Vitality

The third of my small tattoos is a V for Vitality. It’s on the back of my neck – the nape. I like that word, but I digress.I desire vitality inside and out.  I want to be vibrant in mind, body and spirit. I want to be active and strong. I think this comes from a general desire to age well, to age gracefully, to age with dignity.  And that in part is because my father died of colon cancer when he was 54 and I was 24.

He was diagnosed at age 49 and died 5 years later. He went through all kinds of treatments – traditional and experimental. He fought hard. I know he was doing it for himself and for his love for me and our family. I want to live with wellness to honour him, my family and myself.

But I saw what cancer does to the body and the mind. I want to avoid it – very badly. Prevention and early screening are my tools. Not 100% guaranteed of course.

I was already a nutrition geek (had been since I was in elementary school) and fascinated by physical wellness science. Seeing my father edge then leap towards disease and decay inspired me to have a different future.

So I embrace vitality. I seek it out. I create it. I am active in my pursuit. I use all the wellness tools available to me. I focus on getting enough sleep and eating a whole foods diet. I have never smoked and I have quit drinking. I meditate and practice loving kindness and gratitude. I surround myself with people I love and that love me.

This is my path to vitality.

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.

Fitness Journey

These photos were taken 2 years ago over the course of 6 weeks of working out and eating 80% clean under the supervision of my trainer Sophie P Fitness. I think the results were pretty impressive.

2014-03-10 11.23.50

At the start point in early 2014 I was at around 160lbs.  Over the past 3 years I had gained weight (30lbs) and lost muscle tone.  Post-divorce I did a lot of emotional eating and excessive drinking as well as dealt with all the anxiety, depression, fear and over all stress that comes with struggling over how to rebuild one’s life.

When I got sober in January 2014 I dropped 10lbs quite quickly and then I lost another 10lbs by eating well and working out with Sophie during my 6 week programme. I was feeling pretty good, but I got off track by the end of 2014. I spent much of 2015 stressed and working as a waitress and manager at a restaurant. While it brought some stability to my life, it also took up all of my time and my mental and physical energy. It was not my ideal work/life situation. My healthy habits disappeared. My meals were not plant-based or centered around whole foods as it was more economical and convenient to eat at the restaurant. Then in the summer I suffered a back injury and after that I didn’t work out at all. While I was not living the same unhealthy lifestyle as before, I wasn’t making my health a priority.

I decided in January to change that. I started with small changes in my schedule, doing less of what was not working and doing more of what I know does work for me. Now I’m moving to a new space, being more consistent in my exercise and healthy eating. I have a ways to go as I want to be able to run and lift like I did some ten years ago.

I decided to share this photo to keep myself accountable AND to remind myself of what I can do in six weeks if I am consistent with my healthy life routine.

Public Declaration

Sharing this blog post is a bit scary for me. I am declaring what is important to me. This declaration is about me making a commitment to myself. It is about me sharing a vision of my life. It is about inviting others to share in my journey of exploration and wellness.

It’s also about making a list.

You see, I want to share some personal life goals and use this special space that is Love-Yourself Living to further document my journey toward wellbeing. I want to be accountable. I want to do what I say I am going to do.

I say all this knowing that I have publicly shared of myself in profound ways for many years. However, right now I feel so much more grounded and clear-headed. More than any other time in my life. It feels like a good time to be a little more specific and concrete with my goals.

I have laid the foundation with mindfulness work and discovering My Core Desired Feelings. Now I can set goals with soul as Danielle LaPorte says.

Sharing also makes me accountable. Not as pressure to live up to my goals. Not motivated out of fear of shame and guilt. More as a way to encourage me to check-in with myself and others.

It is about respecting the holistic. I’m relying on our interdependency. I’m a being that is part of a greater whole. I have a plan and sharing this plan with others helps me and it helps others.

So here it is – a list of definable actions inspired by My Core Desired Feelings of whimsy, full, purpose, radiance and poise.

Ready! Set! Go!

Daily Practice

GRATITUDE

I am a thankful person. I appreciate what I have. Definitely a glass-half-full person. However, my mind can sneak in some scarcity thinking which totally throws me down a rabbit hole of assumptions, comparisons and resentment. Doing a gratitude exercise every night is the plan and so far so good. I do a count of ten things I am grateful for. I have not made it to ten each night. I have actually fallen asleep. So this exercise not only helps my soul, it helps my body and mind ease into sleep. Bonus!

LUNG SUPPORT

All my asthma attacks and allergies were really getting me down. I had trouble breathing 24/7. My previous apartment did not help (it had a mould problem), but my breathing problems go way back. I finally got myself a family doctor (they are hard to find in Quebec). He practices integrative medicine so he has me dealing with my asthma with a combination of prescription medications and natural methods. I take the medications consistently. Now time to be consistent with the natural methods to support my breathing.

  • gargle with salt water every morning
  • neti pot (Not before yoga! If you have neti potted you know what I’m talking about!)

YOGA

My hips are very tight. I have trouble sitting cross-legged. My back is also tight from sitting at my computer desk much of the day. Yoga has helped me loosen up and expand. It also helps me start the day feeling grounded and present in the moment. There isn’t a yoga class in walking distance from my apartment so I last year I started following Tara Stiles on YouTube. I especially liked her little routine for opening up.

NOURISHMENT

I want it to be plant-based most of the time. Moderate animal product consumption for when I visit family.

For the past 4 years I have totally been struggling with my veganism. I was vegetarian for 20 years and vegan for about 15 of that.  Then I began to cheat. Yes, it was cheating. Guilty and shameful cheating. The reason being because I started feeling trapped by the NO aspect of veganism instead of feeling expansive by the YES aspect of it. This Scarcity vs Abundance type thinking and living went beyond food, but that is for another entry.

It makes sense now. I was in the depth of the pain of my divorce and used food to numb the feelings. This made the trapped feeling worse. Over a few months I explored the feelings behind the cheat-eating and the numbing. I was very gentle with myself. No judging. Radical Acceptance all the way. I became more resilient to difficult feelings and the desire to cheat and numb began to lessen.

Now that the tide has changed and I am leaning back into veganism once again. All the reasons for choosing veganism are still there for me. The bottom line is I just do not feel good when I eat animals.

Please know, this is about me and my choices. I don’t care what you eat. It is such a personal thing. Sure, I wish for us humans to be kinder to animals, the planet and ourselves, but unless you ask for advice, it is all up to you and your choices.

I have to say yes to greens and fermented foods more often. I love greens. They are easy to make. Simply steamed! I need to eat more of them. Same thing with (low sugar, low sodium) fermented foods. They are kind of magical. They help with digestion and are correlated to over all improved health. Tempeh is already my soy of choice. Now I want to add sauerkraut to my nourishing mix. I have an acquaintance in the burlesque world who makes and sells it. Hey Lise V, I must get a jar from you!

In terms of supplements I want to add pro-biotics and cranberry extract. This is super practical and oh so important for my lady parts. They help keep my vaginal flora in balance and my urinary tract happy. I find things has been wacky since I gave up booze. Not sure exactly why. Perhaps just a readjustment. Time to get the tract on track.

So that is my list – my self-care declaration for 2015. Adding new things slowly but surely over the days, weeks and months to come. Building a Daily Practice requires time, but it is so worth it. It’s such an adventure in self-love!

2014 An Interesting Year

2014 has been an interesting year, that is for sure. Pretty much a game changer for me.

Sobriety

The most interesting super big thing I did? I got sober. I won’t go into the details of what drinking was like for me because it still feels rather nuanced and personal, but what I can say is that ultimately I was very unhappy because of my drinking. My health, relationships and productivity all suffered because of it. I have had phases of sobriety these past few years and decided at the end of 2013 that it was time once and for all to go for it – take booze out of my life for good. Drinking alcohol, even one drop, just isn’t worth it.

Sobriety for me has been a most humbling and life empowering gift. It has also been a heck of a lot of time consuming work. Thankfully, I have been in therapy since 2010 and immersed in exploring life skills and philosophies that make sense to me (I am a huge fan of the work of Tara Brach and Danielle LaPorte). All of it has helped me get clear on my desires and set goals.

I have created for myself a toolbox of incredible strategies to deal with stress, anxiety, depression, anger, annoyance, resentment and fear. It is not that I do not feel these things. Wow, do I ever. Now though I know how to deal with these feelings in healthy, life affirming ways. Before, not so much. I was always in a panic. I was all freeze, fight and flight. I also lived in my stories. The stuff you tell yourself about yourself, others, the world. Some people call it the trance. I still go there. It is a human quality to do so. Now I am routinely aware of when it happens and I get out of the story trance much quicker than before.

Yes, I am in the NOW in a whole new way and my toolbox has come in very handy. There is more to my experiences (isn’t there always?), but I will leave it at that for now.

Taking time and energy for this process meant putting many work related things on the back burner. My bank account certainly has suffered and the credit card companies love me, but it was very necessary and thankfully very gratifying. Because without sobriety I don’t think I could have done these other great things (or rather, done them very well)…

Making Being an Aunt a Priority

I became an aunt for the second time. I now have a wonderful nephew along with an incredible niece. I spend quite a bit of time visiting them and nurturing our relationships. I feel really blessed to have them in my life and I hope to help enrich their lives with my presence and contributions (stability! mindfulness! joy!). I love them so much. Being an aunt has also brought me closer to my sister. I am so impressed by her as a mother. I admire her so much.

Embracing Simplicity

I did some major organizing of my apartment and my belongings. I gave away many items of clothing, costumes and household goods. Having a more minimalist approach to my everyday life has been very satisfying. I highly recommend it. If it is something that interests you check out Be More With Less. The blog is great as are Courtney’s mini courses. Zen Habits is great too.

My Professional Theatre Debut

Another amazing thing I did is make my professional theatre debut at the Segal Centre for the Performing Arts. A big thank you to all that helped make The Graduate such an amazing experience for me. Your belief in me was inspiring and invigorating.

The Return of Team Burlesque

Team Burlesque returned to the stage in November. There is something so powerful and delightful that happens when Elle Diabloe, Miss Sugarpuss and I collaborate. It is unique and rich with love, depth and sisterhood. I am so glad we are working together again. I think the Montreal burlesque scene is stronger and better for it.

Now I am thinking about what I want to accomplish in the next few months and years. What I have decided on is…

I am finally going to write a book. I have been scribbling away for two years and I have decided to get serious about it. The main issue is planning out my time so it gets done this year. I signed up for Your Big Beautiful Book Plan to help me. I am working with my friend who is an editor and writer herself. She gets me and my book. I am open to her critiques and suggestions. A good match I think!

I am also more formally taking all that I learned in my two careers (education and strategic thinking and doing + adult entertainment and sexuality) and creating workshops and other tools to help people navigate the often overwhelming world of sex, pleasure and wellness. Yes, it will be tied in with the book. So exciting!

The butterfly is emerging from her cocoon.

Being Truthful – Feeling Whole

February was hard. Don’t get me wrong. There were many highlights during the shortest month of the year. It was my birthday at the beginning of the month and I had such meaningful happy moments with family and friends (including lots of aunt + niece time), but the month was also filled with a fair amount of travel, some illness (woo! gastro!) and a few interactions with toxic people (woo! emotional gastro!). There was also a walk down memory lane (woo! high school!) which had me feeling so disconnected.  I was unsure of how to be myself as I am now among people who knew me when. I behaved in such an awkward way and I didn’t feel like myself at all. I felt way more like how I felt in high school.

This is the deal. I have my tribe now. I can share all facets of my life with them. The fact that my work revolves around sexuality does not phase them. Remembering a time when I did not have that kind of openness and acceptance in my life is low on the enjoyable experience scale. Even lower is having to talk about myself with people who knew me as a child or adolescent, but not knowing how to express myself – my truth – without alienating those I care about.

I feel trapped in the sex work ghetto. I don’t want to feel like that forever.

This theme of what to reveal and how to reveal has been coming up quite a bit in my mind recently, but it is not a new thing. When I began my porn work it was easy. I would be super vague. I create websites, is what I told people. Never told them what kind of websites or that I was the star of the content – except with my nearest and dearest friends. Then there were those people from my hometown and who I went to high school – some lovely person outed me in a big dramatic way and it spread like wicked stomach flu (woo! 3rd gastro reference in one post!). Most people who found my website usually didn’t say anything to my face. Nope. They talked behind my back. It made (and still makes for) this disconnect between us. The elephant in the room. I hate it.

I kept doing my thing – making porn with friends, sharing so much of myself to a nameless (often demanding and insensitive public – the bad apples ruining in for the good ones), travelling to industry conferences, doing hour long webcam shows 5 days a week, more sharing, HTML coding and writing about sex.  I started to feel like the only thing that I had in my life was my site and the only way I interacted with people was through porn. I was feeling cloistered in the XXX world. I was ready for different experiences.

So, I became a sex worker rights activist. I joined a community group and went to conferences and organized workshops for other sex workers. I got sick with an auto-immune disease and realized how fragile my life was because if my body wasn’t working I would lose my livelihood. I began running with a group of women my age. The kind that follow mommy blogs and drive minivans (didn’t out myself to them – we mostly talked running). I set running goals and met them. I did a 21K. I began doing burlesque and vaudeville. I created and produced shows and plays.

My world expanded and so did I.

Still, I kept a big part of me and my life away from these new experiences. I even thought after my separation that I could change my life all together and start a totally new career. Lots of trial and error and a bunch of reflection has led me to see that I don’t want to do that. I am passionate about sexuality and want to continue my work in the field AND I want to stop having such a major part of my life, a major part of who I am, hidden away. I have had enough of it.

It is funny because when it comes to my porn work I did my best to share so much more than sex with my fans and the members of my site. I wanted them to see me as more than a sex object. By talking about other aspects of my life – family, friends, my struggles, my dreams, etc – I think I accomplished that. But when it came to my non-porn life I didn’t know how to include sex work into the conversation. And I know why.

Fear of judgement and rejection. Experience has taught me that these fears are valid. It happened numerous times and put a huge burden on my relationships with my immediate family. The judgement, I know, says more about the person doing the judging than it does about me. Doesn’t mean I am not hurt by it. Oh, this sex negative, sex work stigmatized world, you don’t make things easy for anyone.

Note: I am fairly comfortable talking to new people about my work – blogging, sex education and even porn. I can even speak with confidence and clarity in these situations. This is not the case with family or connections from my past. In these situations I am bumbling mess filled with fears and angst. 

Over the past three years therapy has helped me come to terms with all of this. It has helped me bring the issues to the forefront. Before they were mixed up with all my other uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. Like a tangled mess of yarn.

Therapy has helped me get to know myself beyond the stories I had in my head and the more I accept myself the stronger I feel. I am now ready to bring all the areas of my life, all aspects of who I am and what I do, together. I am ready to stop saying I am a webmaster when people ask me what I do. I no longer need to be super vague – even lie – when they ask what sites I work on. I am ready to say the truth as it stands right now…

I am a writer.

If they ask what I write about I will say the truth – that I write about sexuality and relationships. If they want to know more I can say more. I am curious and passionate about the issues of body image, gender dynamics, sex entertainment and sex worker activism. I also am an educator and speak at universities, seminars and conferences. I am developing a series of sex-ed for adults workshops and working on an e-book.

I am ready to use the appropriate title and description for me – all of me as I am right now.

* When writing this blog post I took some inspiration from this training video from Marie Forleo about reinventing yourself. I really dig her and her work. You might too.

Cuba Vacation

I was away! I went on vacation! I didn’t use a computer and I only texted to let my friends and family know I arrived safely (OK, I also sent a couple of friends some texts about my observations). But still it was quite a tech free time. Instead, I spent my days reading, writing and swimming. I spent my nights looking at the stars and sleeping (having such wild and vivid dreams).

I stayed at a small resort. I think their maximum capacity is 80 people. There were about 40 when I went. Mostly seniors as well as a few younger couples and a handful of single men who expected a much more ‘fun’ resort. They approached me, not understanding that A) I was there alone B) that I wanted to be left alone and C) how to leave me alone. I had to be blunt. It was the only unpleasant thing about my trip. The rest was exactly as I wanted it to be.

I wanted to be away from the singles-on-vacation scene. I had no desire for bars, discos and shows. I wanted to get away so I could regroup, think, process.  I wanted to give my broken heart some respite. It was the perfect trip for that. I journalled A LOT. I will go through it and see if I can find some goodies to share. In the meantime here are some photos.

Endings Lead to New Beginnings and I Am Afraid

I have been trying to figure out where my malaise is coming from. I have been sleeping so much and having a deep desire to disappear. I have been experiencing some anxiety and physical discomfort, but mostly I have felt stuck, still, passive, inert – dead. The only desire I have had is the desire to fade far into my dreams and away from my reality.  I have felt like this for a number of weeks. I was feeling so on the ball, so focused and excited in January and part of February and then heighten emotion hit me and then I froze.

The truth of my situation came upon me and I am scared. That is what it is. I am feeling a sense of healing and closure coming with regards to the end of my marriage and I am seeing the trainwreck of my rebound relationship truly for what it was and coming to terms with that.

Now, an unknown future lies before me and I am terrified.

In my darkest moments I feel as if there is nothing good and true  ‘out there’ for me. I am not smart enough, quiet enough, calm enough, strong enough, assertive enough, balanced enough,  and most definitely good enough to deserve anything of value in my life.  These are my darkest moments and wow, did I ever have that one last night.

This morning the darkness lingered, but I decided to think of my new toolbox.

It’s an invisible one filled with thoughts and actions that bring me an understanding to the suffering that is life and provides me with radical acceptance and even if I am sad, lonely, or angry I feel something deep inside myself resonate with a sense of YES.

YES to everything.

I cannot forget my toolbox again.

The Power of Hugs

I came across a short article on how to maintain a satisfying libido. Even if you are flying solo like me this is an important read. I truly believe if you don’t use it you lose it so staying physically and mentally healthy helps you keep that drive up.  You never know when you may need it. ;-)

One of the tips…

Hug Therapy

Love a good rub down? You’re not the only one. Some studies have shown that men need to be touched two to three times more frequently than women in order to maintain the same level of oxytocin, the sexy bonding hormone.

Without frequent touch, your brain’s circuits and receptors can feel starved for dopamine, the feel-good hormone. Hugging and cuddling feed and reinforce those connection circuits, ensuring lovey-dovey feelings and hot romps. Even if you’re not in the mood now, a sensual back rub or loving massage can get you there, pronto.

Have You Seen My Libido (Healthy Bitch Daily)
L. Lou Paget

Oxytocin has a complicated reputation, but even if you don’t take that particular hormone into consideration I think that the power of touch, hugs, cuddles and other kinds of close contact is pretty substantial.  I know I need hugs and now that I live alone and don’t go out frequently I am without them and I miss them. There is something so comforting about snuggling with someone you love. Yep, I definitely miss it. I cuddle with the cats, but that is its own thing and definitely doesn’t lead to happy sexy feelings.

I think though non-sexual, non-romantic hugs are important to one’s well-being and that good feeling you get from them can have sexual benefits – it can make you feel better about yourself. I find I go out of my way to ask for them when I am feeling blue or just in need of a good squeeze. These kinds of hugs are not about sex, but they are about comfort and that helps me stay positive and upbeat. I have a couple of guy friends who are tall and teddy bear like. They give great hugs. I love the felling of being held with such substance. One is my friend’s has a boyfriend who is an amazing hugger and I ask her permission first. It feels a bit silly, but she knows he gives good hugs and is happy to share it with her friends.  My girlfriends give good hugs too though they are wee hugs. ;-)

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Me with my friend Halcyon who runs a live broadcast called Hug Nation

Check out the article for more suggestions on how to feel good in general and how to specifically keep your sexual drive a-going.

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!

Forgiveness

How does one know if she has forgiven? You tend to feel sorrow over the circumstance instead of rage, you tend to feel sorry for the person rather than angry with him. You tend to have nothing left to say about it all.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes

I am getting there. I can feel it. Terribly interesting experience. Edging towards a dullness and seeing the ashes blowing away in the breeze.

He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself; for every man has need to be forgiven.

Thomas Fuller

It is something I must do for myself. Even if forgiveness for my transgressions (perceived or otherwise) will never be given to me. I am realizing what belongs to me and what does not. And I need to let go of what doesn’t.

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.

Warrior 2 Past Present & Future

Warrior Two is my favourite yoga pose. I had an instructor tell me that when you are in Warrior Two pose you have one part of you looking at the past and all you have done, seen and learned, another part of you firmly in the present, living in the moment, and another part of you looking towards the future. It really resonated with me. The pose feels good physically and emotionally for me.

I have dabbled in yoga for a few years. I regularly took a class at the YMCA. I have had a membership at a fantastic studio called Breathe. I have done yoga at home. I have done yoga outside. I have done it with friends. What I have not done is do it consistently for more than 1 year. This lack of consistency is a thread that runs through my whole life from childhood until now. This is something I want to change. Not just with yoga but with all aspects of my life. I know I need spontaneity and such too, but I cannot live with only that. It is very draining and damaging. It is one reason I have been so out of sorts. Of course, I cannot expect for it to change over night. It is something I need to build over time.

When I think about consistency I think of words such as routine, regime, schedule and practice. And practice is the word I like best because it implies a work in progress and I like that. It also can be applied to individual interests and activities and the whole of who I am.

Today I also did the most yoga I have done in maybe two years. Today’s poses.

4 Sun Salutations
1 Mountain Pose
1 Forward Bend
2 Triangle Poses
1 Forward Bend
2 Warrior Two Poses
1 Mountain Pose
2 Tree Poses
1 Sitting Forward Bend
3 Cow and Cat Combo
1 Child Pose

I have been adding 1 Sun Salutation a day. I am doing it flow style so it took me about twenty minutes to do this series today, but I am going to hold them longer and I would like to have a 30 minute practice by next week. I listen to spa style music with birds chirping in the background and I find it both relaxing and invigorating.