Mid Year Self Check-In

Mid Year Self Check-In

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Today i’m taking a break from scraping the bottom of the barrel of my emotional flaws to do a mid year self check in. On Wednesday it is July 1st – over halfway through the year already. Wednesday also marks the ever so celebratory Canada Day – a day to mark when our beautiful country became … well … a country.

Canada only became a country in 1867. When you look at the timeline of the entire history of the world/(wo)mankind/non-binarykind, Canada’s timeline is incredibly recent, especially when compared to most European and African countries. We are still relatively new. We have come very far in our short time span and are known for diverse and talented people, majestic landscapes and a myriad of progressive ideas – working towards a more inclusive and equal society for all (heck we changed our national anthem for the sake of it), the legalization of cannabis, as well as a bang-up job of managing the coronavirus pandemic in comparison to our Southern neighbors.

Also inventing basketball. You’re welcome.

But we still have a lot to learn, in terms of our education and ability to handle and address such issues as those related to poverty, including our rampantly rising homelessness population, especially in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Also issues related to race – we tout ourselves for being progressive in our commitment to equality – yet still have Indigenous reserves in Canada without access to clean drinking water. Does that spell out equality to you? To me it doesn’t. Or even the fact we celebrate the beginnings of when our country was first marked a country according to colonization, despite the fact that Indigenous peoples of Canada were here for thousands of years prior to our official confederation written down in the history books.

By bringing these aspects up, it’s not meant to take a jab at an otherwise celebratory day, but to make you stop and think about how far we’ve come and where we’ve got to go. That’s the theme of today’s post for myself amidst my self-check in, as well: What have I accomplished so far, and what I wish to accomplish over the remaining half of this year.

I have a “My Vision” page in my day planner. When January 2020 first rolled around, I spent one bored day at work, scribbling down what I wanted to make time for, and what I wanted to work on/eliminate. On the corresponding page I wrote down a list of goals for myself for this year. I also wrote down dreams, both short term and long term, for myself. Today i’m going to share them with you.

Take note, I wrote a lot of these pre-COVID, so many I haven’t done simply due to the fact that I have been stuck in my house since March. So there yee be.

My Vision for the Year – Making Time for
  • Self Care
  • Exercise
  • Time with Friends
  • Meditation
  • New Experiences
My Vision for the Year – Working On/Eliminating
  • Overthinking
  • Negative Self-Talk
  • Insecurities
  • Stress
  • Word Vomit
My Vision for the Year – Goals
  • Learn to play piano – I have learned one and a half songs (lol – half? Yes half)
  • Learn to play the cello – hoping to take a socially distanced workshop in the fall for 18+
  • Speak my opinion more – working on it – ya girl hates conflict remember?
  • Recognize and train myself not to stress – I think I am getting better at this – mindfulness has been wonderful in doing so
  • Take a cooking class – not yet
  • Throw mom an awesome 60th birthday – yes! A surprise one – went off without a hitch!
  • Celebrate Corey & Danielle’s wedding (go a few days before) – will be attending in a few short weeks
  • Practice mindfulness at least once a week – yes, actually now I try to practice every day if I can
  • Go whale-watching – will be doing so when I got to the wedding listed above
  • Go to Whistler – not yet
  • Learn to Dance – …. not yet – I continue to dance like one of those inflatable flailing men they often place out front of car dealerships
  • Learn about Essential Oils (and buy more!) – not yet
  • Go to the sunflower and tulip festival – canceled this year – maybe next year
  • Lose 5 to 10 pounds – working on it!
  • Eat vegan more – Definitely – I have significantly cut down my red meat and chicken consumption – I eat a lot more tofu and I like it
  • Visit more vegan restaurants – not yet
  • Take a painting or pottery class – not yet
  • JOB CHANGE (PUT IN ALL CAPS) – NOT YET BUT ACTIVELY WORKING ON IT
  • Read 10 books (maybe more??) – I have read 5 so far, working on a 6th and listening to 2 audio books
  • Buy new furniture – I’ve bought all new deck furniture – makes my heart happy
  • Think before I speak more – not yet – work in progress
  • Cook yummy meals – yesssss
  • Take better care of my skin – yes! Up until March when everything shut down, I was going for monthly facials. I also no longer skimp on skincare products or go back and forth about spending the money. If I want it, and it’s rated well, I consider it an investment for my face down the road.
  • Love better, love deeper – I think I sort of have – the pandemic has held me back from doing so but has definitely made me realize the importance of doing so
  • Make margaritas – no but I have my mum’s lime margarita recipe and it is KILLER. Might have to make a batch for Canada Day, despite trying to be healthy. I wonder if margaritas are on Weight Watchers LOL
  • Not kill a plant! – I have killed some … but have also managed to KEEP SOME ALIVE
  • Get photos of friends developed – not yet
  • Travel – Washington, D.C., Grand Canyon, Yellowstone. International? Argentina, Croatia, Austria/Switzerland – nope – grounded
  • Go bowling – not yet
  • Say ‘sorry’ less – 100% have curved this – my sorries are sacred, you don’t get one unless I really truly mean it
  • Go to the Rugby 7’s – not this year
  • Pet and hold a piglet – apparently piglets don’t like to be held – my family makes fun of me for this goal but piglets are CUTE AS SHIT AND NOBODY CAN TELL ME OTHERWISE
  • Complete more puzzles! – SO MANY PUZZLES IN QUARANTINE
Short-Term & Long-Term Dreams
  • Spend New Year’s Eve in Scotland – Hogmanay
  • Go to Mardi Gras
  • Spend St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland
  • Go on a meditation retreat
  • Learn a new language
  • Swim once a week
  • Be well-read
  • Buy a vacation home (not sure where yet)
  • Be financially stable to never work another desk job again
  • Become a meditation teacher
  • Teach people how to meditate
  • Run meditation retreats
  • Live in another country
  • Run a successful blog (I defined success as 10k followers by the time I was 30)
  • Get married
  • Have kids
  • Hold a baby sloth
  • To speak at my own TEDxTalk
  • Go on an African safari for my 30th birthday
  • Be able to do the splits
  • Be able to do crow pose
  • Consistently continue going to therapy

Thank you for reading as always. If you liked what you read, give my post a like, hit the Follow button on the top right-hand corner of this post, and turn on post-notifications, so you never miss an LE blog post! Don’t forget to join my monthly email list by signing up below, for updates, bonus content, and recommendations from yours truly!

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My Troubles with Trauma

My Troubles with Trauma

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Despite this post talking about trauma, it does not go into great, graphic detail – it is more a reflection upon the trauma which I have experienced.

In my previous post, I touched upon my concerns and issues related to abandonment – primarily how abandonment has manifested itself in my past romantic relationships and how moving forward, I will actively work towards communicating to my partner that this is something I struggle with and continue to work through. I suggest that my concerns with abandonment have primarily stemmed from my father, and his inconsistent presence throughout my childhood.

I actually recommend you go back and read my previous post first, before you read this post, as it provides greater insight and context into this situation.

Today’s post is an extension of the previous one – how despite clear abandonment issues, I struggle to accept and to grant myself the peace of mind that what I experienced was a form of trauma. I also struggle with feelings of validity in several different areas of my life – I struggle to feel valid in the very fact that my dad was absent. I struggle to feel valid in using the term absent to describe my father. I struggle to feel valid with how his absence and it’s aftermath still affects me today as an adult. I especially struggle with feeling valid as to whether I have permission to refer to the aftermath I am experiencing as trauma.

One of the biggest inner challenges or turmoils I have struggled with and dealt with concerning this situation, is if my experience with this could be classified as trauma – and if it is considered trauma, is that trauma actually valid? Writing this post, my head is telling me my experience is not worth sharing because it is not trauma – but how can it not be when what occurred in my childhood is now manifesting itself in adulthood? When what took place when I was younger, is now having residual effects on my relationships, creating a lack in my ability to feel safe and secure when I am with someone I care about?

The struggles concerning my situation when I was younger, play out in a narrative that goes something like this: Sure, my dad was absent, but he was around, sporadically throughout my childhood, whereas some people’s parents are absent, period. There’s no floating in and out of their children’s lives as mine did – they’re just not there. My mind tells me I could have had it worse, that my experience is somehow less valid or not valid at all because at least he was involved in my life, in some way, shape, form or capacity.

So … that’s got to be better than the alternative which is not at all – right?

Re-reading those lines, and another more rational, more kind and gentle part of my mind appears and says no, honey – it’s not better. Looking back now, I feel certain it would have been better if he was either always there, or he was never there. I feel stuck in this weird limbo where at least I had him for parts of my life, but am I truly allowed to refer to him as an absent parent if he was around for some of it? This is what I grapple with, too – not only the validity of his absence, but the validity in referring to him as absent.

I made this analogy in my previous post as well, but I compare it in my mind to a fishing rod in the water with bait attached. The bait is my dad and I am the fish. It’s like when he was around it was exciting, it was amplifying a pretend normalcy despite the fact I had not seen him in months, despite the fact it was anything but normal. I know most people at this point would say what even is normal these days? but you get my point here. It was for me, a little fish, being lured by bait.

Which is why I wonder if my life would have been better off, had I never seen or experienced the bait to begin with?

All that being said, if we look at the facts and how life panned out, how could I not refer to my father as absent? I didn’t see him for the last 6 years of his life. Even before that, visits and phone calls from him were like a Russian Roulette style of parenting – maybe the gun won’t go off and i’ll get to see him, maybe the gun will go off and I won’t see him for another 4 months.

After he died (and even in the last few years leading up to his death), I think I carried a lot of guilt about not making an effort to see him. I had his phone number – why didn’t I call him? Why didn’t I set up a get-together? He only lived 45 minutes away. I was fortunate to have my brother with me on the day we found out he died because that same guilt came back and washed over me tenfold.

My mom was always supportive of my brother and I not having any reason to feel guilty of this exact thing and would repeatedly remind us of this. He was the parent, we were the children – if he wanted to see us, he should make the effort. I think that in and of itself was trauma too – knowing your parent lives so close, but them never making the effort to see you. You begin to question your worth, and what you could have done differently.

At the same time, I don’t think I would have wanted to see him or have gotten together with him. I am currently working on another post addressing his alcoholism (which brought with it even more trauma), but within the last 6 years of his life, his state/condition/however you want to refer to it, got really sick, to the point I ended up changing my phone number as a result of it. Bear with me on that post, it is coming. I know I mentioned it in my last post, My Mother: 10 Lessons at 60, but it’s a doozy, and I need to make sure I write it and capture it right, considering it involves both my mother and father’s side of the family.

Reflecting on the whole situation, I recognize that trauma is not one size fits all. Trauma looks different for everybody. Some will experience trauma to a greater, more severe degree, than others. In the same breath, just because my trauma may not be perceived as severe as others, who have endured much worse, that does not make my trauma any less valid.

I now recognize that in an attempt to take up less space with the trauma I experienced, I did not allow myself the space to heal, which probably would have made me a lot healthier and a lot happier. I said previously as well, it was not until I went to therapy that I made the connection that trouble within my romantic relationships may have occurred due to past abandonment concerns, and therefore the trauma experienced from that, is what has manifested itself in my relationships. Bottom line, I am working on granting myself permission to recognize my own trauma, by being more openly communicative with myself about my needs, as well as communicating to my future partner(s) about those needs, too.

Thank you for reading as always. If you liked what you read, give my post a like, hit the Follow button on the top right-hand corner of this post, and turn on post-notifications, so you never miss an LE blog post! Don’t forget to join my monthly email list by signing up below, for updates, bonus content, and recommendations from yours truly!

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My Mother: 10 Lessons at 60

My Mother: 10 Lessons at 60

[TW: ED]

Reading Time: 10 Minutes

Today my mom turns 60. This past weekend, I asked her to reflect on life as she turns the big 6-0 – looking back on lessons learned, what she’d go back and tell her younger self if she could, and what she plans to do moving forward.

I’ve focused a lot of my energy recently on writing about my dad, about his absence and inconsistency throughout my childhood, and (in the works at the moment) his alcoholism. But throughout this writing, I’ve often thought “What about mom? Why focus so much energy on the invisible parent when the other was so present. She was the real hero of these stories”. She understands that my writing is a way to work through what I’ve lived through, but I thought it was about time that I focus on her – what a perfect week/day to do so.

In the past, she’d put her own needs aside to raise us offspring, while at the same time, putting up with an immense amount of bullshit from my dad. She’s pushed past the societal stigmas of raising 2 kids as a single parent and the criticism that’s been dished out to her that kids from broken homes end up troubled. My brother and I have not let this stigma define us, shape us, or take hold of us – speak to past teachers, speak to family friends, speak to our places of employment and you will find praise of 2 hardworking, caring individuals. That’s not meant to boost us up, in fact I take it very humbly. What i’m saying is we owe that praise to her.

She often makes enough food to feed a small army and at 60, still hasn’t figured out the correct quota of person to pasta ratio. She found love again at 52, after choosing to stay single for 15 years so she could raise us kids (meanwhile i’m over here lamenting about being single at 30). She has shared her appreciation for older music and movies with my brother and I (a la impromptu Milli Vanilli boogie sessions in the kitchen). She is strong, she is kind and not afraid to speak her opinion. She is helpful and she is loving – happy 60th birthday to my momma. Without further ado, here are 10 lessons at 60 from my mother and 2 lessons she hopes to adapt moving forward.

Accept your partner as they are

“If you find yourself in a relationship, especially when you are younger, accept your partner as they are – do not try to change them. If you find yourself trying and struggling to change aspects of your partner, it may be wise to take a step back, reconsider who you are with and whether that’s the person you’re meant to be with. Reflecting upon my first marriage before your dad, my ex and I grew apart in different ways. I was naggy and didn’t speak for long periods of time (when upset). Looking back now, I recognize he was perfectly fine the way he was – it’s crazy now that I reflect on it.”

I asked her what she thought she was trying to change in him, and she said “all those dumb guy things – the things young guys don’t think about, but you expect them to. Especially when you are younger you think they can read your mind, you don’t communicate. That’s another thing – you should never not speak – even if you fight and yell at each other, it’s better to do that then not talk. Eric (her current partner) says he has nothing to work with when I shut down.”

Your friends can be your family

“My friends are more like my family. I have friends that I connect with more than family members. Just because you’re related to someone doesn’t mean you are automatically close with them. It also doesn’t mean you have to be friends with them. Some people have that (connection with their siblings), but just because you are related, it doesn’t mean you have to work at a relationship that is hard, or try to the point where it’s disturbing in your life – you can give up on it.”

Struggles are what make you stronger

“Every struggle led me to where I am now, which is a very positive place (I commented that it was probably the healthiest place she has ever been). Eric and I allow each other to just be ourselves. Every hurdle that you jump through and come out the other side, leads you to a better place.”

Wisdom with Money

“I would have been way wiser with money way earlier. But it was all about the party. You made the money and you spent the money, and you tried to save it but then took it out of places you shouldn’t have. I often think of Whistler Blackcombe, I could have bought a place for $8,000. Why were we so stupid with money? Why are you so smart?”

I proposed I thought it was because the economy was okay back then (in the 80’s), and the cost of living was cheaper, so there wasn’t as great of a need to save. As I pointed out to her now, I can’t afford to buy a house. “There were also jobs you could get without schooling, which may have also meant more disposable income when I was younger. I was also somewhat behind in money from raising your brother and you. So I would say just be wiser with money.”

Traveling lighter makes for a happier trip.

“Every trip I take I learn to take less with me because the less baggage you take with you, the happier your trip will be. Travel is so much easier with less and you usually don’t end up wearing half of what you take.”

Have Patience.

“Patience is something I have learned. Having patience has benefited me in that I don’t get agitated about little things. Patience also requires me to …”

Slow Down.

“If your pace is slower you have more patience. I’m in no hurry to get things done any longer. Sometimes things irritate me, but very little does anymore. I used to be the Queen of Rushing when I was younger, but I don’t rush anymore, I allow myself down time now. Some people might say it’s wrong, that you should live in the moment, but I don’t live in the moment. I know what I am eating a week and a half from now – that’s who I am. I have always had to be one date ahead, but that’s not something I think I have learned (a lesson from) – that’s something I see as a good thing for me, it’s what I do. It’s not something I would want to change ever.”

I asked her if she wished she lived more in the present over the years – “It was not a possibility as a single parent of 2 kids. But I look back to the summer holidays, that one summer we went to Drumheller – we put Sun In in our hair and you kids went back to school looking healthy and tanned. I look back at those times and I was present. I still knew what we were having for dinner and still knew what we were doing the next day, but I enjoyed it, I was with you kids. At home, when working full time and running from one activity to the next, I always had to be ahead of it. Now, I don’t have to do or be that way (both of us kids have flown the coop) but it’s an organizational thing for me, it’s part of who I am. I would rather be the way I am than at 4:00pm in the afternoon go “hmm what am I going to have for dinner?”. Speeding up to slow down, as I put it, and she agreed.

Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously

“I have learned how to laugh at myself. If something is funny, and little things just happen, I don’t take it home with me. I don’t come home and say “oh my god, oh my god”. Instead of beating myself up about things, I can laugh at myself which is important. You don’t care as much about what people think as you get older.”

I told her I looked forward to growing older for that reason.

Eat Healthy, Everything in Moderation

“I think that a diet, like a really restrictive diet is not healthy – I think that the strive to be thin can be all-consuming. I did all kinds of stupid stuff. I took laxatives when I was in my 20’s, I made these muffins that were held together by bran and nothing else. I’ve always had a weight problem. I do love Weight Watchers, I don’t know if you can pump them up on your blog. My mother had me on this diet when I was 8 that was grapefruit, boiled eggs, and Swiss cheese and that’s all I ate for like a week. Those kinds of weird things – doing things to your body that are destructive. I just think healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle are the way to go, but also to live a little once in a while – have that doughnut if you want to, everything in moderation.”

As I pointed out to her, with that sort of diet when you are 8, you are reinforcing the belief that your body is not what it should be, you reinforce the idea of an “other”, like it should be something that it’s not. The second point is that creates such disordered eating when you start so young, in women especially, which is probably why she ended up making bran muffins with nothing to them.

“I would say enjoy life – if people relaxed a little bit more about diets, they would find their weight wouldn’t fluctuate so much and would probably be happier.”

Walk Away From DramaEspecially Workplace Drama

When talking about her previous workplace: “I was seen as not very social or friendly because I wanted to avoid the drama that filled my workplace. When I was younger I may have made more of an effort to be social but as I got older, and especially at the specific location of where I worked, my intent was to come to work, do my job and leave. Nobody there liked their job. They got stuck there because of the money, they were grumpy and hated what they were doing. They were trying to create something out of nothing and trying to make other people unhappy because they were not happy. It’s toxic – they were not happy in their own lives and there was so much talking about everyone else behind their backs. You don’t need it – stay away from it.”

2 Things To Work Towards

Become a Better Listener

“I would like to, in the future, between 60 and 70, to not, while someone is talking, have my brain going in a million different directions in how i’m going to respond to them. To stop my brain and actually listen to somebody. That’s one thing, it’s a big one. It’s always going – when you’re talking to me, I’m thinking of what i’m going to say or something else. And it’s not you, it’s just who I am and my brain has had to do that for years. That’s something I’m going to work on. It’s back to the point earlier about slowing down.”

Express Gratitude on a Daily Basis

“I would like to wake up every morning and think of something I’m grateful for, to take a page from your book. Because sometimes you forget, all the good you have and you need to remind yourself every day.”

Thank you for reading as always. If you liked what you read, give my post a like, hit the Follow button on the top right-hand corner of this post, and turn on post-notifications, so you never miss an LE blog post! Don’t forget to join my monthly email list by signing up below, for updates, bonus content, and recommendations from yours truly!

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Confronting my Fear of Single at 30

Confronting my Fear of Single at 30

Estimated Read Time: 12 minutes

Watching my friends move on to new stages in life, I can’t help but wonder – what if I stay stuck?

It’s a question I often ask myself. It’s a fear that pops into my head when I cheer on friends from the sidelines as they move on to new life stages (move in with partners, get engaged, get married, have a baby, buy a new home, have another baby). It’s a fear that creeps in when my romantic relationships end, when I find myself randomly thinking of when would be the best age to have children.

A point of concern which has manifested itself for me in my life, especially within the last few years, has been the fear of turning 30 , more specifically, the fear of being single and turning 30.

Credit – Giphy

I’ve started and stopped the creative process of writing about this fear numerous times on my site. Why? Because I feel someone who is 30 or over 30 will read this and say you’re being ridiculous despite it being a very real and very looming fear of mine. As it happens, I am currently living through that stage in life when people close to me are starting to take the next steps. I know this stage will pass eventually, but that is exactly the fear – everyone will advance during this stage and by the time I reach 30, I will have remained in the same place as when I was 25 in the realm of love and family life.

It’s gotten to the point that in my effort to finally write this post, going back and pulling what content i’d already created, I had 3 drafts saved – 3 times I started with a thought, then shelved it, out of concern that others would judge my fear, or that the fear would come off to others as something I don’t need to be concerned about, when it actually concerns me deeply. So today, I’m going to sit down, and I’m going to confront it – you’re welcome to join me for the ride.

Truthfully, part of the fear comes from having irrationally built it up in my head that 30 is this be all, end all age – a milestone by which time I should have my shit figured out. The logical part of my brain recognizes there are many people who are 30 and older, who are single, who are married, who have children, who do not, who are doing just fine. The logical part of my brain recognizes 3 to 5 years from now, I will look back at this time period when I stressed about my single self and wonder why I worried so much. The irrational, anxious part of my brain however, recognizes that as soon as I hit 30, time really starts ticking to begin breeding miniature versions of me.

Of course then the what-if’s role in – What if I don’t meet anyone? What would my life look like if I genuinely never met anybody? What if people keep telling me “you’ll meet the one” but one day I wake up and I’m 40, and I still haven’t met the one? What does the one even mean or look like these days?

What if I become the eccentric single friend who plays fairy godmother to all of her friend’s children because she doesn’t have any of her own – which actually doesn’t sound too bad – spoil the kids with gifts, play with them, then give them back at the end of the day – a grandma before my time, because that’s what a grandma does.

Credit – Giphy

Why does it bother me so much? Is it because of some unconscious calling to wifely duties which I should be fulfilling by now? Is it the unconscious calling of a barren womb while friends around me seem to be pushing out offspring at a yearly rate? Okay, I giggled a bit at how dramatic that sounded when I typed it – barren womb – but YOU GET MY POINT.

While there may be certain life shifts going on which unlock my unconscious needs, wants and desires, I would say that the biggest piece in this fear comes down to comparison. Comparison is truly the destroyer of happiness. How do I know? I have partaken in it many, many times – comparing what stage my friends are at in their lives, to what stage I am at in my life. If I was happy, if I was fearless, if I didn’t care where others were at in their lives compared to where I am at, do you think I would be writing this article? Digging deeper to the root of that comparison, lies my own insecurities. If I was truly secure in who I am and where I am at in my life, I wouldn’t feel a need to compare myself to others.

It should be noted now, that I am still a few years away from turning 30 – I am only 27. I should also note that I have consistently mentioned to myself and others that I don’t want to have children before I turn 30, but that doesn’t exclude relationships, engagement and marriage.

It’s especially been within the last year, that this fear has gripped me. In the last year, I’ve witnessed 3 engagements, a wedding, a friend’s pregnancy, and another friend giving birth. I already see this cycle repeating itself this year and in the coming year as well. Of course covid is having a profound affect on all of these aspects of life, but the point is that they are continuing to happen.

If this is sounding like one big woe is me, self-pity party, I apologize. In a way, I think I manifested a lot of this fear and brought a lot of this on myself. Let me explain.

From 2015 to April 2019, I was single, aside from a 1 month stint with a guy who dumped me by text because he wanted to go snowboarding and ended up giving me infectious mono. Yes, that is the legitimate reason he broke up with me, no I am not pulling your leg – happy to share that story some other time .

During this time, I flip-flopped a lot. What I mean by this is that I would tell myself I was okay with being single, I was confident in being single. Heck I even wore it as some wacky badge of honor for a while. However, at the end of the day , I would stress out (and eventually convinced myself) that I would never meet anyone. A lack of confidence in being alone, secretly equated to the fact that I didn’t want to be alone (which I can now recognize as an invalid and unhealthy reason to want to be in a relationship. You should be relatively wholesome and content with who you are – if someone finds their way into your life it’s only because they make a wonderful addition – not because you’re half a person looking for someone else to complete you – or in my case, you don’t want to be alone).

Credit – Giphy

In addition to this, I lived a bit of a hermit life. I’d get invited to go out, but wouldn’t accept the invitation. I’d use an excuse that I had to work the next day, that the people attending weren’t really people I cared to be around or hang out with, or that I preferred the comfort of my couch rather than go to a bar for a friend’s birthday.

In retrospect, it makes perfect sense – how could I have expected to meet anyone when I didn’t put myself out there, nor push myself outside of my comfort zone? During this time period, I was on dating apps like everyone else, but in addition to that, I wasn’t meeting people any other way. I wasn’t going out and living my best life and allowing life to just happen – instead I stayed home. It’s almost like I was expecting someone to just show up, knock on my door and say hi, i’m the love of your life without putting in the work or making the effort to get what I wanted out of it.

Adding to all of this, while on dating apps, I interacted with and went out with a number of guys who I either didn’t click with, created poor dating experiences for me, or were just straight up f**k boys. If you’re not familiar with what this is (aka, you’re over the age of 40) I’ve included the Urban Dictionary definition for you:

A f**kboy is a guy with the body of a man and the mind of a perverted teenager. He has no heart — just a penis that he uses to paint the town.

Paint that town, paint it.

My experience with dating men tanked so hard, that I actually swore off them. Altogether. Completely. Forever. I’d tell friends this was my plan and their eyes would bug out from their head like i’d grown a third arm. In my mind, the few bad seeds I had encountered, ruined the many for me. So why bother to keep trying? For how long could I continue to “put myself out there” (in a capacity which I thought was enough to qualify as putting myself out there) before it was time to hang up my proverbial hat and call it a day?

Another in retrospect learning lesson – I was allowing myself to interact with these sorts of low vibrational, pond scum-type men. This is not to say that all men who are on these apps are this way, nor all of the men I interacted with were like this – but upon reflecting on that time period (and up until very recently), I interacted with more shitty men than healthy men. This ultimately defined and shaped my belief that good men no longer existed, despite the fact I had been reinforcing this false belief by engaging with primarily crappy men.

It was during a session with a psychic in Fall 2019, when she told me she was actually glad I hadn’t met anybody during this time period. I too, was operating at such a low vibrational energy, that anybody I attracted, would not have been a healthy or happy match. This makes sense – if the energy and the vibrations which you put out into the universe and that you give to the world are low, what sort of energy do you think you will attract? Likeminded, Low energy! The more time I spent believing and focusing that I would not meet anyone, and the more I allowed myself to interact with and date low vibrational men (and therefore reinforcing my belief that all the good men had been taken or were non-existent), meant that I attracted more of the very things I did not want in my life. This in addition to actually living a very solitary lifestyle and not putting in the extra work involved, aside from just letting the universe do it’s thing.

So you see, the combination of engaging with and dating crappy men, my pre-existing belief that I was never going to meet anyone, my lack of effort in putting myself out there and meeting new people, as well as a lack of confidence in being alone, led me to manifest this fear. Add in the wickedness of comparison stemming from my own insecurities, and you got yourself a real winner here.

Credit – Giphy

Now would be a good time to point out that my intent in all this is truly not to bash myself, but to reflect on my actions and my behaviors, to be a healthier human moving forward.

I’ve recognized even in my most recent relationship, which was probably one of the healthiest I have ever experienced, that I wanted to stay with my ex because I was afraid to be alone/didn’t want to be alone. It would mean repeating the exhausting cycle of dating, hopping onto a dating app, small talk with a stranger, let’s get drinks, we hit it off or never see each other again. I think in a way I have to be okay with the cycle, though – I have to work in tandem with the cycle, regardless of if it’s on an app or not. It’s better to be orbiting the planet, as opposed to floating untethered through space, right?

I’m learning to recognize that being 30 and single does not equate to “being stuck“, as I said above. How can one be stuck, really, when there are so many other areas of life that are continuing to grow and flourish? If I am moving in a direction and growing as a person in a way which makes me feel happy, healthy and productive, then how can I or anyone else, possibly deem myself as a person, stuck?

Not to mention, is this piece of my life so significant that it outweighs all the other aspects of my life and their importance? I’ve got big dreams besides getting married and having kids – I want to go to Africa for my 30th birthday, I want to write a book, I want to become a meditation teacher, I want to run a blog that is successful enough that I never have to work another horrid desk job ever again, I want to purchase a vacation home, I want to be well-read – aren’t those significant, too?

Credit – Giphy

Maybe marriage and kids will happen, maybe not. I’ve learned that regardless of the situation, I need to be putting myself out there, in a capacity which allows me to live my life to the fullest and makes me happy. Sure, i’ll probably still interact with crappy men on dating apps, it’s inevitable, they are out there. The difference this time around, though, is consciously choosing whether or not to continue to engage with them, and taking back my power. At the end of the day, to express 30 and single as a defining factor in who I am as a person, is actually kind of an insult to my character and an insult to my other equally important goals and dreams. I have so much more going for me and am able to offer so much in the absence of a partner, a marriage, a pregnancy. (I’ve talked about this before in my article The Timeline Complex).

I’m also working to adjust my habit of comparison to more healthier outlooks – love, admiration, respect, courage. My friends are having babies – isn’t the human body amazing? My friends are getting married – when else is there a truer display of love between two people? If I get to experience those things, I will have considered myself fortunate. But I consider myself fortunate without them, too.

I need to stop letting comparison block my vision of the things I am working to achieve in the now. Is saving for a trip to Africa on my 30th birthday a tangible goal? Yes. Do I know when or if someone will waltz into my life tomorrow or the day after that, or in 6 months from now, who could be my future husband and the father of my children? No – perhaps they might. But I’m not going to sit at home waiting for this person to knock on my door any longer. I’m hustling to be the best version of me, and if they want to hop aboard the Lindsay train because they like the destination, then sure be my guest. What I can control is my attitude, my security within myself and my outlook in the years to come.

Credit – Giphy

Thank you for reading as always. If you liked what you read, give my post a like, hit the Follow button on the top right-hand corner of this post, and turn on post-notifications, so you never miss an LE blog post! Don’t forget to join my monthly email list by signing up below, for updates, bonus content, and recommendations from yours truly!

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Talk Healthy To Me: My Experience and Solutions to Negative Self-Talk

Talk Healthy To Me: My Experience and Solutions to Negative Self-Talk

“She’d sit for hours doing her homework

Is the response you could expect to receive from my mother if you asked her who was the more diligent child: My younger brother or I. In elementary school, I would come home and spend most of my afternoons studying, completing homework, and working on school tasks. My brother on the other hand, barely opened his books, yet still managed to pass all his classes. No resentment there. In my mind I was just being a good student, wanting to turn in quality work.

Credit – Giphy

I maintained this work ethic well into high school and throughout university. A Top All Around Student Award in high school, valedictorian of my high school graduating class, a scholarship in college. Sometime during my younger years though, I developed a hardened sense of self-discipline. Where it came from, and why I developed it, I don’t really know, though I do have some theories. However, I can recall a pivotal moment when my hardened self-discipline crossed the line into self-punishment. I was 8.

Negative Self-Talk rears it’s ugly head

In Grade 3, during one of the standard parent-teacher conferences (parents meet with their kid’s teacher to discuss educational performance, classroom etiquette, their offspring being a little shit, you name it), my teacher pulled my mum aside to tell her he had heard me call myself stupid. I didn’t do well, or something did not go the way I had wanted it to, but I had been swift and harsh in punishing my little 8 year old self … and had been caught doing it.

Now, I would consider self-discipline to be a fairly admirable trait. But when it’s to the extent you have an 8 year old calling herself stupid because she didn’t do well, it goes from admirable to horrifying pretty friggin’ fast.

To this day, I don’t remember the incident, or calling myself stupid and I don’t believe my teacher would make up such a heinous tale (in my free time I like to tell lies to the parents of children I teach), but it seems I have blocked the event out of my memory. I do remember mum crying when she told me about the conversation once we were home. She took it hard and she took it personally, and interpreted it as though she had failed as a parent.

I notice it more now as an aware adult but she’s been self-critical of herself in the past too, so it’s possible I picked slivers of this trait up from her along the way, throughout my youthdom – not entirely sure that’s a word, but I just used it so hah – deal with it.

I can only speak from my lived experience and my upbringing but when you are 8 and you see your parents cry in front of you, it feels a bit like the sky is falling: You don’t know why it’s happening, you know it’s real bad, you know it shouldn’t be happening and it scares you.

Credit – Giphy

I can’t say my years in high school, through college and university weren’t completely free of my hardened self-discipline either. I always strive to do and be the best I can, but have noticed within my personality (and have had people tell me before) that I am extremely hard on myself.

This negative self-talk has also seeped into romantic relationships, having had a detrimental impact to my connection with past partners. Of course within this context, I believe the negative self-talk to also be a result of low self-esteem and insecurities, but it also includes being unnecessarily hard on myself over trivial matters.

Time I Had a Conversation with Myself

I find it interesting, really. I place pressure on myself to try to do my best and be my best, to be top-notch in my work and how I am as a person, then stress and beat myself up when I don’t hit the target. However, if there was someone in my life who expected perfection out of me, that’s not the type of person I would want to have as a presence in my life. Perfection is unattainable, stressful and unrealistic – if someone were to place those expectations on me, you can bet money on it that i’d metaphorically drop-kick them out of my life.

The same goes for the negative words I call myself on occasion. I can call myself, an “idiot”, “stupid”, “bitch” without batting an eye. But I don’t call my friends those names. So why should I be calling myself those names? At the end of the day, I am my own friend, too. Likewise, if someone were to call me those names, I’d think twice about wanting to spend time with them, and would probably slowly distance myself.

Credit – Giphy

So if I can recognize that a person who expects perfection out of me and/or calls me cruel names, doesn’t have my best interests in mind, then how is it acceptable for me to be placing myself on a pedestal built out of unrealistic expectations and unhealthy self-talk? All in order for me to achieve the version of myself which I strive for, or for me to achieve the goals I set for myself? And when I miss the mark, it causes me stress and anxiety, rather than being able to let it go.

Obviously, I can’t distance myself from myself, as is the case if it were another person expecting and saying the above to me. However, the direction I now face, involves working with what I have and working through it, in order to achieve a more peaceful, positive relationship with myself.

Credit – Giphy

Solutions

1. Look at the Bigger Picture

When I find myself in a situation where I am feeling self-criticism coming on – perhaps I have made a mistake, I am not reaching my goals or my target or the expectations I have placed upon myself, I hone in on the bigger picture. For starters, literally reminding myself that nobody is perfect, including me. I also remind myself that everybody makes mistakes, that I will continue to make mistakes and they are just a part of life.

2. Speak Kindly to Yourself – Terms of Endearment

Next, I begin to speak kindly to myself. This starts by using terms of endearment when speaking to myself – girl, honey, dear, girlfriend, love, sweetheart. It takes a bit of getting used to, referring to yourself as “love”, but what this does is train my critical inner voice to speak more kindly to me. As I have discovered when applying this, my inner voice has a hard time being critical when I speak to myself in a kind and loving manner. Alternatively, I start my sentences with one of the terms of endearment outlined above, before my mind has the chance to go on a negative self-talk rampage. It also improves my relationship with myself. As I said above, I am my own friend, too, so speaking to myself as my friends and I speak to each other, helps strengthen my bond with myself.

3. Forgive Instead of Criticize

I used to beat myself up after I would beat myself up – meaning I would engage with negative self-talk, then get upset with myself for stooping to such a low level. Then I would berate myself again, hold onto it and think about it for longer than the action or thought deserved. Nowadays, rather than jump straight to self-criticism, I am actively training my mind to jump to forgiveness instead. In moments when my brain is quick to judge and to make me feel like crap, I bring myself back to a level of forgiveness. Forgiving myself for making a mistake, forgiving myself for getting stressed out, and forgiving myself in cases when I do use negative self-talk.

By forgiving myself, I am able to engage with all parts of the process, I become proactive in recognizing my detrimental behavior, but even further I allow myself the space and the permission to let the behavior go. I continue to speak kindly to myself, I use terms of endearment, I acknowledge the situation, and forgive:

“Girlfriend, I said some pretty horrible things about myself back there. I know I was in a place of stress, but I recognize that is not an excuse to speak to myself as I did. I acknowledge I made a mistake and mistakes happen to all of us – I forgive myself for using that language when referring to my character and myself as a person.” In this case I used the word “I” to refer to myself, but you can also replace it with “you”.

4. Be Present & Mindful
Credit – Giphy

While mistakes are bound to happen, when I am present and my attention is fully on the task at hand, less mistakes are made. When I used to talk negatively about myself, I’d often not even notice I was doing it. Now I’m working to be more in control of myself, and living more so in the present, enough to notice when my mind (or my mouth) starts spitting out ugly phrases directed back at me.

Not only am I present enough to recognize my own negative self-talk – i’m more attune to honing in on my when my loved ones and friends do it. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve picked up on how my mum has been self-critical of herself in the past. But, it’s honestly astonishing at how many people I care about in my life, belittle themselves, and don’t even know they’re doing it. I make a point now, when they critique something about themselves or call themselves names, to say “no you’re not” or “that’s not true”. Even a small act such as this, despite it being a negating one, might help them to recognize the completely negative, completely false things they are saying about themselves.

5. Recognize Fault as an Opportunity for Learning – not an as Opportunity to Bash Yourself

Part of honing in on the bigger picture also means recognizing that not everything that goes wrong is my fault. As I have discussed before (you can read about it here), feelings of irrational fault are something I deal with and continue to work through. There have been many instances where I have felt like something was my fault, where my mind has launched into a tirade of self-criticism. Often times, these situations were not directly my fault – it was simply how the situation played out, or it was something out of my control.

Recognizing when legitimate fault is warranted, eliminates not only unnecessary negative self-talk, but also consistent feelings of guilty, as well as irrational feelings of fault. I am trying to be more mindful that fault is actually an opportunity to learn for next time – whatever it was you were at fault for, has happened. You can’t change that it happened, but you can ultimately change how you react to it – will you take it in stride and recognize it as a point of learning? Or will you recognize it as a moment to beat yourself up for what went wrong? This is what I am actively working on.

Thank you for reading as always. I hope you enjoyed reading about my experience with Negative Self-Talk and the Solutions I use to combat it! If you liked what you read, give my post a like, hit the Follow button on the top right-hand corner of this post, and turn on post-notifications, so you never miss an LE blog post! Don’t forget to join my monthly email list by signing up below, for updates, bonus content, and recommendations from yours truly!

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My Name Is Lindsay and I Have Abandonment Issues

My Name Is Lindsay and I Have Abandonment Issues

I’ve been thinking a lot about my ex recently – and not in the way you might think.

Primarily, my thoughts have been about reflecting on particular moments, where I should have been more open and communicative with him and what I would say now if I had the chance. I always tout myself as someone who’s main solution of working through their problems and conflicts with others is by talking through them. I recognize that relationships take two to tango and not everything that created points of conflict between us was necessarily my fault (another blog topic we shall spare for another day – my Unhealthy All or Nothing Thinking Patterns).

What I should have been open about when communicating with him, however, was how unresolved trauma and abandonment issues from my childhood, may tend to manifest themselves in our relationship.

That being said, I can’t and won’t be too hard on myself. I have heard many times before that concerns which surface in adulthood are often a result of what took place in childhood, but it’s truly taken attending therapy for me to recognize this connection and see examples of it in my own life. It’s also taken therapy to make me realize the importance of communicating your mental health concerns and/or giving a head’s up to your current partner about your past trauma. Some people may read that and say Well of course Lindsay! Why would you not want to communicate that to your partner? I suppose in the simplest of ways I can outline it, I did not connect the dots that select arguments we had perhaps unconsciously stemmed, on a different plain, from my unresolved childhood concerns.

Photo by Evie S. on Unsplash

I should also note that we only dated for roughly 2 and half months and while we did share a lot of information with each other in that short time period (and even if I had in a hypothetical situation, say, “connected the dots”), I may have still held back from telling him because we were so new. Thinking back I feel too as though it would been a lot to handle, or too much for him to deal with – you want to keep things light and fun when you’re first with someone – would I make things too heavy if I had told him? I’m not agreeing with this necessarily – more so musing different outcomes in my mind. But even in the “honeymoon” phase of our relationship, concerns manifested themselves, so really, I should have been honest, regardless.

My own experience with unresolved childhood trauma, involves my father not being a consistent figure in my life. Yes – I have daddy issues. My parents separated when I was quite young. I was too young to remember it or to understand it, which for me, translated into it not having an affect on me in a profound way (which I am actually grateful for – some folks who’s parents split up when they are young, are greatly affected – this was not the case with me).

To sum up his life pattern in one word, especially in my conscious memory of him, it would be transient. He frequently bounced around to different living situations, in different buildings in different cities. I don’t recall there being one particular place he stayed in very long, the longest I think would have been a townhouse he resided in for a few years. I can’t remember his exact reasoning he gave to me as a child, when I would ask him why he was moving again, but I would wager to guess now he’d either a.) Skipped out on paying rent one too many times b.) Crossed a line with someone or c.) A combination of the two. It should be noted as well, that my dad perceived himself to never be in the wrong and never be at fault (it was always someone else’s fault), which did not serve him well when dealing with other people, as well as creating and sorting out conflict.

In addition to an inconsistent living situation, his presence was inconsistent throughout my life, too.

When he was present, I remember he’d take my brother and I out for dinner a lot, I remember gifts on random occasions which he would present to us, and randomly show up at our sporting events and moments of importance in our lives. This would irk my mum to no end, as when he showed up, he liked to pretend he was a fully fledged, fully supportive parent – “Joe Dad” as my mother referred to him – a facade of always being there, always supportive, all the time, when this couldn’t be further from the truth.

On the flip side of this consistency and showering of affection, there was a gaping hole. Birthdays missed, not seeing him for weeks or months at a time, maybe a phone call – maybe not. My dad also walked through life with a poor grasp of money and what to do with it when he had it. So even if he showered us with meals out and presents, he couldn’t save money to save his life and spent it faster than he made it. I recall one particular situation when we were spending the day with him. He stopped for gas and he put $5.00 in his tank. What is an average amount of money to put in your gas tank – $30? $50? Even as a kid, I remember thinking that it was weird and not quite right.

The final blow to the gaping hole came in 2010. I was 18 and it was my aunt (his sister) and uncle’s wedding. I had driven my brother and I, and I remember as we were leaving, my dad walked us out. He was drunk (now a particular detail which I view as insightful foreshadowing of the years to come), got teary-eyed (from the alcohol), and in his best “attempt to sound normal but slurred nonetheless” voice, said he loved us, and watched us drive away. That would be the last time I would ever see him. He eventually moved 45 minutes away from my brother and I to be closer to his sisters and for the next 6 years, until his death in 2016, he would on/off call to chat, but never make plans to see my brother or I. From here, we dive into a whole other story which I will share eventually, but for the sake of staying on track with today’s topic, we shall save that for another day.

I compare it in my mind to a fishing rod in the water with bait attached. The bait is my dad and I am the fish, being lured by the bait. It’s like when he was around it was like bait – exciting, amplifying a pretend normalcy despite the fact I had not seen him in months, despite the fact it was anything but normal. I know most people at this point would say what even is normal? but you get my point here.

Photo by Ahmed Zayan on Unsplash

So now we return to my ex and how this may have played a role in certain points of conflict.

We’d met in December, and spent most of the month together, including pretty much every day of the Christmas break. I work for a university, and the school had let out for it’s customary 2 week holiday break, so he’d requested time off from his own work so he could spend it with me, his new gal pal.

When January rolled around and he had to go back to work (as did I), I remember that first week back being so hard. I went from seeing him every day and talking to him every day, to now not seeing him and now not hearing from him for hours at a time.

I remember not being in a great mental state on that particular Friday when that first week wrapped up – we’d met up after he got off work, having already canceled dinner reservations because he’d been asked to work late. I remember him pulling his car into a grocery store parking lot because he needed to pick up a few things and I started to cry because I hadn’t seen him and it had been really difficult. Even writing that and thinking back to it now makes me want to cry. I’d communicated to him it had been hard. He’d tried to make me laugh to cheer me up, then reasoned with me that he has jobs where he can’t be on his phone or talk to me as much, which I understood.

Upon telling my therapist of this situation, she said the common theme here is that I felt unsettled. Feeling unsettled because my father himself was unsettled – moving around, all the time, never staying in one place too long. Feeling unsettled with the inconsistency my father created and manifested by always being in and out of my life. Feeling unsettled when I go from seeing my partner every day to suddenly not seeing him at all. While I saw my ex more consistently than my father, it would be fair to suggest that the same panic, fear and sadness I experienced that week of my ex not being as present and as with me as he had been, were unconscious emotions related back to my experience with my dad.

Of course, my ex didn’t literally abandon me, but perhaps my inner little fish felt baited again in a similar fashion as it had all those years before.

While it could very well have been simply me having a hard time adjusting to a new normal (as my mother has pointed out, it can be hard to go from seeing someone all the time, every day, to not seeing someone nearly as much), it’s possible I unconsciously felt slightly abandoned. This is what I would communicate to my ex if I could. That while I am content with my own time and recognize people have their own lives outside of those connected to their partners, I perhaps need a higher level of communication than other people when in relationships to feel secure – at least in the beginning stages of a new relationship when you’re working out common ground and feeling not as secure as say a year, or 5 years down the road.

I don’t feel shame surrounding my abandonment issues. On the contrary, getting them out in the open and talking about them, allows me to work through them. Identifying particular mental states which may not serve my future relationships well, but that I can communicate to my partner in advance, can help to mitigate them in the long run. Not to mention, writing articles such as this one helps me to better recognize my wants and needs in a relationship – it allows my partner to be better equipped in making me feel more safe and secure when I am with them, which ultimately translates to me showing up as the best (AND HEALTHIEST) version of myself for my partner.

5 Common Misconceptions about Meditation

5 Common Misconceptions about Meditation

After last week’s lengthy post, I was looking to create a more easy read for folks. When I initially started this draft, it was prior to the pandemic, so there are a few references to activities which one would partake in if we did not find ourselves currently in isolation from one another. I just wanted to make a note of that in case someone reading this finds it insensitive or ignorant for me to be talking about going to the club or going to a dentist appointment in light of the current global situation – I am aware of the current situation and respect the work being done to alleviate and overcome the virus.

Meditation is a way to alleviate stress, relax the mind and get more in touch with your wants, needs and emotions. A quick google search and you will find there are a TON of resources on the Internet about how to meditate properly. However, I think many people stop themselves from meditating before they have even started for a number of reasons, including simple misunderstandings associated with the practice itself. Today’s post is about identifying misconceptions commonly associated with meditation and to prove that you are fully capable and ready to embark on a daily meditation practice.

1. It requires a lot of time

Credit – Giphy

Let me ask you this

Are you on your lunch break at work right now on your phone? Are you grocery shopping? Did you just put your kid down for a nap? Are you sitting on your couch watching tv and you happened to come across this glorious blog? Are you waiting at your gate to board an airplane? Are you lying in bed? Are you at the club regretting wearing a dress, when you shoulda worn jeans (applies to men too, I am welcoming of all humans on this blog) with an over-priced drink in your hand cause you didn’t have time to down that last glass of cab sav like friggin’ grease lightning while pre-drinking with the girls, cause your Über arrived and Jen was taking FOREVER IN THE BATHROOM and now you’re just wishing you were home in bed cause you’re so over it?

yep yep yep

Then you have time to meditate. I just searched for the shortest meditation on InsightTimer – 60 seconds. You are the master of your own time management. Myself, I find it easiest when I am in bed – I try to meditate once when I wake up in the morning and once again when I am going to sleep. It’s not that you don’t have the time, it’s that you’re not creating and giving yourself the time. So give yourself some time to meditate, you deserve it!

2. There is a right way and a wrong way to meditate

Credit – Giphy

There is no right or wrong way to meditate (I mean … maybe if you were screaming while doing it, but maybe you find screaming relaxing? I have researched scream meditation for the sake of this blog and have yet to come across it, but I ought to take a page out of Grimes’ book – ANYWAYS I DIGRESS). Meditation is not a one size fits all practice. What works for one person, may not work for another person and so on and so forth.

Bottom line, you need to ask yourself if what you are doing is making you feel relaxed and feel present. If it’s not then mix it up – change the position you find yourself in – I prefer to be lying down, (Nobody puts baby in a comfortable seated upright position). Perhaps you’re really not feeling the session you’re listening to – turn it off and search for a new one – I can typically tell within the first 20 seconds of a meditation recording if I’m going to be able to stick with it. Change your environment to one which better suits your practice. When I’m comfortable in bed, that is when it works best for me. Sometimes I will also do a quick 5 minute meditation sitting at my desk at work throughout the day.

3. It’s hard

Garden gnomes think of nothing (I mean they aren’t real but that’s irrelevant), why can’t I?
Photo by dorota dylka on Unsplash

When I first started meditating, I was under the impression that when you meditate, you need to focus on thinking of nothing – like completely clear your mind, don’t think of anything, just sit there and just be. While this is partially true to some degree, anybody who has meditated will know, and for those of you who haven’t but want to pick up the practice, trying to think of nothing when you meditate is really hard, close to impossible, especially for someone just beginning to introduce meditation into their life.

Think of your mind and your thoughts like a little boy whom you’ve just told to sit still in his chair at the dinner table: He will probably wiggle around in his seat, get distracted, not eat his food, he might get up and pet the family cat (hell I am a grown ass woman and I still do that with my cat, I regret NOTHING).

Bottom line, your mind will behave in a very similar fashion: It will bounce around, wander off from the present moment, it will bounce to you needing to make a dentist appointment, it will bounce to the dinner reservations you have with a friend in the evening and deciding what to eat, it will bounce to telling you you should be washing the dishes, it will bounce to that sort of goofy thing you said earlier that day at work to your boss. This may come as a surprise to you but your distracted mind is a natural part of life – it occurs to all of us.

As with anything, this practice requires … well … practice. You probably won’t be used to sitting in stillness and allowing yourself the time and the space to practice, so yes, it might be slightly difficult when you first start to meditate, especially seeing as this is something new you are introducing to your mind and body – but it gets easier with time and practice. Engaging in a daily meditative practice is indulgent – most of us are go, go, go, go, go. Trust me – allowing yourself the time to slow down feels really good.

4. It’s boring

Credit – Giphy

Nowadays we live in a very “instant gratification” society, where if we don’t receive what we want RIGHT THIS MINUTE we move on quickly to the next thing which catches our attention. Social media is a very good example of this. We put out and in most cases we receive back (fairly quickly) the approval of others primarily through likes and positive feedback – it’s a quick and easy way to feed our egos.

So a practice such as meditation, which requires us to do the opposite, (it slows us down, and takes time to build in most cases), can be hard for some folks to not make it out like a snooze fest.

On the contrary, meditation is not boring at all. In fact it actually involves you taking an active role – noticing your breath, taking note of your surroundings (sight, smell, sound, touch, taste), gently nudging your mind to return to the present and to your breath. If such bouncing thoughts as the ones above pop into your head (and they surely will), the key is to acknowledge these thoughts, but let these thoughts come and go. Don’t force them to leave (that will make them stick around even longer) but at the same time be mindful they are present. This is at the core of meditation.

5. It’s a Woo Woo Practice

Credit – Giphy

I think one common misconception for people who do not practice meditation, is that it’s some sort of “hippy-dippy” hogwash – it involves crystals, shakras, burning incense, dancing around a fire, perhaps singing kumbaya. While I would definitely agree there are more spiritually inclined meditations available for people to enhance their practice, and that your overall vibrations can be increased with the use of crystals, and cleansing your environment with incense prior to a meditation may provide a more connective, clear practice, these aspects are not a requirement. You don’t have to partake in them. Currently I don’t burn incense or use crystals but I would love to learn more about crystals and their benefits, so in the future I might incorporate them into my practice.

Meditation can be as straightforward and simple as lying on the floor in silence, and observing your breath. I wouldn’t call that woo woo I would call that relaxation, I would call that improving your ability to live in the present moment. When our lives often feel so frantic and busy, and our minds jump from past to present to future, why wouldn’t we want a moment to slow down?

Meditation has actually been at the core of much scientific research. A recent study completed by Harvard researchers suggests that meditation may have the capacity to alter the brains of patients with depression for the better. Many meditation teachers on InsightTimer are respected hypnotherapists, psychologists, scientists, coaches, monks – highly intelligent people, creating meditations for you to practice with. While there certainly may be hippies and more spiritually inclined individuals who partake in meditation, they only make up a fraction of the meditation community as whole.

What are some meditation misconceptions you have heard? Share them in the comments below! Be sure to hit the follow button for new posts every day! Thanks for reading.

The Timeline Complex

The Timeline Complex

I should have written my book by now, I want to have kids no later than 35. I should have started a food blog years ago, it’s probably too late now. Have you ever found yourself thinking similar thoughts?

Somewhere along the way, humans began placing constraints upon ourselves and upon those around us, specifically to do with our time. These constraints may manifest themselves via such false narratives or beliefs as one is too young or one is too old to meet certain goals or dreams they may have for themselves, or one is past the age to do what they want. Many of these beliefs inevitably lead us to then actively gauge, weigh and measure how much time we have left to do what we want.

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Our unconscious mind has been especially sneaky in picking up on these beliefs – it feeds them back to us, and convinces us along the way, with influence added in from outside sources, that these false narratives and beliefs must be true. Before long these constraints define our value, our worth, our accomplishments and who we are as people.

It’s frightening how EASY it can be to find ourselves stuck in mental ruts that allow our minds to get swept up in false beliefs or false narratives that tell us we are too young, too old, too inexperienced, too short on time to do what we want with our lives.

If there is a psychological term for this, I am unaware of it, but for the sake of this post, I would like to refer to this phenomenon as The Timeline Complex. The idea that we use time constraints to measure our own accomplishments and the accomplishments of others, as well as using time constraints as a primary benchmark for the completion of our goals and dreams. Oftentimes, this benchmark is associated with or can evoke feelings of shame, failure, self-doubt, self-blame and/or sadness.
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I, of course, am not a professional psychologist and I may be more off my rocker here than on point with making up names for random experiences. What I do know is that this is something I have experienced and am working to confront. As I have stressed before in previous posts, I tend to confront my mental health ruts by making lengthy blog posts about them. I dissect how they affect me, then I begin to look for more positive, alternative viewpoints that make me stop and say “well.. hold the phone on that irrational thought/false belief/false narrative for just one second”.

I also recognize, that a health professional reading this may accuse me of spreading misinformation – slapping a name on something without doing any prior research into if a title for the experience actually exists – but that is genuinely not my intent. My intent is to place a name, a label, that works best for me, on this experience that has held me back and kept me afraid, worried and concerned. Giving it my own name allows for me to confront and identify the experience more efficiently, more carefully and more fully, in a way that works for me. Not to mention, if someone comes along and decides the name I have placed on this, works for them and their experience as well, then they can feel free to use it, too.

You may be familiar with the idea of a complex, the most familiar example to many of us is an Inferiority Complex. A complex itself is defined as:

A related group of emotionally significant ideas that are completely or partly repressed and that cause psychic conflict leading to abnormal mental states or behavior.

Breaking down this definition, we can start to see how it might apply to The Timeline Complex:

Emotionally significant ideas – Examples would include what we want to do with our lives, the significant goals and dreams we plan, create and manifest for ourselves.

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Completely or Partly Repressed – These ideas become repressed when we as people begin communicating beliefs and narratives to ourselves and to others that our capabilities and our limitations are defined by our age. We also communicate that we are defined by what stage we are at in our lives. Oftentimes, we view the stage we are at in our lives and what we have accomplished by a certain age as interchangeable – they in turn become a method to measure ourselves and others. We also use whether or not we have accomplished what we should have by a certain stage, as a method of measurement. This last component in particular, I will come back to shortly.

Psychic Conflict leading to abnormal mental states or behavior – The psychic conflict comes into play when we unconsciously deny ourselves what we want to do with our lives, we start to diminish the reality of working on or achieving our goals and our dreams because we define ourselves, our capabilities and our limitations by our age, as well as our accomplishments by said age. Which leads to:

Abnormal mental states or behaviors – in the form of such thoughts as I should have written my book by now, I want to have kids no later than 35. I should have started a food blog years ago, it’s probably too late now. Sometimes these thoughts are accompanied by shame or failure, as I previously mentioned, but also a potential feeling of urgency, as if time is running out.

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I touched previously upon what we should have accomplished by a certain age. What exactly determines the benchmark for accomplishment for various stages in our lives? The people we surround ourselves with for one – what your friends have accomplished by a certain age, as well as what your family has impressed upon you to some degree. Their values? Their hopes and dreams for your betterment?

Information we consume is another benchmark – social media and the news, as well as what society as a whole communicates to us – societal pressures, especially those pressures placed upon women (more on that later). We look for similarities and we look for differences, we look for the with’s and the without’s, we look for the have’s and have not’s and slowly we begin to form comparisons and create standards to live by based off of all these factors combined.

My Experience with The Timeline Complex

This is one narrative which I have allowed to somewhat run my life for the past few years. I’ve focused a lot of my energy on timelines which primarily exist within my unconscious mind, but admittedly that have also been conjured by outside influences. This includes placing steep self-imposed timelines upon myself. In addition to being concerned about a lack of time to do what I want, I have had a hard time really getting clear about what exactly it is I want to do, too. It turns out while focusing so much on not having enough time to do what I want or concerning myself with the future, that my time started to slip away without even realizing it.

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One example for me would be YouTube. I briefly started up a fun, informal, YouTube channel with a friend when I was 25. Even with a fun and easy-going project such as that, the narrative in my head was that I was too old to be doing it. People with mass followings who were in their early 30’s, whom I respected for continuing to follow their path despite the platform seemingly turning to a younger audience, had started in their late teens, early 20’s. Many had been chipping away at where they are now for years. I was starting at 25, would I be 40 by the time I was as successful as those YouTubers in their early 30’s?

Another example would be completing my Master’s degree – my goal was to finish it by the time I was 30. The kicker is I had (and have) no desire to re-enter a classroom anytime soon. I’d had a handful of friends do back to back Bachelor’s then Master’s degrees. I thought maybe I should too, get it knocked out of the way. My parents had also been supportive in suggesting the possibility of me going back to school but I didn’t know what I would focus my degree on and didn’t want to spend the time or the money to go back to school when my head and my heart weren’t really in it. I also had experienced the workforce, which meant earning a good salary – I wasn’t about to drop everything to prioritize school again and sacrifice my apartment or my career, just so I could satisfy my own goal for myself (partially as well for the benefit of others, too). I also recognized that if I did not meet my very specific, very soon timeline I was pressing upon myself, I would be disappointed and that would probably deter me from going back to school even more.

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A third and final example would be engagement, marriage, babies – that whole shebang. Admittedly, I am 27 and single. I want to get married, I want to have kids. That being said, I don’t want children before the age of 30 – I aspire and aim to experience further growth spurts within my career first and I’ve got some traveling I still want to do. Not to mention (while many people might argue there is no difference before and after), I want to enjoy married life first, prior to introducing kids into the picture.

But as close friends gradually get engaged, get married, start having children, I’ve experienced this weird internal itch that tells me I am somehow falling behind (hey – wait for me!). Is it because of some unconscious calling to wifely duties which I should be fulfilling by now? Is it the unconscious calling of a barren womb while friends around me seem to be pushing out offspring at a yearly rate? (okay, I giggled a bit at how dramatic that sounded when I typed it – barren womb – but YOU GET MY POINT). Every other aspect of my life seems to be flourishing, but this one piece of my life is … well … stunted. That’s a good word for it.

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People who ask my age, usually reply with oh you’re a youngin’ you’ve got all the time in the world (how many times have you heard that if you’re still in your 20’s?). While they aren’t saying it (and aren’t implying it), a little voice in my head likes to pop up at this point in the conversation and point out that yes, BUT you should probably have children by 35, otherwise your eggs will start to dry up and getting pregnant is no walk in the park when you’re starting to push 40. I envision that voice sounds like Mr. Burns from The Simpsons. How typical, – an old, white man dictating my reproductive should’s and should not’s. Yeesh.

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And then in most cases, because I have a critical inner voice, it will usually pop a thought or two in my head to the effect of:

“What’s wrong with you? Why haven’t you met someone yet? There must be something wrong with you, all of your friends are in normal, healthy, happy relationships – it’s probably because you overthink your relationships to the point of self-sabotage that they all turn out to be a big, hot pile of steaming garbage anyways”.

Ahh my Inner Voice – she’s such a sweetheart, ain’t she?

Bottom line it can be a battle to attempt to swim upstream against the current of your life and the time you are given. Especially in my late twenties, an underlying push and pull messaging has weezled it’s way into my cranium – a message of sure, you’ve got time, but not too much time. I think for women especially, there’s more of a ticking clock, perhaps because the Motherhood 4500 starts driving by the front of your house, revving up it’s ovary engines.

Ovary Engines? Did I really just use that term?

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But let me tell you something – being single at 27 is actually normal (AND OKAY).

Having goals and dreams is normal.

Recognizing goals and dreams take time to develop and come to fruition is normal.

Constraining yourself to the idea that if you do not complete a task or meet an accomplishment by a certain age or stage in your life, then you might as well give up on it, OR that your worth or your value is somehow lessened, is abnormal.

Dictating that someone’s worth or value is less than yours because they haven’t completed or checked off what they should have done or completed by now, according to societal standards (or your standards) is abnormal.

That’s right – i’m calling you and your standards out. Stop it.

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Truth be told, I have found ways to take solace amidst my own Timeline Complex.

If YouTube had worked out and turned from a fun project into an actual thing, it might have meant not creating this blog. Not surprising, I actually find writing and curating content for this blog a lot more meaningful, a lot more cathartic and a lot more fun than YouTube. I hop on here and ideas flow and my ability to express my thoughts, emotions and feelings is much clearer than I think any amount of time spent in front of my iPhone camera filming (even for recordings on my Instagram account) would give me.

I realized my desire to complete a Master’s degree was for the wrong reasons – because my friends were doing it, because it meant a bigger pay cheque to accompany the new designation which would now appear at the end of my name next to my BA, all especially while not knowing what I was going to study and my head and my heart not being in it. So I let go of it.

Letting go of the time constraint altogether of obtaining a Master’s degree by the time I was 30, lessened a lot of the pressure I had placed upon myself. Maybe i’ll do it when I’m 35, maybe i’ll do it when i’m 45, I honestly don’t know, it’s not a priority for me at the moment. The point is I no longer feel pressure to produce the work and get the degree by the time i’m 30 and that’s what works best for me.

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On a similar note, not doing a Master’s degree right after my Bachelor’s allowed me to accept job opportunities which set me on the right track for my career, while a lot of my friends were working menial tasks such as teaching assistants or dorm supervisors because they couldn’t keep full time employment while doing an MA. Of course, that’s what worked for them at the time, and I respect the work and the commitment they put towards their degrees, but I value those few extra years where I got a jump start in making strides towards my career path.

Being single for a good chunk of my twenties, has led me to the fulfilling and unique experience of solo travel through Europe – three times! I didn’t wait for a partner or a boyfriend to come along to do it, I didn’t ask a friend, I just did it. If i’d been in a relationship over these time periods, who knows if I would have gone, or what that would have looked like – less freedom, more compromise on my ideal trip?

Being single at 27, has also allowed me to shape and better define as I have aged what I want and what I do not want in a relationship. It has granted me the ability to recognize that while I am much more mature now than when I was 21 and in a relationship, I still have significant strides to make in my emotional maturity and my mental health in relation to entering and maintaining healthy relationships. AND THAT IS OKAY.

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Being single at 27, also means not stressing about what the future may look like. It can be hard some days – being single as 30 approaches while watching friends move on to new stages in their lives and wanting that for myself too. I know what I want but if what I want does not take place, then i’ll be okay with that – it comes back to not stressing about things out of my control. I could be destined to be the cool fairy godmother for all my friend’s children, who sprinkles them with gifts, plays with them, then gives them back to their parents at the end of the day. That would be second string to being someone’s wifey and a momma myself, but while i’m all for attracting what you want in life and being optimistic, i’m also a realist and I think that can be healthy, too.

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When looking at the bigger picture of my life, I recognize that yeah, there’s stuff I haven’t done in my timeline which others seem to be doing. But by not doing them, and following the same pattern as others, I’ve done what has worked for me, I’ve removed stress from certain elements within my life and in turn, created opportunities which might not have otherwise existed.
And just because I haven’t done them right this minute, before I turn 30, let’s panic, asdfghytr – it doesn’t mean I won’t do them at some point in my life. At the end of the day the only timeline that matters is the one I choose to follow.

Have you experienced a similar Timeline Complex in your life? Tell me about it in the comments below.

My Love Hate Relationship with InsightTimer

My Love Hate Relationship with InsightTimer

Note: I was trying to determine what sort of images/media would work within the post. 1 Queer Eye gif turned into several and now they have become one of the central themes in this post. I have no regrets, because yay positivity. Please enjoy all of them.

Last Saturday night, I lost my InsightTimer streak. I’d meditated for 40 straight days in a row.

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I know, it was a real bummer.

I’d spent the weekend at my parents’ house for Easter, and had been enjoying time with my brother who was in town from Calgary. The evening came and midnight rolled around on this particular day, I hadn’t meditated and my streak was lost. For those who would suggest this is non-essential travel in the time of COVID-19, it is, but I was glad to have him home, nonetheless. He’d told us he’d only had 3 people on his flight coming in, but I know that doesn’t justify his visit, especially in such a weird time we’re all living in. Technically, I probably shouldn’t even be going over to my parents’ house either, even if I am working remotely from home (a la, I don’t go anywhere) and live only 30 minutes away.

But I digress. Let’s get back to my streak.

At first, I was disappointed – I’ve taken pride in my consistent practice. Unfortunately since then, my meditation has been spotty – I’ve listened to music on the app to fall asleep but I haven’t consistently kept up with my morning or evening meditations before bed.

For folks reading this who aren’t familiar with InsightTimer, every time you meditate via the app, it logs however many minutes/hours you meditate. When you finish a meditation, the app will notify you that you have meditated for “15 minutes” and it will mark off that you have meditated on that particular day. It will show you the week and for every day you have meditated within the week, the day is filled in as white. Days you haven’t meditated show as black.

InsightTimer will also notify you when you have reached new milestones within your meditation practice on the app. 1 milestone is the equivalent of 10 consecutive days of meditation and/or 50 non-consecutive days of meditation. The app rewards people with different color stars depending on the number of milestones they complete. These stars are then displayed on user’s profiles within the app. 1 yellow star means 1 milestone has been reached, 1 red star means 5 milestones have been reached, and 1 green star means 25 milestones have been reached.

Within the last few days, I’ve had second thoughts about this whole process. Perhaps it took me losing my streak to realize this. When using an app which is supposed to bring me stillness, calm, mental rest, and mindfulness, do I really want to be motivated to continue meditating by a streak? Do I want to be motivated by little colored stars on my profile which demonstrates for all the world to see how frequently I meditate? Does it validate people’s opinions of my practice when they see such a line of stars on my profile?

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For most people, when it comes to being motivated, even more so when being motivated by a reward, it creates further drive to continue and partake in the activity. I emphasize ‘most’ because I don’t want to slap a generalization across the entire population. We are all different in what motivates us, but reward can play a big part in motivation, there’s no denying that. It’s like the proverbial donkey being dangled a carrot on a stick in front of it to continue walking.

I’m not calling you or I a donkey. Don’t get me wrong – some people are asses, but that’s not the point, and that’s not what I want you to take away from this.

If i’m going to meditate, my meditation shouldn’t be motivated by colored stars.

I should be motivated because I love to meditate, it makes my body and mind feel good.

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Hate is a very strong word, but I am disappointed that a popular, mindful app such as InsightTimer functions based off of a reward system. For many of you out there, a meditation app which instills this sort of motivation to meditate, might work for you.

Lindsay you’re acting like a sore loser – you meditated a lot but then you lost your streak because you forgot and a few days later you’re on your bloggity blog, getting all high and mighty about how it’s actually a dumb system.

I’m truly not trying to be a sore loser. I recognize many apps function this way, otherwise they’d probably lose a huge chunk of their users. Believe me, I too got caught up in the cycle of motivation by reward and in retrospect, I found myself quite frequently turning inwards and saying you have to meditate, you don’t want to drop your streak.

But Lindsay, there are A TON of apps out there which motivate you based off of rewards! If this one app and it’s reward system bothers you, shouldn’t all apps by extension offering such a reward system bother you too? Why does this one matter so much?

I recognize apps like FitBit are all about this – the more steps you take, the closer you are to that 10,000 step marker at which point your FitBit watch physically vibrates as part of the celebration. I think for the sake of physical health, motivation by reward can be a fantastic tool.

But when we move beyond the boundary from an app related to your physical health to an app related to your mental health, it crosses a line, especially for a gal who’s working on herself, and her mental health.

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I talked about this in a post on my Instagram, but to reiterate, it seems there’s been a significant amount of focus recently around how people are spending their time during the pandemic. We see emphasized messages of using this time for self-growth and personal development on social media and the comparisons start to roll in between what we see and what we are. I should point out now, that if you are using this time for self-growth or personal development, I commend you. This isn’t intended to be the part where I bash people who are using the time as a growth period. That being said, for many people, there’s an aspect of shame involved if they choose to not take this route, or they simply can’t bring themselves to use the time for such an avenue. I’d go so far as to suggest it’s a similar feeling of shame you might experience when you have a bad day of eating when you are trying to eat healthy, or miss a workout.

I’m training for a marathon. I’m learning to make loaves of bread out the wazoo. I’m cultivating bonzai trees in my bathtub.

I just want to sit on my couch, eat rice cakes and binge watch Queer Eye, but everyone else seems to be so proactive… maybe I should be doing the same.

I touched upon the idea that rather than people focusing their energy on HOW they are spending their time, people should actually be focusing on how the activity they spend their time on, makes them FEEL. Does it make you feel happy? Does it make you feel fulfilled? Does how you spend your time spark joy? If binge watching Queer Eye makes you feel good, then who the frick cares that Sally next door is training for her next 10k. You’re doing what makes you happy during this weird time. Sally’s doing what makes her happy during this weird time.

When you hone in on how you feel when spending time on a particular activity or task, you are becoming more in tune with your wants, needs, likes and dislikes. This is not only relevant during a pandemic – this is always relevant.

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On the flip side, if you continue to spend your time doing something which makes you feel miserable (case in point, sometimes I force myself to run when I hate running, but I do it for exercise – it only makes me hate running even more), you will begin to resent whatever it is you are doing and you will resent yourself for allowing yourself to continually be exposed to it (why did I decide to go for a run?!).

Girl, you lost your streak once. You make it sound as if you’re going to continually end up miserable.

Yes, but even the potential of feeling that way is why I do not wish to expose myself to such a rewards system. Meditating makes me feel at peace, calm, proud of my self-reflection. I don’t want it to turn into something which I associate with disappointment or failure. It’s not the app’s fault I felt this disappointment, it does what it does for the sake of keeping up it’s popularity. It’s the fact the system was in place to begin with (which I fed into), which evoked such an emotion.

If I start to base my meditation practice on motivation by reward and feel the same disappointment associated with the loss of my streak, I fear that feeling of disappointment will soon envelope my meditation practice as a whole. As a result I will become more disconnected from, and resent, my practice. One doesn’t have to look too hard to see, that is essentially already taking place – as I said above, I am experiencing a lack of consistency at the moment within my practice.

I am also working hard to be kinder towards myself, to develop a more gentle inner voice. In order for it to not become a one step forward, two steps back process, I need the tools I use to be free of any instance in which my inner voice can pick up and latch onto shame, disappointment, failure and then aim it back at me. Perhaps not always, but especially in these crucial, beginning stages where i’m trying to mold my inner voice into becoming a friend, not an enemy.

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Okay so this post was about the Love, Hate Relationship with the app. So where does the love come in?

On the flip-side, I will never stop extolling the virtues of an app with such a large database of quality meditations, teachers and recordings at your finger tips, and with no cost to you at all (if you so choose to not upgrade to the paid version of the app). Heck, last week’s post was all about female meditation teachers I think you should be listening to on InsightTimer. If it weren’t for InsightTimer, I wouldn’t have been exposed to such amazing, motivational, inspiring women. It is one of the better mindfulness apps out there (up there with Headspace and Calm) and for those reasons I will continue to use it. But on my own terms.

So Lindsay, what are you going to do now?

InsightTimer happens to have a feature within it’s settings where you can turn off the option to be rewarded stars if it’s not important to you and that’s what I intend to do.

The only motivating factor within my practice, should be me and me alone. End of story.

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5 Female Meditation Teachers You Should Be Listening To Right Now

5 Female Meditation Teachers You Should Be Listening To Right Now

Over 5000 meditation teachers use the app InsightTimer as a platform to publish and share their meditations, music and podcasts. While InsightTimer does a fantastic job of breaking down meditations depending on the category you’re looking to focus on (i.e. Meditation for Anxiety, Sleep, Relationships, Work), it can be overwhelming for someone who is new to the practice of meditation to wade through such a sea of recordings and teachers in order to find the diamond in the rock – a teacher or recording they truly click with.

Regardless of if you are new to the practice of meditation and don’t know where to start, or are a veteran meditator who’s looking for new teacher recommendations, today is all about my top 5 female meditation teachers who, in my opinion, you should be listening to right now on InsightTimer. These women are teachers whose recordings and meditations I find myself repeatedly returning to OR who’s messaging really resonates with me, what I’m looking for in order to fulfill my practice and my life. These teachers have also produced meditations of various lengths of time, making them appealing for meditation students of all skill levels. This list is in no particular order.

Melli O’Brien

Melli is an Australian mindfulness teacher, better known as Mrs. Mindfulness. She is the co-founder and a host of The Mindfulness Summit – the world’s largest mindfulness conference.

Why I Listen

I enjoy Melli and her meditations because of the casual, practical approach she takes in delivering her meditations. She is very down to earth in how she guides the listener and does a fantastic job of leaving out the “fluff” that I think is often falsely associated with meditation (the perception that it is a woo-woo practice). Melli is a great starting point for beginners to the practice of meditation, her shortest meditation being 4 minutes in length, and one which I have used when I’m needing a mental break but am strapped for time.

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Michelle Chalfant

Michelle is a licensed therapist and integrated life coach with over 25 years experience. Michelle offers listeners a fantastic mix of talks and meditation recordings and was one of the first teachers I listened to when I joined InsightTimer. She is best known for developing a transformative process known as The Adult Chair, which helps people to overcome false beliefs, and assists with getting to the root of their problems in order to get unstuck and live better lives.

Why I Listen

I enjoy Michelle and her recordings because they create a safe space for individuals to truly reflect inwards. Her recordings are a great option if you are wanting to dig deeper into the inner workings of your trauma, stress, and anxiety using The Adult Chair approach. Michelle also covers topics which many of us are not taught, such as building healthy relationships as adults and often features special guests on her podcast who provide even more information and insight to the listener, such as doctors, therapists, and other life coaches.

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Jennifer Piercy

If you were to visit the main page on InsightTimer for sleep meditations, you would see Jennifer’s Yoga Nidra for Sleep close to, if not, at the top of the list. There is a reason her meditation has been played a whopping 8.6 million times. Jennifer specializes in sleep and dream education, honoring tiredness and exhaustion as a space to explore and accept sleep and restore natural body rhythms.

Why I Listen

I enjoy Jennifer’s meditations for her ability to ease me into sleep. There are very few meditations I enjoy with no background music – it can be hard for a teacher to “carry” a meditation using just their voice and their guidance. However, Jennifer has the very special gift of lulling people to sleep using just her voice. On many occasions I’ve fallen asleep mid-way through listening to her meditation. There’s also a particular part in her sleep meditation where she guides you through different body parts to isolate and relax each one. No matter how tense or stressed I am going into the mediation, as soon as I hit that point, I am instantly relaxed. It’s the most soothing and peaceful way to end a long day.

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Pretty Spiritual Podcast

Besties Annie, Lindsay and Ella form the trifecta of Pretty Spiritual Podcast. They share their personal stories and spill the deets on how they incorporate their spiritual practices into the great big quirky, messy, lovable experience of being human.

Why I Listen

I’ve listened to Pretty Spiritual Podcast at work on several occasions and typically find myself laughing in my cubicle when I do (which might confuse my co-workers but if they find my methods of betterment entertaining, then so be it!). Their lighthearted yet open approach to sharing, creates nothing short of an authentic, humorous, relatable listening experience, one which leaves you saying to yourself me too girl, me too. Self-described as your spiritual besties, these women are the ones you want to have over for a Friday girl’s night, glass of vino in hand to just shoot the spiritual shit. Also one of the trio and I share a name and if name twinning with your faves isn’t enough to make your eyes sparkle like a Disney princess, I don’t know what does!

Vanessa Loder

Vanessa was another teacher I listened to when I first started using InsightTimer. She is a woman’s leadership expert, a writer and a motivational speaker, and helps others gain clarity on their life’s purpose.

Why I Listen

I enjoy Vanessa and her meditations because she uses great examples and analogies within her recordings which make it easier for the listener to follow along. For example, she compares a mind that wanders when practicing meditation to that of a puppy that’s ran off. If you wanted to get the puppy back, you wouldn’t get angry or yank on it’s leash as punishment, you would gently call it back into focus.

I also like Vanessa because I see parallels between how my life is progressing and how her life did progress and what she did to turn it around. She spent nearly 10 years following the traditional route of what she thought she should do – she got an MBA from Stanford, worked her butt off on Wall Street, and achieved what many of us would label as success. But in the midst of achieving the success she realized it hadn’t led her to happiness or fulfillment, and that she had in fact climbed the wrong ladder of success. She has since found her purpose and dedicates her professional life to helping others seek out their purpose as she once found hers.

Life, simply put, is too short to not be doing what you want to do. Seeing someone who has gone through that and turned themselves around makes me realize the importance of figuring out what I want to do from the get go, instead of spending time building a career which lines up with what I think I should be doing, but doesn’t provide me satisfaction, happiness or fulfillment in the long run.

Honorable Mentions

These are women whose content hasn’t been in my rotation quite as frequently as the above 5, but I like what they produce and still think they are worth mentioning to check them out.

  • Michelle Kerr
  • Lyndall Mitchell
  • Selena Lael
  • Joanna Jackett
  • Bethany Auriel-Hagan
  • Dina Proctor
  • Sharon Salzberg
  • Carmen Warrington

Do you have any favorite female meditation teachers? Let me know in the comments below!