Sign up here for FREE Updates, right to your inbox!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Less is More

Close your eyes and imagine this.  No wait.  Open them.  Open your eyes!  You have to keep them open to follow along with my vision!  Sigh.  Let me start again.
Imagine yourself waking up to a stunningly beautiful day in February.  No, you haven’t been miraculously transported to a faraway land, you are still in the midst of winter in Alberta (or whatever cold climate you are imagining), but today is different.  The sun is shining, the snow is sparkling like a blanket of diamonds and you check the local forecast -- they are calling for a 5 degree day!  In FEBRUARY!  (That is like 40 degrees Farenheit for all of you Americans), which isn’t that warm but hey, in February, 5 degrees feels like a mid-summer’s day!  Anyway.  You get the idea.  It is a beautiful day.  An unexpectedly beautiful day, in the middle of a long cold winter.  A GIFT.  
Not the day in question, but you get the idea...
Now, imagine how you would like to spend that day.  You would surely go outside, maybe even sit on your deck and enjoy a cold beverage.  (Judge not ye warm climate people, a warm, sunny winter’s day definitely calls for a few cold ones).  
We just happened to have one of these days this past winter.  And do you want to know how I spent it?  Inside.  Moving and sorting through stuff.  (Can you sense my complete and utter disdain for this situation?)  
Yes, you read correctly, I spent what was without a doubt the nicest day of the winter dealing with my belongings.  Ohhhhhh how I wished for my van-living days right then.  When life was much simpler and our belongings consisted of a few bins of mouse-chewed on clothes and some outdoor gear.  
One of the vans we lived in -- this one's a '79
It was all I could do but take the entire contents of the trucks we were driving and not drive straight to the dump.  I mean honestly.  We have everything that we need already (the stuff that we moved in December, remember?), so what is all of this crap?  Well, you know the kind of stuff I am talking about.  The seasonal ‘gear’, the old University books/notes, the outgrown kids toys/clothes, that box of stuff that you inherited from your great aunt but you aren’t quite sure what to do with it.  
Most of us have this problem - the problem of too much stuff.  If you don’t have this problem than I applaud you.  I take my hat off to you, not only because you would’ve spent the day enjoying some cold ones, but because you will have undoubtedly mastered the fundamental truth that ‘less is truly more’.  We don’t need all of that stuff.  Truth is, we don’t even need most of that stuff that we think we need.  We could all do with a little, no, a lot less stuff.
It's not just me that thinks that either.  Check out this awesome video about stuff on TED Talks:

So look around.  What do you truly need?  I would say that if it isn’t truly beautiful, meaningful or useful than get rid of it.  What are you willing to live without?  What kind of space are you ready to open up in your life?  Remember, when something leaves your life, it opens up the space for something new to come in.  And I’m not talking about that cute new what-ever-it-is that you spotted at the mall either.
Here's to the fundamental truth that LESS TRULY IS MORE!  And the next time we have a 5 degree day in February, you know where I'll be!
Marebare xoxo
PS -- Believe it or not, I actually spent yesterday moving more (yes, MORE) stuff.  You can bet that most of that stuff is moving on out!  

Friday, April 27, 2012

On Grief and Loss

So, my grandmother (my stepdad’s mom) passed away on Monday.  It was the best case scenario really.  We had over a week’s notice (she began refusing treatment for a life-threatening and worsening condition) and therefore I got to say goodbye to her while she still knew who I was and we both knew that it was our last goodbye.  She was 85 and lived a full, if not difficult at times, life.  She has 7 living children (and 1 who has predeceased her), most of whom who are married, 15 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren. 
Given all of this, when I got the call on Monday morning I felt, well, prepared.  I felt at peace.  Imagine my surprise then, when I got on the phone with a friend on Thursday morning and started crying!  ‘This doesn’t make any sense!’ I kept repeating to my friend.  She laughed and said -- ‘you know Maren, our emotions and our thoughts aren’t made up of the same fabric.  In other words, you can’t reason away an emotion’.  Isn’t that so damn true?  
Even though my belief system is such that, ‘everything is perfect’ and that there really is no death, only transition to another form (or lack of form), I still feel grief, sadness, loss.  But there is a sense of grief with all major transitions isn’t there?  A new job, a new city, or a new house are examples that come to mind.  These types of life transitions can bring us a mixture of emotions - from excitement and hope to longing and sadness.  What is it that creates that sense of sadness, where does it come from?  
Perhaps the sense of loss we feel is from the space that is created by that transition.  What I am trying to say is what is gone is gone.  It’s over.  And what is to come hasn’t been created yet.  You haven’t started filling up that space yet.  So it’s empty... and isn’t that what grief is?  A feeling of emptiness?  Sometimes it takes a looooong time to fill up that space, such as when you lose a child, or a parent, or a close friend.  But eventually, that space will be filled, and you will feel whole again.  I am absolutely not saying that you will forget your loved one, because you won’t, not EVER.  But you won’t always feel the hole that was left by their departure.  I like to think that instead of a hole in your soul - you are left with an imprint.
Not surprisingly, this post has Divine Perfect Timing, as we are approaching the one-year anniversary of our dear friend Brent’s passing.  Now there is an imprint on my soul that I am forever grateful to have!  Gone but never forgotten my friend!
This is a bit of a heavier topic than I normally write about, but it is an important one.  Because grief and loss are inescapable.  They are part of the Human Experience... experiences that we were MEANT to have.  So when faced with any kind of loss, remember to be kind to yourself, honour your emotions and know that they don’t have to make sense!  And know, always, that ‘this too shall pass’...
RIP Marie Rose McConnell
March 13, 1927 - April 23, 2012

With love,
Marebare xoxo

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Everyday Conversations: A Dialogue

How many of your day-to-day conversations look like this?

If you said, 'many' or 'lots' or even 'just a few', chances are that you are using the 'same old, same old' social niceties in your conversation starters.  There are many of them... you know the ones: How are you? Crazy weather we're having hey? How about them (insert your local sports team here)?  and my personal favourite of these: What do you do?  
Don’t you just HATE that question?  Well, maybe hate is a strong word, but at the very least, aren’t you tired of it?  It is so predictable, such a boring ‘line’ in our social culture.  The worst part is, it doesn’t really tell you anything ABOUT the person.  I mean, sure, it might tell you how they spend some of their time, okay, maybe a lot of their time, but it sure isn’t very descriptive.  Take this conversation for example:
You: 'Hi’
Them: 'Hi there, nice to meet you’
You: 'You too’
blah, blah, blah (more social niceties until we get to the inevitable...)
You: ‘Oh and WHAT DO YOU DO?’
Them: ‘Oh, I’m an engineer’
You: ‘Uh huh.  My uncle is an engineer. 
(We always do this, don’t we? -- try and identify with what the person is saying by offering something, ANYTHING from our own personal reality). And then, maybe another question... 
You: 'What kind of engineer are you?’
Them: ‘Mechanical’
You: ‘Oh.  That’s nice.  I don’t know what kind of engineer my uncle is.’
You get the idea here right, BORING?!!!
I try soooo hard not to ask that question, at least not until I know all of the really interesting stuff about them first - like what they are passionate about and what gets them all fired up!  Wouldn’t you much rather have a conversation that goes like this:
You: ‘Hi’
Them: ‘Hi there.’
You: ‘So, I’m going to skip all of the social niceties and get right to the good stuff by asking you something totally off the wall... WHAT IS YOUR PASSION?’
 (I like to be up front about it).  
You will probably get some laughter:
LOL.  I don’t usually get asked that.  Hmmmm.... let me see.  I am going to have to think about that.’
(Seriously, people are so rarely asked this kind of question you are going to catch them off guard)
And then...
‘You know, I really, really love cats' (with a look of pure joy on their face and a twinkle in their eye)
And even if you don’t love cats (or ATVs or knitting or rock climbing or stamp collecting, or WHATEVER), at least you will be taking part in a conversation filled with excitement and flowing energy -- and that energy is often contagious!  Next thing you know you are off on a tangent of your own about how you are madly in love with your new gardening tools).    
And hey, if either of your passions just so happens to BE your career -- lucky you, and you get to talk about it if that is truly your passion.   Win-win!
As an aside, if ‘what is your passion’ is too fruity of a question for you - here are some other interesting questions to replace the one that you have been ‘trained’ to ask:
  • What is the best thing that you have ever done for yourself?
  • When was the last time that you belly laughed?
  • You got any cool scars?
  • What was the last thing you did that really scared you?  How did you feel after?
  • You got any funny nicknames?
  • If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
  • If you could spend the day with a famous dead person who would you choose?
And so, on and so forth.. until you enter into a conversation that looks more like this:

You decide, which conversation would you rather be having?

With much peace and love,

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Getting right to the heart of things...

I want to share a story with you.  It is the story of a healing that I experienced not that long ago.

As you most likely know by now, after my son Chephren was born, I experienced postpartum depression.  And blah, blah, blah I don't want to rehash this part of my life on here all over again, but it is relevant to the healing story so bear with me.  The interesting thing is not the fact that I had the depression, but WHY I had the depression.

You see, for the past year or so I have been on a journey.  A journey with no 'real' destination per se, but one that is taking me deeper and deeper inside myself.  It has been an exploration of self, a self-inquiry if you will.

This journey has had many facets and faces, one of which was looking deeper into the depression.  What I discovered was that the thoughts/ideas that were leading to my depression pertained to my perception of my abilities as a mother.  In other words, the thoughts/beliefs that I was telling myself went something like:

  • I am not a good enough mother - my son is so wonderful that he deserves so much better
  • I can't do anything 'right' when it comes to parenting
  • Any 'mistake' I make will 'wreck him' for life!
And a whole other host of negative-speak, judgements and put-downs.  I wanted to be the 'perfect' mother -- but my idea of perfection at the time was nothing short of ridiculously unattainable!  I looked at every single 'challenge' (having a C-section, difficulty breastfeeding) as evidence that I was failing as a mother.  

Through the self-inquiry process I came to identify these thoughts, was able to admit to myself (and now to the world!) that I was having them and then 'poke holes' in them.  Once I said them out loud, I began to see how preposterous and destructive these thoughts were.  I began to replace them with more neutral thoughts at first (well, maybe I'm not such a bad mom after all, it could be a lot worse) and eventually to more positive thoughts... and this is where the healing story comes in.

Back in February, I spent the weekend with some dear friends in Nordegg (in a place where the energy in an of itself is healing, but that is another story).  We spent two luxuriously long days walking through the forest, sitting in meditation, soaking in the hot tub, laughing and visiting.  

During one of the meditations, I found myself connecting with the hearts of those people who were nearest and dearest to me and 'feeling what it would be like to be loved by me' if that makes any sense.  In other words, I was able to connect my heart with Chephren's heart and truly felt what it would feel like to be loved my (this) mother's love.  Boy was I surprised by what I found: the joy and love in my heart nearly exploded!!!  I began weeping tears of joy and a deep sense of relief washed over me.  I felt lighter, and more peaceful than I have ever felt before.

I realized right then and there that as long as I was loving my son with all of my heart and authentically doing the very best that I could in each and every moment that I couldn't go wrong!  I mean of course I am going to make mistakes and he is still going to continue pushing my buttons (he is THREE after all!), but at the end of the day, our relationship is perfect just the way that it is.  

Do you have any relationships in your life that bring you stress?  Can you take a look at the thoughts surrounding those relationships and identify any negative-speak or judgement?  Can you begin to change the story in your head about those relationships?  

It might seem trivial, but for me, it has helped to bring about a profound shift in my role as a parent.

I wish you all light, love and healing in all of your 'troublesome' relationships!

Marebare xoxo

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Everything is Perfect

I have been a source of annoyance and nuisance as of late for my family and friends because I have discovered a new use for an old word: perfect.  I used to loathe this word... viewing it as something that I always aspired to be but always fell short of.  Actually, at one time this seven letter word had such power over me that I believe it almost single-handedly pushed me into the pit of post-partum depression -- as I 'failed' and floundered miserably in my attempts to be a 'perfect mom'.  So yes, when viewed that way, the word perfect can indeed be seen as quite insidious and even destructive.

Lately however I have developed a new kind of relationship with the word perfect... and I have come to see everything in the light of perfection!  Confused by this?  Astonished?  Maybe even a bit angry?  Good!

Let me explain...
When I say 'everything is perfect' what I mean is just that.  Everything (yes, everything) is just as it should be -- even those situations and circumstances that you deem and judge to be 'bad' or even 'horrible'.  You see, I believe that we all come here with a Divine Purpose and with a need to experience certain aspects of humanity.  Some of these aspects of humanity are fabulous, however others are less fabulous... maybe even perceived as dark or evil.  Now, here is where the concept of perfection kicks in: 'It is not the experience itself that really matters, it is WHAT WE CHOOSE TO DO WITH IT.'

People all over the world have suffered (indeed are likely suffering) through unfathomable atrocities.  Admitedly, the amount of pain and anguish that we are capable of inflicting and experiencing as the human race is incredible.  With that being said, the human capacity to love and forgive is even more incredible, even more powerful.  It would seem that the greater the level of suffering, the greater the opportunity to teach and to heal can emerge.  Here are some examples that come to mind:
  • People who were held captive and suffered atrocities at the hands of their kidnappers who emerge on the other side with the capacity to FORGIVE and move on with their lives.  Amanda Lindhout, Jaycee Dugard, James Loney (to name only a few of many)
  • People like my brother Ben, who have disabilities and/or continue to struggle with health difficulties each and every single day and use their disABILITY and personal challenges to teach, motivate and INSPIRE others.  Erik Weihenmayer, Nick Vujicic, Stephen Hawking (again, to name only a few)
Nick Vijucic
Ben McConnell

The stories are endless.  There are thousands of them. 

If this post resonates with you, phew, that was certainly my hope and intent.  If, on the other hand, you are angry by this post, that is perfect also.  In fact, I have been wanting to write this post for quite a while but I was afraid. Afraid of making people angry. Afraid of being 'so bold' as to advocate for acceptance and forgiveness of any/all situations given that my personal life story has been one of relative ease compared to most.  Despite all of this, I am keenly, even painfully aware of the level of suffering that continues to exist in the world -- the 'dark' face of our humanity if you will. However, rather than accept it or turn a blind eye towards it, I am choosing to shine light on it. I believe that hatred, fear, anger, vengenance, rage, etc. only breed more of the same -- feeding the cycle of negativity and giving it the energy to continue without end.  Love, on the other hand, cultivates acceptance, forgiveness, joy, and hope. 

Still angry? Maybe this anger is a sign.  It could mean that you are ready to take a look at your own life.  What story from your past are you holding on to?  What experience(s) are you allowing to negatively impact your life?  Who do you have to forgive in order to move on and let the love and light back in?  How could you use the experiences from your past to teach and inspire others?  Can you begin to imagine what could be possible? 

With much love,
Marebare xoxo