Just So Tired

I have been starting every day re-framing my negative thoughts. Instead of “I’m just so tired I can’t even” I tell myself “Today I get to wake up in a warm house with fresh coffee and time with my best friend to start my day.”

Then I was reminded to ask myself how much of what I’m carrying is mine. Well, I have a habit of, almost obsessively, checking to make sure I am not enabling others to perpetuate their unhealthy or self-destructive patterns, so I feel like any burdens weighing me down are actually mine.

Talking with others candidly, I realize I do have an enormous load compared to what others contend with. It is what it is. I see a few others like me and wonder why it is that we have been allotted so many difficult challenges to manage. There is no sense of justice in it, I think. It’s just that we have experienced trauma and disappointment but it has not defeated us, nor does it define us.

I believe it contributed to our understanding and capacity for compassion. I believe we took lessons from it that enable us to be resilient and to recognize patterns that need to be changed in order for healing to occur. I believe that because we learned how to thrive in spite of the damage done to us makes us responsible to show others how they too can change hurtful, unhealthy patterns and thrive. I believe that in order for people to thrive they need to connect and sometimes that means helping someone carry their burden while they learn to walk taller and stronger on their path.

My sense of responsibility to family and community compels me to carry heavy because – I can. 

But the reality is, it hurts and can be exhausting. We are inundated daily by constant news of trauma in our communities and worldwide. We live in an era that is embattled on all sociopolitical and theological fronts. It’s as though all of humanity is frantically moving through cycles of trauma, anxiety, and depression, spiraling toward an explosion that will release all our negativity in one enormous, destructive purge.

Or maybe that’s just me because I’m hurting for everybody. I ache for those who see their toxic patterns and are trying to find better ways, to change, to heal, to help others do the same. I ache for those who are blind to the destruction their patterns cause and who can’t figure out why they’re never happy with what they have, even though they have surrounded themselves with people and all the material things they have ever wanted. I ache for those who have felt disconnected from the rest of humanity their whole lives and so anesthetize themselves with drugs, alcohol, and the general overall busy-ness that is our modern life.

Yes, I’m like 104% tired. But I have a kind, generous, hardworking, faithful life partner; I have a job and stable housing; I am surrounded by loving and supportive family and friends; I get weekends off so that I can recharge and rest. And today is Friday!

Happy weekend my friends. I hope that you too remember to take the time to re-frame your thoughts to foster gratitude for things you have rather than focus on the things you don’t have. I hope that you remember to make time for rest and recharging this weekend. And last, but NOT LEAST . . .

 

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Living in the Land of Fibro

After a few months off work, I’m heading back.

pain rating scaleMy health is improved, although my daily pain levels will never be at 1 or 2. I’m grateful to be down in the 4-5 range more days than not!

I am well enough for yoga and some gentle strength training now and I hope to return to run training in a month or so.

With a plan to ease back into my work routine, I am eager to return! I miss my job and my co-workers.

As I anticipate my happy return to work, I have a niggling sense that something else is coming my way; an opportunity; something which entails significant changes to my life and my direction. Opportunity always comes at a cost and I wonder if I will be willing to make the exchange.

Orkney Big SkyThe physical sense of this was something I experienced as I stood beneath the big skies in Orkney. The air and light there feels different, as though you can drop what you are carrying, raise your arms and you will float up and away. That sense of weightlessness is clear and simple and something which I have sought to bring into my daily life; that sense of being unburdened, free to move in any direction because you are traveling with the bare essentials, nothing to hold you back.

Personally, I have been doing a lot of “cleaning house”, so to speak.

Like doing metaphysical surgery, I have been removing toxic patterns and people from my daily life. This leaves me the mental energy and space to focus on things which are nurturing, creating happiness for me and those closest to me. This process has been both painful and liberating.

Physically I have experienced a nasty wake-up call: fibromyalgia is here to stay. I am learning to function with heightened pain levels and lower physical energy, which means I am far more selective of what I invest my time and energy in.

This has been revealing, illuminating the dark corners of my life which have gone  unattended in the interests of other, less meaningful things. 

I am determined to live a life of meaning, wasting no more of my time and energy on relationships and activities which do not nurture creativity and healing. Fibromyalgia may be here to stay, but it’s not going to stop me from living a fulfilling life!

Heading North

Throughout my learning and healing journey around the Medicine Wheel, I have shared thoughts about the process and my progress from one gateway to the next.

medicine-wheel-1764x700Now, as I move from the South Gate and the medicine of Water, I notice my awareness shifting, segueing into the medicine of the North and Air. It will be a year before I ceremonially enter the North Gate, and I hope that the work I do during my transition from south to north prepares me well to do my best work when I get there.

I feel the medicine of the South settling into my being, giving me a sense of the depth of my capacity for learning and healing, for being flexible while also maintaining healthy boundaries.

Silhouette Blowing Bubbles Sunset Bubbles SunI also feel the approaching strength that is in the power of the wind. It clears away all the unnecessary things that obscure clarity of thought, that undermine one’s ability to know what right action to take.

I look forward to exploring the ways one can integrate the qualities of Head Mind, Heart Mind, and Body Mind. In the north of the Medicine Wheel we move beyond working with our Inner Child, to becoming the Guardian Parent. And we learn to assimilate the understanding we gain from experiences of being both Hunter and Hunted.

The lessons of the north teach us what we need to know in order to be our strongest and wisest versions of ourselves. We learn what it means to be the Inner Warrior with the courage to stand in the centre of the Medicine Wheel, having faced our fears, our wounds, and our mistakes.  We learn to what it means to become whole, capable of taking whatever action is necessary to maintain our Being and assist others in their journey to become whole.

Hedgehog & Play Time

Recently, I encountered Hedgehog in the dreaming places, as I was working in the South of the Medicine Wheel.

The Hedgehog protects its personal space with its quills. This reminds us that it is a healthy practice in self-care to ensure our personal limits are set in such a way as to protect us from those who would take advantage or otherwise hurt us.

playfulhedgehogHedgehog tells us to make room to play! Be silly, be curious and creative, get active!

Upholding personal limits ensures we make time for ourselves to play. Being playful can be something physical or creative; something to make us laugh; something that gets us out of our heads and into our bodies, reconnecting with our vitality and the earth in general.

Of particular in interest to me, is the fact that Hedgehog is resistant to snake venom, as my other long time power animal totem is Snake! Of course, Snake is powerful and dangerous because of its association with addiction and abuse. Hedgehog medicine counters the potential for that aspect of Snake to dominate my actions.

Being playful and upholding my personal space recharges my sense of place and vitality, my connection with a meaningful connection to something greater than myself. This ensures I don’t feel the need to turn to substances or taking my anger out on others in an abusive manner.

From experience, I have come to understand that abuse and addiction are often perpetuated because we do not feel connected to others or to life itself.

As an aside, the work of Dr. Gabor Maté and Gordon Neufeld resonate with me for this reason. Please do look them up and see what you think!

So today, I will play. I will borrow a friend’s canoe and go out on the water; I will putter in my small garden; I will write a new chapter in the novel I am working on; I will play with my grandson; I will go hiking with my children, and I will share my joy and gratitude with those allowed in my personal space.

Thank you, Hedgehog, for reminding me to hold the boundaries that make room in my life for play!

All About Lineage

In shamanic practice we come to a point where we begin to consider the effects of our lineage on our life choices and current state of being. By traditional principles, we have a spiritual lineage and a biological lineage.

It is the biological lineage I want to explore today, as it is paramount to the social and cultural challenges I am working with right now.

In both my Celtic and First Nations heritage, great value was placed on belonging and right relation with each other. Both cultures were decimated by a conquering colonizing nation that avidly and vociferously practiced genocide. Stuart's Frog

I am closest to the First Nations side of my lineage and as such, have inherited a good many dysfunctions that resulted from our ancestors being put into residential schools where cultural and family ties were destroyed.

(Frog is my native Clan Totem. This image (C) Stuart Pagaduan, a local First Nations artist)

One of the many impacts this had, was that some of my family tried to maintain family unity at all costs. When one member transgressed, they protected them and kept secrets so that the behaviour didn’t break the family apart.

In reality, this completely destroyed the sanctity of family and right relationship of us all. Inter-generational abuse flourished in the form of sexual abuse, incestuous relationships, domestic violence, alcoholism, drug addiction, and depression.

The one person who would have put a stop to it, is the one person whom the self-appointed leader of the family manipulated us all into keeping our secrets from – Grandfather.

I have spent my lifetime trying to get out from under the abuse heaped upon me from the time I was four years old (that’s as far back as I can remember. Anything beyond that is fuzzy).

I came to see how the underlying need for family unity at all costs compelled me to tolerate behaviors that went against my inborn sense of right relationship. I had two exceedingly abusive partners before I learned how to identify one whom I could trust to honor and nurture me.

I have taught my children not to keep secrets, to use their voices and speak out against all manner of abuse they encounter both at home and in the community, and to seek help when they need it.

I have cut my family of origin out of my life because they insist upon perpetuating the patterns that nearly destroyed me.

I learnt to examine and identify patterns in my own little family, to face the painful truths of the trauma we experienced at the hands of a child with serious mental disorder (diagnosed alternately with Asperger’s, Bipolar, Schizophrenia and more).

I learnt to separate each family member based on their needs for safety and emotional well being, while still supporting each as a parent mentoring them toward achieving their best possible outcome.

I learnt the value and implementation of the restorative justice process in addressing abuse and developing right relations within our family, based on new, healthy boundaries.

I learnt to heal myself so that I can see clearly the patterns I can help change in order for the next generation to be safe and healthy.

I have learnt to fight for the sanctity of family and right relationship in a way that does not mean keeping secrets and perpetuating abuse or unhealthy coping mechanisms (like alcocholism).

Grandfather would be proud of me. Grandpa

Now I am a grandmother and I am trying to honor my grandfather’s teaching, to take care of the wee ones first, to ensure the next generation does not suffer as we did.

Good People, Bad Things

“Why do bad things happen to good people?”

Because bad things happen, period.

Don’t subscribe to the idea that being a good person/Christian/Muslim or whatever belief system you subscribe to, automatically makes you immune to painful experiences.

‘Being good’ or doing good does not mean you will never experience ‘bad’.

Don’t believe it because you won’t see it; not in your own life, not in the lives of other people, other countries, or in the written history of the world. Life is impartial to good or bad. It just is.

One thing you will learn beyond the shadow of a doubt, is that we can devote our lives to always learning, expanding our perspective, developing new skills, and using all of that in our daily lives, but bad things will still happen.

bad-things-good-1Sometimes, bad things happen not because you failed.

Bad things happen in spite of everything you do.

When you were a child, too innocent to know what good or bad was, bad things happened to you. They didn’t happen because you failed to be good.

As an adult, you may make it your goal to learn and do everything possible to ensure you have a good, healthy, safe, and stable life. Bad things will happen anyway.

current bear moodYes, it sucks. Yes, it is devastating to know that everything you learn, all the things you do, can’t prevent bad things from coming into your life. It will break your heart!

But it doesn’t have to break you.

Every bad thing passes. Nothing is permanent. We are left to pick up the pieces and put everybody back together. Yes, we will never be the same, but we carry on toward the next good thing.

Because bad things don’t stop good things from from ever happening again!

Keep trying, keep moving forward, keep learning, building on the good you do, and enjoy the good things in your life.

Like water, we cannot grab onto and permanently hold either the good or the bad. When we try, we only create chaotic patterns that will pull us under.

flowENGHave courage.

Sending love to you on your journey today.

  • Annaleia

 

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