Compassion & Empowerment

I want to speak what is true for me.  I want to say what I am really experiencing.  I want to express myself fully and freely, no holding back.  I don’t want to create a drama or wallow self-pity nor do I want to wear the mask of, “I’m fine!  I’ve got it all under control.”  This morning in my bath, I reflected on a conversation that I had with  woman from my meditation group and she commented on how exciting it must be for me.  I was like “yeah, it’s so exciting”  but wasn’t really feeling that way.  Yes, sometimes I am feeling excited, sometimes, I am feeling inspired, sometimes deeply connected, sometimes joyous and I’m also sometimes feeling sad, scared, lonely and hopeless.  I just don’t want to pretend anymore.  This is the full range of what it means to be human and it’s ALL ok.

Leaving Shogo was the hardest decision I have made in my life.  It has been incredibly painful to separate from someone I truly love and spent 14 years of my life with.  We had so many great times together in Japan.  In Canada, things were just falling apart and I couldn’t deny the lack of connection I was feeling with him anymore.  I needed to leave for the sake of my own mental and emotional well-being.  On the last night of my personal retreat, I had a dream and it said, NOW!  I knew that I needed to go straight from the airport to my friend’s place.

For the first couple of weeks after going to stay at my friend’s house, I guess I was feeling like a powerful woman, like “Yeah, aren’t I strong and independent!”  Then I went through a period of regret and panic where I thought, “What have I done?  I’ve made a mistake! This is all wrong!!!  I want Shogo back!”

Then the anxiety started to set in–tense neck and shoulders, mind racing.  It was hard getting myself calm enough to get out of bed in the morning.  I was overwhelmed with emotion and had trouble focusing on what my friend was cheerfully saying at 8am.  She had been so generous and kind and yet I knew I needed to look after ME.  I set boundaries–telling her I didn’t want to talk in the morning.  I put in my earbuds and listened to guided meditations or soothing music and mantras.  I started talking to a picture of myself as a 5-year-old.  Instead of trying to make the anxiety go away, I would ask her how she was, I would ask her what she was afraid of and tell her it was okay to be scared.  There was some relief.

For a while, I frantically went about my mornings looking for a job and place to stay.  I must have sent out thirty emails and messages to people on craigslist offering a room.   I thought I had finally found a place–the cost was low, it was pretty near my work and the room was big and bright.  On paper, it sounded pretty good.  But when I met the landlord I felt completely turned off and scared.  I literally wanted to run out of the house!  When I got home, I convinced myself that I was overreacting and decided to take it.  I went back and put down the deposit.  The next morning when I woke up, I knew without a doubt that I had made a mistake.  My intuition was shouting NO!  And so, I called him and turned it down, without guilt.  A week later, I saw the ad for a Bachelor Suite in the same building my friend was living!  I couldn’t believe it.  I went down right away to put in my application.  When I received the phone call that I had got the place, I was overjoyed and slightly in disbelief.  I went back to put down the deposit and told them when I was moving in.  This was really happening.  It was a huge validation of my intuition.  I was learning to trust myself.

For the rest of the month I went back and forth, going to our old apartment to sort, pack, get rid of stuff and clean.  I did it in manageable short chunks powered by Kombucha tea!  There were moments when I felt so competent and capable and surprised at myself for really handling this all.  I was so excited on moving day! I was so looking forward to having my own place and to not have to worry about listening to other people talk to me.   I needed my space so I could think, reflect, heal and figure out my life!  The moving day went so well and I was on a bit of an adrenaline high, I think.

For the first week, I eagerly went about setting up my place and getting some of the things I needed.  I had my profile up on a couple of nanny sites and I continued to look for work.  One day, I got a message from someone who said they needed a nanny from 10am-4pm Monday, Wednesday and Friday to care for their twins.  It would pay $25 bucks an hour.  WOW!  I was so excited!  I really thought that I had manifested my perfect job just I had manifested my perfect apartment.  Everything really was coming together!  It was working out!  Yay!  I sent my resume and arranged when to start.  Then came the message from the site that this person was a scammer.  I was completely deflated.  I felt so ashamed and stupid.  How could I have not known this was a scam?!  For a day or two, I felt horrible.  It fed my story that I wasn’t smart enough to make it on my own.  But then I thought, ok, this is a lesson.  I need to be more careful when dealing with people online.  I need to protect myself and my identity.  Funnily enough, I realized I was having a bit of an identity crisis.  Who was I without Shogo?  It felt so sadly strange to not have him by my side anymore.  It wasn’t Donna & Shogo anymore.  It was just me. There was a constant nagging feeling like something was missing.

One of the first weekends after moving, I went to a painting workshop that was being offered for free.  The theme was happiness and we painted our image of what happiness was and then wrote letters to “happiness” to ask it questions.  It was exactly what I needed.  I felt so grateful and thanked the woman who held it.  Later I emailed her and she suggested that we go for tea sometime.  Wow!  I had just moved into the area and already I had made a connection with someone who lived just blocks away.  And as it turned out, she was also dealing with grief.  It seemed that I was being supported through all of this.  Thank you, universe!!

The next couple of weeks, were a little tough.  I felt sad and unmotivated.  I felt very alone.  Even my friend who lives in the building had not come by say hello.  I as beginning to wonder if I was expecting too much from people.  I knew they had there own struggles to face.  Yes, it was sad, yes it was tough.  But I wasn’t just a little sad, I was grieving a significant loss;  the death of a relationship.  Some days it was hard getting myself out of bed.  I felt overwhelmed simply with going to the grocery store and cooking myself something to eat.  One morning, I wondered if I should quit my nanny jobs, fearing that I couldn’t handle it.  But that day, I got myself going and caught the bus as usual.  As I looked for a seat, a woman said, “Donna!”  It was another mother from the same school the kids I look after go to.  We sat and chatted and she asked me why I had moved.  I explained that I had left my husband.  She told me her story and said that she had divorced her husband due to his addiction problems.  She had gone to Alanon as well.  She seemed to really get it.  I thought, wow, this cannot just be a coincidence.  She said, “You are not alone.”  And I think that’s exactly what I needed to hear.

Some days I felt a wave of hopelessness and went about my day in a slightly dissociated, state.  I would forget things.  My brain felt like it wasn’t working properly. Kind of in shock, I think.   One Saturday morning, I got up, determined to go to the Laughter Yoga session.  As I walked I cried, thinking of the impermanence of everything.  Nothing lasts.  “What’s the point?”  I thought.  It was over, like it had never really happened.  I realized that the only way to deal with the pain was to move through it.  I could only think, “Let this serve Awakening.”  I went to the Laughter Yoga and soon after letting the laughs come out, I started feeling more present and open.  I sensed that allowing myself to laugh was bringing some deep healing to my heart.

For the rest of November, I put away my to-do lists and just focused on a few things to do each day, giving myself time to reflect and cry and heal.  I continued my inner child work, speaking to little Donna;  comforting her, letting her feel whatever she felt, letting her know that she was okay.  I also wrote letters to myself from my higher self, offering the compassion I was wanting.  I was realizing that I could take care of myself emotionally, that I didn’t need to depend on others to empathize or understand.  I could do that for myself.  I also realized, though, that I wanted to develop deeper kinds of connections with people;  relationships built on vulnerability, openness, empathy and compassion.

My Life Coach Course provided me with that.  Not only was I learning how to be a coach but I was learning what it was like from a client’s point of view to be going through a major life transition and transformation.  What I was experiencing would help me to understand my clients down the road.  I was learning a new way of relating to people.  Not judging, advice-giving, minimizing feelings or reassuring but really trying to put myself into someone else’s shoes and imagine what it was like being them.   Each week,  I listened and I shared.  I grew and expanded.  Everything about it felt right.  Everything I was learning related what I had been contemplating for the last few years.  I knew this is what I wanted to do, what I would be great at doing and what would fill me up.  I am so grateful to ME for making the choice to take the course at the time I did and so grateful for my classmates who are on this journey as well.

I found an Alanon group just a couple of blocks from my house.  Again, I felt so grateful!  It was a very small group;  only 6 or 7 people showed up.  But it was a room where I could be real;  where I could speak in an authentic way;  where I could let down the mask and just be myself and “tell it like it is”.  It was an anchor I knew I could count on every Friday night.

Other feelings that were showing up were inadequacy and shame.  Particularly at work, I sometimes felt this sense that I just wasn’t doing it right, that I somehow was lacking the capability that other people had.  When I did well, it seemed to bolster my self-worth but when I felt like I had made a mistake, my self-worth plummeted.  How did people work full time jobs?!  I often asked myself.  How did they do it?  How did they handle it all while appearing so confident?  Was there something fundamentally wrong with me?  It was taking me half the day just to get going sometimes.  Or was this just part of the story I told myself?  What was I really scared of?  What was holding me back?  I continue to dig to unearth my fears, my comfort with mediocracy.

I began doing affirmations more.  While I was walking or working out I said to myself or out loud, “I am healthy.  I am strong.  I am enough.  I am powerful.  I am capable.  I trust myself.  I trust my judgement.  Life is getting easier.  I am always succeeding.  I release anything that no longer serves me.  I invite joy into my life.  I am a beneficial presence on this planet.”  Most times, after one of my physical/mental workouts, I feel amazing, like I can take on the world!

I also have been listening to guided meditations before I go to sleep.  It seems I always find just the right one to make me feel better.  I feel so grateful for the people who have uploaded these because they have made such a difference in my life.  There are guided meditations on so many things–healing, self-love, being present, bringing compassion to feelings like anxiety.  These have been treasures to me.

I’m starting to focus on abundance.  I”ve started to study the law of attraction more. I’ve been watching Lisa Nichols.   I started to focus my mind on what I wanted.  I want to have all the energy and stamina I need to support myself financially, emotionally and spiritually.  I want to bounce out of bed, excited and eager to start my day!  I want to earn a good living for myself doing what I love AND have time for self-care and relationship building.  I want to feel enthusiastic, passionate and joyous.  I want to feel confident and boldly follow my dreams!!!  I want to live life FULL-ON!!

It’s scary stepping out of the old stories.  It’s scary to leave the “small me” behind and begin to live from a larger sense of Self.  I feel my compassion growing.  I feel my sense of purpose getting stronger and clearer.  I want to help heal this world.  There is suffering and I want to help ease the suffering that we, as humans, face every day.  I mean the suffering in our minds–the fear, the hate, the jealousy, the judgement, the shame, the guilt, the despair, the resentment, the resistance.  To me, a spiritual path is not about angels or soul mates it’s about EVOLVING.  It’s about LETTING GO.  It’s about empowering myself to choose my own thoughts and to RESPOND to life rather than live in a reactive way–blaming, complaining.  It’s about having the courage to take responsibility for my life in every way and to have for compassion for myself when I am suffering.

I want children to know that they are okay just the way they are, that they are enough, that they are worthy and that whatever they are feeling is perfectly normal.  That they don’t have to “be good” to be accepted.  Working with children has been such an incredible healing experience for me.  Seeing the innate goodness of children has enabled me to see my own Buddha nature.

With one family, I see how each child is already suffering.  The older child reacts to her brother’s teasing.  The youngest child gets upset when he loses at something.  The middle child worries when she needs to make a choice or do something new.  (And the second arrow of shame comes when they are told they are overreacting.)  I could so identify with the middle child and her anxiety rooted in her desire to do things perfectly.  Spending time with her helped me to have more compassion and understanding for myself.

I aim to have compassion and acceptance of myself and all of my emotions, to stop the labelling of “good” and “bad”, to not take things personally and to reduce the victim language I use like–He made me feel angry!  Because another person’s behaviour really isn’t about me at all.  They are busy trying to protect themselves just as I am!  What a crazy world we live in!

I know always have a CHOICE!  I have a choice about what I think, how I feel and how I  respond.  That being said, I am also human which means my brain is wired to judge and find error.   I have the inner critic, as we all do, that is constantly on the look out for anything that seems like it could be dangerous.  It does this to protect me, but in the mean time I hear things like–You screwed up again!  You should’ve done A instead of B.  You’re a failure.  You shouldn’t try that, you’ll make a fool out of yourself–Or I am judging my loved ones, “He shouldn’t be so critical.  Oh, my God, how can she be so annoying!  Why can’t he just listen to me!  If only she would be more empathetic.”

In our culture, we are taught to be hard on ourselves and to be hard on each other.  We think if we aren’t, we’ll be lazy and get nothing done.   In my experience, the more compassion I bring to myself, the more self-worth and self-love I have.  And the more I love and value myself, the more I have to GIVE and the more I WANT to give!!  I realize that I am POWERFUL and that in itself is frightening.  I DO have an effect on the people who cross my path.  I do have an influence in this world.  When I am kind towards myself, I naturally want to offer that kindness to others.

I talked to a person on the street today who was playing her violin in trying to get money.  She said she had lost her home and had been kicked out of her car.  Homeless people litter the streets here in downtown Vancouver.  I sometimes think to myself, “What the heck is wrong with this city?!  Why isn’t anyone helping these people to get a home and get employed?”  But this is the reality.  I want to find a way to bring about some change… I don’t know what I can do yet but I will keep my mind open for answers.

I did my laundry today and as I was heading down to the laundry room I was thinking that I would like someone to meditate with.  I thought of putting up a notice.  A woman was in there folding her clothes and she said hello.  As I was about to leave, I asked, “Do you meditate?”  and she said “yes, a little, why?”  And I explained to her that I was looking for someone to join me in meditation.  She was open to the idea and as it turns out she lives on the same floor as me.  I will talk with her more Monday morning!

These amazing things keep happening!  I seem to keep meeting the people I need to meet at the exact right time.  I do believe that I am exactly where I need to be.  I will likely fall into suffering again and again.  I will miss Shogo, I will worry, I will doubt myself, I will lose motivation, I will tell my old stories of how I’m not capable/strong enough. AND I will keep bringing myself back to my breath, to what is true, to what is really going on. That is the endless practice of mindful living.  That is why I meditate.  So I can remember to be present.  So I can connect to myself.  So I can hear that voice of inner wisdom underneath all the other chatter.

I will live with gratitude and compassion.  I will act with integrity.  I will keep waking up, remembering what is really important to me.  I will empower myself and others as often as possible.  I will be vulnerable and open-hearted.  I will welcome abundance into my life knowing that I am worthy!!  And I will write, expressing my uniqueness and my truth!!!


Thank you for listening!









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