make it about something outside of ourselves, “I love golf”, “my children”, “my relationship”, all awesome replies, but none of them about YOU.

 Recently I had some awareness about my disappointment in my partner not wanting to get to know me.  I realized that this had been a theme in my life and I often cut people out if they showed no interest in getting to know ME.  My new awareness was that this was a projection, what I was really afraid of was getting to know MYSELF.  Letting go of who you think you are can be VERY scary, this mental concept of ourselves keeps us safe, makes us feel protected, it is familiar and it is accepted by others.  But what if we could see below all of the mental concepts we have created about ourselves?  What would we find “down” there?  Would we like this person? Could we be friends with them? Because I am always up for a good challenge I have begun to explore this on a deeper level.  I have made a commitment to myself to get to know ME, to ask those hard questions and the even harder part of acting on the answers.  Letting go of all of the mental concepts I have about myself and OPEN to what is and who exists below them.  Using my body as a tool to FEEL what is right or wrong for me, what is pulling me and what I am pushing away from.  Asking questions like, “if I sold everything I owned and was free to go and do whatever I want what would that look like?”  Listening to my own language and the way I react to others, for clues as to what is meaningful to ME.  Appreciating the symbolism in my dreams as hints to what is going on in my subconscious. Paying attention to when I get lost in time and space and spending time in contemplation and meditation to ask the questions and listen for the answers.

 Maybe this process is not for everyone, but I don’t want to go to my grave never having REALLY known myself. I know it will be hard, I know I will probably lose some people from my life, I know that things will change, I know that I will be uncomfortable, but I also know that I can do this and that it will be worth it.  I recently read a study of people who were on their death beds and were asked what they regretted most, none of them regretted anything they did (despite the pain it might have caused or the acceptance of it by others), what they regretted is what they didn’t do.  For me this process is about exploring those things that I don’t even know that I want to do, to look beyond my mind and thoughts, to move into BEING instead of away from it and to OPEN, OPEN, OPEN.  Join me? 

Monday, 29 August 2016

Why aren’t you speaking your Truth?

The past three weeks have been an emotional time for me,  a lot of grieving and healing, which I am grateful for (better to go thru it then ignore it!).  Last week I had an interesting experience of healing that I would like to share with you and is a good example of what happens when we hold our truth deep inside our body.

On Monday night I was watching my favorite show So You Think You Can Dance, two dancers began to perform a Broadway number and the song they danced to was Mr. Bojangles. The minute I heard the first chord of the song I started crying, I remembered the song from when I was a child and loved it, as it continued to play I could feel an overwhelming constriction (best word I can use to describe an indescribable feeling) in my body.  At the time I thought “wow isn’t that interesting, I must be emotional or going thru something” and went to bed thinking "tomorrow I will download that song because I really like it".  The next morning I did just that and as soon as the first chord played I had the exact same reaction as the night before.  What the hell? Now I am thinking  “okay Tracy there is way more going on here”!!  I tried it a couple of more times throughout the day and yup same thing!  I knew intuitively that it was triggering a repressed memory but I had no idea what it was, so I decided to meditate and see if anything came up.  I put the song on and brought my attention into my body, slowly the constriction became centered in my throat, it felt as if I was being choked, I knew it was the day my Dad died, and the memory of my Mom telling me came into my mind.  At the time (I was 10 years old) I had not shown much emotion, sure I cried, but my younger sister screamed and screamed and everyone was so sad and so worried about me and my sisters, I just wanted it to all go away, I wanted everyone to be happy again (fascinating to me even now as I write that).  As I allowed the physical sensations to permeate my body, I was sobbing and I knew that in that moment I had not been able to express my TRUE feelings. 

Bringing this up had turned out to be one of the most painful emotional experiences of my life, I knew this was going to be a difficult process and thankfully I had enough awareness to know I needed to be kind to myself and not push.  I ended my “session” and decided I would take it slowly; it would need to be healed one day at a time, maybe one minute at a time! (Some very good awareness for this overachieving personal growth junkie!! lol) I woke up the next morning feeling “strong” and decided to give it another try. I put on the song and the same feeling arose, once again I allowed it and went into my self inquiry. I knew now what I wanted/needed to say and how I needed to react to the news of my fathers death, I said out loud what I needed to say, I cried and screamed and breathed through it to release the long held emotion.  Phew! Slowly it dissipated and I felt like a weight had been lifted off of me!  A little later in the day I played Mr. Bojangles again and guess what?  No tears, No pain, instead I felt JOY, and was dancing, remembering how much I loved it as a child. Yay!!!!!!! 

My Dad died 41 years ago, so it has been an eye opener as to how when we don’t speak our truth, and express our true feelings, they weigh us down in ways we can’t even conceive.  When my children’s father died 8 months ago I remember saying to them “you grieve in whatever way you need to and don’t care what anyone else says or thinks about it”, obviously I knew instinctively how damaging it is to keep it bottled up.  If you need to scream, scream; if you need to cry, cry; if you need to get angry, get angry; if you need to grieve, grieve; if you need to talk, talk; if you need to write, write; if you need alone time, take it.  It is so much more important to express ourselves authentically then to do what we think is the “appropriate” response or what others think our response “should” be.  For myself I believe that my inability to express myself is based in a high need to be nice, I don’t want to hurt people and if they are already hurting I don’t want to add to it.  So I would rather suppress my own feelings and my own truth, thinking this will make them feel better.  I call this being a Martyr and it runs deep in my Catholic roots, but how can you be nice to others if you can’t even be nice to yourself? You can’t give what you don’t have. Please, please, please be kind to yourself!

Join me today in taking a vow to express our feelings, speak our truth and share our beautiful TRUE selves with the world . . .Always and with Everyone!

Stand in the Light and Be Seen As You Are.

Open. Open. Open.

xo Tracy

And a big thank you to Mr. Bojangles!!

Saturday, 16 July 2016

The Disease of Being Right

Its been awhile since I have met you here and I appreciate your patience.  In mid December my husband (we were separated at the time) decided to end his own life.  The past 6 months I have been somewhat pulled back from the world while processing this event, my own grief and our children's grief.  My spiritual practices have brought me much comfort and I continue to expand my own awareness as we all move through this together.

In light of this event and many other events going on in the world today I have been contemplating the disease of being right.  Why do we all feel such a strong need to be right?  Whether it is in a minor disagreement about small household things or something larger such as religion or politics, everyone wants it their way.  I know this feeling well myself having spent much of my life wanting to be right and working very hard at it!  But through my life experience I have started to realize that really there is no joy in being right. Maybe some short term satisfaction yes, but nothing lasting.  So why do we continue to pursue it, often at all cost?  What would happen if we allowed someone else to be right?  What if we changed a belief, a pattern, a habitual way of thinking?  I have been practicing this in my own life and I can tell you, the world has not ended!  I'm not saying that I suddenly believe what someone else tells me, but at the very least I am open to incorporating it into my own beliefs or seeing some value in it.  What would happen if religions took this view?  What would happen if politicians took this view?  Could we create some actual meaningful discussion?

There is so much talk these days about tolerance, racism and acceptance of all, but none of that is going to change on a larger scale until we change it in our everyday lives. This means giving up our insatiable need to be right.  It means allowing someone else to have an opinion that is different from our own.  It means listening to others without the veil of our own mental concepts. It means not sharing social media posts that promote hate or are hurtful.  It means forgiving others for real and perceived injustices. It means seeing that all other human beings are just like you and that the differences you see have been learned (as have ours).  It means seeing our value in this world is not about being right, its about being compassionate. 

Being right seems to satisfy our need for safety and security.  If we are right or are able to convince someone else we are right then we are in control. I challenge you to  take a long hard look at this, because it is an illusion.  In my marriage my husband and I often struggled with our own need to be right, and as he slipped into the decent that lead to his suicide I could see how everyone around him was doing or saying what they thought was right for him, including myself.  This is what we do when we feel out of control.  Even he was trying to do what everyone thought was right.  In the end he made the choice that was right for him and it really does not matter at all if any one of us was right or not, the outcome remains the same.  Even if I could say my way was right, it changes nothing.  The grief still exists, the guilt  never ending, the regret suffocating. But there is also freedom in knowing I can let go of the need to be right.  Can you?

I can't say as I understand what it is like to be suicidal having never been there myself, but I can definitely tell you as someone who has been left behind the above quote is VERY true :(

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Are we all trying too hard? Why do we think we are never enough?

Is it just me or are we all just trying too hard?  Why is nothing ever enough, we want to be thinner or fitter, travel more, have more money, be more successful, have a deeper connection with our partner, be more spiritually enlightened, be a better daughter, wife, friend, mother . . . . challenging ourselves to be a better version is a good thing, but sometimes we get a little carried away.  Why can we not be content with things just the way they are? And with who we are? 

For me when I am feeling this way I find it helpful to get back to the simple things.  Finding joy in cooking a meal, reading a book, taking a walk, cleaning my house or grocery shopping seems to ground me.  Listening to music or sitting in quiet contemplation and just being in my body is also helpful.  One of the worst things we can do is judge ourselves, this is never helpful.  Judgement of self keeps us stuck in these destructive patterns of behaviour and I would challenge anyone who says they feel good when judging themselves.  Yes we need self discipline but that is very different from self judgement.  Self discipline with a compassionate understanding of ourself can bring many benefits and rewards, we feel empowered, a sense of accomplishment and encouraged. Self judgement does quite the opposite, we feel discouraged, useless, sad, mad and powerless. (Of course we often don't recognize this and then project it onto other people, but that is another whole topic!)
When we feel overwhelmed and are trying too hard we quite often say “I need to look after myself better”, this spurs us into action.  We book a massage, make a date with a friend, take a day off, go skiing, escape into a good book, etc.  These are all good things, but in the end the only way to truly take care of YOU, is to love and accept yourself EXACTLY as you are right NOW.  The irony of our humanness is that in our trying too hard we miss out on the simplicity and joy of just BEING. Believe me I know this is not easy, loving and accepting ourselves seems to be a life long challenge for most of us.  Seeing through all of our past conditioning can be a difficult process and the Universe seems to keep sending us things and people who remind us of that!  But it is worth it.  In the times that I have touched this deep love and acceptance of myself it has been nothing short of pure ecstasy.  While we may not be able to live in this place 100% of the time it is worth the discovery process to even get a glimpse.  So if only for a few minutes today, are you able to just sit and feel the deep unconditional love and acceptance for yourself? Go to your happy place, remember a moment in time when you felt immense joy, recall a situation when you felt really good about yourself or visualize a dream, whatever takes you from thinking to feeling.

The most important relationship you will ever have in your life is with yourself and the higher power that resides within and connects us all.  This is what is calling to you when you feel restless, unsettled and are trying too hard.  Keep seeking, keep asking and keep exploring but always with compassion, love and acceptance for YOU.
Much Love, Tracy   

Monday, 2 November 2015

Beginners Mind

It has been awhile since I have written and am happy to be back, thanks for your patience and understanding.  I have been working on some things and needed to experience them on a “real” level not just a “mind” level.  In September I went to Sedona, AZ to experience the energy vortex’s in that area.  As I sat on those beautiful red rocks, a few things came to me that I wanted to contemplate; one of them was Beginners Mind.  In yoga we bring this term into our practice, often we become so used to doing a posture that eventually we don’t feel it in our body anymore and thus the benefits are lessened.  By bringing a beginners mind into a posture we are able to experience it in a different way every time.  As I contemplated this I could see how this was applicable to every aspect of life.  We all have mental concepts about ourselves and others; we have preconceived beliefs about what is right and wrong, good and bad, likes and dislikes.  This means that at times it feels like we are going though our life on auto pilot and our personal growth becomes limited. Our patterns, thoughts and behaviors become who we think we are.  On a spiritual level I know this is not the case, so I began to bring some awareness of this into my life by watching my thoughts, actions and words.  Sometimes this was easy and very clear to me but other times not so much.  This weekend provided a good opportunity to be fully immersed in my old drama model and I was grateful that this morning I received some clarity around it. So of course wanted to share it with you all!  Our true authentic selves are a limitless field of possibilities, if you don’t believe that just look around you, there are countless stories of what humans are capable of, on a physical, mental and emotional level.  So what holds us back from fully BEING who we are?  If we apply the yoga term of Beginners Mind, perhaps that is part of it.  By using our established mental concepts and old patterns of behavior and thinking, we remain stuck in a holding pattern.  If you are feeling paralyzed, like something is missing, filling your life with busyness, blaming, unhappy, unsettled or unfulfilled then perhaps it is time to bring a Beginners Mind into your life.  The first step for me was recognizing an ingrained pattern of behavior (which thankfully I was able to see this weekend!), I was able to “see” my usual reaction, my usual thought pattern, my “go to” behavior.  Wow!! Light bulb moment this morning as Oprah would say!! To be honest as it was happening I was unable to stop it, change it or even see it.  My clarity came the following morning, as it always does for me, while doing yoga, meditating or contemplating a spiritual/inspirational teaching.  But you should follow your own way to clarity, for some people it is while doing a physical pursuit, spending time in nature, listening to music, etc. If you keep finding yourself in a familiar situation that you would like to change, bring some awareness to it.  Don’t try and analyze it at the time, believe me I have tried that and it does not work!  Just be curious about it and let it be, it may have to happen numerous times and each time just be interested.  If you really want to figure it out, spend some time in your chosen means of contemplation and one day you will “get it”.  I cannot tell you how important awareness has been in my life.  Often I have had to “see” it many times, but eventually when I do something is changed and I am able to experience a depth of understanding that I did not think was possible.  By using “Beginners Mind” as a focal point in my life (I even put a daily reminder in my phone calendar!) I have been able to change some long established patterns that to be honest brought me a lot of mental suffering in the past, for this I am ever grateful. If I can do it, so can you, give it a try, bring a Beginners Mind into all of your interactions and situations, be curious, stay interested, make space for clarity and allow your life to unfold in a richer, more meaningful way.  This is my wish for you!!

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Turning Judgement into Non Judgement

Unfortunately judgement of others has become a huge part of our society, obsession with celebrity, social media, bullying, shaming, reality TV it has all contributed to us becoming a very judgmental population.  I find this disconcerting, and decided to look at the ways that I contribute to this by observing my own judgements.  I have to admit this was challenging and remains so, but here is my experience thus far. 

To even become aware that you are judging is difficult, our culture is so conditioned to it that we often don’t even realize we are doing it.  And so the first step for me was to recognize and become aware that I was judging.  I listened to my words, paid  attention to how I felt, watched my reactions to certain situations, people, conversations, etc.  When I became aware that I was judging I acknowledged it, I said to myself “judging”.  I experienced my awareness in my physical reaction/feeling to something someone said or did. I also became aware when I heard myself talking about someone else and being critical of their actions or words, and also when I resorted to righteousness, ie. “They deserve better”, “I know they are capable of more”, etc. really this was only justifying my judgement!

Once I became aware of a pattern in my judgement's, I could start to look at the unhealed emotions and fears underneath them. I found this to be one of the most difficult aspects, it has taken a long time of watching, awareness and contemplation and is still a work in progress (with a lot of assistance from my meditation practice!).  A lot of this introspection has required me to be very accepting of myself, we cannot change what we refuse to confront!  First I needed to acknowledge the darker aspects of myself.  Judging someone else for lying, cheating, needing attention, not taking personal responsibility, etc. is much easier than admitting it about yourself.  I began by seeing these things as just words, “controller”, “attention seeker”, “liar”, etc.  without labeling them as good or bad, simply acknowledging that it was an aspect of myself.  The next part was very difficult for me, but I believe it to be the most important part and that is NO judgement of yourself! If you’re reading this you obviously have a high degree of personal responsibility so you will understand this very well, no one is harder on us than we are on ourselves.  The problem with this is we become so caught up in trying NOT to judge and this only leads to more judgement – of OURSELVES!  Instead what I needed to do was release all judgement of ME first, then I was able to see myself in my judgement of others and the transformation began.  I have to admit I saw many of these glimpses in the "judgement mirror" quite frequently, over and over, year upon year, but that’s okay it has all led me to this moment in time and on this journey called life timing is everything.

Turning judgement into non judgement is making me more tolerant, accepting, compassionate and loving.  Does the world not need more of these qualities in all of us?  Will you join me in creating your own quality of non judgement? We can do this!