Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

It feels like a cold hand gripping my heart from the inside, taking my breath away and leaving me spinning, unable to focus, Post Tramatic Stress. I have been told I have classic symptoms an RCMP officer and I have been told I need to just “Let it go” by those who don’t understand. I actually cannot remember if I have written about this event before or not and cannot guarantee that this will be the best read you will have but I just need to get it out of my body and mind.

I can honestly say that it is not this event alone that caused this. One small event after the other, gradually leading up to this one moment paved the path for my present. I realize that healing comes in layers and when I am ready they are revealed to me. I somehow never fully acknowledged this event for what it was and now it is begging for my attention as I move into a new phase of my life. I know that I cannot be successful in my business until I give this event the energy that it is demanding from me right now.

I am unsure about the date at this point and it seems irrelevant to me now but I do know that this event is one of the main reasons I left my place of employment, a place I had worked at for 10 years. It wasn’t just the event itself but also the reactions, response and lack of compassion and support from my colleagues and those that I feel are there to protect me and help me as a professional when I am not in a mental state to do so for myself.

I am pretty sure I was 27 years old when this event happened and I was working as a Registered Nurse on a medicine floor. It was nearing the end of the evening shift and the floor was quite as the shift change was imminent and report was being given. My patient had been confused and combative all night and I had previously witness him punch the charge nurse at which point I asked if we could give him something to calm him down and was told “No.” So when he wandered out into the hallway at 2315hrs or so, confused and talking gibberish I was hesitant and knew that I needed to be cautious with him.

A few days earlier he had been the exact opposite of what he was now; talking with me, confident, alert, ready to leave with no signs of delirium. He also told me about his life and career in the Navy so I knew that he was very skilled in the art of combat and self preservation. As he walked down the hallway trying to get into other rooms and beds I followed calmly redirecting him back to his room with very little physical contact, keeping my distance. We moved further and further down the dark hallway until we reached the end where two stretchers sat. He tried to climb on one of them, thinking it was his bed and at this point I took him by the hand and began to guide him off and away from the stretcher.

Suddenly he came alive, like he totally switched into a different person and turned around quickly and placed both his hands firmly around my neck and began to squeeze. I remember looking at his face and although the hallway was dark I could see that his eyes were totally vacant, they seemed black and hollow but angry at the same time. They looked right through me, similar to the eyes of the man who sexual assaulted me a few months later.

I remember that I thought right away that this was not really happening to me and that he would just let go and stop any second now. When he began to tighten his grip on my neck was when the reality kicked in and I yelled for help. At first with little effort and then the hands got tighter. I had a moment of clarity where I thought to myself “Ok, I know I need to bust out of these hands but I don’t want to hurt him, he is old and frail,” which brings so many other factors into play and I see how my entire life lead up to this moment. So I chose not to physically protect myself from a man who was literally choking me because I didn’t want to hurt him and this pattern has played out in my life many times before and after this event in a variety of ways. It is one of the main issues I work with through my healing journey and it always shows up in new places – like the bathtub tonight, which lead me to write this, finally!

I yelled for help 3 times, each time getting more and more faint. I was standing 3 feet away from the door to the room where all the new nurses and the charge nurse were gathered taking report and yes it still took three times of calling for help to actually get help. I was told later on that my co-workers on shift that they thought I was just a “little old lady calling for help, so we just ignored it” to which I say shame on you, either way it was the wrong choice.

When the door to the report room did open and someone came and pulled the patients hands off of me, I suddenly found myself leaning up against the wall in shock with a nurse beside me saying something along the lines of “oh, I had a little old lady bite me too….” and then proceed to show me her bite mark on her arm. Im sure there were some people asking if I was ok but it was short lived as I was soon told by the charge nurse to give the patient something to calm him down. I remember walking back to my cart, drawing up some Halodol in a state of complete shock and walking over to the man that had just assaulted me, who was now in a secured chair, arms still flailing, and giving him an injection. I felt like a zombie.

As people began to chirp about the big event and what they had just witnessed I was left to  myself to finish charting about it and it was I who inquired to my charge nurse about filing some kind of report to which I was told that if I wanted to I could and was then left to do it on my own and had to ask for help. No security, no support, no genuine sympathy as everyone was too busy feeling bad about their part in the event or their own abuse stories. I filed the report as best I could and left when I was done.

I drove home alone, in the dark, to my home where I lived alone and crawled into my bed covering my head. I was in shock and had no idea how to handle it. I was sent such mixed messages by the nurses I was working with that I didn’t allow myself to feel the magnitude of the event and maybe that is what is finally happening in this moment. I remember that I called my brother and told him, possibly the next day or maybe that night – I don’t know. He told me not to tell my parents because they wouldn’t be able to handle it, which is a pattern that I have followed most of my life in order to not cause them more pain. I now know this is really not my job but I somehow thought it was for many years and kept nearly everything to myself. Eventually all things good and bad were off limits because I was so bitter about this dynamic.

The next morning I was awoken by a phone call from the unit manager, sounding horrified and upset, asking if I was ok. Of course I was going to say I was -I barely knew her and honestly I felt like I was in trouble or going to get into trouble if I told her what happened. I did tell her that I was ok and satisfied she hung up and I don’t believe I heard from her again. I went to work that day, same shift, same patients and some of the same staff. I was assigned to look after the man who had assaulted me and it felt horrible, my stomach flipped and flopped and I became very angry. I said I was not going to care for him and I wanted to switch. I did end up caring for him for about half the shift until I finally just couldn’t take it anymore and said I needed to go home. My hands were trembling and I could barely breath. They were talking about the event on the floor but it was more like a good piece of gossip that did eventually get wildly out of hand, but yet I was still expected to care for this patient and that makes no sense to me at all.

The fact that I was assigned to this patient told me that I was over reacting to what had happened the night before and that I was not justified in feeling the way I did – very, very anxious and afraid. The response from the co-workers was even more disheartening as I was yelled at down the hallway by the woman who showed me her bite mark the night of the event and told that she would not make a statement on my behalf if I was pressing charges or going to security. In her eyes, he was the victim not me (I feel we both were). I was cornered on the next shift by a young nurse who was angry with me for involving security which must have resulted from the report I filed the night it happened. She told me I should go apologize to him because he was very upset – to this I lost my cool, began to cry from rage and dropped a few *F* Bombs before leaving the floor. This may have been my last shift, at least on that floor anyway.

I received a phone call from Pastoral Care and was asked if he could do anything for me, I didn’t even understand what he was talking about at the time. What kind of care could he offer me,  and what was God going to do for me? At this point in my life I was VERY angry towards Religion. I asked to have a meeting with the charge nurse and the nurse who was the witness and refused to file a statement. I could not understand why they treated me the way the did and wanted answers. I was very angry.

At the time I also worked at the Morgentaler Clinic as a Nurse assisting with abortions and the charge nurse that night had previously called me a “Sinner” and told me I was “going to hell” during a dinner break in front of my colleagues and I wondered if that had anything to do with her treatment towards me on the night of the event. I will never know because I did not hear from anyone again in terms of follow up or other services available to me.

Ok, so that felt good to write it out and just get it out of my system but I see where the projection, the blame and anger lie within the way that I tell it and I know that it is not 100% accurate because I was in shock and that my interpretation was or is still clouded by anger and other emotions. This is not ideally how I want to view the world but this is part of the process and I am going to do what it takes to heal myself even if it doesn’t look so pretty. This is another step towards facing this issue and making a mends with my past. I have once again requested assistance from services available to me but have previously had very little support even from programs designed specifically for this kind of help. I once called a crisis line and was told to call back in the morning!??? What the……???? Anyway, the Universe works in mysterious ways and I needed every obstacle I encountered to get me to this moment right now.

This issue not only clouds my view of Nursing but also of men and self trust. It was a big factor in the date rape that occurred only a few months later, the reason I was calling the crisis line, and in the man I chose to be in relationship with a few months after that. I am tired of being afraid but the truth is I don’t fully trust myself in situations because of the unhealed parts that remain from events such as this.  The energy that takes over me when this is  triggered feels sooooooo powerful and I am unable to make good choices from this space. Its like I leave my body. There is no “just let it go” from this as it is a very intense healing that still needs time to be recognized.

I wonder where my protection was that night? Why did I choose to let a man strangle me and fear hurting him even though he was capable of killing me? Why do I loose my ability to say no to people who hurt me? What are we as women or nurses so afraid of that we turn our backs on each other in times of crisis? Where is the safety net? I had nowhere to fall but I did anyway.

I fell apart a few years later after more hard hits, I couldn’t take anymore of that life and I finally just let it all fall apart. What was I met with? Anger from many people in my life that continues to this day. I was denied benefits from my insurance provider through work for going and living at an Ashram, a place where my Dr., my specialist and my psychiatrist were supportive of. I am not sure if I  spoke to my Union rep about this event, its a blur at this point but there was nothing that could be done and I was left to fend for myself.

Taking responsibility for my part here by saying that I told everyone I was ok after the event and felt like I had nothing to complain about or that nothing could be done for me, so I became very very angry with the system and myself. But as I look back on the event with clearer eyes, I see that no matter what someone says, a person who has just been strangled cannot be trusted to take care of themselves no matter how convincing they are – they were assaulted and are not thinking clearly. I needed help.

I faced more bullying from coworkers at a new job,  in a different hospital around the same time. For this event I did contact and get quite heavily involved with my Union to protect myself but it was exhausting everyday especially since I was now the known tattle-tail to those who were afraid of change and those doing the bullying. I was also becoming increasing ill and frail. I felt so alone on this journey of simply standing up for my right to be treated with respect in my workplace. I also had lots of support from co-workers who were sick of the way they were treated as well but not many were willing to stand up with me to make changes actually happen. I eventually left on sick leave for the first time in May of 2009.

I feel that I have accepted and worked with this issue quite a bit over the course of my healing but now is the time to remove another layer and take back my power. This event had a major impact on my life, my career and my health to which I am now and have been working very hard to rebuild. I see how I was repeatedly pushed to stand up for myself and how much I needed these hard lessons but I am ready to move past them now. This event and the way that my worth has been diminished by other major events in life are about to be revisited in a new way, a stronger way and I know I need to do this to demonstrate self love to me and to the world.

I deserve to ask for help and receive it, as a person, as a professional and as a victim of abuse. I have repeatedly tried to return to the practice of Nursing but was met with closed doors and now it makes so much sense. As I begin to open up these old wounds I see that this needs to be revealed before I can return to something that will ultimately be very good for me but I cannot rush into it. I will know when I am ready, my body will tell me.

Classic response from my body during times of severe emotional trauma is to feel ill, and get “Fibro” pain. This time around the pain was very mild and subtle which is a marked improvement and it is because I know and understand myself so well that I see these symptoms not as a cold coming on ora consequence to something I ate…..but as emotional release and a necessary step in my moving forward into healing and health. Because of this I rejoice in the symptoms and embrace the time that I have to be still and process.

Fibromyalgia to me is not a disease that a Dr. can diagnose or treat, it is a message to me that something needs attention. My body is finely tuned, self healing instrument that speaks a language all its own and it was Yoga that helped me learn my own body’s language. The only reason I call it Fibromyalgia is to relate to those who have been told the same thing or given the same diagnosis. But for me, I do not have “Fibromyalgia” in the sense of the word used by Medical Dr’s. It is a spiritual diagnosis and it is both the cure and the disease all rolled into one. Neither one existing without me having created it. I created it and I can use it as a tool to guide me towards enlightenment for which I am eternally grateful! I am grateful for all the pain, all the trauma and all the lessons!

Living on the edge

Norman Mailer: “Love asks us that we be a little braver than is comfortable, a little more generous, a little more flexible. It means living on the edge more than we care to.”

So I have taken a bit of a break and allowed many other things to unfold in my life and what I realized is that I love to write and miss it very much when I don’t do it. Well, maybe its really that I love to express myself and I feel like that comes from 30 years of being completely silent about my truth, now I just cannot get enough of sharing! Look Out world I have a voice now and its here to stay!!

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As I sit on the verge of taking a major leap in my life, which feels very much like a natural next step, I am again faced with my own fear and yet I walk head on into everyday. I know that I have a duty to share the knowledge I have gained through my healing experience and I feel we all have the same duty to share what we are on this earth to be. Why do I find it so challenging to just be what I am meant to be?  I am living in that space between Fear and Action, the moment just before everything changes.

Fear is my teacher and so I ask it the question “What purpose do you serve?” and it has no response that would be a good reason to stop me from taking a next step. As I push on through it the momentum takes hold and I am pulled so forcefully into my own life, that I have created, and I am reminded that I will never be given more than I can handle. I am prepared for this, I am capable of this and more.

People are starting to request time with me, I have  a calendar full of appointments to do exactly what I have been manifesting, I created this life and it is chomping at the bit for me to open the race gates. Can I hold on? Can I control this untamed heart that is more than ready be unleashed onto the world? I sure can and I am ready!

In these last few weeks I have become a reporter for the local paper (my first paid writing gig!), started an online radio show with my best friend (www.norliteradio.com/fullcircle – thursdays at 7pm central time), moved into a new home with an old friend of mine. I continue to make plans and open up all kinds of new ideas and possibilities for my future, nothing is off limits.

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 I am now a substitute teacher at the high school and have been asked to come speak at Career Day! I have been blessed with a life coach- Thank you Jean! I have met with a personal trainer to attain my personal fitness goals. I have met many important people and connections have been made for potential projects and work. Each step I take has a purpose and an intention that will lead me to the dream that I have in my heart.

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I continue to build and find clarity on my business ideas, which will be launching officially in a few weeks time. I feel a sense of what I was calling anxiety at first but then when I really allowed myself to feel it I realized it was just all this pent up energy from being so ready to leap off this cliff that it was just oozing out of me. I can’t sleep, I am constantly on the go in my mind and I happier than ever in the midst of all the transition. My body has been waiting to be a Yoga Teacher, a Dance teacher, a creative movement leader, a Water Release Therapy Provider, a writer, a motivational speaker and so much more for my whole life and my insides are leaping out of my skin with anticipation for  the beginning of my dream life to be even more my reality.

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I continue to be in contact with my friend in Rwanda and my partner in Thrill The World Kigali, Gilbert, who now has a new partner, our friend Amini, to help us shape our vision even more. We are more connected than ever and we lift each other to new heights. I am in love with my life and it feels amazing to have such a strong connection to these very special and inspiring people.

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I have been away from Rwanda for 4 1/2 months total and it feels like just yesterday that I left. While I was in Rwanda time expanded into years and I felt as though I was there forever! That is what I love about the human mind, it is capable of so much and it helps us create our reality in a way that is specific to exactly what we need at the time. Time doesn’t exist in a linear way for me anymore and that allows me to find peace in seeing how much I accomplished in 5 months in Kigali and now how much I have done, or not done in 4 months in Canada. Its all relative to me and my journey and when I look back I have done soooooo much!!!

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I am in this journey whole heartedly. I continue to be healthy and happy now because of the changes I have made. I give 100% everyday, even on the dark days, I go into them 100% because I trust that the other side will come and be even brighter than before. Today I commit to myself just a little more, do a little more, see a little more and trust a little more than I did yesterday. This is what keeps me going – real life experience – its all we can ever really know!

What Do I Need?

It has become very clear that I need to put all of my energy into building myself a life in a very practical way right now, which means I am taking a break from writing. I am excited about what this redirected energy can help me accomplish and look forward to giving myself the things I need to be happy and healthy in the present moment.

I need to give myself this gift and truly allow what is meant to happen at this point in the journey to be revealed. So here I go………

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday!

My Philosophy for life , “I Am Love In Action” is now officially ONE year old today and WOW what a year it has been!

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(The first event held by “I Am Love In Action”, March 2013, to raise money for my journey to Rwanda.)

As I sit in bed this morning with an earache that radiates into my jaw and head, I am reminded of how this idea came to exist. It was each tiny moment of my past that I chose not to Love myself that lead me to ruin. It was small things like not saying the words “No”, “Stop”, “Rest”, “Be Kind”, “Enough”, “Love”, “I Need”. These words, had they been spoken or listened to in the moments that they were called into my mind would have changed my life entirely. I know this because they are the words that I used to get me here, to the other side of ruin,  to the creation of a new life from the rubble. So I know that this earache is asking me to “Listen” and “Love “myself.

It’s time to reevaluate what I am doing with the knowledge, experience and life that I have created. Time to reassess what it is that I need to do next and how I need to show myself Love. I have been unable to see my ability to support myself clearly and now is the time to step into my skills and unlock the power I hold to create what I need. I know what  I need. I know I can give it to myself and so that is what I am setting in motion. My intentions are shifting. My lens has been wiped. My energy is needed in new places now and it is time to give to myself.

I have the potential to create a life that allows me to Thrive with the skills that I have acquired in my life up to this point and it is my action that makes that happen, no one else can do that for me. So this next year is about doing just that, putting even more “Love In Action” but with a focus more on myself and watching to see how the ripple effect then impacts others.

On this note, I will be changing the format, intention and purpose of this blog. It doesn’t fit me anymore. It needs to grow up, change with me and feed me in all the right ways. I want more time and energy to be dedicated to my growth and less to my story or to sharing it with others as I feel this will happen naturally.  Simply be who I am. Let my life be a demonstration for others to witness and learn from. Being me is enough.

I celebrate today by making choices that will lead me towards more Joy and continued Healing for tomorrow. Embracing what is here for me and living life  for the present moment is what is being asked of me. A step back will lead me two steps forward if I do it with awareness, patience and trust, which I know I can.

I NEVER could have imagined all that happened in this year and I am excited about the things I am imagining for my future!

Dx Ego Strikes Again!

Believe it or not, I like to keep to myself and am very quite most of the time. This journey has allowed me to go deep into my own mind, body and soul to explore who I am but in classic Scorpio style I like to go to extremes (like a Blog that spills all the beans, all the time with no holding back). Those extremes are hitting me hard this week as I am faced with allowing people into my process and am being shown parts of me that I don’t usually look at. Even with conscious self reflections I still get stuck in ruts, patterns and new “old” ways of being, thinking and acting. Allowing others into my life is a vital part of the process.

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I have put on some serious blinders in terms of my responsibility to myself and to my potential. All that I have done up to this point, all the extremes included, were necessary and now I am once again faced with my own self created reality. I have these intense “What the Fuck am I doing?” moments and I realize how deep I have gotten myself and how much rebuilding needs to happen in order to get to the place I want to be in this moment.

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(Only a few years ago I owned my own home. It had a huge beautiful garden with a fountain and secret “Hammock Haven” that I designed and created as well as  built the front deck and window decor. Everything I owned was exactly what I wanted, I never settled, even if it meant 50 trips to the Antique market. Talk about extremes.)

Basically I am being met with the consequences of my actions over the last 4 years and also seeing the doors that are there to help get me out of this place I now exist within. I live in a world where I want everyone to care about others and give up as much as I am willing to in order to help, which would in turn mean that someone would do the same for me- this is where my EGO comes into play.  This is why I feel like it is ok for me to not own anything and not have a job to support myself but this is NOT the world that I actually live in, it is not reality. Although I have a large community of people that have helped me get to this point and have solidified my belief in community and the innate goodness within us all, it is now time for me to become one of the supporters and that means I need to step up my game.

Ego is a very powerful part of all of us and it can be a wonderful tool. I have experienced, with myself, mostly something known as “Reverse Ego”, which basically means that I can out do anyone with how “worse off” I am in my life and that is how I would get the attention that I crave at a very deep level to sooth a lack of Self-Love. It used to be around schooling, then debt, then health, then what I gave up to heal myself. Now I am at a place where I use the volunteering, humanitarian work  to make myself look…… well……more selfless lets say. I am talking about really subtle layers here, not conscious choices at the time.

Ultimately it comes down to Fear. Fear of my own potential, my responsibility as this Human Being and of my own Power. As I allow people into my life to support me and push me, I get to see this fear more clearly and I am faced with my deepest fear – my Self. Today was no exception, thank you Bunny!

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I am afraid to go back into Nursing because I am afraid of myself, actually of how I care for myself. I watch as I give, give, give to others. Even now and even while doing what I feel is my calling, I still see how I put my own needs last in many cases and being dependent on others only makes that worse.

I tell others to always do what’s best for them and yet here I am a talented, strong, capable, creative woman with a Degree, many certifications and certificates to hang on the wall and I have no money, no home, and hardly any clothes?? What the heck? What am I trying to prove and to who, because honestly no one really sees the point – not even myself anymore! The story is old, worn out and I’m bored of hearing myself talk about it.

This has now become my “M.O”, my schpeel (sp?), my lifeline, my hook to capture the attention I seek from others. I don’t want to be a pity party and I don’t want to be “Debbie Downer”. So I need to ask myself some hard questions and be real very with my answers.

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(Art Therapy at the Kikiwak Hotel! This is the drawing of my Fear and me telling it to take a hike! Next step…ceremonial burning!)

Why am I doing this?

Its a habit now. I have let practices that served a purpose in the short term become long term solutions. I need to update what I want, where I am going and what I need. I need to find a balance and support myself so I can support others.

Does it still serve me?

No. It is holding me back. I am holding myself back. I am making an agreement with myself right now to take a step closer to my potential by facing this fear by re-entering into parts of my past that once were wounded. I now trust that I am Healed enough to do it in a way that will not only protect me but also elevate me to new heights.

Is this who/how I want to be?

No. I want to own my life and live it to the fullest. Take away all the pressure to be perfect, take away the games, judgements and the tricks to gain approval. I just want to be me. I am the only one holding the keys to my reality.

Is this what I want?

No. What I want is to open up to all parts of myself and enjoy all that I get to offer. I am a great Nurse, always have been and now I am equip to handle the environment in a new way, this is a great way to practice Practical Yoga! I can use this skill, Nursing, to facilitate my business and to support my creative needs as a Human, Artist and Humanitarian. I do not lose everything that I gained from my experiences since leaving the profession or any of my other qualities if I choose to do something that earns me a salary that can facilitate the life I want. If anything, I lose those qualities if I don’t do this. This is a major tool that I have in my hand and it can do myself and others a lot of service. I need to do this for myself.

What’s stopping me?

Self-Love. More layers of Self-worth and Love are at the roots of these next steps. I know that when I take the steps the Love will be revealed to me. If I don’t, then I will not see it or feel it. I know its there because it is what I am made of, all of us are of the same cloth -Love.

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(This is what Self-Love looked like at age 27, the year I began to emerge as my true self! http://www.amysenecal.com)

This healing journey has taken me on a path that has lead me out of the pack, but this does not mean that I am better than anyone else or that I can’t relate or live in the world as it is now. I do not want to be separate. Underneath all the searching is a desire to understand all of us, to know how to be ONE. I ventured on a  journey into understanding human kind and what I found was that we are all the same. I have detached myself somehow and now I am aware that I need more connection and to do that I have to let people in. Here there is fear.

This feels like a very big step as I have been extremely cautious about who and what I let into my life over the past 4 years, with a few mistakes along the way that clearly lead me back to my path. I kept my world fairly small and selective. As I bravely enter into a life that not only puts me back in the it bigger picture but also back on track with my destiny.

Am I ready for my Destiny?

YES and it’s pretty clear what the next step is!

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(The North Saskatchewan River. Taken as I walked across the bridge from Opaskwayak Cree Nation to the Town of The Pas. Beautiful!)

Here I Am World

I have never lived my life more authentically then I am in this very moment. I returned from Rwanda with a swagger that is unshakable. My time there showed me the strength and confidence that was just waiting to be seen, other people have told me  they see it but I needed to see it for myself. I transformed daily. With every corner a new experience awaiting to call on my trust and inner knowing.

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(This  is the first of many dresses  I had made while in Rwanda. This was an amazing creative adventure. I began to step into parts of myself that I had put away until the moment I was ready to explore them. I knew I would know when the time was right!)

From hailing a “Moto” or eating strange food to dancing in large groups of men and speaking a new language – it all asked me to step up and be who I really want to be. Rwanda was the finishing touch to this amazing journey of healing. It showed me where I was, who I was, and how far I have come. I come away from this  experience more my Self than I have ever been and I know  it is but a peak into my potential. I am soooooooooo proud of that girl who walked out of her home, her engagement, her career and her life with the intention of healing at all costs. I continue to be proud of myself and all the hard work that I have done to get where I am today and I am not afraid to say it!

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(You are as your name speaks to Amanda – Worthy of Love! I so proud of the girl in this picture! Even at your lowest you still knew your worth and were willing to fight for it, you are a survivor!)

I have seen my life unfold into a magical, amazing adventure that not only heals me everyday but also does great things for  those around me. I know through my experiences in life that we are all connected and what we do impacts everyone.  I also know that there is no such thing as “Good” or “Bad” as one  always leads to the next in some way shape or form. The impact that my choices have on others can sometimes lead to Kaos, Ruin, Heartache, and Pain as well as Love, Joy, Inspiration and Peace – all of which are necessary for change and growth.

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(My first official, self guided project: Love Hoop Rwanda. A project to introduce something I love and brings me joy to the people of Rwanda. Venturing into the remote villages of Nyanza to share this gift with the people helped me build the confidence I needed to get to this place I am in today, only a few months later. Murakoze to all the people who shared, laughed, danced, hugged and rejoiced with me in this project! You are all with me now giving me courage to continue on. You are all truly some of the Bravest Souls I have ever met!)

In my life, the Ruin lead to Love , the pain to peace, the Kaos to Joy and Heartache to Inspiration. We need things to get dark before we can truly see the Light! I look at it all as one big picture, the focus being on the balance of my life as a whole.

In the moment it may feel dark, sad, and lonely but I have lived enough to know that when I  come out the other side I am a much wiser and stronger person. I embrace it all and at the same time let it all go. One moment at a time we are lead into into the next page of our life story, the whole while the pen is in our hands. How do you want your story to look?

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(Santa Monica Pier, just days after returning from Rwanda. My future’s so bright I gotta wear shades!)

I have found my groove, my flow and the connection to my life is so strong that I feel pulled by it continually. As I walk down the street, I allow myself to truly feel where I want or need to go next. When I listen and follow through wether it makes sense to me or not, I go. The other day I decided to go with a new possibility that had been presented to me by a friend and went to inquire about a Government program called “Self-employment Program”. I had known about this for over a year and a half but it just never felt right.

When I returned to The Pas I began to see myself through a different lense, with the help of my friends, a business lense. I knew I wanted to start a non-profit and continue my work in Rwanda with Gilbert and the kids but I wasn’t sure how to do that. After  2 months, a few shifts at “Snakland” to help out my friend and myself financially,  a phone call from my friend Sarah, and a few long chats with my friend Paul. R, I suddenly saw things very differently. I needed to look after myself first and then think about starting a non-profit AND I did have what it takes to start my own business. The business of LOVE IN ACTION!

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After a few weeks of building this idea in my mind, I went to the employment office in town and inquired about the program. I was caught of guard when asked to describe my business idea to the man behind the counter but gave it a shot anyway (how to describe what I do in my life and do it well enough that a Government employee is going to take it seriously?). I did it and he was sold enough by my 30 sec explanation to pass me through to the next step and from there it became clear that I had met the right person to help me through this next phase. Thank you Paul L.!

The work I have done in the past was easy to explain; lifeguard, Nursing, swim instructor, laborer, etc. as it all fit into the societal norms and made “sense”, meaning I didn’t have to explain what it was I did as the job was self explanatory. I lived in a very rational world, very male energy dominated paths of determining success; money and material possessions. In order to bring balance back into my life, I have spent nearly 4 years living in a very irrational world where the intuitive, the “feeling” has very much  become my norm. I am now at a place where I want to bring the two worlds into balance in my life.

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(Ok, so I found a way to be myself even in the Rational world but really what I see when I look at this picture now is how much I used my sense of humor as a mask for my insecurities. I always felt like a “fraud” as a Nurse and did not take myself seriously most of  the time. Now I am able to bring back those parts of myself and have it be authentic. I have moved through the doubt and into a new confidence!)

I gave away my belongings, left my home, my life and my career so that I could Heal from the inside out.  I have healed to the point where  I want to bring back in the things I need to thrive in a way that is true to who I am now. To do that I need money because this is the reality I live in today. I do want my own space to call “home” as I know how important personal space is for me and what it provides for me. I also know that I will not do “work” that is not in some way meaningful to me, which can mean I work at “Snakland” to help my friend and ultimately myself in the short term but what I really mean is that I am not willing to push or force anything that does not naturally want to open up for me. I can find meaning in anything but what is it I am meant to be doing?

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(Letting go of possessions I said I would NEVER part with, like my 1970 VW Beetle named “Inga Ja”, was one of the biggest tools to my healing. I realize now that I can have possessions that serve to provide me with the life I want to live and not as an escape from the life I am living. )

I have explored the path of Nursing many times throughout this process, each time the doors just do not open or if they do, only enough to take a tiny step forward and make an internal shift towards going back into it to support myself and my vision. What that tells me is that even though I have a really nice safety net if I really need it, in terms of money and security, there is something bigger awaiting me that wants me to focus on it and not fall into old patterns of fear. I feel that until I fully embrace this business of being myself I will not be able to fully step into Nursing, although things seem to be happening simultaneously.

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If I look at my situation right now I have everything  I need to survive. I have food, clothing, a roof over my head and the love of all the people who support me in life. There is no reason to jump back into something just because it will give me money. What I need is to focus my time, energy and life on creating, even further, the life  I am meant to live. So that is what I am doing!

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(After a visit to The Pas in 2012, just after leaving the Ashram I knew I needed to be here but the time was not right. I stayed for one month and then headed to California to study Water Release Therapy (www.waterreleasetherapy.com). I had no idea where this would lead me but I knew I needed to do it before I committed to staying anywhere long term. Little did I know I needed to Rwanda first!)

The gift of friendship that my best friend and I share is something so transformative,  unique and beautiful – it can hardly be described. We take turns being the rock and the water. We are creating a beautiful dance that supports us both. We both have nothing to fear when we have each other in our lives as we both understand or “get” each other in a way that facilitates change.

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(On our way to the “Welcome Back Unicorn” Party that Carrie hosted for when I arrived!)

Together we have gone through many phases, trials and tribulations but through it all we have had an unshakable bond of sisterhood. This part of the journey is just a next logical step for both of us and makes perfect sense to us!!

So, after a few more meetings with the people at Employment Manitoba I feel more confident and supported than ever before. Something about sitting in a room with a man telling me that he believes in my vision allowed me to believe in myself at a new level. To be taken seriously by myself has been one of my life’s biggest challenges and I know that when I embody my beliefs I make others feel the same way about me. This was a very clear indicator of just how serious I have taken myself since March 7th, 2010.

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(My home  and “studio” in Rwanda where I created Healing Art, Love Hoop Rwanda and began the journey into seriously being ME in action!)

This is what I have come to see myself as, a facilitator for change and this is what my business will be. I will continue to take the next steps into what is being offered to me with grace and gratitude. I know the Universe had guided me to the people I need to be with during this time and that all I need to do is allow myself to receive the gifts that await me!

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All Washed Up

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(Hendry’s Beach, Santa Barbara, CA –  4 days after returning from Rwanda!)

We are all the subjects in the experiment called “Life”.  Each one of us with our own version of “normal”. Not one single person can have the exact same view of “normal” as the other because we all interpret the world around us in a unique way based on our experiences. As I learn more about my “norms”, I embrace some of them but for the most part I work very hard to change them into choices. I don’t like being the victim of unconscious patterns that direct my speech, thoughts, actions and the path of my life. The work I do is all about being more conscious and aware of myself so I can make changes to live a more positive, satisfying and authentic life for me.

Each one of us has the right to live the life we want to live and we need not justify it to anyone. Even when I was living a life that created a person filled with anger, resentment, and fear, although unconscious at the time,  it was a consequence of my choices. Now I think about my actions on a level that tends to separate me from most people I meet and has separated me from my family.

I am willing to do this because this is the life that has allowed me to Heal. I do not do it to make others happy or even with others in mind. Any response to how I live my life is for the person doing the judging to learn from. Seeing as I have experienced everything from people thinking I am insane and telling me they hate me to people who love me so intensely it is almost unfathomable, I cannot be attached to either one of those extremes or anything in the middle. I get pulled out of my own life and into the energy of the other people when I choose to give up my power in that way.  I found a way to give myself meaning, fulfillment and purpose in life everyday and with this comes an intensely  powerful feeling of what it is  to truly live my life.

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(California and “Hendry’s Beach” became my “Norm” when I was 27 years old. Coming from a remote Northern community, growing up places like this were but figments of my imagination. I have always been drawn to California and because of stepping into my fear it is now a place I call “home”!)

My thoughts, most of which I realized were not mine once I really broke myself down, were telling me that my life was not something I wanted to live or that I had to do it in a certain way in order to survive or even be happy. When we live unconsciously, we are but a consequence of  many layers of “brainwashing” from a variety of sources that mainstream society is bombarded with on a constant basis. From food choices to sexuality; Education, radio, TV, movies, advertising, internet, family, friends, careers, money, government – you name it, there is a message behind all of it that seeks to keep us under control.  In my life, some of it well intentioned, some of it seemingly positive but underneath it all lies control. Even deeper underneath there is a thick layer of Fear that drives it all (if we let it!)

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(What is there to be afraid of in my life when this sweet boy, Mohammed, has no food in his stomach and no mattress to sleep on every night! Survival is the deepest root of Fear and even though he is barely surviving, he demonstrated a spark for life that captivated me. I am sponsoring him to attend school and I am committed to take him as far as he wants to go, even though I have no “Job” or steady income right now, I have a deep knowing and trust that I am more than capable of providing this gift to him. He in-turn motivates me to move through my Fear and be my most authentic Self! Urakoze Cane Mohammed.

Oh, and that sweet little man behind him with his finger  pointing at Mohammed is “Issa”! He received a mattress and a fluffy blanket, for his family of 6, from the work we did together to raise money by Dancing!)

We are all subject to these influences in some way, at some time in our lives. Once I started to understand my mind and see how it was running all the time, like a freshly wound time piece without any control from myself, I realized that I was a simply acting as a puppet and handing over the control of my life. Something that was easily manipulated to fit into a system, a system that I did not want to fit into. I don’t really feel any of us fit into this system as it is so far removed from what is natural to humans beings. Since coming back to The Pas, I relate to the Aboriginal culture in a very different way and it was Africa that helped me see this culture through new eyes. Again, stepping boldly into the face of fear allowed for growth that changed the way I viewed the world around me.

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(I have walked this path, which has changed now into an actual path and is no longer just a trail through the bush, many times before. It is the path I took to walk to Junior High, High School, and College! Needless to say I have seen this path many times but this time around I have a deeper appreciation for how amazing it is that I was/am so surrounded my Nature in my life.)

Everyone doing the same, all thinking and acting alike, even looking alike so that we all feel safe and comfortable in the world around us, which speaks to an innate survival instinct that we all have, can hold us back from living our lives authentically.  I feel that any thought can be put into someone’s head if done repeatedly and from a variety of angles. This leads to unconscious behaviors that then draw us further and further away from our true selves. If we are all lost together then at least we can feel safe in that fear. To be one of the few who chooses to go against the grain, against mainstream and go with the flow of their own life is a very challenging road to choose. When I am immersed in a place where I feel I am greatly outnumbered it is even more challenging. Now here I am again, in my hometown surrounded by the same people and energy I had growing up, yet I am able to see it as a gift. What I see and what I know I was drawn here for is the potential that lies within this community for change both within myself and those around me.

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(Rwandan people are deeply connected to the earth, which is demonstrated in their language, body movements, gestures, dance, art, communication, spirit and daily lives. It was through this that I was able to understand the Aboriginal culture that I grew up surrounded by in a new way. I returned with a deep appreciation for both cultures.)

Who am I to waltz into a community and say that it needs to change or that this is right or wrong? I am not doing that. I am simply noticing the habits, the patterns, the energy and how it feels to me. How do I want to feel while I live here and how can I create a space for myself within this community that feels positive for me? How do I make it a healthy place for me to live?  For me it means consciously connecting to the culture and embracing all that it has to teach me, along with taking whatever next steps are presented to me while I am here. This is a practice that comes with me whenever I travel and is a very valuable tool to helping me be well in any setting.

I practice being conscious and aware of my thoughts, actions, speech, body and mind constantly so that I can make choices that are authentic to who I am at my core. I see the old patterns play out very clearly, especially now that I am back in my hometown where I was in many ways a completely different version of myself. Its not a coincidence that people that live together look alike, talk and sound alike, walk alike and relate to each other in a way that they are all familiar with. This is the power of community influence and it can be used to make positive change. I miss my community in California, The Kootenays and Rwanda very much but feel extremely grateful for  having created them in my life. Knowing I have them to go when I need the kind of support they offer is such a blessing. I also see that there is a richness to my childhood home that I have long taken for granted. I am here to  make peace with that within myself.

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(My best friend and I, age 13, were both born and raised in The Pas. I moved around until I was 11 years old, then returned. We both had a challenging time as teenagers and left before the age 20. Somehow we are now both back here, living together, supporting each other and healing what needs to be healed – together.)

By striving to create a space that feels positive for myself, I can also create an environment that is open to others who are drawn to feel that same energy. This is not about implanting another form of brainwashing or manipulating anyone, it is about offering myself as an example of change and anyone who wants to join in can and will. I am the holder of the space. I hold the space within myself and it radiates out in my work, my life, my speech and my actions. This is how I attract those who want to learn more about how to hold that same kind of space within themselves.

Even my time at the Ashram can be seen as a form of brainwashing except there is one HUGE difference, Choice. It was like I was handed the strings to the puppet called My Life. I was never told anything, no question answered only asked more questions. I was given control and that was very unsettling. Since when do I get to make my own rules? Can I really say what I feel and ask for what I need? When I do or say something and I clearly hear a tone or feel an energy that is not authentic to who I am, I  can change it? I was given back my power by being given the space to think autonomously.

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(During my time at the Yasodhara Ashram I gained 35 lbs, found my Spirit and my Will to live, let go of  emotional baggage that was causing me physical pain, and truly began to Heal myself! It was both my refuge and my launching pad!)

In many ways it was the ultimate “Brain Wash”, I literally cleansed my mind from the negative thoughts that held me in unhappiness and pain. I felt “washed” and like a clean slate coming back into the world. Everything seemed so harsh, so rude, so sexual and people even looked like robots to me at times. I got to see the world from the eyes of a new born and now am learning to keep out the things I do not want to expose myself to and consciously allow only what I do want into my life. No more wasting energy on things that do not feed me.

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(On my way to meet with Bunny from the Self-employment program that I am hoping to be accepted to!)

Knowing full well that the only person or thing I can change is myself, I step into this next phase with a confidence and strength that comes from experience and knowing what works for me. My life, My way, My Self!

Fate vs Karma

C.G. Jung — ‘Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.’

Relationship.

Am I destined to repeat the same cycles over and over again in love?  Am I meant to be alone? Am I meant to be in one, life long committed relationship with a man? My answer is “NO!”

I am in relationship with everyone who crosses my path; young, old, male, female, dog, cat, tree. I am in relationship with nature. I am in relationship with my Self. Everything gives and everything takes in order to achieve balance. My life is a part of the balancing act of the whole world combined. I am doing my part in the relationship to create a more beautiful space for me to live in, the world in my mind is very different than the one I lived in externally.

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My patterns in romantic love come from a variety of sources and some of them, I believe, came with me from past lives because I believe in Karma. These are the lessons I was meant to work with in this lifetime and they are what bring me closer to enlightenment or oneness and ultimately freedom! This gives me a positive outlook on my life no matter what comes to me because I see it as a gift. A gift that will lead me towards understanding myself and facilitates change.

So my patterns with male energy are obviously Karmic as they are very deep and have  been my most painful lessons, this last one no exception. But one thing, one very big thing, has changed – I am aware of myself playing them out as they happen and can make changes in the moment. I have learned to listen to my thoughts and see my actions before I act on them by practicing control of my energy, emotions and self.

Awareness does not mean or even imply perfection, almost the opposite in my view. To be aware means that I am watching for my imperfections and flagging them. If they are something that I want to change, I begin to consciously watch for them with the intent to make a different choice. Not every imperfection needs to be changed but the ones that cause me repeated pain are the ones I focus on.

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(These finger glasses help me to focus on my unconscious behaviors…..or this is just a funny photo!!)

Even with years of practice, I still play out unconscious behaviors, which when they become conscious I cannot help but think – how they heck did I let that happen – AGAIN?? Thank goodness for friends that are wiling to hold me to my truth (Kristen, Carrie, Catherine) and not judge me! All the work that I have done in this area including intensely practicing celibacy for 4 years has given me room for much growth but also reveals to me how deeply these patterns are ingrained.

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(Amanda: I think I found Mr.Right!!!! What do you girls think??? Carrie: Ummmmm, that’s a blow up doll, he’s not real Amanda!! Kristen: “We’ll he’s got a mustache but I thought you didn’t like mustaches? Catherine: “What??????????”)

Celibacy for me is a dynamic experiment in which I engage in my sexual energy in various ways to give myself real life experience of who I am and make changes to facilitate who I want to be. I am currently teaching myself to be friends with men, to respect them and see them as real people. As I engage with willing participants in the experiment I learn about the patterns, I like to call them worm holes or rabbit holes that my mind loves to drag me down), and watch how my mind can create something out of nothing. This is the power of the imagination (Third Chakra) and it is also something that can be redirected towards positive, healthy outlets. I spent most of my time in relationship unconsciously and was always unhappy on some level because my partner was never going to live up to the person my imagination had created  in my mind.

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(My friend Brian helping me learn about being in a loving, kind, caring friendship with a man and what an amazing young man you are! Gratitude for you!)

Once I learned, through experience, that the energy which drew me to that person was created within me by my Karma, it flipped everything on its head. I began to question the idea of Soul Mates, Marriage, Purpose, and Love to the point of ….well…… Truth (for me anyway!).  If the energy that drew me to someone who I thought I was supposed to marry and be with forever  is now gone, as well as his physical presence, then wouldn’t that mean I was not living my life according to “the plan”? Would that not mean I would be very unhappy now in life? The way that the energy simply disappears after time leads me to believe that I have healed the part of me that was drawn to this person.

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(www.amysenecal.com)

Karmically, I was now free of that burden and the lesson had been learned. Fate is then nothing but an unconscious pull towards old wounds of lessons unlearned in the past and we can choose to stay in this unconscious place OR we can choose to see it, learn, and grow.  This may mean letting go of the relationship and the idea of Forever with that person and it may shatter our facade of our safe and secure lives, at least in our minds. If we hold tightly to the security of the idea of Soul Mate then we may be keeping ourselves in an old pattern that serves to create more pain.

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(Check out the size of that “Rock” on my finger! It was big enough even to fool me, the biggest on non-believers in this type of demonstration of Love.)

He was not my “one and only” or  my “Soul Mate”, none of them were, at least not in the way most people use those terms. I feel everyone who crosses my path in this life is a Soul Mate as they are here to teach me something. Imagine all the souls out there in the Universe, floating around waiting to be reborn,  and of all of those the ones who are on this plane right now are all meant to be here so we can learn from each other. Some come into my life in much more intense ways and I feel that we have lived together in different lives in the past. Others may be new to me energetically and as I do the work to heal my soul I will be met with a more and more enlightened earth in which I live.

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I know, Im getting a bit “spacey” here but is it possible that when we do the work in one life we can come back to another life (or “Earth”) that is on a new level and eventually we reach a place called Nirvana, Ananda (Bliss), Heaven, Shangri-la? Are those places that can exist in a human form or are they reserved for our Souls only? Who knows, I sure don’t but I can go there in my mind and if that is what gives me Joy and gets me through this life then so be it!! The mind is a powerful tool and each one of us can choose to live in whatever  reality we desire!

To me, Sexual energy is Creative energy. When I  stopped using it soley for sex (and all that comes with that ie: clothing, self-worth, language, etc.) I saw just how much of my time and energy was consumed by this unconscious pull towards mating, relationship, security, and reproduction. As I learn to channel it into things that I want in my life, I see how powerful it is! It is creative energy that created my life, it literally created me and is the reason I am alive. It also created a lot of pain. Now I use it for expression and living life authentically. The redirecting and control I now have over my creative energy (First and Second Chakra) has given me an amazing last 2 years of my life and especially these last 12 months.

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(Self-expression through my outward image became a tool for creativity and a vehicle for change! This is costume making day for Thrill The World Kigali and it was an amazing creative project for all of us!)

At the Ashram, I stripped away everything that I thought was sexual in nature, ie: clothes, my hair, make up, self care, speech, eye contact, relationships, and focused very firmly on awareness around the subtle ways in which my patterns still managed to impact my life. I was lucky enough to be in a community that wanted to help me with whatever area I was choosing to work with. I had a lot of people to offer me insight into what I was not able to see for myself.

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Situations were presented to me in order to call on my strength and many, many challenges in which to find my voice and see myself more clearly. I had a wonderful mentor who gave me support in a way that I can only explain as a gift from God. Firm, commanding, no nonsense kind of support that said to me, “ok, you say you want to change well this is what I see.” Not many people can give this kind of support in such a loving way and not many people can handle this kind of honesty but when we really want to change the most important ingredient is Truth, especially the truths that we cannot see or choose not to see for ourselves.

I  have allowed men into my life who treated me the way I felt I deserved to be treated.  Because of the way I was raised, where I was raised, the way I was taught to see my role as a woman, societal pressures, media, and of course my Karma were all factors in these pairings. Now, here is where there is a thin line between blame and acceptance of facts. To acknowledge that I chose this life and everything in it, from a Karmic point of view, takes the blame away for me as I believe it was my choice to have this exact experience so I could learn these lessons. I also believe that the lessons get more and more harsh if they have not been dealt with and the more times I take the same path, the more severe the consequences. So this is one area in which I know I brought a lot of Karmic baggage but I am doing the work this time for sure and I see how much growing I have done in a relatively short period of time. The men that come into and stayed in my life in the last 4 years are different because I am different. Especially the men I met in Rwanda, Gilbert, Justin and all the young men dancers. They have transformed me and healed me!

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(Justin Bisengimana, my brother, my friend, my mentor and my healer! Ndagukunda Cane Cane!)

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(Gilbert Rutaremara, my inshuti, my creative partner, co-creator of my vision, my inspiration! We are Love In Action!)

I believe that all of my work up to this point was to heal me in all areas of my life. Everything is intermingled within our minds and lives, there is no way this issue of sexuality has not impacted every area, every choice, every word, every thought. Im working with some very powerful energy and as I learn to become friends with it, which literally means becoming friends with myself, I see the beauty that it holds when it is used consciously.

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Back To The Future

IMG_4709I am in the North, rough country, in the midst of a deep freeze. Feeling pushed, pulled, pinned, powered and propelled at every corner, in every way. There is a great ease  of life balanced with harsh realities.

I am in a new culture, although familiar, there is shock. How to be here? Finding my way and learning the language of the people after what I have just come from  feels like I am shutting down a part of myself that I just discovered but I know that I am just shifting it to fit the situation. I am a chameleon, my natural survival instincts  protect me and a fierceness keeps my heart open creating a fire so bright that my Light still shines through.

My ideals are shifting, as needed to fit the situation, helping me see the positive. I must do the work to find the good in every situtation and see where Light is needed. This is my job. I have signed up to be the bringer of light to the people I meet and the communities I join, even if only temporarily. It is my way of paying back the community that helped me see who I was inside.

How to be here and hold onto who I am?  Which parts do I want to keep and which to let go of? Ones that do not serve me here can be lovingly kept in a special place, ready to be called upon when the time arises.  I feel myself slipping away from Rwanda, a natural letting go, which allows me to be present  but feels raw and vulnerable. I fight to hold onto it. Still tears come to my eyes and a clamping in my throat (even as I write this) as I think about the fact that I am not there and all the people I Love. It is time to start writing and creating presentations about my time there as a way to honor myself and those who I am working with there. The community in The Pas is telling me it is time. People asking me lots of questions about my experience, comments about my articles in the paper, things feel easy and its time to stop resisting the outward expression of my journey for myself and others to learn from.

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I have taken steps into a spiritual community here to help me through. Cultural experience is what I seek for connection and a sense of belonging. It looks different but it feeds me the same and heals me in a new way. It feels like a holding tank for all that I have learned so far. In this culture (Aborignal/Northern), woman is the symbol for strength, the turtle the symbol for mother earth and all the elements come together to heal. I see it with new eyes and feel even more grateful for all the work I have done to get to this place, I have new clarity on my life past, present and future.

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Loving myself continues to be the root challenge. How to manage the change in climate, energy, the reality of my situation and give myself what I need. Trust. It will all unfold as it always does. Reminding myself that there is no timeline as time does not exist for me the way that it used to. My time in Rwanda was 5 months and yet it felt like years worth of experience and knowledge was gained. The recovery is just as intense as the journey.

I trust I am given all that I need, always. This challenge is great but I see it with the eyes of experience now and know that only good can come from meeting it. I realize how focused I am on my ideals, my goals, my life and my purpose and there is no doubt that I can do what I was drawn here to do. I have been intensely focused on creating my life, a life I feel is worth living, for over 4 years. With all of the challenges along the way that I repeatedly go head first into, I watch as my strength unfolds before my eyes.

Be real in the moment and allow myself to feel what I feel. Stay grounded in Spirituality and Love. Give myself a break, once again, and simultaneously push myself to do what I need to. Learn to give myself what I need so I can give fully to others. My self discovery leads to more positive change for others and that is why I continue to do the work.

Building a foundation first is my priority but it feels like I am doing nothing at times, which I know is impossible. I am in “seed” stage. Spreading them far and wide to see which ones will take root, then I tend to those that do and go from there. This is how I live my life and even though I know that, even I need reminding once and a while that is will all work out!  I am good at this now, it is who I am, always have been.

Small changes everyday take me to the next big thing. I have so much inside me that needs to come out. So many ideas swirling around that I feel busy even when I am asleep. I love it! To have this much passion for my life is what I longed for and so even with the sleepless night, awake with creativity I am grateful.

Bringing back routine, making appointments, creating a logo and starting a business are at the fore front of what needs to happen now and that is where I am at. I need to be doing. I need to be giving and sharing my gifts but not without the necessary footing. I practice patience with every corner. Right now the reality is that my time and attention is also very needed in the home and for the family I am a part of.

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How can such a simple life be so complicated and full? Right now I cannot imagine holding all that I did in my life 4 years ago. Career, relationship, house, garden, vehicles, city life, money, debt, work stress to name a few. I know that these are common things for most people but for me they were distractions from myself. Its not that I will never have or don’t have those things now in some way but it all feels very different. I  can never return to it in the way I had it before because that time around was inauthentic to who I am. This is the beginning of a very new way of being “successful” and I step lightly but with confidence, knowing that I am supported.

Om Namah Shivaya!

 

Witness Change

I had purple sparkly shoes on that caught her eye at the age of 11 and that was what sparked out friendship, a friendship that has now lasted nearly 23 years! This girl, an unlikely match to those who do not really know us,  has been there for me while I ride the waves of my healing journey. She has been my witness to change and with all the ups and downs, the dark and light, she been right there with me. Not always on the same wave or even in the same body of water but she is there regardless to wether or not she agrees with what I am doing. She is why I am here in The Pas, MB, a very unlikely place to return to (or at least I thought!)

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I haven’t written much about my time here yet and part of that is due to the emotion that I am processing around leaving behind my time in Rwanda. This transition is the most painful one yet and it has thrown me in ways I was not anticipating. I had no idea what would happen when I came back to Canada but I never imagined that one experience could have such an impact on my life, and this is post Ashram, which in many ways changed everything about my life. Rwanda still managed to do what I thought was impossible and change me at an even deeper level.

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(Mohammed is the one of many children the Thrill The World event empowered  to make change in their lives.)

I see how all things happen when they are meant to and when we are ready for them. There was no way I could have experienced Rwanda the way I did had I not experienced the Ashram prior. I believe that I am on the right path and that one things leads to the next. The pieces of the puzzle to my life do not mystify me any longer as I practice patience and know that everything is happening for a reason. I  can see how things will fit together even before they happen and when there is a shift to something knew, I see how that fits perfectly as well. I do this through self-reflection and practicing non-attachment. Although, I am also humbly aware that I really can’t know anything about my future!

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(Myself and Swami Saradananda in the temple at the end of the 10 days of Yoga workshop, July 2010. He was instrumental in my journey and in my confidence to listen to my heart. Namaste Saradananda)

So the fact that I am now here in The Pas going through this huge transition into the next phase and doing it with my best friend literally by my side everyday  is by no means a surprise to either of us. I live my life by following the signs to where I am needed. I am learning that when I listen and follow through I am simultaneously giving and receiving.

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(Carrie’s 27th birthday!)

The Pas, Manitoba, Canada is the place I was born. Energetically this is where my spirit was destined to enter into the world. To me, that is very powerful and symbolic as the next step in this journey of healing. I am here to be reborn. I learned a lot about myself during my time in Rwanda, at the Ashram, and through losing and regaining my health. Now I am here to put these experiences together to become the best version of myself that I have ever been.

I have the love and support of my friend, her family and all the people here who have known me for nearly my whole life, some since the day I was born. I can feel all the support here in so many interactions I have.

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(Carrie’s 19th birthday party!)

I spent a lot of time in Rwanda just getting used to the culture, the language and the lifestyle. Then I spent the rest of the time doing what I now see as a nearly impossible feat, hosting Thrill The World by myself in a third world country with so many obstacles, plus  the other projects and healing that took place. It is just now sinking in how much I managed to pull off and what it took to do it all.

At the time I was just in it so deep that I didn’t see any other way to be. I was in love with what I was doing and nothing, not even sleep, hunger or money kept me from doing what I needed to do. This is how I want to work always, deeply in love with my passion. I have been reflecting on how much I did with so many barriers to my success. I never looked at them as barriers just as something that needed to be navigated in order to make my goals a reality. This is a huge shift in my perception and lead me to be able to do great things for myself and others.

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(Thriller Group, still going strong in Rwanda with the support of Gilbert and myself)

Here I am now in a place that is not only familiar to me on every level but also teaming with people who already know me, love me and want to support me. The possibilities that come from setting myself up for success in this way seem endless. Anything I want to do I can do here. Is that scary to me? Possibly. Is that why I have taken 5 weeks to feel like I am ready to engage in something even remotely? No. There are many reasons for me taking time.

The reality of the change in climate/culture, the huge drop off in momentum in my life and the stepping into a completely new life within only days of being on the other side of the world  where I was fully engulfed in Love, community, culture and discovering new passions are just a few of the reasons.

Other reasons are far beyond my realm of consciousness right now and I may never fully know what the impact is that I had or it had on me. All I do know is that I needed to rest and rest I did. Slowing life down to a manageable and sustainable pace at first looks like slowing it down almost completely and then as if like clock work I get a cold, which shows me it is not yet time to take on the next thing.

The reality of my life now is that I am here to help someone who has helped me in a way that, by my definition is the best relationship I have in my life at present. I am at a place where I am good, healthy, strong, confident, happy, unshakable and ready for a challenge. So here I am to be the best friend I can be to her in return. There are no IOU’s or pay back, it just is what needs to happen and so it is happening.

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(New Years Day, 2014)

My days have been filled with taking  and picking up children from day care and school, grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, putting kids to bed, bedtime baths, helping her cook dinner, last minute babysitter needs for sick kids and parents or for a much needed date night. I am here to serve her to the best of my ability and I am so happy to do it. No matter what she needs I am willing to offer myself to make it happen. Wether it is to provide emotional support  for her when she feels down, to know when she needs a good laugh, sitting with her in the ER for hours and being her advocate for healthcare or to just sit beside and so she can rest her head on my shoulder – whatever she needs I will do it. I am here to make her life easier so that she can make the changes  we both want for her in life.

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(Camping with Maya and Elicia, summer 2012)

This is not a give and take situation, there is no part of us that feels we owe anything – this is simply community and love in action. I get just as much as I give but no one is keeping score. We are both equally invested in one another’s future and love each other unconditionally. She helped build me up to the strong person I am today so that I could come here and be a rock for her to lean on. She created this for herself just as much as I did when I chose to consciously make more time for her in my life about 5 years ago.

The small action of choosing to make small phone calls regularly to my best friend instead of just big, long 3 hour conversations once every 6 months opened the doors to a friendship just waiting to blossom into something even more wonderful for both of us, all it needed was a bit of water. Small actions can lead to big changes in ways we never imagined.

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(Highschool Christmas Dance, 1995)

And where is her partner in all this and what do her kids think about it? They are all here, making room for me, shifting things to accommodate this new permanent fixture in their everyday lives. The girls give me so much love, they even gave me their bedroom!  They allow me to love them, help them, and I am happy to do anything for them.

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(Carrie and Ken’s Wedding, July 2009)

Her husband just accepts that his wife needs her best friend to be here with her for support, he wants her to be happy. I don’t know many men that would want to have another woman living with their family and I know even less men that would be as open and accepting to this change in lifestyle. He demonstrates to me a willingness to make change happen in his life which I find inspiring.

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(Carrie and Ken, 2007)

So here I am living in my best friends old bedroom that she and I spent hours and hours in together as teenagers. I have been given an amazing gift of friendship and support but I also know that I helped create this. It was not luck or fate that made this friendship what it is today, it took work and perseverance, which we both were active participants in. It is some of the best work I have ever done and I plan to continue to grow and learn with this beautiful, strong, caring woman that I am so proud to call my friend. I am here to lift her up just as she has done for me so many times before, which helped me create the beautiful  life I now have. It is now her turn to rise and shine. I want to be the light that helps her find her way along the path to living in her full potential! Together we can reach new places of awesomeness and we are both more than ready!! I love you Carrie!

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(Waiting for Baby Elicia, January 2010)