Monday, May 18, 2015

Exhaustion, resiliency and keeping the faith

I've pondered the issue of resiliency before, and I still wonder how some folks remain resilient even after a seemingly endless run of crises and trauma in their lives.  Case in point; a very stressful job, a year long terminal illness of a parent, nearly losing the other parent in health crises twice within 8 months, all while nurturing a grieving family and showing up to previously mentioned stressful job with a smile pasted on and ready to solve every problem that crops up.  And yet I keep plugging away, one foot in front of the other.  There are lots of days that don't feel good, that tears are close to the surface, but I keep going.  How is it that I am able to keep being resilient?

I don't think of myself as particularly special, my whole family is dealing with the loss of our mom, and nearly losing our dad (AGAIN).  But I wonder, what sets us apart from others who throw in the towel at the slightest provocation?  The past week has been brutal, I'm exhausted (as are my siblings), and yet we brush away tears and keep going.

I wish I could attribute it to faith, but frankly, my faith has been shaken.  There is a belief amongst many of my faithful friends that God only gives you what you can handle.  I don't buy it.  I topped out on that in February, and yet it just keeps coming.  My heart has been wrenched into two several times over my life, and I'm done.  It's not a lack of knowing the Bible (when I was 4 I memorized more Bible verses than any other kid, even those twice my age in my Sunday school--my parents first clue that I might be a little "different" than the other 4 year olds), I know it.  I understand the teachings within, to the extent any regular person does.  I'm happy it works for others, but the tests that I've been given are making me question the veracity of the core beliefs with which I was raised.

So I question-what does faith have to do with resiliency?  Anything?  I don't know.  I'm inclined to believe that gratitude has a great deal to do with resiliency, as well as some pretty good brain chemicals and positive self-esteem.

I am incredibly grateful that my dad is still with us, despite the very scary crisis a week ago.  I can't even imagine losing him while the grief of losing my mom is so fresh and painful.  The thought is quite frankly, paralyzing.  Pretty dramatic I know.

And I question, what makes it possible to keep going to work, dealing with the stuff of everyday life and managing some grace while doing so?

I am sure that I can't possibly endure anything else for a while, that I need a break.  

In the meantime, I make plans for a return to regular exercise, a diet that will preserve my health and with any luck at all will prevent the diseases that have afflicted my parents, and to look for ways to turn off my brain.  I suspect if I master the last, the others will fall into place.

Or maybe I'll just move to a shack on the beach, and spend my days watching the water and sleeping.  That sounds like the best plan of all.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

If you can't say something nice.....

My blog has remained silent for 3/4 of a year.  Mostly because I didn't know what to write.  At the end of February 2014, my mom was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow.  Mom fought and beat cancer 5 years before that, so a new cancer diagnosis was like a kick in the stomach.  Some things are too painful to write about, some things too private.  And as I alluded to i previous posts, some things are better left unsaid because although misery loves company, it's kinder to keep negative things to yourself.

Sadly, in early February of this year, my mom lost her hard fought battle.  It's hard and it causes anger and feelings that are just too difficult to express.  Cancer is horrific, and watching someone you love slowly lose the battle that she is fighting because she doesn't want to leave her family--not for herself, but for her family--is painful and not something to write about.

Soooo....it's been a long, painful, shitty year.  And because of all the stress, I've added adrenal fatigue to my cocktail of health misadventures.  I'm working on it, and will continue to work on it, but it's a long road.  There is no easy, quick fix.  The first thing is to get healthy.  Lots of rest, healthy foods, stress reduction and yoga.  Time being grateful for my family, and the year that we got with mom.  I want to wave a magic wand and be magically the picture of health, but that's not how it works.  First you put in the work, then you get the results.  Healing and dealing grief is the absolute first step, and nothing will change until that has been done.  Easy to say, hard to do.  But I'm working on it.

I am thrilled though that I had my annual melanoma check up and am healthy!  For that I am incredibly grateful.

The one thing I've been reminded of this year is that there is so much for which to be grateful.  Life is precious and short (and long), and difficult and wonderful all at the same time.

As I. Heal and have nice things to say, I will blog.  If I don't, I will maintain the golden rule--if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

summer reading and a big dose of introspection

As usual for summer, I have been doing a lot of reading.  Some fiction, lots of non-fiction--both for personal interest and personal development (as a part of my professional development).  Personal development is an area of interest, but is crucial as a part of my professional leadership development (I know, right?!  Makes you want to live my life...).  One of the quirky side effects of that much personal development reading (and watching TEDtalks) is an incredible amount of introspection.  Which has the potential to be a little..."crazy making".  I put that in quotation marks because I'm fairly certain that's not the clinical term :)

The introspection has led me to be currently rereading "Eat Pray Love".  And although I love it, I do think maybe Elizabeth Gilbert is a little nuts.  Or was.  And I totally mean that in a good way.  Next up on the list is to reread "The Happiness Project".  Gretchen Rubin is another woman who I think is slightly nuts.  In a totally good way.  Both books seem very much like very driven women have succumbed to their woo-woo side and embark on a journey to fix what's missing from their lives.  Or not missing.  Whatever.  Either way, both books are a personal journey of looking to improve their lives.  Or social-emotional state.  

Because I also love the work of Glennon Doyle Melton, which you can find at www.momastery.com and because she says she has been so influenced by Dr Brene´ Brown, I watched her TEDtalks this morning (give me a break, I'm kicking coffee and am too tender from my chiro appt yesterday to do any exercise, I needed to take my mind off of it).  You can find them here:




All I can say is wow.  Shame and vulnerability are really at the root of all of the stuff.  You know, the stuff that gets in the way.  Of everything.  Shame prohibits vulnerability.  Without vulnerability there is no compassion, empathy or joy.  Doesn't that really just sum it all up?  Without joy, how do you find happiness, or what I think people (women?!) are really searching for--contentment?  

But, how do you really let go of shame?  And I'm not talking about shame that you did something horrible and should be punished or anything, I'm talking about the shame that so many of us feel.  Which is maybe more aptly described as "should".  You know what I mean--I should exercise more, I should work longer hours, I should spend more time with my children, I should bake cookies and make jam, and grow my own organic veggies and have hens to lay eggs and volunteer and cook everyday and not watch tv and do yoga and not drink so much wine.  The shoulds.  The ones that I think in some part of her soul, every human with 2 X chromosomes feels every single fricking day of life on earth.  It occurs to me that those with XY chromosomes might too, but that's a little outside my area of expertise.

Glennon talks about the capes she would wear--addiction, bulimia, drug use.  BB (because we're so tight I have nicknamed her BB) talks about other "capes" (cloaks?  whatever) of perfectionism, judgement, overeating--whatever it is that you use to prevent you from being vulnerable, because of shame. Any of this sounding familiar to anyone?  It all hits a little too close to home for comfort.  

The unease, the discomfort.  The discontent.  It's all there.  The cloak of keeping the game face on so that it looks like I have my s*** together.  

It's raw, and it's uncomfortable.  But there it is.

And in that vein, I have added the words evolution and perspective to the name of my blog.  Because that's really what it is.  And it's really not about fitness or lack thereof anymore.  Because I'm not so sure that anyone really gives a rat's a** about whether I'm running or kickboxing or doing yoga.  But when I write about other stuff, people comment.  Which is really good for my dopamine and seratonin levels :)  More about that in Simon Sinek's book, "Start With Why".  There's a TEDtalk for that too.

And to link all of this back to professional development?!  Start with why (that's easy, the kids), think about what their biology dictates for success, help them move past the shame (yeah, we do it to them--report cards?!) and move into vulnerability so that they can learn.  I truly believe that without acceptance and an absence of shame, they won't learn.  Same with teachers (and admin!).  

And there you have it.  Full circle.  What BB calls a "spiritual awakening".  I'm not sure about that, but it's certainly fodder to ruminate upon.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Summer

Ahhhhh, summer!  The long awaited, much needed break.  Week one as always catching up on a multitude of appointments.  Week two some more appointments and really trying to unwind.  The downside of having time to think, is that all the detritus of the mind that normally is shoved aside comes bubbling to the surface and insists on being tended to.....summer is a process :)

A colleague/friend invited me to do a gratitude challenge on Facebook.  3 things, 3 days, nominate 3 people everyday of the challenge.  It's inspiring to think of all the things for which I am grateful. Some are Facebook worthy, and some are better tucked away for personal contemplation only.  Not everyone needs to have the full experience of the recesses of my mind.  In that vein, the challenge has inspired me to actually write down 3 things a day for which I am grateful.  And since it's for my own benefit only, I won't need to hide the crazy!

Operation kick coffee is progressing.  Not always well, but it's progressing.  I'm almost ready for the next step--one cup in the morning.  *gulp*. It doesn't sound like much, but I am a coffee lover.  Through and through.  I'm working on convincing myself that I am actually a green tea lover.  As long as I can kick the habit before the return to school, I will be happy.  Baby steps.

Today is another rainy day, with some intermittent sunshine day.  Which is having a negative impact on my walking everyday with or without the dog.  I don't mind walking in a light rain (not so the dog), but the downpour we got caught in yesterday doesn't do much for me.  We sought refuge under a big leafy tree and waited for the rain to ease so we could return home.  But as we were standing under the tree, it occurred to me that if there was thunder, lightning follows.  And standing under a tree is something akin to standing on top of a hill with a metal rod extended above your head.  Maybe we'll just wait for a nicer day.  Luckily my lightning rod theory wasn't tested.  And my theory that someone would notice it was pouring and would come looking for us to rescue us from the weather was thoroughly disproven.  Honestly, what good is having kids with driver's licenses?!

So, looking for some sunshiny hot weather, so I can enjoy the beach and really get my mind and body in better shape for the upcoming school year.  Rain is good, but I'm ready for some sun.  Fingers crossed for beautiful weather the week we are renting the cottage, and for the rest of our vacation time.

The positive about rainy days, is that there is time for organizing and cleaning the clutter.  Clutter in my space causes anxiety, and I get nothing done.  Except temper tantrums.  Not exactly productive.  It maybe says something about me, the amount of satisfaction gained from organizing?  On today's list? Kid's coat closet.  God help me.

How are you spending your rainy days?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

I have to say, this is a strange Easter chez Bolyea.  Seamus is in Scotland for a high school rugby trip.  It's weird when your chicks aren't all home for at least part of a holiday weekend.  And I'm sick, to boot.  Just a bad cold, but irritating for someone who NEVER gets colds (thank you Dr Tara!).  I'm chalking it up to a combination of spring allergies, walking with cold wind on my face (sinus pain!) and a year's worth of stress making the perfect conditions for a spring cold.

I feel like I haven't written in sooooo long.  But I did, I just didn't press the publish button.  I mean really, who wants to read a mess of stress and woes?!  It has been an extremely challenging year personally and professionally.  It's a school year I will be glad to see the back of--not because of the people, just because of circumstances.  I am tired.   A week in beautiful Cuba did a world of good, but alas a week's worth of holiday bliss is easily undone once reality sets in again.  I'm just incredibly grateful to have had a holiday.

I know it's just the situation, but I feel stuck.  In many ways.  There aren't enough hours in a day or week, and when I find the hours I'm so done I can't get motivated to accomplish anything.  It will pass, I know it will, but it's not a great feeling, that huge wall I feel like I'm looking up at.  How depressing is that?!  If this is what I write when I'm feeling in a better place mentally....ugh!!

On a much more positive note, when in Cuba (my new favourite place on the planet), we went on a catamaran trip and got to interact with a dolphin.  Beautiful memory.  Pepe's skin was so smooth, such an amazing creature.  I've decided that I'd like to become a dolphin trainer (maybe in my next life...).  Bucket list item.  So in that vein, I've decided to finally take riding lessons this summer and indulge in another bucket list item.  I started asking my parents for a horse when I was four years old.  I never did get that horse, but I did make sure my kids all know how to ride.  Now it's my turn.  Life is short, and it's important to do things you've always wanted to do--sooner rather than later.  I don't think I can keep a horse in my backyard, but you never know ;)

Also on the list:  more running, more yoga and more time in nature.  That includes ocean, sun and sand.

Spring is the time for new beginnings.  I'm taking it to heart.  It's time to let the "stuff" go and fix what's wrong in my world.

Namaste and Happy Easter xxoo

Monday, February 17, 2014

February blahs

Anyone else sick of snow?  Here in my part of Southwestern Ontario we have had the biggest wallop of a winter in recent memory.  Utter craziness.  I cannot wait for spring.  Today is a relatively mild day for this winter....only -13 Celsius.  Yep, that is mild for this year.  But it is sunny, definitely a plus.  So..flipping..tired..of..cold..and..snow..

So, we have decided that we are going to head to somewhere hot for a week to recharge.  We think Cuba.  Hot sunny beach.  It's calling my name.  I need to recharge my batteries.  Winter, school and life are seriously kicking my butt.

I've been reading a Susan Sly book, which is giving me many bright moments of thought, but also giving me cause to ponder aspects of my personality and life.  I know in my heart of hearts that there are changes I need to make for my own wellbeing, but it's really hard to change part of who you are.  She speaks a lot of developing an awareness of what you attract in your life.  And how to change it.  There are some things that I attract (pattern of behaviour?!) that I'd really like to leave behind.  Because in truth, if you don't leave it behind you don't create room to attract the really good stuff.  BUT, that can cause pain.  I'm working through coming to terms with what is sure to be a sharp pain, but hopefully not that long-lasting.  Sort of like ripping off a bandage.  Fast and immediate as opposed to long, drawn out heartache. 

Growth is an interesting thing.  I know there's going to be some pain, but then I look at some of the new things and friends change is bringing into my life.  It's a process.

In the meantime of being sick of snow and pondering the changes that I think are necessary, I express my gratitude for all that I have.  Especially family, friends and health.