Intention

Let me start with a little reflection on decluttering…

I started my decluttering in 2011. I think I was ahead of the trend. By a smidge anyway. I had a tonne of boxes to go through because of my separation and move to my solo life apartment. I was depressed and anxious. I wanted to feel better about myself, my stuff and my space. I happened upon the book Magical Housekeeping: Simple Charms and Practical Tips for Creating a Harmonious Home by Tess Whitehurst and used it to clear up my space both physically and emotionally. It might not be the book for everyone, but I learned a lot from that book. It started me on my road to minimalism and simple living.

It also got me shaking maracas I got in Cuba during a solo heart healing vacation and burning sage to move energy around. I love doing both of these things.

There is something to be said about doing things with intention. Doing things with intention makes action more meaningful. It makes change more likely to stick. it sets a foundation and focus on how you want to feel and what actions you need to take to get you there. It helps you get things done, stay present and optimistic.

I think it’s a very powerful thing.

I have a tattoo of the letter I on the inside of my right wrist. It stands for INTENTION.

I Am Multi Passionate

I love love love this new video from Marie Forleo. She answers a viewer’s question on how QUESTIONS. Sounds quite a bit like someone I know – me!

Have a look and then come back. Below I will break down my journey as a multipassionate woman for you. There are some key threads that hold it all together even when I am mixed up with fears and hopes. I think it will give a little insight into how my seemingly unrelated life choices do make sense. And if you are struggling with being multipassionate yourself, I hope you find it helpful too.

My Foundation

My foundation for my multiple passions is made up of books and my love learning and knowledge.

Ever since I was a little girl (about age 9 or 10) I have been interested in nutrition and wellness. I think it all started when I found an eating guide created by the Canadian government in the 1960s at a garage sale. I read it over and over. I remember it so well. Later when deciding my next steps after high school I wanted to pursue holistic nutrition and naturopathy, but was discouraged by my parents as they thought it was quackery and I would never make a living at it. Little did they know how big an industry it would become! In any case, I went to university and studied other subjects while keeping up with my nutrition reading. This was in the early 1990s and I was especially interested in the benefits of a plant based diets. I collected many books by Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr. Dean Ornish and dietician Brenda Davis.

As a teenager and young adult I was also fascinated by sexuality and agency. Our Bodies, Ourselves, The Teenage Body Book: A New Edition for a New Generation, and The Joy of Sex: The Ultimate Revised Edition were books I took out from the school library on the regular. Well, the first two. I am not sure where I got a copy of The Joy of Sex. I doubt it was from my high school library.

I wanted to be informed and empowered to make decisions that would best ensure my health and pleasure. I am not sure why I thought connecting to my sexuality was my birthright, but I did. Maybe it was the 1980s and what was going on during those years (HIV AIDS, the fight to have abortion decriminalized in Canada, and Madonna). In any case, the ideas behind our sexual beliefs, attitudes and actions – it was very interesting to me.

Another early interest of mine was new age spirituality. I was raised attending the United Church of Canada and enjoyed religion as part of my upbringing. It was about kindness, compassion and generosity. It was also about of friendship as my best friend went to the same church and we had many silly adventures together there at Sunday School and Girl Guides. We are friends to this day and I have such good memories from those days. All the while though I was interested in other systems of belief and understanding such as astrology, tarot and energetic modalities. I was drawn towards exploring to the universe and humanity beyond organized religion. Again, much reading was done. The work of Marianne Williamson being an early favourite.

My Work

When I was 19 I worked at a summer camp that taught English to very uninterested French children who had failed it during their school year. It was a horrible job but my fellow camp counsellors were nice (the manager – not so much). Somehow it created in me a desire to teach. I went to university and got two bachelor degrees (Child Studies and Psychology) and worked as an educational consultant for learning disabled children and adolescents. I quite liked being part of a team that assessed a person’s strengths and weakness and developed a plan of action to help them succeed at attaining their goals. Reading comprehension, problem solving, task management and were my areas of interest and expertise.

In my late 20s I switched careers in a big way. I went from teaching to starring and running my own independent personal adult website. The exploration of my sexuality was a big part of why I chose to make the switch. I felt a need in me to do something daring and revolutionary (it was 1998 – digital cameras, reality TV and exhibitionism on the World Wide Web were in their early stages – a new frontier).  I loved that my website gave me a platform to explore and connect. Beyond performing in webcams and photoshoots, I began researching and writing articles and essays about sexuality, body image, relationships, and sex work stigmatization. I volunteered at Scarleteen, worked as a community moderator and advice columnist at the adult website Homegrown Video, and created and led workshops and presentations on sex work on the Internet.

Now I am in my 40s and no longer interested in sex as performance. I have a bit of a cynical ‘been there, done that, have the scars to prove it’ mentality. No regrets, but I definitely have a whole lot of hard earned wisdom and am happy to be working in the field of sex education in a new way and sharing of my life in a different way (here at this website, on social media and a YouTube channel is in the works).

Nutrition has not take a back seat as I have work in the adult industry. I live a vegan lifestyle and I am still fascinated with food as a powerful wellness tool. A few years back I went back to school and studied holistic nutrition. Combined with my work in therapy my interests began merging and transforming into something new for me.

Putting It All Together

Nutrition, sexuality and spirituality now exist a little bit more formally here on this website and in my work with life coaching clients. As a lifestyle blogger and Instagrammer (is that what it’s called?) and as a licensed Desire Map facilitator I can bring all my passions to my work. It feels very cohesive. Very connected. Very grounded. It also feels so authentic for me to share these passions with others. And that has always been very important to me.

Good Reads About Drinking & Sobriety

When I was coming to terms with my alcoholism I was drawn to reading memoirs about drinking. I knew I had a problem and that something had to change, but I was afraid. I wanted to feel less alone in my experience AND find examples of women who had made the life altering decision to quit drinking. I wanted to know what sobriety looked like. It felt so unknown and I wanted reassurance, a sense of hope, that giving up alcohol was something I could do.

Reading about it rather than attending meetings was a gentle and safe way to explore the concept of sobriety in private. I wasn’t quite ready to say aloud that I had a problem. I wasn’t quite ready to quit for good. Reading these books and essays helped me get to the place where I was able to take that first step and then subsequently do all the necessary work (for me) to embrace sobriety and recovery.

Books –

Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol by Ann Dowsett Johnston

Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola

Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp

Some online essays by Emily McCombs –

I’m Turning 30 And I’m Having My First Sober Birthday Party Ever (And I’m A Little Scared)

I Would Not Like To Discuss Your Alcohol Problem, Thank You (which now with two and half years of sobriety under my belt I relate to in a BIG way)

Drinking A Love Story

Addicted To Everything – Blame It On The A A A A Alcohol

Bonus –

After a year or so of sobriety I discovered After Party Magazine. It’s an offshoot of Rehab Reviews and features first-person content and interviews on sobriety and recovery. It’s a useful spot to find diverse perspectives on all kinds of substance abuse. I especially like the How I Got Sober series.

I hope by sharing my experiences and the strategies I used to get and stay sober others in need might find their way to health and recovery too.

Pretty Happy – Book Review

I’m a huge fan of healthy lifestyle advice books. I’ve been a fan of them for a long time. I read those by doctors and specialists as well as those by celebrities. The first celebrity one I read was by Miss Piggy. It was 1979 and I was 8. I don’t remember any of her advice, but I do remember enjoying the book enough to take it out twice from the library. It may have been a satire, but I was drawn to its glamor and beauty aspects. The humour went over my head. Hey, I was 8 and my idea of true beauty was in its early stage of development as was my sense of humour.

As an adult, I’m a bit more cynical, but still drawn to beauty and lifestyle advice books. Why? I like a good makeover. A transformation story is optimistic and demonstrates some sense of agency and control over your destiny. I like learning what I can do on a personal level to be healthy and happy inside and out.

Yes, I know in a way I am buying into the idea that celebrities have it all figured out, but I know enough on the science of well-being and aging (as well that people are not always what they appear to be) that I can read these books and take from them what *I* find beneficial.

Now onto my latest read — Pretty Happy: Healthy Ways to Love Your Body by Kate Hudson.

This book is Kate Hudson’s answer to the limitless amount of questions she gets about her supposed secrets to looking and feeling good. She goes into detail in the ways she has constructed her life in ways she cannot in quick 30 second sound bite of an interview. It all starts with being in touch with your body and learning to understand it.

For me, reading my body, paying attention to its signals and honouring its natural intelligence, is key to staying slim, fit, and healthy.
Kate Hudson

This is definitely something I have found key to my own road to well-being. In the past it was ever so easy for me to detach from my body and my feelings and engage in unhealthy habits – use food, drink, relationships and passivity as a pacifier in my day to day life. Connecting to my body and my emotions, observing them with gentle compassion has made a world of difference to me. reading this right off the top in Kate’s book made me want to read more about HOW she connects and what habits it involves. I like to always be adding to my toolbox of wellness strategies and habits.

She breaks this process down into what she calls her 4 Pillars of Health: Cultivate an Intuitive Relationship with Your Body , Eat Well (focusing on nutritional balance and Ayurvedic eating), Awaken Your Body (movement & exercise), and The Miracle of Mindfulness. The foundation of these Pillars is what she calls her Drawing Board – essentially a journal for various exercises and note-taking – that makes the reading the book and interactive process.

Things I liked: Her approach to mindfulness and meditation. I think doing a daily (or many times a day) scan of the body and checking how you feel physically and emotionally is such a useful tool.

Things I did not like: The word detox. I think it is overused and typically inaccurate.

Things I am now more curious about: Ayurvedic medicine body typing and eating.

I think if you are someone who enjoys self-reflection, then you will enjoy this book. I don’t think anything she recommends to be out of reach for the average person. I live a frugal yet very busy life with a small budget and many responsibilities. I was able to implement many of her suggestions without changing my spending habits. It meant more changing how I spend my time (like my sedentary habits of watching a few hours a day of TV).

Some people have not found the book as useful as I did – like the author of this snippy review. I’m not really into the online trend to hate on famous people. I get that people find it loathsome when a celebrity speaks from much privilege. But it is not like this kind of book is coming out of nowhere. Journalists and entertainment reporters are asking them ALL THE TIME what they eat, how they exercise and what they wear. I can see that they would want to take advantage of this interest by controlling the message with their own book. Plus, it makes financial sense for the 30 and 40 something actresses who don’t work as much as they used to in their 20s to take their celebrity and use it to continue to earn a living.

I much preferred this take on the celebrity lifestyle trend by Jess Allen. It’s a little more gentle and I think more self-deprecatingly humorous. Slightly in line with my 8 year old self and Miss Piggy’s book.

My 2016 Day Planner

Early this morning I purchased my copy of The Desire Map 2016 Daily Planner by Danielle LaPorte. I got so much from my use of the 2015 edition and I cannot wait to use the one for 2016. Danielle and her team have made even more improvements over last year’s version – it is radically newer, smarter, wiser, funner, and sexier. So exciting!

There is nothing like the feeling of having a blank agenda to start the year. So many empty pages to fill with my thoughts, goals, inspirations, to-dos, questions and concerns. Not to mention milestone life events, family get togethers, meetings, appointments, friend dates and date dates.

I chose the Signature version for daily entries but there is also a weekly version as well as a journal for those of you who already have a planner (paper or digital) .

I went with the Signature cover but there is also one with a beautiful art piece. Groovy.

They ship in November but as always it best to order sooner rather than later.

 

New Year – New Me – Not Exactly

My New Year’s Eve experience was not at all like I expected. I was worried I would sad or nostalgic, but I wasn’t. Working was a good idea. It kept me focused, but not distracted. I was with my colleagues and we did our thing. The night’s performances and appearances were spaced out so it made the night rather long though. We were upstairs in an office which basically was a series of alcoves with a large opening in the middle towards downstairs. It was very warm upstairs and made me and others not feel terribly well. That I think added to the long feeling of the night. In the end I did not feel terribly festive but not at all sad, lonely or depressed. I was in a pleasant mood and I felt OK. That was nice.

After we rang in the New Year I went over to my favourite bar for a private party. It was 1ish and everyone was way ahead of me drink wise. I had no plans on catching up, but over the course of a few hours I had three beers and a couple of shots and I ended up more than a little tipsy. I was still in my pleasant mood. I chatted and I laughed. I tried to make sense of what my drunk friends were saying to me.  Nothing terribly crazy. It was a good time.

For Christmas my sister got me a workbook for resolutions. I think she was giving me a hint. I have been rather lost these past two years and I have certainly felt like I am going through some major internal changes.  I have an artist’s sensibility and enjoy exploring . Different things interest me at different times. Now, I do live in the real world and I have goals and plans. For a bit though I need to go inwards and evaluate myself and my life.

There has been one thing in particular I have learned about myself. While I am a dreamer and a creative person, I also have a very sensible serious side.  However, it can be overly strict – a perfectionist of sorts. When I do not live up with my ideas of perfection I feel like a total failure. It’s ALL OR NOTHING for me. Good person or bad person.  Saint or sinner. Selfish or altruistic.  I cannot be both. I must only be one. Every mistake I make is perceived as something that will cause the world and its inhabitants suffering and I am the tipping point for its demise. It’s a twisted form of delusions of grandeur.

This past year I have been exploring this way of thinking and deconstructing it. I have looked at the emotional pieces that make up this way of thinking and started creating new pieces. These pieces are strong yet gentle. They support me and fill me.  I am finding what was so elusive, what I so craved – emotional and physical equanimity. It is such a blessing.

I did fill out the resolution book with general things I wish to do in terms of my finances (pay down the debt I accumulated this past year) and my health. The love and sex part was left blank. I am not inspired at the moment to tackle that one.  A little more internal work needs to be done I think. There were also other parts of the workbook I did not fill out. It has a section for rewards and punishments. I already have those. If I do not pay my credit card down I will have consequences. Awful phone calls.  The reward is the awesome feeling I will have from not being financially burdened. I will be able to save up for something special. I will have that ever so strong feeling of balance.

There were a few books that have had a major impact on me this past year and along with weekly therapy have brought me to this more stable, kind emotional place and are helping me along physically as well.

Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr. I got this book at the beginning of last year and it introduced me to the joy and power of green juicing as well as so much more. There are amazing exercises that helped me listen to my body and figure  out why I was eating what I was eating and when. It helped me get away from the computer and into the world. I started to meditate and do yoga again. I took long walks and I was still. Later, getting a TV and some bad news made me backslide into mindless escaping again. Time to get the juicer out again and be still every morning before getting on with my day.

The EveryGirl’s Guide to Life by Maria Menounos. Many celebrities write how to books and I suppose one could just lump hers with the rest, but I cannot. Her approach is very do-it-yourself, but not do-it-on-your-own. She believes in the power of allies. She also has great organizational tips that suit most any budget. I have implemented many of them (I still have a few to go) and it has made my life easier and I can actually focus on my passions. Overall, I suppose it’s her think big yet keep it simple, be true to yourself and your values, approach that resonated with me.

Magical Housekeeping by Tess Whitehurst.  I loved the book’s way of explaining Feng Shui. I used her tips to help organize my apartment and get energy flowing. I also like her rituals and tasks to help this along. Its a good way for me to focus on the intangible things that I value and release things that are bogging me down. She has a great blog with new activities  every couple of weeks.

Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach. This book has been recommended to me by my therapist. We have discussed many of the things from the book over the two years I have seen her, but it was only recently that I got a copy and dived into the words of wisdom. I have received a great deal over the years from Buddhist teachings. The idea of impermanence is one that I have struggled with though. In part I do know at my core that all things, good and bad feelings included, are not permanent, but I think the little girl in me finds hurt so unbearable that she created a system to avoid it. A very flawed system and the hurt always come back.  The book explores alternatives to our flawed systems with the new system begin one of exploration and curiosity. In a short time it has done me wonders. I am getting so much from the book. So much!

Crazy Sexy Diet Cleanse

I am on Day 4 of my 21 Day Crazy Sexy Diet Cleanse by Kris Carr. I feel great today. I had some withdrawal-detox headaches and a crazy runny nose on Tuesday and Wednesday, but that seems to have subsided or even gone away. I neti potted today and it as the best it has ever been. I have issues with asthma and allergies. I have cleaned up my diet before and it helped to greatly improve my breathing and diminish my symptoms to almost none. My diet has absolutely sucked this past year (part of my whole rebelling against my past thing) and my body is suffering because of it. It was one of the physical reasons I knew I need to clean up my diet again. Anyway, when I neti potted today it just flowed like a waterfall immediately as I started. It felt awesome.

One of the reasons I am doing the Crazy Sexy Diet 21 Day cleanse is beyond the physical. It is to get me back on track. Or rather I feel like I just figured out where the track is and I am ready to get on it. My track – not anyone else’s. After a year of rebelling and trying all sorts of things, of hiding, of escaping, of tuning out – I feel I know myself better. I know what I value more than ever before. I know what I want in my life. I feel like its time to put the focus on me and living the life I want to lead.

Great what a bit of a nervous breakdown, a year of therapy and and whole lot trial and error will do to a gal.

Eat Pray Love

I had more than one friend tell me I should read Eat Pray Love. I saw it at the airport one time soon after I left my now-ex-husband. I read the back of it and put it down right away. It was not a good time to read it. I was still in full crisis mode. I was falling apart daily. Every cell of my body was fighting to keep its cohesion. I needed to survive, not ponder my survival.

I figured I was ready this summer to read it and I think I was right. It was a great cottage read. Only 352 pages, I got through it in under 12 hours (in between naps, many bagels and a few relaxing swims in the lake). My friends told me they found the author was narcissistic for ending her marriage for no real reason and that she came across as whiny. I can see why they said that. However, I recognized her pain right away. I think it is hard to understand a meltdown unless you have had one – especially when it involves the end of a very meaningful relationship (like the near 17 year one I had with my ex), of never being alone once in your adult life (like the author I have not been single since my first boyfriend at age 18), of feeling absolutely aware of your past choices, but still needing something altogether different in the here and now (I do not regret my past, I was a full participant, but I need to be and do differently).

The beginning of the book was tough for me. It reflected much of what I have gone through these past months – the end of my marriage, a dramatic rebound relationship, and the desire to be myself on my own terms, but not quite sure how to do that. It took the author a few years for her divorce to become final and only later did she take a year off to travel. I am just at the beginning of my journey. I do not have expectation of focusing on pleasure, spirituality and then finding love. I do see though that next few years will be ones of growth and new experiences. I do not want to recreate the author’s journey (as some women seem to try to do – there are Eat pray Love Bali tours – eek!). I am quite excited by my own.

In any case, here are a few passages from early on in the book that resonated strongly with me.

The many reasons I didn’t want to be this man’s wife anymore are too personal and too sad to share here. Much of it had to do with my problems but a good portion of our troubles were related to his issues, as well. That’s only natural; there are always two figures in a marriage, after all – two votes, two opinions, two conflicting sets of decisions, desires and illuminations. But I don’t think it’s appropriate  for me to discuss his issues in my book. Nor would I ask anyone to believe that I am capable of reporting an unbiased version of our story, and therefore the chronicle of our marriage’s failure will remain untold here. I also will not discuss  here all the reasons why I did still want to be his wife, or all his wonderfulness, or why I loved him and why i married him and why I was unable to imagine a life without him. I won’t open any of that. let it be sufficient to say that, on this night, he was still my lighthouse and my albatross in equal measure. The only thing more unthinkable than leaving was staying; the only thing more impossible than staying was leaving.
pg 12

And then there was David.

All the complications and trauma of those early divorce years were multiplied by the drama of David – the guy I fell in love with as I was taking leave of my marriage. Did I say that I “I fell in love” with David? What I meant to say is that i dove out of my marriage and into David’s arms exactly the same way a cartoon circus performer dives off a high platform and into a small cup of water, vanishing completely. I clung to David for escape from marriage as if he were the last helicopter pulling out of Saigon. I inflicted upon him my every hope for my salvation and happiness. And yes,  I did love him. But if I could think of a stronger word that “desperately” to describe how I loved David, I would use that word here, and desperate love is always the toughest way to do it.
David and I met because he was performing in a play based on short stories I had written. He was playing a character I had invented, which is somewhat telling. In desperate love, it’s always like this, isn’t it? In desperate love, we always invent the characters of our partners, demanding that they be what we need them to be, and then feeling devastated when they refuse to perform the we created in the first place.
pg 18

I tried to talk about our separation, but all we did was fight. He let me know that I was a liar and a traitor and that he hated me and would never speak to me again.
pg 19

I thought I had fallen to bits before, but now (in harmony with the apparent collapse of the entire world) my life really turned to smash. I wince now to think of what I imposed on David during those months we lived together, right after 9/11 and my separation from my husband. Imagine his surprise to discover that the happiest, most confident woman he’d ever met was actually – when you got her alone – a murky hole of bottomless grief. Once again, I could not stop crying. This is when he started to retreat, and that’s when I saw the other side of my passionate romantic hero – the David who was solitary as a castaway, cool to the touch, in need of more personal space than a herd of American bison.
pg 20

There are a bunch more about her feeling towards her ex husband and David, a bunch more about her mixed emotions during her period of self discovery (such as pages 23, 31, 46, 51, 65, 95, 146). There are a fair amount of a similarities, but I don’t think I am trying to force my life to match hers. Like I said I am not going on any Eat Pray Love tours. However, it was good to read about a woman’s divorce and the messy process of dealing with it and coming into her own. I am the first of my friends to divorce so it was reassuring to find some comfort in another woman’s words.