When love is no longer served

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as a soul sister of mine is not having the greatest time in her life. In fact it’s down right shitty for her right now.

With a tendency to absorb the hurt of the hearts I love, my heart is truly aching for her. It aches because I see so many of my own battles faced in her present circumstance and my empathy over flows for her. Her experiences have triggered some reflection of my own path and the relationships I have experienced, outgrown and moved on from. It is a bit easier from the place I am in currently to reflect honestly about each one and the person I was when involved in them. It is easier for me to see now what the root of the pain might be.

Without being too personal or airing details of their life that are not mine to share, the just of it is, needing to learn to get up from the table when love is no longer being served.

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This is a bitter, hard, transforming lesson. It is a lesson that can leave your heart hard if you’re not careful and create barriers around yourself that were not there before. Or, it can soften you through finding the strength to demand the people and energies in your life be good for you, good to you and feed your soul. If you let it, can catapult you into the wisdom of some of the most evolved souls where you won’t settle for less than you really deserve.

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Removing yourself from said proverbial table might need to happen anywhere in your life.

This could mean your job when your joy has been sucked from you and you no longer recognize why you do what you do. This could mean from a family member who refuses to work on the parts of your relationship that are weak and leaves you feeling abandoned more often than not, using words as weapons to lash out on you. This could be the emotionally draining friendship you’ve outgrown completely, yet continue to partake in only because of how long you’ve known each other. Or, it could be the partner who does not wish to look at their own demons in order to play kindly with yours and uses you as a verbal punching bag.

Whatever the case, you have to learn to get up from the table when love is no longer being served. Or if it never really was and you’re finally waking up to the reality and dynamic of the relationship.

Sadly, no amount of love, effort, compliance, or attention can ever get these people to love you the way you deserve. Some people are just not meant to be in our lives. Some people will never know or learn how to love us and understand us. You could kill yourself going to the ends of the earth trying to show them how incredible you are and how deserving of love you are, and it still won’t change a damn thing. Not one fucking thing. That is the hard, awful, real truth.

You do not have to make excuses for removing these people from your life either. There should be no guilt in cutting ties to those that do more harm than good. Yes, one thousand times yes it is easier said than done. But when you start to pay attention to your energy and who it increases and decreases around, and who leaves you feeling lifted, or drained, you become a little more protective of it. Especially, well hopefully, as you age. When it is apparent that time is fleeting and passing faster and faster, it becomes more precious and you become more selective with who is given the most valuable thing you have to spend.

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Some of these ties you will feel need to be cut with an explanation that is usually more self serving than for the party you are outgrowing. You have things you need to say to them, need them to hear, need them to feel because you do. The cold truth though is that if they really cared, the behaviour or issue would have been addressable. If they cared when you told them that they were causing you harm, they would have loved you enough to work on it with you, or walked away from you recognizing that they did not serve you. The walking away part is usually reserved for a relationship with a base of respect though and you don’t always get that lucky. It is because the biggest act of love is always the truth. The act of showing someone exactly who you are and being aligned with your words in your actions enough that allows the person you love to either accept you fully or choose to walk away. We’re not always this lucky. In fact, it is becoming more and more rare.

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On the other hand, some of these ties need not a single word explanation and you just need to rip off the band aid by shutting the door in silence. This is the most powerful message that you can send, yet is not guaranteed to be received at all. They may not even notice you’re not there anymore. Which, while sad, should also be the loudest response to confirm you were right in your stand.

I think I’ve come to the realization that not everyone deserves to be witness to my life. Not everyone deserves my love and attention. In fact, as I get older I realize that very few really have the right intent in seeking it.

I still battle with this of course. Cutting people out seems heartless and cruel, but vitally necessary. I struggle too in doing so with people I want to believe love me or care about me, the ones I want to believe have my best interest at heart and means me no harm. Mostly people I want to believe are good for me because of how I feel about them. People I absolutely need to learn to get up from and walk away from because love is no longer being served.

But just as I will, she will get there in this lesson too. I have faith in hearts like ours. The ones that learn the hardest way possible, just to make sure the resulting wisdom is good and ingrained into our being so we change a little more each time, being challenged not to shut off our hearts for good.

Soul sister, I innately know that these storms are just here to wash you clean. Have faith in what is to come, keep hope in your heart and stay open, the way you’ve always been.

And most importantly know your soul’s growth depends on this act of getting up from the table when love is no longer being served.

~ Toni

Just me

I don’t know if it is something that happens to every one, or even every woman, but at some point in this last bit of my 20’s, I’ve really grown to like me.

Just me, as I am. Right now.

I know it sounds silly, or like I am boasting, but I’m not. I have lots of demons and areas of myself that I know need a shit ton of work and things about my being that I would rather not have to face. But I do. And I am.

Constantly.

What I mean by really liking me, is that I really like who I am growing into. I really enjoy my own company and find myself craving more time alone. I am really comfortable with myself today, even more so than yesterday and even more so than the day before that.

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It’s an evolution I am enjoying the more and more I learn and understand about life from a spiritual perspective, a topic which is sometimes met with eye rolls and sighs. A few that are closest to me have started to referring to me as a hippie when I speak about being more conscious and awake or the adventures I get up to – a title I am fine with because I know what they mean and that they mean it with love. I have come to the realization that people can only meet you as far as they have grown themselves and that is okay. I have also noted on this journey that when some people cannot accept you for who you are or struggle with who you’ve grown into, it is okay to know their time in your story might be coming to an end.

I am okay with not being normal or what is expected. I am aware that I am a bit different and it feels good to me. I am enjoying being in a place where I can look back and say, I have come so far from who I was and I’m getting even closer to who I really am.

In fact, if you met me last year and then met me again today, I would bet you would say, “You’ve changed”, and I bet I would laugh and say “Thank you”. It would be even more apparent if we were close in a past life and you met me today…if you’ve not been here for the past few years, you definitely do not have a clue who I am anymore. And I am pretty cool with that.

This whole idea began spinning in my head this past holiday Monday. A last minute change in Michael’s schedule meant our plans for a few nights away were no longer an option, leaving me to find my own entertainment for what should have been a holiday Monday for him too. The let down of Michael not hanging out with me definitely bummed me out, but I was not against a day alone.

Now, early 20’s Toni, I will admit, would have panicked a bit about not having anything planned to fill my day with or people to hang out with and it would have been a scramble to try to fill the space with shenanigans with a girlfriend or sister. Late 20’s Toni though, she’s got this. Instantly I began to think of all of the places I have been wanting to explore but either hadn’t made the time or had a willing partner.

Michael started work at noon, so we spent a lazy morning together in bed, had breakfast and coffee and then off to work for him and upstairs to pack a bag for me.

I had no idea where I was going to head, so I threw in a sweater, a sports bra, shorts and extra tank, a bikini, book, towel, earphones, some water and snacks. I grabbed my hiking boots, a pair of sneakers and threw on my flip-flops.

Instead of worrying about directions or a GPS, I just got in the Runner and drove.

I drove myself straight to the coast of Lake Huron and parked there for hours. I read, wandered, laid out in the sun and grabbed a beer by myself in a small town along the way. I didn’t pay attention to my phone, I didn’t take a single picture to capture the beauty of my day and I barely spoke a word to another soul all day.

It was perfect and peaceful and my soul felt full by the end.

During the drive home I started to think of how many other people I know would do such a thing on a day of freedom. I also started to think about how much I had enjoyed my day. How much I needed my day, and my very own company.

Just me.

It made me very aware that while I do love the companionship of my man, my friends and especially my sisters, there are just some days when you need to sit alone with yourself for a bit and be comfortable with whatever you find, good or bad.

As I was finishing up with this post, the most suitable email from Elephant Journal floated across my screen and it read:

“No matter where you go or what you do you are always yourself.
There is nothing you can ever do, nothing you can wear,
no story you can tell that will change the basic fact of who you are.
Instead of running from it, accept it, trust it, embrace it,
love it because it’s all you’ve got.
” ~ Kino MacGregor

I am okay with me.

Just me, as I am. Right now.

~ Toni

Welcome, new Yogi

I watch you cautiously enter the studio – a place that at first glance can seem so intimidating, I know. You’re not sure what to expect or if you wore the right thing, or if you’ll even be able to make it through the hour you’ve set aside for you. I can see you are nervous, almost timid.

You’re greeted with warm smiles from the volunteers and instructors gathered hospitably around the front desk, waiting to help you sign up for a class, answer your questions, show you where the facilities and different tempered rooms are. These friendly faces put some of your fears to rest, at least for the moment. You can feel the shift of energy in the air as more students flow into the studio.

I  keep observing you from across the airy, open, sunny front room. I see your shoulders relax down your back slightly, ease entering your eyes and recognition of something almost home-like about this place  flashes in them. We catch each other’s gaze and share a small, but sincere smile.

You wander down the hall into the change room, where I am sure you’re talking yourself into class. Not sure what to expect, not sure if you’ll like it, not sure if it’s for you. Scared of the heat, the poses, the unknown.

I know this feeling all too well. I think every new yogi does.

What I want to tell you is that what you will find in the heated yoga studio upstairs is going to surprise you, maybe even scare you a little.

I want to tell you of the life-altering feeling you are about experience, the wash of emotion, the shift in perspective, the gains in confidence, compassion and strength you will feel.

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I want to burst at you with stories and antidotes of feeling yourself truly shut your brain off for the first time and the exhilarating calm that comes with that freedom.

I want to tell you, that if you just let it, this practice, those poses, this studio, will change your whole life and lift up your soul in ways you didn’t think were possible.

I want to tell you that it will only take a moment for you to fall so deeply in love with your practice and you’ll know exactly when it happens.

I want to tell you that it is okay to let go, especially here, and sometimes that very act might even come out as laughter or tears in class – and that’s okay.

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I want to share with you that the people that live, work and love here will become a second family to you, this studio a second home, if you let it, if you welcome it with open arms.

I want to calm your fears with tales of the incredible lives that have been changed by this bit of magic you’ve found, allowed into your life.

I want to warn you that you are about to challenge your ego, but it will be the best thing you ever do for your soul.

I want to tell you that you’re going to find out things about yourself that you didn’t know existed, had forgotten once were, and feel more you than you ever have in that 60, or 75 minutes of pure bliss.

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I want to tell you about the calm in your soul that will come when you become more aware and more present, at first in class, and then soon every area of your life.

I want to tell you that you will feel more in control and out of your mind in the most calming way, at the same time, in that room.

I want to tell you that when you adopt the true practice of yoga in areas of your life outside of the studio will be when you will truly understand what you’ve found.

I want to tell you to breathe your way through class and that you’ll soon realize that it’s necessary to breathe through life in the same way.

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I want to tell you so many things about what you’ve started by stepping onto your mat for the very first time.

But I don’t.

Instead I share one more silent smile with you as we both enter the room. I watch you find your place on your mat, sprawl out on the floor, fidgeting a bit as you start to relax. As I settle onto my mat myself, I say a little prayer for your practice and mine today, sending a little love, light and energy your way.

I can’t wait for the journey that lies ahead of you, the breakthroughs and breakdowns, the freedom from what is resting on your shoulders. I am so excited for you and your practice to unfold and the blessings it will so abundantly bring.

Welcome, new Yogi.

~ Toni

Working to a better me

I am not the biggest fitness guru in the world, not even in this sisterhood, but I do have a few things that I love doing as I work my way to a better me.

1. Hot Yoga:
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I have Toni to blame for this one. I didn’t think I would like it at all. I thought I would hate the heat, and just hate the fact that my body can’t do all the yoga poses. However, the first night I attempted this I felt so calm and at peace with my body and myself afterward I knew it was love. I love my body for all its largeness, but know it can be better. And now I can listen to my body better than I have in the past.

2. Crunches:
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I have a love for them. I can do 96 of them in a row, which I am pretty damn proud of myself for. For this I have to thank my old burlesque teacher, Miss Sassy Ray. She is wonderful, and showed me that no matter what size you are, you can dance, crunch, and wiggle with the best of them.

3. Eating Better:
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Less fast food, less junk overall, and just trying to put more veggies where there is too much starch. This one is hard because I live with so many people, with varying likes and dislikes, but I have found ways to sneak in the healthy stuff.

I am not the best at being healthy or treating my body well, but I am on a road leading to a better me, and working on a better happiness for who I am, what I look like, and my size.
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~ Andreah

Uphill mantras

Confession: I’m struggling lately.

Struggling to find and keep balance.

Struggling to be happy for no reason.

Struggling to maintain my peace.

Struggling to stay fulfilled.

A sometimes seemingly uphill battle that I just can’t win – the constant pull of my attention in too many directions with just not enough actual time provided in the 24 hours ahead of me. Sometimes the struggle is so real that my heart starts to race, my temperature spikes and I feel like I may not catch my breath as I think about the ‘To Dos’ that keep mounting, the increasing number of people I feel like I am letting down and all of the things I am forgetting or not getting to.

I find myself easily flustered, easily riled up and too quick to stress.

After noticing this behaviour in me, and being bothered by it, I had to wonder: what am I not doing that I normally would to de-stress and gain my balance?

It seems to me that forgetting my mother’s signature parting sentiment of “remember who you are” would be a good place to begin. I keep forgetting that I have faced adversity before and I have come out the other side fairly well equipped with a couple new lessons and the bragging rights that I have survived 100% of the not so desirable situations I have faced.

Mufasa stole it from mama for sure...

Mufasa stole it from mama for sure…

I may have changed in some way or another, but the survival record is the thing to note.

The difference in how easy these situations are to face however, is in the active belief that I ultimately have nothing to worry about, as God has got me and more importantly, God has got this. The worry wouldn’t be as pressing if I remembered this when feeling myself ready to boil over. If I know one thing, it is that all I can do is my very best, whatever the situation may be, and if that is not enough, then it is out of my control. Accepting that is half the battle.

I recognize that taking time for me has taken a bit of a back burner to almost everything else going on right now – cardinal rule of survival, broken. How can you take care of other people if you aren’t taking care of yourself? I don’t mean this in the fact that my hair could use a trim, my piglets a pedicure and my aching back a nice, relaxing massage.

Finally sneaking in some time for me this past Saturday morning.

Finally sneaking in some time for me this past Saturday morning.

I mean I have not actively taken time to go for my runs, or take in a hike, or workout with my sisters or girlfriends. It burns me because I KNOW the ability to handle stress improves with an increase in endorphins on the regular. I know this firsthand as the benefits of exercise having carried me through some pretty intense and high pressure times in the past few years. Stupidly, it has been one of the first things I have cut out of my schedule. Even worse is I tell people this is a key to overall health and increased energy all the time – so hypocritical! (Side note to my #TLT ladies – seriously, let’s get back to it on the regular!) I also am missing out on my quality time boosting my energy alone, where it’s more than just a workout and it is often to work something out with the pace of my feet, rhythm of my breathing, and beat of my music as the only things I consciously have to focus on.

The key kicker from my careful analysis to my inability to keep perspective in this chaos has to be my failure of a diet.

While I wish I just meant what types of foods I have been eating, I also have been inconsistent in timing between meals, failing my daily goal for water intake, drinking entirely too much coffee, forgetting that I need to eat breakfast, eating far too close to bedtime…breaking all of the rules really. When my diet is off, my energy is lacking, my sleep pattern is impacted and I find stress unmanageable.

I have to remember that saying “no” is always acceptable and sometimes absolutely necessary, that this present day challenge will not matter in 5 years from now in the grand scheme of things, that all relationships have ebbs, flows and are most importantly fluid, and that there is always room for improvement in every situation, but it has to come in small steps.

It usually never will...

It usually never will…

I’m hoping this post serves as a public, virtual way of giving my head a shake and getting myself back to my centre. It really is almost worse once you know better to revert back to old habits and old patterns.

Here’s to moving on up this hill a little further and attempting to tackle it with a little more balance.

~ Toni

#momoftheyear

You’ve heard it.

I’ve said it.

You’ve probably said it yourself, if you’re a mom.

“Mom of the year, right here.”

It’s never said with pride or with seriousness. It’s never said with the intent to brag about some success or parenting win. And if it IS said that way, it’s because we’ve acquired THE toy of the season, or our child’s dream, or we’ve made the meal they LOVE, or we’ve planned the birthday party that will blow their mind and your pocketbook, but probably won’t be remembered by the birthday child.

We’re not saying it to focus on the positive. We’re not saying it to remind ourselves that parenthood is a hard climb, one not for the faint of heart, and yet we’re doing okay. We’re definitely not saying it to actually win an award. Because it is said sardonically, to underline, underscore, draw attention to our perceived failures.

“Forgot the bake sale at school today. Mom of the year!”

 

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“Spilled water all over the 34786th drawing Sophie gave me this morning. #momfail”

 

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“Mom of the Year moment: Cut the baby’s nails too short. Who knew they bled that much?”

 

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“Yelled about the 5th accident today. Feel like a jerk. Serious mom fail.”

 

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“Had a great day with my kids…then bunged up bedtime. I SUCK.”

 

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I think we do this for a couple of reasons.

There’s definitely a social market for failure stories. People love them. They get a lot of likes on Facebook. They get people laughing. And they really demonstrate that some days are hard to believe: This is REALLY my life?! REALLY?!

And if we make light of the failures, no matter how small or inconsequential, then maybe no one else will call us out on how we’re clearly not succeeding. How we’re big failures. How maybe we’re the absolute wrong person for this job. How this is all just a big mistake.

I am pro being real. I am all for talking about how hard the parenting gig is, how frustrating it can be, how much we can hate it (yes, HATE it, like this article so eloquently explains), and how some days you wonder just what you’ve done to your life.

But, should we keep being mean to ourselves? Should we put ourselves down every time we make a mistake, let something slide, drop a ball? Should we point out our rather small, not so memorable failures, just so no one else will notice them or realize that we are impostors? Mothers who shouldn’t be. Parents who really have no clue what they’re doing?

Finding humor in our seemingly insane, unreal, nonsensical days makes sense. It’s the old adage – if we’re not laughing, we’d be crying. But, when the #momfail stops being funny and starts being what we actually believe, what we tell ourselves, the inner track that berates us for forgetting one thing on our list of dozens of things we actually remembered, that’s where it gets tricky.

My sister-in-law posted on Facebook that her son, my shy, not-so-adventurous nephew, had a banner day for trying new things…and then she included she forgot her camera, so she failed. #momoftheyear failed. Even though, considering all of the hurdles my nephew has had to overcome, the fact that she’s a single mom right now since my brother-in-law is away for business, the fact that she’s a rock star mom to a sweet, awesome kid…she found the failure, the moment where she wish it could have been different, even though THAT moment really made no difference. But, it’s what she is dwelling on. What she is remembering.

I think that hashtagging moments where we didn’t quite make the play, didn’t quite make the ball connect with the bat, didn’t quite do the job we wanted to do, is fine. #momoftheyear and #momfail moments are going to happen. Period. But let’s not let them take over. Let’s not let them be the only things we remember.

Forgot the bake sale? That’s okay. There will be another. And your kid probably didn’t even really notice. He was too busy sharing his friends’ treats.

Dropped a toy on the baby’s head and made her scream? Is she all right? Then, that’s okay. It happens. It won’t be the last time. Does she need medical attention? Did you get it for her? Then, good job. You are surviving the hospital system with your baby. That’s tough stuff and you’re doing it. Rock star.

Feel guilty about missing a dance class? Not sending your kid to school with the right colour shirt? Not doing the laundry so that their favourite dress would be clean for that particular Thursday that looks like every other Thursday? Fine. Feel guilty. For a minute. Then let it go. They have. They won’t remember unless you miss all the dance classes, never show up, never try, don’t love them, and let them go to school naked.

You’re human. A human parent to a crazy tiny human. Or lots of crazy tiny humans. And that is tough. You’re doing okay. Don’t live in the fail. Move on to the success, the happy, the joy, because as a kid, that’s where they live every day. And all they want is for you to live with them there. Promise.

 

Need inspiration? Visit Finding Joy, a blog by a mom of SEVEN. I want to be her when I grow up.

Need inspiration? Visit Finding Joy, a blog by a mom of SEVEN. I want to be her when I grow up. You know, without the seven kids.

~ Julia

I’ve found the love

I’ve been working on being more loving and happy.

I know that the first step is loving yourself as you are, even if it is at your worst. And beyond being just okay with yourself, I think that you should have a little bit of vanity in you and have at least one thing about yourself that you love. I have quite a few!

And yes I am going to list the things I LOVE about myself.

My eyes: They are green with a splotch of brown in the middle, and have dark grey on the outer ring. I share them with our Memere; we have the same eyes. They are also like my mood ring because as I am working through things, or not feeling like myself, my eyes seem to change.

My scar: I have a chickenpox scar at the left-hand corner of my mouth. It is shaped like a small eye, and although it is weird, I have had it for so long that I look for it every time I look in a mirror. I have about six of these eye-shaped scars. I think I may be the only one to notice them and I definitely think they are funky and awesome.

My hair: I like it when it is all poofy, all curly, or silky straight. If it is up in a ponytail or a bun, I have been thinking a lot about something. If it is down and curly, like a lion’s mane, it means I am feeling sassier than usual. If it is straight, I wanted to take the extra time to feel and look pretty. I love every bad hair day ever since the day when I was younger and got a hair cut I fondly call ‘The Rachel.’

It was not a good look for me, and I so couldn’t pull it off like Jennifer Anniston could. My hair is crazy wild and not perfect, but hey I think I give a pretty good hair flip when I need to.

And last on today’s list is…

My smile: After years of my sisters trying to get me to smile in pictures, and actually just brighten up, I have grown to love my smile. I like that it isn’t all the time, and that to see it I have to be happy. My smile is picky. It is as though in order to see it I have to actually be really happy, and more and more I am using my smile.

I am learning to love myself and learning that I need to accept my flaws and make changes on the things I am not happy with. I am slowly getting to be a better me and it is a timely and fantastic transformation.

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If you feel up to it, tell me something you love about yourself! And remember to find new things every day to love, just because they are yours.

~ Andreah