Monday, 2 June 2014

Jasper 2014

There are two things in the world that bring an instant sense of peace, awe and serenity to my soul.  The ocean and the mountains.   I don’t live very close to an ocean, although there is one close enough to visit once in a while, but I live in a great province with some majestic mountain ranges.  And they are accessible – quite easily.
I get this feeling as soon as I see them in the distance, snowcapped peaks, and clouds drifting lazily across the summit, majestic creations.  They always bring out such a powerful sense in me of what nature is capable of.

Two weeks ago, I reserved a cabin at the place I have gone almost every year for the last 5 years.  I think it was 2 weeks ago but it felt like longer because the anticipation of packing up and getting on the road was overwhelming this time.   See, I have been blessed to have crossed paths with an amazing person and this was our first weekend away so not only was I thrilled to be able to spend some time with nature, but I was additionally thrilled that I would be spending it with someone whose company and time I enjoy so very much.  Really, if you had seen me Thursday night you would have thought it was Christmas Eve and I was a child waiting for Santa to get there.
So we are packed up and on the road (thank you for driving) having an enjoyable drive with great conversation – one bathroom break at some shady outhouse (thank you for having hand sanitizer!) and 3 hours later – through a bug streaked window, there they are, in the distance, bringing me that instant sense of ease, erasing any stresses that I have been hanging onto.

Friday evening was just spent unpacking,  exploring the campground, precariously (well for me) crossing a fallen log to the other side of a brook,  relaxing with a couple of glasses of wine, an amazing outdoor cooked steak dinner, and enjoying the view that Mother Nature decided to throw our way.  (How could you NOT feel at peace with that as your view!!!).
Saturday was hiking day.  I have hiked Maligne Canyon before but it has always been with children and they are not very forgiving of the terrain so I am generally turning back before I want to.  This time I also had a proper pair of hiking boots – one of the nicest gifts anyone has ever given me – and a gift that I plan on using a lot!  We started out at the Tea House, with plans to hike all the way to the 6th Bridge and back again.  I have never made it to the 6th bridge; I usually get to the 4th bridge when the ones with little legs want to go back!  The whole hike there and back is about 7.5 km and takes between 2-4 hours, depending on how often you stop to bask in the beauty of the canyon or find some great photo opportunities.  (I have a lot of pictures!)

I can’t even begin to explain how beautiful it is there.  I would not do it justice with just words, pictures don’t even do it justice but the roar of the water, or the peacefulness and stillness when you are in the wooded area is phenomenal.  Shhh, but we even snuck under a fenced area to sit on a rock to enjoy our trail mix and the sound of the water as it created new crevices in the rocks!
We made it to the 6th Bridge just in time to have the Park Ranger come speeding in through the gate to investigate a bear sighting (we did not see any bears).  Had a lovely picnic lunch of kielbasa, smoked Gouda, blueberries and raspberries right at the edge of the river – I think that qualifies as my picnic in the mountains and I can cross that off my list!  

Hike back up to the top, and decide that we have times to go and visit Athabasca Falls.  Again, another place where words can't do it justice.  Not as long of a walk to get around there but bringing up our walking time to A LOT!  And thanks to my lovely boots, I have no sore feet, my legs are feeling surprisingly okay, although a little shaky.  LOL, from my descriptions, can you tell which place I prefer :)

We drove back into Jasper to have a drink and a bite to eat at the Japser Park Brewery and to take an obligatory picture with Jasper the Bear and after a walk around for a bit it is time to head back to the cabin and see if we can actually stay awake to see the stars!  (And we managed to mostly make it!).  I reluctantly woke up on Sunday knowing that it was time to head back to home and back to reality (although a good friend of mine has pointed out that I need not be sad because this is my reality now!!)

When I started writing this blog again, it was to share my journey, the walk I was taking down my new path, a sort of therapeutic practice for myself, not even necessarily to share with the universe (although, thanks for reading!).  It's been an amazing journey so far and I KNOW that I am going to have a lot of new experiences and adventures to share.  I remember being so afraid standing at the proverbial fork in the road wondering which way I was going to choose, knowing it was my choice and that I was going to be fully responsible for the direction my life took.  I have to say I have chosen well. 

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Bucket List

I have these written down on a scrappy piece of paper.  I must have opened and closed it hundreds of times, added some more things I want to do, crossed off some that no longer appeal to me and spent hours looking at it wondering if I will ever get around to crossing them off because I have actually done them.

So in case I ever lose my bucket list (or it falls apart from the folding and unfolding) here is what I would love to do in my lifetime:

  1. Visit Bali - and stay in one of those ocean huts with the see-through floors.
  2. Go to the airport, pick a random flight, get on it and go.
  3. Learn to scuba dive.
  4. Go zip lining.
  5. Swim with the dolphins.
  6. Go to Hawaii.
  7. Have a picnic in the mountains (no wild animals invited)
  8. Catch fireflies.
  9. Have a dirty martini (I tried a martini when I was 19 and it tasted horrible)
  10. Go parasailing.
  11. Visit New Zealand.
  12. Visit Ireland.
  13. Get a tattoo.
  14. Take a cruise.
  15. Go to a yoga retreat.
  16. Take a train from coast to coast.
  17. Meet the friends I have known for 14 years but never met.
  18. Complete the 365 photo a day challenge.
  19. Take a cooking class.
  20. Send a message in a bottle.
  21. Go whitewater rafting.
  22. Spend an entire day at a spa (oh heaven!!)
  23. Helicopter over Niagara Falls.
  24. Hand out bagged lunches on Christmas Eve.
  25. Sleep in a castle.
  26. Put a "Love Lock" on the fence in France.
  27. Write something in wet cement.
  28. Go to Alcatraz.
  29. Plant a tree.
  30. Learn one magic trick.
  31. Start a web blog.
  32. Conquer my fear of claustrophobia and go through the Chunnel.
  33. Make a jar of sand from all the beaches I visit.
  34. Ballroom Dance - getting crossed off as we speak
There are so many more things I want to do in my life and I am sure that someday I will find myself doing something and thinking "Well that should have been on my bucket list!"  This next while I plan on crossing off a few more of these things. 

Friday, 25 April 2014

Too many minds...

It's Sunday, the child is still sleeping and it is quiet...eerily quiet.  I am still laying in bed, with a cup of coffee and a dog at my feet, contemplating life and how everything changes and somehow still remains the same.

There is a calmness in my life now that even today I am adjusting to.  There is that small part of me that still expects "something to go wrong" but I am learning to push that aside and look at things for what they really are, not what I imagine them to be.  I was having a conversation the other day about how horrible our minds could actually be and how hard it is sometimes to take a thought and purposefully change it.  For example:

Seriously, what is with that???  I had to laugh because I have had a lot of these cross my mind, particularly the "Insists you forgot something" one.  I have had days when I really wanted to turn the car around because my mind is insisting that I left my hair straightener on at 450F and I will return home to the ashes of what was once my apartment.

The mind truly is a powerful object weapon tool .  In yoga they teach you to let go of your mind and your thoughts while you are in practice and even then I find myself attempting tree pose with the items on my grocery list coursing through my subconscious.  Again, it is acknowledging your thoughts and purposefully changing them because a lot of times, you mind is just a big, fat liar. 

My child has not been abducted when she doesn't answer the phone, she is having too good a time with her friends and doesn't hear it ringing. The semi -driver I am beside on the highway isn't going to quickly turn his wheel and run me off the road; but if you saw me drive next to a semi - you would think just that, or at least I am thinking just that.  Sometimes a noise is just a noise, not some burglar breaking into my apartment to steal all my belongings - or worse.

My mind has been infamous for going the wrong way.  The doom and gloom way, the negative way, the way that can quickly escalate into a shitload of anxiety if I don't rein it in.  I don't know what it was in my life that caused my mind to react like that and it has been horribly difficult to try to train it to react in the exact opposite way.  BUT...I am doing it and having success.  It's the pause before the reaction.  The question of "is that real or is that me trying to mess myself up?"  

Don't get me wrong - I can't get it every time, sometimes my mind decides that no matter what, I just need to feel a little bit of anxiety, just a little reminder that the brain is still there and sometimes it's still a little bit of a jerk.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Gumby Doesn't Even Bend That Way

Your life is a sacred journey.  It is about change, growth, discovery, movement, transformation, continuously expanding your vision of what is possible, stretching your soul, learning to see clearly and deeply, listening to your intuition, taking courageous challenges at every step along the way.  You are on the path…exactly where you are meant to be right now…and from here, you can only go forward, shaping your life story into a magnificent tale of triumph, of healing, of courage, of beauty, of wisdom, of power, of dignity and of love.”  ~ Caroline Adams
Wow my path is taking me in some great directions.  I have to stop along the way and make sure that those are actually my feet down there.  On March 25 this year I decided to join my oldest for a drop-in yoga class.  Hot Yoga.  Yes, where they purposefully crank the heat to a sweltering 40⁰C or 104⁰F and then tell you to get all bendy.  They actually will give you a special towel to place on your mat because you drip sweat so much that your mat (without the towel) becomes a slippery, death hazard.   Yes, this is the first class that my beloved daughter decided to take me to.

I knew no poses so had to look up to see what everyone else was doing, I am sure the perplexed and shocked look on my face when hearing “let’s get into the pigeon” was quite amusing.  I dripped, I panted, I drank my water faster than should be normal but I did it.  I walked out of that class with my hair stuck to my face and the back of my neck, sweat in places I didn’t even know you could sweat but I WALKED out of that class.  No one had to carry me, no ambulances were called, no one had to go and throw me in a cold shower – I completed an entire hour of hot yoga and then signed up for a 4-week introduction pass.

Yoga is more than just poses.  It is about finding that connection with yourself and being honest and true to that person inside and to tell you the truth, sometimes when you find that honesty it is difficult. and emotional  There have been a couple of times that I have discovered tears on my face because I have connected with myself and have allowed myself the time and the quiet to be truthful.

One of the things that I have really been enjoying besides the workouts and the stretching and the silence is leaving my ego behind.  You are there for you, not the person beside you, the person who came with you.  You go into the class with your soul not your ego.  This is great for me because I know it has been my ego in the past that has prevented me from doing some of the things that scare me – only I feel it as butterflies in my stomach and sometimes hear the voice in my head that screams “you can’t do it – You’ll look stupid – You’ll fail and everyone will laugh at you.”  So in this sense, consciously and routinely walking into the room without my ego has been doing some great things for me outside the studio as well.
The other thing that has been helping me is the necessity of being in the “now” when you are in practice.  You need to not only be in the moment, you need to feel in the moment.  You need to connect in the moment.  This is a great lesson to carry out into the real world as well.  I cannot change yesterday and I don’t know what will happen tomorrow but I am here, right now, in this moment and this moment is a great place for me to be.  I really am happy in this moment.  It’s quite difficult to explain because you actually need to experience it for yourself and I am pretty sure that another's experience might be different than my own. 

Last night I went to Relax and Restore (and yes, it feels as good as it sounds.) You are only doing a few of the poses in the 75 minute class but you are holding those poses for several minutes and you are using props, such as blocks or a bolster to do the work for you – hello, getting the benefit without doing the work!!!  People will often fall asleep in that class because it is so relaxing.  I had one of those odd moments last night and had become so much in the moment that when the instructor spoke, she startled me.
Basically, what I am trying to get across is that I am grateful, so very grateful to my daughter for introducing me to the practice of yoga.  I enjoy going so much and have become so passionate about it that I will be renewing my pass for an additional 4 months.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Holy Hard Work Batman

So, it's out there.  I am filing for divorce. My friends and family now know and if you read this blog, congratulations - you now know too.   I wasn't ready in my head yet to say it out loud and although a few close friends were aware, I just wasn't ready for everyone.  I actually finished up all the paperwork on Monday, April 1st which is cruel in many ways. It's April Fool's Day and it was our 5-year wedding anniversary. I actually didn't plan it that way but that's the way it worked out and it was a little on the painful side.

I have realized quite a few things throughout the past few months.  Separation and divorce is shameful.  I was literally embarrassed to finally say the words "My marriage is over, I am seeking a divorce" Not only am a seeking a divorce, I am seeking a second divorce.  I am sure this shame is in my own head and when I posted on Facebook that I was changing the relationship status - it took a really long time for me to hit submit.

Am I not a strong enough person to push through stuff?  Other people push through.  Am I damaged goods?  I must be, holy crap - 2 divorces!!  And it almost makes it worse in a hysterical sort of way that Katy Perry's "Dark Horse" keeps playing any time I turn on the radio.  Google the words of that song if you need to know what I am talking about.

This is not a blog post to blame.  There are 2 parties in a marriage, there are 2 parties in a divorce.  This post was because I wanted to talk about the feelings I had been having and why it is so important to have or find a good support group. I have an amazing group of friends, who are supportive and kind and there for a shoulder for me to cry on and even a distraction - thanks again for the poker game :)  

I originally wanted to do what I have always done when faced with something of this magnitude...hide away in my bedroom, sleep when I could, stop eating properly and be depressed.  I am glad I have not.  I have asked for help and am getting the help and have been surprised at how many people are there for me.

Divorce is scary because you can't really get your mind into a place in the future. A future that doesn't involve crying when you open a fridge door and see a condiment you would never eat but your husband did.  A future where checking off the single box really isn't a bad thing. A future where going to an event alone isn't going to involve a spotlight on you all night (albeit an imagined spotlight).

There is life after marriage.  And sometimes this is an easier transition for some because you may have spent a lot of time alone in the marriage anyway.  One of the things that has helped me when I have felt particularly down and sad is that realizing I have been mourning the loss of what I wanted my marriage to be and not mourning what my marriage actually was.  We all want the happily ever after, the knight in shining armour, rescuing the princess and being the hero as you ride off into the sunset together :)  BUT, you need to be honest with the reality. You may have had different ideas of what you wanted it to be but my marriage isn't over because of what I wanted it to be, my marriage is over because of what it was.

This isn't all doom and gloom.  I have realized I am a pretty strong woman.  I have changed what was wrong for me in my life and am remaining true to myself.  I am learning new and wonderful things about Melanie the person, the single person. I am not alone, if I feel like I am alone, all I have to do is turn around and see all those who support me standing behind me.  It is not shameful, it is life. It is what happens when any relationship breaks down.

This past week, I have been changing all my id back to my maiden name.  That's is a ton of work - phew.  No one at work has known me by my maiden name so it has been confusing for some people and quite amusing as I see the look of confusion while they try to remember the email I sent out and what I said my name was.  I have new business cards, a new nameplate on my office, a new email address.  To be honest it has been kind of liberating taking me back :)

So in conclusion, divorce sucks.  But so does being unhappy for the rest of your life.  So does staying in a relationship because you are afraid to be alone or you don't think you can make it on your own.  If you are reading this and you are stuck - reach out, don't struggle and drown on your own because you are ashamed.  And to those of you that have been there for me - thank you from the bottom of my heart for handing me Kleenex and letting me cry on your shoulder and for getting me out into the land of the living.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

What You Get When You Give - Even if it is Just a Little

For a good portion of my life I have been afraid to try new things.  It isn't just the fear of failing what I try, it's the fear of failing what I try AND looking foolish while I am horribly failing at it.  I have walked away from some pretty cool experiences because I have been afraid. 

Not this year!  This year, when I am asked to do something or am looking at doing something, the SECOND I get that *OMG* feeling in my stomach, I make the decision that I am going to give it my best shot.  I don't <really> listen to the voice in my head that is screaming at me that I am going to look stupid.  I hear it and acknowledge it but have decided that this is the year that I push past that.  And I have already had some really great results.

This blog.  I started it 3 years ago and then listened to that shithead in my brain that said, "Naw girl...don't be wasting your time doing this - Ain't nobody got time to read what you write."  I know people read this because Google Analytics tells me that but even if it was just me putting thoughts to paper (or keyboard) I would be happy because I am writing again.

My new way of eating.  It's only been 79 days since I decided to change things up in the eating department and it has been going great.  Not only am I getting the benefits of weight loss, I am feeling better, looking better and learning all sorts of different things to cook - and I LOVE cooking.

Not being a doormat.  This is huge for me.  I am done getting walked on.  I am done being used.  I am done feeling like I have to say yes. I am done taking care of everyone else so much so that I became lost.  I still struggle with this because, well I still allow buttons to get pushed and I have not yet mastered the difference between assertive and aggressive.  I think part of the problem is that I have been a pretty passive up to now.  Never really saying much until I just couldn't handle it anymore and then like an active volcano I would just erupt.

Getting out.  I am an introvert, I actually enjoy being an introvert but I also enjoy life and so I have been making myself go out and socialize, mix, mingle, make new friends and have fun.  I have met some new and really wonderful people doing this and even though I love to just be at home re-energizing myself away from people - I have been having a good time.

Exercise.  Hate it.  I wish that I could hire someone to do it for me and sit back on the couch with a beer and watch them do it.  However, it doesn't work like that.  But...drumroll...I have actually been doing it :)  I don't always want to but I push myself.  If I had pushed myself initially when I started realizing that the scale was moving up, I wouldn't be here.  And here I am - trying to get back to where I was LOL. 

I have never really found anything I like - swimming comes the closest but ugh, all the after work that goes with swimming.  I actually bought a swim cap so not to get my hair wet - yeah, those caps don't work for that, it is just to keep your hair out of your face.  So not only did I embarrass the hell out of my daughter with my cap, I got wet hair.

Well, I am thinking I have finally found something I enjoy.  My daughter is back from her six month stint in Mexico (yay for returning daughters) and she asked me to accompany her to Yoga - specifically hot yoga.  If you have not experienced this form of torture exercise, just jog on down to your local pool, hop on into that sauna and start working out :)  Actually it isn't torture.  I quite liked it.  I admit I was ready to walk out of the room towards the end and have never been so happy to hear, "please, lay down on your mats."  I was shiny and dewy and soaking wet but my body felt good.  I have been back to the studio yesterday for Relax and Restore which was heaven - no impact at all, stretching and breathing and tonight I am going again to actually learn the moves with a beginner's foundation class. 

I have also been enjoying my weights.  Again, by the end of my reps my <insert muscle group here> is screaming at me to just stop the insanity but I am starting to see results.

So in closing, I am still afraid to try new things, I am still afraid of looking foolish, I am still afraid of failing - but I am more afraid of life coming to an end and having regrets so I do it anyway.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Jack Frost, you have been given your eviction notice.

I live in Canada, specifically Alberta and I hate the fact that 8 months out of the year I am cold, there is snow and summer always seems so far away. I guess maybe embracing winter sports might solve the absolute hatred... no, I can't think of a reason why I would like winter.

I go to work in the morning, it is dark. I come home at night and it is dark. I get to a point where my cabin fever is over the top and I longingly gaze at all my summer spots on the drive home. I don't want to run out in my pj's and start my car, hoping that while I am back in the warmth, the windows will defrost and I will be able to back up without worry because I can see out the back window. I don't want to look at my closet because I see all the lovely, flowing skirts that would cause me to have some rather nasty frostbite if I dare wear them out in this weather.

I wake up in the morning and hear the weather forecast. I hold my breath, cross my fingers and then want to drive to the radio station and punch someone in their junk. We had such an unseasonably warm December, with rain even. The grass was starting to show and I know...don't get your hopes up, it's not really halfway
through yet, but man. What a let down to go from +10C to -30C. (For my US friends that's 50F to -22F or FREAKING COLD). We have a windchill on top of that and I am sure all of us in Canada become a little envious when we hear about the cancellations of life in the US when snow falls in some States. I don't remember ever having a snow day in the 33 years I have lived here.

Then comes February and the multiple ground-hogs who all see something different. So who even knows how many more weeks we have left and why are we relying on a rodent to tell us this??? I try hard to look for the positive starting around this time to carry me through to April/May. I do this trick - how far can I drive before I have to turn my lights on. I am now pulling into the parking lot of my apartment and still don't have to turn my lights on. Positive #1. I don't have to drive to work with my lights on any more either - Positive #2.

I know it will end. It always does. Alberta doesn't have spring per se. You go to sleep one night and the trees are bare, get up the next morning and they are covered with leaves. We don't really have plants that poke their heads up to see what's going on. Here, like winter, spring is sort of BAM! Here I am.

We also have been having some nicer weather since I started writing this. We have now turned into the ugly, brown city for a while. You can see the grass, but it is brown. The snow is going but now you can see the garbage that people threw away and was hidden by the winter months. The roads are clear but full of sand and dirt. And I think in the past week, half my paycheque has gone towards washer fluid. My ride to work has become a rickety, wooden roller coaster ride as the potholes that had been smoothed out by the snow are now resurfacing - (do NOT drink coffee in your car during the thaw!!) There is this smell that fills the city for a couple of months - rotting leaves that were covered in snow before they were raked up, dog poop, oh the dog poop but again, this is a sign of better things to come.

We have now had our Daylight Savings weekend so we move a little backwards again. My day that had some light to the start of it has now become dark again BUT...I don't have to turn lights on in the house until about 6:45 pm. Every year I threaten to pack up all my belongings and move to British Columbia. I hear the complaints about the rain, but hello...I was born and lived in England. Every year I cover up my itchy winter skin with moisturizers and start looking for jobs either on the island or the mainland and tell everyone "this is it...this is the year that I really have had enough winter." And every year - I get to the point where the snow is melting and I breathe a sigh of relief and pat myself on the back because I managed to get through yet another winter. (Not that we have yet, it is only March - but Jack Frost - you have been given your eviction notice!!!)