Thank You 2016!

Two Thousand And Sixteen. The words seem so insignificant on paper, yet as I say the numbers out loud, I can feel a paper weight being dropped on my heart. How do I begin to describe the year I’ve hard? As I try to find the right words, I feel confined to the words of the Oxford dictionary. Why can’t language be like light? Infinite.

Two Thousand And Sixteen. Thank you. As I sit here trying to grasp for words that would do my year justice, I feel overwhelmed with emotions of gratitude. This year was tough. Filled with loss and great sadness, but for some reason my mind floats to the happy memories.

This past year, we lost a monarch in my husband’s family. We spent many months going back and forth between work, home and the hospital. While the loss was significant, my memories constantly float to hospital memories that make me smile. I will always remember the look on her face when I entered her hospital room on a day that I said I was busy at work and wouldn’t be able to make it. She was so happy, and for anyone that knew her, she didn’t show much emotion.

My maternal grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Fortunately, the doctors caught the cancer in time and were able to remove it. She underwent radiation treatment shortly after that. Although she gets tired easily and is often in pain, she is still as feisty as ever. You think I have a sharp tongue, wait till you meet my grandmother.

My lung condition also relapsed. This news was a bit tough for me to digest. I had worked so hard to try to prevent this from happening, but it just goes to show, you can’t control everything in your life. Sometimes you just have to accept the cards that you are dealt, even if they are terrible. I remember laying in the emergency room bed, trying not to cry, thinking “please don’t be a relapse”. My condition is rare and easy to misdiagnose. Prior to my diagnosis, I spent many months in and out of hospital with doctors telling me I was having muscle spasms. So when the doctor came to my bed and told me I was good to go home because I was having a muscle spasm I almost started laughing. Muscle Spasm? I asked to see my blood work and x-rays.

The pulmonologist, Dr. Wayneinder Anand, who originally diagnosed me with this rare disease and was one of my biggest blessings of 2015 also ended up being one of my biggest blessings of 2016. Prior to releasing me from his care, he taught me how to read my blood work and x-rays to identify if I was relapsing. So when I saw the results, I knew what was happening. Had he not taken the time to teach me how to read my reports, I would have continued to suffocate and not understood what was happening. My health care would have been in the hands of others. Dr. Wayneinder Anand gave me the knowledge to identify when I was having an issue, and the steps I needed to take to self-stabilize, until I was in the care of another pulmonologist.

When I reflect on Two Thousand and Sixteen I can’t help but smile. This year was filled with trials and errors, laughter, sadness and happiness, but it made me stronger. This year taught me how to be grateful for the life I have. It taught me to make the conscious decision to be optimistic and happy every day. Because when you change your perspective, you change your life.

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Disconnected

Recently, I’ve found it difficult to connect with people on a human level. I can’t remember the last time I had a genuinely honest conversation with someone, and i’m growing tired of the superficial conversations I have with people. You know, the ones where we instinctively start to discuss whose life is more difficult. It’s like we’re in a rat race, constantly trying to outdo the next person. When the truth is, we are all just going through the motions of life and the growing pains that come along with it.

If I am being completely honest, I have a great life. I work on my flaws and improve on my weaknesses. I work really hard on growing myself into the person I want to be. However, I feel ashamed to let the world know how happy I am. Why? Because people become jealous and envious that you seem so “put together”. They don’t see the behind the scenes hard work I’ve put into the person I am evolving into. They only find reason to be resentful.

I have a very positive outlook on my life. I focus on the positives, and understand that the problem areas can be worked on. I know that nothing in life is constant and I am okay with that. But I don’t spend each day feeling angry about the pain points in my life. I accept them and roll with the punches, and that works for me. It allows me to stay focused and evolve into the person I want to become.

However, I constantly live in a fear that if I let people know how happy I am that they will find me un-relatable. When the truth is, the only difference between us is the outlook we have on life. I don’t see the grey areas in my life as problems. I see them as opportunities to grow. My approach to the grey areas is to accept them and look for a solution, if there isn’t one, I will sit on the problem until I can find one. When I advise people on how to solve problems in their lives, they find my approach too harsh, or they will give me a list of 100 reasons why the solution won’t work. They make the choice to stay pessimistic, and I can feel myself being sucked into the vacuum that is their negativity. And my outlook on life isn’t negative, so I can’t relate. And in turn there is a disconnect between my world and me.

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The Sore Thumb!

I am the third of four children, and am convinced that I have a serious case of middle child syndrome. I have two sisters, one older and one younger, and an older brother. Since my brother is the only boy, i’m convinced that he takes the title of only boy, leaving me with the title of ‘middle sister’, which in my mind means middle child. And true to the stereotypes of middle children, I stick out like a sore thumb.

You know the kid in the classroom that throws their hand in the air and aggressively waves it around, almost like they’re saying “look at me, look at me”? That’s was me growing up. I rebelled a lot. If my parents said turn left, you could be sure that I was turning right. To say it politely, you could say I was the child that was parented the most.  I definitely walked to the beat of my own drum, and because of it, I feel very free as an adult.

You’ll often hear me say that the middle child will be the most successful in a family. Yes I may be biased, but the facts don’t lie. Bill Gates, Martin Luther King Jr and Madonna were all middle children. People always say that middle children feel neglected, and I think we unintentionally are. It’s true that we are probably parented the most, but in our defense, that’s the only attention we get! We are very independent, and understand the value of being ourselves. I think being neglected growing up was a blessing, because now I have the confidence to be myself. Thanks mum and dad!

What’s ironic in my special case of “middle child syndrome” is that I was the only child that was healthy enough to be released with my mum when she was discharged from the hospital. I am also the only one of my siblings who has severe food allergies and Asthma. My siblings often joke that I need to take my ‘air supply’ – yes Ventalin and Flovent are my best friends. Having all of these problems only strengths my case for having “middle child syndrome”.

I’ve always stuck out like a sore thumb, whether it be on purpose or not, and this has been a blessing in my life. Being the child who always felt different, I learned to find my inner strength. I learned to be patient with myself and to accept who I am as a person. Similarly to everyone, I have flaws, but in my mind I consider my flaws a blessing. What’s the purpose of life if you don’t have things to improve on and grow? Being a ‘sore thumb’ is a gift. Being different gives you the freedom to find yourself, without fearing judgement.

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Being A Girl

Sometimes, I feel as though women travel through life with invisible boulders attached to their shoulders. As a woman, it doesn’t matter what we do, we carry the weight of everyones judgments. We are taught that we must dress a particular way, style our hair, always have groomed nails, etc The list is endless, and the expectations are exhausting to meet, yet we continue to try and live up to societies impossible standards.
Aside from the pressures society places on women, I think being born a woman is a blessing – at least thats how I feel about my life. Women encompass a strength that no other species on the planet possesses, and society teaches us to be insecure to try and suppress us, limit us and prevent us from achieving great success.
I used to be a very insecure person. I was always a tomboy. I liked sports clothes, and playing outside more than dressing up. Dressing up was never my thing. However,, one year in summer school I decided that I wanted to wear dresses and tank tops. People would ask me “why are you dressed like that? They weren’t used to seeing me in girly clothes. I felt insecure, and lied that my cousin made me dress more girly. The truth was, I wanted to wear those clothes, but I didn’t know how to break free from my peers opinions of how I should dress. Instead of saying what I felt, I lied and during the regular school year, I went back to wearing jerseys and track pants.
It wasn’t until years later that I decided to break-free from peoples opinions of how I should dress. I felt very lost and felt like I needed to find my identity. I went through a phase where I dyed my hair every colour of the rainbow. My motivation for doing this was to teach myself that the opinions of others didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered in my life was my opinion of myself. During this process, I had many people approach me to tell me they either loved my hair or hated it. Regardless of the opinion I received, I refused to let myself internalize it. Instead I made a conscious choice to only focus on my opinion. The extra noise of external judgments disappeared from my mind, and I felt free.

While I am grateful for having the strength of a woman and possessing the ability to fight for myself. I wish I didn’t have to. I wish I was free to be myself from the get go. I wish society taught me that it was okay to dress and be myself. I wish girls were taught to be free the same way boys are. However, with that said I am also grateful for the extra step that I had to overcome as a woman, because it made me stronger.

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The Journey or the Destination

Sometimes I think that happiness is an over rated myth that we blindly chase. It’s an illusion that pushes us to believe that if we behave a particular way, or attain certain goals that we will attain the pinnacle of happiness, and remain in the grips of its ecstasy forever. Perhaps this is our downfall as human beings. We think that our “positive” behaviors and actions will result in the outcome of happiness, and we shamelessly waste our lives trying to chase it, when we need to let the universe bring it to us.

Recently, I became very ill and spent many days in the hospital being poked and jabbed with needles, attached to an oxygen supply 24/7 and seeing an array of doctors. At the time, I was afraid and didn’t think I would be coming home. My body had become very weak, and mentally, I was very drained. I have always been an independent person, and for the first time in my life, I couldn’t perform basic tasks for myself.

However, in retrospect…well maybe I shouldn’t say retrospect because I am still undergoing treatment, but getting sick was the biggest blessing the universe has given me. Getting sick forced me to see my flaws and shortfalls. I learned that I am a control freak who cares too much about the small details in life, and I need to learn to let go and enjoy life. Coming home from the hospital, my incredible husband had to carry the complete weight of the household. Not only was he making me three meals a day, he was cleaning the entire house. I would become frustrated because he wasn’t cleaning it “correctly”. How does one correctly clean a house? And more importantly, how stupid was I being that I was seeing a “shortfall” and becoming upset? I was missing this opportunity of happiness that the universe was giving me. Without any complaints, my husband was taking on the huge responsibility of running a household, and he was doing a great job. I had a partner who stepped up to the plate when he needed to. He didn’t shy away from the responsibility, or try to put the burden on someone else.  Had I failed to open my eyes, and see the gift that was in front of me, I would have missed out on the opportunity to be happy and thank him.

I had become so calculated with my life. I thought that if I secured a particular job, or achieved a certain goal that would be happy. When in reality, that wouldn’t have made me happy. I would constantly be looking over the next hurdle to become happy. In the process of charging through life to be happy, I would have missed the opportunity to experience the happiness in my life. Being sick, the universe stopped me in my tracks and taught me to open my eyes to what happiness really is.

Happiness. What does it really mean?  Happiness means enjoying the process of growth as a person. It means taking time for yourself to reflect on how your life is amazing. It is appreciating the little things and not worrying about the details. At least that’s what happiness is to me.

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Perplexed

As I sit here, starring at my fingers calmly placed over the keys of my keyboard, I am overcome with a sense of calmness. Perhaps it is the familiarity of the keys under my touch, bringing peace to the convoluted thoughts spinning around my mind, I’m not too sure. But I continue to sit here patiently, willing my fingers to decipher my thoughts.

InternetofThingsI’m not sure how I feel. As I look around the world around me, I see that everything is in its correct place. My clothes are tucked neatly in my closet at home, my car is parked in its regular parking spot at work, and everything is as it should be. Yet, while I know that everything is the same as it always has been, everything has changed.

My outlook on life has changed. The person I am is different from who she was just a couple of weeks ago.

I  have always been a person who loves clothes, and any method of self-expression for that matter, but recently I can’t help but think “what’s the point?”. What is the purpose of establishing your individuality?

Recently, we experienced the loss of a family member. She passed away quite young and as I walked around her home, I couldn’t help by notice many of her possessions neatly organized in their assigned homes. A thought flashed across my mind,

“once upon a time, she had gone to a store, and picked out
each item because it spoke to her in some way”.

Days after her passing, the items remain, and she is no more. It’s true that she exists in our memories and left behind a legacy of learned lessons, but we can’t touch her. Instead we are left with items that she purchased to express who she was as a person, and that person no longer exists.

This realization has left me with an internal void. What is my purpose? I believe that my family member passed away young because she had fulfilled her life purpose. She had fully blossomed into the most beautiful flower and I believe god always picks the most beautiful flowers in the garden. But what is my purpose? Am I fulfilling it? I don’t want to leave behind a house full of things if I didn’t use them to make someone else happy. I don’t want to become so fixated on the things in my life that I become sidetracked and neglect fulfilling my life purpose.

I love my job and feel that I am making a valuable contribution to the world around me. The company I work for changes lives for the better, and that inspires me to work to my full potential every single day. The technology this company creates saves lives, and makes an impact in the world that I could never make as an individual. But, I can’t help but feel like there is more that I can do.

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Volcano of Emotions

There is a very big hole in my heart filled with sadness. I’m saddened by the way you treat me, disappointed that you didn’t take the time to get to know me, and frustrated that I am giving more than I am receiving. I don’t know how to open up and tell you how I feel and that frustrates me. I can see my weakness and yet I don’t know how to overcome it. I wish I could tell you that I don’t like how you treat me without having a tsunami of tears stream down my face. The tears would show I am weak, and my current persona of being a strong person would instantly fade away.

Instead I lash out, hoping that maybe you would listen to what I’m saying and not how I am saying it. I admit that I come off as harsh when I express my feelings. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s that I care too much, and I wish I didn’t. Maybe if I stopped caring, my heart wouldn’t hurt so much. Perhaps then I wouldn’t feel like a prisoner of my mind, and I could spread my wings and be free.

Doctors have told me that I need to learn to let things go, because the unnecessary stress that it creates in my mind is causing my body to shut down on me. But, I don’t know how to get over things without getting closure. Maybe it’s because I’ve had to overcome my fair share of loss, and that’s left me with so many unresolved dead ends. I’m not too sure, but I feel like I need to discuss things with people in order to move forward with the relationship, and I’m not strong enough to have that discussion with you. Maybe it’s the fear of rejection, or the fear of not being heard that is acting as a barrier, preventing me from voicing my feelings. I’m not too sure.

What I do know is that I am a strong person, and just like any other obstacle that has been placed in front of me, I will overcome it. The way I see it, I have two options, I can either work on my relationship with you by expressing how I feel, or simply walk away. I know the latter would be the easier option, but how would that help me grow as a person? Isn’t the purpose of life to grow and become the best version of yourself that you can be? If I simply walk away from the relationship, what would I learn? How would I grow? I would be doing myself an injustice. Maybe the best approach for me to take is to express how I feel whether I am heard or not. I need to do my part and try. I can only control my actions and reactions to events. If I am not heard, or if you don’t care, at least I know I tried. At least I will know that I tried to fight for myself.

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Mind Shackling

Lately, I’ve been feeling confined by the shackles of my mind. The harder I pull to break free, the tighter the shackles become. I try to maneuver to free myself from the madness of my mind and when I think I’m finally free, the elasticity of the rope I’m tied to flings me back against the wall, and then I’m back to where I started.  I can’t escape the hollow feeling inside me. The more I try, the stronger they get. I’m trapped in a world of self-inflicted sadness – my mind keeps playing tricks on me.

I look in the mirror and I don’t recognize the person I see in front of me. I feel lost, and at the height of vulnerability, with no one to turn to. No one to understand the depth of my emptiness. I’m not sure how I got to this point. I was completely blindsided. Maybe there has always been a part of me that felt this  way, and only now that I am taking the time to learn about myself do I see this side of me as clear as day.
Maybe we all have a place inside us that is dark and hollow and filled with vulnerability, insecurity and sadness. After all, we are all human and we share the ability to laugh or cry, or be happy or sad. Our emotions are the thread that tie us all together. We have the ability to feel and analyze the world we live in.  We possess a unique ability to learn about ourselves, understand our strengths and our flaws. However, our perception always seems to skew how we see our lives and sometimes prevents us from seeing the good.

Perhaps the trick to overcoming these emotions is to understand that these emotions don’t define us. They are what make us human. We need to understand that in life we all have ups and downs, and to not allow ourselves to get stuck in the lows. Maybe we will forever remain shackled to the games our mind plays on us and a part of growing and learning in life is to find ways to maneuver through life with them. Perhaps it is the shackles that teach us life’s most valuable lessons and we have to learn to understand those lessons and continue on our journey.

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Breathe. Pause. Take A Minute.

Breathe. Pause. Take a minute to regain your strength and understand your worth. I feel as though I’ve become a prisoner of my thoughts. It doesn’t matter how hard I try, I can’t pull myself free from the shackles that are my insecurities. I try to stay positive and focus on the present. But the more I try, the stronger the memories of my past become. I’m not trying to run away from my past, I appreciate my past and the lessons I’ve learned.  However, lately I’ve become fixated with the negative emotions associated to the events that have taken place in my life. I wish I could control how I feel about the current circumstances in my life – instead of projecting the negativity of the past on to the present.  

I feel as though I’m standing in quick sand. The harder I try to free myself, the faster I sink in. While I exude confidence, I feel like a black hole inside. I feel lost and at the height of vulnerability. I feel haunted by the thought that I’m not good enough. When I least expect it, a little seed of insecurity appears in my mind, and like a fungus spreads to taint all of my thoughts.

Perhaps my insecurities aren’t insecurities, but rather fears in disguise. I’m at a turning point in my life, and maybe I’m afraid of myself. Maybe the fear of the unknown scares me, and I’m unintentionally sabotaging my mind to think that I am inadequate, when deep down I know I possess the potential to be great.  Perhaps I need to just let go and see where life takes me. Perhaps I need to take my advice to myself literally. Breathe. Pause. Take a minute to regain my strength and see where life takes me. Embrace the new direction of my life with open arms.

Bon Voyage Mon Ami

Growing up, I became accustomed to the people in my life passing away. Through the emotional trauma of losing loved ones, I learned to withdraw my emotions from the relationships I created, and to live my life with an inability to feel for those around me. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I had concluded that each individual’s presence in my life would be short lived. Until one day, I realized that I had created an invisible dome around me that prevented anyone from getting too close. I started to feel lonely and isolated, and I realized that I needed to make a change in my life.

Over time, I slowly learned to stop putting obstacles in my way, and to start fighting for myself. If I felt lonely in my life, I needed to evaluate my actions to see what I needed to change to overcome this emotion. I created strong, long lasting bonds with people, however, I never truly overcame my fear of abandonment. 

Recently, a very close friend of mine told me that she’s moving away. I didn’t realize the impact it would have on me until I digested what she was saying. She’s going!  While I know this is a great life decision for her, I can’t help but feel saddened by the news. She’s leaving me.  This news has caused me to experience a whirlwind of uncontrollable emotions. I feel sadness without purpose, frustration without cause, and a void that is bruising my spirit.  This is a great opportunity for her, and while I know there is no cause or reason for me to be upset, I can’t help but feel a sense of loss.  I don’t want her to go. For some weird reason, I just always assumed that she would be near. If I ever needed anything, she would be there.

The best way to describe my emotions is that she was a pillar in my life, and her absence in my life will be missed. Yes I can rearrange the pillars in my life to make sure that everything stays in tact, but I’ll always know that I’m one pillar short. I know that she is only a phone call away; but it’s not the same. I feel defeated, and need to find a way to come to grips with the shift in my life, and be proud of my friend. She is taking a huge leap into the unknown, and as a friend, I need to learn to not be selfish, and understand the insecurities and fears that she is feeling. Venturing into unfamiliar territory can be scary, and I have to have faith in our friendship and ensure that I am strong enough to be a pillar in her life to help her be successful in the transition into her new phase.