Monthly Archives: March 2014

Rising

It was just over a year ago that I received confirmation that I was losing my job. Suddenly my world was collapsing around me.

What was I going to do next?

Did I have to leave the GTA?

How was I going to make a living?

Everything I had known was coming to an end. Losing my job meant I did have to leave the GTA. And my job was more than just a job. It had become my life. Very unhealthy, but I didn’t recognize that at the time. Where I worked was my church, my friends, my community. 98% of my life was based around that place.

So when I found out I was being laid off, it felt like I had been pushed off a cliff and I was just falling, falling, falling.

And I continued to fall for months after.

I left Toronto and moved in with my parents in Kingsville. But I was lost. I didn’t know what I wanted to do next, so I kept coming up with different ideas of where I could go. I couldn’t stand not knowing. And as I leapt from idea to idea, I fell further.

Then I finally accepted what had happened and that I didn’t know where I was going next. I embraced the unknown as I shared in a previous post and trusted that things were going to happen as they were supposed to. I began to live day by day and not worry about the future. I enjoyed the now, and did my best to remain patient (not something I’m very good at).

And I have been rewarded generously for my patience and my trust.

I stopped falling in late Autumn. I was on steady ground for months.

And now I am rising.

I am rising into new adventures. I am rising into new opportunities. I am rising into new experiences.

I accepted a full time job on Monday, working as a schedule coordinator at a great company called Amy’s Helping Hands. The job is organization and administration based and it’s perfect for me.

The greatest fear I had once accepting this new job was resigning from my current part time one. I was nervous that my bosses would be quite angry with me because I had only been there 6 months and when I was hired I indicated that I was looking for a long term part time job because I was going to be studying part time. That was the plan then.

But plans changed.

On Tuesday I anxiously faced my fear and resigned, and I was humbled by the kindness of my bosses who were supportive and encouraging, assuring me they were not upset, only that they would miss me.

My heart filled with joy. Their gentle response affirmed that taking this new direction in my life was the right thing.

I am so excited to start this new adventure, this new career. Everything about this job feels right and I am thrilled to go back to working full time and being a ‘grown up’ again. This means many new things to come – new car, my own place, new chances for me to grow.

I am floating on a cloud. And the cloud keeps rising into the beautiful, endless sky.

Last night, while talking on the phone with one of my closest friends, I was reminded that everything happens for a reason. There’s a purpose to everything in our lives, good and bad.

This time last year, life was not good for me. I felt as though the rug had been pulled from beneath me, and I couldn’t seem to get up. I went through a time of depression, a time of confusion, and a time of anger.

Now, as I look back, I see that it was all supposed to happen. If I hadn’t lost my job, I never would have moved back to the Windsor area. If I hadn’t moved back here, I never would have known how amazing it is to be close to my family. If I hadn’t moved back to Windsor, I never would have met my Aussie friends who have invited me along on the journey of beginning Three Rivers (more on that in a future post). If I hadn’t moved back here, I wouldn’t be facing the many amazing opportunities that I am right now. If I hadn’t moved back here, I probably would not have ever started this blog.

And if I hadn’t moved back here, I’d probably still be falling.

Because the truth is I was already hanging off that cliff before I lost my job. I was gripping the edge of it, holding on for dear life. And if I hadn’t been pushed the rest of the way off it, I would have eventually just fallen. It was getting too difficult to hang on to, even though I was desperate not to let go.

I couldn’t see beyond where I was. I couldn’t see that I wasn’t where I was supposed to be anymore. I couldn’t see what was waiting for me ahead.

And now I am reminded that everything happens as it’s meant to.

I want to encourage those who are going through a difficult time. Maybe the rug was just pulled out from under you. Maybe you were just pushed off a cliff. Or maybe you’ve been down so long, you’re not sure how to get up.

I hope you know that it will get better.

You will discover a strength inside yourself that you never realized you had.

Your broken heart will be glued back together, and it will mend.

You will rise again.

Stay strong. Have faith.

Everything happens for a reason, and there is something amazing ahead.

 

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The ‘I Can’t Stand it Anymore’ Passion

This blog is inspired by the lead pastor, Andrew Bryant, of Three Rivers. His message yesterday was titled “That’s all I can stand!”, and it was about getting to the point of not being able to bear something any longer. Whether it be social injustice, mistreatment of people, cruelty, hypocrisy, or greed, it gets to us until we can’t stand it anymore. Check out his message here:

http://threerivers.org.au/media/messages

As AB points out, God puts an ‘I can’t stand it anymore’ passion inside all of us. But too often we fail to do anything about it. It makes us sad, angry, even breaks our hearts, but we stay as spectators assuming someone else will do something to change it. Or we assume we can’t do anything about it. Or we just don’t know what to do.

My ‘I can’t stand it anymore’ passion is about the treatment of people who have mental illness. It is why I started this blog.

Now I know this blog isn’t going to contribute to a massive change in how people with mental illness are treated and judged. I know I’m not going to erase the stigma or make everyone understand what mental illness is.

But I am doing my part to stand up for something I can’t bear any longer.

I am choosing to speak up for those who are suffering, for those who don’t yet have the voice to do so themselves.

I am using my voice to say it is NOT ok to judge those struggling with depression, anxiety or any other mental disease.

I am using my voice to let others know that mental illness is a disease and it is NOT the fault of the one who is enduring it. Nor is it in their control.

I am using my voice to tell those who are suffering that they are not alone. I am with them, I am fighting for them, and I will be strong for them.

I understand mental illness because I have struggled with depression for two decades. I am not less of a person because of it. I am a stronger, better person for all I have gone through and overcome.

And so are you.

You are beautiful.

You are worthy.

You are loved.

Your mental illness is not who you are. It is something you go through.

And I will continue to fight for you, for me, for everyone who struggles.

Because the way we are treated and the way we are judged by some people is unacceptable. And I can’t stand it any longer.

So I will continue to use my voice. I will continue to use my words.

What is your ‘I can’t stand it any longer’ passion?

Whatever it is, I encourage you to do something about it.

You CAN make a difference. Even if it is as little as writing a blog about it 🙂

The Unknown

As I sit waiting for an important call , I am looking at my life and all of the unknowns that surround me. I am less than 3 weeks away from turning 31, and I am without a specific career or clear direction for my life. I am single, working part time at a clothing store, and living at home with my parents for the first time in over 10 years.

Not exactly how I pictured my life would be at 31. I saw a career, house, husband, kids.

But that hasn’t happened.

And I’m ok with it. In fact, I am more than ok with it.

I’ve let myself off the hook. Instead of pressuring myself to create the life I think I’m supposed to have, I am enjoying the life I do have.

I know there are people who judge my life. They feel sorry for me that I had to move back in with my parents at age 30, and that I don’t have a direct focus for myself currently. Others in my life worry about me. They worry about me being single and they think I’m lonely. They think I’m not happy, and fear I’ll never find the happiness they think I should have.

Because of course if I am 30, single and unsure of where my life is going, there is no way I can be happy, right?

Wrong.

I may not fit into what society sees as a normal life for someone my age. I may not have it all figured out. But do any of us really have it all figured out? Whether single, married or divorced? Whether a parent or not? Whether in a well established career or still going to school?

Do you have it all figured out?

I don’t know what tomorrow is going to look like for me. I don’t know if I’ll get a call saying I got the job, or if I’ll come across another opportunity that is perfect for me. My options are wide open.

And that’s exciting.

I am trying new things, meeting new people and discovering who I really am. I am reading, writing and looking at all the possibilities before me. If I decided tomorrow that I want to go and teach English overseas for a year, I could do that. If I decided to go back to school in September to embark on a new career, I could do that. If I decided to move across Canada for a job, I could do that.

I am blessed with endless opportunities. I am blessed with the freedom to do what I want. And I am blessed with a family who will support my dreams.

Living in the unknown has been strangely peaceful. A year and a half ago I thought I had my life all figured out. But I wasn’t happy. I thought I was right where I wanted to be. But I couldn’t find joy.

Then my life was turned upside down and I was shoved into the great unknown. I was desperate to fill the unknown with something, so I came up with plan after plan of what I was going to do next. But nothing felt right. So I began to settle into the unknown and just enjoy the life I was living.

In the last month, my mom has told me multiple times that I am different. I am different than I was when I moved back home last spring. I haven’t been struggling to get out of bed. I’ve been laughing more. I’ve been taking chances and trying new things.

I have finally found joy. And I found it in the most unexpected place, the unknown.

I know I won’t live in the unknown forever. I’ll get a job, start a new career, buy a home, get a dog, and my life will move forward.

Even in the midst of the unknown, incredible things have happened for me. I have been surrounded by amazing people and exciting opportunities. God has placed me in situations where I know I am exactly where I need to be in that moment.

For any of you who are currently swimming in unknown waters, whether you’ve been there for a while or have just been pushed in, I encourage you to embrace it. Embrace the possibilities before you. Enjoy the time of freedom and uncertainty.

Live your life.

Trust God.

You’re exactly where you are supposed to be.

The 5 Year Plan

Whenever you go for an interview, whether it be for a job, an internship or to get into a university, this question always seems to come up: where do you see yourself in 5 years?

A decade ago I had a clearly thought-out answer for this. I had a plan. I was going to finish university, begin working in television production and soon after that I would be writing and producing a TV show or movie. It sounded perfect.

But then life happened. And it kept happening. And plans I made failed to work out. I never seemed to be on the right path for my plans. That left me miserable and depressed. For years.

Until I finally realized planning doesn’t work because things will never work out the way you think they will. And the more your plans fail to come to reality, the more distressed and discouraged you get.

So I decided to stop planning. I obviously still plan day to day things and even things for a few months ahead, but I stopped planning years ahead. I let go of control. I know God has a plan for me, and I know His plans are way better than mine.

I look back over the years and see how His intricate plan unravelled. Even when I thought everything was going wrong, I see now that it all happened for a reason.

And it all got me to where I am today. Today I am happy.

Now, when I sit in interviews and I get asked that question, I don’t have an an answer and I’ll admit that.

I try not to plan too far ahead because if I’m so focused on the future, I’ll miss out on the right now.  If I’m worried about tomorrow, I’ll forget about today.

But I want to experience today. I don’t want to miss out on a single moment.

Everyone says life is short. I believe them. It feels like I blinked and went from 20 to 30. No one knows what tomorrow brings. Or next week. Or next month. Or next year.

I don’t want to spend today trying to figure out what to do tomorrow. I want to spend today living.

I want to dance in the rain (or in the case of Windsor, snow).

I want to laugh so hard that tears roll down my face.

I want to meet new people and make new friends.

I want to eat ice cream until my stomach hurts.

I want to help others.

I want to live. Right now. Today.

I don’t want to wake up tomorrow and regret that I spent the last 5 years of my life making plans that never worked out.

I want to wake up tomorrow thinking that today was great, and be excited for what the new day will bring.

Not planning 5 years in advance has brought me a sense of freedom. It has brought me peace.

Because I know there is a plan for my life. And I know it will unfold exactly how it is suppose to.

And I don’t want to get in the way of it.

Everybody has a story

In this blog, I have been sharing my story. That was my intent and it is the point of a blog, so it is something I’ll continue to do. Writing about my life and experiences is extremely rewarding and therapeutic. There is a freedom in being vulnerable and open. Allowing people into the light and dark places in my life is scary, but healing.

This is me being real.

This is my story.

Today I was reminded that everyone has a story. Everyone has had struggles in their lives. Everyone has gone through painful times. Some of you reading this may be going through a difficult time right now. 

Everyone has had joyous times too. Times where you laugh so hard that tears fall down your face. Times where you get lost in the moment and feel completely at peace. Times where you are filled with love.

Everyone has a story.

And your story matters.

So often we bury our struggles, making the excuse that we have nothing to be sad about because so many have it much worse. I have done this many times. I have felt guilty for feeling depressed. I have felt ungrateful because I can’t be happy even though my life is good.

But the truth is that I have no reason to feel guilty or ungrateful. Because whatever I am feeling, whatever I am going through, is valid. In that moment of sadness or depression, no matter what the cause, it is ok that I feel that way. Even if others are going through worse, it doesn’t mean that what I am going through isn’t important. What I am going through matters.

And what you’re going through matters too.

Your feelings are important and worthy.

You matter. Your story matters.

We all have a story. And so many of us hide our story because we fear ridicule and judgement. We worry about what people will think if they know our story, if they know the real us.

Share your story anyway.

You never know how your story could help someone else. It took me a long time to share mine. But when I finally did, I got some amazing responses. I was judged too, but those who judged me don’t matter. It’s those who said I helped them that matter. Those I encouraged to be honest about their own story. Those I helped feel less alone.

Your story is important.

Share it. The world needs to hear it.

2am Tears

This has been a rough week. For those of you who read my post ‘Bitten’ from Monday, you know I was bitten by a cat while volunteering at the Humane Society. On Tuesday at 10pm I was driving to emergency at Leamington hospital because my hand was red and swollen, and I was in a lot of pain. Turns out the cat bite caused an infection. After a 4 hour wait (which my amazing dad was with me for), I was given antibiotics and sent on my way.

On Thursday I had to let go of an unhealthy relationship.

Yesterday (Saturday) I was hurt by a friend.

It’s been a tough week.

Last night, around 2am the stress of the week came to a head. I was exhausted, but couldn’t sleep, and as I lay in bed, the tears began to fall. What started as slow, quiet tears quickly became an all-out sob as my body released the stress and pain from the week.

It was the first time I had cried, really cried, in months and it felt good. The emotions had built up and it all needed to come out. Afterwards I fell instantly asleep.

In the past nights like that were dangerous for me. Insomnia combined with a breakdown would have meant that I didn’t get out of bed the next day.

But today I got out of bed. I didn’t spring out of bed because my night had left me feeling weighed down. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that I got out of bed.

My depression didn’t capture me.

No, I was not feeling overly joyful, but I was able to get up and fulfill all of my commitments for the day.

And as the day went on, good things happened that gave me strength. A card left under my door from my mom. Running into a friend at Chapters. Chatting with the girls at home church. An encouraging Skype conversation with my Aussie friends and mentors. A beautiful, inspiring email from a new friend.

All of these things give me strength.

And tonight I will go to bed feeling ten times better.

And grateful.

Grateful for the wonderful people in my life. Grateful for friends who believe in me. Grateful for family who would do anything for me. Grateful for exciting things still to come.

Mostly I am grateful I got out of bed.

To most, getting out of bed is something that happens without much thought. It is just what you do in the morning. But for me, and others who suffer from depression, sometimes getting out of bed can be like washing a van with a toothbrush. It seems pretty much impossible, and too big of a task to bear.

But today I did it.

I did it because of the support and encouragement around me. I did it because the people in my life give me strength.

I did it because I have hope that this will be a better week.

A year ago I didn’t have that kind of hope.

I thank God that today I do.

Letting Go

Letting go is a hard thing to do.

Sometimes we need to let of a comment or joke someone made.

Sometimes we need to let go of a material possession.

Sometimes we need to let go of a job or career.

Sometimes we need to let go of a person.

Letting go of a person/relationship can be one of the hardest things in life. Especially if you genuinely care for that person, but you know that they, or the relationship, is not good for you.

Ending a relationship, whether romantic or platonic, is heartbreaking. Whether it has ended because there was hurt or betrayal, or because you are simply not on the same page in life, it’s difficult.

But sometimes it is necessary. It is needed to avoid greater hurt in the future.

I’ve had to let go of a lot of things in my life, as most people have. I have let go of relationships. I have let go of dreams. I have let go of plans for the future that haven’t panned out.

But every time I’ve let go of something, a better thing has come my way.

God is faithful. He has a plan. When we are forced to let go of one thing, He will provide something else. Something better.

When we try to control everything instead of trusting Him, things begin to falter.

I am a control freak. I always have been (many people reading this are nodding their heads). The best thing I ever did was let go of control. When I tried to control my life and everything around me, my depression got worse and worse. It broke me and left me in a state where I didn’t smile for a month. I was so lost and damaged that I could not get out of bed. I lost all hope.

In the depths of my despair, desperate to save my life, I let go of control. I gave it all up to God.

Finally, I felt free. I felt at peace.

The relationships that I have had to let go of have caused pain, but they have been the right decisions. I have held my hurt out to God and given my sorrow to Him. And He has returned to me love, compassion and opportunity.

As the saying goes, “when one door closes, another opens.”

I look forward to the next open door.

Bitten

I volunteer at the Windsor Humane Society for a couple of hours every other Monday. I do it because I love animals and right now, with where I am at in life, I am unable to have an animal of my own. I work with the cats, socializing them and giving them love. And it is usually a great experience.

But today I got bitten.

I was putting a cat back into his cage, and tried to pet him before closing the gate, when he spun around and attacked me. The cut on my hand is small, but deep. I am currently on my 4th bandaid and it seems the bleeding has finally stopped. The swelling in my hand has gone down, but it still hurts like hell.

After the Humane Society I met a friend for dinner. I showed up at the restaurant in a horrible mood because I was in pain. I warned my friend right away that my mood was bad.

Shortly into our conversation, I realized how unfair it was to my friend that I was sitting there in this crabby mood. It wasn’t his fault I got bit by a cat. It wasn’t his fault I was in pain. But here I was, ruining his dinner because something bad happened to me. I quickly changed my attitude and we spent over an hour laughing, joking and chatting.

In life, we are all going to get bitten sometimes. Some bites won’t break the skin, but some may touch the bone. Some people are bitten more than others. Some people will never fully recover from certain bites.

Bites are unavoidable. We can wrap ourselves in a bubble, pad our outer bodies, but at some point a bite will penetrate the skin and blood will be shed.

We have to accept that this will happen to us.

But it is what we do when we’re bitten that matters.

Do we run and hide, vowing to never expose ourselves to the world again?

Do we turn to anger and seek revenge?

Or do we do our best to mend the wound, forgive the one that bit us, and move on?

How you respond to being bitten will dictate the course of your future.

If you seek revenge, you will be consumed by anger and hatred until your revenge has played out, and even then, you’re unlikely to feel satisfied with the outcome. If you focus on the hurt and anger, it will eventually overtake you. That thirst for revenge will ultimately only hurt you more.

If you run and hide from the world to protect yourself from ever being bitten and feeling that pain again, are you still living? If you isolate yourself, what will you miss out on? Yes, you may never be bitten again, but you will also be incredibly lonely. You’ll miss out on opportunities and experiences when you are hiding from life.

But if you choose to mend, forgive and move on, you are choosing to heal. You are choosing to try again. You are choosing to take a risk. You may get bitten again, or something incredible may happen. You are choosing to seek love and happiness even during the painful time.

And that is the only thing worth choosing.

My depression has bitten me over and over again. But I choose to fight. I choose to reach for the good, learn what I can and allow myself to grow stronger. I choose to live.

Life is going to bite you.

But it is your response to being bitten that matters.

Choose to live. Choose to forgive. Choose to love.