Situational Nightmares

It’s 4:00 am and I’m sitting in a dive motel. Although, the room seems clean enough and the bed is comfortable to watch t.v. in–at least it has a goggle box! Understanding that will reveal your age or lack thereof. Back to the Motel…it’s on Airport Road in Toronto–or Mississauga, if you want to get technical–and I had to make a U-turn through three lanes of traffic to get to the immediate entrance which I missed my first time around because the sign for it is on one of those mini-mall light-up posts. I kid you not, it’s in a mini mall. The hotel entrance is shared with three other businesses–all rental car agencies–and there is one line-up for all four. I feel like I’m in a northern hick town. Albeit has a Subway restaurant  right next door!

What a shit show! At the airport now, sitting at my gate. Two hours before we board. Glad to see that Hotel experience in the rear view mirror. Of course, I have to get back there to pick up my Jeep when I get home, but will worry about that when the time comes. Security and Customs were a breeze! Then again, I only had cigarettes to declare and they didn’t check. There are a few other people here already as well and more slowly descend. Do you know where I’m going? Flying into Tampa where good friends will meet me and then a 1 hr drive to Mulberry in Polk County–where the sherriff is top notch, apparently. Hopefully, I don’t have to find out!

So, the title of this Blog? Situational Nightmares. Made that up, by the way; at least, I think I did! Apart from the Hotel being a nasty experience, I had travel nightmares: I didn’t hear my alarm go off so I woke up late. Then I had all this stuff with me that had to go back into my Jeep before I could leave. There were a bunch of people helping me get organized but the time was drifting away and my belongings just kept piling up. Couldn’t figure out how I had accumulated so much and why I would bring it up to my room with me. Then my Jeep got wrecked and we couldn’t fit anymore into it. The front was at the back and the back was at the front. Couldn’t get the rear gate shut. Yet, more and more stuff needed to go in. Eventually, I gave up and told my friends to finish up as I was going to the airport. Then, of course, the Shuttle took forever to come. I was going to be late for my flight. Suddenly, I woke up. It was 3 a.m. and this Blog begins shortly after.

So, here I am, on the plane. One hour in. We left a half hour late so will see if we make up any time. Supposed to land at 1:03 pm.. It has been an uneventful ride so far. I am grateful that the only open seat on the plane is beside me. Got lucky, I guess. Elbow room. Watched as we flew over what I think was lake Erie, but could have been Ontario. We were West of Virginia when I last checked. Looks as if we’re directly over Charlotte right this moment…says about an hour to go, but that can’t be right as we just left an hour ago and flight is nearly 3 hours. I guess we will see. I so love flying–especially taking off. Like landing as well, but taking off gives me an amazing feeling inside. Can’t control the tummy flutters. Makes the whole trip worthwhile. Didn’t have any situational nightmares about the flight, just making it to the flight.

We arrived at 1:03 on the dot and I’ve been here for 5 days now. I’ve seen alligators, geckos and a dozen different types of birds. Went to Winterhaven and danced up a storm. Hopefully looking for my own place on Tuesday–not to stay this year—for future years. Absolutely love it here and we’re only an hour from Tampa and the beach. Actually going to John’s Pass on Wednesday. But before we do that, we’re moving to my friends’ new place. The days are filled with sun, fun and shenanigans! It’s an active 55+ community with shuffleboard, bocce, golf and a dozen other things to do. Amazing people and having the time of my life!

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The Perils of Protected Pain

No one is immune from pain, neither physical nor emotional, but we often try to protect ourselves from the suffering it puts upon us–especially our emotional pain. We might hide it, dismiss it, numb it, let it build or even fear its power over us. All these conditions lay the groundwork for dismissing a real experience. We cannot heal what we don’t acknowledge and entertaining its absence will only increase our experience of it. In other words, trying to ignore our pain only gives it more power over us. So, how do we use this knowledge to help us encounter our pain?

Let’s take a look at the scenarios that interfere with our experience of emotional pain: when we try to hide and/or dismiss the hurt feelings inside us, we often actually intensify its presence. In fact, it can send us right off the deep end by infiltrating into good relationships where we proceed to bury it again. The real problem is that it never really goes away. It sits and festers, affecting new and old connections with those we value most. Sometimes it shows its face in a lack of trust with people; other times it could actually terrorize the love we feel for others. There are a multitude of ways it can destroy our lives if we allow it to; and we are allowing it when we don’t face it.

Another way in which we try to protect ourselves from emotional pain, is to numb it. This occurs when we turn to alcohol, drugs or food to try and distance ourselves from the intensity of our emotions. We mistakenly think that these forms of self-harm will save us from the lethargy, depression and indifference we experience when faced with raw despair. But what actually happens is that we set up a temporary relief station that, with time, only embellishes the heartache, actually making it worse in the long run. It doesn’t go away; it stagnates inside of us causing all sorts of physical and emotional suffering.

If, by chance or by design, we are given permission to feel our pain, we actually have better odds of surviving it. This is sometimes called “sitting with the emotion”. It becomes a thoughtful act of focusing on the pain on purpose, mindfully. It is giving yourself permission to feel. But why do we stifle our emotions in the first place? Why do we need our own approval or the acknowledgment from others to be able to feel? I mean, the one thing all humans have in common is their passion, their affectivity, their fervor for life. Even joy is illusive because with joy comes sorrow. With the light also comes the darkness. There’s really no escaping it and yet we try. Why are we, as a human species, so afraid of the emotional experience? Is it just our fear of what encountering the pain will be like? It would seem to be so. And yet, how can we honestly face our reality without facing both the despair and the joyfulness of our stories? I don’t think we can. What if this is the reason there is so much suffering by disease and illness? Think about this: is learning to tolerate our emotional distress the cure to our physical ailments?

peace balance empathy


Here it is, Thursday night, 9:30 pm. I haven’t written since Monday, when I started a blog that I have since discarded for this one. I’ve been thrown into a spiral of procrastination that has affected everything on my schedule. No yoga, no journaling, no writing. The only thing I’ve been able to keep up are my meditations. It’s definitely been a sour week. Not sure what I’ve been waiting for, but it hasn’t arrived, that’s for sure. As a rule, I like to have my blog written by now and ready to go for tomorrow but this week has had a mind of its own.

As a result, I’m sitting here watching Edmonton play Tampa while hacking away at this keyboard. I’m trying hard not to let this week’s lack of productivity get me down and, I guess, I’m fighting back a bit by doing this now. Blogging is something I really cherish; I want to connect with my readers on a regular basis. I need to do this and who doesn’t suffer from delaying the inevitable on some occasions? This sure isn’t my first time caught up in a procrastination struggle and I’m sure it won’t be the last. I’m also pretty certain that others can relate.

I think one of the biggest obstacles to overcome with procrastination is beating yourself up. If you can prevent this from happening, I believe you can begin to fight back. Picking yourself up and putting yourself back into the game may not be easy but it is certainly worth trying. So, I left this last night. It is now 6:50 am. Publish time is 7:00. Looks as if I’m not going to make my own deadline. How do I feel about that? Well, I’m going to let myself off the hook because that’s what’s best for my mental health. I refuse to let it bring me down. I will likely have a chat with my parts and try to get to the source of the problem but for now, I am letting it go.

I will see how I handle the rest of my day…do I continue with my routine or do I fail again? Remember that failing is a part of life. It’s what we DO with our shortcomings that defines us. Even that can fall prey to failure, so we try again tomorrow. We keep trying. Just wondering how you handle your procrastination–if it’s something you struggle with? I’m really interested in other ideas and how you would cope with this dilemma?

Look at that, I’m only about 20 minutes late and that’s better than nothing.

peace balance empathy

Standards, Self-Worth and Perfectionism

I keep my standards high because I am worth it”

This affirmation really stuck with me. It made me think of my struggles with perfectionism over my life span and made me wonder if I can let go of other people’s expectations and actually just follow my own. The real trouble is that the voices of others remain in my head. I have trouble discerning where their ideals end and where mine begin. Setting my own standards and ideations seems out of my control because there are so many parts of me that seem to be controlled by the voices I’ve heard over the course of my life.

How does one go about changing their views on their own standards, worth and perfectionism? Having just finished Adam Grant’s Think Again, I have to acknowledge that there are likely more than a few ways to do this and that how I explain my best way, may not be right for everyone. There is room for discussion and argument that I would love to see offered in the comments!

My ideas? Personally, I have to start with my self-worth. If I can redefine this for myself, I believe my standards can remain high without blindly searching for perfection. The concept of my worth was taken by a traumatic incident when I was very young. It left me feeling worthless which was compounded by my sensitive nature as a youth. I took things personally and blamed myself for things that I had no control over. Unworthiness still haunts me but I am beginning to deal with the past through therapy and, in particular and more recently, Parts work. It is changing my life. I’m feeling stronger than I ever have and truly believe that my lost parts can be healed through this important journey. When I first began this work, I actually questioned whether I was worth the trouble. I came to the conclusion that I was and this realization was the beginning of my drive towards a higher sense of self-worth.

When I came across this affirmation, I had already begun my IFS (Internal Family Systems) repairing of my psyche and I realized that if I could grasp the parts that struggle with self-worth that I could change my perfectionist attitude and embrace more reasonable, yet high, standards for myself. This is where I am right now: in the process of recovering my affected parts and comforting them in a way that will unburden them from the grasp of unworthiness and set them free! It is a scary, yet exciting, adventure…I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in this type of work. I can let go of my pursuit of perfection and lack of self-worth that have consumed my life and seize the opportunity to make standards that are more reasonable, while still high…

“I am setting new standards for how I want to treat myself”

peace balance empathy

For more information on IFS therapy, please follow the link near the top of my blogging page.


…for love, for that perfect job, that child…it’s something we’re so passionate about that it takes our breath away. We can spend our whole lives chasing a wistful yearning deep inside. And, it changes. With time, with emotional growth, with age, with reality, our longing for that precious desire transforms within. Maybe we get what we’re longing for or, perhaps, we move on. I wonder, though, if our unmet deep desires can forever haunt our psyches?

Possibly, we live a life of “what ifs” that strain our relationships, our connection to others and to ourselves. What if those unmet longings follow us into our new ideals and passions and actually thwart our ability to thrive? How do we overcome the barriers born within us because of unfulfilled longing and desire? Is this even a place we want to explore or would we rather ignore it and move on? I believe there are three possible paths we can face: 1) Our longing is met, 2) The unmet desire remains stuck where it was formed, or 3) We experience the grief of our unfulfilled passion and move on.

If our longing is met, we simply move on, likely in a healthy, satisfied way. But what if reality steps in and literally makes our passion unachievable? What happens then? I believe it is likely that the unmet desire remains stuck and threatens our ability to connect with others in a rewarding way. Possibly the future of our relationships is stripped of any healthy interactions period. So, how does one go about healing the loss of our longings? As with any other loss, we grieve. 

I strongly believe that, unless we can grieve our loss of longing, we simply cannot move forward without threatening the connections we make with others. By entertaining the idea of our desire, we have stepped into the possibility of losing, not something we already have, but something we long lovingly for. When stripped of our passion, we experience a loss within us that is just as heartbreaking as the loss of something tangible; it is a death that leaves us empty, fatigued and lost. In order to move on from this, we need to grieve. We need to wail. We need to be incensed. We need to face our deprivation because it…is…real! We can’t allow others to make light of our situation. I can’t emphasize this enough. We must grieve! We have earned the right; we have suffered and we MUST acknowledge this before we move on. Our relationships are on the line. The future is looming. Allow yourself the space and the time you need to battle this heartbreak. You deserve it! You are worthy!

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Honesty (Our Truth) and Boundaries

Writing is something I not only want to do, but a venture I am driven towards. Authenticity also embodies me in this way. Honesty is directly related to authenticity, so how do I write honestly without putting myself too far out there? I sense, at least at this time in my life, that I need to set boundaries with my blogging. How does one go about setting boundaries and being honest at the same time? I mean, I don’t want to drag people around the whole of my psyche, but I do want to deliver meaningful material that others can relate to.

It takes immense courage to speak honestly and to set boundaries. Personally, I find myself lacking in both of these courageous acts. Maybe my parameters around honesty and boundaries need to be better defined. I don’t want to deliver either one in a harsh or critical way, but in a gentle and healthy manner. Honesty is something I had always veered away from because I was afraid of hurting someone’s feelings or losing friends, and my boundaries have been either fluid and transparent or strict and solid. For me, there is less of a happy medium. But, I’m trying to change that.

Over the past couple of years, I have been working hard to correct my all or nothing thinking by trying to develop healthy boundaries while speaking my truth. It is most certainly not an easy task but, I believe, it is a critical step towards authenticity. In my opinion, having healthy boundaries and being honest are the cornerstones of all successful relationships. Who doesn’t want this? Well, we don’t want successful relationships with everyone who comes into our lives especially when speaking with the general public, as I do in my blogs. So I have to share what feels safe and hold some personal information sacred. I don’t think this is being dishonest in any way. In fact, it is a good boundary to negotiate. I also believe that adjusting boundaries is done with everyone. Learning who gets to know us really well is a journey we navigate on a daily basis and often this isn’t an easy task. Sometimes trial and error come into play. Setting boundaries and authenticity are navigated and sometimes fail. We learn from this and try again. How many times do we try? As many as it takes if one wants to be truly happy, but that discussion is for another day.

Your thoughts or feelings? Agree/disagree? Any insights to share?

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Back to Basics

Well, it’s not quite the New Year, but I’m going to begin today with my Intention for the New Year. It is to write everyday and publish a blog once a week. I’m getting back to basics by first, making a schedule for myself that includes journaling, reading, writing and exercise. I’ve prepared my laptop and WordPress is functional on my phone, so I can make changes or write on the go. The success of any intention is to have a good plan that is doable. I’ve set the days up so I’m following a schedule for, at least, the mornings. There is also room for changes should something social come up like heading to town to see friends or family or to simply shop or go skiing as these things could get in the way and I don’t want to say “no” to them. They are important aspects of my life.

Why share all of this? Just to explain, I guess, how I go about getting back on my feet after months of unproductive ventures–and a week of eating and drinking that has resulted in 15 lbs of weight gain. Having a schedule has always worked for me in the past. It is an effective way for me to get back on track when I’m struggling to put meaningful and rewarding practices together. Of course, I needed, first, to figure out what holds meaning and value for me: socializing, journaling, reading, writing and skiing (in the winter). Blogging is a bonus and often comes out of my daily experiences with my mental health and life struggles mixed in with my longing to communicate with others who may be facing similar challenges.

I want this BLOG to be a place where anyone can explore their trials and errors as well as success and pride for overcoming these. It is, therefore, a valued and safe place with nonjudgmental communication intended to help each other. Comments and personal messages are greatly encouraged. Help me help others share tough life experiences and mental health struggles. We need to stand up for our personal experiences with mental illness and our rights as human beings living with these diseases. I, for one, no longer want or need to be chastised or criticized for living with this chronic illness. It’s real. It’s scary. It can also be extremely debilitating, to the point that some people simply can not understand. Having said that, it can also be an amazing shared experience between all people who experience similar and/or temporary difficulties with mental health.

So, do not be afraid of yourself. Instead, welcome ALL your parts to contribute to your mental well-being. My hope is that this blog helps everyone on some level. It is an exploration into our souls and minds, our thoughts and our feelings that may otherwise be ignored. It’s a journey of celebration not chastisement. Come with me as we explore our passions, our values and our mental health awareness.

What do YOU do to “get back to basics”?

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Hang In There

I haven’t written a BLOG in two weeks. I owe this dilemma to my inability to integrate my own journey with the journey of the world. I refuse to watch the news but it still makes its way into my mind and affects my personal suffering. I wish I didn’t care, but I do. I always have. My concern and worry is pointless unless I can do something about it. I can’t change the world; I can only change myself and that’s where my focus needs to be. I can’t take away the lies of our present situations but I can do something about my own ability to be honest. I believe if the opportunity arises and I CAN do something about the present direction the world is going that I will. Even if I’m putting my life in danger, I can stand up for what I believe in. 

Right now, people are fighting for their beliefs and personal freedoms. Others are battling with nature. I have to keep reminding myself that the world has always been in disarray. There were wars as well as nature’s fury going on in my teens. People say things are worse now, but are they really? I suffered from nightmares of nuclear war when I was 15. Has anything really changed? I have long believed that our democracy is a myth, that we are all bending a knee to something that isn’t real. This is not news to me. My fears now are no worse than my fears when I was young. At the age of 15, I had decided that I would never have kids. I couldn’t bring myself to introduce life into a world that was busy destroying itself. I’ve never regretted that decision.

I have to ask myself, why am I letting the rest of the world dictate my own personal journey again. I guess there might be a greater sense of US and THEM right now and that fear is a driving force behind the volatility of the world. But hasn’t that always been the case? Sure, more people are aware now, but shouldn’t that make me feel safer? Nothing is safe. Nothing is pure. I just can’t believe that I’m in the same space I was in 45 years ago. It makes me want to cry. It affects my sanity. I’m in need of some senseless endeavours. I have to let it go. I have to change the only thing I can–ME. And while I’m busy doing that, the world will continue to destroy itself. But I have a responsibility to myself and, in that, to others, to hold it together and keep hanging on. 

There is a tiny flame inside of me that believes there is good in the world and that, for that, I need to press on. I need to write and share my story because others are struggling with this too. We are good. Maybe not pure, but good. We are doing our best to make this world a better place just by getting to know ourselves and asking hard questions. We go into dark places because we are brave and want to be our best selves. I share my space with you because I think you’re worth it! Just have to remind myself of that every once in a while. Hang in there and believe in the truth of your SELF!

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Who Are We?

Polarization of ourselves, our families, our communities and our governments are not serving us well right now. We are divided within ourselves, our families, our communities and our governments. This great divide is hurting us emotionally; we are becoming more lonely and long for the connection with others that we once took for granted. How did this happen? Who do we really want to become? How do we satisfy our own perils and still care deeply for others? Is loneliness the answer? Do we need to be okay with being alone? Yes and No. 

I get daily reminders on Facebook about looking after myself and caring for myself while being kind to others. I believe that being kind to others has been taken over by a need to protect ourselves from past mistakes and heartache. The real problem that I see are people distancing themselves from others in order to protect themselves from hurt and pain. Instead of healing themselves from the past, the past is showing up in the present. We seem to forget that healing past wounds is as important as standing up for our beliefs. I frequently hear, “I won’t let that happen to me again”. THAT usually being a relationship that was emotionally painful. How do we really care for ourselves in a way that doesn’t misjudge what we desperately need? While our pasts are kicking our butts—even though we think they’re not—we are kicking others and in the process, we’re making decisions based on past experiences that continue to be traumatic to ourselves. 

How can we truly be ourselves without putting the past to rest? Get out those values again. Are we really being kind, honest and accountable or does the past haunt how kind we’ll be, how honest we are with ourselves and how accountable we are with both ourselves and others? In short, can we heal our past mistakes and the trauma caused by others to build ourselves a new slate on which to stand? One that reflects core values untainted from past bitter experiences? Or are we doomed to live for a traumatized, mistake-driven, unaccountable SELF, family, community and government, still lost in the past? 

I’m going to step out on a limb here and actually profess that I don’t believe we can be our true selves without healing our past selves. If we’re still making decisions based on selves still hurting from our past, we are not being true to the self that we originally were. I want to be true to the self I was meant to be, not the self my past has made me. That being said, healed parts of myself contribute to who I am right now and through their continued healing help me become the person I am meant to be. The loneliness I feel is only one part of myself. It does not control who I am; although, it contributes to it. The fear I feel when standing up for myself comes from the past, not the present. When I show up with my healed self, I will be who I was meant to be. In the meantime, I am becoming, and still have much to learn, as do our families, communities and governments. I wish we could all just realize this.

The road to effective leadership begins with the whole-hearted living of individuals, families and communities. It becomes itself once our own personal needs are dealt with. The need for food, shelter and love within our own system has to come first if we are to be able to feed, clothe and love others. And we have to be accountable. We have to right our wrongs and own them. We need to show up in our families, communities and governments and lead from a place of effectiveness instead of selfishness. A place that understands our own personal inadequacies and those of our governments. You won’t be an adequate leader if you can’t show up!

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