Thursday, July 31, 2014

☺ When Your Sense of Self is Challenged ☺

There have been many times here at the ReLove blog in which I have explicitly encouraged people to love themselves as they are, to not care what others think, and to be yourself and be happy no matter what adversaries come your way. What I have not discussed is what to do when that sense of self, that sense of your own comfort in your identity, is challenged. Perhaps I never spoke of it because it has been a very long time since I've felt a deep overwhelming challenge in this area of my life. I have always been quirky, different, and in recent years done my best to embrace my individuality--something that has become easier and easier with every year as I become more and more secure in my own body and self. It felt like easy advice to give, and certainly something that each and every one of us can consciously work on: becoming comfortable with ourselves and embracing Who We Are. However, sometimes our sense of self can be vigorously challenged. While it has taken my own sense of self to be recently challenged to truly reflect on this topic, I am always glad for opportunities of insight and exploration; encouraging me to look at my identity, at people, at the world we live in, always providing new opportunities to learn and grow and share. 

So. Perhaps your sense of self is often challenged. Perhaps it is from family--and perhaps this is the most common one, especially if you really do embrace your quirks and lovely individuality and all the strangeness our society deems "unfit." Perhaps it is from friends (why would you want to have friends like that?), or coworkers, or peers in school, or any other number of people or circumstance. 
Our sense of self is almost always first challenged sometime during our school years. We start off so innocent and genuine, and then somewhere along the line society and the people that are a part of that society begin to make us feel as if we can't be ourselves and that we must fit a certain standard. Our innocent and genuine identity become tainted, twisted to try and fit in that narrow-minded box. Fortunately, many of us learn that we don't want to fit in the box or join the herd of society's sheep. 
While I was in school, I learned at a more subconscious level that I did not fit in and didn't want to fit in--after my own lack of success in trying. I learned to stick up for myself. As I became an adult I was somehow comfortable creating new identities for myself. I was a goth/metal kid for a long while. I probably tried entirely too hard to be "badass." I went through a mild hippie stage as well. At some point I accepted I was also rather a bit of a "geek." In the end, I learned to embrace all the individual parts of myself. But, that isn't what I'm talking about today (that's in the "Be Yourself" posts you can find on the rest of the blog). 

So, what challenged my sense of self recently? 

Let's Get Personal… 
First I will say that my sense of self is largely identified (to myself) by the inspiration, happiness, and warmth I try to spread to others and the world around me. I generally consider myself a good person who is out to help others and do the best I can in all areas (people around me, our planet, animals, etc.). These were things that were important to my character, things I resonated with, things that made me feel secure in who I Am. They still are, don't worry, but these ideals have been challenged, because my sense of self has been challenged. Why? Nothing has challenged my sense of self more than the very recent separation from my partner. Yes, we're going to get personal here; hopefully many of you can relate through your own relationship challenges, and if not hopefully it at least compares in some way to your own challenges. 
At first, I had to deal with the guilt of leaving a ten-year relationship with an awesome guy. Fortunately, I have pretty amazing friends and family who have supported me through all of this. However, there was a lot of questioning involved for myself--because I was very aware that I was hurting another person (my husband) and it made me feel, quite frankly, like a shitty human being. Of course, this logic isn't exactly sound. If I wasn't hurting him then I was hurting myself, and I was hurting the relationship, and therefore hurting him in the end regardless. While I have reminded myself of this logic repeatedly, it still made me feel like a not-so-great person. I accepted that it was something that needed to happen, that my Intention wasn't to actually hurt him, but to help both he and myself in life. Stagnation and self-harm is never a scenario you want to stick with. So those reminders helped too. 
My sense of self was challenged further as this little rabbit hole of my life continued. I had fallen in love with another man; a good friend at that, who was/is also my husband's friend. This made me feel like a shitty person too. Even though I never cheated on my husband, the guilt of falling in love before ending my relationship with him lingered. Since speaking to many other female friends and acquaintances, I have come to realize my situation was not exactly unusual, and in fact was quite common. Perhaps it is because we are often too afraid of hurting the person we're with to end relationships when we should, and so falling for a close friend may feel easier, even safer, if not usually accidental. Oh what denial can do to us!
Both of these circumstances made me feel not like the person I had spent a long time becoming and loving. What you should also understand is that I used to hate myself rather passionately, so becoming someone I was proud of and loved was a big step and accomplishment in my life. 
Since this has all transpired, the spiral continued. Suddenly, I felt like everyone was judging me. It is amazing what can go through your mind at times like this, challenging our security within ourselves as much as it challenges Who we feel we Are. I began to wonder what my friends truly thought of me, what outsiders would think and/or say, what people were saying behind my back. I had suddenly opened myself up to a huge window in which there was room for judgement. 
Further reflection upon this has reminded me that there are always windows for judgement. Being vegan is a window for judgment. Being environmentally conscious is a window for judgement; being "consciously aware" is a window for judgement; being "unique" is a window, dying your hair, having piercings, having tattoos, having dreadlocks, what we choose to wear, how we choose to act… really just Being Yourself is a window for judgment, because it causes people to reflect on their own lack of sense of self. Many people become jealous and/or uncomfortable by anything that challenges the sheep-like society we live in. Of course, people are breaking these barriers every day, but there are still plenty of people who are afraid of change or anything different from themselves--I think these people, more than anything, are just afraid of being themselves, therefore it is easier to judge others so that they can feel better about their own lack of identity and individuality and fear of being themselves openly. 

I realize this is a pretty long-winded post. Perhaps this should be more of a "free flow thoughts" sort of post; but I feel like plenty of people can relate to this subject so it is one I wanted to openly discuss and find some enlightenment with. 
What I've come to learn, is that, at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter what other people think of you. All you can do--and all you Should do--is Be Yourself, fully and openly and as comfortably as possible. The higher our level of comfort and acceptance we have for ourselves and our decisions, the more those around us are accepting as well. Opening the window of self-doubt opens that same window to others. People can see and sense your self-doubt and insecurity; if you can't be comfortable with your own self and decisions, then how are others supposed to either? Of course, no matter how comfortable and accepting you are of your own self, there will always be Someone there to question it, there will always be Someone that has something negative to say--such is life. This is why our value should never come from anyone else but ourselves. Also, your friends should always be understanding, the people that matter will always be on your side--and if they're not then you should probably find new people.
Since I was speaking of relationships as well, I will return to a final thought on that as well… Any end to a relationship requires two people. For a long while much of my guilt and lack of security within myself was due to me taking all the blame and responsibility. Once I was able to remember and see that my husband had just as big a role to play in the unravelling of our relationship, my sense of self began to return with more confidence. It takes two people. And we all have reasons for the decisions we make, so hold onto that, whatever those decisions may be--whether it involves a relationship or any other aspect in life.    

What are your own thoughts on your sense of self or "identity"? What challenges have entered your own life in which you felt extremely challenged in this area? And what insights have you gained, and coping methods have you learned in this area? Would love to hear from you all! 

As always, so much Love! 

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

☺ Reflections on the New Chapter of My Life ☺

There is no denying… this lovely blog is becoming consumed by the current circumstances of my own life. I feel as if that is okay though; after all, I am a writer that shares life lessons and experiences, so why would the experiences of my own life not be shared with you all in hopes to help you reach some "ah ha" moment in your own life? Or perhaps for me to selfishly explore and discover the inner workings of my own life and then sharing such with you. Win-win then? Okay, I'll go with that.  
The truth is that the end of my marriage and this new chapter of my life is clearly absorbing most of my current time. But I also want to blog. I want to blog about my experience. So, once more, why not?

{from my recent Vancouver adventure}

Reflections on the New Chapter of My Life. 

Change can be scary. The fear of Change, worse so, will hold us back.  
Life can be quirky and unexpected. In fact, just when we think we have our entire "life plan" figured out the curveball comes a swinging to redirect us. I thought I was going to live happily ever after with my husband. I thought he was "the one". We were high school sweethearts, got married at 22, and shared a good ten years together in which most of our relationship was quite blissful, if not incredibly arduous (partly because we were so young, mostly because there was a lot of personal turbulence that directly affected each our lives, particularly mine). 
Ending any relationship isn't easy, add the word "marriage" into that and it's even more uneasy, add the words "ten years" and you ignite a personal complex. The most difficult part of the decision, however, was that I wasn't leaving my partner because he was a bad person, in fact he is an absolutely amazing person and any woman would be lucky to have him. It was why it took me a gruelling six months of tug-o-war with my own mind and heart to finally make a decision. After all, I was leaving a man I had committed myself to, a man that I had loved deeply for years, a man that treated me well and a man who was enlightened, conscious, kind, and in so many ways very much like me in our personal beliefs. There was a point in which I wondered what was wrong with me to have fallen out of love with such a man. 
Being on different paths.
Being different people and wanting different things. 
Personal traumas and troubles in which we no longer supported one another.
These were all the real reasons I think my marriage fell apart, why I fell out of love, and why I needed to move on. His soul no longer resonated with my own and our interests changed. I will say again: it's hard leaving someone who is good to you; it will make you question the deepest parts of yourself. But the mistakes we made during our time together played their weight in the ending, and so did many other factors. Falling out of love with someone is a strange feeling. But I learned to respect myself, to be honest with myself, and to listen to my heart, which were all vital in my own well-being--and things that I had a hard time accepting for a long long time. People (including ourselves) change, and there is nothing we can do about that. People end up going down different roads, developing different interests, striving for different desires, and requiring different attributes and needs from our inner selves and the partners we are with. This moves us onto different frequencies that are no longer resonating with the inner most important parts of our beings. That is when change is required, when it is time to be honest with yourself and to see the truth. None of this means the person we were with was a bad person, and it doesn't mean "it's not you, it's me", it just means that our paths are heading in different directions. Accepting this truth opened my world and allowed the guilt to ease and my decision to be made with more confidence.

My point in all this, if there is any, is that I thought I was going to live happily ever after with my husband in our dream home with a happy little pig, puppy, and our two cats, with an extravagant food garden, and a lifetime of sprinkled fairy dust on top. Life throws us curves balls. What we thought we wanted may sometimes not be what we actually want, or, even more so, what we actually need. There is a moment in life where we feel like we are going against the current; this is a good sign and feeling to listen to. If you are constantly fighting against a current, then it is probably not in your best interest to pursue. This was the case with my marriage. It felt as if I was constantly fighting against a current. This feeling was what gave me my first wake-up call: when I realized my life wasn't what I wanted it to be. I also came to see that there were things that I wanted that my current circumstance could not provide me--not because of him, but because of myself. I realized I needed change. I realized I needed a different environment in order to grow and learn new things about myself and to enrich my life again; to, basically, continue my life journey in the truest resonance to my soul. My faith in the Universe contributes to my peace of mind in all this, because I do believe it is looking out for each of us, but I also believe that we have to actively participate in our lives as well for it to be good and rich and abundant in all areas. Actively participate, listen to your heart, trust the signs, and trust that whatever decision you make can be the right decision. 
I remember wishing someone could make the decision for me. I remember looking for signs from the Universe every day. It's easy to misinterpret outward signs, the real sign was actually in my heart, I was just in complete denial of this for a long time--a time I regret. If I had listened to my heart sooner, if I had been honest with myself sooner, than perhaps this ending would have been easier. But, everything happens for a reason. Better late than never. 

As terrifying and woeful as ending my marriage has been (there is nothing in the world that has ever made my heart hurt so badly), I am also excited for the future. I had given up on love, part of me didn't believe it were possible; I mean, if my husband wasn't "the one", who else could be? Again, life can surprise you, and sometimes "the one" is actually right in front of you. Love is real. I really truly deeply believe and (dare I say) know this to be true. If we set the right intention, know that we are deserving, and remember to love ourselves, then we absolutely welcome the right person into our lives. 

Change can be scary. But change also opens us up to the world we deserve, the world we strive for, the world we are manifesting. Change is good; only our resistance to it is bad. Sometimes we just have to pull up the courage to do what we need for ourselves--and that often times requires the biggest leap of faith and making the hardest decisions. Through all this personal experience, I promise you, having the courage to listen to your heart is the most rewarding experience you will have--even if it is intimidating, even if it may seem devastating and difficult. Trust your heart. Trust that inner voice that is trying to guide you, trying to bring to you what you strive for, need, and desire. That little voice knows, because it resonates the deepest parts of your soul. So, learn to listen, and welcome goodness into your life. 


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Sunday, July 20, 2014

{life reflections} Yoga and Healing

p.s. This was written on Thursday, for the date reference… not that it matters. ;)

As I sit here sipping on a rather blissful blueberry hemp smoothie on the deck of Sweet Cherubim, sweat still dripping down my spine, and hair still wet from the shower after my first Bikram Yoga class (think an intense 90 minutes of yoga in a 40 degree room), I can't help reflect on this immense shift in my life. To say that I have learned a lot about myself this past month would be a huge understatement. To say that I have entered an immensely healing period in my life with profound opportunity would also be highly under stated. Life itself is a healing journey, but to what I am referring is this new chapter of deep conscious healing I have recently begun, really tackling personal issues and past traumas to reach a better state of "enlightenment" and happiness in my life.  
These sorts of drastic life changes and challenges are not particularly new to me, but they always strike me all the same as incredibly profound, filled to the brim with lessons and opportunities to grow and discover new parts of myself. Through all my turmoils, I have definitely learned to embrace change, to seek the positive in any given situation. This process allows us to be more adaptable, allows us to grow and learn, allows the waves of turmoil to wash on by instead of getting stuck. 

Now, it's easy to dismiss things, to play things down when we start to compare our lives to others, or for an outsider looking in. Perhaps you are sat there thinking to yourself, but my life is incredibly difficult, for there is This and That going on, and This that needs to be done, and That which needs fixing, and This person is giving me grief. Well, this is no different than my world (or a lot of people's worlds), and I don't believe in making our current (or old) circumstances our excuses or clutches to negativity. At any given moment we have the opportunity to turn a situation into something that enriches our lives, to empower our beings, or we can allow it to cripple us. This is a basic, hard, blunt lesson I have learned through the tornado of my life. Attitude is everything. Having an Attitude of Gratitude is even more advantageous. 
I think--no, I know--that my attitude to any given situation has helped me through the negativity, through the bumps, through the sticky parts that weigh me down. I know that my gratitude has brought me more things to be thankful for, as well as deep, heart-warming gifts. The truth is, now that I sit here and reflect, that two of my happiest times in my life have also been during the most tumultuous. I don't mean like little bumps in the road, I mean a wrecking storm intent on destroying my inner and outer life; I mean absolute chaos; I mean the sorts of problems and challenges that bring you to tears and make you question why the Universe can be so cruel; I mean… you get the idea. However, through this emotional tornado, the brightest lights have shined. Perhaps it is because I look for things to be grateful for (Law of Attraction 101), or perhaps because I choose to see the positive, I therefore welcome the good to reenter my life. Good things come to me. Not because they land on my lap without effort, but because I choose to see them, embrace them, and challenge them to make me a better person. I actively participate in my happiness, in my life, and I encourage you to do the same with your own life--it is the only way you will grow and change for the better and create a place of happiness for yourself. 
So, yes, I am in a state of healing. I believe that was the point of today's "inspirational" post…  

Bikram Yoga
It amazes me that once we welcome healing into our lives how the opportunities are presented to us. Yesterday I was sat outside Sweet Cherubim (I just love Commercial Drive in Vancouver, and I love this little vegetarian/vegan place!), writing out a blog post, and a lovely gentleman complimented my tattoos and handed me a card for the Bikram Yoga studio directly above. The card was for a free yoga class. Ironically (actually, more like manifestation) I have been wanting to do a yoga class again for a while, and I have always been intrigued by hot yoga and have wanted to give it a try. The opportunity was perfect. So, the next day (today) I checked the schedule and headed over. I won't lie, I was slightly intimidated. Ninety minutes of intense yoga in a 40 degree room, sweating out toxins (you can burn a whopping 945 calories in this class!!). What I didn't expect (for some strange reason) was the healing that came from this class. There is something about being pushed to your limits, testing your perseverance, and enduring against the odds that will really teach you something about yourself. This class, this experience, was exactly what I needed in this healing journey I have been currently immersed in. I don't think I have ever sweated this much in my life. I don't think I have ever been tested this intensely to my physical and mental limits at the same time. There was a point I thought I might pass out, a point I thought I was going to puke, and a point I didn't think I could go on. If it hadn't been for the warm-hearted instructor at the beginning of the class telling me that these things were normal, I might not have endured. But, I pushed through, took a short breather, and jumped back in, pushing through the dizzy spills and nausea, focussing on breathing, and committing myself to the entire practice. Oh did it ever test me. But it was incredibly empowering, and incredibly rewarding. Feeling the blood circulate, the energy rushing, the toxins dripping out in sweat. Wow! It is a rewarding feeling when you push through something so challenging and feel rejuvenated afterwards. I'm not sure I can quite describe the feeling, but it was certainly healing, and profoundly rewarding. Mind over matter is a powerful thing, and a tool that can take us many places in life when we don't think we can endure. It proves we can do anything, proves we can push through anything. We all have that power within us. 

We all have the power to heal. We all have that power embedded into our DNA, embedded into our bodies, embedded into our minds; we just require the courage and perseverance to do so. But we should never underestimate our inner power. Ever. I encourage you to find yours, to follow it passionately, and to welcome the healing into your life. It may be a rough road, it may challenge you, but the end result is worth it all, and it will make you that much stronger, and that much more prepared for the next challenge in your life.

As always, so much love to you all!  

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

♥ Iconic Locks - Dreadlock Extensions ♥

Custom premade and made to order synthetic dreadlock extensions and accessories. 

Extensions are fun for a girl who doesn't want to dye or damage her own hair, dreadlock extensions are extra fun for a girl that loves to change up hairstyles but doesn't want to cut her own hair. Yes, I'm explaining my personal love for extensions. It has been a long time since I've dyed or done anything spectacular directly to my own head (as any of my regular readers will know), so I rely on extensions to add the splash of colour and the playfulness back to my hair. 
In my years of fashion fun, I have used plenty of dreadlock extensions to add that whimsical and earthy, fun and "hippie" look I often love. I have had everything from just a few colourful dreadlocks to a full head of extensions of varying colours and varying brands. Amongst those, Iconic Locks has been my favourite to date. My search for my latest desire (a set of turquoise and blue) led me to searching through etsy once more. When I found Iconic Locks, I instantly fell in love. 

First I will say, oh the colours! I love a shop that has variety and diversity and catches my eye and presents their products well. The colour selection is nothing short of outstanding. I also love the customer gallery on their Facebook page that displays the fun different extensions; it helps to get a comparison with different skin tones and colour combinations, not to mention inspiration to make your final decision in your own dreadlock selection. 
Next, I will say the quality--which is certainly more important than just colour options--is absolutely perfect. The size and texture of the dreadlocks are perfect, thick but lightweight, with great movement, and are incredibly realistic. This is a huge requirement for me in good dreadlock extensions; you don't want your dreadlocks to look fake or badly made, otherwise it looks simply awful and you've wasted your money. It is absolutely worth paying the money for good extensions, through and through. Dreadlocks are more than just an accessory (unless you are wearing a dread fall), they are braided into your hair or added to the end of real dreadlocks, so you want them to look fabulous and realistic, not tacky and cheap. Do it right, that is certainly some good advice when choosing dreadlock extensions, especially when there is such a large variety to choose from on the internet. Another obvious reason I love and recommend Iconic Locks is that I love love supporting small business owners and creative individuals. The heart and work that goes into making such beautiful wearable art should be appreciated, and certainly adds to the overall satisfaction and enjoyment of wearing such awesome products. Someone poured their heart and soul into that work! How amazing is that? 

You can order your Iconic Locks in a variety of lengths and colours, and Katherine, who runs the shop and makes the lovely items, is incredibly helpful. She helped me ever so patiently pick out exactly what I desired and was very friendly about it.   
This also may seem silly, but I love that Iconic Locks is based out of Portland--the city is such an artistic and inspiring place that I love to visit, and therefore I feel like the beautiful skill and creativity of the dreadlocks at Iconic Locks is a perfect depiction of this artistic scene. 

Overall satisfaction with my set of dreadlocks from Iconic Locks is absolute perfection. It's nice having a great quality shop to turn to. So check out the shop, get yourself a pair for any number of fun reasons (including festival season upon us!).  

Find Iconic Locks: 


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Friday, July 4, 2014

☺ Where'd the Posts Go?! *Update!* ☺

The ReLove blogs have been sorely neglected, this I apologize for. Sorry, and not sorry; not out of being self-important, but out of the feeling that apologies aren't required for many things in life in which we feel the need to apologize for--but I'll get to that in another post as I am already getting off topic (that was fast!). 
Where did I go? Why so quiet? Where are the positive posts and other fun stuff you're used to seeing here? 
Well. My life sort of fell on its head the last couple of weeks (yes, apparently my life has a head). Actually, when being honest, my life sort of fell on its head a couple of years back, or at least that's when the spiral commenced. Long story short, my husband and I are separating. Before you break out the box of tissues and the sad violin, a couple of things I'd like to note on this…  
1. I am not looking for sympathy; nor do I feel this is a place where people need to say "sorry to hear that" which seems to be the most common response to people finding out. 
2. This is a Good thing. While my partner is an amazing individual and I am not leaving him out of anything against his person (he really is an amazing person with so much to offer the world and others), the decision was based off a need for myself and my own (and I do believe his) personal growth and journey. We grew apart. By association, our relationship became neglected and I fell out of love. Simple as that. Which is not so simple, but that's it described in its most basic form, without all the details and mess and emotions and road that led to all of this. I will always love and care about my husband, but our lives were taking separate paths and we were perhaps not as compatible as we had thought to be. People change. Life Changes. It was time for me to be honest with myself (which was gruellingly difficult) and to listen to my heart (which I shut out for so long). While emotions are understandably running high and flailing about, I do feel positive about this decision. It was time for me to rediscover a piece of myself that I lost. And I do feel that I am already rediscovering and exploring these sides of myself. 

Okay, so that being said, the blog, and my work for that matter, are being neglected. Not because I don't want to blog--in fact I feel incredibly inspired through all of this to write, write, write--but because life is changing and complicated right now. I am in the process of moving out, packing, and manifesting my perfect little bungalow. My life is changing immensely. IMMENSELY! I have spent the past ten years with my husband, from the time I was seventeen and still in high school, and so the world is a brand new canvas for me to paint, rediscover and uncover other parts of my soul. 
I am excited. I am enthusiastic. I am positive. And I am guilty as hell for feeling those things, but learning to allow myself to be happy and To feel those positive emotions. I would love to (and will very soon) write a more in-depth post about Allowing Ourselves to Be Happy (in the face of other misery), because through this experience it has been one of the biggest challenges and blocks I have discovered about myself that I have held onto since I was a child; and has been one of the greatest obstacles to moving forwards. 
Sometimes we hold on to guilt as if it will make the other person feel better. It doesn't. Guilt only serves to burn you. And letting go is one of the most rewarding and healing lessons to any hardships we face in life, and especially so in our relationships. 

Life can be strange. Unexpected. But it is also beautiful. I am and always will be a huge believer that everything happens for a reason and that everything falls into place in the end. I know this to be truth through my own experience. I can see the magic still glowing around me and it is certainly inspiring. And so, I invite you to continue this journey with me, as I enter a new chapter of my life and while I share my experiences and lessons in hopes they may serve you or awaken a part of yourself that also may be dormant (as it has in me). We are all here to learn from one another, and I can't say how fortunate I feel to be sharing my journey with so many of you who appreciate my posts. It means the world to me. Thank you.  


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