A Year in Review

IMG_6334It is my blog one year anniversary month.

The greatest challenge and change for me this last year was starting a new position at work . I went from a special needs teacher/coordinator to teaching grade 3 and having a class all of my own. The change was a personal challenge because of my medical needs. I worked with a therapist and an occupational therapist  for a few months to help me prepare for the change.  I am happy to say that I am doing well in my new job and my stress is significantly reduced.

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We also finished our basement and created a warm and inviting family room. I am really happy with the outcome.  I continue to decorate and will do the reveal one of these days.

basement reno

I am most happy when I am outside. We got lots of camping in this year and had some great walks and hikes. Sometimes my “issues”, yes let’s call it “issues for now on, prevent me from getting out sometimes and that really frustrates me. My therapist says I need to be kinder to myself when my “issues” prevent me from doing what I want. I am working on that.

I have probably doubled or even tripled my make up collection in the last year.

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I was one proud Mother when my son graduated from Jr. high and he had his jr. prom.

Prom

Our big trip this year was Vegas and seeing Britney Spears in concerts. We also did some local travelling.

Vegas

Staycation

I feel blessed to have a strong core of friends and a supportive family.

I celebrated my 20th wedding anniversary.

A big accomplishment for me this year was with the scale and diets.  I stopped weighing myself nearly everyday and go weeks without stepping on the scale. I can say with certainty that diets don’t work. I spent my 30’s going up and down on the scale with the same 10lbs and I am done with that. I am me, this is me and I am happy with me. I am active, healthy and happy. I can live with being a size 10.

This year going forward I continue to pray for health, happiness, growth and personal adventure. Never stop believing, never give up hope, live in the moment, move forward, live adventure, never allow dullness in your life, never act your age, don’t allow anyone to put you in a box and tell you have to act or be a certain way. These are the inspirations for my life and my blog.

Here is to another year of happy life, happy blogging!

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Goddess on the Beach….follow up

I did it, I went shopping for the bathing suit. It wasn’t an experience from hell Thank you GOD but here is why; I didn’t try to be something I am not. I knew if I tried on suits that looked great on the hangers and models that they would look awful on me and I would take a hit to my self esteem and body shame myself at great length. So, I decided to go to a plus clothing store because I knew they would have suits that would suit all the parts of my body I don’t like showing off and I got really lucky! I was able to find a suit that plays up my best features breast, buttocks and legs and hides my less desirable feature the belly. I dream of a flat tummy, I always have even as a teen, I just don’t have one nor will I ever.  I tried on the smallest size (yes, I had to  say that)  and I actually came out of the dressing room. Man, I would have pranced through the store if I could have. Look if the guys and gals are not checking out my rack in this suit and their eyes avert to my midsection well how do you say it?  It’s not you, it’s me. I would say it is not me, it’s you! LOL. I know now you are dying to see me in this suit! Well, I hope to get a shot when I am at the beach in our upcoming camping trip for now you will have to look at the model  picture I found.

This top with the skirt bottom and I also have the high waisted bottoms ( purchased previously) as well. The top and skirt bottom was 132.00 CAD

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Goddess on the Beach

I have to buy a new bathing suit, maybe even two. Yes, I know there are more dreaded things I have to do in my life like a colonoscopy every few years but who really likes to shop for a bathing suit? I don’t even really know where to begin and this late in the season I don’t expect the selection to be great. The choices are endless but those that will grace this body are limited   There is how I WANT to feel in a bathing suit and and how I actually feel.

My day dream: I am goddess of the beach looking amazing in my suit with a light breeze blowing my hair and the bottom of my shear coverup. I slow mow run into the waves and walk like a fashion model down the runway beach.

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The reality: I have to consider my body shape and play up my assets within a reasonable budget and buy a really cute cover up just in case the breeze is blowing.

What are your tips for bathing suit shopping?

Summer Reflection Part Two: Pure Loving Self Kindness

IMG_6018Who does it?

What does it?

 When does it happen?

How does it happen?

Where does it happen?

Why at some early point in our life do we begin to feel unworthy?

It is these questions that will begin the discovery to identifying the people and events that have contributed to feelings of unworthiness.

Let’s go a bit deeper here. I have confidence. I am successful. I am a great mother. I am funny. I am strong. I set goals and achieve them but something deep down says I am not worthy. It happens when I don’t even realize it. If you were to ask me if I was worthy I would say “ Your damn right I am.”  I believe this to be true. I am worthy. But my actions more so my internal dialogue doesn’t think so. Your internal dialogue is that voice in your head that tells you all kinds of things about yourself. Sometimes you have the same tape that plays over and over again with the same message. If this internal dialogue was saying “ your awesome”, “ you look fantastic”, “your the best thing since sliced bread” there would be no problem. But most times it tells us all about the things we don’t like about ourselves and it is relentless. If you haven’t heard you internal dialogue just try to stop and listen to what you tell yourself. Here are some examples. This dress makes me look fat. I am fat, I will never be skinny. That person is skinny, They look good. I don’t look good. I am fat. I don’t look good. I am fat and ugly. Now, how do you feel after all that negative self talk?  You feel fat and ugly. You feel like you are not good enough. You feel very badly about yourself. Stopping this internal dialogue can be very challenging. It can be so automatic you don’t even know really know what is it saying,  you just know you feel really bad about yourself.  Awareness of this internal dialogue is the first step to changing the tape.

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If we begin to practice self-kindness we can begin to change how we feel about ourself. Basically, self-kindness is being your own best friend. When your friend is having a difficult time or is feeling down what do you say to your friend to help her feel better and get her back on track? Most likely, you tell her how wonderful she is, comfort her and let her know that you there for her. You show empathy, understanding, compassion, kindness. Now, how do you treat yourself during a challenge? Do you show understanding or tell yourself to get over it already? Do you show self-empathy? Self-compassion? Self-kindness?

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I have an invisible disability.

I am not understanding of myself in regards to this disability. I lack compassion for myself. I am not my own best friend, in fact I wouldn’t treat anyone the way I treat myself  in regards to this disability.  I was asked if I was not worthy of this compassion and understanding. Once again my first thought is “of course I am” but knowing I am and treating myself as if I am is in conflict. My internal dialogue is being mean, really mean, nasty.

So here is my project to practice pure loving self kindness. This really is not easy for someone that tends to be very hard on herself. Being hard on yourself can have its perks in getting things done and accomplishing goals but not so much when you need understanding. Changing your negative internal dialogue is major work. Listening to and identifying the negative thoughts is a good beginning.

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Summer Reflection Part One: Challenges, Strength, Courage

eb3c280249f1f9f208091fc5195639caWe don’t walk this world and live on planet earth with out each of us having a set of challenges and obstacles. I have learned over time that each persons perception of challenge is different and that we are on a continuum of personal growth.  For instance, one college student may feel that not getting a 90% on her final is pretty much the end of her life. While another college student just wants her boyfriend to stop beating her before he ends her life.

Life experiences

perceptions

personal growth

and life lessons. 

We will never understand in this life why one person’s challenges are so much greater than another. And we should never assume that someone’s public appearance is his/her inward reflection. It is timeless but true; never judge a book by its cover.

BUT

Where does the personal strength come from to overcome our challenges and get to the other side a little wiser, having learned something about ourselves?

There was a interesting conversation going on the other day in our staffroom about each person having a spirit animal. I thought it was so ridiculous I didn’t engage in the conversation at all. However, my co-workers where having a hoot researching each other’s spiritual animals.

This week I also happen to be watching Vevo and watched Katy Pery’s ROAR video. I have listened to this song many times before but this time her words reminded me about my personal strength and COURAGE is a word I have used often and people have used often about me to describe how I have taken on some challenges.

You held me down, but I got up (HEY!)
Already brushing off the dust
You hear my voice, you hear that sound
Like thunder gonna shake the ground
You held me down, but I got up (HEY!)
Get ready ’cause I’ve had enough
I see it all, I see it now

[Chorus:]
I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire
‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Louder, louder than a lion
‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar

When I am feeling strong and victorious I feel like a lion. Courage and strength has helped me over come some of my most difficult challenges.

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What is courage and How do you get it?

Courage is moving forward when everything tells you to run the other way.

Courage is picking yourself up again and again and again.

Courage is making a goal and planning the steps to achieve it.

Courage is facing your fears head on even when you are so very scared.

Courage is loving kindness to self at all times.

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What is strength and How do you get it?

Strength is what gives you the power to be courageous.

Strength is knowing and understanding the alternative.

Strength is choosing the best option.

Strength is derived from those who depend on you.

Strength is self created. ( comes from the creator)

Strength rises from the soul, it is choosing and building your foundation on life, love and faith.

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What is courage to you? Where do you get your strength?

Still working it all out

photo-1422544834386-d121ef7c6ea8Looking at the beautiful pictures from yesterday’s beach hike you would never know that there are moments of anxiety in my life. Some moments that can be very challenging.

As a teenager I was a very confident girl. I thought I knew how to do life. I knew to set goals for myself and take steps to complete them. I was going to make something of myself no matter how hard I had to work. I liked people and people liked me. I didn’t often second guess my interaction with others. I loved being around others and I was lonely when I was by myself. I did like some quiet moments of solitude where I could be alone with myself and think things over.

The only people I was afraid of as a teen was men. I was okay with most boys my age but men scared me. That credit goes to my mother. By the time I got to university, I was really nervous of men. If I thought a man was showing interest in me I would lose all confidence and run the other way. I was always extra careful to not put out any I am interested too vibes. It worked out fine because I had a steady boyfriend that I was very comfortable with so I didn’t have any interest in other men. I have never got over my fear of men even today.

But what has developed is social anxiety and that confident teen I once was becomes a misfit in many social situations. I get very uncomfortable sometimes around people and that leads me to acting “weird” or maybe a better description is withdrawn.  I retreat and when trying to get out of the way maybe act different. It is hard for me to judge what other people are thinking of me. Luckily, I have a core group of very good friends that I have had for a long time so I have a safe place to be me and those around are very understanding of my needs.

I have also been working really hard on overcoming the social anxiety in the last 12-24 months with progress I believe.  I didn’t even know I had social anxiety.  It developed slowly and on top of the health anxiety. I thought it was one in the same.  It wasn’t until I stopped retreating all the time and looked up and went something is off here. People don’t seem to be accepting me and including me, I am not even sure they like me.

I push myself out of my comfort zone and sometimes that is easiest with people you don’t know at all for example my hiking group. They don’t know anything about me expect what I choose to share. It gives my the opportunity to make conversation. Most people don’t know each other so everyone is on even playing field.

So where did this start?

When I was 18 I had my first cancer diagnosis. This is when I really learned reality,  that bad things could happen to me. I was always worried about being raped or molested. I didn’t know I had to worry about my health. I didn’t know I could die. I mean really die. This is when anxiety become a more prominent part of my life.  I had anxiety as a child but I didn’t know that at the time.

In my life plan that I was making I never planned beyond the age of 30. After surgery for cancer at 18 my life just resumed. I was very anxious about my health but I continued with my plans; getting an education, getting married, buying a house, having a child. But then what? I couldn’t see beyond that. Child number 2, then what?  What did you do with your life? Sometimes I wondered if I was going to live beyond 30.

Then at 30 I get a second cancer diagnosis. This one comes out of nowhere as I never suspected my symptoms could be cancer.  ( the doctors either) It was devastating. I had a 3 year old and a 3 month old. And this time it was very serious. I needed several surgeries, radiation, and chemo. It was during this time that I developed a very deep and spiritual connection with God. I was praying for my life but I was also learning about a lie, a terrible lie that I was told about not living past 30. The year I was in treatment I grew spiritually and I rebuked this lie and it was lifted from my spirit. I can’t recall the sequence of events but in the middle of my treatment I had a miracle happen. When the doctors went into to remove the cancer it was gone! All that was left was scar tissue and the surgeon said it practically fell out.  I did have 19 radiation treatments before surgery but none was expected it to be gone. All pathology came back clear as well. It was a miracle and the direct hand of God.

I started living even in treatment. I was afraid everyday but I knew for the first time what came after 30 and that was family. It was 2 amazing little boys and one very supportive husband.

After treatment, you get back to “normal” but nothing is normal. The world looks very different. In someways, it is more beautiful then even and other ways terrifying. I didn’t know it but I suffered with PTSD for a long time. Anxiety was as natural a part of me as breathing.

Surgery resulted in me having life long effects and challenges. These life lasting effects are what cause the social anxiety overtime. I was extremely embarrassed by my medical issues. Mortified at times. Think crohn’s and colitis that would be the closest comparison but without the abdominal pain.

Yesterday, I knew I was pushing myself, it was a full day hike with no washroom facilities. That alone had me nervous and was dangerous.  The day ended up being amazing and stressful all at the same time.  Sometimes I wonder if pushing myself is worth the stress and anxiety. Deep down I know it is but I still can’t figure it all out.

Comforting the Control Freak in Me

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I have this little voice popping up in my head telling me that I can’t do this new job I am taking in the Fall. It wants to rob me of my peace and slowly chip away at my confidence until I am in full agreement and a complete and utter mess. Should I get to that state it will mean I won’t be able to do the job.  ( I have a medical condition as a  result of my cancer recovery and it can be made significantly worse with stress)

I am starting to have these moments of “what if” panic; one-two seconds of losing my breath and catching it again as the final decisions are made and the time approaches about the job. In my heart of hearts, I know I can do this. I know it will make me a much happier person because since I graduated with my degree I knew this is what I wanted to do. I am doing work I enjoy but that path changed a little on the way. I am okay with that but now I have the opportunity to do what I think I really want to do.

The next five months I am going  to have to work really hard on building myself up and not allowing myself to worry about something that may never happen. It seems so clear in this situation. Why would I mentally torment myself for months cause myself anxiety and stress which will lead to physical symptoms regarding something that may never happen?  I can’t tell you the amount to time and energy ( years)  I have spent worrying about the exact same scenario but about my health.

What is most interesting and what I am learning is that I have completely control of how I want this situation to unfold. I can allow the chipping and ultimate fail of something I really want or I can take control and have what I want. Really, the choice is basically mine. Of course this is not going to be a walk in the park but I know something now I didn’t know before and that is I have a choice here. I have some control over this situation and for a control freak that is comforting.