A call from the Universe

I want to start out by saying that yes, this actually happened.

On Tuesday night I was about to get ready for bed, when my cell phone rang with an unknown number. This is a pretty unusual thing. Even more unusual: although it was bedtime and I was tired, I answered it.

It was a man with an accent who asked me if I was an energy healer. Non-plussed, I said no (there’s another blog post in here about not owning our titles and abilities), but that I helped people reconnect with their bodies through dance. The man was VERY excited and spoke very fast. He told me that he had received my phone number twice during meditation, and that whenever that happens he knows he needs to call it. He said that my energy had been blocked for a number of years, and that I had been struggling (so very very true), and he said that he was going to send me healing energy.

My alarm bells went off. “Oh no,” I thought, “this is some kind of scam.” But I played along. I agreed to light a candle and wait for him to call me back, which he did. I put him on speaker phone because I was thoroughly freaked out and I wanted Matthew to witness what was going on (he’s a very intuitive person, and I trust his instincts at times when I can’t get a hold on my own).

The man called back, and he and Matthew had a long conversation while I listened. Although he spoke to Matthew for most of the call, we both agree that the words were for me. Matthew found out that he was calling from Tibet and that he runs a healing centre in California. I waited for a sales pitch, but it didn’t come. He told me that I could be a healer, write books, open a healing centre—anything I wanted if I could move through my fear. People needed our gifts, were waiting for us to find them. He told us that the next 2 years would be amazing. He sent us blessings.

And he didn’t ask for anything.

After he got off the phone, the candle I had lit burned twice as high as it had before, and I knew that somewhere in the world a stranger was sending me blessings and light.

Strangers call, and I automatically assume it’s a sales pitch or a scam. I was on the alert for it. But this person asked for nothing except an open mind. I didn’t exactly give it to him right then, but it’s been opening ever since.

I’ve read the books and heard the interviews with people who say that the Universe is filled with magic, that we are all connected, and that help comes when we ask for it. I believed them long ago, but the past few years have been filled with inner struggles and blockages, and I lost my faith. But I’ve been crying for help for a long time now, consciously and unconsciously…and then I got a literal phone call to tell me that everything will be OK if I believe and trust and take action.

I asked for help, and the Universe answered. And I am so very, very grateful.

Catching Up: Slowing Down

I had a bit of a silent May. Not because I didn’t have things to say…more because I had SO many things to say that they all piled up on top of each other and it became impossible to say ANYTHING! And now I feel like we’re way behind on our correspondence, and like I can’t commit to Business As Usual without a grand and glorious Catching Up session. Consider this Episode One, I guess!

May may have started with a spectacular Mother’s Day celebration, but it went downhill abruptly: The next week I found out that a dear friend’s mother (also a dear friend) had passed away after an insanely lengthy battle with cancer. At the funeral, her eldest daughter spoke, and she said something that stuck with me. She said “No matter how angry we got at each other, we never doubted for one second that she loved us.”

And I wondered if my son could say the same.

I didn’t write about it, but Xander and I went through a rough patch this spring. I was stressed about work, all too often bringing it home with me, and all I wanted to do when I got home was zone out. It was so easy to plug him into a video (which he loves) and do my own thing. The more I did it, the easier it was…and the more I did it, the more separated I felt and the harder it was to connect with him, and the more we pushed each other’s buttons, until the whole of April stands out in my memory as one long, resentful, conflict-filled UGH.

Not fun.

Then my friend lost her mother…and I realized that I was Doing It Wrong. And the rest of May was about Making It Right Again.

I implemented little changes:

I started cooking my breakfast the night before, taking it to work with me, and then spending the newly-freed-up morning time drawing with Xander. This has been a rousing success – not only am I engaging with him while doing something he loves, but I’m thoroughly enjoying the 15 minutes before work begins where I sit in the lunch room with my omelet and my steeping tea and my book.

I discovered and joined the Hands-Free Revolution: I committed to staying off my phone as much as possible while Xander’s awake. I cut way back on the computer as well. I admit to slipping up sometimes, but on the whole it’s much better.

And here’s the big one, and what those first two are really all about:

I committed to staying fully present with my son during the short time we have together every weekday. That means really listening to him, engaging him in conversation, asking him to help me cook or clean, actually focusing on whatever game he asks to play. If we do watch TV or a movie, it means actually paying attention to what’s on the screen and enjoying spending time with him, not dragging out the laptop and computing while sharing sofa space. When I read to him at night, I point out each word instead of racing through with my mind on something else.

The past month has been about parenting wholeheartedly, fully inhabiting the space I occupy in the Universe. It’s also about shifting my priorities and figuring out how to still do the things I want to do…like write this blog post. That part is a major work in progress.

When I die, I want Xander to have memories of interacting with me, of feeling loved and valued 100%. And I want him to know without a shadow of a doubt how much I love him, because saying it isn’t enough – I need to show him too.

<3

Things That Get Me Through the Work Week, Part 1: Behold, my standing desk!

In case I haven’t mentioned it, I’m turning into a major alignment nerd. I read multiple biomechanics and alignment blogs. I’m seriously considering taking a course in alignment and Restorative Exercise because the exercises I’ve learned from the DVD series have completely changed the way I stand (not to mention my PMS, my lower back pain, my leg pain, and the overall shape of my lower body).

I mention this now because one of the #1 signs of an alignment nerd (along with calf stretching equipment and barefoot shoes) is the standing desk. Once I was comfortable enough in my job to let my (alignment) freak flag fly, I started out using a stack of boxes and standing up to work.

Standing desk: Before (boxes!)
…not the prettiest desk in the world…

For the record, people thought I was insane. Also for the record, while my feet got sore by the end of the week, the rest of my body felt pretty freaking awesome.

The cardboard boxes worked OK, but I really missed having work space to, you know, do something other than type – like take notes, put papers where I could see them, etc. And then I found the perfect solution (short of a $4000 standing desk, anyway).

Behold, my standing desk!

Desk After

That, my friends, is a corner TV stand from IKEA. It happened to be the precise width and depth of my existing desk and within a half inch of the height of the boxes I was using. Plus, you know, AWESOME and about $100 including shipping.

The day this arrived I was ecstatic. #1, it FIT PERFECTLY. #2, HELLO, workspace! #3, PRETTY!

I’ve even developed a system to help the aching feet! I take my shoes off to work and stand on those cushy interlocking mat tiles wrapped in a yoga mat.

Cushy mat
Just the yoga mat pictured because a kindly professor donated the mat tile thingies after I took this photo, bless her.

Also pictured: my Vivobarefoot work shoes (because high heels are the cigarettes of the future and wearing them undoes all the benefits of the standing desk), my half-dome for calf stretches, and my yoga block for hip lists (both of which I do daily…but I’m going to tell you about that a little later on).

Stay tuned for Part 2: Don’t Just Stand There…Stretch Something!

 

Curriculum Vitae…what’s yours?

I spent last week working on a job application for the position I’ve been filling for the past 4 months. I hate writing job applications as a rule, but this one was both harder and easier than previous ones–easier because I *knew* without a doubt that I could do the job in question, harder because it was something akin to writing a deeply personal note to someone and then having to actually *be* there when they read it. A little awkward.

But this time around I noticed something: as I worked on my application–and in the months before that, really–I kept seeing how my previous experience fed into this seemingly completely unrelated job. In the end, my resume became more than a job history, it became part of a story about what I’ve learned from all these different experiences. And that got me thinking.

Have you ever thought about the term “curriculum vitae”? We all know that a CV is sorta-kinda-a-resume-but-with-a bit-of-other-stuff, but if you look at the actual words, a new and fun definition emerges (yes, I know, I’m a language nerd…but bear with me).

The word curriculum is derived from a word that refers to the course of deeds and experiences by which children grow to adults–deeds in and out of school, experiences planned and unplanned. The word vitae means “of life,” so really, an alternate definition of curriculum vitae could be “the actions, decisions, and life experiences that have made you who you are today.”

And that opens up a whole new field of exploration. 

What are the experiences and choices that have made you the person you are today? What are your stories?

What is my curriculum vitae? What are the stories that shaped me?

Suddenly, in my mind’s eye, my life is transformed into a patchwork of experiences, each of which shaped me. And I shift from being a person who feels utterly ordinary to feeling like a completely unique constellation of stories.

For example:

  • -I worked as a pita-roller and met 2 famous musicians (well, famous in Canada, anyway) and my first fiance.
  • -I hosted a fashion show, and it was terrifying
  • -I was a martyred girlfriend for one agonizing year in university
  • -I hosted my own campus radio show for 4 years on 2 different campuses
  • -I once participated in an amateur strip-tease. I was awesome.
  • -I danced in the same performance as the legendary Evelyn Hart and Rex Harrington (and they complimented me on my choreography)
  • -I taught dance to one little girl in her parents’ basement…and I’ve watched that little girl grow up. I got that job by letting loose and boogieing with said little girl at a wedding.
  • -I dropped out of the first university I attended because living in New York City shrivelled my soul and nearly killed me.
  • -I entered a ballroom dance competition with a team of near-beginners. My partner and I won 2nd in tango and 7th in rhumba, but I maintain that it was the participating that counts the most.
  • -I travelled across Canada by myself on the train, journalling the whole way. I still treasure those journals
  • -I was proposed to and was the propose-r
  • -I signed up to go to France for my junior year of university…and then transferred to a university in my home city at the last minute instead of going. Now I see that it was because I was completely and utterly terrified.
  • -I married my ex’s friend…who was also my friend’s ex.
  • I worked as an advertising assistant and created a radio PSA that everyone HATED (it featured music by Celine Dion and it was played on a university radio station…oops)

You get the idea. And that’s just a sampling. We haven’t even mentioned that whole “parenthood” thing yet. Some of these things were amazing and some were terrible. Some of them I leaped into on purpose, and some just…happened. But they’re all part of me now.

It’s so easy to think that we’re nothing special, or to look at someone else’s collection of stories and think “Oh, sure, THEY did cool stuff, but they’re Brave and Special and Not Me. I haven’t done ANYTHING.”

And that’s crap. We all absolutely have stories–I do, and you do. I know because you’re alive, because you have been alive for years, and because people can’t live without having experiences and making decisions. We do it every day. You just have to recognize them for what they really are.

What is your curriculum vitae? What are the experiences that have made you the adult you are today?

And, a bonus question that’s shaping my thoughts these days:

In ten years time, what stories do you want to be able to tell?

 

Shining and Trusting (2012 in review)

As you can probably tell, I’m not doing Reverb this year.

Remember Reverb? That whole “answer a question every day for all of December” project I did last year and the year before?

Yeah, well…not happening this year. Clearly.

But just because I’m not writing about 2012 every day doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about it. Lately I’ve been thinking about my words for 2012 and how they shaped my experience.

For those of you who weren’t around this time last year, my words for 2012 were Shine and Trust.

I was going to shine my light as brightly as I could, not let fear get in my way, say Yes! to adventure…and I was going to Trust that life would take me where I needed to go (awesome, right? I’m still completely happy with them).

I’m going to be honest—when I picked those words I had a really clear vision of where they were going to take me. I assumed I would end up with a profitable business (or at least a business that made any money at all :P). I assumed that Shining and Trusting would be all about finally taking the leap into Businesshood and Dancerness (whatever that means). But, as usual, the Universe had a much more multifaceted and complex plan for me than the one I envisioned 12 months ago.

I did shine in a dancing kind of way. I made all these videos (20! plus a couple you haven’t seen yet–stay tuned for guest posts!). I love love loved making every one of them–it reconnected me with my performing self, and that’s a part of me that I’ve dearly missed.

I also shone in a business way–I tested my coaching muscles, ran a term of dance classes, made some cool ideas real (more than one!), and began investigating a joint venture project which will hopefully blossom into Something Super Cool in the new year. I didn’t make a lot of money (OK, if you factor in expenses, I didn’t make any), but I shone in ways I only dreamed of back in 2011.

But…here’s the thing I wasn’t expecting…I also shone in other ways.

I said yes to a job, even though the idea of leaving home and my stay-at-home-mama identity terrified me. I jumped in. And now I’m shining at work–finding ways to be wholly myself in an office setting, doing my best to kick butt at whatever I’m asked to do, rediscovering the power of my brain and my creative thinking, appreciating my past achievements, going in with the intention of making people happier after I’ve interacted with them. These aren’t ways I expected to shine this year, but they’re 100% Shining.

I’m shining physically–I cut my hair when I realized that it was weighing me down.

…Before…

And Matthew and I have been eating in a new way since my birthday, and I feel years younger. I’m moving more easily, I feel more connected to my body and…well..shinier.

I’m shining socially. I went to a party the other weekend! An honest to goodness party. Me, Miss Social Anxiety Introvert (believe it or not). And it was….terrifying…but also fun. And I felt myself shining there too.

And that’s the thing I’ve realized—shining isn’t something you do in just one area of your life. Once you start, it spills into every aspect of your life. I feel myself shining more and more in my parenting, in my lifestyle, in my relationship. Every time it takes me in an unexpected direction, I trust that it’s taking me where I need to go.

Honestly, I’m a bit sad to see the end of the year of Shining and Trusting. We’ve had such a great time and grown so much. I’m going to keep Shine and Trust in my repertoire of touchstone words to live by.

 

Uncharted

Sometimes when my life’s changing, I can’t wait to write about it. Words spill out of my fingers and onto the screen. I love that feeling—of sharing and expressing, of being witnessed and held. Writing helps me figure things out.

Then sometimes change comes that’s so big or so complicated or so incomprehensible that it takes all of my energy just to be in it, and even though I want to share my stories I feel like I can’t. Silence settles in. Stories go unshared. I waver between trying to force myself to push through and letting myself take the time I need (and usually I end up doing something in between where I don’t actually manage to blog, but I torture myself about it endlessly. That’s about as fun as it sounds.)

I’ve been charting a new path since I posted last month. Unforeseen circumstances led to some temporary (like, long-term temporary, not a week or two) full-time work at my old university, and in a matter of days my life shifted from stay-at-home mom and entrepreneur to full-time working mama. And ever since then I’ve been quiet—wanting to rest, wanting to blog, not able to commit to one or the other and basically feeling like crap about the whole thing.

More than anything, I’m filled with an overwhelming desire to rest, to be still, to allow myself to not-do things. Part of me says that this is a dangerous trap, that I will fall into the vortex of doing nothing and never climb out. Another, deeper part of me says that this need for stillness and rest and home makes perfect sense in the context of the immense changes that September brought.

This year is supposed to be all about shining and trusting in the Universe, and I feel like I’ve done a lot of both. But sometimes you need to tend to your light, replenish the fuel, adjust the settings. Sometimes trusting isn’t about leaping, it’s about giving yourself permission to be where you are and be gentle with yourself in that place. Trusting that, when you’re ready and not one moment sooner, you’ll shine out even more brightly than before.

Don’t worry, I’m not disappearing. I’m just glowing gently here in my corner of the world and seeing how things feel in this new life of mine.

The Dance of Being

Last month, a mere 2 weeks before our moving date, my family spent a long weekend on Prince Edward Island (PEI). This might sound crazy until you consider that the last time we moved, we went on an 11-day family vacation to Ontario and returned home FOUR DAYS before our moving date. 

The PEI trip is an almost-annual event. Friends of ours spend most of August at a cottage there, and we always try to make it up for at least a few days. But this trip was especially memorable, and here’s why:

I spent most of the trip off of the internet.

Now don’t get me wrong, I took my computer. And I did use it. I even hopped onto iTunes for a shopping spree (so fun!). But I unplugged from the daily…OK, fine, hourly…OK, fine constant checking of email and FB.

And it was fabulous. I breathed more deeply, stood my ground more confidently, relaxed more luxuriously, and generally felt more myself, and happier in that self-ness. In fact, the one time I did check email and FB, I immediately felt myself getting anxious and lifting out of myself. That day, I swore that I would spend at least one day a week offline forever more….

…and then I got home, and I fell right back into the daily grind of compulsive checking, even when I was supposed to be packing madly.

But today I had enough. Today I spent the morning getting angrier and angrier…at Facebook, at people on my list, at things people were sharing. On and on and on and on…until I threw up my hands and kicked myself off of Facebook (I admit that I didn’t kick myself off of Twitter, but that’s because I haven’t developed the same kind of addiction to Twitter as I have to FB…not yet, anyway). It didn’t make me feel 100% better, but it did highlight the hours I spend aimlessly scrolling.

I don’t know why I’m sharing this…I’m not going to grandly announce that I Will Never Check FB Again or that I Am Taking A Month-Long Digital Sabbatical. I guess I’m sharing because I have a feeling that I’m not alone in the way the social aspects of the Internet affect me, and I feel like the more people point it out, the more aware we’ll be. This week I’m going to be rethinking how I spend my time online and how being online affects my energy and my emotions. I feel like social media (particularly Facebook) and I are developing a bit of a toxic relationship, and I don’t like it. I’d like to make a change.

That’s all.