Menopause – Just for Women?

1 -middleages_homeIn 49 years I have come to see a lot of what life has to offer.  I am hoping I still have many years yet to come but I have been around long enough to survive my 20s, enjoy my 30s and come to terms with my 40s and on the cusp of 50 I am looking forward to it as my best years so far.  These 49 years have been filled with many experiences from my childhood and all of it’s challenges to my 20s filled with angst and figuring out what all this adult stuff was all about.  My 30s where I embraced the privilege of being a mother and being married and my mid-30s and 40s where my greatest lessons about life and myself came wrapped in every relationship.  I honestly wouldn’t change a thing.  I am at a place where I have the scars to prove I have done some living, the ability to use those lessons to help me navigate through life and enough youth to have fun and embrace all the love that life has to offer. Life just gets better with every single day and I am so grateful.  I am finally able to come to terms with my aging body because with it comes the experiences that have made me who I am and give me the ability to enjoy life as it presents itself.  I am now mature enough to realize that “it is what it is” and fighting with life just as it is only serves to make me miserable.  Am I delirious every day? No. But I also know that feelings come and feelings go and nothing is forever. I have also been around long enough to see that we are all in this together and many of us struggle with many of the same experiences as we try to come to terms with the fact that the face staring back us in the mirror is looking more like our parents than we care to admit.

I know many of us struggle with the fact that our bodies aren’t as firm and strong as they once were and they certainly aren’t as forgiving as they used to be.  A hangover is akin to getting over major surgery whereas in our 20s it didn’t even slow us down.  We realize that some of what we thought life was going to be like just didn’t work out that way for us.  We may look around at where we are in our job, our relationship, our possessions, and wonder “is this it?” The aging body in the mirror may even scare us.  We attend funerals for friends who die of things like heart attacks and cancer and we try not to think of our own mortality.  We look in the mirror and wonder if anyone would find us attractive and sexy.  I know as women we struggle with all of this.  And then, as if some cruel joke, menopause swoops down and hijacks our brains and bodies and turns us into someone we barely recognize at times.  Through night sweats, panic attacks, mood swings and weight gain we feel like at times we are going to lose our minds.  Society accepts this as “normal” for women.  But what about men? Here is what I am seeing.  I am seeing that women are not the only ones who struggle with middle age but no one is talking about it.  I am seeing my friends going through divorces after 25 and 30 years together and it makes me think that there is something going on that we need to recognize.  I have known more than one husband who turns into someone no one even recognizes and does things that are so out of character.  Husbands who were loving and caring and suddenly they are off having an affair and working out in the gym and feeling like they’ve missed out on life.  They leave families and homes and wives in shatters and it seems that they are bobbing along in a huge ocean of uncertainty and confusion looking for something to anchor on to.  They think the new car, the new girlfriend, the new clothes, etc. will make them happy.  They quit their job or change jobs 6 or 7 times in a year and every job has something wrong with it.  They want new cars, motor bikes, trailers, etc. expecting it to make them happy but it all leaves them feeling emptier than when they started.  I have seen this happen so many times and the more I see it, I believe that there needs to be a recognition and help provided for men to help them navigate this confusion.

I believe that if that if society recognized that not only women struggle with navigating middle age, that many marriages and broken lives and hearts could be saved.  It breaks my heart to watch so many marriages fall apart after so many years.  They have been through so much – the tough first few years of marriage, raising kids, money issues, family deaths, and just the business of trying to keep a marriage going through mortgage payments and overwork.  Now in our 40s and beyond we should be able to come together as a couple and reap the benefits of getting through it all and enjoying our golden years now that the kids are moved out, the mortgage is paid and life is getting easier.  What a crime to see lives thrown into chaos when maybe it could all be salvaged with some awareness and support. I have seen a strength in my friends who have navigated these divorces.  Initially they are devastated by the shock of having their entire lives thrown into chaos by a divorce, especially when they didn’t see it coming, but once they get over the shock and start to pick themselves up, something remarkable starts to happen.  I have seen my friends use that experience to absolutely blossom.  They become so much stronger, capable and confident.  They face the worst that life had to offer and decided it wasn’t going to kill them but make them even stronger. Wouldn’t it be amazing though if as a couple they could navigate the changes of life together? What if as a society we recognized and supported both men and women as they navigated the changes of life? I intend to do more research in this area but I would welcome comments from both men and women on the idea of menopause or midlife struggles and how each experiences it and how we can better navigate these years of confusion.

I feel change and transitions are a normal part of life.  We go through many phases in our life that are confusing – puberty, becoming an adult, getting married, becoming a new parent, becoming an empty nester, and I feel middle age is just another change. With understanding comes acceptance and healing. We live in a society where youth is cherished and old age is looked on with fear and disgust. Aging is a normal part of life and I would love to see us embrace the wisdom, joy, and blessings that come with aging.  There is so much to enjoy in our later years.  The knowledge that comes from experience makes us wise and calmer.  The families and grandchildren we get to enjoy with the wisdom that those childhood years are so fleeting.  The joy that comes from the freedom from child rearing and trying to prove ourselves at work and “making a name for ourselves”.  There is so much to enjoy if we can just learn to love the one who brought us to the dance, even if it is a tad older and more wrinkled.

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Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

1argument-cartoonThere is this perception that if you are divorced you cannot get along with two people – your ex and your current relationship’s ex.  Apparently the ex is always the enemy.  But who wins with this? Is it worth expending all that extra energy and time hating someone? Do they even deserve it? Not that it really affect them because the poison of your anger only affects you.  Here are my thoughts on the matter.

I have been divorced.  Three times. Yes, three times.  Long story but let’s just say I wouldn’t change a thing.  I have grown and learned so much about life, relationships and, most importantly, myself through all of them.  I have been forced to see parts of myself that I would much rather ignore.  However, there’s nothing like a divorce to put a spotlight on yourself and what may or may not be wrong with you.  After the third divorce, it became abundantly obvious to me, it wasn’t them, it was me.  Anyway, that is not what I am here to talk about. What I am here to talk about is exes.  I have three.  Do I talk to all of them? No.  Am I angry at them or do I hate them? No.  Did I? I would be lying if I said in the beginning I wasn’t bitter and angry and have my story of why it wasn’t my fault and how they hurt me, blah, blah, blah.  I came to realize, however, that at the end of the day, I chose them and so there must have been a reason.  They came to me not as trials but as gifts.  The trials, the struggles and the love, they all taught me many things about myself.  I learned what it meant to love with all my heart and I learned what it felt like to be hurt.  I learned that I can hurt other people, even if I don’t always mean to.  I also learned how important things like communication and common values really are.  I learned that I can love with all my heart and then that relationship and not die.  I learned that I can be stronger, wiser and kinder the next time around from what I learned.  I also learned that getting the lessons and doing the work on myself is a choice.  I can choose to sit in my story of woe of how they did this or did that to hurt me, and they took my money and they lied to me, etc.  OR I can choose to see what part I played in all that and how I allowed it to happen.  I can choose to see how I chose that person because they filled a need and how I chose to let them treat me as they did and I can then look to see what it was within me that said that was okay.  None of these lessons and growth would have happened without these people coming in to my life.  Without them, I would only be a fraction of who I am today. And for that I am eternally grateful.

Now, on to exes of your current relationship.  I can now see the gift that they are as well.  Because of what my partner learned with them, he can now be a better partner for me.  There were lessons in there for him and if he got them, then I get the upgraded version of who he is.  I am also so grateful that my partner’s ex saw fit to let him go because had she not, I would not be with him and that would be the greatest tragedy.

So, how does this all play out in my life? I have been divorced from my son’s dad since 2000.  He met a lovely lady about 6 months later.  They are still together and seem to get along great.  She has been so awesome to our son and she and my son have a great relationship.  I am so grateful to her for so many reasons.  With her love, my son’s dad was able to heal, he was able to love again and, as a result, he was able to be a better dad.  With her being who she was, my son could spend time with his dad and really enjoy being there.  She created such a loving environment for both of them that my son was ultimately the winner in all that.  And because I liked and appreciated her, my son could come home and tell me all the cool stuff they did and not feel like he had to protect me.  We could be a family, albeit a bit non-traditional.  Likewise, I still get along with my in-laws.  I allowed them generous access whenever they wanted and was always sure that they were a part of our son’s lives.  Again, who wins the most? Our son.  And that is what counts.  Now he is 21 years old and is almost finished his training as an engineer.  He told me not long ago how he couldn’t relate to most people who have been through a rough life.  I was surprised in a way because he had been through a divorce and all and yet I see that the choices we made to make him a priority and get along paid off in spades.  Generations to come will benefit because we chose to get along.

Now, my current relationship.  My partner is still a part of his ex’s family.  He is Papa to the grandchildren even though technically he is not their Papa.  But love doesn’t need bloodlines.  So, he babysits his granddaughter every week.  I have met his ex and we have come to know each other and get along really well.  She has even asked me for advice and help on her resume and finding a new job.  She even commented to my partner how smart I am and how much I know.  That speaks volumes to her character to be able to even admit or see that and to say it to my partner.  Her grown children love me and actually hug me when they see me.  As a result of having an open mind and heart, I have been blessed with three grown children and four gorgeous grandchildren.  My life just become that more enriched as a result and my partner is able to remain that beloved Papa that his grandchildren need, especially his granddaughter.  His youngest granddaughter doesn’t have a dad who is active in her life and so Papa is the only strong male role model she has, and what an amazing role model he is.

Life is all about choices and exes are a part of that reality for many of us.  With the divorce rate as high as it is, chances are at some point we will have an ex.  Now, if the ex is abusive, then for obvious reasons, that tie needs to be broken and you need to stay away.  However, wasting time, energy and emotions hating them or being in story about what happened – that is a choice.  I am not saying the first day you break up you can be so forgiving.  That takes time.  You need time to work through your feelings, heal the hurt and be strong enough to move on.  But when that time comes, release the past.  Because in so doing, you create more room for someone else and are available emotionally and spiritually to be a better partner.  Take the lessons, look within, do the work.  It is all worth it.  But don’t buy the lie that you have to hate anyone.  Keep an open heart.  You may be surprised at the blessings.

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Weight and Other Things That Make Me Crazy – Cleanse – Day 2

1 Day 2Day 2 almost done of my cleanse or detox.  To make it more interesting, I am doing this during Stampede Week here in Calgary.  For those of you who have never heard of the Calgary Stampede, it’s basically Mardi Gras for cowboys.  10 days of beer, stampede breakfasts, bbqs, parties, rodeos and yee haw!  And I am detoxing.  Not that I am a huge partier anyway but today I went for a walk along Stephen Avenue Mall at lunch.  Stephen Avenue is a street that goes along the length of a good part of downtown Calgary where no cars are allowed during the day.  There are vendors and people everywhere.  I went for a walk to check out what was going on and I was hit with smells of food and beer and things organic.  I made it through okay but stuttered at bit when I walked past all the people eating ice cream with chocolate bars mixed in.  I made it though!

Today I realized how much food and my emotions are tied together.  I knew before but now I really realize how much of an emotional eater I really am and that I use food like a drug.  I use food like an addict would use cigarettes or booze.  It is use to comfort, tune out, soothe, fill time, entertain.  I had enough to eat today but I realized how often I reach for food when I am not really hungry but am filling some sort of emotional need.  It’s been the story of my life so I struggle with it a lot.  I am good with a routine though and when I decide I am going to do something, I do it.  So this detox is perfect.  There are rules and parameters which I need because rather than doing what I know has worked, which is log every bite that goes into my mouth, I tried to “wing it”.  Now I have some structure and rules which I need for myself.  I am a “by the rules” person but also an “all or nothing” so I have realized how much I need to not take this to the extreme.  As Suzanne Evans says, the way you do something is the way you do everything and in this case it is so true.  In some ways it’s a good thing but taken to the extreme it is not.  I can get things done when I set my mind to it but I can also get stuck in trying to “do it right” and not do it at all.

I also realized I filled up quicker with less food, which was interesting.  I have never had that experience before.  I am feeling cleaner and less blocked, but tired.  I haven’t had enough sleep, which is partly to blame but I think my body is also processing all the toxins as well.  I had moments of being a tad emotional and a bit “off” and I have had a headache and achy body for a few days but once I started the protein supplement and milk thistle that eased quite a bit. I quit coffee, sugar, chocolate and wine cold turkey so small bit of wonder my body may be in a bit of shock.

I am noticing that I am enjoying my food more and taking time to taste it and enjoy it.  I had supper tonight and just took my time to eat it.  But I didn’t make a conscious effort to do that, it just happened.  I am appreciating tastes more as well.  I am curious to see what it will be like in a few more days.

We had our call with Roberta Mittman today, who is organizing this detox.  I was incorrect about her credentials.  She is an acupuncturist and nutritional and lifestyle coach.  We had a discussion about what detox is, some of the basics of the program and how to tailor the program to our needs.  I got a lot out of the call.

One of my biggest take aways was when Roberta talked about how the cleanse is something we need to do in our whole life.  We need to detox our diets and our bodies but also look at our life as a whole.  What sort of environment do we live in? Is it orderly or disorganized? What sort of relationships do we have? Are they supportive or toxic? What are our thoughts like? Are they loving and supportive or is the inner critic alive and well and helping to sabotage you one thought at a time? What is your spiritual life like? Your family life? Do you have loving and supportive relationships or do you have more drama than a soap opera? What is your marriage like? Your relationship with your children? The list can go on  but I really am seeing this detox as a metaphor for life.  In order to live our best lives, we need to be clean in all areas of our lives.

Day 3 awaits.  I am curious to see what changes and realizations await.

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Weight and Other Things That Make Me Crazy – The Cleanse – Day 1

Today I started a 10 day food cleanse.  I am part of Suzanne Evans’ 10K Club to build my coaching business.  One of the coaches we have available to us is Roberta Mittman who is a naturopathic doctor and she has organized a 10 day Food Cleanse for anyone of us in 10K who are interested in joining.  I have been struggling with my diet and getting back to healthy eating so when she offered this, after a bit of hemming and hawing (the chocolate and wine were screaming in my ear “NOOoooooooooo!!!”), I signed up.

I am writing about my cleanse because I wanted to share my “journey into madness” with you in the hopes of showing the human side to this experience.  To show you that even if you struggle, you can still keep going.  That none of us are perfect and really, truth be known, we all struggle with this life at times.  Even people who know what to do when it comes to diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle still struggle, still fall down, still gives in to the cravings and still have the same challenges.  It’s the human condition.  I have struggled with this being a coach because “I should know better” but that fact of the matter is we all struggle and it’s through the struggles that we become powerful.

Recently it seems that change could not come in to my life fast enough.  I was engaged, broke up, met the man of my dreams, had a sick dog that I adored that I finally had to make the heart wrenching decision to put her down.  I then found a new home so decided to move.  The week before I moved I went to Vegas for a seminar.  The week after I got back I moved.  Then the week or two after that I was in New Brunswick meeting my new boyfriend’s friends and family.  We got back from there and I was off to Miami for the 10K club.  Oh yeah, I signed away my life savings to join the 10 K club. I am changing jobs and working on building my coaching business.  And, oh yes, my brother who I absolutely adore and who is like my soul mate had a heart attack the day after I had to put my dog down.  So, although a good portion of the changes were awesome, they were all stressful.  Now, had I been binging on carrot sticks and herbal tea, well, I would have been fine but my drugs of choice to soothe the scared little girl inside me and shut out the fear and the stress was sugar, chocolate and wine.  Now, I am not going to lie, if you are going to kill yourself slowly, it’s a tasty way to go.  But, you see, I know better.  I have been over 200 pounds and a size 22 and I have been 153 pounds and a size 8.  I lost over 40 pounds and kept it off for about 4 years.  I did great. And then slowly, as these things can happen, I started to fall away from what I knew and before I knew it my diet was garbage and my body was unhappy. The reality is that I am almost 50 and if I want to get into my 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s healthy, then I need to make some changes.

So, this cleanse is not an act of punishment but rather an act of love for myself.  I am choosing me.  Choosing to take care of this body of mine so I can build my coaching business and have the positive effect on this world that I dream to have.  So I can love the man who has come into my life and take care of him like I want to.  So I can be healthy for my son and our grandchildren for years to come.  So I can enjoy my life to the absolute most with my body supporting me in my journey.  Will I struggle along the way? There will be moments.  Habits die hard and the cravings are bound to start screaming my name.  It is my choice as to what I do about it.  If my cravings have a tantrum, I can either choose to give in once again or I can choose to acknowledge and then not satisfy the craving.  Ignoring the craving is like trying to ignore a screaming three year old in a grocery store.  Even though you are trying to ignore it, you can still hear the screams and eventually you will give in to the screams.  Acknowledging the cravings and what they mean is empowering.

My cravings tell me many things – I am bored, hungry, stressed, not feeling heard, nervous, angry, feeling ignored, etc.  My cravings can also tell me my body needs something – water, exercise, some meditation time, proper nutrition, rest, etc.  It is when I stop and really lean in to those cravings that I can learn so much and I suspect this cleanse is going to teach me a lot.  I choose to lean in to the cravings, lean in to the moments of wanting, moments of feeling some relief, moments when I feel my body releasing the toxins.  Each moment, if I stop, listen and hear will teach me a lot.

I hope you will join me in my journey.  I plan on being real and being honest, as hard as that may be at times when I am struggling but I want this to be a journey where not only I am learning but you can maybe see parts of you in my journey.  Life, no matter what happens to us, is a series of choices and a series of moments where we have no control over what is happening.  But we always have a choice in our attitude and how we react.  This cleanse is no different. Let the fun begin!!

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Weight and Other Things that Make Me Crazy – June 30

appreciateThis week was an interesting week weight wise.  I worked out a few times on the bike which felt great both because it feels great to work out and secondly it feels great to actually be doing it again. It’s like keeping a promise to myself.  Weight wise, I was doing great – losing half a pound every day but mid week gaining half a pound, even after doing the “right things”.  I noticed a few things – one that I am resistance to tracking what I am eating in “My Fitness Pal”, despite knowing that it works and two, that even though I know weighing every day is something I would tell my clients not to do, that is precisely what I did.  And, as I would tell my clients, when I gained that half a pound, it threw me off the rails.  Funny how you can KNOW something and yet still do it anyway.

I am noticing how much my self-esteem can be tied to what the scale tells me.  How many of us let numbers on a scale determine our self worth for the day? I have been 235 pounds and I have been 153 pounds, a size 22 and a size 8, and you know what? I was the same person on the inside at both those weights and every weight in between.  I was just as intelligent, just as capable, just as loving, just as worthy as I was at 235 pounds and 153 pounds.  My intelligence, capability, ability to love did not change based on what I weighed.  So, the question remains – why do I allow my self-esteem to be determined by those numbers on the scale? Seriously? I thought about it and asked myself – Do I love my best friend or my child less because they gained 5 pounds or love them more because they lost 10 pounds? Was their worth to me changed in any way by what the scale had to say? The answer is no.  So, the question is – why do I (we) allow the scale to determine my (our) own worth?

For me, the key is first of all recognizing when I am in judgment of myself.  I, like many others, have years of programming that says skinny = worthy and attractive and fat = unworthy and unattractive.  I have years of “that voice” in my head that finds any reason to scream “You’re not worthy!!” into my ears.  But who is it serving? I like to think about how God would see me. Or my son. My brother. My friends.  They love ME.  Not the size of my ass or the cellulite on my thighs.  They don’t love me because I have rock hard abs or because I wear a size 8.  They love me because of how I make them feel.  They love me because I am me.  And maybe, just maybe, they love me because I am not perfect.

From a business standpoint I also see that my clients are not attracted to me because I am perfect.  No. It is those imperfections that they are attracted to.  The fact that I have struggled with my weight.  That I have lived through childhood abuse. That I was divorced three times and have more relationship train wrecks than I care to even remember or admit.  They love that when they tell me they have herpes I don’t gasp and go into judgment but hold their hand and tell them that it is going to be okay and that they are lovable, worthy and attractive because it’s “just a fucking virus” and it changes nothing.  They come to me because I have been through shit and come out the other side and still have the capacity to trust and try love one more time.  And you know what? I am not special because we all have our broken parts and we all have gifts to offer from those broken places.

So, this week, I will be weighing less, exercising more and appreciating what is really important.  And also realizing that what goes on in my head affects what goes on in my body.  The more in judgment I am of myself, the more I eat, the less I appreciate what I really bring to the party and the less I can really be of service to those I come in contact with.  This week, every time I step on the scale I will remind myself that although it is my aim to be healthy physically, that I also need to be healthy emotionally.  The measure of my worth is not so simple as stepping on a scale.  I have to admit, this is going to take some work because I am still triggered, as much as I don’t want to be, by those numbers.  But in sharing my journey and my struggle I also know that I am speaking to others because I am pretty sure I am not alone.

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Get Off Your Ass and Just Do It

PurposeJust get off your ass and do it, what “it” is.  If you hate your job or are unhappy in your marriage or are tired with being overweight you have two choices – you can either whine, bitch and complain ,do nothing, feel miserable and in victim OR you can just get off your ass and make a decision already.  I tell my clients this many times – you have two choices – decide you are going to make changes or figure out away to be okay with whatever is going on.  Harsh maybe but at some point we all have that decision to make. It does not serve us or anyone around us to complain about how awful life is and tell our story time and again and yet do nothing to change it.

I am writing this for me just as much as for you. Trust me.  I am in business to help people, to inspire them, make a difference and yet I struggle as well.  It is much easier to sit in that safe little rut.  We know what to expect there.  We know the demons.  We’re unhappy as hell but not in enough pain to make a change and so we find excuses, find someone to tell our story to once again and the years go by and we do nothing.

Case in point – my business.  I just moved after being in the same house for 11 years.  I found a box of materials about “building your business” that I moved from my last place 11 years ago! I have hated my job since I can remember but I had every excuse in the book not to move forward – I was a single mom with a mortgage, I didn’t have the time, I am not qualified enough, I am too fat, too old, too tired, ….and the list goes on.

So, it’s 2014 and this year I have decided to take my own advice and just get off my ass and DO something. Anything.  Even if I fall flat on my face when it comes to building my business at least I have tried.  I took action, I stopped making excuses.  I have joined 10K Club with Suzanne Evans, hired a coach, and had a Cellular Regression Session with Terry and Linda at Evolutionary Healer.  Is it easy? Hell no! If it was I would have done it a long time ago.  There are moments where I stall.  Moments where I am so scared I want to puke.  Moments where I step out and have no clue what I am going to do next but you know what, it also feels great to be moving forward.  I still struggle with my fears. They can be paralyzing at times but I also have learned I just need to acknowledge them and then move forward.  Even slow movement is movement.

My passion is helping you to find your passion.  To help you just get off your ass and do “it”, whatever “it” is for you.  Maybe you have gone through a divorce and now you want to move forward past all the pain but you aren’t sure how to get started.  Maybe you have been diagnosed with herpes and you feel like your life has pretty much ended and you aren’t sure how to create that “new now” and live a normal life again.  Maybe you have lost someone to suicide and you are trying to rebuild your life again.  Or maybe your children have all moved out and there is just you and the dog and you have no clue who you are now that you aren’t “Somebody’s Mom”.  I have been through all of this and I have survived and thrived.  I am here to tell you that you have a choice and you can take all that has happened to you and choose to use that amazing strength you gained to create the most amazing life for yourself.  Maybe you’re scared or just need someone to help you connect that that fire within you, maybe even be that kick in the pants you need to get you started and get that momentum going.

I would love to talk to you and hear where you are and where you would like to be.  It costs nothing to have a 30 minute chat with me to see if we can help kickstart that fire within you to get you on the path you want to be, to help you get that job you really want, find that relationship you crave, lose that weight and get in the best shape of your life, or find your passion for life again.  You can reach me anytime at brendalee.rae.walker@gmail.com.  Let’s get this party started and get you on the road to where you want to be! It just takes one decision that you are tired of staying where you’re at.

 

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Weight And Other Things That Make Me Crazy

scaleSo, this week I finally got the courage to step on the scale to see what the verdict was.  It wasn’t good.  Unless I was going for sumo wrestler – then I was on my way.  You see, me and my body have been in conflict for many years.  It has been a love/hate relationship – despite how much I hate my body it still loves me enough to do what it needs to do.  I don’t think I am alone as a woman in dealing with body issues.  I have decided to share a bit of my journey with this because maybe you have been feeling the same way and maybe you might see a bit of yourself in me and maybe together we can learn to develop a love/love relationship with this amazing vehicle we have been blessed with.

I have always had body issues from childhood.  Part of it was the way I was raised, part of it was what we all hear in the media and part of it I think is that need to compare with others.  I think we all have that need to compare how we think we are to everyone else.  I was certainly no different.  My mother dieted from the time I can remember.  I started attending diet clubs with her from probably the age of 9 or 10.  I can remember dieting when I was probably 10 years old.  My weight was always an issue for not only me but it seemed everyone else around me.  I was teased by my dad for being overweight, I had people comment on my weight, doctors who berated me for being overweight and telling me my medical issue was because I was so heavy.  Now, it wasn’t like I was 300 pounds.  I wasn’t huge but from the comments I heard you’d think I was circus freak fat.  Based on those experiences, my body became my enemy.  Something to be loathed and in judgment of, something that constantly betrayed me.  Not realizing that it was I who was betraying it.

Like many of us, I have my own ways of coping with life and numbing out.  Food was always my drug of choice.  I use it to soothe, calm, celebrate, numb out, forget, protect, and sabotage myself.  Like a drug addict at times, I try to avoid food, then I eat it, for a moment I feel better and then the guilt and anger at myself sets in and the berating self talk commences to which I react by eating more, feeling worse, and eating more again.  I have also use alcohol but not to the same extent that I have always used food.

I have decided to share my journey, my struggles, my triumphs, my “aha” moments and my thoughts along the way.  I am hoping that by sharing my journey I can help you or someone you know who may be struggling too and to see that weight is not just a food issue.  It is so much more.  For many of us, weight is just a symptom of something much greater and it can be a great guage on what is going on for us inside.  Weight can keep us safe, can keep people away, can bring people to us, can help us feel confident and strong or weak and in victim or give us an excuse to avoid things we don’t want to deal with.

So begins the journey…. I invite you to share your stories, your thoughts, your “aha” moments, things you have learned along the way.  We all know “diets” don’t work because diets don’t deal with how the extra weight is serving us.  Let’s start this grand adventure!

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Love Conquers all and Other Lies – Take Them as They Are

In a previous post I started talking about relationships and things I have learned in relationships.  Today I would like to chat about learning to take our partner just as they are.  In theory that sounds logical but how many people enter a relationship thinking “I can change them”? Maybe it is under the guise of “I can help them become the person I can see they are meant to be” or “I can help them live up to their potential”.  In the flush of new love everyone is wonderful and perfect.  However, spend time living in four walls with someone and you soon come to realize all the habits, mannerisms, and personality “features” that they have.  Some great, some not so great, some that make you absolutely crazy.

As an example, in my life, my past relationships with men have been based around what I could do for them and how I could help them “become the man I know they can be”.  I would take them in, help them get on their feet emotionally and financially and sacrifice every part of my needs and wants for them.  It worked great for the first little while.  I was feeling good about “helping” and they were feeling loved and nurtured or enjoyed not having to take responsibility for their lives.  After a while though, it turned into something where I was frustrated and resentful because they weren’t changing into who I could quite clearly see they should be and they were most likely feeling pressured and judged because they weren’t living up to my expectations  After bashing my head against that wall more times than I care to admit, I realized that the only person I can change is me.  The only person I had control over was me.  And if I was with someone because I wanted to “save” them then I had better pack up my life preserver and get the hell out because history and an empty bank account will tell me it’s a huge mistake.

There are also just little things in a relationship that can drive us crazy.  Leaving cupboard doors open, not putting the toothpaste back in the drawer, not putting the toilet lid down, leaving stuff laying around, playing video games, not making the bed in the morning, etc.  All these things, if we focus on them, can make us angry and frustrated.  When we take offence to everything our partner says or does, we are doing both of us a disservice  Why? Because you see what you focus on.  If you are always being offended, always findng things wrong, always nagging or being annoyed, you rob yourself of joy and peace and you drive a wedge in between you as a couple.

We all want to be accepted just as we are.  Imgine being with someone who always tells you about your good points and how beautiful, how intelligent, how capable, how loving you are.  How would that feel? (I have that in my relationship and I can tell you – amazing).  Now how would that feel to be that person for your spouse or children? We all crave to be heard, seen, accepted and loved as we are.  We all have off days where we aren’t at our best.  Wouldn’t it be amazing to have someone in our lives who could see past the bad day, see past you being tired and maybe a bit short and instead of being offended, offering a hug and a listening ear.  How wonderful would that feel?

We have a choice in how we react and how we choose to show up in a relationship.  We can choose to be critical and fault finding or we can choose to see past the flaws and faults and see the amazing human in front of us.  We all have flaws, things we would rather be different.  We have different personalities and sometimes because of that we don’t always see the same thing.  Like looking at the color turquoise.  Is it blue or is it green? It’s all a matter of how you look at life.  My challenge today is to show up seeing the good in people.  Tell your spouse all the many reasons you love them.  Thank them for something they did for you today that they didn’t really have to do.  Do something for your spouse to show them you love them and not because you are looking for payback in return.  It can be as simple as making the coffee and putting it in their go mug. It could be as simple as making the bed when your wife gets up this morning.  Opening the car door.  A hug and a kiss on the way out the door or maybe a little bum grab to kick start their day.  But make it a point to allow each other to be who you really are and accept all the parts of them.  And know that anything that they do that really makes you crazy could possibly be because it brings up something about yourself that you don’t want to look at.  Have some compassion for each other’s flaws and some appreciation for their perfection.  I challenge each of you today to try to see your spouse with new eyes – looking for what is right and perfect about them and focusing on what is right in your relationship.  What you focus on you will get more of.

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Having TODAY Faith

Today’s message from Joel Osteen reminded me of my own life. This February a simple list and letter to myself changed my entire life and it was all based on faith and manifesting.

To just give you some background, last September I met AJ, who I thought was the love of my life.  When we first met it was magical.  There was some sort of connection that I had never experienced before.  The relationship moved quickly….too quickly to be truthful.  We met the middle of September and by November 18 or so we were engaged.  However, the fire and passion that was present to start ran into some snags along the way.  First of all, AJ was away for two weeks at a time in camp.  Not his fault, but it did make it hard on a new relationship.  As time went on I realized that maybe this wasn’t the perfect relationship for me.  It took a while for my heart and brain to come to a consensus, but by the end of January of this year my brain and heart had a meeting and realized this was not a good thing.  So, after a LOT of soul searching and heart ache, I chose to end the relationship.

I have been married three times and I realized that this relationship had the ear marks of a lot of other failed relationships and so I decided to take pen to paper to really get clear on what it was I was looking for.  I had done a lot of work on myself and figuring out why I picked the men I did and I did make a lot of progress.  This relationship with AJ was a reminder that no matter how much you understand things intellectually, the Universe will always bring you the lessons to see if you get them on every other level.  The good news was that even though the lesson was hard, I was finally getting it.  So, on February 8, 2014, I took pen to paper.  I wrote myself a letter to remind my future self of all of the lessons I had learned.

In part, here is what I wrote:

“My mind wonders at times like these why in the heat of the moment I know the lessons and yet choose, once again, to ignore them.  Why in the newness of love I feel ‘this time is different’.  Why? Why do I choose to take life’s hard learned lessons and ignore them, only to beat myself up with the disappointment at the end”.  

Further on in the letter I wrote:

” ‘They’, whoever ‘they’ are say there is a purpose for every meeting.  I wondered as time went on and issues arose, buttons were pushed, walls went up, Why? Why? What do I need to learn? What is this trying to teach me? What is it triggering in me that I don’t like about myself? And I kept saying: ‘I need to make this work’ almost unconsciously until one day I realized ‘No, I don’t’.

You see, early on there was a part of me that tried to sound the alarm. Part of me who felt caged and shut down.  Part of me who said ‘No!’.  But another part also that said yes and chose to ignore the dissenting voice until the dissenting voice would not stop until it was heard.  The voice cried out in my quiet moments.  Sleep was hard to invite and was interrupted as the voice cried out, begging to be heard.  ‘Please hear me. This isn’t right.  Please!’

And then once day the dissenting voice was heard, was seen, was acknowledged.  A decision was made – the voice was right.  Hearts would be broken but lives would be saved. And as the news was broken and the decision was final, my soul breathed a huge sigh of relief and finally found peace, knowing all was well again.” 

So, after I wrote the letter, I made a list of all the characteristics I was looking for in a good relationship.  To be honest, I really thought that a relationship maybe wasn’t in the cards for me.  I sort of thought maybe I just wasn’t meant to be with anyone but I left it open and told God basically that if it is meant to be, great.  If not, great.  Either way, he is going to pretty much have to drop the right man off on my doorstep.  I was no longer looking.  Little did I know what was in store for me.

I wrote the letter and the list February 8, 2014.  On February 9, 2014 my girlfriend Carla and I decided to go out for a girl’s night out.  We had both been through a lot in the relationship department and decided a night out of dancing and laughter was in order.  We chose a bar we had never been to before.  We decided to try out the local “Newfie bar” and see what it was like and if we didn’t have fun, there was always the country bar, Ranchmans.  So, off we went to have some fun.  Little did I know that that decision would change my life.

Carla and I had a great time. We danced, we laughed, we had fun.  A guy showed up at our table, as often happens, and we danced and had fun together.  No strings attached.  Unbeknownst to me, the Universe had a bigger plan for my life.  A certain handsome bouncer came by to check on us because the gentleman at our table was sort of known to the bar staff.  The bouncer came by to be sure we were okay with him sitting with us.  We were fine.  However, the more times this certain bouncer came by, the more I came to like him and in fun I put my arm around him.  That simple act changed both our lives.  From that moment on I went from some woman in the bar he needed to protect to a woman in the bar he needed to get to know better.  As cliche as it is, this was different.

Fast forward to June and here we are.  I have never been happier or more fulfilled in a relationship.  I have truly met my best friend.  Little did I know when I wrote that list, that the very next day I would meet a man that would meet 32 out of 35 items on my wish list and turn out to be not only my lover but my very best friend.

As Joel Osteen says in his sermon, you really do need to have today faith.  You really do not know what the Universe or God or Allah or whatever your belief is, has in store.  One simple decision could change your life.  Setting your intention on what you truly want can set in motion life changing events.  God does have a bigger plan for all of us but we also need to be an active participant.  We need to set our intention and then believe that great things will happen.  But first we must be clear on what exactly we want.

So, what would you like to change in your life? What sort of faith could you have today that could set in motion events that could be more than you could ever dream of? And why aren’t you doing it? I challenge you today to sit down and dream.  Make a list of what your biggest dreams are.  Dream big. Don’t put any limits on your dreams.  Commit those dreams to paper and trust that they can come true.  What have you got to lose? Nothing. But, more importantly, what do you have to gain??

I invite you to watch Joel Osteen’s video and make today the best day of your life…so far! Have faith and dream big dreams. If they don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough!

http://youtu.be/uwInQx9dg_U

 

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Love Conquers All and Other Lies – June 5, 2014

All the books and fairy tales love to tell us that love conquers all.  I am here to tell you that in relationships that is a huge lie.  Don’t believe it.  Relationships take work.  They take love certainly, but they also take communication, forgiveness, attention, making them a priority, honesty, and friendship among other things.  Today I want to start a discussion on relationships and what I have learned along the way.

As background, I am a 49 years old woman living in Canada and divorced.  I have been married three times and along the way I have learned a lot about what works and more importantly what doesn’t work.  I have learned that much of what we have  learned about relationships is either pure fairy tales or just wrong and that we bring much of what we know about relationships from what we saw growing up.  And that was my first challenge.  What I saw about relationships growing up was so dyfunctional it was bordering on the bizarre and so a healthy relationship is something I had to learn through trial and error – hence the three divorces.  I am happy to say that I am now in a loving, nurturing and fulfilling relationship with a man who has taught me so much about what a great relationship is really like.  He has shown me the beautiful parts of myself that I didn’t have the eyes to see previously and he has allowed me to truly be who I am.  For the very first time I am able to be my true and authentic self in a relationship.

So, what have I learned? Well, frankly a lot and in the next series of posts, I would love to chat about the hard earned lessons I have gathered along the way these last 49 years on this blue planet.  I don’t profess to be an expert by any means but I know that what I have learned will be helpful for others on this same journey. Often we know this stuff but we just need to be reminded and I would love to serve as a reminder for you.  I am talking as a woman and what I have learned about being with men, but the information could apply to both men and women.

So, today’s reminder is this - men are not mind readers.  Many women (myself included) have at some time or another or many times expected the men in their lives to read their minds.  They think “If he loved me then he would know what I wanted or needed”.  Well, I am here to tell you my friend that is not true.  If you are having a bad day and what you really need is someone to talk to and your man comes home with flowers instead, don’t be frustrated that he didn’t “know” that what you really needed someone to talk to.  TELL him.  It can be as simple as “Honey, thank you so much for the flowers.  That was so sweet and I know you are trying to cheer me up and I really appreciate that.  What I would really like is to be able to talk about how I am what is bothering me right now.”  Okay, now Flower Guy knows that you need someone to talk to.  Most men want to make you happy.  Truly they do so tell them what will make you happy so they can give it to you.  And when they do, appreciate it.  Thank you goes a long way in a relationship.  Also, if you’re upset about something he’s done, tell him.  Don’t give him the silent treatment or the “you know what you did”.  Chances are he has NO clue otherwise he wouldn’t be asking you.  Most men won’t read instructions or ask for directions, so the chances of them being able to read your mind are slim to none.

As I said, men want to make you happy so make it easy for them to do that.  Communication is key in any relationship so tell them what you want.  Tell them when they are doing things right.  Tell them how you feel about them.  If your partner knows what you want and how to give it to you and then hears that you appreciate what he does, that will go a long way to creating a great relationship.  Relationships take work and attention but one of the keys is clear and honest communication.  It is not always easy to clearly articulate your needs in a relationship but the more you do it, the easier it will get.  It is well worth the effort in the long run.

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