Wednesday, 29 January 2014

The Gruelling Agony of Grief

A friend of mine her father just recently passed away.  Watching her go through the process of knowing the day of his death was going to happen at any moment and then hearing the news that he had passed was nothing short of heart breaking.  What I found interesting was the moment I received her news that her father had gone, I time travelled back in time to a place that represents some of the most painful memories that seem to feel burned into my soul.  It was also in January when my Mother passed away when I was 7 years old.  I read the email that was sent on my friends behalf and then looked out into my backyard at the snow covered grass and could feel the empty, excruciating pull of all the energy leaving my body when I first heard the news of my own Mother's death, now 27 years ago.  The sight of her coffin leaving the doorway of the church, my own screams of sorrow piercing my own ears as well as, all those who attended the funeral that day came flooding back at an alarming pace.  I literally was no longer in my kitchen, I was in the body of a hurt, scared little girl who didn't understand what she had done wrong and there was no way I would smile ever again (If you have read any of my previous blogs you can clearly see that I did learn to smile again and to appreciate the many precious moments we have).  However, it isn't to say that I don't have times when my ugly cry is literally uglier than the dog labelled as ugliest dog in the world.  I find it interesting that when I discuss happiness as a choice many people believe that must mean you can't cry, get angry or jealous.  On the contrary when making the conscious choice that we want to live our lives choosing happy, it also means we must have the courage to allow ourselves to feel the sometimes unbearably painful moments that life will throw at us.  When we take the time to feel we no longer are trapping the energy or the emotion in our bodies. This means we are not using up energy or our precious time thinking of ways to pretend we don't feel what we are thinking/feeling.  I didn't used to live my life this way, I spent a significant portion of my life believing I should be over the hurt of my Mother's death by now.  However, what I have learnt is when we take the time to release the pain, there is that period of time felt where time stands still, there is a sense of lightness and in that moment, should we choose, we can feel our two feet on the ground.  We can allow the present moment back in.  I am a huge fan of dance parties...when my mother's funeral was over my neighbours took me and two of my friends back to their house and they had a juke box in their basement.  We danced and sang for what felt like hours and it also felt like magic.  I've come to realize as I was dancing it didn't mean I wasn't still longing to hear my Mother's voice, to ask her if she could sing to me one more time...To this day what I would give to ask her a question.  However, I did learn that amongst the hurt and the loss, love, connection, laughter and bliss are still there too.  Hearing of my friends loss was again another reminder that the pain of grief really never does go away and that is ok.  However, it also reminded me that I was standing in my kitchen, my dog was begging for food and once again my kids were having a dance party.  I am so sad for my friend today and know that her life will be forever changed.  Loss sucks, but life in itself does not.  Here's to making space for our feelings and the many bumps that will be in the road so we can continue choosing happy.

Sunday, 19 January 2014


My son Tyler scored his first goal ever in hockey today.  Now it was at practice but this was a massive accomplishment for him.  Tyler is the first in our family to ever to play hockey and needless to say when he got on the ice at the skills assessment back in the fall that was painfully obvious.  We showed up at the skills assessment with an extremely excited little boy who at 7 was so mentally ready to take on the hockey world and show everyone what he could do.  As we approached the ice there were about 50 other children on the ice and about 100 parents and grandparents watching.  We were one of the last family's to get out on the ice as our experience with getting dressed in hockey equipment was limited and it took us a significant amount of time.  When we were finally ready to get Tyler out onto the ice we saw about 50 mini, super speedy, crazy coordinated, clearly have been doing this for a few years, 7 year old hockey players.  My husband and I looked at each other in complete and utter shock feeling as though we have just thrown our son under the bus and will be paying for years of therapy for how traumatizing this experience was going to be.  However, in true Tyler style he simply stepped onto the ice with more courage than the king of the jungle and attempted to skate with the others.  He did have some skating experience but his ability to simply stand on the ice was no match to these 7 year old semi pro's.  He fell A LOT!  Then the coach blew his whistle to which every other child immediately skated to the middle of the ice where the coach was waiting.  Tyler for no word of a lie to took 2 full minutes standing up and falling down in efforts to approach the coach.  He did finally make it to his destination where they described how the skills assessment was going to work.  At this point I am sobbing and my husband is pacing like a crazy person both of us feeling like we have just written a coarse on how to severely ruin your child's self esteem.  As they move forward in the assessment all the kids have to line up at one end of the ice and then skate to the opposite end in lines.  I am sweating profusely at this point and trying through tear stained cheeks to smile and give a thumbs up to tell my son he is doing a great job.  Row by row the kids skate across the ice, Tyler's row is the last to go and somehow he manages to make it across the ice without falling.  He is last by a mile but he makes it.  Amazingly, as he passes us on his way we manage to make eye contact with him and the smile on his face couldn't get any bigger.  After a full hour of constant reminders that your child is the absolute worst skater on the ice my husband and I anxiously await for him to come off of the ice to assess the amount of psychological as well as, physical damage that may have been done.  To our complete and utter surprise he was ecstatic!.  We asked him what he thought and he said "did you see I started to skate faster" followed by "thank goodness some of those guys will be on my team to help score goals".  We were speechless and in that moment our 7 year old taught us a very powerful lesson.  Tyler has continued with his hockey and progressively improved but still was the worst player in the league but always smiling.  We decided to put him in a power skate program to help him with his skills.  It helped immensely.  Then in his third power skate lesson he purposefully skated towards, grabbed the puck and scored.  We were so proud of him especially considering how grim it looked at the beginning of the year.  When he came home he said he wanted to draw a picture with a puck, streamers and a title that said "you did it".  It was past his bedtime and I had an internal debate about it.  However, after about a 2 second delay I said "absolutely, this is an accomplishment and shows how your practice and determination really pays off".  Again he taught us a life lesson.  Stop and take the time to celebrate.  Celebrate the efforts, the accomplishments, the falls, and even the failures.  What really matters is "you did it".  You chose to show up, to take the plunge.  It may not be the NHL, the olympics or for that matter an official game but he still did it.  So often we get caught up in how an accomplishment is "supposed" look and if it doesn't come out perfectly trimmed with a bow on top then it must not be worth celebrating.  However, so much is worth celebrating, the willingness to simply stand up, fall down and stand up again is a celebration.  The willingness to try something new is a celebration.  Life is interesting, it has it's challenges but it also has it's gifts.  Life is worth celebrating don't forget to acknowledge where you are and that "you did it".

Monday, 13 January 2014

Fill your life with surprises.

We recently just returned from what I would call a holiday of a lifetime.  We went to Alberta, Canada and were fortunate enough to indulge in some of the magical wonders this part of Canada has to offer.  All, while spending quality time with our family over one of my most favourite times of the year, Christmas.   This trip all came about when my brother-in-law and husband decided to surprise our family with a trip to Calgary so my sister and I's family could spend Christmas together.  The opportunity of all of us with all of the kids to have this special day together hasn't happened in years, so to say this was surreal would be an understatement.  My husband filled me in a about week maybe 10 days earlier that this trip was happening, my kids didn't know.  This was one of my busiest Decembers for work in history so I was over the moon excited and totally overwhelmed.  Needless to say with many late nights, a sink full of dishes and couch filled with clean but unfolded laundry Christmas eve morning the surprise was put into motion.  Our flight was at 7am so the taxi picked us up at 4:30am.  We managed to get our kids dressed and into the car all still asleep.  At one point my younger son did ask where are we going, to which I responded somewhere special.  He was too groggy to press any further but simply smiled and rested his tired head back on my lap.  We arrived at the airport and although my skin was crawling with exhaustion, I could barely contain my excitement.  The kids woke up at this point shocked to find themselves near the Air Canada check in counter but were bursting with curiosity.  We finally, told them we were going to spend Christmas with their cousins and they jumped up and down in pure joy and they couldn't stop reminding us "how awesome" this Christmas was going to be.  We landed safely in Calgary and the plan was put into action, my sister and her kids had no idea we were coming.  We made a few stops on the way and then arrived to their house as my sister was out with her kids.  She had a few things to pick up so she needed my bother-in-law to come and grab the kids from wherever they were.  Once we were settled in the house and my sister had called and texted multiple times (her frustration building) my brother-in-law went to pick up the kids for them to come home and find some unexpected Christmas guests.  They were so delighted when they walked through the door and kept saying this was going to be the best Christmas ever.  My sister was still out getting a few last bits as most of us will do Christmas eve, so we all had time to get set up to hide for when she walked through the door.  As the seconds felt like minutes we waited hiding around the corner with kids who were wiggling like mad with excited joy filled energy.  Finally, she arrived home and we jumped out with a very loud MERRY CHRISTMAS, scared the you know what out of her, and then watched her flood with pure bliss filled emotion.  We shared long, love filled hello hugs and my sister had to keep stepping back to look at all of us to convince her brain that yes indeed we really were there.  We must have watched the video of her reaction at least 10 more times that day and each time we would all tear up in the disbelief of what was actually happening.  My sister and I are extremely close our childhood struggles, hurts and disappointments have created a bond between us that I can not begin to express how grateful I am to have.  She has always filled my world with surprises and love, even when our worlds around us were sometimes crashing down upon us at an accelerated rate.  It was so amazing to be part of an opportunity to give back to her, even just a little bit.  This experience stirred a sensation inside that lingered for days and realistically is still hanging around.  It was another element of happiness and I could contribute it to how surprising others, whom I love, made me feel.  It feels AMAZING.  So I have decided that part of choosing happy is indeed filling life with surprises.  Surprises that you do for the people you love.  What's interesting is these surprises don't have to be big.  It can be as simple as putting a business card with I love you written in highlighter of the door crease of your loved one's car (true story my lovely hubby does this for me often).  It can be putting a note in child's lunch box, showing up at there school with a new sippy cup, rearranging their stuffies in the shape of the letter of their first name.  Surprises big or little they all matter and they create a connection and moment where you are only focussed on that person.  These surprises also let that person know you were thinking of them.  In the act of planning or actually surprising the person you love, you are filled with reminders of why you love them, how much it means to you when they are happy and how their happiness totally contributes to your happiness.  I am always searching for more tools on how to connect with happiness because life will definitely present obstacles that can get in the way of seeing aspects of joy.  To me including surprises as a regular part of my life is another way I can continue choosing happy.    

Friday, 10 January 2014

Are you awake?

Have you ever met that person and really I am assuming here we all have.  The person who YOU can see how much potential, opportunity, possibility for love and gifts they have but no matter what they can not.  Insight and intelligence comes from all of the things they create yet somehow, they continue to sabotage any possibility of it turning into something positive.  It's almost like when a situation does go wrong they look at you and say "I told you so, this is just the way it goes for me".  It's amazing because for most of us we want to shake this person and say "WAKE UP"...can't you see how beautiful, loveable, funny etc you are?  We want to scream "why can't you allow yourself to be seen, heard, loved, happy, fulfilled?".  Now what if you crossed out the you and replaced it with an I.  I need to "WAKE UP", I can allow myself to be feel beautiful, heard, loved, happy and fulfilled.  Throughout all of our lives we have been compared to so many things and if it didn't "measure up" then perhaps we are just less than.  Realistically though who gets to decide how to measure when you deserve to be heard, loved etc.  The answer to that is you not anyone else.  The reality is simply by being alive means you deserve to be loved, you deserve to laugh, you deserve to have dreams and of course you deserve to be happy.  So the next time you want to give someone a shake for not having the clarity to see the amazing being in front them.  Ask yourself what part of my being am I denying/hiding/shaming and maybe give that part a shake.  When you start to show up and experience all  the gifts within you others will do the same.  Yes life will pull it's fast ones and throw it's curve balls.  However,  instead of expecting the negative and assuming life is out to get us.  We can realize that life is on our side, helping us to learn the lessons that will help us shine even brighter...should we choose to wake that side ourselves up.  

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Happy 2014

New Year, New You, create the best you, 2014 is your year.  All these exciting statements that are so inspiring and fabulous.  The idea of starting fresh is filled with so much opportunity and promise it's intoxicating.  Resolutions, intentions, goals all have such a beautiful energy and promise for new found joy about them.  What I find interesting is also how scary it can be to see your dreams beginning to unfold.  It can actually be quite terrifying to embrace a new resolution or intention because to do so we sometimes have to let go of what is familiar.  So the question lies do we set resolutions/intentions or do we not?   For me I say yes to intentions, yes to resolutions, yes to dreams, yes to happiness.  What I am also learning to say yes to is letting go of the comfort zone and understanding that yes I will have to sit with the fear of the unfamiliar.  I am working to remind myself that even if it's scary, even if it's unfamiliar that doesn't mean it's bad and that doesn't mean I have to fall off the new years resolution/intention/dream I have set.  I am starting to acknowledge that in the process of letting go is where the space can be made for the intention, resolution to be manifested.  I realize what I am saying isn't necessarily new or ground breaking ideas however, setting the intention to sit with the fear and doubt and allow my dreams to continue to flourish is very new to me.  I have always been a dreamer and an eternal optimist but have also had my fair share of self sabotaging behaviours when things became a bit unfamiliar.  What's interesting is some of my past "unfamiliar" moments were the unbelievably beautiful moments.  However,  because these experiences were a new feeling of joy I would sabotage them simply from fear of the unknown.  Interestingly enough writing this blog today is part of my beginning again, new years resolutions/intentions.  I love to write and learn so much in the process.  So what's the big deal some might ask?  For me it's the continued battle of allowing love in and letting down a guard I put up as young child.  Even with my understanding of happiness I am still learning that with love and joy there is no ceiling.  Someone earlier this year said to me in order to be healer you have to heal yourself.  So my continued process of healing is learning to let dreams, love and happiness go to new heights as unfamiliar as that might be.  Within that process is not letting the fear of the pains of the past sabotage this growth.  In turn I can honour my resolution/intention of sharing the abundance of happiness that exists in life and that everyone deserves to be happy.  As it stands my resolution/intention includes creating a space that honours how much sweat, tears, fears, laughter, hugs, struggles and celebrations are involved in creating a happy 2014.  For the most part fun and exciting but ironically a little scary.  However, here we's to choosing happy in 2014.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

So grateful for...


The time of year that is set aside for a few moments to focus on what we are grateful for in our lives.  As most of us know there are days when it is really easy to see what we are thankful for and other days we are too overwhelmed to go there.  When I was younger there were years when getting together with family to eat and drink and talk felt like a chore or dare I say a punishment (I totally failed to see the bigger picture!).  However, now that I have children thanksgiving has become one of my favourite times of year.  I have realised just how precious this time together really is and how important reflecting on what we are grateful for also is!  Tons of research in positive psychology points to the profound effects that taking some time to focus our attention on what makes us thankful.  In the movie "happy" they talk about a study done on 1500 university students in a positive psychology course half the class once a week took a few moments to focus on 5 things that they were grateful for.  The other half of the class continued with their regular course work.  After just 3 weeks the the group who were doing gratitude work reported a marked increase in happiness.  It makes sense when we feel thankful for something it makes us feel good!  After reading Eat, Pray, Love I fell in love with the idea of a gratitude circle.  She talks about doing this with some of her friends in her book.  I have started to do this with my children on weekly basis if not more to get them to stop for a moment to connect with their own gratitude.  They love it now but I am sure at some point this might become annoying to them but I don't care because I think it is such an important foundational and life skill to have.  I feel ridiculously passionate about this and had to stop for a moment to connect with why?  Then I remembered I had been taught the lesson of seeing gratitude even in the strangest places by one of the most precious people in my life.  My Mother.  Even after her death she managed to portray the message of how important it is to be thankful.  She asked that her funeral be done as a thanksgiving day service.  I never really paid any attention to this until recently and it now means a lot to me.  I think as parents sometimes we don't really know why we are doing the things we are such as making our kids see what they are grateful for.  Right now they might only be talking about toys, crayons, video games the colour blue, who knows.  We might get some resistance, the occasional eye roll or "really Mom or Dad".  But taking the time teach our kids and ourselves to see how much we do have to be grateful for is opportunity to shape perspective and a definite increase in the ability to be happy.
It certainly has helped me!

My Mom Lucille.

Be Happy, Be Healthy,  Mieka : )

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Harnessing Your Happy Powers.

Happy Powers, we all have them but whether we use them to the best of our ability is another question.    Happy Powers are available to everyone of us.  If used they have the power to improve your personal ranking on your happy scale.  Happy powers can be tapped into anytime, regardless of what might be going on in your life.  Yes this does require effort and we have to choose to use them.   No, I am not talking about wine (although a glass every now and then for me is nice too:).  I am talking about moving your body, sweating a little or a lot on a regular basis.  Taking the time to see how important exercising (dare I say the word) really is in the grand scheme of things is HUGE.  When we exercise, move and sweat we release endorphins, dopamine HAPPY HORMONES!  Without thinking about our mental state we get an automatic pick me up.  This sensation helps us to see and think clearer, function and move better and maybe let things slide off our backs a little easier.  As we continue to take care of our bodies we can experience life overall in a better place because we really do feel better!  Not to mention without our bodies we wouldn't be able to experience anything anyway.  One of our priorities for sure needs be the one thing we have that allows to be and feel alive, your body.  The fantastic part is when we focus on looking after ourselves with exercise and nutrition all the experiences we have improve:).  If your looking for advice on nutrition just hop over to my fab friend Jenn Pike's blog trust me it's all there!  We all have a super hero that exists within us and one of those amazing powers is the ability to be happy.  Just like an athlete or  musician we need to practice and exercise those muscles of bliss so the joy can be unleashed.  So many will say they don't have time, they have an injury, they are too tired on and on.  You can start by just jumping up and down in your kitchen, marching on the spot, pressing your arms up and down for a minute or two or going for a walk.  Just start to move and get your heart rate up.  Stimulate the release of those hormones and then start to move more and more and feel better and happier.   I know I was extremely lucky to be studying Kinesiology in university after my Dad has his heart attack and suffered brain damage.  Having to exercise in school definitely gave me a better chance at coping with my world coming to a crash and burn at that time.  Many people also use the excuse they can't afford a gym membership, they don't know what they are doing or they just don't like the gym.  You can even check out 'you tube' there is an endless amount of videos on how you can move your body in different ways and even get your exercise on.  Just search Yoga, Pilates, Zumba, Dance, kickboxing whatever you like, the list really is endless.  Your local library will also rent exercise DVD's you just need to choose to walk through the doors.  Get a friend to do it with you and then you'll release even more dopamine, as being in a community environment will do that.  Of course if you can find your way to a gym or studio that is hugely beneficial as well.  Either way knowing, understanding and owning the fact that these hormones or as I like to call them happy powers exist in you is a start.  You need to choose to get moving so these super powers have the opportunity to unleash your feel good potential!  Then, actually releasing and using your powers is a one way ticket in the direction of a happier healthier you!

be happy , be healthy.

Mieka :)

For more information on how to discover your happy check out my Happy Flow Yoga workshops coming at the end of September.