Tag Archives: Personal growth

All grown up…?

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Harness more life energy: Boost your EQ!  Photo: www.ppswest.com/blog/

Harness more life energy: Boost your EQ!
Photo: http://www.ppswest.com/blog/

Just wanted to share this great article recently posted by another website.

Emotional Intelligence has profoundly shifted to the forefront of my awareness over the past decade and this article gives a great recap of what ‘EQ’ entails (i.e. what we are striving for).

The real work lies in getting from where you are now ‘in your head’ to where you want to be. Unleashing more EQ. Prepare for emotional blood, sweat and tears because this is the real work of life. Shifting through the thoughts in your head and your reactions to people and events to trace back to the base human emotions that were evoked. What do you fear the most? What causes you shame? Where do you search for love and acceptance? Emotional intelligence effects your search for love, your joy in life and your everyday behaviour. It allows you to have empathy and truly connect to other people.

Realizing your potential, your joy and passions as well as the same features in everyone around you are some of the rewards of an improved emotional intelligence! Don’t wait. This is some of the most important work you will ever do.

Paying it Back, in Kind

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I am having a bad day. You know, the kind where you wake up annoyed and just can’t seem to snap out of it? Today, I feel like the weight above me is just heavy enough to override the wind beneath me. In other words, I feel down. What’s got me in this funk? Who really knows, but at my best guess, I think I have taken too much on again. I feel like my ‘to-do’ lists are growing wings, levitating off the kitchen island and taking flight for the sole purpose of flapping around my head all day. Like a murder of crows after a chunk of fine flesh, these lists will consume me piece by piece. My mind is always with them, ever-buzzing, never at peace. Today, these lists make me sad. Sad that I cannot seem to muster up enough empathy for myself to just let them die a quiet, pulpy death. If I could only grant myself as much kindness as I could any friend or acquaintance in a tough spot, each day would be that much more free.

Think about the last time you sat with a friend who was hurting or upset. Did you lower your voice? Speak softly to be sure they were really hearing you? Did you use empathy and really try to understand their situation so that you could give an honest outlook? Were you caring and sympathetic? So what if we could use this same kind and consoling manner with ourselves? What if today, I just took 10 minutes to create some compassion for myself, acknowledging my daily struggles and recognizing that I have some choices to make. As any good friend would, I can note that I am doing the very best that I can. I could suggest that I am being a little too hard on myself and expecting too much. Perhaps, expecting more than anyone else ever would.

Self-compassion and empathy would likely allow me to again remember that I am enough. To acknowledge my worth and my value – without all the unnecessary trimmings. I could speak softly and gently, kindly guiding the way. Then, I could let the lists rest like paper should, in a pile, waiting its turn to be dealt with. There are more important things to be done. Like tickling my children to entice their laughter, holding my husband’s hand just to feel his warmth, and twirling around the kitchen to my favorite song. All things guaranteed to lift me up above this hazy fog to clear skies and brighter days.

CB

“Goodbye Miss Universe”

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Small prizes for self-destruction. Source: http://capriciousd.hubpages.com/hub/7-Things-I-Wish-I-Understood-Sooner

Small prizes for self-destruction.
Source: Superstock.com

This past month I have thrown myself back into a previous work environment. I am back to work at a children’s hospital in the critical care programs. I have not worked there for over 4 years and the break has done me well, but I returned to keep up my neonatal and pediatric skills. While re-orientating in the unit with an old friend he mentioned in passing ” …I know that you are a bit of a perfectionist, but since you will only be working casually here, you will have to ask for help occasionally.”.  His next words became fuzzy as I processed that statement. Wow, he was right. I was a perfectionist. When he had worked with me I was endlessly fighting to prove myself every day and be flawless. No mistakes could be made. Good enough was just not in my vocabulary. I have, thank goodness, begun to evolve and grow in many ways this past year. I used to be a devout perfectionist, but now I am doing the work of recovering from this affliction and have great hope for myself in the future!

The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself. – Anna Quindlen

I can almost hear some of you contesting in the background. Shrugging shoulders and scoffing in disagreement. You are asking yourselves what is so very WRONG with perfectionism. Doesn’t it make you better? Motivate you? Keep you ahead of the pack at work? Some of this may be true, but what will happen if you make a mistake? If you are caught being imperfect, you will get an awful feeling in the pit of your stomach. Dread and fear. You will feel a flush of heat up your neck and into your face. Shame and embarrassment. These are not pleasant feelings. You will then vow to be even more perfect, placing your nose to the proverbial grindstone and working even harder at your perfectionism. Running from shame and judgement, forever and always.

 perfectionism

Such weight of responsibility we feel from our perfect hair to our excellent, trendy choice in shoes! To look and act and live perfect lives is exhausting but you will only recognize this if you can step away. Like a long commute in for work every day of the week, you will only know the relief of the strain of perfectionism once you have stopped the daily habit. What if you could take this weight off your shoulders? What would that feel like? I know you’ve often wondered. When paired with the weight of the iron mask of my own projected self image, my attempts at perfectionism were like chains, anchoring me to a treadmill that never stopped moving. I could not step off, because if I did, I thought myself lazy, and not worthy of any positive thoughts or love. I would be judged, feel shame and there would be fear. The fear of the loss of attention for my huge efforts. I could not risk it. The consequences would be too great.

There must be some escape from this cycle of self-destruction. I can tell you that there is and I hope to show you a way. I view myself as having thrown off all but one or two small lengths of chain with both feet planted on the stationary sides of the treadmill. I hover above it, loathing the endlessly rotating belt. It stares me right in the face and I make no effort to look away. I shout out “I know you are there, and I WILL be rid of you soon.” But there is still much work to be done.

There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. – Leonard Cohen: Anthem

A huge step in my personal journey evolved when I discovered mindfulness. Becoming aware of your emotions and not over-identifying with them as defining who you are is very challenging and the concept needs to be adequately explained. Dr. Dan Siegel’s work on the Mindsight project is pivotal  in helping us navigate our identity : self, separate from emotion. Not ‘I am sad’ but ‘I feel sad’. Wading through a minefield of possible highs and lows every day and letting it flow. You, as a person and powerful being, afloat and in control of how much emotion you experience. The concept is life changing.

I have my children to thank for this personal evolution because becoming a new parent is one of the scariest, most vulnerable positions to ever find yourself in. Their entry into my life kick-started some amazing changes. No control, no study guide, no possible chance of perfection. I was wrong on many occasions, I needed to adapt and learn but I had no answers readily at hand. I can now very easily admit to my children that ‘Mommy should have done it differently’ and that I too, was learning.

I have historically been very hard on myself. I was never allowed mistakes and I still marvel to this day at people that can take a correction with no offense. Could I ever be that kind to myself? Could I ever love myself enough to say ‘It’s ok Christy, even with your flaws, you are good.’ ?

A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life. – Christopher K Germer

Great change and self development is always work, but it is my life’s work and it has become a new passion. I see now that perfectionism,  quite frankly, is boring and a dead end. Seeking a better motivator than temporary nods of approval, I am choosing a life free of chains, full of mistakes and laughter over my imperfection. Seeking a commonality with others on their own journey, I am learning to open up and share my ‘woops’ moments. Laughter and connection are becoming a new driving force. I am not alone anymore.

CB

Note: A good portion of my inspiration for this blog-post came from Brene Brown’s book – The Gifts of Imperfection. Reading her work can be transformational if the timing is right. Watch her first TEDx talk here.

Pride – In the Name of Love

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Hold on tight, or better yet….let go. You are worthy of this and so much more.

Hold on tight, or better yet….let go. You are worthy of this and so much more.

It seems like it takes an entire lifetime to break some emotional and behavioural patterns. Even when I think I have one beat, it rears its ugly head merely a week later. This time around it is pride that has tripped me up yet again. ( I am defining pride as a sense of dignity or value in this post, not as the satisfaction of achievement.) To keep a sense of my own value or worth is essential. What am I if I am not worthy? I would be unworthy… and I have come very far in 20 years to a place of knowing that I am worthy of love. I am enough. This is me. Take it or leave it baby.

So to place myself out there, vulnerable and exposed is still so very challenging. Less so with friends, acquaintances or strangers since I am sure now of who I am. Interestingly, it is so much more challenging to speak from my heart with the people that mean the most to me. Why? Because to lose them, to lose their love, would be crushing. I could not bear it. I fear I would never recover.

I can hear the words that I want to say. I repeat them in my head again and again, hoping desperately that the innervation of my vocal cords, tongue and jaw will just take command and spill out what I cannot. Around and around they swirl like a mantra and just as I feel like I will overcome it the bricks from the wall that I thought I had slain fly together from out of nowhere, lodging together, tight at the seams and like that… it is done. The block is back. Frack. We’re back to this. *sigh*. Maybe next time I will be strong enough.

So what is it that I am so incapable of saying? What terrifies me so much that it seals my lips tight? Admitting that I need someone. Admitting that I love someone so much that to be without them would leave me lost. I live in fear of full celebration of the joys of love, simply because if I acknowledge what I have, it is that much more painful to lose it.

So there it is. Simply put but undeniably complicated. How many of us have great things in our lives? Do you fully embrace and celebrate them, or do you also hold back? How many of us have walked away from amazing opportunities because we feel that if we commit entirely and put ourselves ‘out there’ that there will be so much more to lose? You may not even recognize that you are making the decision to hold back. It can be instinct. Habit. Self-protection.

How do we get there? How do we push through the fear of loss of our sense of worth in those relationships that we hold so dear? I can only see a path of practice taking me to my ultimate goal. The only way to create new neural pathways and thus new behaviours is to do the work. SO back to the front lines I go, battling demons whose familiarity is stifling. Yet I brandish new hope against them, fighting every day for what is mine.

CB

Camping Bites

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Christina Lake Adventures 2013 - photo source: globeimages.net

Christina Lake Adventures 2013 – photo source: globeimages.net

I am still in the throes of the ‘mad laundress’ persona at present. The aftermath of camping. The cleanup and the reorganizing as we all contract to fit back into our home and our lives after a few days of knowing no boundaries. This can easily become a chore but I am striving to allow it to be a reminder of how much we have, what is here to come back to and more importantly what we really need. What I was lucky enough to see and feel on this trip outweighs the work on our return. We stretched and we grew, together.

I had not camped for an entire decade. My last experience was not pleasant. It seems, though, that I had locked away the unpleasantness as resulting exclusively from the environment rather than that combined with poor company. Company being a horde of nasty mosquitos and one miserable (now ex-) husband. Caught by association, I neglected the green forests of B.C. regardless of their majesty. I chose instead to slumber on synthetics piled high within 4 solid walls and thankfully, I chose much better company along the way.  But circumstance intervened and now I was faced with the proposition: To camp or not to camp?

So I sat in front of my Mac considering our inaugural camping trip. (‘Glamping’ to be more accurate as we would be navigating the Crows Nest Highway with 19 feet of RV trailer in tow.) With children ages just shy of 2 and 5, was I nuts? Did I really need to accentuate the challenges of every day by adding a lack of running water and electricity? Aw heck, why not?

And so we went and we survived and we all loved it. Most shockingly, I adored it. Turns out the Gladstone provincial campsite was kind enough to add hot, free showers to their repertoire. That helped. A lot. The pristine, warm water of Christina Lake was exquisite, healing and the perfect remedy for the August heat. My children were so content to be floated about in inflatable boats, marvelling at the mountains, boats and other swimmers. They laughed and ran and made new friends at other campsites. Their inhibition was quite the catalyst for new friendships, as they walked right onto other sites and sat down at neighbors picnic tables. I was apologetic but got waved to join in and stay. Here they were, my children, showing me the way to change and grow. They engaged with other families and helped me see that, in fact, one of the joys of camping comes from a sense of community. Us against nature!

So although it is so much easier to say ‘no’, we revelled in the experience of ‘yes’.  We attempted. We experienced it together and will have stories to tell. Some things worked very well (loving the shower option) and others did not (10hrs of driving in one day). We stretched beyond the known into the unknown. I hope to show them more of this in the future. Mommy should not be so rigid in her ways. Never say never…

 

Though what is unknown is beyond us, what is familiar is in danger of being taken for granted. And we live in between, on the edge of what we know. This is the edge between today and tomorrow, between our foundation and our tenuous growth. How we relate to this edge is crucial, another life skill not addressed in school.”  Mark Nepo – Seven Thousand Ways to Listen

CB

Brave. A personal journey years in the making.

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As I write this, I am looking out a patio door onto the Granby river in a little town called Grand Forks in the Boundary Country region of B.C. The sun is shining brilliantly after a rainfall and I can hear a myriad of unfamiliar bird calls. I am so excited to be here. “Am I on vacation?” you may ask. Nope… not quite. I am on a mission. A mission to face a fear that is so deeply ingrained in my body that it is as familiar to me as the feeling of my own heart beating in my chest.

I am here to meet my real father. Yes, for the first time. Yes, I am 35 years old. Yes, it is about time.

I will not reflect on how it came to be that I do not know my real father at this stage of my life here on my blog as this would expose the personal lives of others. How we got here is not really so important as what we do now, this instant.

I will, however, reflect on what kind of hurdle this has been for me. I have struggled with feeling ‘abandoned’, ‘unwanted’ and ‘never good enough’ for as long as I can remember. It did not matter whether these feelings were in my present state of mind. They were intrinsic, ever-present obstacles that I would dance around daily or appease by acting out for attention. They were subtle…but even the smallest mosquito can cause quite a ruckus when it is trapped in the room with you.

There are some amazing substitutes for fathers and mine were my grandfather and then later on, my step-father. Love was given, tears were wiped. I was not left wanting for a male presence as I grew up. But there it still was, buzzing in the back of my mind despite my protests of “Why should I want to know my real father? What do I need him for? What will it change?”.

My sister, truly the boldest of we two, made the big leap of contacting our father first.  She was hunting down some family history. I thank my lucky stars above that I had done some recent personal ‘work’ by way of starting my own business, as this placed my mind in exactly the right state to hear her tell me “He is really lovely and he REALLY wants to talk to you!”.

I also need to thank Mark Zuckerberg for the gift of Facebook at this point because it is SO much easier to type a quick message than it is to dial a number. So I wrote a quick note to my father…asking for patience. It was in me to call, I just needed a few more days.

And then I found it! The spark, the inertia, the drive to not only call but really have a wonderful conversation. To hear his voice, finally solid after being such a mystery. To hear his tellings of our family history, the artistic talent, the fact that he himself never knew his own father. But most of all, to hear that when I was 5 months old, he tried to see me but came up against resistance in the form of family meaning well.

That conversation started the pull that I felt toward him. I needed  to meet him and I would feel even more incomplete and frustrated every day that passed without it happening. He sent me a photo that he had taken of himself and my mother before their marriage. Gazing at these two faces together was jarring. There was love there. This existed. I am stronger because of this.

So when I looked at my calendar for the next few months, I was so dismayed. This was important dammit! I will make it a priority! And so here we are…I am so nervous that I feel sick. What will he think of me? What will we talk about? The only thing that calms me is pacing across the tiny motel room and gazing at the engorged river. Just breathe. Just breathe…This is where you are meant to be right now. This is my mantra. On this day of faith. In search of love.

To be continued…