Self-care: I’ve heard it often enough to understand that we live in a culture where we keep too busy. Many times ‘we’ don’t even make it on our very own to-do list. Serving the demands of our agendas is more important than slowing down to allow time for introspection. It is much easier to disregard self-care since it doesn’t yield the same reward as a clean kitchen, a mowed lawn, an empty inbox or a home-cooked meal. Self-care is not just putting your name on the to-do list – it’s slowing down enough to listen to what you truly need. It means being vulnerable and not just the one in charge of checking-off a list.
Worry, like a string of balloons tethered to your hands carries you far from reality.
Detached from the earth below, you spend endless hours constructing scenarios that address every “What if?”
You devise multiple plans – solidifying certainty and safety at all costs.
Every situation controlled. Every outcome calculated. Every question answered.
Nothing is unpredictable and everything works in your favour.
Tragedy swarms humanity.
Collectively, we fight back.
We stay home, share wealth, goods and cheer.
We celebrate sacrifice and unify our will to survive.
We cry. We question.
We stay in bed longer than usual.
We dance. We panic. We run. We grieve.
I’ve longed for sunshine like the arrival of vacation after months of drudgery.
My unrelenting desire is consuming.
I beg for her return, that she would pierce the grey gloomy skies with the sharpest of knives.
Piercing and peeling back the heavy winter sky.
Like an avalanche delivering streams of liquid gold, she wakes up the hibernating Earth.
The seal broke releasing the past.
Its sentence was up and like an uninvited haunting it was making its arrival known.
Wanting to hide in fear it chased me down.
Like a child I hid under my blanket pretending that if I couldn’t see her, she couldn’t see me.
My protective force was faulty.
I peeled back my cover, slowly exposing my face.
There on my bed sat Past.
She was innocent, honest, weathered and bruised, having a lifetime of memories.
My friend laid under her blankets for the rest of the day, not wanting to engage in any sort of conversation. She was completely exhausted from an incident that had occurred earlier that morning. I was compassionately curious to know what happened to have caused her such distress and exhaustion.
My backyard, small but perfect – a place to lounge mid-afternoon during the summer months. Two new turquoise-blue muskoka chairs make backyard lounging perfect. Everyday I would sit with my bare feet touching the grass or crosslegged on the chair studying, reflecting and writing. My studies were often interrupted by my curious little dog playfully pouncing on grasshoppers, a squirrel running along the fence line or flying insects. Butterflies were plenty. They were unlike the buzz or crawl of the other insects. Their descent into my backyard was like royalty, gracefully fluttering to the sound of trumpets and strings. I could not help but stop what I was doing to watch them – moving from blades of grass to flowers until their final ascent up and beyond my yard. I was mesmerized by their beauty and elegance.
Having lost my grandmother at the beginning of July, I was contemplating the idea that butterflies are a sign from God. Continue reading
Mulling over the drink menu at one of our favourite local restaurants, four of us sat on bar stools catching up about last week’s birthday celebration. It was a fun event that brought together a large crowd of new and old neighbours, friends from work and old band mates, as well as family. Being an introvert at a party and knowing only half of the crowd required a lot of energy (small talk is not my thing).
As the party was coming to a close, I met my friends’ former neighbours – an outspoken extrovert and his quiet introverted wife. Filling the air with colourful words, he told stories of anarchy while I stood there smiling uncomfortably and being shocked into laughter. He was a force, untamed, wild and free. He made no apologies. He is who he is, like it or leave it. As uncomfortable as I felt, I saw through the vulgarities. At his core he is a committed husband and father – a family man. He described his relationship with our mutual friends as the best type of neighbours you could have – sharing meals together, shovelling snow from each others’ driveways, or helping move heavy furniture followed by a beer or two afterwards. He was such a fascinating guy that he became the springboard for an interesting conversation the following weekend with our friends about self-identity.
During our meal, the four of us all agreed that as vulgar as he is, people still like him. My extroverted friend (the only one at the table) passionately said that when we aren’t comfortable with our identity we are just filling in the spaces of someone else’s expectation of us. We are ‘space-fillers.’ With my cocktail close to being finished and my belly satisfied with delicious food, I was far from leaving this profound metaphor at the restaurant. This image of filling the space of someone else’s expectations was sparking so much intrigue that I had to give it more time to expand.
I buried her beneath waters.
A buoyant sail once purposed for adventure, shipwrecked.
Drowned by currents of ‘acceptable norms’
She could no longer stay afloat.
She sank. Her beauty. Her purpose. Her destiny. Gone.
She was ‘put in her place’ on the ocean floor.
A vessel repurposed for others.
Soaked with nature’s perfume, our day was coming to a close. After a day spent lake-diving, boating to a patio-restaurant for lunch and doing yoga by the water at dusk, we finally settled in for the evening. Our cottage playlist set the mood nicely. It was mostly background music playing off the stunning views of water, rock, lake and trees. Once the sun was put to rest, the dark sky drew us inside where the background music became our evening soundtrack. A joke earlier about the perfect fishing song was cued up. It was a fierce song with build and vibe and attitude. A song that could not be passively listened to – it demanded we move! With a relaxed courage, I stood up and started dancing. In no way ‘cool’ but fully committed, I summoned the courage of two more. Together we danced. One song turned into two, and two turned into more. We laughed and moved, and were as free as could be. In the comfort of a cottage on a private island where no one could peek in and say “Look at those weirdos!” we were free of judgement. My dance was silly and full of laughter with a bit of attitude. It was the culmination of a happy heart and soul. It was freedom!
The freedom I experienced came from a level of trust I had developed with my friends and myself. Uninhibited by the fear of judgment, I was able to be my ‘silly-self.’ Late night cottage dancing was the peak high after experiencing some very difficult lows a year earlier.