Monthly Archives: June 2014

The Single Life

Some people think it’s weird. To be over 30 and single. They wonder why I’m not married, why I haven’t “settled down”, and started having kids. There are people quite close to me who constantly worry about my ‘status’.

I did an interview in the Fall for a volunteer position. I was asked my age, and then if I was married. When I said no, he said ‘oh divorced?’. Because of course I can’t be 30 and never have been married, right??????

The views of some with regards to 30+ singles is quite humorous at times.

Many find it surprising that I am in no rush to get married or have kids. To be honest, I’m not even sure I want to have kids. I’m not totally sure I want to get married.

And I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.

It’s more and more common for people to stay single well into their 30s. They may date, have a few relationships, but for the most part they have chosen to stay single, focus on their careers and put “settling down” on the back burner.

A few weeks ago I read an article about the growing number of women in their 30s who are ‘relationship virgins’, meaning they have never been in a serious relationship.

And I think it’s awesome. Women who are independent, supporting themselves and finding happiness.

I can admit that in my 20s I ran away from dating and relationships for a couple of reasons. One was fear – I feared bringing someone into my world and forcing them to deal with my depression; I didn’t think it was fair to do that to them. The second was the fact that I am a commitment-phobe.

But since I turned 30, I released my fears. I know my depression is just something I have, not who I am. It can affect my life, but doesn’t define it. And as time goes on, I get better and better at handling it. It is also appearing a lot less frequently and when it does, it doesn’t last as long as it once did.

As for my phobia, that is still there a bit, but I am much better than I used to be. Because I am secure in myself, in my choices, and in my beliefs, and I understand and appreciate my own value, commitment is not such a scary thing anymore.

But at the same time, I’m good on my own.

I do enjoy dating. I enjoy being with someone and having a relationship. But I also really enjoy being single.

There are people in my life that think I can’t be happy unless I am with someone, unless I get married someday and start a family. But that’s ridiculous.

I have experienced extreme joy as a single woman. And my life is filled with so much love.

I have a co-worker who is 34 and single. Last week she said she should be married with kids by now. My response was “According to who?” And she said “According to me”.

It made me sad. I could hear the unhappiest in her words. I could see the stress in her eyes. I felt sorry for her. She was living in the future and focusing on what she thought she should have, but didn’t. As a result she can’t find joy in the now. She can’t appreciate what she has now.

I learned a long time ago never to plan too far ahead. Because it almost never works out the way you think it will, and you just end up disappointed.

I know people who stew in jealousy over their friends’s happy marriages and new born babies. I know girls who live in misery because the guy next door doesn’t pick up their ‘hints’. (Sidenote for the girls: guys never pick up on the hints that we think are so obvious – you need to spell it out).

And I know people who are my age, who got married young and saw forever, but now they are finalizing divorce papers. As they and their spouse grew up, they also grew apart. They never imagined it would end this way.

You can’t predict the future. Just like you can’t change the past. You have to embrace the now.

And I am not going to focus on what I don’t have. I’m not going to sit in misery because life hasn’t turned out the way I thought it would. I am going to focus on the good and find joy in the life I have.

My life is good. And I am not single because there is something wrong with me. Nor is my life any less fulfilling than those who are a couple.

I have no idea what the future holds and that excites me. I am open to anything. If I meet someone, fall in love and get married, that’s great. If I stay single and focus on my passions, that’s awesome. If I get asked to go on a year long mission trip to Africa, that’s amazing.

I don’t believe in closing doors. I am all about ‘never say never’.

I enjoy being single.

I enjoy being part of a couple.

But I am not defined by my “status”. My happiness is not based on that.

My happiness comes from my ability to see the good over the bad. My ability to embrace the positive and disregard the negative. My ability to release control and be grateful for the blessings that come my way.

My joy comes from what I can do for others and how I can make them happy.

Maybe one day I’ll find someone who sees life as I do and wants to embrace the best and forget the rest with me. Maybe I won’t.

I’m good either way.

 

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It’s Complicated

I have tried many times to explain depression. To explain my depression. But it is so difficult to explain, especially to someone who has never experienced it.

Trying to explain depression to someone who has never been through it is like trying to explain algebra to a 4 year old. They just don’t get it.

I don’t get angry when someone doesn’t understand my depression. It’s actually the opposite. I am usually thrilled when someone doesn’t understand because it means they have never experienced it.

Depression is something I wouldn’t wish on the devil himself. It’s awful. It’s terrifying, suffocating, debilitating, and the most painful thing I have ever experienced.

Last week was not a great week for me. I was stressed and feeling lonely and my depression made an appearance. This hasn’t happened for a long time. Last Saturday I spent the whole day in bed. This also hasn’t happened in a very long time.

It was discouraging. I had been doing so well and feeling so healthy. then BAM! It hit suddenly and unexpectedly.

I always face a lot of guilt when my depression hits. I feel guilty because I end up ditching people, or they end up dealing with my emotional mess. I always deeply regret these things and feel bad for days or weeks after. Luckily the people affected by these things last weekend have offered their forgiveness and support.

I also feel guilty because it makes no sense for me to be depressed. I have a good life. I have a beautiful, loving family, amazing friends, and an awesome God who has given me so much. So I feel bad for feeling bad. I have no reason to be depressed. But I am. And the guilt just makes it all worse.

Through the years of struggling with depression, I have learned the best ways to handle it. I know to let myself work through the emotions, take the day in bed if needed, and when I am ready, I get up and fight. I am no longer self-destructive, and I am never down for long anymore.

Last week’s depression only lasted a few days.

And as soon as I admit that things aren’t great, I instantly feel better. I need to know that I am not alone. So telling someone what’s going on is the first step to healing.

And I am lucky to have people in my life who are there for me when I need them. People who will pray. People who will call me. People who will support me.

But not everyone has that. Not everyone who deals with depression has someone to talk to or turn to. Not everyone has the strength to pull themselves out of the darkness. Not everyone has someone who supports them and loves them unconditionally.

And many are afraid to tell anyone what’s going on. They are ashamed or embarrassed.

And it breaks my heart.

I want anyone who is reading this and going through a depression to know that there is nothing to be ashamed of. There is nothing to be embarrassed about.

Depression is a disease. And it’s not your fault you’re going through it. You have no control over it.

And you are not alone.

There is help.

I felt so alone for so many years. I hid what I was going through. I hid the feelings and the wounds, both physical and emotional. I feared judgement and ridicule, both of which I have faced because of my depression.

But I’m done hiding. I am not ashamed or embarrassed. And I no longer fear judgement or ridicule.

Depression is something I go through, not who I am.

And I am grateful for every struggle, every tear, every breakdown. Because they made me strong. They made me appreciate life. They taught me how to fight.

I have struggled a lot to get to where I am today. But I am so grateful to be here.

My battle with my depression last week was a great reminder of what I am passionate about.

I am passionate about life. Living to the fullest and appreciating everything I have.

I am passionate about my family and friends. My love for them knows no bounds. I would do anything to see them smile.

And I am passionate about helping those who deal with depression. I am passionate about being a voice for those who suffer. I am passionate about standing up for those that struggle.

Mostly I am passionate about God and the life He wants me to lead. I believe I survived all I have been through because He wants to use me to help others.

And that is what I plan to do.

Wasted Time

Tonight I spent my evening with some incredible youth. Amazing kids with great spirits, big dreams and a thirst for life. It was our last official night together for the year. We dressed up, shared a meal, and celebrated those who are about to graduate high school.

As I sat and listened to the graduates talk about their plans for the summer and the next year, about where they were going and what they were studying, my mind wandered back to when I stood there.

I remember the feelings clearly – a great mix of pure excitement and nauseating anxiety. Knowing my life lay before me, stepping into adulthood and going after what I wanted.

I had big dreams. I had ambition. I had plans.

But I also had fear. Big fear. Extreme fear.

As I look back over the last 12 years I see the role fear played in my life. How it dictated my choices. How it held me back. How it left me frozen as the world spun around me.

I think of the time I wasted on fear.

Don’t get me wrong – I am not saying the last 12 years were a waste. I experienced a lot. I accomplished much. I laughed, loved and cried. I grew. I became stronger through each success and each failure, each joy and each struggle. And I wouldn’t be who I am today without all I have been through.

But I did waste time on fear. Too much time.

Fear of judgement. Fear of rejection. Fear of being hurt.

The fears took over me at times. And having those fears didn’t protect me from any of the things I was afraid of. I still experienced it all.

Judgement. Hurt. Rejection.

But what the fear did do is cause me to miss out on things.

There are things I didn’t try. Risks I didn’t take. Words I didn’t say.

Because of fear.

Fear often sent me running. I ran from relationships, from opportunities, from experiences.

And I am tired of running.

The last few months I’ve made some changes in me. One of the big ones is not letting fear control me. I refuse to waste any more time on fear. I refuse to be held back by it.

This doesn’t mean I’m fearless. I’m far from it.

It means I am standing up to the fear.

I am saying what I think and standing up for what I believe. I am opening myself up and allowing myself to be vulnerable. I am learning not to care what others think. I am realizing it is more important to try  and fail than never try. I am discovering that I’d rather say what I feel and risk getting hurt than keep it all inside.

I am taking chances. Some have worked out. Some have not. Some have led to great joy. Some have led to tears. Some have brought surprises. Some have brought disappointment.

But I have no regrets from the last few months.

I sit here tonight, at 31, looking back at my 20s and thinking about the things I didn’t say. The times I didn’t speak up. The feelings I didn’t share.

And I don’t want to do the same at 40, while looking back at my 30s. I want to look back and know that I lived life to the fullest. I want to know that I didn’t let any experience or opportunity pass me by.

I want to live. Today. Right now.

I want to laugh.

I want to love.

I want to make this world a better place.

If I get hurt, that’s ok. I’ll nurse my wounds, gain strength from them and move forward.

If someone doesn’t like me or puts me down, that’s ok. Not everyone is going to like me.

If I fail at something, that’s ok. I’ll try again. And success will seem that much greater on the second, third or one hundredth try.

These are the words of advice I’d offer to those graduates.

Love fully.

Laugh loudly.

Take risks.

Don’t take yourself too seriously.

Say what you think and how you feel.

Never let fear control you or hold you back.

Don’t let your time be wasted.

You have so much to give, to learn and to discover.

And you have a purpose.

Go out, live life and find it.

Memory Lane

It’s been almost 14 months since I moved back to the Windsor area. Hard to believe. Especially since during the 10+ years I spent in Toronto, I swore I would never ever move back here.

Why?

Too many bad memories.

It’s true. Windsor holds some pretty bad memories for me. High school was not a good experience. I wasn’t treated well by most people, mainly because I was shy and quiet and therefore an easy target for bullying.

Windsor is where I met the friend who introduced me to cutting. It’s where I began cutting myself at age 15, a destructive habit that would continue on and off for more than a decade.

Windsor is where I was diagnosed with depression. Where I was sent to emergency by my family doctor. Where they sent me to various doctors, psychiatrists and counsellors.

Yes, there are lots of bad memories in Windsor.

But in my efforts to black out the bad memories here, I somehow managed to forget the good ones, the funny ones, and the sweet ones.

Being back here I am reminded of all of these.

When I pass the movie theatre where I had my first date, I am reminded of how awkward it was. I remember how he tried to put his arm around me and smacked my head. This happened twice. I remember how he pulled into my driveway and yanked off his seatbelt because he was so eager to lean over and kiss me. I remember how he missed my mouth and said “oops, bad aim”. A funny memory.

Today I went for a walk on the trail where my dad and I used to walk our dog, Rasta. I passed the pond that she used to run and take a leap into, and it was always hard to get her out. I passed the spot where she once pounced on a runner and knocked him right over. I remember good talks with my dad as Rasta dragged us along the trail. Good memories.

Occasionally I’ll pass a house that a friend grew up in. It will remind me of slumber parties, junk food, chick flicks, and staying up talking about boys. Fun memories.

I drive by the store where I had my first real job. It’s changed since I worked there, but it’s on the same corner, owned by the same woman. She was good to me. She helped me gain confidence to talk to and sell to customers. An encouraging memory.

For every bad memory, there are two good ones. We just tend to forget the good ones since the bad are so hard to recover from.

But it’s all the memories, good and bad, that have made me who I am today. It’s everything I’ve experienced, lessons I’ve learned, hurt I’ve felt, struggles I’ve had, and joys I’ve encountered that make me me.

And I like me. I’m proud of me. I am grateful for all I have experienced, the good and the bad. I am happy with who I have become.

And my memories are all a part of that. Even the ones I wish I could forget.

Now I am glad to be back in Windsor. I am grateful for the chance to face all of those bad memories and realize they don’t control me. They are behind me. They have no power.

And I am grateful for the chance to remember the good stuff. The laughter, the love and the fun times.

Windsor is no longer a place of bad memories. It’s a place that holds some of my history and helped shape who I am today.

It is now a place of my future. It’s a place of growth and self-discovery, which is what the last 14 months have been. It’s a place of newness, a fresh start. A new job, a new home, new relationships, and new memories.

Memories that I am excited to make.

I will embrace what comes, continue to grow and be grateful for every moment God has given me.

And I will cherish the memories.

 

So you had a bad day

We’ve all experienced them. Those days when everything seems to go wrong, and all you want to do is curl into a ball in bed and hide under your covers until the day ends.

It’s those days where you get blamed for something you didn’t do. Or your boss tears a strip off you in front of others. Or your car stalls in he middle of an intersection. Or your best friend is mad at you and you have no idea why. Or someone takes their bad mood out on you. Or you drop your phone in the toilet, and it no longer works.

Or all of the above.

We all have bad days.

Today was a bad day for me. I barely slept last night because I was on call for work. I am having an allergic reaction to something and the result is an itchy, painful rash up both arms that is now spreading to my neck. Work was stressful. I had a co-worker bite my head off, and then another co-worker tell me it was my fault that she bit my head off (I disagree). And my car is making weird noises and I don’t know what’s going on.

Yes, it’s been a bad day.

I came home from work, dropped myself onto my bed and let the tears flow.

Bad days happen. S**t happens. We can’t control it. We can’t predict it. We can’t avoid it.

So what can we do?

We can choose how we respond to it.

We can retaliate. But what does that solve? It will only cause more problems.

We can get mad. We can cry. We can hide.

But only for a few moments.

Then we need to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and move on.

We can let the negativity overtake us. Or we can choose to accept the bad day and move toward making it better.

I’ll admit it. When I walked in the door 30 minutes ago and curled up on my bed, I had every intention of remaining there for the rest of the evening.

But what does that solve? How does that make my bad day better?

Instead, I pulled myself up, turned on my iPad and began writing this post.

Why?

Because writing calms me. It releases my stress. It gives me energy. It connects me to what is important. And it makes me feel better.

The tears are dried. My stomach is no longer doing somersaults. I don’t feel the need to hide in bed for the rest of the night.

Yes, it was still a bad day. That isn’t going to change. My rash hasn’t magically disappeared. My co-worker hasn’t called and apologized. I’m not any less tired.

But I am choosing to overcome my bad day. I am choosing to accept it and move on.

If I cry or scream or get angry, it is not going to change the fact that the day was bad. All it is going to do is make the day worse.

There was a time when a day like today would have sent me into a downward spiral. It would have unleashed my depression and possibly kept me in bed for days.

But I refuse to let a bad day have that kind of power over me. Not anymore.

Bad days and all, life is good. God is good. People are good.

And tomorrow a new day begins. Today will never come back. So I’m not going to dwell on it.

How does a bad day affect you? Think about the control and power you give to it. Can you change that?

What if we all let go of our bad days and just moved on?

What a difference that could make in our lives.

Give it a try. Let go of the bad days. Focus on the good.

You’ll be much happier.

Community

We live in a culture where independence is promoted widely, and dependence is seen as weak. We are told to go after what we want and not worry about anyone else or how what we’re doing may affect them. We’re told it’s better to be alone and in control than with people and have to compromise.

And it is completely backward.

Human beings were not designed to be alone. We were not designed to be independent and isolated. We are designed to be in community.

We were created to live together, share life, care for one another, serve one another, help each other and encourage each other.

But through greed and a distorted idea of control and power, our culture became one that idolizes separation. We are told we are stronger if we can do it on our own.

But power and strength is not standing above everyone else and feeling superior. It’s not going home to a big empty house, or making a lot of money to spend on yourself.

Power and strength is in community.

It is in surrounding yourself with good people who care for you, support you, love you, encourage you and challenge you to be a better version of yourself. It is being with people who accept you as you are and don’t judge you. They forgive your mistakes, hold you when you cry and show you your worth.

And you do the same for them.

There is power and strength in loving others. In serving others. In doing life together.

Many of us think we don’t need others. We wear a mask and never let anyone see our true selves. We play the role we’re supposed to play in society. We take pride in never revealing our true feelings.

But isn’t it lonely?

Does it really feel powerful? Does it feel strong?

Or does it feel like something significant is missing?

Something significant IS missing.

Community is missing. Relationship is missing.

You can deny it as much as you want, but none of us were meant to live in isolation. We all yearn for connection with others. Real connection. Going below the surface and sharing your heart and soul.

We were made this way.

But our culture tells us that sharing our feelings is weak. We must put on a facade and act like we have it all together. We act like everything is great. Meanwhile, many of us are dying inside.

And often we feel as if there is no one to turn to.

I am fortunate enough to be part of a counter-cultural community called Three Rivers. We are a group of people who love Jesus, follow Him and we are committed to doing life together. We share together, serve together, offer friendship and encouragement. We challenge one another and we support each other.

We are a community.

We allow ourselves to be vulnerable. We are honest and we are open. And we welcome anyone who wants to be a part of our gathering.

The tag line for Three Rivers is Belong. And be loved.

You are accepted and loved exactly as you are.

It is modelled after the way Jesus did church. In homes, where we sit face to face, and everyone’s contribution is important and valid.

I am incredibly grateful for this community. In a crazy world, full of stress and busyness, it is a safe place.

It’s encouraging to have a group of people I know I can count on when I need them.

I invite anyone reading this to be a part of Three Rivers. It is based out of Australia, but we have a gathering here in Windsor. Check out the website, http://www.threerivers.org.au

I do encourage everyone to find a community, whether it’s Three Rivers or another church or an art group or a sports team or anything else. Find a place where you are with people who support you, encourage you and challenge you.

We were not designed to be alone.

And you don’t have to be.