Gimme Some Love

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Love is in the air…and on the door!

It’s the season of love so we are gearing up for Valentine’s Day!

This idea has been floating around social media for a few weeks.  I’m not sure of the original source as so many people have shared it and reposted it.  My sincere thanks to whomever the brilliant, innovative person is who thought this up.

Here’s how it works. Starting February 1st, every night while they are sleeping, you tack a heart to your child’s bedroom door professing what you love about them.  Super simple to do and the impact is huge!  Here are some example of what I have written:

You are a really good friend.

You always look after everyone and make sure they’re okay.

We are so proud of you.  Proud of who you are.  Proud of what you do.

You are so artistic!  Your art is amazing!

You are beautiful, inside and out!

My children wake up so excited to see what has been added to their doors.  A little tidbit of love to start their day off on the right foot and fill them with all of my love.  The bonus is that it delays the sibling fighting for all of five minutes! Hahaha!  But seriously, it is a little thing that warms them and reminds them how much we love them.

You could do this for your significant other too!  You could tape hearts full of love on the bathroom mirror for them to read while getting ready in the morning or maybe sneak them into their bag/purse or tape them to the dashboard of their car. That would be such a nice surprise!

How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day?  How do you show your love?

© The Flip of the Switch, February 2016.

Wild & Untethered

fog in the morning

When I was a child, there were no seat belts, car seats or power windows.
When I was a child, our family spent Sundays driving along dirt roads listening to the eight track, pulling over occassionally to pick up fallen acorns.
When I was a child, I drank from a beer bottle and stayed up late playing cards with the neighbours.
When I was a child, we jumped from rooftops, ran free through the neighbourhood and soared off swings.
When I was a child, twilight was my curfew and the village raised me.
When I was a child, I ran outside in my socks and swam in ditches during a good rainstorm.
When I was a child, I spent weekends at the drive in, swung from a tire and ate mud pies.
When I was a child, toxicity was everywhere;  we breathed deep, licked the walls and survived to talk about it.
When I was a child, raw hot dogs and cookie dough were staples in my diet.
When I was a child, I got my vitamin C from Tang and everything else from a Flinstone vitamin.
When I was a child, I was free from societal confines and ludicrous expectations.

I was a free spirit, wild and untethered.

It is unfortunate that many of today’s children will never experience such a liberating childhood. They are too busy being strapped down securely in their car seats, frying their brains on electronics and eating organic food out of BPA free Tupperware. One day they will long for excitement and danger. I hope they wear a helmet.

© The Flip of the Switch, February 2016.

To the Victor Go the Spoils

Satran

Today I broke free from your clutches; from your relentless desire to consume my sanity.

I have been a prisoner in my home and in my mind for far too long.

Today I walked out the door,
and I did not look back.
I drove my car.
Fast.
Dangerously fast.
It was exhilarating.

The windows were down and the bass of the music was soothing to my soul.

I have taken back control.

Oh, you tried to trick me a few times, but I persevered.
There was nothing you could do to stop me today.

It is a sign that your strength is weakening.  Your grip is faltering, your power wavering. You won’t have a hold much longer.  I can feel the victory rushing through my veins.  A taste of the other side.  A taste of what is to come.

For I reign over my mind and body.  Not you, Anxiety.  You are not welcome to do as you wish, you are not welcome to force yourself upon me.  Your intimidation will not prevail. I refuse to give in to your mind games; to your feeble attempts to manipulate me.

Today, I overcame your power.

To the victor go the spoils.

 

© The Flip of the Switch, February 2016.

 

Just Breathe II

Yoga woman meditating at sunset

 

I just finished a private yoga session in my home.  I have chosen to have someone come to my home so that (a) I can’t make excuses and not attend and (b) I honestly don’t think I could handle the stress and anxiety of being in a room with a lot of people.  Turns out I made the right decision; more on that in a moment.

My yoga instructor is a young woman who has the most lovely voice; serenity beyond compare.  Calmness was radiating from her as she walked through my front door.

We had talked over the telephone about my current struggles and whether yoga could play a role in helping to still my mind and calm my soul.  She had actually been drawn to yoga after a time in her life that was riddled with anxiety and panic attacks.  Thus, she could appreciate what I had been experiencing.  It was yoga that ultimately provided her with the tools to stop the anxiety in its tracks and she hasn’t had a panic attack since.

We started off with slow, deep breathing.  Yes, I know.  Complete contradiction to my earlier post, but hear me out.  There is a difference between telling someone to breathe during a panic attack and teaching someone to breathe to help deter a panic attack;  to help them focus and use their inner strength to find calmness.

We moved to some of the easier poses and about midway through the session came to warrior pose.  Now, this is a relatively easy pose.  You are in a bit of a lunge with your arms extended.  Nothing too complicated.  It was at this time however, that I started to notice sensations in my body that initiated my fight or flight switch.  My heart was beating faster, I was sweating and my legs were shaking. Logically, I knew it was natural for my heart to beat faster because I was exercising.  I knew I should have been sweating because I was moving my body.  As for my legs, well I haven’t used them in three months so my muscles were likely in shock.  Logic can be so bloody logical!

It didn’t matter how hard I tried to convince myself of this logic.  The switch had been flipped and there was no turning back!  I was sprinting down a path of sheer panic!

I told my instructor that I had to stop.  She quite firmly told me to go to child’s pose. Child’s pose is where you are curled up into a ball and your forehead is on the ground. She started speaking with her angelic voice and counting out breathing.

Inhale, 1, 2, 3, 4…exhale 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

Inhale, 1, 2, 3, 4…exhale 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

She continued for about five minutes.  Just breathing.  Focusing solely on the breath.

The relief was immediate.

As soon as my forehead was resting on the ground and I started breathing, I was bathed in serenity.  My heart slowed down.  I was no longer hot.  The shaking had subsided.

It was instantaneous.

I was in shock.  How could this pose and this breathing quite literally stop me from sprinting down the path of panic?  Me, the non-believer.  The person who quite vehemently declared that no one should ever tell me to just breathe!

Afterwards, she explained that it is the breath that is the tool that will ultimately give me the power to stop the anxiety.  She also said it is crucial that my forehead be on the ground because it will trigger my vagus nerve which in turn, will help to calm me.  She instructed me to go to child’s pose whenever I feel the first twinge of anxiety and/or panic.  She told me to leave my yoga mat in the middle of my living room and go there when I need to.

Breathe.

Count my breaths.

Our session lasted an hour and a half.  I am sitting here recalling all that she said, so angelically.  Any chance I get to breathe, I am to practice.  If I am sitting in the car, watching television or in the line at the grocery store, it is an opportunity to breathe. To focus on my well being.  Find my inner strength and peace through breathing.

I know it sounds mystical, intangible, unbelievable.  A few hours ago, I would have agreed.  But having been the fortunate recipient of the immediate relief that yoga offered me in the midst of a downward spiral, I am a believer.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Repeat.

Namaste.

 

© The Flip of the Switch, February 2016.

The Curtain

Red curtains and vintage wood floor

What is behind your curtain?

Let me tell you about mine.

Behind my curtain, I am a ball of anxiety.  A bundle of nerves.  A million electrical currents trying to find their way; searching for a way to become grounded.

Insecurities abound.  They are limitless.

Questions are insurmountable.
Questions pertaining to my sanity, my sense of self, my worldview.

What is to become of me?

The once strong, confident woman, who possesses a touch of arrogance and an uncanny, sarcastic sense of humour has changed.

I am not what I once was.  There is a new strain to my identity, one that is characterized by nervousness, anxiety and insecurity.  One that I am not familiar with and do not want to get to know.  I suppose however, that in order to defeat your enemy, you must get to know them.  Walk in their shoes and discover their plans in an effort to foil them.  Thus, I am forced to get to know this most suffocating strain of my identity; this nervousness, this anxiety, this insecurity.

Behind my curtain, I am struggling to maintain my power over anxiety.
I must make every effort to get up, go out; resist the urge to stay in bed, rolled up in that ball of nerves.
Behind my curtain is a woman who once soared.
Behind my curtain is a leader who has lost her footing but will not falter.
Behind my curtain is a woman who is scared but will always show you a smile of sincerity and give you a hand to hold.

Although my curtain is drawn, I am reminded of the person I was just a few short months ago.  My power and my tenacity are still within me, they have just been hushed by the overbearing sound of anxiety.

I must get louder.

Free my old self, rescue her from the depths of the darkness.

Cue the orchestra.

The curtain is about to open.

 

© The Flip of the Switch, February 2016.

 

Tootin’ My Own Horn

Fragment trumpet closeup

Toot toot!

I’m not one to usually toot my own horn, but I feel compelled to do so.

Not only did I drive my daughter to dance tonight, but I picked her up too!

Holy moly guacamole!

Now, for all of you who do not have an issue with anxiety and/or panic, you must be thinking that I have completely lost my mind and you may not understand why this is a big deal.  I get it.

But, to those of you who know anxiety, know panic, you will know this is a massive accomplishment!

Woo hoo!

I haven’t done that, by myself, in about two months.  Seriously.

I told you this was a BIG DEAL!!!

I’m not going to lie.  It was hard.  I was scanning, scanning, scanning my body for any signs of anxiety (which of course, we know can actually cause more anxiety! Go figure!). My heart was racing, my mind was looping around like a hamster wheel and I had Taylor Swift blaring!  Singing along whilst slightly hyperventilating!  It was uncomfortably liberating!

So that’s it.  My big accomplishment of the day.

Not too shabby if I do say so myself.

Toot toot!

 

© The Flip of the Switch, February 2016.

 

 

Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing

wolves in woods

Unfriended.

That’s right.

I have dumped you on social media.

Have a good cry.

Let it all out.

I don’t know why you care.

It’s not like we were ever actually friends.

So, I unfriended you.

There is a mom in the neighbourhood that I actually despise.  We refer to her as Mary Sunshine because her toxicity is radiating.  She is a horrid, self centred, maddening woman.  Why on earth were we ever friends on Facebook to begin with?  I never liked her.  I never wanted to actually be her friend. She is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Pretending to be nice but actually seething disrespect and insult wherever she goes.

So, I unfriended her.

There is another mom in the neighbourhood who feels it is her duty on Facebook to argue against anything and everything I ever post.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I respect other people’s views and encourage people to stand up for what they believe in.  The problem is that she is so publicly aggressive and confrontational.  She is missing a much needed social filter.

So, I unfriended her too.

Facebook is a platform where you can put your best, albeit delusional, self forward.  To make everyone think your life is wonderfully fantastic, your children are perfect little angels and your husband is unsurpassed.  Where you can be an exceptional chef, a supermom and an all around overachiever.

These people are easy to pick out. Spreading their delusion wherever they go. These are the same people who post a lot but very rarely like or comment on anyone else’s posts. Why is that?  Easy.  They don’t care about you.  They only care about themselves.

Narcissism at its finest.

I thought about how to sift through my hundreds of friends and I came up with a plan. If they had not liked or commented on any of my posts in the last three months, they were out.

Gone.

Unfriended.

I did not care if they were family, a friend or an acquaintance.  I was drawing the line.  I no longer wanted wolves snooping around in my life. It felt like stalking to me.  It gave me the creeps.

In a matter of minutes, I had unfriended about three hundred friends.  Ahhhhhh.

Satisfaction.

There was some fall out.

I’m okay with that.

I can live with it.

I can sleep at night.

I now have a healthy group of about fifty friends on Facebook.  Actual, real, caring friends.  No nonsense kind of friends.  No more wolves hovering around, secretly watching my life.

Good riddance wolves.

I’m free.

Free from the obligation social media thrusts upon us to be friends with every acquaintance we ever meet.

Free to avoid your narcissistic tendencies and delusions.

Syonara friends.

 

© The Flip of the Switch, January 2016.

 

 

Canadian Pride

happy friends watching hockey game on skating rink

 

I am Canadian.

As such, my son was born wearing hockey skates.

Hockey is in his blood.  He lives and breathes hockey.  When he is not on the ice, he is thinking about the next time he will be on the ice.  He could also be outside playing road hockey or mini sticks with his friends.  He could be playing NHL 16 on the Playstation with a group of neighbourhood friends.

Like I said, it is in his blood.

He dreams of becoming an NHL player and I support all of his dreams.

He is a defenceman.  A truly thankless position.  He wouldn’t change it for anything.  He loves being a defenceman.  He defends the team at all costs; protects the goalie and his crease;  and rushes the puck to score.  End to end.

I will cheer from the sidelines, so proud of my son.  So proud of our team.

I will be radiating pride.

Our team is full of boys who are passionate, dedicated and have such good hearts.  They are learning important life skills together;  as individuals and as a team.  Skills and lessons they cannot learn from their parents or in a classroom. Our coaches teach our children these lessons and for that, we are eternally grateful.

Today, the playoffs start!  It is a big deal!  The team has worked hard to get to this point. It is their time to shine!

I have to go put on my jersey and playoff scarf.  Wear the colours of our team with pride.  Pack my cowbell.  Oh yes, this is going to be a great day!  Today, wherever you are, you may indeed hear me cheering with pride for my son and our team.

Win or lose, they will do it as a team.

No one has ever won a hockey game alone.

Teamwork.

Unparalleled teamwork.

Unparalleled pride.

 

© The Flip of the Switch, January 2016.

 

 

 

Wishes & Dreams

field of dandelion in sunset - bokeh and allergy

 

Daily gratitude can alter your thought patterns and your outlook on life. With that in mind, I have been trying to acknowledge all of the blessings in my life on a daily basis.  Two of my greatest blessings are my children. Thinking of my children, the lives they will lead, the adventures they will experience and all they will become, makes me smile.  I am truly blessed.

For my children.

I wish you a long life full of love, happiness and crimson sunsets.

I wish you a life of compassion;  showing deep love and grace to others, just as I hope you are treated with compassion and kindness.

I wish you peace, serenity and a calm mind;  a mind that is still and does not rush to panic. Tranquility is necessary for your spirit to soar.

I wish you good health;  take care of your mind, body and your spirit.  Listen to the messages your body sends you.

I wish you true friendship. Real, loving, fulfilling friendship.  It doesn’t come along very often so when it does, hang on to it and cherish it.  Those friends, your dearest friends, will be by your side through all the curves in the road;  the good;  the not so good. Celebrate with them;  cry with them. Make sure they know you love them and appreciate them.

I wish you adventure.  Go backpacking.  Ride roller coasters. Climb a mountain. Our beautiful world is waiting for you to explore it.

I wish you time. Time with your family; time with your own children;  time to stop and smell the roses;  time to read a good book;  time to reflect on and appreciate the blessings in your life.

I wish you hope.  I wish you hope in your yourself;  hope in others; hope in our world. Never surrender your hope.  It is something we all need to survive and thrive.  It is something that can never be taken from you.

I wish you character.  Be strong;  be noble;  be a role model.  Be respectful, be kind, be loving.  Be who you are meant to be.

I wish you strength, determination, perseverance and patience; especially with yourself. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

I wish you love.  Deep, fulfilling love.  The kind of love that takes your breath away; makes your heart skip a beat;  sweeps you off your feet; makes your soul sing.  Hang onto it. Cherish it.  If you lose it, it wasn’t meant to be.  Remember it for how it made you feel but do not grieve for its loss. You will love again and be loved by many, for you are spectacular.

I wish you quiet moments to watch the trees blow in the wind, to watch the clouds sail by, to watch the flowers bloom.  It is these quiet moments that you will hear yourself; when life will make sense;  where stillness will lead to answers.

Trust yourself.

Believe in yourself, just as I believe in you.

I believe you can do anything;  be anything.

Reach for the stars, follow your dreams and be proud of who you are and what you become.  I am already so proud of you.  I am proud to be your mom.

I love you with all of my heart and soul.  You are the reason I was born.  You are the first thing I think of when I wake up and the last thing I think of before I fall asleep.

You.

My children.

My wishes and dreams.

 

© The Flip of the Switch, January 2016.

 

The Great Outdoors

girl outside winter with cup of hot drink

Get outdoors.

I don’t care if all you do is throw on your bathrobe and slippers and stand outside your front door for five minutes.

Do it.

Do it now.

Think about this for a minute.  When do you feel your best?

It occurred to me today that lately, I feel my best when I am either (a) busy and accomplishing something or (b) when I am outdoors.

Fresh air and sunshine can truly have an immediate impact on your mood; your outlook; your self esteem; your thoughts.

Breathe it in.  Do you feel that?

Fresh, crisp air.

Look around you.

Take it all in.

What do you see?

The trees.  The sunshine. The clouds.  People running errands.  Children playing in the snow.

What do you smell?

The crisp air of winter.  A burning fire.  Maybe someone is baking cookies for an after school treat.

What do you hear?

Children laughing.  Birds singing. The snow quietly falling upon the glistening ground.

Give your brain a rest from the worry; the anxiety; the panic; the constant state of heightened awareness and catastrophic arousal.

For even just a few minutes, stand outside or go for a walk and try to tune out all of the exhausting thoughts.  Try to focus on the little things around you that usually go unnoticed.

Even in your bathrobe.

Even for just a few minutes.

Your mind will thank you.

 

© The Flip of the Switch, January 2016.