Thursday, 10 July 2014

loneliness - can you dig it?

I've just returned from a week with my family. as with all weeks with my family of origin, there were great joys and some interesting struggles. lots of laughter and playing and relaxing, and some arguments and tensions thrown in for good measure. ah family. delightful and difficult.

in returning to my life in the city, I am aware of loneliness threatening to overtake me. I'm not sure why - maybe just having been in the midst of the crazy noisy busy throes of family for a while, and then returning to a quieter simple life. definitely partly because my time with my family included the birth of a new niece and lots of cuddles with another niece, and I sure do miss them!! also due to the fact that I really love and treasure my brother and sister, and had great conversations and long walks with them, and I miss them. and I guess that it is quite a lovely thing, that I'm experiencing this loneliness, because it's making me realize how much I do treasure the relationships I have in my family. that's a gift, isn't it?!

yesterday I was feeling quite lonely, and all the friends I'd normally call or see are quite busy these days or have some struggles going on. I decided to spontaneously pop in on a friend's coffee shop to see if he was around. and he was. and we sat and had a latte and wonderful inspiring uplifting conversation. [so grateful for friendship when loneliness rises] and at the end of the conversation he asked if I was still writing, and I said I'd been away from it for a while, and he gently prodded me to get back to writing.

so here I am:)

today I taught a couple classes (I teach yoga) and then decided to go for a bike ride this evening. sat by the canal here in Ottawa for a little bit to soak up some nature vibes - watched the ducks, watched the water, soaked in the green. and I was so aware of the feeling of loneliness. thoughts always run to my single state, my desire for love and companionship, thoughts about singleness, coupleness, and what I desire in my life. oh so many thoughts. and the loneliness swelled. it hurt, so I grabbed my phone and texted a couple of friends. and then I set my phone down, and thought, can you sit with your feelings? can you sit with loneliness? instead of dulling the pain with phone/email/facebook/tv, can you sit with it? argh. it's a tough one. I thought of the writing of Oriah Mountain Dreamer, called "the Invitation", where she asks "I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it."

Can you?

As I sat there, feeling the waves and intensity of emotion, I realized that it takes so so much courage to do that. I had to dig very deep to do it. It's so much easier to dull it. To hide it or fade it. As I sat there with it, I found myself asking, what if this is life? What if it doesn't get better or easier or less lonely or more anything? And I thought, it's ok. I still choose life. I choose the joys and the pains and the awareness and the struggles and the bliss and the ups and downs and uncertainties and adventures and sorrows. because baby, this is life. it is raw. it is beautiful. it is wretched and hard and wonderful and terrible. and I get to live it. I get to breathe and walk and run and cry and laugh and play and feel and sit and fall and climb. what an amazing gift that is.

so, dear ones who may read this,  I wish you joy and companionship and love and a sense of belonging. and I wish you courage when you don't sense or feel those things, courage to sit with it. to breathe through it. to know you are strong and beautiful and perfect and delightful and wonderfully human.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

shifts in energy

Yesterday I was in a blue-black place. And needed to sit with that and vent against the philosophy that keeps bumping into me, about our power to change our situations and lives if we just stay focused on positivity and power and intention. And I vented because I find it challenging to work up any positive energy or send out any life-altering intentions when I feel down. And it may not be contrary to that system, that sometimes we need to acknowledge the sadnesses, the confusion, the hurt.

Sometimes, I think, when we've been in a dark place for a bit, maybe we need something to shift our energy. Yoga is a great place to go for this, because there are so many facets of a yoga practice that can do that very thing. Sometimes, it's a very physical thing - a strong asana class can provide a powerful shift, where you feel the body working through and releasing some anger or stress you're holding on to. That happened for me last night - I went to a class taught by my beautiful teacher, Roxanne Joly, (who I am so grateful for - her kindness, her wisdom, her generosity, her spirit of joy) and the physical practice helped me so much, by building strength and releasing tension in my body, and by giving me a time to just focus on my body. Sometimes, a gentle, releasing class is what you need to shift your energy, especially if there is a lot of anxiety in your mind. Sometimes we need a sweet breathing practice or guided relaxation to shift our energy. Sometimes, sitting in meditation can shift our mental energy by giving the mind a place to rest, when it's very busy. And sitting in meditation allows us to draw inward and connect with the Source where there is only light and life and no drama and no worrying. When we can remember that there is so much more to life than whatever is getting us down.

Maybe you've found other ways to shift your energy, when it becomes stagnant and stuck. Going for a run. Taking a long walk in the forest. Going for a swim. Talking to a friend. Helping someone in need. Cooking a healthy meal for yourself. Going dancing. Having great sex. Journaling. I'm sure the list is endless, and if we take time, we can think of something that does it for us.

My teacher last night reminded me of something I've let go of, in this season of uncertainty and change I'm walking through. She reminded us in our class to find joy. it was a challenging class, physically, and she continued to remind us throughout to find joy. even in the challenges. even when you think you're about to fall over. even when you feel like you have nothing more to give. can you find joy? that was a great energy shifter for me. a great reminder. wow. my life is a little uncertain right now. there is a certain amount of instability right now as I make major changes. BUT there is so much to be grateful for and joyful about, if only I can shift my mind to that! a new perspective. Instead of fear and worry and self-doubt, can I find the joy? The joy in having space and time to rest, to cook, to exercise, to wander in the woods, to write, to feel? The joy in all the little things in my day that I now have time and energy to notice and experience? The joy of the adventure of change, of creating, of the unknown? The joy of learning so much about myself and how I view myself in the world?

Can you find joy today? I'm making it my intention for today. and according to that philosophy, i'll likely find it :)

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

February blues and bright sunshine

oh friends, any of you experiencing February blues? or maybe even darker-than-the-blues time? Wow, every year, it seems, I forget that February is a hard month to get through. I know in my own life it is true, and as I listen to those around me, I hear the same stories. Of mental health struggles, anxiety, depression, darkness, heaviness, stuck-ness. There are many theories about why this is so, and I'm sure there is no shortage of reading material out there about it. I hope you are finding helpful literature out there to give some guidance and clarity about what is going on, if that helps you. There are great articles about this being the Kapha season (ayurvedic philosophies); there are great writings from a psychological viewpoint about mental health. Without a doubt, those of us who live in the northern hemisphere sure are missing Vitamin D - we need sunshine!! it's been a long cold lonely winter here in Canada.

But hang in there, dear ones - the end is in sight. Spring and sunshine and budding flowers and new life is just around the corner.

I've been thinking a lot about mental health. about depression and anxiety. both of which I experience in major bouts, at times. I've been thinking about dark times. scary times in my mind. i can get to some dark places in my mind, and the tendency is to go there and stay there. but i am learning slowly the importance of learning about my mind, noticing what is happening, and trying to remember that this is just a season. that spring and light and sunshine will follow. it always does. to be able to sit with the darkness and the feelings of heaviness and fear is an interesting exercise. i really want to run away. i really want to find some fix, some cure, some way of making everything better. but what if sometimes, all we can do is be present with it, knowing it will pass? i don't know. i don't know if this is the "best" way. but it is an interesting experience.

all around me, i hear these messages of "the secret" and "the power". the power of positive thinking. the philosophy that what you put out there, you get. where you set your energy is what you will receive back into your life. i think i believe this: I've seen it in action in my own life and in other's lives. but what about the times where you do just feel grief, or anger, or depression, and though you try and try and try, you can't seem to get of it? does that mean I'm not trying hard enough? maybe. [to be honest, I'm too fucking tired of trying so hard, to try anymore.] but, just a thought, what about the importance of accepting where you're at, sitting with whatever you're experiencing, and allowing it to be? I'm not talking about sitting in misery and soaking in the darkness. but i am curious about authenticity. do these philosophies of positive thinking and only putting out bright light happy power allow for the authentic experience of being human, which sometimes does include sorrow and disappointment and frustration and other less-than-shiny energies? I'm not sure. I'm not criticizing these philosophies, because i do value the importance of positivity, faith, beliefs and energetic exchanges. but sometimes, don't we need to sit with the parts of us that are sad or hurt or scared, validate them and show them compassion? I've found that when i do that, they tend to release more quickly, than if i just adopt the attitude of "buck up, think only on good things, don't think about those other things at all".

ah, who knows. i might just be spouting because I'm feeling a little low in this season. and really, what i think is, we all just need some compasison, love, tenderness and patience in these times. for ourselves. for each other. let's just all be kind to ourselves and each other in this season, until the sun shines again. it will:) thank god for that.

peace, dear ones. love to you all in the dark spaces.

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

hello new year

indeed. another one over. 2013. wow. I will spend this evening thinking on what the past year has been for me. wow. learning. growing. building strength. laughing. loving. traveling. crying. feeling.

~working hard at trying to find balance between work and yoga and friends
~coming off anti-anxiety medication and feeling the effects of crazy withdrawal, and then feeling things deeply in a way I haven't in years
~finding a new friend who was a gift to me, bringing ease and pleasure in a time of transition and struggle
~taking ski lessons with some girlfriends
~finding a niche in my yoga teaching that I love, that seemed to bring joy and ease to people's lives
~spending a week with a dear friend in Utah, and being reminded that joy and bliss and connection is all around, all the time. if we only get quiet enough to sense it
~paying off $40 000 in student loans, and having a party to celebrate!!!
~making the decision to leave a job that I was no longer happy in
~actually leaving that job
~camping and adventuring in beautiful Lake Placid
~spending 2 months in a yoga ashram, meditating, facing my demons, learning so much about so much
~spending 2 months living with my family of origin, feeling so much about so much
~getting to spend a whole lot of time with my beautiful niece, and falling absolutely in love with her
~coming back to my home in Ottawa, and feeling excited about this next chapter - whatever will it hold?!?!
~and at the end of this year, reconnecting with an old friend I haven't seen in 13 years. wow.

~~~being supported and encouraged and loved and held and known by such amazing, loving, wonderful, wise, kind, strong friends. oh my god, I am so grateful for my friends. I could name them all right now, but I fear I'd accidentally forget someone and hurt their feelings.  I hope you know who you are. the ones who said "go for it. take the risk. follow your heart. you are wise. you can do it." and all the ones who I have tea with, coffee with, wine with. all the laughing, the crying, the talking, the learning, the playing. you are all, each of you, so precious to me. Thank you.

This past year has been one of tremendous learning. Of learning to let go. Of learning to laugh:) Of learning to weep. Of learning to breathe. Of learning to notice. Of learning to be. Of learning to soften. Of learning to accept. Of learning to say yes, and learning to say no.

I am grateful. for the beautiful people in my life. friends. family (many of whom are friends). fellow adventurers and seekers. playmates. my teachers. my therapist. my career counsellor. you all make such a difference in my life. my heart swells with love for you.

huh. I guess at the end of 2013, I know that I am loved. and I love. what a delightful thing to know. I am so frickin blessed!!!!

so I wish you all a wonderful last evening of 2013. and hold in my heart a desire for an upcoming year of delights, of learning, of love, of beauty, for myself and for each of you, dear readers. yet another year of new adventurers and rememberings of how wonderful and magical this life really is. enjoy each moment. be true to yourselves. love yourselves, and watch that love pour out of yourselves to others.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy. ~Max Ehrmann
thank you for reading and being with me this year!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013


hey all.
listening to Hawksley Workman ( - do you know him? he's an artist I appreciate. love many of his lyrics, his rawness, his poetry, his voice.
one of the lyrics stood out to me this morning:
be thankful that you're in pieces
oh my god, this resonates with me because I have felt in pieces for the past few weeks.
so, for those who followed my blog before, I spent 2 months at a beautiful ashram in Pennsylvania, called the Himalayan Institute, this fall. September and October were exhilerating, challenging, soul-stirring, heart-opening, wild and wacky months for me as I learned more about yoga and lived in a community that embraced and encouraged healing, health, contemplation, and self-realization.
And then I came home.
Or rather, I came to live with family for a couple months, until I could get back into my place (which I had subletted out for 4 months).
I am truly grateful for the generosity of my family, who have hosted me for the past 6 weeks. It has been so precious to spend time with my gorgeous 17-month old niece, to get to experience her growth and learning and giggles and joy and enthusiasm about living. I taught her to moo, received a million wide-open-mouth kisses and giant hugs, and those are memories I am so glad I will always have:) It's been so nice to spend time with my sister, to chat and visit and share stories and build our relationship. it's been important to spend time with my mom and dad.
but let me tell you, when you've spent 2 months having your heart opened, exploring vulnerability and softness, and then you go home to your family of origin, well, my friends, it can be a raw time. Add on to that the fact that this is a time of tremendous change and transition and uncertainty in my life, and it is messy. All my buttons pushed, all my issues roaring to the surface. the unlovely ways of relating, the self-protection, the old angers and hurts rising in me and in my family members.
I've shed more tears in hurt, fear, and anger in the last 6 weeks than I've done in a long time. Do you know, when I first came "home" from the Himalayan Institute, I was worried that the healing and processing and good juicy stuff that I'd experienced would stop when I came home? ohhhhh no. in fact, what I've found, is that I seem to have broken through the walls of self-protection and image and hardness I have built up for the past many years, and now the healing and processing and awareness won't stop:)
And I don't want it to stop.
Be thankful you're in pieces. I've felt in pieces for the last many weeks. and it's ok. because when I'm in pieces, I feel real. I feel broken, but I feel alive. not in a masochistic way. but rather, i see that old patterns and fears and things that have stopped me from living fully and passionately and truly as me are coming to the surface, being acknowledged and accepted, and then seem to let go. And I know, that when the season of brokenness is over, there is more strength, more clarity, more stability and more solidness than I've had before.
so if this being in pieces means there is greater wholeness, greater joy and love and freedom and awareness of ME in my life, then I'm on board:) and I'm grateful.

peace to you all. in your seasons of ease and joy, and your seasons of brokenness. they're all part of this crazy thing called life:) love to you.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

final hurrah

wow wow, 2 months has flown by. I have now left Pennsylvania and am writing this from my parents' kitchen table.

what a wild time I had. not in the typical sense of wild - ashram living doesn't really support that:) I had wine and meat twice in two months, and my wildest indulgences were the occasional chocolate chip cookie and chocolate bar from the gift shop. So, by wild, I don't mean hedonistically wild. Rather, it was a ride, internally.

So much learning. So much stretching. Lots of rest. Lots of glorious reading and walking and thinking and writing and breathing and loving and time. Time to be mindful, to notice what was going on around me and inside of me. I developed a new appreciation for vegetables in particular, and food in general. The beauty of a beet, the softness of an eggplant, the freshness of celery. It was always so delightful to see all the vegetables we'd chopped and prepared for the whole community, lined up along the buffet table for people to enjoy. There was pure joy and an amazing feeling of fulfillment in seeing the direct expression of our hard work, knowing it would nourish people. I also received an awesome "reprogramming", nutritionally - after 2 months of eating a fresh, live, organic, vegetarian diet, veggies, fruits, whole grains and non-animal proteins, my body feels amazing. Three meals a day, medium breakfast, big lunch, small dinner, and my body is thriving. I have so  much energy, and feel light and fresh and easy in my body. And I want to keep it up - I drive past McD's, which used to be a weakness of mine, and I have zero desire to go in. Now, I realize that might change as the days and weeks go past and I'm bombarded with images and opportunities for junk. But for now, I'm enjoying how my body is reacting to pure good food!!

I met so many amazing people. People from all walks of life - people as young as 21, and as old as 70, there for various reasons and with a multitude of personal stories and journeys, but all there to learn, to grow, to heal, to be part of a community that is focused on health and wellness. As I mentioned in an earlier post, it is not all glory. When people live together, they rub up against each other. Buttons get pushed, issues arise, tempers are lost and friction occurs. But it is acknowledged that that happens, it is accepted as a natural occurrence, and seen as an opportunity to grow, to learn more about oneself, and to discover strategies to deal and live with each other. One thing I learned from my short time in living in this community is that while sometimes another's actions might be the cause of friction, my responsibility is to look inside of me, to see how I am affected, to see what is happening in my mind, my reaction, my perception of the situation, and see if there is something I need to address or breathe through or see differently. I guess it comes back to what I've written throughout my time at the ashram - everything truly can be for my upliftment, every person and every situation can be seen as a gift, as a way for me to understand myself better, learn new strategies, shift my perception, and figure out how I can find peace, regardless of another's actions. Ultimately, can I get to the place of clarity and solidity inside of me, so that no one can take away my peace? Cause, really, they can't... I choose to let it go. I choose to give it away. I choose how I see or perceive things, situations, or people. It is not easy. Holy shit, it is the hardest work I've ever done, no doubt about it. There were times in the past 2 months where I was consumed with rage and anger. Irritation. Hurt and confusion. But I am so grateful that I was in a place where it was understood, and where I was encouraged to go write about it, or talk it out, sit in the meditation room and meditate, go for a strenuous walk up the hill to work it out of my body, or have a good cry if needed. Self-contemplation, drawing inward to look at what's going on in me is NOT EASY!! But I have learned that it brings so much more health and peace and stillness inside of me, eventually, rather than stewing and soaking in the rage, misery, sense of injustice, etc. Because, really, that rage and irritation only hurts me. I've seen it's effects on me, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Anyway, that was a big paragraph about the less-pleasant parts of community living. There were also so so many wonderful parts, memories I'm taking with me. Lots of laughter, lots of amazing conversations, some deep lovely friendships that might last a long or a little while, but had such an incredible impact on my life and in my heart. I was often a recipient of great kindness and great generosity.

And, as I've raved about in previous posts, some of my favourite times and memories are from the beauty of nature around the property. I will miss my daily deer sighting:) and my hikes up the hill and around the trails. What a gorgeous place to have a season of rest and healing. I am forever grateful.

My journey is not over. I don't think our journey is ever over. Now I get to come back to my "normal" life, of family, friends, paying bills, etc, but with so many amazing tools, so much more self awareness and self-knowledge, and with beautiful memories. There are things inside of me that have been forever shifted, toward greater wholeness and health, on the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual planes. I am so grateful to the teachers, the friends, the spirit and energy of this place, the chefs, the community that welcomed me and supported me on this particular step of my journey:) My heart is filled with so much love and gratitude. And tremendous excitement (and a little bit of nervousness) for how life will unfold now. But one thing I do believe, with all my heart: The Universe, God, Spirit, Love, is benevolent. It is unfolding exactly as it is meant to, and I'm right where I'm meant to be.

I'll leave you, for now, with two of my favourite poems/writings that kept recurring in my life and thoughts and interactions in the past two months:

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love – for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment is it perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you from misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.Max Ehrmann, Desiderata: A Poem for a Way of Life

The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

-- Jelaluddin Rumi,
    translation by Coleman Barks
And now, home. farewell for now, and thank you for reading my ramblings and being with me on this little journey. be well. xo

Sunday, 20 October 2013

in sickness and in health...

first, some pictures for your viewing pleasure...

my own form of tree pose... gaze into the space and light and beauty of a tree while lying on your back in the lush grass of a field. or a path in a forest. and breathe:)

sunrises are magical, and definitely worth getting up for...once in a while


so much beauty in this place. it's easy to feel love and gratitude and peace and bliss here.

sunny happy me:

and now some thoughts and ramblings...

ridonculously, I have been sick again. Yep, that's twice in less than 2 months here. I echo a friend's thoughts, in the assumption that this was some kind of utopia where only health and beauty would exist. huh! not true!! I was knocked out flat with some kind of virus, with flu/mono symptoms that drove me to my bed for about 20 hours a day for a week. Not what I had in mind when I thought I was coming here for a rest! There were times I felt really grumpy, really lonely, mostly really sick during that time. But every so often, in between fever flashes, I would think, there is good here. For the first time in a long time, this sickness did not come with the guilt I usually feel. Most times when I get sick and have to stay in bed, I carry with me all kinds of guilt - I should be at work, others might think I'm faking and lazy, maybe I am lazy and just a wimp, I should be stronger, should get going, should be at work!!! This time, I didn't have any of that! partly because I was just too sick to worry about what anyone could possibly think of me. Partly because I'm in a place where it's encouraged to listen to your needs and honour them, to show compassion to yourself. And I'd like to hope that it's partly because I am learning to be compassionate to myself, to show kindness, to allow myself to be where I am; and to let go of guilt and self-condemnation, cause hey, does that ever really help anything?!?! nope. likely I got well more quickly and rested more deeply because I didn't berate myself - I let myself rest and heal as I needed to. so I'll celebrate that new way of being sick:)

AND, second great thing, I got to work with a homeopathic pharmacist here. After the first couple of days of feeling like death, I'd drag myself out of bed and stumble down the hall to his office, and sit with him each day. for like 15-20 minutes, he'd ask me all about my symptoms. physical, emotional, mental symptoms. what was I feeling? what was I experiencing before I got sick? we'd talk, he'd listen, and based on all my symptoms and states, recommend and grind up some remedy, combined with various vitamins and minerals to build up my immune system. the next day, i'd drag myself back in, and go over it again when the first remedy or two didn't work, and he was so patient, listening, really seeking to help. and slowly, we found a remedy that worked, when combined with Echinacea and goldenseal. and slowly, day by day, I began to feel stronger. I just loved that it was not an in-and-out, "take some Tylenol/cold-and-flu/antibiotic" quick answer. it was specific to  me, to my symptoms, to the changes each day that was going on. how extremely lucky am I to have been so sick 100 feet from this man! it was so great to be able to experience alternative medicine in such a direct, easily-accessible, helpful way. i'm digging it.

so, yucky to be sick. no doubt. but some great came of it - I got to rest very deeply, I got to get away from the busyness and often uber-chatty environment here, I got to experience being sick without guilt, and I got to work with a brilliant homeopathic pharmacist. I dig this philosophy of seeing everything as an upliftment, as I wrote about in an earlier post. why not? if nothing else, it puts a positive spin on life! :)

And now, I'm looking forward to being well. I love how when I've been sick, I come back with a new vitality and appreciation for life and health. Today I went for a slow stroll in the sunshine (my strength is slowly returning) and enjoyed it. my body is craving slow movement, stretching, breath and life. Being sick gave me ample time to be contemplative and thoughtful, and even spinny and uncomfortable in my mind, and now that I'm slowly coming back to life, I feel solid and peaceful and confidant. Rebuilt, somehow.

Peace, people!