Vulnerability

We NEED each other!

A dear friend of mine passed away on Mother's day. She was a legendary mother, wife, friend, sister, daughter and woman. She was one of the most inspiring, gentle, loving, strong humans that I have ever met and she will be dearly missed by all who knew her. 

My friend was young, only in her mid-thirties, with two little girls to raise and seemingly had much of her life still ahead of her... that is until Stage 4 Cancer showed up on the scene.

For about two weeks now, I have been grieving her death, sitting with the energy of her soul, and, as humans often do, attempting to find (make) meaning of it all.

As part of my grieving process, I felt that I wanted to connect with what her legacy was/is. In other words, what powerful medicine did she bring to this planet through her life (and her death).

While there are MANY things about her that I can (and do) gather inspiration and medicine from (her example as a mother, her kindness, her playful spirit, her zest for life, her commitment to holistic wellness, her artistic/creative nature, etc.) the element of her life that keeps coming forward again and again has to do with vulnerability and connection, specifically in her relationships with other women.

From my perspective, there is a certain cultural myth that is poisoning the hell out of us as women, and in some cases it is literally killing us. (I believe that this was the case with my friend, especially after reading the blogs she wrote before she died).

This is the myth that: as women, we have to have it all together.

Don't believe me? Some examples of ideals that many people in society still subscribe to:

  • We have to "do it all" and be "strong and independent" (if we need to ask for help we will be perceived as weak or messy).
  • We have to be competitive in the workforce (often having to work even harder than men for the same or less pay).
  • We have to stay home and raise our babies (and have a perfect birth and breast feed for the "right" amount of time, and make all of their food by hand, and use cloth diapers... etc.)
  • We have to maintain a certain type of physical physique and dress a certain way (basically we need to look like a covergirl AT. ALL. TIMES.)
  • We have to have our kids in the "right" activities (plus we need to drive all of our kids to all of these activities as well as volunteer on all of the related teams/committees).
  • We have to maintain a "perfect" household; cooking, cleaning and organizing (and God forbid we hire anyone to help!)

(This is by no means a comprehensive list... but you get the picture).

Now these cultural myths are not new to us. They have all been around since before my time even. What is relatively new however, is our current ability to prolifically compare ourselves with others via social media. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON PINTEREST... they all provide us with image after image, video after video of the "perfect" mom/woman/friend/household/family etc. 

I say enough. Fuck that noise.

I, for one, do NOT have it all together and I am sick of the societal expectation that I should.

Lots of times (and I mean lots), I feel isolated, lonely, overwhelmed, depressed even because I find myself trying to do it all... often by myself.

Yes, I have a wonderful, healthy child. I also have a great relationship with my parents and plenty of friends and acquaintances, however RARELY do I ever let them SEE me. The real me. The vulnerable me. The one who sometimes falls apart and totally doesn't have her shit together.

Now, over past few years the years, I have gradually learned how to "outsource" some of my projects/responsibilities as well as lean on certain folks.  Take my partner for instance. Over the past few years we have managed to fully let each other "in". He can fully see me and hold space for me, and I have learned to let him. This has been completely life-changing for me as I have slowly learned to soften and let go of the gigantic brick wall that I had eternally built up around my heart as protection.

I have also learned to allow other women to "help" me. I have an amazing woman and friend who provides me with before/after school childcare. I have another angel of a woman who comes into my home a few days a week to cook for us. 

But here's the thing, if I'm really honest with myself, I know that this isn't enough. My partner, though he is wonderful and magical and extremely supportive, he can't be the ONLY one that I let in. That's not balanced. It's not even fair to expect him (and our relationship) to be the only one who can hold this space in my life. And while I love and appreciate the two women who help me out each week, I know (and I have known for quite some time), that I need to let others in, specifically more of my women friends, to my inner circle.

This is the legacy teaching that my friend has left me with and one that I am committed to honouring.

In the week following her death, I connected with a few of my closest girlfriends and re-affirmed my commitment to our friendship and my love for them.

These women are a huge priority in my life and I can see so clearly now that I need to show up for them on a regular basis. I need to make the effort. I need to make the time to connect regularly with them. I need to show up for them and I need to let them show up for me.

Across time, space and history women have always naturally "leaned in" to one another in community, connection and support. Red tents, "gathering societies", farming communities, early childhood mothering groups, etc. Connection is in our DNA. I would even argue that, as women, we actually NEED these connections with other women in order to be whole and healthy. 

The way I see it, as the pace of life gets busier and more and more demands get placed onto women and families, we are going to need to each other now more than ever.

And for heaven's sakes, stay off Pinterest.

Lean in,

Nahanni

Pay It Forward

I found this in my drafts folder from last year... No idea why I didn't post...

Random Acts of Kindness are still as relevant today as ever so I decided to share:

 

I have had a rough couple of days… no, weeks, actually, months.  Since the start of school in September, I can't seem to find my regular "beat".  It feels as though my energy battery is running around 20% (and continually flipping into 'conservation' mode).  Then, at the start of October, I got some kind of flu, which has managed to come through in not one, not two but three different forms.  To be honest, I am getting verrrrrrry tired.  And discouraged.  And down right down.  

But.  There is a silver lining to all of this "down".  (Of course there is, you didn't think I was actually going to leave you with a full-on Debbie-Downer post did you?!)

I am learning some good lessons (as all down cycles provide the opportunity for): I am learning to rest and be still.  I am learning move slower and do less.  I am learning to say no to a whole lot of stuff.  I am learning to find Gratitude and Light and Inspiration every day.  I am learning to ask for help.

The last one is the hardest one for me.  (That's why its last).  

When I say ask for help, I mean it.  I have been asking friends for rain checks, bosses for extensions, clients for different dates, my partner for help around the house, etc.

Looking at the above list, it occurs to me that those ones aren't the toughest "asks".  Believe it or not, it took me seven long weeks to finally concede that I needed to call in the big guns.  I needed to pray.

So, yesterday morning, when my knees hit the cushion for my morning smudge… I asked for help with my health.  

And… nothing happened, well, physically anyway.  Actually, I woke up this morning with one of my eyes swollen shut and filled with goop.  (gross, I know).

But the difference is, between yesterday and today, I don't feel so heavy.  I don't feel so afraid.  I feel the exact same way physically, if not worse, as I did two days ago, but it doesn't seem as hard to get through the days.  

And then, tonight, something amazing happened.  

No, I didn't experience a miraculous healing (yet).

But what happened feels like a miracle to me.  

While I was at swimming lessons with my son, I was working on my work calendar (I am WAY behind due to said illness).  And I somehow managed to leave my day timer at the pool.  

I didn't even notice it was gone until I got a phone call after I got home asking me if I had lost it.  

Now, here is the thing about the day timer: It has EVERYTHING in it.  I couldn't find my way out of my house tomorrow morning if I had lost it for real (and yes, I can also now see the inherent error in my system).  

Anyway, this woman finds it, calls me (my number is in it) and DRIVES IT OVER TO MY HOUSE.

I am so grateful to her that I try to give her $50 but she won't take it, instead giving me a hug and telling me to pay it forward.  

I have no clue why I feel so crappy in my body… but my heart is wide open and shining.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Maren

Dancing Coyote Woman

 

Game-changers

You know that feeling when you first reunite with a good friend that you haven’t seen or spoken to in a very long time?  There is that pull of urgency in your belly, you feel a bit flustered and slightly overwhelmed because you aren’t sure where to possibly begin in order to fill them in on all that has happened since you last saw each other.

That, kind reader, is how I feel right now about writing this blog.

I take comfort in the fact that I have been in the above-mentioned “real life” scenario quite a few times in the past, and from what I can recall, things just worked themselves out.  The sense of urgency begins to gently subside, the explosion of words that you feel compelled to vomit somehow manages to fall out of you, and somehow, a vague sense of order emerges from its chaos.

I am taking this sense of urgency, overwhelm and flus-tration (new word!) as a good sign… a verrrrry good sign.  You see, it means that I WANT to re-connect with you (you = the outside world).  And this is the first time I have felt like this in a very long time… about three years (give or take).

The tricky thing here is that it is often (not always, but often) a one-sided conversation on the old blog.  You see, I have been blogging for seven years.  You might recall that this blogging adventure began with “MareBare Necessities: A Year of Living with Less”, which was a one-year project in which I gave up being a consumer of new goods.  It turned out to be an epic journey, and somehow, unintentionally, it became quite well read.  Like 50,000-readers-per-month well read!  (I know, it still shocks the hell out of me too!) 

After the “MareBare” project was over, I quit blogging for a bit, but then I was pushed,pulled and practically dragged back into it because of people like you: you see, my blog had started a CONVERSATION.  (I know now that this is no small feat – I have been trying every since to “continue the conversation” with my “on-line community”, only to discover that as I shifted, morphed and changed, so did they).  Today?  Not so much of a conversation.  Not so much of a community.  And so, I find myself once again in a very much one-sided, somewhat awkward, I’m-really-excited-but-overwhelmed-to-tell-you-stuff social situation.

(And after yesterday’s post… you can just guess how I feel about that… cue the sweat).

However: I’m doing it anyway.  You see, when I started MareBare Necessities, I couldn’t friggin’ WAIT to write my posts each day.  I was SO excited to connect with “my tribe” (which started off as one or two readers… one of whom was my mom).  And that is, once again, how I feel about connecting with you kind folks (there are about 8 of you all told)…

So, where shall we begin?  Ah yes.  The title of this post: GAME-CHANGERS.

Because of the overwhelm/excitement/flus-tration, it occurred to me that maybe I should just tell you what the biggest, most epic changes, challenges, self-discoveries/uncoveries have been over the past three years.  This post then, can kind of serve as the “index” for the rest of the blogs to come.

Here they are, in no particular order of timeline or importance (and please note, I shared the first two with you yesterday):

·Giving up alcohol (for 510 days and counting) and moving into “recovery” (I love this word – it means: to regain possession of something lost and return to a normal state of mind/health)

·Discovering that I am actually a very introverted/shy/socially anxious person

·Going through a divorce (duh). We have done this in the most conscious way possible and although it has been unbelievably painful, it has also been a phenomenal journey of self-discovery and growth.

·Working as an educational consultant (turns out that I really love this work and it continues to change and expand as well).

·Taking charge of my mental and physical health through a life-changing dietary program called Whole30 (look it up.  No seriously look.it.up.)

·Moving (several times) and finally settling into The House With The Red Door.  Lately we have been “Tidying up” our home (via the work of Marie Kondo) and so far this has involved disposing of 45 garbage bags of “stuff”, and we are only about ½ way done.

·Learning about co-dependency and moving into recovery from that sticky mess (this is also connected to learning how to set boundaries).

·Continuing to learn more and more about mental health and depression and continuing to navigate recovery (through WHOLEistic methods)  (I call this “taming the dark dragon”.) In other words, this has meant freeing myself of my behavioral addiction to and pattern of being “dark and twisty”.  This has meant taking FULL accountability for all areas of my life and letting go of my victim story (again and again and again).

·Facing ALL of my deepest, darkest fears, (most of which surrounded mortality and death) and emerging on the other side.

·Discovering a different way to be in an intimate partnership, and re-discovering the different forms/roles/shapes that can exist in a “family”

·Taking my medicine wheel training, travelling twice to Peru to study shamanism and beginning to practice and share my gifts as a shamanic practitioner.

·Changing my legal name back to my birth name.

·Claiming a medicine name (more on this later).

·Navigating intense survivor guilt (this is truly a one-day-at-a-time journey).

And there you have it: the list of “game-changers” and the likely future index of this blog.

Any questions?

Nahanni, DCW

Just... start.

 

After taking a muchly needed blogging/writing hiatus that has lasted most of the past three years (not fully and completely but mostly), lately I have had this deep craving to come back to writing… for others.

 

I have written a bunch of ramblings, journal entries, scribbles here and there, but mostly for myself.  Writing has always been one of the ways that I can make sense of the chaos inside of my head.  And it works… most of the time.

 

So much has changed in my life over the past three years that I don’t even know where to start.  I am letting go of the need to update you on all of the (gory) details kind reader, and instead I think I will just start with what is present. 

 

Yesterday I… (haha, see what I did there?) I jumped right back into the past.  Man old habits are hard to break!

 

TODAY I find myself in Nordegg, sitting on the deck of our family cabin, drinking tea and rambling on… words spilling onto the page, with a “loose” intention of actually sharing this post.

 

You see, it turns out that I am actually a really intense introvert.

 

I know.  News to me too.  Like EARTH-SHATTERING-REPEAT-IT-A-BILLION-TIMES-OVER-UNTIL-I-GET-IT-THROUGH-MY-TINY-SKULL news.

 

I didn’t discover this about myself until approximately 509 days ago (and 11 hours and 10 mins)… which just-so-happens to be the same date/time/hour that I chose to begin abstaining from drinking alcohol.  Yep.  I have been living in sobriety for the past 16 or so months.

 

Sobriety has been a LOOOOOOONG time coming for me.  Like more than ten years coming.

 

Funny thing, was that I had no idea that I had been working my way towards this lifestyle until I actually began the process of living sober.

 

And let me tell you, it has been an epic process.  One of such life-changing magnitude that no amount of capslocks could convey the epicness of it all… so I am even going to forego the capslocks… you are just going to have to take my word for it this time.

 

What I can tell you after more than a year living in sobriety is this: my life continues to get better every single day.

 

But sobriety is another topic for another day.  And I promise, pinky-swear promise, that you haven’t heard the last from me about it, but today I want to talk about being a newly-discovered-introvert.

 

Now, for anyone who has known me for any stretch of time, you might be as baffled as I am about this discovery.  To the outside world, I know that I have always seemed gregarious, loud even, bubbly, giddy and social butterfly-ey (I so know that is not a thing, but I just made it one).  What you most likely didn’t know (because I even denied it to myself for most of my life), is that social situations have always been hard for me.  Like, choose-your-wardrobe-carefully-because-of-the-epic-pitstains hard.  Oh the sweating. The ridiculous and inevitable sweating that virtually ANY and ALL social situations resulted in.

 

And, as far as I can tell, I have always been like that.  I was born like that.  As a child I can remember being the very happiest when I was playing by myself with my league of imaginary friends and making up my world as I went.  And I was GOOD at that.  Actually, I was brilliant at that (and still am).

 

Somewhere in elementary school I figured out that I was a bit different in this regard.  I got the strong message that I needed to make “friends” and play in a group rather than by myself in my own little world.  And it was hard for me.  Always and all ways.  Acutally, it was excruciating.  So, what I ended up doing was choosing a very few and small select group of people to let into my private little world, people who I trusted to fully see the real me (and this totally backfired on me a zillion times but again, another post for another day).  Outside of my very select group of peeps, I figured out that if I made myself big enough, puffy enough, LOUD enough, that they wouldn’t ever get to see my spongy, soft bits.  They wouldn’t see that I was dying of self-consciousness every moment of every day. 

 

Everything changed when I found alcohol.  I took my first drink at 11 years old and I knew that I had found a friend that would be by my side for a very long time.  Forever I thought.  You see, when you have the kind of social anxiety and intense introversion that I had, alcohol makes it all go away.  All of a sudden you actually ARE gregarious, funny, loud and comfortable being seen… on some level anyway.

Still a lot of sweating and careful shirt choosing, but you know that there is something out there to can (and will) relieve the intense feelings of…shame.  That’s what I was feeling: shame and self-loathing.

 

Now it’s a looooong story about how the intense amount of shame and self-loathing came to live all up in my grill, and maybe we’ll get to that someday.  But TODAY we are back to introversion, and sobriety.

 

Fast-forward 25 years (that is how long I was a drinker for, a quarter of a century) and I finally had done enough work on myself to kick the bottle.  To give up my crutch.  To walk alone.

 

And for the past year?  A whole lotta epic sweating has ensued.  Like throw-away-bags-of-ruined-clothes epic.  But you know what else has happened?  Some not-so-sweaty days.  Some really good boundary-setting.  Some unapologetic acts of self-love.  Some very candid conversations about this very topic within sacred spaces and circles.  And now?  Some serious honesty with you kind reader.

 

I share this now on the world-wide-internets because I deeply know from experience that there is someone out there who needs to read it.  Someone who might feel some of these same feelings but who feels completely alone and isolated.  Someone who thinks that no one else on the planet can possibly understand all of the anxiety, shame and sweating.

 

In the past, reading other people’s real and vulnerable accounts of their self-exploration and revelation has literally saved my life.  Literally.

 

And, I’m ready.  I’m simply ready to be seen again.  As this “new” version of myself.  As this deeper, truer version of myself.  As this er… sweatier version of myself.

 

And I am sweating.  I can be real about that.  As I push post, you can bet the sweat will be running.

 

And you know what?  I ‘m doing it anyway.

 

Yours in trust,

 

Nahanni

Dancing Coyote Woman