It’s Noisy In Here

The past few days I’ve realized that my mind is noisy. Without a daily venting space like Facebook, I find I am left to the echoing of caverns in my mind – and that’s not necessarily a good thing. 

I want to be able to share my message of love with those who most need to hear it – my friends who are disenfranchised because of their heritage and religious affiliation, and my friends who struggle to see their fellow humans as humans. It makes me very sad. What makes it worse is that even when I share my thoughts and feelings, there are still those who don’t “get it”. 

My mind turns in circles trying to rephrase things or use a different analogy, hoping to somehow create an “aha!” moment that finally breaks through the mental and emotional barrier that this hatred has created. And these thoughts take up a lot of emotional energy in my brain…emotional energy that could be used for helping me focus on a more important task such as cleaning the dishes or finishing my work notes, or planning the structure of my day.

My poor brain is exhausted from thinking and feeling. It’s why I had to step away from Facebook for a while. I have more important things to accomplish in my day than sitting and reading through articles and status posts, processing the emotions, then attempting to respond in an appropriate way. It often involves me spending multiple hours invested in this process.

So, I completed my first Facebook-free week rather successfully. I did sign on for some time on the weekend, responding to relevant interactions and checking out the latest social reports. But, for the most part, I realized that the notifications were just another distraction and the posts I missed sharing could just as easily be shared here on my blog. And here I preserve my sanity by not having any back and forth interactions with people who feel the need to prove their point. I am just as bad as the next person at letting myself get worked up about something in wanting to prove a point. (It’s something I am actively working on and why I step away). 

I do hope, though, that some day we can all recognize that we are being fed a line. A good portion of the North American nation is being duped by the manipulator in the hot seat.  The fear mongering is feeding a hatred that has welled up from the underbelly of society. The only way to stop this is to practice radical love and acceptance. To my fellow Christians especially, I speak a word of caution. Jesus came and lived a life of quiet love. His radical acceptance of those who were different is what set Him apart and drew people toward him. This is not the practice of a good portion of today’s so-called Christians. Let’s change that.

Peace be with you. 

Distraction

Ugh. It’s 10:17pm and I should have been in bed an hour ago. I’m not done putting Christmas away and I’ve been on Facebook for far too long.

I’ve been feeling really distracted and scattered lately – too many things on the “to do” list and too many interactions I want to have (challenging elitist thinking on social media, standing up for the causes I believe in), and then of course there are the obligatory job commitments. 

I’ve known for a while that I want to blog more and do more intentional things like read, write, and play my guitar. I’ve tried on a number of occasions to delete my Facebook app or even limit my time spent on it. Each time, though, I get sucked back in. 

But today was the last straw. A friend posted something promoting Kevin O’Leary and I challenged her, commenting that I would be more supportive of the PC Party if they had a different leader. Her response was that I likely wouldn’t like her thoughts on the matter – so we left it at that. After days of reading and reposting Trump articles and the preaching against his craziness and that of his followers, I have become emotionally exhausted even thinking of the possibility of someone supporting these tyrants. 

It reminds me of this meme I shared a few weeks back:

And that’s exactly it. I’m tired of the ugliness of this world and the people in it (many of them people of faith who fuel the bigotry and hatred with their judgmental ways). 

Being an empath, it is very important that I first preserve myself if I am to be of any support to anyone else. To me, this means disconnecting from my Facebook attachment. I wouldn’t say I have a full-blown addiction to the social media platform, but I’d say that it’s definitely my worst form of distraction. The social media platform has done many good things for me: it has allowed me to advertise my business for free, to connect with family all over the world, and it has taught me valuable lessons about intersectionality and community. It has also, sadly, caused me a lot of heartache and sadness and frustration as my brain struggles to keep my feelings in check and refrain from speaking when I shouldn’t. I allow myself to get sucked into the vortex too easily and I am way too willing to waste an hour interacting online rather than taking down my Christmas decorations. 😉

So, here I am, getting back to being intentional. When I am feeling a need to discuss or vent, I have decided to do it here (and thus meet my goal of writing again). When I’m feeling a need to connect, I will chat with my Twitter peeps, and I’m hoping that by disconnecting from checking how many likes that last post received or what comments people had on today’s rant then I will be more able to focus on my list of tasks and feel better about getting myself organized at home.

This was a long time coming and I’m already ecstatic that I’m doing this. Stay tuned for updates on my struggles and the positive outcome of this commitment. 

The Small Life

I’ve had a bunch of thoughts lately on how we talk to one another. Some people tell me I’m too defensive and I shouldn’t take things personally. Others try to motivate or inspire me by telling me that I’m not good enough. While it’s true that we each need to take time to process our thoughts before jumping to conclusions, I also think that personal matters are exactly that – they are personal. Heartfelt, intensely empathetic individuals such as myself, we feel everything very strongly. And while we can be taught ways to manage those emotions, I don’t see the need to stop feeling and/or expressing those emotions as long as the way we process them is constructive. 

Having said that, today’s thoughts come out of a place of intensely personal feelings as I navigate the world of both working for myself and alongside others. Over the years (especially since working with a cognitive behavioural therapist for 3yrs), I have been following many different positive psychology gurus, inspirational speakers/preachers, and I’ve pursued a few different modalities of thought in the process. Often words that were meant to have a motivational focus just didn’t sit well with me. 

I don’t believe that life coaches, motivational speakers, or positive psychology gurus have malicious intent. In fact, as their very focus is positivity it may seem a little “out of left field” for me to claim that their effects are quite the opposite. But please hear me out.

I’m sure we are all familiar with the following statements:

1. “Think big” http://blog.iqmatrix.com/habit-of-thinking-big

2. “Live bigger” https://www.amazon.ca/Dream-Big-Live-Bigger-Success-ebook/dp/B01DZ5K6VE

http://beyondmybluedoor.com/dont-live-small-lives/

3. “Success is just beyond the comfort zone.” https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/279569

Inspiration can be found in many places. For each of us as individuals it is found in different ways. Generally speaking, we know that introversion and extraversion are two very different personality types. Even for those who possess a bit of both, the needs associated with each personality type are undeniable. Extroverts are motivated, inspired and re-energized by other people, loud music, and large crowds. Introverts are the exact opposite – we need quiet times alone, a good book or article to read, and possibly some of our favourite chill tunes. This also applies to those of us battling mental health challenges such as depression and anxiety, or cognitive challenges from PTSD, head injuries or other influences. 

That being said, it has come to my attention that the quiet and simple life of few material needs, disconnected from the busy-ness of society, and uninterested in the pursuit of “bigger and better” has somehow become equated with lesser value. The marketing messages of our world have bombarded our psyche and programmed our speech. Bigger and bolder are better.

However, if truth be told, some of us find strength in our safe places. We live quieter lives, with simpler and smaller goals and dreams. Some of us are content with less – less stuff and less connection to the outside world and the media’s frenzied pace and politics. And that’s okay.

If this is you, I want to encourage you today. You are worthy just as you are. If you are happy in the quiet, stay quiet. If you are happy staying close to home, then do so. If you are happy being less connected, then appreciate and enjoy that simplicity. 

Let us not become so focused on the pursuit of bigger and better that we lose focus on what is important. People should not be poked and prodded and belittled for thinking and feeling differently. Inspiration can come from small, gentle leading just as well as it can come from big, bold, drastic action. 

In a world increasingly promoting aggressiveness, I hope we can all learn to take a step back and remember that “bigger/louder/bolder” isn’t always better and “smaller/quiet/simple” is not worse. On this the very day we celebrate Martin Luther King, I hope we can focus more on love and kindness instead of judgment and aggression. ❤

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” 

Elitist/Ableist Thinking

It really bugs me that people think that those of us who struggle to find work in a terrible economy are lazy or simply taking advantage of the system. 

Both my sister and I have benefited from EI and its social assistance over the years. It’s a very necessary program considering the economy these days. Even the Welfare program is beneficial to those without options and in terrible situations. I’ve heard stories of single women who were left to raise children and a not a penny to their name. Without these social supports, our society would be in serious trouble.

So, when I hear elitist friends say they don’t agree with living off of the hard work of others, it really irks me. At some point even the elitist may need that support. What goes around comes around. We never know what lies around the corner for us. Life is funny that way.

The same goes for the ableist mentality. This is not often thought about. People who are fully physically and cognitively able don’t think twice about their attitude toward those of us who may have challenges – be it chronic fatigue or cognitive delay or physical inabilities. It’s so easy to assume that we are lazy (which is so far from the truth). And if you don’t agree, come live a day in our shoes and see how exhausting simple daily living activities can be. Add to that the emotional stress of relationships with people who don’t “get it”, and a society whose ignorance permeates the very air we breathe…the struggle is real. If you thought tension in the air feels thick, you should experience the feeling of ignorance (and arrogance) thrust upon you. It leaves me speechless – believe it or not (😉).

Why don’t you get a job and stop living off the system? You look fine. What’s wrong with you? 

First of all, appearances mean nothing. Mental health challenges are one of the most common issues in society right now. These challenges leave a person immobilized and unable to focus or think. Even on medications, our bodies are exhausted from fighting ourselves. Secondly, jobs (especially in London, On) do not grow on trees. Many decent paying positions require very specific education and training. Without the money and cognitive ability and energy to pursue such training, a person is sunk. 

So what’s left then? Where does that leave us? Minimum wage jobs do not pay the bills. Sadly, since moving back from Calgary almost 10yrs ago, I have had only one job with full time hours and decent pay. It lasted a little over a year and was an abusive situation. I was forced to quit as the owners were tired of working with my exceptionality. 

So, here I am, having been forced to start my own business just so that I had a job, and specifically one without a boss breathing down my back with unrealistic expectations. But the work of running ones own business is not exactly ideal for someone with brain injury. The payment per hour barely covers travel expenses and time spent “working”, never mind administration. I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. 

But of course, I look fine. So what’s my problem? Just find another job, right? Lots of people work multiple jobs to pay the bills. Go ahead and judge me and tell me again that I’m not worth the money I charge for the service I provide. And by all means, let me know again that you don’t appreciate having to pay for someone else’s life (which is not mine, just for the record).

Lately, I just can’t stand people. 😒

Today’s Devotional Reading 

SCRIPTURES:
“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:1-10‬ ‭NASB‬‬

http://bible.com/100/eph.2.1-10.nasb

2 Corinthians 4:17, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (NIV)

Hebrews 12:2 “Let us keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross scorning it’s shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

God is taking you straight to your destiny … in His ever God-like-zig-zagging-sort-of-way.

Prayer: “Father God, help me keep my eyes open and learn to look for Your hand in the midst of happenstance, so my hope remains steadfast and my heart remains full. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

Reflection 

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot…thinking about my time and how I use it (or waste it, as the case may be). I’ve been thinking about what I want my life to be, how I want to use my time instead of just watching it pass me by. My goal this year is to be more intentional – with my physical living space, my time, my relationships, my finances, and my energies. 

I want to be more focused and less reactive. I want to develop routines and stick to them. I want to purge the unnecessary and live in an organized space. I want to feel like my time is used constructively and in doing so make time and space for doing the things that I enjoy and that refuel my body, mind, and spirit. 

This devotional reading and the accompanying scriptures remind me of my goals for this year. Just as my gratitude practice helped me to refocus my attitude and emotional energies last year, I’m finding affirmations all over the place this year equipping me with positive behaviors and strengthening my resolve to pursue a life of intention. ❤

Another New Year, Another Attempt at Blogging

Last year I committed to “365 Days of Happiness” posts on Facebook. It was tough at the beginning and at many points throughout the year. I struggled to be happy some days, or at least to find the silver lining amidst the gloom. But, I did it! Even on days that I missed posting to Facebook, I would think about what was the happiest point in my day and then post in retrospect to get myself caught up.

Through that exercise I discovered a few things:

1. I CAN do something on a daily basis if I set my mind to it. 

2. I work better when I can work on one thing at a time. (I had a daily post for work at one point also).

3. I really miss writing. And…

4. I need to slow down.

So, this year’s commitment is this: 

I want to be more intentional.

So, what does that look like exactly?

1. I want to post less often on Facebook, but invest in more intentional and substantial posts. I want to use Facebook more intentionally, not as a time filler but as a tool for connecting. And I want to write in my blog again (so you’ll see those posts shared through my Facebook).

2. I want to manage my time more intentionally – time in relationships, time for work, time by myself (scheduling wisely).  

3. I want to be more intentional with my living space (minimalism). I have decided to dedicate the month of January to purging and organizing. 
4. I want to get back to spending time doing the hobbies I once enjoyed – guitar, clarinet, scrapbooking, fitness. 

As an extroverted introvert, I pretty much spend my days in conflict – wanting to be connected, but needing my alone time. Social media is such a great tool for this. I do, however, find that at different times in my life I get stuck in one position or the other (either on or off). Over the past 365 days I have discovered that I am happiest when I honour both sides of my yin and yang more intentionally.

Alas…this is how we begin the year. Having spent the last of 2016 with friends and family, James and I started our New Year today with friends and now we sit in the quiet at home. Here’s to 364 more days of intentional experience in this thing called life. 😊 Happy 2017!