Venting: Powerful or Powerless?

Venting. We all do it. But, why?

We entrust our friends with our deepest fears and concerns and they listen to us with love and support. It’s a beautiful part of friendship. When we do it over and over and over while refusing to believe that changing any of it is possible. Or, when we put up barriers to any avenue which might actually bring about change we give up all of our power to the outer world. We also forget how those feelings land or how our energy is being placed both on our friends and in the universe.

I realize that part of friendship is being there for each other, but sometimes our friends don’t have the answers and we have to find them for ourselves. Venting isn’t about answers…it’s about support and finding compassion for our woes. But, at the end of a venting session, we can be left bereft because we’ve put all of the negative emotions swirling inside us outside of us, and still no solution has been found. We’ve gathered lots of love, validation for our views, compassion and support, a few ideas on how to fix the problem, yet we’re still a little lost.

The trouble is, somewhere along the way we’ve lost our power. And, sometimes that actually feels safe because then we convince ourselves we can’t do anything and it is up to others to change.

We can only control ourselves, right?

Imagine being so powerful that we could be accountable for every single thought, feeling and action?

Imagine.

Imagine being so powerful that we could actually take action and make whatever is ailing us …debt, failed relationships, stifled dreams, dead-end job, stifled career, aging, illness, fear for our children’s future, caring for aging parents…stop ailing us?

No. Debt won’t magically disappear. Marriages won’t magically be wonderful and dreams won’t just come true. Our jobs won’t just happen to be perfect and we can’t cure illness or create the best path of life for our kids…No.

HOWEVER, we can change our relationship to how we view whatever it is that is bothering us. AND, we can fundamentally change our relationship with ourselves.

I’ve lived it. I’ve seen it happen and felt it happen. Looking at my life objectively, nothing has changed necessarily. I have changed. I have made myself a priority. In doing so, my stuff hasn’t changed. I’m just better equipped to handle it.

So, my dear reader, my challenge to you is find a way to get your power back. Yes, by all means, lean on those you love for support during difficult times. Just don’t get stuck. Find a way out of the storm that leaves you feeling empowered. Lovingly encourage your friends who wallow too long in their woes to find their power and their way out of being stuck on a hamster wheel of venting, feeling powerless, not changing a single thing in their situation, waiting for others to change, venting, feeling powerless etc. etc. etc.

Venting might make the problem feel lighter momentarily because it is being shared. Ultimately, it still exists. It will still be there after girls night, or coffee night. The question isn’t if venting makes you powerless, the question is, what are going to do to get your power back?

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Making Yourself a Priority. Not Selfish – Vital.

As a working mother, wife, daughter, sister, cousin, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, friend, teacher – I know all too well what it means to live for others. And, I didn’t even realize how detrimental that was to my identity until I felt completely and utterly empty. I became a void. I felt nothing and it didn’t matter because as long as the to-do list was done and everyone else was okay – then I had accomplished my job.

I didn’t even see how poisoned I was until one little Instagram post last summer. I discussed my deep gratitude for the life I created; however, I couldn’t help but feel exhausted by all of it’s demands. The responses tremendously echoed my sentiments of feeling like all we – as working, married moms – were good for was to serve others.

How had this happened? How had two university degrees, a wonderful career, life-long learning through travel, reading and establishing meaningful connections been boiled down to cooking, cleaning, mountains of laundry, managing a household while still having to look good, keep up said career and aspirations and be gleeful about it? Fuck.

I have never not been happy. Even during the most trying times of my life – I have found an inner joy which kept me going. When I felt that flame was extinguishing – I knew I was in trouble.

Fortunately, the universe brought into my life a chance encounter with a woman whose malas I’ve purchased. And, she, with her deep intuitive knowledge, instantly read my lack of joy, my blocks and gave me some brief direction on how to deal with it.

A plan of action? Sign me up! If there’s a problem I’m the type who needs to find a way to fix it – and fast. I dove in.

Daily meditation. Daily gratitude practice. Daily journaling. Daily excavation of all the things I had buried in order to be the best mom, wife, home owner, guidance counsellor, friend…this led me to Yoga Teacher Training.

But, there were so many BUTS…the time away from the kids and home, the imposition on my husband, mother and mother-in-law to hold things down at home, the amount of reading and work and yoga practice which would take me away from my family.

BUT, the need to do something solely for me was too loud. I somehow worked things out by asking for help, by outlining clearly the time it would take, by allowing my husband to be the father I know he is and my children to know they are just fine without me. I relinquished control on the weekends I was gone – and it was amazing.

I’m just finishing up the in-class portion of my yoga teacher training. It has been a journey of self-discovery unlike any I have ever been on. Yoga has changed my life. I am deeply grateful for the women who encouraged me to go for it, for the women who were by my side for the intense 22 hours every other weekend, for my husband’s humor and complete support at home and our mothers who were there for me by being there for my family.

When I heard the words spoken by Rachel Hollis during my listening to the book, as seen in the excerpts in this post, they resonated in every cell of my body.

The message about being good for others first is delivered so quietly as we grow up, we never think to object. But it slowly eats at our soul and it is up to us to end it. Our children and husbands are happy when we are our best selves because we show up differently. The boundaries I’ve established around mommy’s meditation time and yoga time have been difficult for my children to understand – but they are slowly adjusting. And, I am so bloody happy and full when I finish meditating and my practice – that I mother & wife whole-heartedly. I am once again full of the joy I’ve always felt in my life.

I don’t want to put out the message that my life is perfect and all problems have been solved. Far from it. My struggle now lies in making time to write when my family is at home. That is a big one for me. At least I can see it and acknowledge it. And, do something about it.

In putting my needs first, most of the time(this is still a practice, after all), I can be for my family from a place of love – not obligation, not guilt, not shame, not trying to prove something…but just because I love them.

As hard as it may be, I encourage all of you to find the one thing which sparks you so brightly you feel like you want to explode. And, do it. See the excuses for what they are and lay them to rest. Be the best version of yourself for you, and magically you will be the best version of you for those you love.

Tell me what your journey has been like in the comments below!

Living Your Life With More Ease ~ Yoga Lessons

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Yoga Lesson 1: Keep Your Eyes Open

When the pose is tough and kicking your butt, focus on one spot. Concentrating on the one spot helps you to ignore the screaming muscles. They call this Drishti.

When I first started practising, I would fall into pigeon at the end of practice, feeling the breath ripple through me and my body thanking me for making it to class. My eyes were always closed as I took in each sensation. One night the instructor said, keep your eyes open. Don’t close yourself off, even during the relaxing, releasing part of the practice. Feel everything. Keep your focus.

Hmm. We all hear about people’s fear of failure…this reminded me of fear of success. Keeping your eyes opens tells your inner self that it’s ok to enjoy the fruits of your labour, to take pride in reaping the rewards of your success. At the end of a challenging practice, we shouldn’t close ourselves to the amazing feelings of having made it by going inward and closing our eyes.

In life too, keep your eyes open and enjoy all for which you have worked.

Yoga Lesson 2: Go Into The Pose With Ease

Speaking of work, nothing should ever really feel like work. No matter how difficult the pose, nor how far you can get into it, the struggle automatically doubles when you fight it, or try to beat it into submission, or constantly think, this is so hard.

The instructor’s cues during difficult poses always include: take a breath, relax your face and smile.

The same thing happens in life, no matter how annoying the task. For example, God help me, making lunches is the last thing I want to do after a full day of being everything to everyone. So, I breath. And, I’ve actually started to express thanks for the food in my fridge which means I can feed my family, for the health to stand in my kitchen and use my hands to make this food, and for the children I’m feeding because I really wanted to have them. That’s when I smile. Voila. Instant ease. I’m still making the lunches, but suddenly, the task doesn’t feel so heavy. I’m not fighting it, but completing it with ease.

Yoga Lesson 3: Isn’t It Great That It Doesn’t Have To Be Perfect?

Oooooh, this is a big one for me. BIG. The mat gets messy, and some days are ah-mazing. I    breathe, I flow, I move, I stand on my head, I nearly get my hips up for hand-stand….other days, ugh. Child’s pose please!

The point is…listen to yourself. Our bodies tell us what we need. The beat of our hearts, the pit of our stomachs, the sweat in our armpits, the ache in our guts, the constriction of our throats, the tightening of our shoulders….the list is endless. LISTEN! And, then agree that enough is just enough. And, that in itself is perfect.

Yoga Lesson 4: Have Fun

What’s the point if it isn’t? There’s always room for laughter, smiles, giggles. When we fall, when we soar…leaving room for fun is essentially what makes all of this worth it.

Any lessons you would add which have helped you navigate life with a little more ease and fun?

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The Secret to Holiday Magic is Self-Care

christmas-2910468_640I read an unsettling article on The Huffington Post entitled Holiday Magic Is Made By Women. And, It’s Killing Us.

The writer is honest about all of the ways in which the holidays, more importantly, preparing for the holiday magic, tug at her, until she is left feeling depleted, empty, with nothing left to give.

I felt so sad and helpless as I read about her experience. I also felt anger.

Most of us have been her at one point in time as we try to make everything perfect for the people we love. We do it so they can enjoy this festive season and have memories to cherish as they grow up and grow old. There’s so much magic to the holidays and we want those we love to experience all of it. We do this out of love. It’s a beautiful thing.

What’s not so beautiful is the cost. When was this unspoken expectation that it’s mom’s job to make the holiday magic born?

I asked my husband if he would do half the things the writer listed in her article for the holidays. He responded with a resounding “No fn way.” “Why not?” “Why?”

Why? indeed. It seems men understand the magic of the holidays, but aren’t prepared to burden themselves with it. Because my husband also doesn’t expect me to do it, when I prompted him further. So, why do I feel the need to do it?

December is upon us, and while some are completely ready for the holiday magic, others (like me) are still in the midst of preparing. This article served as a reminder that unless I take care of me, slow down and enjoy the holidays myself, no one around me will either.

So here’s to all the moms that make things happen. The extra touches are always nice, but are they truly necessary? Perhaps, if you’re feeling stretched during your holiday preparation time, take a moment to ask yourself, is this truly necessary?

The holidays are a time for magic, however they are also a time for family and friends. Hopefully this will help when we are in the midst of wrapping, baking, checking off the to-do list. And, in that moment of self-care, when we fill ourselves up so we can fill up the others who need us, we will feel the holiday magic.

How do you plan on making time for yourself during December? Tell me in the comments!

Wishing you a great, restful and magical few weeks before Christmas!

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Journey Into Vulnerability: The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

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A very inspiring woman (lookin’ at you Jackie), eagerly/enthusiastically/totally/robustly recommended Brene Brown’s TED talk. And, now I’d love to share each one with those of you who like me, until very recently, had no idea who Brene Brown is.

I went home and immediately watched both of her TED talks on Vulnerability and Listening to Shame.

The next day I found myself at Indigo as part of my kids’ P.A.Day/Fun Day (we went to watch Coco afterwards, which ended up being awesome). We all left with a haul of books. My haul was Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection and Rising Strong.

I’m into the third chapter of The Gifts of Imperfection and will review it when I’m done…but I think you can already tell that I’m absolutely loving it. I’m feeling the fierce pull between gobble it up and go slow…take it in…a friend (who is a life coach, you can find her at Joanna Durkin) out in Alberta said she makes it a yearly read. And, I can see why.

Why Vulnerability?

I didn’t realize how damn frightening this word is for me until I started reading about it and began to feel so squirmy. The more I read and think and look at my life, it has become clear that I’ve been keeping vulnerability at bay because it means exposure.

The invitation to take a trip into my own vulnerability has been extended. And, I accept. Stay tuned for more on that topic.

Please use the links above to watch each of Brene Brown’s TED talks (about 20 minutes each). There are beautiful insights which I think we can all bring into practice with ourselves, our spouses, our children, our families, our students (for my teacher friends).

Who knows…it may spark your own vulnerability revolution.

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