Ending 2017 strong

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I can’t believe 2017 is coming to a close in three short weeks. Where did the time go?

Like most of us regular folks, you’re probably contemplating on what the next three weeks are going to be like. I mean, we’ve got Christmas parties to dress for, foods and wines to enjoy, shopping to do, family to visit. The to-do list seems to grow by the day, when it should be shrinking: homes to clean, fancy dinners to cooks, presents to wrap…

I was thinking this morning as I walked my dog Hobbes, in the fresh, crisp winter air, that all these to-do lists for December must be the reason myself – and likely many others – rush into the New Year with out careful consideration of what this New Year should look and feel like.

I mean, we spend the whole month of December cramming in as much food, visits, hustling and spending as we can. We mingle at Christmas parties. We rush to the mall to buy presents. We go, go, go. Then suddenly Christmas hits. What did I even buy my mom? We might think. Did I forget to put any presents under the tree? I mean, I can’t even remember where I hid them all.

What a blur.

Do we stop and slow down? Many of us, no. Because, of course, there are now toys and Lego to put together, more family to visit, messes to clean up and – of course – massive sales in the malls and online that we hustle, hustle, hustle some more for.

By the time we might catch our breath, it may be one or two days before New Years Eve and we are finalizing the last few details of our nights plans. What should I wear? Who will I kiss? Do I have to go out?

Crazy. Even typing that all out, I feel tired and regretful to the missed moments of December and lost time.

Have we taken more than two seconds for ourselves at all this month? Have we given any deep meaningful thought beyond a quick fix new years resolution like, “lose 10 lbs?” Have we taken anytime to really be grateful with what we have and who we spent time with this over the Christmas season?

It’s quite silly that we expect to carry the crazy hustle and frantic energy of December into the new year, and believe that we would be set up for a strong, new, fresh start.

It’s even more silly that deciding on some new years resolution in a quick five or ten minute contemplation – with an adrenaline dump of motivation – is what we beleive it will take to magically perform the “new year, new me” for the next 365 days.

I don’t know about you but for me, hustling and surviving December doesn’t exactly renew my focus for the New Year. It doesn’t make me feel ready to take on new goals, new challenges and new strategies. It does, however, make me feel exhausted. Like I need a break. And that’s not how I want to enter into new possibilities and new starts. I want to be alive and in it, every moment. Ready to rock.

Here are a few considerations I am working with that I hope you will reflect on too, as you (hopefully) slow down, enjoy the moments you’re already in before sprinting to the next in 2018.

  1. With all you want to add and become in 2018, what regrets can you let go of, to lighten your load as you walk forward into the new year?

Regrets are hard. But willingly carrying them around is actually a lot harder. We may not think about it as a choice, but any feeling you have – regret included – is an opportunity for choice. Now, it might feel so deep that you’d argue it’s automatic and that you actually can’t help it that you feel that way.

I get that. I have so been there.

But, every time we feel that sting of regret or every time we feel like we have to control and monitor situations in regards to how they “need” to play out, then we must realize we are choosing this, by not choosing something else. We aren’t choosing better for ourselves. And we can do better. We deserve that.

Think about situations you’ve been desperately trying to control… can you let anything go? Maybe it is in trying to control how your ex-husband parents your child. Can you choose to let that weight go as you move into the new year? Can you let them do things different, even if it’s not how you would do it and if it’s not your way?

Perhaps you’ve loved and lost in romance and you’ve been carrying regret or pain with you because of that. Can you choose to consciously begin to start letting that go? Even if as those emotions come up, you simply tell yourself “I let go.” That’s a small powerful first step – one that will make a difference. No one expects a 100% turn around in a 24-hour period. Give yourself time to work through the letting go process, but consciously decide you will not carry it with you anymore.

Where can you find freedom as you move into the New Year… look for it. It’s there. Let it go. When you loosen your hand strength and grip around something, you open your hand (yourself) up to something new, different and better. It’s a new year… let the new come to you in all ways, shapes and forms. You’ve just got to be willing to let go.

 

  1. “Tell me who you spend time with and I will tell you who you are.”

This is a tough one for adults. We get so stuck in friendships and relationships and familiarity… that we just stay and accept it, even if it’s not what is best of us.

Let’s look at this.

If you’re a parent (or know someone who is a parent), you probably believe that if your child spends time with a group of kids that don’t want go anywhere or do anything in life, then your child is likely to pick that up and become the same. Your child likely won’t want to strive for much. We become like those who we spend time with.

So, if we understand that about children and do our best to put them into winning social circles and good schools, then why – as adults – do we not still practice and believe this concept?

If you hang around those who tolerate but hate their jobs, relationships or lifestyle then guess what, you will become like that too. You will settle. You will stop looking for bigger and happiness. It will be “just good enough” or “the way that it is.”

It is said you are an average of the five people you spend the most time with. Who are you then? Those five people… their best and worst qualities, averaged out. Who are you? Are you proud of that?

Now might be a good time to begin contemplating this. If you want to become something different, it is likely time to begin to change your social circle. You don’t have to carry with you forward something that you have carried forever, just because it’s familiar. Expand your group.

You can still care about those you’ve cared about, from a distance. You can’t hold back on your life just to stay comfortable with the familiar. Start to look now for different settings you can get yourself into, to set yourself up to be happy in your life.

  1. What’s working? What’s not? Get a game plan.

In order to change anything in your life, it is important to be clear on what you are or are not. Write down all the things in your life that are working. Maybe what’s working is the kids daycare, the family time you can allot each week or the gym you go to.

Next, write down what isn’t working. Maybe it’s the commute to work, maybe it’s expenses versus income, maybe it’s not having enough YOU time.

When you see these two groups on paper, you can get a clear look at how you are living your life, what stands out as important and any imbalances there are.

If you wrote it on your “not working list,” then you know it’s important to you and that inside your heart, you want a change in regards to that thing.

From here, you can decide on a starting point, and create a game plan to change what isn’t working to either be on the what IS working list or remove it all together. This is when we create a game plan to create change.

The thing with “game plans” is, contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to know or have the entire journey mapped out, from step one to finish line. But what you do need to see is a few of the first steps.

Let’s say on your “what isn’t working” list, you wrote down your physical body weight. In other words, being over weight is just not working and you want to lose ten pounds, gain some muscle and be able to ride your bike with your kids with out loosing your breath. Your first few steps could be signing up at the gym and committing to a personal trainer 3 times a week.

That’s the first few steps; the steps that follow will reveal themselves after you have the beginning ones in action. As Martin Luther King Jr said, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

Baby steps can add up to miles covered. But you’ve got to take that first step to get anywhere new.

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There are so many things we can do, to run into the new year strong and refreshed and set up for change and success. These are just a few small concepts to consider. Think about them seriously and see if they make sense to you. If something strikes a chord with you or, better yet, if something strikes a nerve in you, look at it. There is something there for you to go deeper into, wherever you felt a reaction or drawn to.

We are about to be blessed with a new year. A new chance, a new starting point. Many people in your country and in your home town don’t get this opportunity. Life ended for them before this month rolled around. Realize that this is your life. There are no guarantees and when it’s done, it’s done. While you’re here, make the most of it. Let go of hurts, pain, controlling and regrets. Let go and soften. Set yourself up for success by reassessing your social circle and the people you spend the most time with. Look at your life and change what isn’t working or serving you to be the best version of yourself.

You’ve got this chance… make it count.

Sending love, hugs and butt slaps…

Xoxo

McDooogs

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Things I have learnt by starting a new relationship, after trying to heal from a break up that I thought would kill me.

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I don’t consider myself a relationship expert. In fact, I am far from it. I’ve had more failed relationships than not. And I’ve spent a great quantity of time trying to heal from heartache. One particular break up actually, really rocked me when it was over and I struggled for quite awhile to believe in my “destiny” of being someone who “gets to be in a relationship.”

Maybe being single was just my path?

I’ll spare you the details on that part of my history. There is a time for storytelling but this is a different moment.

What I do want to share is the things I’m starting to learn and understand, as I have now entered into a new relationship.

First off, before I dive into that. I need to say. Bless this new guys heart. He has SO much patience for me, and really allows me to hurt, when and if I need to hurt. He hasn’t taken any of it personal and has really accepted that I have a past, which he won’t blame me for. He rides the waves of emotions and meets me on dry land each and every time I am ready.

Patience is really his thing.

Lucky me, to be able to have such support in my healing.

And the thing about healing, is that there is no recipe or step-by-step instructions to begin, in order to get to the other side. You just sort of have to move through it. The thick and shittiness of it all.

There are a few things that have come up for me, that I’ve realized as I am beginning this new path. Maybe you are experiencing ups and downs too but are making yourself wrong for many of them. Well, knock that shit off. Your process of change and healing is exactly that. YOURS. It doesn’t need to be painfree or look like a Hollywood romantic comedy, for it to be okay or for it to be working. Yours is yours.

Here are some of my shares and lessons. Maybe you can relate.

 

The healing doesn’t just come to a stop when you meet someone new.

From my experience, just because I am entering into a new relationship – slowly and cautiously – doesn’t mean that the healing of the past relationship was finished and complete. There is still a ton of healing that bubbles to the surface randomly and surprisingly, asking for attention.

I use to think I might get into a new relationship if and when the past love never crossed my mind, when there was complete forgiveness, or when there was no more hurt in my heart.

I was wrong about that.

I know now that learning to open your heart up to new love can be (and is for me) a part of the actual healing process. For me, having another human being there to show me new ways to smile or to make new memories with, that’s a part of my healing.

What I’ve also come to realize is that it is a fine line to walk, to be careful we do not simply throw ourselves into a new relationship, to avoid the hard work of addressing the parts of yourself which are wounded and or need to change.

Distraction is not what we want here. Healing is. And sometimes that healing is aided through the loving heart of someone else.

As one of my favorite author, Brene Brown says, we are wired for connection. In other words, we NEED other people.

Which means, sometimes we join hands with someone new, as we heal the hurt of someone old.

There are plenty of pains which might still come up: you get sad when you hear a old song that takes you back in time, you get lost in thought when you hear the old loves name and start to wonder what they are up to, you get angry that they seem to have moved on effortlessly… all of that (and so much more) is natural.

What I’ve learnt is to not stuff down what comes up. Stuff it down, and that means it is still there to come up in the future. Don’t fight it when it shows up to be healed. Let it show up. Feel what there is to feel and own that emotion. Don’t let it own you.

Are you mad at your ex still? Are you jealous of how they so easily moved on and seem perfectly happy? There is nothing wrong with what you feel. The key though, is to not sit heavily in it, or make that who you are. The key is to notice… “I’m feeling resentful” not “I’m resentful.” What you are feeling is a feeling. Not a part of your personality or make up.

And know that a feeling, like a thought, can be changed. Choose to notice what you feel, and then choose to acknowledge that there is some part of you that is still healing. Whether you know how to heal it or how long it will be there, this does not matter. All that matters is that you be kind to yourself the way you would be kind to a young child, and with that patience and compassion. All healing can take place with time and compassion.

You still need time alone.

Just because new love can be exciting and fresh, does not give you a free pass from working on yourself and being with YOU. Here’s the thing about life. Lovers will come and go. But there is one person you must go to bed with every night of your life…

You.

And you – whatever version of you that is currently present and here – needs nurturing. Attention. Love. Respect. Time. I promise you that you can be a better lover and partner to your new hunny bunny, if you devote time to yourself.

Maybe you work out, read a book, go for a walk, spend time with your dog… there needs to be a daily devotion to your own heart, with no distractions. You cannot fill another’s cup from an empty well. Fill your well first. Then giving to others is so much easier.

Comparing is natural.

How you love now or were loved before may not be the same. People show love differently. You, most likely, have grown. Expanded. Collapsed and put yourself back together differently.

Maybe there is a difference to who you are now, as well as between the old and new relationship. Maybe the person you are now dating shows affection in a completely different way then you are use to.

Just know that comparing, initially, is natural. I wouldn’t recommend this as a long-term habit, but I don’t believe you should beat yourself up or feel guilty about how your mind tends to place both loves, past and present, side by side and compare them.

The book, The Five Love Languages, is an amazing, easy read for gaining insight and learning to understand how folks show love and affection differently. If you are starting a new relationship, I encourage you to take this knowledge and power with you as you enter in. You will look at your new partner in crime differently and you will begin to understand which love language they speak and how they understand acts of love and affection. Which will ease how you compare the past and present lover.

Bonus to this: my bet is you may even think back to your old lover and find new compassion and understanding for them and what they were showing you in your past relationship. Ahhh… so good. More healing enters into your heart. Another step in the right direction.

New is fine and dandy, but there is no rush.

Don’t rush through your pain. Don’t rush through the dating. Don’t rush through to your happily ever after. It all matters. All the beginning stuff matters. All the pain and the recovery matters.

Another one of my favorite authors and girl power leaders, the queen love warrior herself, Glennon Doyle Melton says, “Pain is a traveling professor and it goes and knocks on everyones door. The smartest people I know are the people who say, come in and don’t leave until you have taught me what I need to know.”

Learn from your pain. Don’t rush it out the door. Don’t move through the conversations with it quickly, to avoid feeling what there is to feel. It sucks and it hurts, I know. Trust me, I know. But rushing away from what hurts keeps you from learning what there is to learn. For every sucker punch we take from life, from all the heartache we endure, there is a lesson to learn. If you rush through your pain, you won’t get the lesson. And just like in grade school, if you fail, you repeat.

If you don’t want to do this pain game again, do the work now and learn what there is to learn. Don’t rush.

Honesty – with yourself – is key.

Are you ready for new love? Does your partner know your past? Is it necessary for the evolution of your heart, soul and new relationship that anything old to be addressed or shared?

This is only something you can know. You have to be honest with yourself about where you are at, and what matters going forward.

Here’s what I know for sure.

The quality of your relationships should improve as you move through life. You should learn from each past love, what you want and what you don’t want, and you should make better choices for your next relationship.

The point is to grow and do better for yourself. Not to repeat the same relationship over and over, in different forms of lovers.

I can say for sure, that the quality of men I have dated and been in relationships with, has absolutely improved over time. I am not willing to do the same relationship and same problems and issues, over and over, with each man. For me, each lesson or each issue that chipped away the trust or foundation of the relationship and myself in the past, is addressed and learnt from, for the present. I have chosen to share certain things with my new guy, regarding what was not right in the past relationships. I do this not so I can relive the pain or make him feel bad for me, but so I do not repeat history, so he can hold me accountable and so together, we can make better choices.

With honesty, you free yourself and your new partner up. You do not unconsciously hold them responsible for mistakes from past relationships. Its all laid out on the table, and you can see – together – what might have been past issues and triggers, so going forward, problem solving can be quickly accomplished with out blame, hurt and frustration.

But it takes getting real with you first.

You can’t be afraid to own the story.

Be real and raw and afraid or nervous but don’t hold back. What I mean by this is you’re going to experience more, feel more, grow more, inspire more, if you really own what is going on for you.

What does it mean to “own” how you feel and to “own” your story?

It means you are not apologetic for your feelings. It means you are truthful – to yourself first and then to others – about what you are feeling. It means you take responsibility for how you are reacting to a situation or event, rather than blaming it on the outside source. You own it. It doesn’t own you.

You own how it went and you own how it will go.

Your story is yours. When you own what was, you can create a beautiful new ending and be in full responsibility for that.

And nothing feels better than living an amazing life, on purpose, that you can take credit for.

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I know that as I grow and move through this new relationship, that there will be plenty more lessons for me to learn, plenty more hidden beliefs and hidden pains to uncover and chip away at. Which is exciting and scary all in one. But I’m willing to do the work. And I’m willing to heal the past. And live more fully and presently in the now.

What could be better than that?

May your healing be empowering…

Xoxo

McDooogs