Good Morning, Welcome Home.

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There’s almost nothing as soothing to me as waking early to a cool, bright morning after a full sleep, knowing myself, feeling full freedom in the day ahead.

It’s been almost exactly a year since I left for the UK, a trip that was full of mixed emotions. I was supposed to “make it” something, come home anew.

My Dad was on his way out of this world, he in BC, me in Montreal, and it was heart-wrenching. I went, and because of a passport issue, my trip got turned around. I felt like a failure, in part because this was a trip I was making “for” him in some sense. A last chance of him knowing freedom through me…maybe.

At least that what I told myself.

I made the trip as nice as possible, but it still felt…unproductive. Aside from a bit of exploring and relaxing, and visiting a good friend, nothing really happened. I had some peaceful moments, but nothing I couldn’t have had here, for the most part. The highlights were definitely Edinburgh (meeting up with Emily!!), meeting Jaime Khoo IRL (a freaking fantastic afternoon with a tour of York), seeing Sara (still not sure how someone can be quite so beautiful), reconnecting with Colin (20 years later, we still feel the same). I also quit my job, which was something that had been needing to happen, but of course, made things more challenging in some ways.

I spent November in Montreal, trying to be in touch with my mom, and basically waiting for “the” call. I walked, grieved, took space. It was actually pretty lovely, despite the sadness.

And then, the call. I sobbed hard. The grieving took on many different forms through the next little while.

I went to be with my mom for a bit, and it was lovely, hard. Still, there was a certain peace inside of me, even though everything felt disjointed. I went to LA for 2 weeks, then Vancouver for about 4 months. It was nice enough, but even that even turned sour in the end.

I felt supported relationship-wise, because I was around good friends. I needed that—always will. But I still didn’t quite feel like I was supporting myself. Financially things were dismal. I scraped by on bits and pieces of work, but still felt too scattered to really buckle down. I knew I needed a certain type of business guidance, but I didn’t know where I’d find it. And a fight broke out over money, a fight which made me feel smaller and more incompetent than I had in a long time.

I felt like I was climbing out of a long hibernation, only to be sort of shoved back down the hole a little. It’s kind of how I’ve felt all year.

I guess that’s what life does, generally.

Late March, I was back with my mom for a bit, then was invited to stay at an Ashram in the Kootenays with a dear friend. It was the first time I’d felt a hint of sobriety—literally and metaphorically—in ages. And things felt a little lighter.

That was early April. I bussed to Calgary and flew back home to spend April at my own space in Montreal. The point was really buckle down and move my business forward. But I knew I didn’t have long because my space was rented out. I needed the extra income and had planned to spend the summer elsewhere.

I remember sort of goofing around, then, still not buckling down. But I managed to scrape up enough cash to sign up for a copywriting course, which I followed haphazardly through the summer. I knew that doing that was exactly what I needed, but I wasn’t quite sure how until more recently.

I enjoyed the summer—time at my sister’s, my mom’s, with some good friends. There was a Picard reunion, camping, beautiful walks, plenty of day-trips, quiet nights, plenty of wine and simple dinners. And I can’t forget the fantastic (quasi-spontaneous) 39th birthday in Vancouver, thanks to a few stellar friends there.

I needed that company, the support, the freedom. This was my first summer not working full-time in probably 20 years, and it was glorious.

I returned from that trip two months ago, and immediately felt momentum as soon as I set foot in my own space. But between more rentals and a good friend visiting, I still didn’t quite get into the flow that I know I’ve been needing.

The truth is, despite all the good stuff, I’ve still been scraping—emotionally, financially, energetically. I realize now that, although it’s been great, I haven’t been able to find balance and focus very easily. I do have a few health issues and my business to tend to. I have come to terms with myself that I cannot heal or focus properly without complete space. I need (what seems like) a ridiculous amount of space to truly do the work.

So, it’s time to stay still for a while.

This morning is the first one in a while that I’ve known I can just stay. I now understand what being footloose is: as much as I love my people, I can’t expect too much of myself during those times. I can maintain, but not move forward. Without regular, long periods of alone time, I won’t deliberately practice the level of radical balance and self-support which is essential for staying centered while moving forward, both business-wise and personally.

I am grateful for all the arms that held me this year, for each and every adventure and calm moment together. But I’ve also been feeling new momentum, in part because that copywriting course and other growth work (via Kate B and others) has opened my eyes to what is really going on.

It’s not all pretty: there’s still a lot of negative/anger floating around inside, but I’m ready to approach it properly now. Alongside of this feeling of approaching it differently comes different twinges of possibility, entirely new things that I sensed through the past year, but never really acted on.

So I don’t now what true balance and radical self-support is really going to look like exactly, but I do know that health and business go hand in hand, and that it’s all right in here—in my apartment, in my heart.

This is the time to deliberately heal, build, grow.

And I’m ready to dig in.

(PS: This is kinda what the book will be about. ;))

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Why energy healing works (just maybe not in the way that you expect)

IMG_0591I recently had a healing session with a friend at Quantum of Solace Healing.  She is trained in several modalities, one of which is called Emotional Freedom Technique, or EFT.  In EFT, healer and client work to identify a key problem and rate the emotional intensity of it.  Then, via several rounds of repeating phrases aloud while tapping on various parts of the body (the client can do this themselves with guidance and/or the practitioner will do it for them), the emotional intensity that the patient feels gradually decreases, so that they should feel lighter and calmer about the problem in the end.

As our session progressed, I struggled to pinpoint the real issue(s), the reasons why I was still anxious and sad about having broken up with my partner a few months before.

We tried one round of tapping, then went back to revise, refine and dig deeper.

As we progressed, a sense of discomfort arose in my heart, and I began to choke up.  Like a massage therapist might work on a knotty muscle, we had found that emotional tender point, and she was – gently – loosening it.

As we went through the repetition and the tapping, she sensed the exact moment when something shifted for me.  She actually noticed when when I welled up, even though I struggled like crazy to hide it.

In her ability to sense this place of fear, she was compassionately pressing me to acknowledge things that I didn’t want to admit about myself.  

In these moments, I felt raw, vulnerable, exposed.  I recognized just how much I was still grieving my last relationship, and it scared me.  After all (I’d assumed), wasn’t I the strong, independent woman who was ‘moving on’ with her life?  Especially after several months of being apart?  Especially after a relationship that wasn’t truly serving either one of us that well?

How could I still be so scared about love, so lonely, still grieving this thing that was supposed to be long over, when I knew that splitting up was the best thing for me (us)?

That kind of shift can sometimes ease into a sense of peace fairly quickly.  But, the stuff that the session brought to the surface sat with me for the next couple of weeks.

What I realized from this is that one healing session doesn’t necessarily lead to immediate lightness.  The ‘feeling better’ part of the healing doesn’t always happen right away: sometimes you have to hang out with the discomfort for a while, get to know it a little, before your load is lightened.

In this case, I needed to acknowledge these things that I was feeling and process them so that I could really break free of that weight and move forward.

A good healer should be able to recognize this kind of a shift, to loosen the knot and understand that discomfort can be a part of the process.  The shift might manifest as a lightening, or a breaking, an opening, or some sense of uneasiness, but it’s the practitioner’s job to acknowledge it.

It might not be that comfortable, but it (often) needs to happen.

You know the Leonard Cohen quote: “There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

For me, this time, deep fears had been unearthed, and I had to stare them in the face.  And this was a key lesson of the session: it didn’t fix me.  It opened me up, it exposed me, it shook me, cracked me, but it didn’t fix me.

By offering a safe space to acknowledge some of this pain and help me be OK with it, my healer friend helped me understand how I could help myself.

When I told her later how I’d felt, my friend (bless her giant gentle heart) asked me if she had been being too pushy.  I told her that if I had felt a little bit pushed, it meant that she was doing her job well.

In order to help another change, grow, heal, there has to (sometimes) be a compassionate nudge beyond their comfort zone.

An effective healer (or trainer, friend, partner) will be there to nudge you forward, will know when you are feeling uncomfortable in the right way.  They will sense your pain, and will be there to help you through it – if and when you are ready.

It can be scary – really scary.  But if you aren’t scared, you aren’t growing.

Sometimes in the EFT sessions my friend says something in a really cute way, and we giggle, or I giggle at myself out of nervousness.  And there is something about that little moment that reminds me of Pema Chodron’s concept of smiling at the fear.  So in that way, just being there with someone with the mutual intention of facing a fear can lighten the load.

The people in my life that I love the most are those that challenge me, stretch me, open me up.  They are people that are willing to have radically honest dialogue, who are self-aware, compassionate, conscious.  Something unspoken connects me with them, and them with me.  And we each thrive on this to grow.

So, if, energetically speaking, this is the kind of relationship that can be healing, then why wouldn’t an energy healing mode like EFT be successful?  Why do scientists sit around arguing the ‘validity’ of alternative healing modes, when maybe just this connection and mutual intention is exactly what makes it effective?

So, let us establish the kinds of connections where both parties are moved to examine and question themselves so that they may grow in whatever aspect is needed.  Let us create safe spaces where we can practice radical honesty in facing our deepest dreams and fears.

The right person at the right time will sit with you through the pain of cracking open, guiding you into your own light, which will in turn help another.

12 Tips for getting through a breakup

Well it’s time for me to write the post, the one that almost everyone seems to write at some point or another: steps for getting through a breakup.

I am just in the first stages of separating with my live-in partner. We have lived together for about a year, dated for over 1.5. Although I truly believe that it is the best thing for us, my mind and heart are swirling: rejection, sadness, love, anger, yearning for some way to ‘fix’ everything and carry on. In writing this out I hope to bring some clarity – and hope – to other broken hearts out there.

1. Accept the change. Transition IS a part of life, and often we get stuck in patterns that seem comfortable but may actually be unhealthy. If you and your partner aren’t both equally putting the energy into sorting out your problems, or are not being totally honest (with yourselves), if you feel isolated, or the relationship isn’t evolving in a way that is meaningful to you, it is not a healthy relationship. Period. Doesn’t matter whose fault it is or what happened, it’s OK to take some space.

2. Create new ways of thinking. We all know that meditation, journalling, councelling, etc. are healthy ways of getting through the pain. But overall what is needed is a push to retrain our brain into just being OK in this new situation. Whatever therapy works for you to practice reworking your brain a bit, find it and force yourself to do it regularly, instead of curling up into a little ball.

3. Find your flow. Flow states can help us to step away from anxiety and depression. Usually they are not passive activities, but activities where you feel fully engaged. Depression in itself is the opposite of this, and may make us think we want to stay curled up in a ball. Do everything you can possibly do to convince yourself otherwise, then go and do your flow thing.

4. Believe that you are better off this way. Even if you have to fake it, write it in your journal a hundred times, ask others to tell you – it’s the only way you will have faith in your healing and your life.

5. Get through it, not ‘over’ it/the partner! Don’t be afraid to go through the grieving process (in an appropriate way). Let yourself cry, kick a punching bag, eat a bit of ice cream. Don’t begrudge yourself for grieving and being emotional. It is a confusing and disheartening time for everyone, but you will get through it.

6. Choose who to lean on, respect their boundaries, and respect the fact that you might be super sensitive right now. Sometimes we can encounter (perceived) negative judgements from even our closest friends and family. Or sometimes others may not be able to give us their full attention. Ask for a good time and make sure you have their full attention, and make sure that you can give them yours too.

7. Listen. It can be so easy to become engrossed in your own grief that you are self-absorbed, but, remember that other people need you too. Your own compassion can go a long way towards everyone’s healing. In fact you probably know someone who is going through or has gone through something similar, if not much worse. Be there for them.

8. Let love free you. I know that it’s the cheesiest line ever, but if you love them, set them free.

9. When you notice yourself missing a particular thing, do it for yourself!  For instance, if your partner cooked for you regularly, do this for yourself (or friends or family) and make it a special occasion. If you miss your partner kissing you goodbye in the morning before work, pretend to kiss yourself goodbye with that same love! It may sound ridiculous, but anything you can do to redirect those old patterns of ‘directing’ love is super important.

10. Don’t engage in unhealthy behaviours to distract yourself. Of course we will want to have a beer with a close friend and decompress, or maybe go dancing with a girlfriend. That is totally normal. But do not let yourself go overboard with this kind of thing. Especially not drugs or sex!!

11. Learn how to enjoy your time alone (again). I was alone for a long time, and when I entered the relationship, there were so many things about the daily companionship that I was grateful for. I expressed this to my partner many times. But I also learned from within the relationship that practicing being alone, no matter what, is always a good thing.

12. Do not rest in the ‘fantasy’. I still have visions and memories of times when it was good, of how I really wanted it to be. And the reason we split up is because it just wasn’t like that. My partner couldn’t offer it, maybe I wasn’t offering it either. Set a realistic vision for your next attempt at a relationship, and work towards that. But give it to yourself FIRST.

Every time I have been in a relationship, I have ended up unsatisfied. I can’t exactly say why, except that I do offer and expect the best. I expect us to cherish each other’s souls, bodies, lives- even the crazy parts. I expect there to be a relatively equal amount of give and take, of space and togetherness, of mutual support and self-sustenance. I expect for us to be able to grow together, have adventures, and generally just be OK when things aren’t that exciting!

I (we) tried for the best, and the experience was great, but it just didn’t last. And I think that I deserve the best. Don’t you?