To Remember Is To Work For Peace

I promised myself I would get to church early this morning, because the last two weeks I showed up noticeably late and had to sneak in the back. But on my way through Uptown I got stopped at a light where there was a police car parked. This happened to me a few weeks ago when a race was holding up traffic. I got a little frustrated and looked around, trying to assess how long I would be held up.

And then I remembered – it’s Remembrance Day. The police car was keeping the intersection clear so that, for a few moments, a procession of veterans could march down the street.

Funny enough, I was actually held up by a second, completely separate, Remembrance Day procession and was late to church again. But I’ve never been so grateful for being held up in traffic. It gave me some additional moments to think about what Remembrance Day represents and how thankful I am for the men and women who have made huge sacrifices.

I’ve been thinking about the price that was paid to strive for peace and freedom today. Remembrance Day is about more than pausing at 11 am for a moment of silence and going about our day. Mennonite Central Committee Ontario has coined the term “to remember is to work for peace” around this day – and I like the idea that we are not only remembering the past, but we are working towards building peace in the future.

It’s easy to want to rush through the solemn moments of silence on Remembrance Day straight to Christmas cheer or American Thanksgiving – but I want to take more than a moment to pause and remember. We cannot forget what happened in the past and let it become the future.

As a child I didn’t understand the impact of the world wars or the magnitude of loss that was felt during them. The cost of lives lost in WWI and WWII was over 100 million combined. Obviously I wasn’t there, but I have a history minor, so you can trust me.

I don’t often get too political on here, but if you don’t know I’m a Jesus loving feminist who dreams of equality for all no matter one’s race, sexual orientation or socioeconomic class – I’m probably not doing a good enough job as an ally.

We need to keep pushing forward and working to build and preserve peace. To honour the sacrifice of soldiers who died in hope that war would never be necessary to solve the worlds problems again.

Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old woman who was killed when a car drove into a crowd during a protest against white-supremacy in Charlottesville, Virginia last year, had a Lisa Borden quote as her final post on Facebook before the protest. The quote was;

If you aren’t outraged, then you just aren’t paying attention”.

Working for peace is so much more than acknowledging and respecting sacrifices made once a year and then going about business as usual. It also means thinking about what is currently happening in our world and identifying what inequalities exist that need to be made better. In her book, Braving the Wilderness, Brené Brown wrote:

“Anger is a catalyst. Holding on to it will make us exhausted and sick. Internalizing anger will take away our joy and spirit; externalizing anger will make us less effective in our attempts to create change and forge connection. It’s an emotion that we need to transform into something life-giving; courage, love, change, compassion, justice. Or sometimes anger can mask a far more difficult emotion like grief, regret, or shame, and we need to use it to dig into what we are really feeling. Either way, anger is a powerful catalyst but a life-sucking companion.”

Striving for non-violence, social justice and social equality is something we probably won’t stop striving for anytime soon. My question is this, what do you get upset about? What social inequalities are on your heart? How can you take this day and let it inspire you to take action on the next 364?

We can be tempted to believe we can’t make a difference – but this is simply not true. We must continue pursuing rights, inclusion, safety and validation of all our fellow humans.

The magnitude of loss and sacrifice being remembered today is nearly impossible to imagine, especially if you’ve also been lucky enough to only ever live in a peaceful country. Remember that much of our world and people living in it have not had that luxury and continue to experience violence and upheaval today.

As excited as I am to jump into celebrating holiday joy, join me in taking time to be thoughtful of how to continue striving for peace everyday in our communities and around the world.

What can you do to work for peace to honour the memory of sacrifice? How can you be an ally? How will you vote when elections come to positively shape our communities and countries? Please wrestle with these questions today, and think about how you will use your actions today and tomorrow to honour the lives lost.

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It’s A Choice We Make

I think the two reasons relationships fall apart or ‘fizzle out’ is that we can be too proud or too busy to make them work. I’m not just talking romantic relationships here, I mean all kinds of friendships too. When our feelings get hurt or we experience conflict, sometimes our egos and pride get in the way of making choices from a place of love or kindness. We prefer to be right rather than to let people off the hook, and when we get busy we let ourselves off the hook instead of showing up for people when they need us.

The “I’ve been so busy lately” line works, and most of the time it’s very sincere, but I think it’s also a symptom of not prioritizing things. Being too busy or too proud is often not intentional – we don’t mean to stop investing in people – which is why it’s important to be thoughtful about how we engage with our friends, family and significant others. If you stop showing up for people they will stop expecting you too, and that is where breakdown occurs.

Pride

We can’t let the feeling of “they should be texting me first or reaching out or pursing this friendship” get in the way of the fact that we have an equal responsibility to show up for our friends, family and significant others.

I had an experience a few months ago that I felt God was using to teach me about loving people. A dear friend of mine and I got into a fight. It was a dumb fight, fuelled by a lot of emotions on both sides. It was a difficult situation because it was someone who I love quite a lot and we ended up not talking for a few weeks.

She asked for space and I was playing the waiting game.

After a few weeks I heard a sermon at church (Nexus in Down Town Kitchener, if you’re wondering) about reconciliation and fixing broken relationships. It emphasized a point that resonated with me deeply, we aren’t meant to walk away from relationships. I believe that we should stay in worthwhile relationships and keep building them and loving people when it’s not ‘easy’. [This isn’t a generalization including unhealthy or dangerous situations, in which case I defer to people making choices about what healthy boundaries they need in their lives].

Sometimes when we meet new people or make new friend’s it’s easy to feel like “wow I never fight with this person” or “this person has never let me down” – but honestly if you feel that way about someone y’all probably aren’t that close or haven’t known each other that long. All long term relationships have rocky patches and that’s okay, what matters is working through them rather than walking away.

“I don’t feel like calling them.”

“I don’t feel like putting in the effort.”

“I am just giving them space.”

These words are all excuses I have made to ignore conflicts or put off reconciling with people who have hurt me at some point. What I have been learning lately is that it’s a lot better to drop the excuses than drop the relationships.

There will be times in your life when you get hurt and times when you’re the one who messed up. I know that when you’re in the position of being at fault, you kind of just wander around with your fingers crossed hoping that things will be okay, but if you have the opportunity to be handing out forgiveness – give out as much as you can.

Before things with my friend got sorted out, I confided in someone that I was pretty torn about the situation and didn’t know what to do. Do I call? Do I give her space forever? I just didn’t know. But the advice I got was this: no matter what you do, make sure you’ve completely forgiven her before you see her. Don’t let any of those hurt feelings linger, and don’t make her jump through hoops. Forgiveness sometimes comes when people apologize, but I think it is also important to come without the apology.

A lot of conflict comes from honest mistakes, miscommunications, and hurt feelings. Don’t let honest mistakes end meaningful relationships.

Busy

Loving people and making an effort in our relationships is a choice that we must keep actively making – so why don’t we always choose that? Because it takes effort to check in, to invest in people, to be supportive during their challenging seasons. It’s way easier to say we just naturally drifted or other things came up. And sure, sometimes things do fizzle out naturally, but I think a lot of the time it happens because we don’t feel like investing.

Nothing makes me feel worse than trying to make plans with someone and saying I’m totally booked – the extrovert in me tries to double book my evenings after work and triple book my weekends to see people (yeah, that doesn’t leave time to rest or grocery shop or shower or sleep – that’s a different blog post). But I love having time – time to make plans, time to invest in people, time to be available. Busyness masquerades as a chic thing that makes us fancy and unattainable. I don’t want that. I want to be free for Saturday morning coffee and to be able to answer the phone when someone is having a bad day.

Busyness is the worst excuse, but one that we all make. Yes, life is busy, and yes if you’re juggling a lot of responsibilities it can be hard to connect with people. We all have different things going on that make our lives busy. But the bottom line is that we find time for the things that matter to us.

I heard another sermon more recently at that same Downtown Kitchener Church, and the pastor said we all know community has positive long term benefits but it takes hard work and, since human nature leans towards immediate gratification, we often don’t want to invest or build those relationships. I think the same can be said for why so many of us shy away from conflict. Those painfully awkward conversations about how someone hurt our feelings, or the vulnerability of admitting we were wrong are just as hard as those first interactions of trying to make new first in community.

Our lives reflect our choices – and we have the power to choose to be too busy to be vulnerable.

Making That Choice

Life is messy, relationships are messy, people are complicated and emotional, and sometimes it takes work and awkward conversations to get along with the people we love. But I wholeheartedly believe every bit of that hard work is worth it.

Investing in others takes budgeting that time to be available and intentional and it’s not always easy – but showing up matters. So – what if you don’t feel like showing up? Show up anyway. Be kind anyway. Know that loving people is hard, but do it anyway because the people who love you are also showing up when it’s not easy. And that is what makes it love.

There is this lyric I love in the song Javert by Penny & Sparrow that goes:

“WELL FUCK HOW I FEEL

IT’S A BAD GAUGE OF REALNESS

AND I WOULD LIKE LOVE WHERE

FACTS ARE IN PLACE”

I love this line because I am a very feelings based person. I’m a two on the enneagram and my Myers Briggs has me at eighty-six percent feeling. So yeah, feelings are a big part of my life. But more important than momentary hurt feelings are valued relationships.

Its not always easy to show up or repair damage. I get it, I’ve been on both sides of the conversations; getting over my own pride to be forgiving, or realizing I might need to reach out to someone rather than waiting on them to come to me, I have been both the friend saying I wish we spent more time together and the person hearing that I’m hard to make plans with because I’m so busy.

The truth is, in long term relationships with friends, family and significant others we will go through challenging seasons with people we love. But if we think of those hard seasons as merely a chapter in the stories of our relationships rather than the ending, then I hope you’ll be able to look back and reminisce with many old friends about the good times you’ve shared throughout your lives.

In the last year I’ve been reminded over and over again that working through miscommunication, conflict, and hurt feelings is worth it to continue building sturdy relationships. Pride can get in the way of reaching out but also in the way of reconciliation – and that is just silly. Sometimes, we need to over look our feelings, or let go of grudges, to forgive others so that we can love them. The facts are that nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes, we all hurt and get hurt – often unintentionally, but loving people can always be a choice that we make.

Inspired by Lori

For the month of September I’m kicking off a series of blogs on different aspects of self-care. This week’s post is dedicated to my good pal Lori.

Lori is a great friend, wise beyond her years, I often forget I’m the older of the two of us. We bonded a lot in out time living together in Florida, and maybe even more since. When we talk the topic of self-care comes up frequently. Lori is great to bounce ideas off of and we encourage one another to find ways to to pause and practice some self-care when we need it most.

This week’s post is inspired by some of those converstatins, so it only makes sense to credit half of these ideas to lil’ mama.


How are you, actually?

A key part of practicing self-care is being mindful of how you are really feeling. When we feel stressed, especially when it is frequent stress about little things that we wouldn’t usually find overwhelming, it can be a sign to slow down and be intentional about pausing to take care of ourselves.

Self-care isn’t always a big thing, I think it is most effective in our everyday lives when we are mindful of how the little things we do can add up to impact how we are feeling. Once we recognized that everyday things, like how well we are sleeping, how much coffee we are drinking, and if we’re working out and getting endorphins going are crucial aspects of wellness along with other acts of self-care we can do a better job at caring for ourselves.

The little rituals and habits in our lives add up, they can have a huge impact on our mood and when we practice living well and listening to our bodies we can take care of ourselves in a gentle and understanding way.

As the summer has simmered down to a near close I’ve been reading a book called Heart Talk: Poetic Wisdom for a Better Life. I can’t recommend this book enough, and the author Cleo Wade starts the first chapter with a beautiful description of why self-care is important;

“Self-care is how we fuel our self-love so that we are able to share our love with everyone around us. Our hearts are warm when we are able to show up with generosity, patience, and compassion for the ones we life, but we must remember that it is impossible to truly be there for others without taking care of ourselves first. We take care of ourselves by asking what our needs are. We take care of ourselves by making healthy choices when it comes to our  physical and emotional bodies. We take care of ourselves by lightening up and not being so damn hard on ourselves…It does not benefit anyone when we live our lives running on fumes. Love is an action, a thing in motion. Therefore, it requires fuel.”

Balancing Act

Life can get busy and with all the things we have to accomplish at school, at work and in our social lives we can sometimes get frustrated that we can’t keep up with the go go go pace. The best way to stay energized and integrate self-care into a busier lifestyle is to make to-do lists that have the regular tasks you might except along with self-care stuff (such as running , having a bubble bath, painting, watching Netflix, eating cake etc) so we remember that is a priority too.

Another quote I love from Heart Talk about this idea is ;

“At times, life seems to be one never-ending to-do list, but we must learn to disrupt the flood of life’s demands in order to replenish our energy so that we can fully show up for all of our passions and responsibilities.”

Self-care is not always about treating yourself but learning to listen to what you need and allowing yourself to take breaks and take care of yourself a little bit everyday. Sometimes the most important part of self-care is learning to recognize when to give yourself a break.

I once had a professor say that self-care is building healthy coping habits for yourself when life isn’t stressful, so that when it gets to be stressful you already have those habits in place. These habits could be waking up early to drink tea before the morning rush to give yourself space to feel centred or booking off a night just to hangout and catch up on your favourite tv show. Writing “eat cake” or “take 15 minutes to draw” on your to-do list might sound silly, but from personal experience I know it can help you to feel more balanced.

Simple Self-Care & Accountability 

The less exciting side of taking care of yourself is taking steps that will help you in the future rather than in the exact present moment. Like budgeting or eating healthy or going to bed when you’d rather go out.

When you do little things you don’t want to do because it’ll help you in the future, you’re practicicing self-care. When you take a break and let yourself just sit and breathe for 5 minutes before rushing about your day, that is also self-care because your future self will have had time to be present and hopefully be feeling less stress.

In the words of my girl Lori, “it is a mix of the two” [doing the things you don’t want to because it is good for you, and giving yourself a break].

As I said above, Lori is someone who I talk about self-care with a lot and it’s not only helpful to have someone to debate it with and think about it in different ways. It is so powerful to have someone who holds you accountable to practicing self-care too. Having people in your life who also believe in self-care and hold you accountable are so great.

It’s self-care, it’s up to you to actually do it. But having friends reminding you can be important too. We picked up this phrase living in Florida where if you’re hearing someone talk about a bad day or something they are struggling with you ask “what are you going to do to take care of yourself today?”. It’s so powerful, just to even be asked and reminded that I am in control – the ball is always in your court when it comes to self-care.

If I reach out to a friend and express some hard things I’m going through, I love the empowering reminder that I can go do something to fix how I’m feeling and feel better about my day.

The other day I texted Lori , I was having a really stressful morning and was telling her all the things going on, she asked what I would do to care for myself and I just said “I am practicing self-care today by drinking a green tea latte from Starbucks instead of coffee bc it doesn’t make anxiety worse” – it’s little things y’all. It’s listening and knowing when you can’t handle coffee, it’s knowing when you need a break, it’s knowing that you cannot show up for people if you don’t show up for yourself first.

September is a month of transitions, of going back to school, of building new routines, and I wanted to talk about self-care this month because now is the time for you to build in the habits of taking care of yourself. Transitions can be exciting but also stressful, so listen to yourself, give yourself credit, and remember that to stay in motion you need fuel.

Defensive Living

If you took driver’s ed when you were sixteen, you likely learned about defensive driving. It’s great when you’re on the road. But defensive living when you’re not behind the wheel can be a toxic habit. Choosing not to live defensively usually consists of trusting people and of opening yourself up to being vulnerable so you can connect with others. This choice can result in beautiful relationships that bloom as you feel known, understood and accepted by people you share yourself with.

Not being defensive is championed by many people these days as courageous and a healthy way to build authentic connections. From my own experience I know that opening up to others is what creates deeper relationships and I don’t know how I would survive without those relationships with my friends and family.

We make choices to trust others and often it results in knowing that we aren’t alone in our feelings and building deeper connections. We also make choices let ourselves be open to being hopeful. I wrote a blog post last year about allowing yourself to get your hopes up, even about jobs or unlikely opportunities, because it’s better to experience hope than try to defend ourselves from the possibility of disappointment. It sounds great, yeah?

One of the harder things to accept about being open and vulnerable is that we can still get hurt. To be totally honest, it is sort of the ugly side of vulnerability that we like to glaze over in the self-help books. But it is true, we can open up, be vulnerable and fall on our ass. Yet, despite that reality, I believe it is valuable to keep making the choice to be open to that possibility anyway.

Getting hurt sucks. When we get our hopes up and let our guard down, and things don’t work out – well that is something that can be pretty hard to sit with. Brené Brown says the root of anger is pain. And like most things, I agree with her. So what do we do when we get hurt, and a natural response is to be mad (at ourselves or others) about it?

There are a whole slew of thing we might relate to being hurt. And it is okay to admit when you’re feeling mad or disappointed, but it is also important to work through those feelings so that we don’t become bitter. Sometimes we might feel foolish- like we should have known better. But we don’t always know better, we simply do the best we can with the information we have. Being vulnerable still counts when it doesn’t result in a new best friend. Being honest still counts when it backfires. Courage is still courage, even when we fall down and get a little bruised.

When we are let down or disappointed by something it is also important to let go of the feeling like you “should have known better”. We were not created to live our lives on constant defence. When you get hurt, it’s still better than never being open to the possibility of connection.

Renowned relationship psychologist John Gottman has dubbed four toxic behaviours in relationships as ‘The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse’. And wouldn’t you know, one of the four worst behaviours is defensiveness. If defensiveness is unhealthy in relationships, think how it destructive it can be if it is part of your relationship with the world around you.

When we are defensive we are trying to protect ourselves from getting hurt by others, we don’t let down our guard and it looks for ways to blame or assume the worst about others. We basically paint ourselves as victims and run away from things that might hurt us rather running towards them. This could be as simple as trying not to get your hopes us about a dream you have, not opening up in relationships or just not being vulnerable with people out of fear of their reaction.

Think back to the defensive driving I mentioned earlier, on the road it is important to be defensive and aware that other drivers might unexpectedly swerve into our lane. However, to respectfully disagree with Tom Cochrane, I don’t think life is a highway, and living defensive at all times is no way to live.

Defensiveness may be a strategic way to help you avoid disappointment or feeling hurt but it stops you from giving people the chance to surprise us with goodness and we miss out on friends or relationships. We can’t assume that we will choose vulnerability and never get hurt. Yes, at times it can be a risky choice. But I still think it is a better choice than defensive living. If you’re always trying to avoid being let down you won’t get excited about possibilities floating around you.

If you’ve fallen on your ass recently, have been hurt or disappointed, then this blog is dedicated to you. Even though it’s not great to feel that way it is a sign that you’re on the right track. You’re letting people in, getting your hopes up about life, and courageous choices always count even if they don’t work out the way you thought they might.

All The Lonely People

In late May I acquired 11 books in the span of a week and I’ve been pouring over them since. Poetry books, biographies, books about loving people and philosophies about life, and so many more things.

As I was reading along I was connecting the dots between them and found that many of them deal with being willing to stand alone and how to fight off loneliness. So here is a little summary and some extra wisdom from writers I admire.

What Loneliness Tells You & How We Listen to Our Fears 

When we find ourselves feeling lonely it’s not a simple as not having friends around. Loneliness and community might seem like opposites, but we don’t simply choose one or the other, we have a lot of other choices that we come to first. Such as choosing fear of not being accepted or liked over being vulnerable. Or choosing to isolate ourselves from others. It’s smaller, everyday choices that shape what our relationships look like.

I think that the fear of not being accepted or liked can very easily stop us from engaging in meaningful relationships. In the poem “Here Is What Loneliness Tells You” Tonya Ingram writes:

“You are the only one

You are the girl who feels awkward referring as herself as a woman because some part of you is unable to grow into it 

You are the girl who texts too much 

You are made of too much”

Our fears can tell us we are too much, that we are alone in our emotions and while we are trying too hard we are still unwanted. One of the many books I have been reading is called Kill The Spider, which is about finding the lies you tell yourself and getting rid of them so they don’t impact your daily life. A common lie many people deal with is that people won’t accept us or we aren’t really wanted at that party. When we start to believe these fears of not being welcome and let them dictate our actions it can cause us to disengage and make ourselves to feel more alone.

In Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller writes;

“We are proud people, and because we have sensitive egos and so many of us live our lives in front of televisions, not having to deal with real people who might hurt or offend us, we float along on our couches like astronauts… hardly interacting with other human beings at all. … Loneliness is something that happens to us, but I think is it something we can move ourselves out of. I think a person who is lonely should dig into a community… Jesus does not want us floating through space or sitting in front of our televisions. Jesus wants us interacting, eating together, laughing together”.

I couldn’t agree more, and I think that though loneliness is hard and sometimes feels like we can’t do anything about feeling that way – we can do quite a bit. It’s all about making small choices of opening up to people and making sure that fear isn’t making the choice for us.

True Belonging & Choosing Vulnerability

If you know me well, you know I love Brené Brown. Even if you don’t know me well you know I love her. Did I talk about her with the guy sitting next to me on my flight last week? Maybe. Anyway, the point is she says a lot of important things about belonging and her research about the importance of learning to belong to yourself before you find belonging with others has been on my mind a lot lately.

In her book Braving The Wilderness, Dr. Brown writes:

“Stop walking through the world looking for confirmation that you don’t belong. You will always find it because you’ve made that your mission. Stop scouring people’s faces for evidence that you’re not enough. You will always find it because you’ve made that your goal. True belonging and self-worth are not goods; we don’t negotiate their value with the world. The truth about who we are lives in our hearts. Our call to courage is to protect our wild heart against constant evaluation, especially our own. No one belongs here more than you.

She talks about the idea that we don’t need to belong with anyone else before we feel at home with ourselves and then with the belief you are enough you can open yourself to the world. I love that idea because as an extrovert, the thought of being alone has always seemed lonely, but her concept of belonging to yourself means that it doesn’t need to be that way. To overcome fear and choose vulnerability you need to believe that you are worthy. You must believe that you are loved and loveable and have confidence in yourself to contribute to relationships.

When we choose vulnerability over fear you give yourself the opportunity to share yourself and your story with others. Maybe that means going out of your comfort zone and spending time with new people. Maybe it means trusting that you don’t have to prove anything. When we are authentic in our relationships, when we show up rather than show off, we can become known and understood by others.

Loving Yourself, Building Community & Drawing Others In

The Beatles famously sang “All the lonely people, where do they all come from?”. To answer this I give you another Donald Miller quote from Blue Like Jazz, “The words alone, lonely, and loneliness are three of the most powerful words in the English language… those words say that we are human”. Loneliness is a feeling, it is something we all experience and “all the lonely people” are actually you and me. What is important isn’t that you never feel lonely, but you make choices to move away from loneliness and these choices will add up to the lives we build for ourselves.

It starts with believing that everyone, including and especially you, is valuable and worthy of love. And then practicing that self-love and sharing love with others by being inclusive. Making room for people, letting them know they are valued and welcome, it is one of the easiest things we can do and it makes a lasting impact in people’s lives.

In the poem “Here Is What Love Tells You” Tonya Ingram writes:

“you are yours before you choose anyone else 

You are cicada and buzz

You are loose flannel and cup 

Green tea

You are soft knuckles 

You are dance alone

You are unafraid”

Essentially: you are so many good things. You are so worthy of love and belonging and acceptance. And when you walk in the world knowing that and treating others that way, good people will gravitate into your life.

In her essay The Opposite of Loneliness, Marina Keegan wrote “We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life”. I think however, maybe there is an opposite of loneliness. I think the opposite of loneliness is finding belonging within yourself and as a result building authentic and honest community with others.

 

A Heart Of Glass Turns One

This time last year I got the courage up to share some writing on this platform. If you’ve been reading along, thank you!

This blog was named A Heart Of Glass, after a John Mayer lyric. I explained in my first post ever that I named it after a line in the song War of My Life, that goes, “I’ve got a hammer/  And a heart of glass/ I got to know right now/ Which walls to smash”. I’m the type of person who likes the idea of embracing vulnerability and opening my heart up to people. And this year I tried to do that here, exploring ideas about how to navigate life and balance a healthy heart, mind, sprit and relationships. I found myself asking the question “what does it mean to be healthy?” quite a bit.

I’ve had the chance to embrace failures by redefining success for myself, think about the ways to let people know our authentic selves in relationships and how to fight for meaningful friendships when things get tough. I’ve talked about my own spirituality and invited others to write and share their perspectives on life as well.

 


As I find my footing in this next chapter of my life I find myself asking new questions. Less about the general “what does it mean to be healthy?” and more specifically “what does it look like for me to be healthy and how do I get myself there?”.

There is a very wide range of what health looks like for everyone; there isn’t any one right way to do things. Healthy people don’t eat the same diet or work out the same ways, we don’t express our emotions or creativity the same either, and our best, happiest and healthiest selves is something we decide on our own.

There are a lot of opinions out in the world, I know I’ve handed out a few here or there over the last year, but what I’m working on these days is figuring out what feels right for me. I trust facts about healthy eating and what healthy relationships look like, and I trust my counsellor who gives me strategies to handle my emotional health – but ultimately I need to feel out the healthiest balance in my life.

I believe this is something we really all must to do. We can be given 101 opinions – but the best thing to do is feel things out for yourself and figure out the right fit for you.

The older I get the more I’m aware of myself. I can tell when I’m anxious or projecting stress. I can identify conflicts when they are small, and still easily manageable. I know I shouldn’t eat all junk food if I want to feel okay the next day (and generally live according to that). I think the longer we live and the better we get to know ourselves the better we can feel out what is best for us.

 


A key to finding a healthy balance in our lives is identifying when things feel wrong. If you’re running and your legs are a little sore you’re probably fine – but if there is a sharp pain you need to stop. The same goes for spicy food and heart burn – know your limits, friend. Sometimes on the path to figuring out what’s right you have to figure out what feels wrong.

If there is an area of wellness you’re not familiar with, doing research and getting facts before making assumptions is important, but keep in mind that there are a lot of possibilities of what a healthy you can look like, so it is up to you to find your best fit.

When relationships feel honest and supportive, when you find a type of exercise you really enjoy doing, when you learn to talk about feelings in a productive way, when you know what these things look and feel like of you – then you can find your own unique answer to the questions “what does it look like for me to be healthy and how do I get myself there?”.

As I’ve been working on this blog I’ve been keeping in mind that all the areas I’ve written about are connected. Our physical health impacts our mental health (and vice versa), the health of our relationships is impacted by our emotional health which is impacted by our spiritual health (and vice versa etc, you get the picture). It’s all connected.

If one area is feeling off, it can shake your whole life up quite a bit. Don’t underestimate how taking care of little issues in your life can make a big positive impact in many areas.

Finally, don’t shy away from trusting yourself to know what is right for you. I’ve learned a lot in the past year, but maybe nothing more empowering than learning to trust my own choices and feelings.

 


 

The blog and I are going to take a bit of a hiatus for this next month- but keep your eyes open for new posts coming your way in July!

There’s Power In Love

I sped read through the new Bob Goff book while I was up at my cottage this weekend. It was that perfect type of cottage weather where you could manage a walk on the beach, but then it would be so chilly and you had the perfect excuse to curl up by the fire, drink multiple mugs of hot chocolate and eat a few Timbits (I’ve been indulging in a lot of Timbits since I got home from Florida) for the rest of the day.

Something that stuck out to me while I was reading Everybody Always was this anecdote about “filling up your bucket” he talked about. It actually comes from a children’s book that teaches the lesson of being kind to others, but what he wrote was “we will become in our lives what we put in our buckets”. He realized he needed to stop filling his Das with pride of impatience and really embody the values he wanted to become.

It got me thinking a lot about the areas in my own life where I know I need to step things up. I want to become more loving, more patient and understanding, more empathetic, more generous – and if I want to become that person I need to embody those things even when it feels difficult.


Something I learned from the experience of falling in love is that when you love someone is the feeling of our capacity to love just gets bigger because we didn’t know we could care about someone so much. I’ve heard parents talk about a similar feeling where you think you couldn’t love anything more than you love your partner and when you have a kid a whole new amount of love wells up in you.

It’s like love surprises us – when we thought we couldn’t love people anymore than we do we find out that we can. When you care about someone like that it’s easier to see the best in them. To be a little softer, or gentle, and forgiving. After all, love is patient and forgiving and kind – isn’t it?

When we realize more and more that we have a greater capacity to love than we ever imagined we can try to use it to not only love our significant others or our friends and families – but all the people in our lives that way.

That instinct to see the best in a person? What if we extended that kind of care to everyone? That deliriously in love feeling that makes you wanna dance to work? Can we find that through loving our neighbours and coworkers and friends as generously as we love our significant others? I think we can. I believe when we learn what kind of love we are capable of we can try to extended that in all areas of our lives.


Another perfect thing to do on chilly cottage weekends? Wake up early to watch the Royal Wedding. I rolled out of bed at 6:55 just in time to catch the start of the ceremony (and as soon as it ended I took a 2 1/2 hour nap with my dog – an ideal Saturday morning if you ask me). The ceremony was beautiful but what has really stayed with me was the sermon made by Bishop Michael Curry. He spoke about love, about how the world could look when we act as if love is the way.

Curry said “There’s power in love. Don’t underestimate it. Don’t even over-sentimentalize it.” He spoke about how when we are loved it feels like something is right “when you are loved and you know it, when someone cares for you and you know it, when you love and you show it, it actually feels right.” 

Curry went on to say the reason it feels right when we are loved is because “We were made by a power of love. And our lives were meant and are meant to be lived in that love. That’s why we are here.” One of the first times I heard a Brené Brown TED Talk I remember her saying that the reason we are here is connection. I fully believe both of these things. We are here to connect with others and we are here to share love and be loved through those connections. 

The Bishop went on to encourage the congregation and views to imagine what our communities, countries, families, neighbourhoods and governments would be like when love was the way. He said that when love is the way “we actually treat each other, well, like we are actually family”. Sometimes I think it’s easy to get frustrated with people when they aren’t someone we know or we don’t know their story – but easy isn’t what we are here for and when you try to connect with people and be softer with them we can find ways to extend deep love into all areas of our lives.


I don’t usually give homework assignments, really you just reading to the end of one of my posts is great. But this week I will ask you one thing: think about the values you want to be remembered for – and then ask if you are filling your bucket with that thing. I’m going to work on being understanding and gracious and assuming the best about people, and that’s just the tip of my iceberg.

Think about how loving your friend, neighbour or showing kindness to a stranger really can change the world – There’s power in love. Don’t underestimate it.