This (author unknown):

Start now. Start where you are. Start with fear. Start with pain. Start with doubt. Start with hands shaking. Start with the voice trembling but start. Start and don’t stop. Start where you are, with what you have. Just…. start.”

And this:

These two things spoke so audibly to me just this afternoon. I mean, I knew it already. Who doesn’t? With all our technology and social media, despite all the connections we can make with it, the reality is that we are missing out on life. Life in real time. And real connections. And in my case, it’s not helping me to face the things that need to be faced, change the things that need to be changed, and do the things that I want to do. I can pin things out my wazoo and re-post quotes and articles that resonate with me until my fingers fall off but what does that accomplish? I am a procrastinator, a fearful person in so many ways, and a non-boat-rocker. At the expense of myself and, consequently, those around me who matter most, I allow those things to dominate. I sit here, a full year and a bit after waking up (literally and figuratively) and realizing that much of what I had believed growing up was a lie. Religion is a truly scary thing. A full year has passed and while a massive weight has lifted and I feel free for the first time in my life, with this new sight comes the awareness that possibilities are endless and I am only limited by myself. I have limited myself this past year due to fear. I have made many changes and taken a few steps in facing certain fears but it’s not enough. I can’t allow myself to settle back in a mere two feet down the path. It’s time to get out of my own way and LIVE.

I have no idea where exactly I’m going or how I’m going to get there but I know that I’m not going to find it on Facebook. I’m not disappearing from there completely – I still have a business to run, most of which takes place on FB- but I will only be checking in once a day for non-business related things.

My husband works nights this weekend and will be sleeping during the days. The kids and I will be hanging out while I break out of my comfort zone and work on becoming the mom that I have never been, the one I was never taught to be. One who sings and dances and clowns around with her kids, who isn’t constantly telling them to hold on just for a minute (which easily turns into 30 minutes and then them giving up), one who simply has the time because THEY are the priority. We are going to just BE. We are going to create vision boards according to each person’s ability, understanding, and vision. Or I am going to create one; the kids can cut and paste or otherwise craft to their whims. We are going to build forts with all the furniture in the living room and all the blankets in the house. We are going to make a huge mess. We are going to be spontaneous and present. And it’s going to kill me. But I need that death. I need to shed 37 years of rigidity, ingrained fears, emotions, and attitudes. It’s time.

Here’s to butterfly wings! Now to dry them off and learn how to use them.


Solitude. You’ve heard of it, right? Heard of it but never experienced it? Or, wait! Solitude is the 4.7 seconds of silence between locking the bathroom door and the kids realizing that you’re in there. Alone. And then a child (or three) is pounding on the door, crying, and little fingers are wiggling through the space between the door and the floor. Or what about…? Oh, no, that doesn’t count. There are other people at the grocery store even if the cart I’m pushing doesn’t have two sets of little legs swinging from the seat.

The quality or state of being alone or remote from society.
– Merriam-Webster dictionary

What is solitude? Does it actually exist? How does one find it? Sure, it sounds amazing but it’s just not possible for most people, right? And it’s selfish of me to ask for it, nevermind set aside time for it. Right?


I struggled with following through with my plan last weekend to take off somewhere, just me, and have the opportunity to be in solitude for as much of that weekend as I wished. I did feel selfish. I did feel like it was a silly thing to want. I did feel like my family would be hurt and think that I felt I had to get away to be able to enjoy myself. It wasn’t so much about enjoying myself and “having a good time” though. It was about being able to sit, read, write, walk, or knit without anything else vying for my attention. It was about being able to do what I wanted when I wanted without having to put myself near the bottom of the list again. I did it, I followed through, I went. And I now have plans to make it at least a semi-annual thing.

Being alone without any regrets, sadness, or depression. Not to be confused with “loneliness,” where you are by yourself but long for the companionship of others.
– urbandictionary.com

For those of us who are seeking to grow in stillness and awareness, solitude is crucial. It is an oasis in the activity and chaos of our daily lives. In solitude the busyness fades away and there is only the here and now, our breathing and our thoughts. We are alone but not at all lonely. Psychology Today says that “Western culture tends to equate a desire for solitude with people who are lonely, sad, or have antisocial tendencies.” An amazing author, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, whose writing was introduced to me by a friend, speaks on this idea in her book, Gift from the Sea, saying:

How inexplicable it seems. Anything else will be accepted as a better excuse. If one sets aside time for a business appointment, a trip to the hair-dresser, a social engagement or a shopping expedition, that time is accepted as inviolable. But if one says: I cannot come because that is my hour to be alone, one is considered rude, egotistical or strange.

In the busyness of our lives, we slide out of bed after hitting the snooze button four times, sleepwalk our way through breakfast (if we have breakfast at all), drive on autopilot to work, plug through our workday and struggle through the afternoon slump, only to drive on autopilot back home, rush through supper, rush out the door to our Zumba class, hurry back home and sit in front of the TV or on our smartphone for way too long, before finally dragging ourselves off to bed to do it all over again the next day. Add kids or other dependents to that script and the busyness increases. Add after-hours meetings or appointments and it increases even further. Time to myself? Time alone?? Ha! I barely have time to grab an army shower! Right?

Wrong again. As I am learning for myself despite scoffing at all the articles I read, each of us does have the time for solitude. Priorities will have to shift. Stances will have to be taken. Decisions will need to be conveyed to family members and friends. It is, however, do-able. If you’re willing. If you want it. If you have realized that you need it. If, above all, you have decided that you are worth it. That was (and continues to be) the struggle for me. Self-worth. It has become one of my affirmations. “I am worth it.”

So are you. You are worth it. Say it. Repeat it. Begin to believe it. You. Are. Worth it.

a few good moments

Twenty-fifteen is going to be my year. I feel it. I know it. I’ve already started making it so.

Fearfully, cautiously, falteringly, one very slow step in front of the last, I am walking a new path. Only a short month or two ago I had my first experience with meditation. It was a life-changing, amazing, inspiring, emotion-filled experience. At one point in the guided session, we were instructed to get up from where we had sat or lay down in our minds. We were guided to leave our bodies behind and walk in spirit along a path that materialized before us. I had found myself on the beach of a beautiful deserted island with perfectly blue water and sun-warmed white sand stretching out like an endless blanket under a cloudless blue sky. I could feel the sun warming my back as I lay on the sand and I could feel the absence of it as I sat up, leaving my body and then standing to step onto my path.

Except there was no path.

I waited for a few moments for one to appear but it never came. And so I struck out, one step in front of the other, across the sand, walking along the shore. Each step dug my toes through the warm sand into the coolness beneath. Each step caused my feet to slide a little and twist slightly as the sand shifted under my foot. It was only an unsteady shifting for a few moments and then it became a grounding one. The shifting of the sand as I created my own path caused me to tighten my core muscles, focus on the space ahead of me, and caused my leg muscles to focus more deeply as well.

Life shifts beneath us. There will not always be a path. It is our strength, resilience, acceptance, resolve, and attitude that keep us from falling and that keep us going. It is that strength and resilience and acceptance and resolve and attitude that I am inviting with both hands open waiting to receive. Just let life happen. Let it be.

When the seasons shift, even the subtle beginning, the scent of a promised change, I feel something stir inside me. Hopefulness? Gratitude? Openness? Whatever it is, it’s welcome.
Kristin Armstrong

For 21 years or more, I lived under the umbrella of a fundamentalist faith. For the next 15 years (give or take) after that, I was away from that faith in practice though it still hung around and was very pervasive in my attitudes, beliefs, and opinions. This year, at age 36-almost-37, I slowly began to realize that I no longer believe. That I cannot believe any longer. Absolutely nothing that I was taught makes any sense to me now. I cannot accept any of it. And I have never been happier or felt more alive and free. A huge weight has been lifted and instead of seeing life here on earth as only something to be tolerated and something to distance ourselves from (as this is not our home, you see), I see love and light and beauty and incredible one-ness.

You’re only a thought away from changing your life.
Dr. Wayne Dyer, “The Shift”

As I struggle to learn who I am outside of those 36 years of indoctrination, I find myself incredibly drawn to meditation and mindfulness and just being. Here. In the moment. In simplicity. I crave it. Dr. Wayne Dyer speaks so beautifully in his movie, The Shift, about living in the now.

Present-moment living, getting in touch with your now, is at the heart of effective living. When you think about it, there really is no other moment you can live. Now is all there is, and the future is just another present moment to live when it arrives.
Dr. Wayne Dyer

How does one live in the now? That is what I’m seeking to learn. It will involve training my mind, guiding and re-focusing my thoughts, and being grateful for what is and what I have. It will also involve the huge task of learning to love myself. I am starting to practice affirmations and inviting positivity. On my early morning drives to work (Good morning, 5:30 a.m.!) as the sun is breaking over the escarpment and painting the sky with gorgeous colours, all blending one into the other yet also distinct and separate, I say thank you for the day. Not to God or some other being but just to the universe, the earth, to life, to myself. I say thank you for the day and for the opportunity to be in it and to learn and grow. The drive to work is ten minutes at best. In the few minutes it takes me to get to work, I smile as I look around at the gorgeous colours and the quiet stillness of the day. I feel myself relax. Each day the words are different but I begin.

“Today, on this beautiful day, another opportunity to grow and both give and receive light, I breathe in peace [and I take a deep breath in through my nose and hold it for a moment] and I breathe out discord… and conflict [and I exhale deeply through my mouth]. On this day, this morning, I breathe in happiness… and contentment… and I breathe out selfishness… and ingratitude. I think of my interactions with others and I breathe in kindness and gentleness… and I breathe out judgment… and intolerance… and impatience…” I finish by saying thank you again. And then I remove my sunglasses if I’m wearing them, steel myself (because this is still so difficult and uncomfortable for me), meet my own gaze in the rear view mirror, and tell myself “I love you.”

By setting the tone for my day early in the morning, I find that it does make a difference in how my day goes at work. (I think I may need to do a second breathing exercise on the way home though!) I find that I smile more, in my voice and with my eyes. The little annoyances that come from years of working with the general public aren’t quite so annoying and instead, are just interactions whether pleasant or not. Life slows down and becomes a series of moments rather than a frenzied block of time. And a slower pace is what I require in order to be able to address each moment as it happens. I cannot say for sure how any given hour will turn out but I can order my moments. A moment is just that – an incredibly fleeting window of time only as long as it takes to say the word itself – and there is absolutely no reason that I can’t, moment by moment, be in complete control of myself. It is not others who govern our days but we ourselves. It is our choices, our actions and reactions, that shape our days, and days into weeks and weeks into months and months into lifetimes.

Your reality is as you perceive it to be. So, it is true, that by altering this perception we can alter our reality.
– William Constantine

One moment. One moment at a time. A series of well-lived moments becomes a few minutes of focused living. A few minutes becomes an hour, and then two, three, a day, years. One moment at a time. Set the tone, invite the positive in, and watch your world change.

alone with myself

I am alone. Just me. I’ve arranged it this way. And I didn’t cancel on myself despite the feelings of guilt. The excitement and giddiness as this weekend grew closer – you should have seen me Friday as we were changing shifts – is what kept me from cancelling. The kids are spread in opposite directions – one with her mom, one with his grandparents, and two left at home with their dad – and I am alone. At a cottage I’ve rented. In the woods. Alone.

I am breathing in the “incense” of a smoldering mosquito coil. Because I love it, it’s lit even though the mosquitoes have mostly dissipated until later this afternoon. Here, in this place on the edge of Algonquin Park with the rushing water of the Amable du Fond river, which wraps around the front of the cottage, the coil brings back memories of childhood days spent at my aunt’s cottage.

There is so much peace and beauty here: the rushing water, the hummingbirds making almost-steady visits to the feeders that hang at several of the windows, the blue jay calling, the bright red-breasted robin lighting on the scabby, gnarled, reaching arm of a moss-covered pine, and the phoebe sitting constant on her nest near the front door, keeping her tiny littles safe. The sun is not out today and the rain comes and goes, from a steady drizzle to a lighter misting and back again, so the green of the trees that hug the cottage is not vibrant and glowing; they are ever majestic and proud though, silent watchers and protectors, guardians of the earth, deserving of so much more respect than we, as the human inhabitants of their earth, give them.

It is only in solitude that I ever find my own core.
– Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I am torn between wanting to capture all that I see and hear and smell and just leaving nature right where it is today without trying to document it in pictures. My phone camera won’t accurately capture the beauty. I want to remember this place though. This place is exactly what I need. In a way, it’s a starting point for where I want to go, who I want to be. I’ve already begun my journey to find myself.

Who am I? I’m not sure but I want to find out. I am not the girl I was for the first 21 years of my life. I am not the girl I was for the next 15 when I was passively ignoring the previous 21 years. This year – 2015 – I have actively begun to search for myself, which is necessitating a lot of uncomfortable changes. How do I shed the weight of 20 years of fundamentalist upbringing (and another 15 years of it being there but ignoring it)? How do I shed the pervasive shame and guilt and expectations that are etched into my very psyche? I know I don’t believe anymore. I know that I couldn’t believe again even if I wanted to. How do I stop asking permission for everything and just start taking care of myself? How do I start putting my needs first as opposed to rarely (ever?) doing so? How do I find myself outside of the roles of mother, wife, and employee? Those three roles are are important and I’m not looking to put those away, but I have been putting myself away. I am important too. I am not just a mother, just a wife, and just an employee. I am not defined solely by those roles. They are not who I am in my entirety.

I want to be able to look at this place, this cottage that I’ve rented for this weekend of solitude, this property, this little slice of nature, when I’m not here. And I don’t trust my memory. But I don’t want photographs to flatten my memory and reduce it to what is in the picture, forgetting the sounds and the smells and the textures. I want to remember this place as the place where I got away – on my own for the first time in as long as I can remember other than the grocery store – and was able to just sit and be me. I am not a mother here. I am not a wife here. I am not an employee here. I am not active in those roles for these two days. Here, I am me. Whoever that is outside of my roles. That is what I want to discover. That is what I NEED to discover.

Every step, even a tentative one, counts.
– Anne Morrow Lindbergh,
“Gift from the Sea”

I am almost 37 years old and it’s time I owned that (I have never liked birthdays or any other calendar event, really). It’s time that I found my place, found my passion, and set out to claim it. And it’s sad, but even typing that last sentence, I feel anxiety welling up inside me and tears pricking the backs of my eyelids. I don’t know how to do that. I don’t know how to say, “This is what I’m doing for me.” I am so used to asking, so used to saying, “If at all possible, if it won’t interfere with XYZ, if you don’t have any plans, could I maybe possibly… Actually, don’t worry about it. It’s okay. I don’t need to…”

It is such a scary thing to me to think of scheduling my time in ink rather than very lightly in pencil.

I have so much work to do. Walk with me.