A Return to Love

My cousin was the first one to tell me about A Return to Love about a year ago. At the time, I was beginning to be interested in spirituality but didn’t want to read anything too heavy and certainly nothing that would require me to change in any significant way.

After my cousin’s glowing recommendation, I decided to buy the book and slowly made my way through it. There were things I liked and could relate to and things that I thought “No WAY!” Too idealistic I said. We’re living in the real world. This isn’t doable at all. Also, the ego isn’t a bad thing, I argued with her. Hasn’t the author heard the term “healthy ego”?

The book quickly found a place in the corner of the bottom shelf of my bookcase and life went on.

Flash forward a year and 12 energy healings later. The healings were with an amazing woman named Karen Heywood. Find out more about her here. All of a sudden I found myself craving the words and wisdom of ‘A Return to Love’. I dusted off my copy and opened a page. And, wow, what a different experience. Now Marianne Williamson’s words made total sense. There was no healthy ego I realized as I read the words all over again. Finally I felt ready to learn what this book had to teach me and I couldn’t wait to dive in. When the student is ready, they say, the teacher will appear. In my case, I guess, the teacher will appear again.

I’ll be writing more about this amazing book in upcoming posts but, in the meantime, here are a few of my favourite thoughts and quotes I’d like to share with you. I hope you like (read: love) them as much as I do:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. You playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

It takes courage…to endure the sharp pains of self-discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives.

You may believe that you are responsible for what you do, but not for what you think. The truth is that you are responsible for what you think, because it is only at this level that you can exercise choice. What you do comes from what you think.

Do what you love.
Do what makes your heart sing.
And NEVER do it for the money,
Go to work to spread joy.

May my heart be your shelter, and my arms be your home.

Love in your mind produces love in your life. This is the meaning of heaven.
Fear in your mind produces fear in your life. This is the meaning of hell.

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Just let go

I’ve been thinking about people who offer unsolicited advice to others (and the uncomfortable realization that I’m occasionally guilty of this behaviour).

This is on my mind today because I was out with the girls last weekend and a friend of a friend went on the attack over a decision I had recently made. I was surprised at her reaction but defended myself pretty well, the whole time thinking ‘why is this almost stranger so invested in my life?’ The whole exchange was emotionally charged though and managed to bring down what could have been a fun evening out.

By the end of the evening I had the sense that the only personal power this woman could muster was at the expense of others and with the conviction that her opinions were ‘right’. A very sad and, ultimately, powerless way to walk through the world.

The silver lining of this experience, however, is a wonderful one. It made me realize that if someone wants my opinion, he or she will actually ask and if they don’t ask, then my opinion is probably not needed. It also made me realize that I don’t need to defend or explain my life to anyone.

Imagine if we were all a little less judgy and just let people be who they want to be and do want they want to do. Imagine if we focused on understanding and acceptance instead of the upmanship (upwomanship) of judgement.

Imagine how much more wonderful the world would be.

Disclaimer: None of this applies if someone is being abused or harming themselves. Then it’s our duty to, with love, make their business our business.

Gentle

My word for 2017: Gentleness

Dictionary definition: “Gentleness is the quality of being kind and careful. Your gentleness with a frightened stray dog will eventually convince her to let you feed and pet her. The noun gentleness is perfect for describing the way someone acts when they are soft and calm and sweet to other people.”

We are all in this world together, doing the best we can and often our best isn’t all that great. We mess up, hurt each other (hopefully accidentally) and are just in general perfectly imperfect.

Imagine if we practiced more compassion and gave each other the benefit of the doubt more often. Imagine how we could transform the world if enough of us did that. So 2017 is my year of learning how to be gentle, with myself and with everyone around me. 

I think it’s going to be a good year 💖

For the Love of Volleyball

I lived to play volleyball in high school. For two years it was my full time, happy obsession. I tried out for and made the team in grade 10 and started out as a decent player. But then, a deep, deep love for the sport took hold of me and I started practicing for a couple of hours every evening and as much as I could on weekends. When there was no one around to play with I’d go out behind the house and serve the ball against the wall and dive and lunge to keep it slamming against the wall without touching the ground. So, in a pretty short time I went from a decent player to a really good player. And I practiced for a couple of hours every night not because I thought I  should or I had to but because I wanted to. Desperately wanted to. Playing volleyball was the happiest I felt in life. It gave me structure, a great physical outlet for stress and, last but not least, hope. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I lived for the game for those two years.

Then, in grade 12 I had to stop playing. The story of why I had to stop is too long and too sad to write about here. But I had to give it up. And I buried my love of the game…for almost 40 years. Oh, occasionally I’d try to get friends to play beach volleyball with me and once in a while they’d say yes. But some people are intimidated by the game and other people just don’t love it the way I do (which I can’t quite understand lol) so my games were few and far between.

But, this year, magically and happily, I found a group of friends who want to play. And they want to play every weekend, and, as I play with them, and my moves from high school are slowly but surely coming back to me. Something I had to bury a long, long time ago is un-burying (is that a word?) itself deep within my being and I’m starting to feel the happiness and joy that I used to feel when I was one of the tallest girls on the team spiking the ball mercilessly over the net. And I’m starting to practice my moves with a beach ball in my apartment just like I practiced in the “old days”. My dog gets in on the act to and pounces on the beach ball every chance he gets, so he’s loving the volleyball life too.

volleyball

volleyball

It’s too late to take this love of the game to a professional level like I dreamt of doing as a teenager but it’s not to late to let myself incorporate something that makes me feel such deep happiness and excitement back into my life. It’s funny how some of the things that bring such get buried over time.

The obsession is back and it’s a happy one.

The Happy Hiker Club

Every time I go adventuring in the forest, I am surprised at how quickly my problems and worries seem to disappear. I also notice that when I think of my life in the city, it seems less like my real life than trekking through the forest does.

“How can I get out of the city and into my happy place on a more regular basis?” I pondered this as I stood, packed like a stressed out sardine, on the bus home from the office last week.

“Start a hiking group” my inner voice whispered. It hits all of the important prerequisites for happiness: friendship, camaraderie and time spent in nature. Hiking is also a great way to stay fit. I couldn’t think of a downside to this.

That evening The Happy Hiker Club was born. Every hike we do will be chronicled in the blog this summer. Tips, highlights, things to watch out for and any inspiration nature gives me will be shared here.

wild flowers

 

What Did Intuitive Eating Teach Me?

So, my intuitive eating experiment taught me a number of things but the biggest and baddest ones are that my body doesn’t like wheat and dairy.

This is sad news but, if I want to feel better, I know what I have to do. Also, did you know that we sometimes crave the very things we are allergic to?  This was definitely apparent as I looked back on my dairy consumption.

Example:

I buy a wheel of brie at Whole Foods. Take a bite and put brie in the fridge. One day later, I open the fridge to eat some cheese and there’s only one sliver left. One sliver. My thought process: Where did the cheese go? I didn’t eat all of the cheese. I DID NOT eat all of that cheese. Who broke into my house and ate my cheese?? Then, eventually, I realize that I had, in fact, in some weird, dairy induced, dissassociative state, eaten all of the cheese. Not good. And wheat is usually a very similar situation. Insert baguette for brie and repeat story.

Coffee, it seems is also not my friend. Since I may love coffee more than life itself, however, and therefore refuse to give it up.

Moderation though. I will, once again, try moderation with my coffee consumption… Sigh. Wish me luck…

Next on my sad little list of things my body doesn’t react well to? Alcohol. Yes, it’s true. And just in time for patio season.

I’ve noticed lately that even when I have a couple of drinks,  the next day I wake up with bags under my eyes, my face breaks out in blotchy red bumps and I walk around all day with a killer headache. Not good. So, again, I will strive to be moderate. One cocktail, one glass of water. It’s going to be an interesting time ahead.

Here’s to finding health and balance.

Stopping to Smell the Bluebells

So my intuitive eating experiment is starting to include other areas of my life.

I’ve been a part time Digital Marketing student for a little over a year now. I work full time, study part time and manage two social media accounts for local businesses in my spare time. It’s a busy schedule and after spending approximately five or six hours a day on my computer at work, I’m hunched over my laptop for another couple of hours in the evenings. On top of this, I’m getting notifications throughout the day and night of likes and comments on the various pages I’m managing. I feel like I’m married to Facebook. And the marriage is in trouble. Even the dopamine hit of a bunch of “likes” on my posts isn’t really working for me anymore. I’m afraid that Facebook and Twitter have become my proverbial ball and chain.

I woke up Saturday morning with burning eyes sporting big, black circles under them, tired looking, blotchy skin and a bad attitude. I started to post content for one of my pages and the photos I had planned to share looked fuzzy and pixelated. I felt my teeth clench and my shoulders tighten and all I could think was that this is supposed to be my weekend. My time to relax and have fun. And I wanted to cry. It was sunny and beautiful out, my dog was staring at me, waiting for his long, Saturday morning walk and I was clenching my teeth, completely burnt out, tapping furiously away at my laptop again. Something had to give.

So, I resigned from one business via email and told the other that I was cutting my work in half. then I put my laptop on the shelf, unplugged my TV, texted a few friends that I was going off the grid for the weekend, threw my two smart phones in a drawer, grabbed my pup and hit the beach.

Nick (my dog) and I ran, strolled, sprinted, sat under a tree and stared at the ocean. We crouched on a rock and watched a heron as he fished for his lunch. The waves crashed against the shore and I felt myself starting to relax. My shoulders weren’t hurting anymore, my teeth weren’t clenched and I realized that too much social media will suck all of the joy right out of your life.

Walking home along the dirt path, Nicky decided that the long, wild grass growing along either side was going to be his all-you-can-eat salad bar. So, instead of standing impatiently waiting for him to finish his meal, I sat in the soft grass and ran the cool, green blades through my hands, breathing in the exquisite scent of fresh, spring green things. Then I thought why not lie down in the middle of this long, cool grass and stare at the leafy green tree above my head for awhile. The branches were shining in the sunlight, with leaves from a soft spring to deep, forest green and they were incredibly beautiful and soothing to look at. Then I glanced across the path and saw a patch of sweet, little bluebells with a few buttercups mixed in. They looked like the prettiest things I had ever seen and, all of a sudden, I realized that I felt incredibly happy.

Occasionally people walked by me on the path. Some smiled and said “hi” or commented on Nick’s grassy feast. Some gave me concerned looks. But I didn’t really care. I was happy.

So, maybe the secret of happiness is that it’s about connecting with yourself, nature and slowing down enough to notice the beauty around us.

And maybe the other secret is that it’s the opposite of what you feel when you spend too much time on Facebook, Twitter or even my beloved Instagram.

happy dog