Life Tracks – Helen Reddy… Grateful

Don't let your struggle define you.(1)

You can bend but never break me ’cause it only serves to make me more determined to achieve my final goal. And I come back even stronger. Not a novice any longer. ‘Cause you’ve deepened the conviction in my soul.

“I am grateful for my struggle.”

“Say it again,” she said.

“I am grateful for my struggle, ”  I said through my tears… and at that moment,  I truly meant it.

I am grateful for the way it has broken me wide open allowing me to see things from a depth that I didn’t have before. I am grateful that I know the darkness so that I can truly appreciate the light. And the light is so, so bright after the darkness. I am grateful for my lessons that have threatened to break me… but haven’t.

My son is an addict. There. I said it out loud. More people need to say these words without the fear of shame. There are so many of us affected by this deadly disease but no one wants to talk about it for fear of being judged. You must have been a bad parent to allow this to happen. Right? Wrong. Addiction is a disease that doesn’t discriminate – whether you come from dysfunction or harmony, it doesn’t matter. Unlike cancer or any other horrific disease,  we have to show our support by not helping… not in the usual sense of the word. This is counter-intuitive because as a mother, it is deeply instinctive to want to protect our children and to try to ease their pain. Addiction is the only disease where saying no is the antidote and turning away from the ailing is the only hope for a cure. It is a disease that magnifies the pain that the addict is so desperately trying to numb and all you can do is hope that they will finally hurt badly enough to want to help themselves… because helping themselves is the only way out.

Oh, oh, yes I am wise but it’s wisdom borne of pain. Yes, I’ve paid the price but look how much I’ve gained. If I have to, I can face anything. I am strong. I am invincible. I am woman.

So… yes, I am grateful for my struggle because it has made me stronger than I have ever been before. It takes a lot of strength to give up the need to control and to just trust. Trust that everything is as it should be even if it seems so. totally. messed. up. Just trust.

I will not let my struggle define me but I will allow the growth that has occurred as a result of it, to shine from me and through me, beautifully.

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A Colourful Woman

 

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Recently, someone very dear to me passed and I am struggling with the surreality of it… and the grief, mine as well as that of my dear friend. You see, she was the mother of my friend who I have known since grade three… but she was more than that. She was my “other” mother.

I wanted to do something at the memorial to show how much that she meant to me. I felt that I should get up to say a few words to tell everyone the positive influence that she had had on my life, to tell everyone how much I appreciated her and to say thank you to her for being my creative mentor. I struggled with this for a couple of weeks and the words just wouldn’t come. What did come were little snippets of memories and swirling phrases. This poem is the result of those memories and phrases in my attempt to capture the essence of this Colourful Woman.

 

A Colourful Woman

Vivid colors of a woman
Golden threads of a life
Woven in love
Mother, daughter, sister, wife

Misty memories in mauve
Soft petals of pink
Sweet smelling Lilacs
by the kitchen sink

A star-studded sky
A lady in white
Bobbing for apples
on an inky black night

Bright pink Hibiscus
on a flowing blue dress
So many memories
Truly, I’m blessed

You’re in My Heart
Forever Young
Yellow silk pants
and the way that they hung

Piles of bright fabric
on tables and chairs
Dried flower arrangements
and mohair bears

Laughter and tears
and Needles and Pins
A safe place for all
to be creative in

A splash of red
for creativity
A passion ignited
You sparked it in me

By example you taught
“be unique and be bold”
And purple is the color
to wear when you’re old

So many inspired
So many who loved her
This colorful woman
was my “other mother”

Life is hard sometimes… really hard but in order to get through the grief and process the pain, we have to feel it all the way through.

There is a crack in everything… that’s how the light gets in. ~ Leonard Cohen

Self-Care Change Agent

Change

In the last year, I have affected many positive changes in my life. I can’t take credit for it though; it was my body’s idea. When the anxiety and the heart palpitations didn’t work, my body decided that it was time to send me something to make me pay attention. So, it slapped me up the side of the head with the open palm of pain.

It worked. Pain is a very effective catalyst to change.

I spent the first few months of this year in bed with debilitating stomach pain, in doctor’s offices trying to find answers and on the internet trying to self-diagnose. The doctors sent me for various tests and while waiting months for a colonoscopy, I decided to take matters into my own hands.

Exhausted, overweight and anxious from years of stress and self-abuse in the form of an improper diet, not enough rest and no boundaries, it was time to implement some extreme self-care.

I cleared my calendar, set boundaries and tried to become comfortable with not doing everything for everyone. I eliminated sugar, gluten and processed foods from my diet and lost twenty pounds. I drank less coffee and more tea, less alcohol and more water. I spent more time alone with me and acknowledged my need to heal. I spent more time being creative – art journaling, writing and cooking simple, healthy foods. I started to practice yoga and explored my spiritual side.

It was working. I was feeling more healthy and peaceful than I had in years. Friends that I hadn’t seen in a while noticed a change in me. They saw a light that seemed to shine from within.

This is good, right? Yes, but…

I now feel myself sliding again. In the past month, I haven’t been getting enough sleep and now I find that I am so tired that my eating habits are suffering. The anxiety is quietly seeping back into my body, I feel my stomach beginning to get “cranky” again and my focus is waning.

This time is different though. This time I know better. This time I will stop it now.

This change has to be forever. It is not a quick fix. It is a life time of self-care because I am worth it.

Why do we, as women, have such a hard time with this? It is time to change this now. We all need to become change agents for self-care.

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