Monday, 26 October 2015

Chopstick Victory

Chopsticks 0 - Rebecca 1

You know that saying..."people never change"? I majorly disagree with that statement. I believe that if people want to change, they'll change. And sometimes life propels you in directions that forces change. We have options though, we can dig deep in the face of traumatic events and find a space and ability within ourselves to focus on the positive. Or alternatively we can sit in the company of our misery. I'm not saying that choosing the positive route is easy...it isn't by any means. It is a lot...A LOT of work. It's the work toward enlightenment though.

Here's the thing, I'm moving into my own home in err...6 sleeps...okay 7...and tonight I'm lying in bed (unable to sleep) thinking about all of the ways in which I have changed in life. About 5 years ago I was that girl who was reluctant to change. As much as I wanted to be someone who welcomed change - I just wasn't that person, I was freaking terrified of it. On top of that I wasn't entirely confident in the learning process. You know, the falling down hard before you ACTUALLY learn something. The thing is, I'm lying here, realizing that I have come to ROCK this whole learning and letting go thing that life wants us to embrace...okay MAYBE it's a work in progress...but that is life, isn't it?

I used to be that person who was afraid to try chopsticks (it's not like this is the only thing - it's just relevant at the moment) because I might look like a fool. I was also the person afraid of the subway. I was afraid of the big city. However, last night I found myself sitting in a restaurant downtown Toronto, with about 9 other awesome friends, and I was confidently using the chopsticks as if I'd been using them my whole life. And to be honest it didn't even phase me until tonight while I was lying in bed. I'm sitting here like "Heck YES! I rock!". I suppose we are really and truly the only ones who know what it feels like to make triumph in our own lives. I mean - as much as I would love a little victory party about my chopstick use - I get it...we're kind of here to celebrate our own growth right? And in that case, I guess it's okay that I am TOTALLY pumped at my ability to master the fine art of eating with chopsticks.



The 'fear' of failure, or not being pretty, good, smart, etc. enough is a funny thing. It can totally consume you if you allow it to. It can also be what pushes you to grow and shine a little brighter in the world. I think that for most of the past however many years I've not necessarily been afraid of the outer world, exterior part of life...it's really been the fear of my own light that has been holding me back. The reality is, I am loving, thoughtful...I'm the kind of person who will strike up a conversion with almost anyone and literally be kind to every living thing and ALL of that jazz...in fact there is probably more amazing words to describe me - and I finally get it - I need not be afraid of how all of that impacts others while finding my way in the world. I need not worry about what it looks like to fall down a couple times on my way to figuring things out. In fact, if I fall - I'm going to laugh and I've kind of adopted the mentality - you're either laughing with me, helping me up or - peace out, love and I ain't got time for ya ;) I've spent WAY too many years allowing my EGO to drive what I do...or...better yet what I DON'T do for myself.

A major example of this whole 'fear' driving how I allow myself to move forward in life is - okay I need not be too hard on myself here - many people have found themselves in a similar boat to mine. After my schooling was done it was near impossible to get a job in my field. On a spiritual level I now see that this was all part of the process. On an earthly level, though...it has taken me SIX freaking YEARS to get my own place to live! I lived on my own for some of university but since then I've been living in my parents home. And while I love my parents and all - I need that independence - that space to call my own. What the heck have I been so afraid for the last however many years? Okay...I might know that answer...however, maybe some things are better kept in the vault...lol

The point is, here it is...another victory...I've got seven sleeps left in my childhood home, it feels REALLY weird but also extremely exciting - who knows what this next phase in my life will bring. And on top of the excitement of moving - I'm moving to a city that I was once afraid of...

People change. All of what I have accomplished over the last few years of my life have required me to change; change my thoughts, patterns, beliefs. It's been a wildly incredible journey. It is a wildly incredible journey. This journey has opened many doors of learning, trusting, believing, happiness and joy. The learning doesn't end, I know this. And the changing - it's actually growth. It's kind of beautiful when you find time to step aside from being in the midst of it all to truly feel the growth, to observe how it feels, and to make peace with the past. There is also a major place for laughter in all of the growth that comes with trusting life's process, a quiet space in your heart that smiles...when you find yourself eating a rice dish with chopsticks like it's no big deal!




Sunday, 18 October 2015

The Good Stuff.

And so here it is...I've sat down at my computer multiple times over the last few months, especially the last few weeks and looked at a blank page, searching, praying, yearning for the right words of expression. A couple of times I wrote only to then hit the delete button. How does one bright soul who adores writing, life, helping children, light, learning and love write about the things that hurt her?

This has been part of my journey over the last five months, acknowledging when my feelings are hurt and owning it. See, I've always had this impression that no matter what happens to me or around me, I'm meant to be strong for everyone and that I can overcome it all, which I truly believe that I can, however, this doesn't discount that my feelings are real and they get hurt too. Seems a bit like I am still trying to dance around a subject itching to be addressed here.

Okay, here it is...men. Yup. MEN. Err...guys? boys? lol...where are the REAL men? Maybe that question isn't entirely fair - I've met some amazing men in which I share great friendship and respect with. I'm talking...like - the right kind of guy for me...

Among a zillion other things I've been asked to learn lessons for over this last year I've had about three pretty decent guys come and go from my life. Two of these men taught me pretty valuable lessons about what I truly desire in a relationship and well the other, umm...I can't even comprehend why he still isn't in my life at the moment - I pretty much had one of those over the moon moments with him - and then...well...I don't know how to explain the rest of that...I do hope that it is a 'to be continued' type of situation though.

Dating in general is a whole kind of ball game that I just can't seem to meet eye to eye with these days. I mean - I love dating, I love the flirting, butterflies, laughter, playfulness and all the juicy goodness that comes with it. However, this stupid dance that technology wants us to be playing, the game, the texting instead of voice to voice contact drives me insane. In fact, who ever chooses to win over my heart next has their job cut out for them ;) ...because I just won't settle to fall for someone via text. I'm up for texting the in between texts that can be viewed as sweet and endearing - however - voice is just so much more powerful. I think this generation has become so lazy with their courting abilities. That said, of all the three men that came into my life this year at least one of them had some pretty strong courting skills. Not to put myself in some fairytale land or something, but I'm pretty awesome and deserve someone who wants to engage in some healthy dating patterns...I'm probably one of the most understanding and compassionate people that I know who goes above and beyond to make sure that others feelings are heard, acknowledged and respected - but like - SO many men are bringing their past forward and allowing it to affect how they show up to the next girl. Who I might add - may never treat them like the last one did and be worth every second of the good stuff!

The point of my last paragraph is - I'm bringing the proper dating scene back - the one where you can become completely smitten by someone and they won't run away from it. The one where you actually pick up the phone and say "want to go out?". The one that builds a strong foundation of respect and admiration. Who is with me?! LOL

And the point of today's blog is - these MEN that came into my life and what they taught me. Even if I wanted to say something negative about them, I just can't. It isn't in my nature. I might not agree with how things were handled in some of the cases or the behaviour that surfaced, but I respect them all as individuals and I am grateful for the lessons they brought me.

The first guy I dated this year is someone that I met last year, someone who was definitely able to do some courting - in fact he even nailed down the whole door thing - AND he put my coat on for me - talk about chivalry?! It's not that I can't put on my own coat, in fact I'm a pretty strong and independent woman - but that simple act did bring a whole lot of sweetness into our relationship. Err...where's the catch? Communication. YUP - totally the learning lesson there. I TRULY value strong communication between one another. And I believe that the communication in a relationship needs to also involve compassion and understanding. Unfortunately there were a few times in this dating scene where the communication was lacking(I should add that after some time apart we were able to connect and find some clarity which helped both of us to move on in our lives)...A little Taylor Swift helped me to shake this one off...

Learning these things and dating is kind of like a 'hunt' for the perfect mate - and once I find him - I want us to be able to have total and complete open communication - this doesn't mean that the information shared will always be easy to digest  - so along with that comes the patience and loyalty while things are sorted through.

The second guy I dated this year was a total stud - err...insert blushy face here? He was so fun and playful, totally sweet and super affectionate. OMG and if I'm assigning a song to each learning lesson here...here's the cheesiest song to show how this whole dating scene went...a little Carly Rae Jepson?

The reality though? We were in two completely different places in our lives and so we decided to part ways - part of me was bummed at the time but looking back it's like oh - yup - he was only passing through my life to teach me a lesson. Affection - with the right connection.....a must? Since I was so bummed about this ending even though we weren't meant for one another I had decided to take the summer off of dating - actually I kind of signed up to indefinitely remove myself from the dating scene. I had kind of had enough of things not working out with guys, regardless of the lessons and learning that I could see.

I did a really good job focussing on myself throughout the summer, in fact I even made it back to NYC! (where I had a total blast) Over the summer I committed to completely reviewing my life from my career, to my living arrangements to my love life and what I want in a relationship, to who I am as a person...ALL of it. I looked into the deepest part of my soul - hence the lack of writing on my blog...I wanted to write SO many times but I needed to just figure ME out.

So now, picture me just beginning to totally enjoy getting to know myself at a deeper level than ever before and then.........insert guy number three.....divine timing or what? Here's the thing, I had met him earlier in the year while I was dating guy number one, and totally thought that he was the STUDLIEST - not a real word...but a word for better than stud - HANDSOME... He lived REALLY far away from me so I chalked it up to distance, felt completely grateful I met him and kept on my way. Well, he decided to come into my life again just before the school year started. Here I was, not thinking anything about MEN, just focussing on loving myself and he pops into my life...it's kind of tricky to write about it at the moment as it's still so fresh...in fact I guess a piece of me is hoping that the story isn't quite over yet...however, it's not like we can ever really tell in the heat of things what the plan of the universe is, until we know for sure.

With almost every person I've dated or situation I've encountered in life I've been able to pick up on the learning lesson pretty quickly. Here though, this guy...well...I'm not so sure yet...but what I DO know is..I have that feeling, the one where you're like - sure of something...but that distance thing crept in the way...and my completely level headed self can see how that can be an issue. However, there is a huge piece of me that is totally smitten by this guy when I hear his voice or our eyes meet...that part of me, the heart part, just wants to make things work!!!...but in any case it takes two to tango, right?! And so, I am left in wonder about the 'why' with this guy...I mean, I know he is kind, I got a small glimpse that he is a gentlemen, he is sweet, he can be affectionate, he can communicate, he is intelligent, and he is HANDSOME...I suppose there is a lot left to learn of him...and maybe we'll get the chance to explore our feelings some day...here's hoping?

At the end of the day, in all of this, I've really gotten good at this whole dating scene....you see before the last couple of years I dated a lot of duds...like I mean duds...and I got stuck on trying to figure out why they were showing up in my world - and although there were a few more unsuccessful relationships this year - they kind of were successful...They were successful because I learned that at the end of the day I deserve the absolute BEST that someone has to offer and there was never a question whether I would be giving my best - that is just me...I always give my whole heart...the difference this time? I'm giving my whole heart to ME first.

I must say that it's not all rainbows and lollipops - and my feelings have truly been hurt this past year and sometimes I'm left feeling frustrated with the universe - - - I wish I could understand it's magic sometimes!!! The one thing I do know for sure is...if it's meant to be it will be...in fact I think that is kind of the mantra I've adopted now when it comes to dating...it isn't like there is anything I can do other than be myself and know that in the right time with the right one it's going to click. As cliche as it sounds...I'm pretty sure there will be fireworks, too? Okay - clearly I'm sucker for romance!








Wednesday, 8 July 2015

The Pre-Frontal Cortex...Mastering My Willpower

A few months ago a friend of mine recommended a great read, The Willpower Instinct. This book not only V8 smacked me right in the middle of the forehead,  which happens to be right around the location of your prefrontal cortex (the willpower zone), it taught me to WAKE up to the decisions I've been making. Boy, do those marketing companies know what they are doing.

This books goes into great detail about the decisions we make, why we make them and how we can gain more self-control so that we can make smarter, healthier choices. When I started reading this book I realized that, like a weak muscle, I had absolutely NO willpower, okay maybe a little, but basically I had the habit of caving on A LOT of things.

I have the tendency to be the "borrower of the future" as described in the book and this is a habit I didn't even realize has basically been ruining my dreams of the future. Yup, I often have a massive "willpower fail" as Kelly McGonigal calls it in the book.


Kelly talks about three challenges to use to help you gain more willpower. She talks about setting an "I will, I won't, and I want" phrase to the area in which you want to gain more self-control. While I absolutely have seen my willpower/self-control increase since reading this book, let's talk about my most recent FAIL! And don't worry, Kelly warned me I would fail...LOL...it's just now, I am more AWARE. And honestly, AWARENESS is key in all things, as the more you are aware, the more chance of building success one day.

So, I have decided to have a "Green Summer", a summer where I include something green in ALL of my meals and snacks...sounds great right? Well, in theory it kind of is...until you realize there are such things as...green skittles! Then, you make all sorts of exceptions to your list of "green food". Anyways, I walked into Goodness Me, a newer health food store in the city I live, and before I went in I had a little self-control talk with myself. "Rebecca, you won't purchase the delicious mac and cheese (even though it's vegetarian)"...and in the back of my mind, I was thinking I would purchase a healthy green salad with an egg for protein...well guess what happened? I focused SO much on not getting the mac and cheese that I walked out of the store and ordered a Gluten-Free pizza from Pie. That is an EPIC fail...and the book told me this would happen...when we focus so much on making some of the choices to change, we end up failing in the sense we make a similar choice that is just as bad.

**side note**...the pizza had basil, that counts as green, right?

In order to gain self-control I have found that focussing on "I Will" statements help me a bit more. I will eat green or I will save $1000 by whenever...the point...I tend to spend A LOT of time justifying why I need the pizza today and salad tomorrow, new dress today and my own home in a month, to buy a gift for a friend and finish my education next year...this is the borrowing from the future I mentioned before...when I really need to STOP!!! I need to figure out this self-control thing and my first step is telling my pre-frontal cortex that I will help it get stronger each time we leave a store, a dress, or my favourite eye shadow behind...cause guess what? I will survive without those things!!!

Stayed tuned for my willpower challenge successes and...well...fails, cause let's face it...they are going to happen.

This weeks willpower challenge...I will read 5 chapters of my new read...A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson. Simple and sweet!

Monday, 20 April 2015

Where Have I Been?

Well, I must say it has been a little too long since my last post - BUT - with semi-good reason! Since my last post I have been on one of the biggest learning curves of my life. Back in October I shared about the fact that I FINALLY landed my permanent position in my teaching career. A lot has happened since then, A LOT!

I've come to conquer something that I never dreamed that I could...and I'm grateful I did. To be honest, when I accepted my role as Grade 8 Teacher - I was completely and entirely TERRIFIED! ME? Teach 13 and 14 year old beings?! Who the heck is letting this happen? I! I'm like some child whisperer for 6 year olds...and even though I was smiling and happy to accept a contract no matter the grade level - I was hiding behind so much fear of failure. I spent the first month in basically what felt like a tornado of emotion. Learning how to connect with these students was beyond my scope. "Okay friends show me you're ready..." and "hands to yourself" didn't quite cut it!

With each attempt to be positive, upbeat and fun - students were staring at me like I had 5 heads, an unforeseen growth on my face and literally they were looking for ways to make me crumble! Who could blame them though? These kids are 9 years in and tired of the teacher changes, my particular group had already had 3 teachers in two months...like they were going to buy in to me...

Each day I would search for ways to connect with these students, to show them that I genuinely cared about their well-being and future. I was completely exhausted. Teaching little ones is natural for me teaching older ones is not. Above all the struggles though, I have found a place to connect with these students naturally too. It didn't come without a deep level of soul searching, self love though.

What I've come to realize over the last 6 months of my teaching and learning journey, is that this is a really important stage in the game for these students. And that means, as an educator, we have a chance to positively support this stage through being a safe space for these students to confide, share, learn, grow and be. Yup, they have NO idea who they are yet, but they are learning...and so, they need to just...be...

After a couple months of what felt like I was going crazy to show these kids I cared, they started to come around. I had to be a strong, confident version of myself that I didn't always see come out my daily life. I had to be vulnerable but firm and consistent. These students need someone to relate to, someone to tell them that all their hormonal changes are O-K! They need to be guided to embrace them and not think that every mistake is the end of the world. Most importantly, they need someone to listen to them and gently show them that they have choices...

Once I took a step back from their harsh language, lack of inhibition and testing boundaries in behaviour I was able to see some pretty magnificent people. People who are craving structure, guidance, and learning but just can't admit it because of all of the outside pressures from peers, media, home, changing.

This last year has pushed me SOOOOO far out of my comfort zone, and I found I actually enjoy teaching older students, in fact it motivated me to work REALLY hard to provide the best possible experience for them. It didn't come without some tears to friends, questioning of the universe and learning to trust the process of life no matter what you are presented with.

Do I see myself staying here? Let's just say...I'm grateful for the lessons, glad I've found clarity and super excited to head back to Grade One...a place that is kind of like home to me...where my heart is...Will I ever go back? Perhaps, one day...but for now I will enjoy the next two months in Grade 8 and hopefully create a positive change for these students that they can carry with them through the good and bad times.