Storm Warning

Storm Warning

Have you ever watched a storm approach?  In the distance you can see the dark black clouds, heavy in the sky.  They look scary but they are far enough away so you don’t worry about it because you are still in the warmth of the sun.

Or have you ever seen an eclipse?  So bright one minute and completely dark the next?

Christmas was my eclipse, my storm.  I could feel it coming but despite the warnings it still hit with full force.  It wrapped its hands around my throat and it plunged me into the cold, heavy darkness and no amount of tears could get me out.  I didn’t have the strength to travel five hours to visit family…the stress and anxiety weighed me down so I was unable to breathe…the pressure to pretend became too overwhelming…hating the feeling of not being able to give yet being forced to receive

The enormous guilt and shame of wanting the days to be over when I know of families who due to illness, are counting the days, moments and memories with their loved ones.  My logical self seemingly having no control over my emotions. My light being shadowed by darkness.

Through that darkness came blessings…

Weeping in my kitchen, unable to keep the tears from escaping my eyes, the sobs from my throat…with my head resting on my Mother’s chest, like I did when I was a little girl…the nurturing of a Mother to a daughter

Being welcomed into my sister’s home with open arms and concern.  There were no judgments, just COMPASSION, KINDNESS, GENEROSITY and CARE.

Numerous texts, emails and messages of love, kindness, support and ultimately, unbeknownst to the senders, STRENGTH.

Making the decision to JOG 14k on Christmas instead of Boxing Day. 

Lacing up my runners, filling up my water bottle and stepping out into the fresh air…the first real, deep breaths in a few days…

Immediately feeling the shift as I JOGGED, one step after the other, feet on pavement…my sister riding her bike beside me…a simple conversation begins…

“I’m so glad you made the decision to come for Christmas.  If you didn’t I would have drove over and got you.” 

The amount of love, care and concern in that statement resonating with each step pounding into the pavement, and into my heart…the LOVE of a sister

The storm lifted with each kilometer I JOGGED, bringing me back to myself and back to my family…the eclipse passed…hope was renewed, my perspective came into focus and I felt normal again.  It’s the best way I can describe it…

JOGGING opened me up to receive the love and care I was being given. 

If you suffer during this time, try jogging, hiking, cycling, rowing, dancing or boxing to increase your heart rate and release those endorphins.  Find something that resonates with you and DO IT. It’s the only thing that I’ve found that snaps me out of the darkness within a few days.  My mistake was perhaps not JOGGING far enough when I first saw the storm approaching…

If you are suffering, I know what it feels like, but I also know there can be a way through it too…

With a smile, compassion and love,

Tina

My Christmas Past – When In Doubt, LAUGH…

I have a funny story to tell.  I don’t know if my Mother will laugh as hard as the rest of us but hopefully time will have softened the stress and she can recognize the humor in what now proves to be a very funny Christmas memory.

It was a difficult Christmas and our family was going through a major change.  Mom was working terribly hard and was completely exhausted.  She was working an afternoon shift so she wasn’t going to be home until midnight on Christmas Eve.

She loves Christmas so it was important for her to have the tree up and decorated however life was stressful, and the Christmas tree was still in a box downstairs on the 24th of December. She had probably asked us a thousand times to put it up, because she didn’t have time to do it herself. She had no choice but to leave that responsibility to us.  Before she left for work she asked us to please put up the tree and told us to go downstairs to look for it.

At the time, my brother and I were teenagers and my sister was home from University.  We were more interested in watching movies and eating junk food than we were about putting up the tree.  We realized that Mom was pretty stressed about it and she’d be angry if it wasn’t done so we eventually made our way into the basement to find all the stuff.

My memory is fuzzy on how hard we actually looked but all we found was the tree and some lights.  We couldn’t find any ornaments, garland, tinsel or the traditional angel for the top.  We put up the sad, naked tree, which clearly needed some decorations. 

What could we use?

We were not the “string-popcorn-together-and-get-creative-with-tin-foil” type of people. No, we decided to choose another way to decorate our tree.

We went into our Mother’s room and grabbed all her pantyhose.  We careful stretched each leg of pantyhose around the tree, as if it were garland. Next we found her bras.  We hung the bras with loving care as our Christmas tree ornaments. Now we needed something on the top of the tree. 

I found the perfect accessory.  We used her one, lone, black leather glove.  It fit on the top of the tree and bent at the wrist, almost like her hand was in it. It was perfect.

We sat and admired our tree, so proud of ourselves. I remember LAUGHING so hard with my siblings because it looked hilarious with all Mom’s underwear hanging off the branches.  We were very excited to see her reaction.

After we decorated it, we went to the local gas station and rented a movie:  “The Exorcist”.  Apparently all the happy movies were already rented this Christmas Eve. Yes, you could say we weren’t the typical family on Christmas.  We watched horror movies instead of singing Christmas carols. If you aren’t familiar with the movie, a very famous scene is when the main character’s head spins completely around as she is possessed by evil…

Well, when Mom got home, that’s what she looked like…

Oh she was mad!  As an overworked, tired and stressed woman, coming home to a tree decorated with her ‘delicates’ was just pushing her a little too far.  We were told to take it down NOW and I think she found the correct decorations to put up.

I will always remember that Christmas because it was funny not because it was a tough time in our family.  It was at our poor Mom’s expense, but gosh it created a bond with my siblings that was based on laughter, not pain.  We needed some laughter in our life at that time.

Christmas can be difficult for people.  It can be stressful and filled with sadness or loneliness.  I tell this story to show you that even in times of difficulty, you can turn the situation into something FUN and WORTH REMEMBERING…and all it took was a couple pairs of pantyhose, some bras and a glove!

Love you Momma!

With a smile

Tina

PS. I received an unexpected card and gift in the mail this week from my dear friend and colleague Alexander Forbes.  (With much gratitude Alex, I thank you) He is an accomplished poet, author and speaker who I had the privilege of working with on a couple CD’s of his wonderful poems. 

The current CD is titled, “the beauty of the city in the last hour of the night” and it is available on Itunes and CD Baby.  I mention the CD because it’s a lovely, unique project bringing together his POETRY, with my NARRATION, as well as MUSIC and ART.  It would make a lovely gift for someone who is difficult to buy for.

PPS.  I have a wonderful surprise for you on Thursday, so don’t forget to come back!

Past Perceptions…

What do you see when you look at this photo? 

  • Do you see an ugly child? 
  • Do you see scars on her face? Big ears? 
  • Do you see a dirty, shameful, wicked girl? 
  • Do you see joy or do you see pain? 
  • Do you think she should shut up because she doesn’t have anything good to say? 
  • Do you think she feels loved? Safe?  Scared?  Alone?

I have been forced over the last couple of years to take a serious look into my PAST in order to understand my PRESENT, and then in turn, to change my FUTURE. 

My childhood was very painful but I have a part of the story I haven’t been acknowledging.  I had people in my life who unbeknownst to them, helped me through it.  Some opened their home to me and gave me a safe place to be myself.  Some made me laugh from my very core and others made me feel accepted, despite not having any money, and feeling completely unworthy.

I can tell you that their perception of me as a kid and my perception of me as a kid are very different. 

As an adult, I look at that photo of myself and I see a sweet little girl with a very big heart who just wanted to love and help people, make them laugh, and be accepted for who she was. 

But I also know that inside that little girl felt so ugly, unworthy, dirty, scared, and truly thought she was hideous.  I feel so sad that she felt that way about herself…that I felt that way about myself.

Although my inner world was warped and my perceptions were off, the outside world saw someone different.  They saw parts of me that I couldn’t see as a child. 

For example, for me, my freckles were like scars on my face. I hated each and every one of them.  I literally tried to fade them with lemon juice one year while sitting in the sun…as you can imagine this just created a very tight, sour little face…my Mom had some old black book of household remedies and it suggested putting rain water from an old tree trunk on my face…I did that too!  I was a funny, weird little kid but I hated my freckles so much and yet I know others loved them. 

It’s made me realize that some of the internal stories I’ve been telling myself aren’t true. 

Just because I THINK something about myself, doesn’t mean it’s always REAL.

Just because I look in the mirror and think, “God Tina, you are looking old” doesn’t mean I am actually looking old…it just means I need to be kind to myself today because the voice of criticism is rising up and the only way to get it to calm down is to LOVE WHO I AM. 

It starts with that little girl…she didn’t know any better…but I do…

Be gentle towards yourself today, love goes much deeper than you think…

With a smile

Tina

PS.  Don’t forget you can find me on Facebook too!

Self Loathing – What YOU Can Do About It

I don’t know if it’s the time of year with the holidays coming up or if it’s the darkness that is slowly laying it’s cloak over us or if it’s just more common than we realize, but I have spoken to many people lately who are suffering with sadness, depression and a very cruel inner voice.

I was recently asked the question,

“What do you do about self loathing?”

I know what it feels like to hate yourself so much you can’t look in the mirror.  You believe with all certainty that you are hideous inside and out and don’t deserve good things to happen to you.  You are fat, ugly, stupid, not talented, a whore, a fake, a bitch, an idiot, dumb, not worth anything etc…You are exhausted, overwhelmed and can’t imagine having to spend another day pretending that everything is fine. 

For me, it started as a little girl, and I clearly remember trying to change my personality so kids at my school would like me.  It never worked. In my teens it wasn’t much better. In my 20’s I went into counseling and it certainly helped, but the feeling still remained and unfortunately I found new ways to prove to myself that I was unworthy.  I found relationships that justified my self-loathing.

“He’s right, I am damaged…I am screwed up by my childhood or I shouldn’t have done that, said that, worn that, felt that, wanted that etc.” 

I wore a very good mask to the outside world, but inside I was suffering to the darkest degree.  My negative, critical, hateful inner voice was very loud and there were days, months and years of that self abuse. 

JOGGING SAVED MY LIFE. 

It makes me feel better and it proves to myself that I’M WORTH THE TIME, ENERGY AND EFFORT. It opens me up so I get rid of the toxic, abusive, and damaging voice that’s inside. It gives me strength to say goodbye to relationships that nurtured my abusive inner voice.  It gives me an outlet to cry, rage, weep, yell, swear and gain STRENGTH.  It nurtures my spirit. It changes my brain chemistry so I feel good on a regular basis.  I owe my sanity, emotional stability and deep sense of happiness to the inner work I’ve done through the physical activity of jogging.

If you can’t jog due to health reasons (bad knees, asthma, bad back etc) talk to your doctor and find out what you CAN DO.  Some other options could be: cycling, boxing, swimming, skiing, hiking, dancing etc…I find fresh air and nature to be a healing source so I prefer outside activities, but the main thing is to CREATE ACTION, MOVEMENT and to STICK WITH IT.

It won’t be easy…there isn’t an easy button for self-loathing, that’s why people self medicate with drugs, alcohol, shopping, or relationships but just like that negative inner voice wears you down insidious comment after insidious comment, so too can you wear away at it through POSITIVE BEHAVIOR, ACTION and MOVEMENT.

You deserve to shine. With each negative and mean thing you say to yourself, repeat a positive comment in its place. You may not believe it, but do it anyway.  Find a physical activity that gets you moving. It will take time, so you need to commit to it for at least three weeks, but you will notice a change in your thoughts and overall mood.

YOU DESERVE TO BE HAPPY.  You deserve a joyful, inspired, gentle and kind life where laughter is contagious and love is abundant.  Start from within and literally move forward.  It’s there for you…

With a smile

Tina

PS.  I have a new article on Ezine that is flying past all my other articles in views.  Check it out!

Build A Team

I had a great meeting a while back with Damon Vignale, the producer, writer and director of “The Vetala”, a GEMINI and LEO award winning webseries that I was blessed to be a part of.

We were talking about my 40by40 website and he said to me,

“You have to build a team around you.”

I thought that was great advice and I’m actively doing as he suggested but that wisdom can also be applied to every day life…

Sometimes the very people we think should be supporting us unfortunately didn’t or couldn’t (emotionally) step up to the plate.  For example, as a child, you don’t have as much control over whether your family is supportive, but as an adult you have the ability to create a different kind of family support. This choice applies to partners, lovers, friends, family, and anyone else of importance in your life. You can do something about it; you don’t have to settle for less than what you deserve.

You can build your own team and these are a few suggestions on where to begin:

  1. Surround yourself with people that support you both in words and in action.
  2. Limit or completely separate yourself from relationships that are draining, toxic or depleting your energy.
  3. Find those CHEERLEADERS!  The people who genuinely are happy for your success, with not an ounce of jealousy, envy or negativity.
  4. Build and nurture relationships that teach you, inspire you and motivate you.
  5. LISTEN – to your gut, to what’s being said to you and how it’s being said, and what you are saying to yourself.  You need to be your biggest support, so make sure you are feeding yourself with positive, healthy, good stuff. If you create that supportive inner world, you will create a supportive outer world.
  6. Accept help when offered…

Those are things that worked for me and they can also help you build your ‘life team’.  I have been blessed to know some amazing people and here are a couple examples of people who have touched my life and are a part of my team:

Jody Kennett from Leapfit – She is my trainer and she is my friend.  We laugh a lot but she also keeps me focused.  She created a program that’s challenging but exactly what I need. She has sent me emails of such encouragement and support and she genuinely cheers me on.

Renee Shupe from Redhead Business Management – if it wasn’t for Renee, this blog would be a ‘blob’.  Thank goodness when I spoke to her about the design she knew what to listen to, and thankfully, what to ignore otherwise this would have looked more like a site for industrial mining products than an inspirational website.

Dr. Benita Basra from Ocean Wellness – She is my chiropractor and quickly becoming my friend.  I admire her values as a woman, mother, wife and professional.  She has supported me when I’ve been at my most vulnerable…both physically and emotionally.

Carmen How - pretty much most of the photos that you see on this website are photos Carmen took.  I love her talent, gentle nature and creative eye and I’m thrilled that she was able to capture through photos, what I am trying to express in words.

And then I am so blessed to have this amazing, COURAGEOUS, strong, LOVING and supportive group of WOMEN in my life.  Some I have known for years and some are new friendships. They bring LAUGHTER, understanding, WISDOM and support into my life. I feel very blessed to know each of them.

I also have some pretty amazing men in my life too.  Nice guys who care about me and they show me…

Remember it’s your team…you decide who is around you…who makes the cut and who doesn’t.  Sometimes you have to get rid of a few players to make room for more valuable teammates.  It may not be easy, but it is necessary.

BUILD A TEAM AROUND YOU was excellent advice and I encourage you to build upon your already existing team or begin creating a new one.  Surround yourself with support, love, honesty, loyalty and laughter.  Surround yourself with people who lift you up, inspire you, and motivate you.

And don’t forget to accept help when offered…it’s ok, sometimes you don’t have to do it all…

With a smile

Tina