The Hummingbird Coin

One day last year in the middle of my struggle for sanity and a firm grip on my life, my dad came down to visit. We took the bus down to Granville Island and while he was talking to a sales clerk, I was digging through a dish of small pewter coins…. On the front each one had a Northwest Coast Native animal symbol and on the back an inspirational word. I found one that said Peace on the back with the depiction of a hummingbird on the front. The sign on the front of the dish said ‘Pocket Spirits’ and while I’m not much for the idea of items being ‘spirits’, I felt compelled to buy it. I thought if I didn’t have any peace of my own, maybe I could at least have this… I carried it around in my wallet for a year… every time I went into my wallet I saw my small bit of peace.

The Hummingbird Coin

I was pretty far from being peaceful and it would take me an additional six months to actually find peace, but still this little coin I held on to… the only peace I had at the time. It was a small reminder that peace was out there and that it was something that I could have. Something that I wanted. I didn’t know what it felt like but I was sure that when I had it, I would know.

I’ve mentioned how I found my peace in December. The calm peaceful feeling that I now have is one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received. I don’t know if you can identify the feeling of peace if you haven’t had the feeling of being not peaceful. It’s hard to describe… the immense sense of calm that I feel now. I still have my moments of course and I still have bad days, but I’m peaceful overall.

About three weeks ago I found the coin on my desk. I don’t know how it got out of my wallet but when I saw it on my desk I knew I didn’t need it anymore. I’d found my peace and it was stronger and more powerful than the piece of pewter I was holding. I sat, rubbing the coin for a long time… playing with it… contemplating it… and at that moment I knew that I needed to give this very important piece of my healing away. I have a friend that could certainly use some peace and so I said goodbye to my coin and put it back in my wallet so it was with me the next time I saw him.

I’m an incredibly sentimental and romantic type of person.

(Romantic:  defined as marked by the imaginative or emotional appeal of what is heroic, adventurous, remote, mysterious, or idealized).

Most people in my life don’t meet me there… my sentimentality is oft regarded as cheesy or ridiculous. My ability to remember tiny, seemingly insignificant details about people I care about, and my innate ability to understand someone more than they can ever know has been labelled as crazy. I assure you, it’s not crazy and it’s not something I can control. For those that I care a great deal about, it’s a built in operating system (to steal a phrase from a friend) function to care about and recall these small details… things that seem insignificant rarely are. I’ve spent a lot of time in my life hiding it… laughing along when my sentimental side is dissed… pretending that it doesn’t bother me that instead of appreciating who I am at my core, I’m mocked for it. Truth be told, it does bother me… of course it does!  It’s a side of me that is integral to my character and no one feels good to be mocked on about something that is innate to who they are.

I took a chance giving my coin away to my friend. In the ongoing effort I’ve been making to be true to who I am, I knew I was going to say what I wanted to say, regardless of how my sentimentality had been received in the past. I was pretty sure that this time would be different.

I took the coin out of my wallet and held it tightly in my hand. I told the story of how I ended up with this coin and then, pressing it into his hand, said ‘I’ve found my peace. Now maybe you’ll find yours’.

The gift was received in just the way I gave it. That it was just an object at one point but that it had meaning to me and I was passing it along. I was told that it was a true gesture of love and trust. And I wasn’t mocked as being sentimental or cheesy… I was met where I am with an understanding of who I am and why something like this would be important to me. The gesture wasn’t cast off, but accepted and embraced in the pure way it was given.

There are some ‘things’ that we have and hold on to that cease to become things… they assume a life and a power of their own and while to the naked eye this is just a $2 piece of metal, to myself and to my friend, it’s a powerful piece of love and friendship and powerful love and powerful friendship can change our worlds. When we change ourselves, we change the world… and when we find our peace, we find that the world around us has more peace.

My hope for my friend is that every time he reaches into his pocket and his hand grazes this coin, that he feels the power in the care of another. That he knows that if I can find my peace (and Lord knows, it was a hard road!) then he can find his peace and he will forever have a friend to walk down that road with him.  We are only alone on difficult roads if we choose to be… and those in my care… those who gain access to the core of who I am… they will never be alone.

Okay! I’ve learned this one!

So since it’s starting to get summer-ish here, I’ve started thinking eating fruit with my dinner is a good idea… I actually enjoy a snack of grapes with plantain chips (if you’ve never had plantain chips, you’re missing out!!).

When I undertook my first W30, I had a variety of things that were going on in my body that I didn’t like… I didn’t have great digestion, my skin wasn’t the best it could be and I was itchy all the time. I thought the itching came from dairy so I was very excited to get on the W30 and see if my restless legs at night and my itching would go away. It did about half way through the W30 so I thought I’d nailed it. And then one evening I ate dates. And that night all my old symptoms of itching and restless legs came back. So I ascertained that it was sugar that was doing it to me.

You know that old saying a lesson is taught until it’s learned? Ya, well I learned it good last night… thanks to that snack of grapes I’ve been loving. I woke up a few times last night with this searing pain in my leg but was really sleepy and thought that it was nothing… When I woke up this am, I looked down at my leg and found a 3” long and 1” wide open gash on my leg… It looks like a cross between really bad road rash and what would happen if someone held an iron to your skin. And it’s incredibly painful!

What I know is that I did that to myself in my sleep because I must have been so itchy I attacked myself. I have now learned this lesson once and for all and that lesson is that sugar has no place in my diet. Not from fruit, not from candy (obv) and not from ice cream and cakes and cookies. This gash is so painful it hurts to walk and I had to go across the street from work and buy first aid items for it because it’s a pretty big open wound I’m actually worried about it getting infected.

It’s unfortunate that it takes me mauling myself in my sleep to learn a lesson about what I can and can’t put in my body but I guess whatever gets me to that point… I’m there now…

I did look to see if there’s any research that supports sugar causing itching and the only thing I can come up with is that diabetics experience it… however I’m not diabetic or anywhere near diabetic so that wasn’t helpful.   I was also going to post a picture of my wound but it’s yucky… and no one needs yucky!

Before and During

The best way to do a ‘Before’ and ‘After’ is to post a picture… which I will spend the entire time I write this post contemplating whether or not I will post one… I have it… it’s just a matter of whether I want some people I know in real life to see it…

But there are some less visual indicators of change. And I would argue heartily that they are the most important ones and the physical changes in a person are merely the side effect of this. I retweeted the following yesterday…

Don’t expect external changes if you’re not committed to internal change.

My sister once said that the extra weight I was carrying was my pain on the outside. At the time it seemed reasonable but I filed it away, as I’m wont to do and only now has it come back to me, in a more processed and understandable state.

Only once you are no longer in the painful situation is it possible to understand the magnitude of that pain. My mind never processed it as a whole… bits and pieces were given to me in dribs and drabs… I do believe that God doesn’t give you more than you can handle and part of the way that manifests is that for someone like me, who is an uber processor… I didn’t process it all… it would have killed me… the sheer volume of pain would have done me in.

So slowly, as things came up they were either put on a shelf for a later time or processed… thought about, ruminated on. I don’t think it was a conscious effort… I didn’t sit down and pick a moment in time or an experience and intentionally… the thoughts and feelings just happened…

And then, one day I found myself feeling something I hadn’t felt in years… I felt happy and calm. I didn’t recognize it at first… it was a somewhat foreign feeling… I didn’t feel like yelling at people when I was driving… I was kinder to people around me and I handed out more benefit of the doubt than you could shake a stick at. I smiled at people. And the incredible thing was that as I explored this new feeling of calm and happy and let it lead the way for me, the response I got from the world changed… the world became more calm and happy around me. People smiled back. I laughed with strangers. I felt centered in my body…

The part about the internal change creating external change that creates the most problems is that it looks easy. People only see the physical changes. They only see that it looks like you just decided to be happy one day. They only see the results of fitting into smaller clothes and none of the immensely hard work that you’ve undertaken to get to that place. Which means that when you make these internal changes of which the side effect is physical change, the resistance from your friends and family can be overwhelming and they can sometimes really work at you to get you to ‘change back’. It’s understandable really… if you think about it. I was a comfortable place to land…I was consistently available to be used and mistreated because I was already in a vulnerable place… I was easy to control… I wasn’t a viable threat…

I’m not a super competitive person… at all. I’m a live and let live, do your own thing and let me do mine, kind of person. I’ve always been that way and a change in my mental status or my physical status isn’t going to change that. However, I do know that people will, without me knowing it, engage in competition with me. And now that I’m changing… becoming the next chapter of my life, there are no longer ‘easy wins’ for those that choose to secretly compete with me. I’m okay with that. I understand it and I understand that it can be so uncomfortable for those close to me that they react in a less than graceful way…

I often want to say ‘I’m the same person I’ve always been’. That’s easy to say for me because I’m here, in me… I know that the way I am has always been here… deep inside. But the way I present myself to other people now… that IS different. I’m not the same anymore and I wouldn’t want to be.

I’ve decided through the writing of this that I’m not ready to show the before and after picture. The external changes in me are not as important to me as the internal changes. And the only way to stand by that statement is to leave the visuals out of it for now. (note I said for now…)

Laugh at Me

So a long time ago I was sitting in a coffee shop giggling with a girlfriend.  Well…. Giggling… not really… full out, hold my sides, don’t care who hears/sees laughing.  The owner of the coffee shop is also a friend of mine and after a while he came over and sat down with us… Did you see those people sitting across from you that just left he asked… Yep.  Well, he said, the guy that was with them came up to me and asked me if I knew you… he’s in the film industry and he said your laugh was awesome and he wished that there was a way to bottle it. 

Of course that made me laugh even more… some out of nervousness and some because when people talk about laughing it makes you laugh… well, me anyway! 

It’s a memory that pops into my head every once in a while and it came screaming back to me this morning.

It’s a beautiful… BEAUTIFUL day here in Vancouver and I was with my same girlfriend waiting in line at Whole Foods to get a coffee.  We were being ridiculous and making eachother laugh, as usual and a bubble of unfiltered laughter burst out of me and caused the guy in the line in front of us to turn around… Sorry I said… thinking that I was being a bit obnoxious so early in the morning.  No, no was his response.  I love your laugh!  (which makes me laugh…).  He smiled at me, this huge, joyful, completely open smile and said that my laugh made him laugh and that it was awesome.  About 20 seconds later a girlfriend of mine came up to me and said she had just been walking out the door but that she’d heard my laugh and had to come and say hi and give me a hug.  That made me laugh even more and I said it was funny that her comment was the 2nd one in about 30 seconds about the sound of my laughter… the guy in front of me, beaming from ear to ear said it wasn’t even 30 seconds… 

The entire encounter was brilliant and fills me to this moment with a bubbly mirth that fills my body and soul with the endorphins of joy.

It also reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend the other day. How just the act of being ourselves can be a gift we don’t even know we are giving to another.  Our trusting nature, a caring touch, a bubble of laughter… our society frowns on the mere act of interacting with a stranger so we almost never have these conversations with another, but it’s likely that while you go about your daily business, you’re touching other people… just as they are touching you… giving you a gift they may not know they’re giving.   Someone told me yesterday that the thing they liked about me was that I was true…I believe the quote was ‘You’re honest about who you are. You are not some crackerjack bullshit flavor of the month.  You are true.’ The experience today with the guy at the coffee shop and the statement from my friend last night just underlines that being true to who I am… something that is very important to me is not a wasted effort.  In this world of fake and social media and doing whatever you want with no consequences, it’s a good reminder that the power in being true is always worth the investment to learn who you are and then live that life.

Something a little different

Image

I’m in a black hole of writers block! I have about a dozen half written posts… processing, learning, growing… and they all come out sounding like such a bunch of garbage that I can’t hit the publish button. I envy people to whom writing comes easily. I’ve been told I’m a good writer quite a few times now and for sure I have a distinct style and can sometimes put words together in a poetic or inspiring or entertaining way. But when the words are flying around in my head like a mile wide tornado, it’s frustrating to no end. They won’t come out in any meaningful order… so I decided to do a little experiment and I made a word cloud. If I had all the time and talent in the world (which I have very little of either), I would get out a sketch pad and make my own word cloud. But since I don’t have either of those things, this was the next best thing… and it gets the words out of my head and onto the screen/paper in a more organic and creative order. I think it’s pretty clear from the image where my head is at lately…

trust... person...influence... lie

trust… person…influence… lie

I’m Willing to Wait for This :)

“Underneath The Apple Trees”

Dean Brody

I got the top off of my car,
Driving into the setting sun.
I got love in my heart,
Now I’m going to give it to someone.
Oh I haven’t met you yet,
But I know where you will be.
Traveling this same road
With a backpack soul,
Out there, somewhere, just like me

Someday we will meet
And we’ll park neath the apple trees
In an orchard, by a barn
Listen to some late night radio
Watch the satellites and stars
And I will hold you in my arms,
Till we both fall asleep.
Underneath the apple trees.

Will I meet you on a bus,
Or a narrow street cafe,
Find you in a Sunday market,
Or a lonely park bench in the shade.
Do you like you coffee strong,
Do you sleep in when it rains.
All those little things about you girl,
I can’t wait to learn someday.

You know I’m on my way,
And we’ll park neath the apple trees,
In an orchard, by a barn.
Listen to some late night radio,
Watch the satellites and stars.
And I will hold you in my arms,
Till we both fall asleep.
Underneath the apple trees, yeah.

When I was just a boy
I’d run barefoot beneath those leaves
Throwing rotten apples,
Building forts,
Rake the leaves.
I guess I never grew up
Cause I still believe in love
And that that day will come

And we’ll park neath the apple trees,
In an orchard, by a barn.
Listen to some late night radio,
Watch the satellites and stars.
And I will hold you in my arms,
Till we both fall asleep.
Underneath the apple trees,
Underneath the apple trees.

I’m not alone (and neither are you) REPOST

I’m reposting this here from the blog I share with my sister.  I need it to be here… with the rest of my journey…

I’m sure you know if you’ve read along over the past couple of years, or dug back through the archives that I gave up a lot of things that I enjoyed and that were good for me in the last few years… I gave up eating well, I gave up exercise, I gave up a lot of control and self esteem and I gave up my faith in God.

I’ve talked about all of them so far except for the last one.

I guess it would be good for ‘ratings’ to say that I stood in my living room one day and screamed to the Heavens ‘Why God have You abandoned me?’. ‘Why have You left me here to suffer this alone… I don’t know how to fix this!’

There’s no such story. Because, in fact it should have been God standing in my living room and asking ME ‘Why have you forgotten about Me? I can help you if only you’ll ask You don’t have to go through this alone’. I can’t say for sure that that didn’t happen… that in the years of struggle He didn’t come to me and offer to put an end to my suffering… to save me from what my life had become. I certainly was in no place to hear it, for I was so busy trying to fix everything myself.

I remember having conversations (multitudes) with my friends and saying ‘I don’t know what else to do. I’ve tried everything’ and then consistently listing off all the things I tried to do to fix the relationship, to make him respect me, to stop the manipulative and abusive behavior. I can still feel it now, the feeling I had during those conversations. It was like I was standing still in a vortex of insanity… everything I ‘tried’ swirling around me, too fast to catch… too messy to make sense out of. I don’t know what else to do… I don’t know what else to do… That thought went around and around me in a never ending spiral of grief and frustration. I can still feel the anxiety now when I recall those moments… and then the creeping thought that maybe I deserved this. Maybe I WASN’T fun… maybe I WAS a bitch… maybe I WASN’T a good housekeeper, cook, laundry doer, friend…PERSON!

I spent so many years, before that relationship and then during it thinking I had it all figured out… and then thinking I had to get it all figured out. I lied to my friends about my life at home… even my family doesn’t know the half of what went on…

I look back on it now and I can see that I COULD have saved myself… I could have just asked God for help. Those moments of desperation… of really being at the lowest low… feeling like I was going crazy and there was nothing left to try… there was always one more thing to try…

Every day is a new day and somewhere on my Christmas holidays I felt moved… things weren’t working, the year was ending and I was still seemingly stuck in a place I didn’t want to be… unhealthy, not really happy and with no prospect of massive change on the horizon…

I prayed that night. And as I prayed I felt a huge weight lift off me. It was such a feeling of renewal and peace that I wondered if I prayed again the next night would I feel the same thing… I did. Every time I spoke to God it felt as though my burden was being lifted. It all sounds so very cliché to me too… these are the things that you hear televangelists screaming into a microphone at crowds of thousands. ‘GOD WILL EASE YOUR BURDENS’. Well it’s hard to understand that as a young woman who’s never had burdens.

I’ve been a Christian all my life and I don’t recall ever feeling the weight of burden before… Back in the ‘good old days’ I prayed all the time… I thought I knew what it was supposed to feel like… But this… this was different. This commune with God was something I’d never felt before. This lightening of my load was something new… I’ve been down a long and steep road and picked up an awful lot of really ugly, dirty, unhealthy and sad burden on the way. Burden that previously in my life I’d never had to carry before. It crushed me… It filled my lungs with smoke and pulled at my muscles like hot irons. And man the moment I didn’t have to carry it alone anymore I realized just how heavy it really was… how back breaking and spirit crushing. And until that moment at Christmas I never thought that I would get the chance to stop carrying it. How amazing that I could just hand it off and be free!

I consider that time in my life a blessing now… I didn’t know just how terrible life could be… how desolate and lonely and painful… but the other thing I didn’t know was just how free and peaceful it could be. How much I didn’t have to depend only on myself to manage my life. I didn’t have to live in the pain for one more second… everything was new and clean again.

Every night I get excited to go to bed… for altho it’s not the only place; bed is where I pray. I ask for guidance, hand off my burden and feel peaceful at bedtime. Every night is not easy… my old habits get in the way and my mind wanders… trying to figure out my problems myself… So sometimes my prayer is to be reminded that I’m not in this alone anymore and I don’t have to figure it out myself.

My whole life is changing at a breakneck speed right now… I have a strength and willpower now I didn’t know I had. I have peace and harmony within my own mind and body that I honestly thought I would never have again. (if I ever had it in the first place). I feel like I’m rebuilding my life on solid ground where once I stood in quick sand. It’s a powerful feeling and I just could not help but write about it here.