Category Archives: Change

The Words We Choose

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I didn’t really like High School. Or Junior High. Or Elementary school. School wasn’t so bad when I started as an innocent 4 year old in Ottawa, but it gradually got worse as I got older. By the time I graduated High School, I absolutely hated it.

Why?

Words.

It’s odd as a writer to say I hated something because of words. I actually love words. What I hated was the words my peers chose to use with each other, and especially with me.

I was born into a world of love. I had amazing parents, an older sister I followed around, and people in my life who protected me. But before I reached the end of my first decade on this earth, I learned how cruel others could be.

Living in the Caribbean at a young age, a minority at a local school, I was exposed to harsh words. I was bullied daily, and the words directed at me cut very deep. I quickly learned that words can destroy. Cruel words uttered more than two decades ago still occasionally taunt me. Sometimes I still hear them when I look in the mirror. The wounds from back then may have healed, but I still carry the scars of the verbal abuse.

As a kid I believed that once I was done school, once I was an adult, I would no longer have to endure bullying and mean words. Of course adults would never say nasty things to each like kids do, right?

Oh, how wrong I was.

I continued to be a victim of ridicule, gossip, and bullying. And as I got older, this caused such anxiety in me that it bordered on paranoia. Anytime I was in public and heard someone laugh, I assumed they were laughing at me. Anytime people spoke in hushed tones, I assumed they were talking negatively about me.

It got so bad that I was afraid to leave my apartment. Some mornings I would stand at my front door for up to an hour trying to find the courage to open it and walk out. Those days I was very late for work, if I made it at all.

Words can destroy.

I am lucky that through counselling and support of family and friends, I overcame my anxiety and paranoia. I learned to find my self-worth in God instead of how others viewed me. I prayed that God would allow me to see myself as He saw me, and I finally began to smile at the person in the mirror.

I learned to love and accept myself as a precious daughter of the Lord. I realized His view of me was the only one that truly mattered, and if He loved and cared for me, then what right did I have not to love and care for myself?

I also realized that God could help me change the things I didn’t like about myself. I had a very negative, cynical view of the world. I had lost faith in love, in people, and in the church. I was easily irritated and had a horrific temper that could explode without warning. I also found that I had developed a mean streak. The years of bullying and verbal abuse had created an ugliness inside me that came out in gossip, judgement, and rude comments.

I didn’t like that side of me. I didn’t want to be that person. So I chose not to be. I began to ask God to let me see others as He saw them. When I wanted to judge someone, I stopped and reminded myself that I had no idea what was happening in their life or what struggles they could be experiencing. When I wanted to express a mean word or cruel statement, I bit my tongue, and reminded myself of all the harsh words used against me and how much damage they had caused. Instead I would ask myself how I could make the situation better instead of worse.

I am not perfect. Sometimes I still give in to anger and judgement. Sometimes I catch myself engaging in gossip. But not nearly as often as I once did. And at least now, I am instantly aware of it and able to repent.

I try very hard to see the good, to choose the good. I wake up every day and choose to be positive, and choose to love first.

Why am I writing about this today?

Because I am still constantly heartbroken at the words people choose to use with each other. I am still in shock by the cruel things said to one another, and the judgement that is so easily placed.

Working at a church, I see so many people worshipping Jesus, and attending workshops and courses on how to be healthy, loving people, but then the sun rises on Monday, and so many of the same people are quick to tear each other down.

Why?

Why do we do this to each other?

Why do we engage in this competition to trash one other?

Children and teens are committing suicide due to endless bullying. People use social media to call others names and tear them to pieces. The president of the most powerful country in the world regularly uses Twitter to call people dumb, pathetic, obnoxious & fat, (among other things).

What’s going on with us?

Why do we allow ourselves to engage in this narrative?

Why do we accept such hateful language?

Yes, words can destroy. The above points to that fact.

But words can also build up. Words can love. Words can heal. Words can encourage.

Words can change the world.

Let’s change the narrative of our world.

Let’s change the words we choose.

Let’s choose love.

 

LOVE FIRST

 

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Love First

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It is hard to be a part of today’s world. There is so much evil, hurt, anger and suffering. I find myself avoiding the daily news because I don’t want to see another story about a parent who has killed their child, or a senior who was brutally beaten while going for a walk, or a gunman who opened fire on a crowd at an event.

Sometimes it’s just too much. We get dragged down by the sadness. The horrendous reality that another human has committed these acts is overwhelming and disturbing. It becomes difficult to sleep at night, and we lay awake praying for those who are suffering, a list that keeps getting longer and longer.

So what is the answer?

Do we avoid all media?

Do we shield our eyes when passing the newspapers in the grocery store?

Do we move to the middle of nowhere and live as a hermit in ignorant bliss?

Is it even possible to block out all of the tragedy?

Unlikely.

In today’s world of technology, all news and information is available within seconds. There’s no avoiding the chaos. And living as a hermit is not the answer.

We may not be able to shut out the trauma around us, but we can do something in response to it.

Often in these horrific events, we are given a glimpse of the goodness in people. We see strangers helping strangers. We see people protecting each other. We see people opening their homes to those in need.

We see love.

And that is what we need in these times of evil actions. We need to respond in love.

Each day, whether there has been a tragic event or not, we need to choose love. That is how we defeat evil. That is how we make our world better.

We need to love first.

We are so quick to judge one another. We are quick to gossip, quick to curse another, quick to anger, quick to inflict pain whether emotionally or physically.

What if instead we were quick to love?

What if instead of judgement, we chose compassion?

What if we responded to rudeness with kindness?

What if instead of cursing the one who cuts us off in traffic, we ask God to bless their day?

What if we choose to love first?

I think our world would become a much better place if we all choose to love first.

It starts with you and me.

Love first.

 

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When Things Fall into Place

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It’s been a long time since I’ve written on here – the reason for that will be shared further on in this post…

Yesterday my mom said to me, “I’m so glad things are falling into place for you finally.”

As I reflected on that comment, I realized how at peace I felt because she was right. Lately everything just seems to be falling into place.

Since moving back to the Windsor area in April 2013, I have struggled to find my place, to figure out where I fit. I’ve had 5 different jobs in less than 4 years and I have moved 5 times. My life has been unsteady, to say the least.

I have faced difficulty in finding community and making close friends.

I had to start all over again when I moved back here and it was hard. No matter what I did, I didn’t feel content.

A couple of the jobs I had over the last few years have been fantastic. Working at BeachWalk Family Fitness was one of the best employments I’ve ever had. It was a great job, working for an amazing boss. I was given the opportunity to grow and challenge myself in ways I will be forever grateful for.

As much as I loved the job, I struggled financially. As a single person trying to pay bills, car insurance, gas, groceries, and for very expensive medications, I never seemed to be able to make ends meet.

It didn’t help that my living situation kept changing due to unforeseen circumstances, and that I ended up in a place where my hydro bills were three times what I’d been told they’d be.

I also know myself well enough to admit that I am not the best when it comes to managing money. I have often used shopping as therapy and that has gotten me into trouble.

I ended up leaving the gym for a job at Indigo after working both jobs for a while. I sincerely enjoyed working at Indigo and believe it is a fantastic company, but things didn’t turn out as I had hoped.

My hours dropped after Christmas, and due to my early morning shifts, it became increasingly difficult to have any social life.

I also worked most Sundays so I wasn’t able to attend church much, which eventually took a toll on my spiritual well-being.

By early January I was in a slump.

My time was spent working, sleeping and trying to figure out where I was going to live (I am currently inhabiting the guest room in my parents’ house).

My energy was zapped. My motivation was gone.

I had hit a wall.

I knew I needed to find a new job with regular hours. I also knew I needed to get off my butt and start volunterring and socializing again. All hard to do without motivation.

Then a woman I have known since my teens who has always been someone I greatly respect and admire contacted me to say she needed leaders for Alpha at Lakeshore St. Andrews Church, and I had come to her mind.

LSA Church was my church in my teens, and the church I went back to when I moved back to this area. However, as already mentioned, I hadn’t been able to attend much in recent months.

This woman is someone I could not say no to and I agreed to meet with her to discuss things further.

During our meeting she handed me the previous Sunday’s bulletin, and highlighted was a job opportunity at the church as an Office Administrator.

After my meeting with her, I met with another church staff member to discuss another ministry I was interested in volunteering with. Later that afternoon, I got an email from this staff member telling me about the job opening “in case I was interested”.

It was almost exactly seven years ago that I first felt the calling to work in ministry. That eventually led to my job at The Meeting House in the GTA. When I lost that job I didn’t think I would ever work in ministry again. I also didn’t know if I ever wantedΒ to work in ministry again.

But even as I pursued other career paths, God was still dropping little hints that He wanted me in ministry again. I even applied for an admin job at another church last summer, but declined the interview when I was hired at Indigo.

I couldn’t ignore God’s voice any longer. He’d been patient with me throughout my slump, and throughout the previous three years as I tried to create my own path.

Now He being very clear about what He wanted from me.

So I applied for the job and got it.

I also became a leader at Alpha.

Last week I found out my application had been approved for a duplex in Belle River that I love and is perfect for me.

Suddenly everything is falling into place.

And for the first in a while I feel alive.

I feel like I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

Funny how that happens when you put your own agenda aside and start listening to God’s voice.

His way is definitely better than mine.

 

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When the Cheese Moves

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This afternoon I read a book that my dad lent to me. It’s called ‘Who Moved My Cheese?’ by Spencer Johnson, M.D. It is a story about two mice, Sniff and Scurry, and two Littlepeople, Hem and Haw, and how they each respond when someone moves their cheese. The point of the story is about change and how we respond to it. Do we rush into action on the next thing like Scurry? Do we cautiously venture into the next thing like Sniff? Do we spend time in fear and depression before we realize that we need to put aside our fears and move with the change like Haw? Or do we remain bitter toward the change, feeling we’ve been treated unfairly, and never move on like Hem?

I have always felt like I handle change quite well. I’ve learned to adapt to new situations and I am able to move with the change rather than fight against. It doesn’t mean I don’t grieve what I may have had before the change, but I generally haven’t let the fear of something different keep me from moving forward.

I owe my adaptability to my childhood. We moved around a lot so I had to be ok with change and new surroundings. It seems like every time I got comfortable somewhere, it was time to leave again. With the exception of when we left the Caribbean, I never wanted to move. But I had no choice, and I learned from my parents how to get settled into a new place, make new friends and start a new life. They were great examples of how to accept change and actively embrace it.

This provided me with both positive and negative qualities as I grew up. On the positive side, whenever someone ‘moved my cheese’, I was able to adjust to the change quickly and effectively and keep moving forward faster than most. On the negative side, if my life went too long without some change, I had a need to create it. I moved my own cheese before someone else had the chance to. That may have meant moving (which I did a lot when I lived in Toronto), making a new friend, ending a relationship, trying something different, or simply switching up my diet just so something was different.

It was almost as if I craved change. And that set me apart from most people. The majority of humans do not like change. They don’t like to be taken out of their comfort zone. Some don’t mind being challenged, but don’t make big changes because they won’t handle it well.

As I have gotten older, my cravings for a change or a ‘new cheese’ have lessened. I have become more like the rest of humanity where I like my comfort zone and want to remain in it.

And with my depression, I have developed a fear of change over the past few years. I never know what may trigger my depression since it has been the result of so many different situations over the years, so I now have a fear that any little change could trigger it.

But I am not interested in living in fear. Nor am I interested in needing to constantly change something and never being able to sit still. I want something in between.

I want to be able to move with it when my cheese moves and embrace the change. But I also want to be content with what I have when the cheese remains in one spot for a time.

Is this possible?

Can I let go of my fears in order to embrace new experiences, while at the same time be happy with where I am when there are no changes on the horizon?

I like to think I can.

I really like my life right now and I am very content in it. I am happy with my job, I have an amazing family, good friends, a great place to live, and I am healthy again.

But change is inevitable. For me. For you. Things are going to change, whether we want them to or not.

We can’t control what changes. We can’t control if we get laid off, or someone breaks up with us, or if a loved one gets sick. Changes in life are going to happen, and most of them will be out of our hands.

But we can choose how we respond to those changes. We can choose fear, which will leave us at a standstill as the rest of the world adapts. Or we can choose to move forward with the change.

What choice do we make?

Live in fear and misery wishing things were the way they used to be?

Or stepping into a new adventure and discovering the opportunity?

Despite my fears, I choose the new adventure. There are risks, yes, but I am moving toward the rewards, whatever they may be.

And while I am very content in my current life, that doesn’t mean there won’t be happiness when things change. Perhaps my joy will increase. The good may get better – I’ve experienced this happening before.

And even if it is not better, I fully believe change is a good thing. It helps us learn and grow. It stretches us beyond what we believe to be our capabilities and it allows us to surprise ourselves.

Change can bring both positive and negative results.

But it’s what we do with the change that matters.

If things go off the rails…

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It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything on this blog. In the last few weeks time has gotten away from me and as a result I haven’t been keeping up with things that are important to me – mainly writing and posting on here. I try not to use busyness as an excuse not to do something and I am not going to do it now. Yes, my life has been busy, but I could have found time to write. I just…haven’t. And as I was lying in bed just now, reading a novel, I suddenly got this urge, a need, to write immediately. Now the book sits beside and in the minute since I started this paragraph, I have come alive.

And it feels good. My passion has alighted out of nowhere and the flame burns again.

But this post isn’t about my sudden, uncontrollable desire to write (although I am thrilled with this feeling).

The last few weeks have been a time of change and transition for me. I am moving forward again, taking chances, challenging myself and pushing myself a little more.

I have again taken on more responsibility at work. I have a also started a completely new schedule. I have moved on from my comfortable, quiet morning shifts at the Lasalle gym, and I am now working afternoons/evenings at the Belle River gym, unquestionably the busiest of the three BeachWalk Fitness gyms.

When my boss first approached me with the idea of changing my schedule and working more at the Belle River location, I was hesitant and instantly nervous. I liked my quiet, relaxed morning shifts. I liked that I knew all the members coming in, their names, their jobs, the exact time they would be showing up. I liked the predictability of the shift, knowing that a conflict would be rare, and that something unusual or challenging happening was unlikely. I was comfortable. No stress, no worry, no surprises.

The reasoning my boss had for the change was that she wanted someone more reliable and mature in the later shifts. She wanted someone who could handle any situations or conflicts that arose with a calm and focused attitude. She wanted someone who wasn’t afraid to speak up when someone walked in without swiping their membership card, or when someone was too loud or swearing too much, or dropping and smashing the weights.

And she wanted me?

Yes, she wanted me. And although all the things she wanted me for made me nervous, she was right. I could handle them. I could be all those things for her. And the new hours meant more opportunity for sales for me, which meant more commission, which meant higher pay checks. I put my fears aside and said I was in.

The first week was tough. My body was angered by the sudden time changes. I no longer went to bed at 8pm and got up at 3:30am. My stomach battled me with the changes in the times I consumed my food. My stress levels heightened as I tried to figure things out in a new location and get to know new members. I felt like I was one step behind all week. And my body was exhausted with the changes. It did not handle the transition well.

But at the end of the week, I felt ok. I felt more than ready to handle the changes and any challenges I may face.

I am still nervous at the potential of added stress. In the past stress has always led to my depression surfacing.

But what if it doesn’t this time? I am challenging those thoughts and fears. What if this time stress leads to me rising above it and knocking it out?

I could do it.

However, I’ve added another change to my life. At the end of this first week of this new schedule, I moved out of my parents’ home. I am renting a room in a home in Tecumseh now. I have a roommate, the owner of the house, so I am not alone. But it is definitely not as safe and cozy as it was living at Mom and Dad’s.

Am I nervous about this? A little. When I moved into my own place at this time last year, things didn’t go so well, and I ended up quite ill just 5 short months later.

But things are different this time. This time I am in a job that I love where I feel appreciated for the work that I do. Last week my boss told she wants me at this job for a long time, so she wants me to be happy in my shifts and with what I am doing. She said if I am not completely happy, then we need to change things immediately. How incredible is that? I’ve never had a boss say something like that to me. She will actually do anything to make sure I don’t leave. What an amazing feeling.

I have never felt so valued and wanted in a job before.

And there is a small part of me that wonders if she’d feel the same if she knew about my disease.

But I am shoving that part away for two reasons…1. My disease is not me. The person she has known and worked with for 4 months is me. 2. I believe the answer is no. I believe if she knew, all she would want to do is help in any way she could. She is that kind of person. And I am not going to let bad experiences with former bosses allow me to put her in that category too.

After moving into my new home on Saturday, I took my dad out to lunch. We talked about my life and the changes and all that was happening.

He said to me, very sincerely and lovingly, “If things go off the rails, you let me know”. In other words, “I am here and you can always come back to our house if you need to”.

It’s one of the most beautiful and thoughtful things I have ever heard. He didn’t make a big deal out of it or get emotional. He was simply saying, “let me know if you need me”.

I don’t believe things are going to go off the rails. I believe I am on the right path, and I am doing the right things to stay healthy.

But how fortunate am I to know that if things do go off the rails, someone is there to catch me before I crash?

When Good gets Better

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Often when our lives are at a good point and we feel content, and dare we even say ‘happy’, we have the urge to press pause to keep things that way. We don’t want anything to change so we may, subconsciously, put off trying something new or taking a chance or speaking up. It can take a long time to get to good, and we fear losing it.

And while hitting pause may keep the the good from going bad, it also keeps the good from getting better. When things are good, we can have the tendency to think our luck has been used up and therefore the only way to go is down. But good can get better. It has for me.

Life has been good the last couple of months. I am recovered from my illness, I got a job, I paid off debts, I started my own little (unofficial) business and I’ve been meeting lots of amazing new people. I would have been very content to have things stay that way.

But good got better.

After 3 months at my new job, I was given a nice raise and more responsibility. Both my manager and the owner of the gyms have expressed a desire for me to step into more of a leadership role with even more responsibility. They want to work with me and help me grow as a staff leader and staff encourager. They’ve been quick to compliment me on my work and recognize my abilities. They see potential and are jumping at it. I feel valued and appreciated, two things I haven’t felt in a job for a while.

And I love the job! I look back over the last decade and the jobs I did and the things I strived for. I look at how I defined success, by title and salary, and what I needed to obtain that. But when I was working towards big titles and bigger pay checks, I ended up in misery.

Now I have a job that doesn’t have an impressive or important title, nor does it pay a lot, but this is the happiest I’ve ever been in a working environment. I get to meet people every day. I have a chance to get to know people and learn their stories. Every time the gym door opens, I have the chance to put a smile on someone’s face and brighten their day.

My mom keeps saying to me “You really like this job, don’t you?” Yes, yes I really do.

It’s funny to look back at myself chasing those things I thought were important only to realize now that they aren’t important at all. Money and titles mean nothing if achieved at the expense of your character, energy, sanity and happiness.

What’s important is a gym member who feels special because I know their name. What’s important is a co-worker who is proud when she hears I talked her up to our boss. What’s important are the gym members who know my name and want to know when I am working next. What’s important is my manager knowing she can rely on me to get things done. What’s important is looking forward to going to work every day.

I used to struggle to get myself out of bed and to work on time for jobs that started at 9am. I’d often be late and usually a bit of a mess when I got there. Now I get myself out of bed by 3:30am to be at the gym for 4:45am with a 40 minute commute. And I haven’t struggled to do that once. That speaks volumes.

There are lots of other things in my life that are getting better too. I found a room to rent in a nice house in Tecumseh and will be moving in less than a month. The owner has two dogs, and I have been wishing for a pet for months, and now I get two without any expense.

I have sold a few pieces of my jewelry, which is incredibly exciting!

I have a beautiful bond with my niece and nephew who I absolutely adore and I am so grateful I am close to them to see them grow and change every day.

Life isn’t perfect, nor do I expect it to ever be. But a couple months ago it was good. Now it’s better. And there is no way I am hitting pause. Because even though there is a chance something bad could happen, there’s also a chance for the better to become best.

Don’t let your life remain at a standstill because you are content and afraid something bad could happen. Because you could be missing out on something better.

And if the path you are on isn’t working for you anymore, take a different route. Life is too short to just be content or ‘ok’. Better may be just around the corner, but you’re afraid to make that turn.

Go ahead and make that turn!

Go for better.

Fresh Start

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Life is full of ups and downs. Trials and errors. Successes and failures. Struggles and celebration. Rising up and falling down. Like most people, I have experienced all of these things. Like others, I have fallen many, many times.

But it is not the fall that matters – it’s going to happen sometimes and we can’t avoid it. It’s how we get up that counts. Do we get up bitter and ready to fight the world? Or do we get up, dust off and try again, taking and learning from the lessons of the fall?

Only we can make that choice for ourselves. We can choose to live in anger and spite, or we can forgive, move on and try to do better than before.

What caused the fall (an illness, a break up, a job loss) is not as important as how we rise again.

I fell hard in October. And I ended up laid curled on the ground for some time before I was able to start pulling myself up. In fact, I actually fell further before I found the strength to try to get up.

It was the hardest fall that I can remember, and it knocked me right out. I lost my purpose, my sense of self, my reasons to keep going. For a while, I gave up. I had lost the will to fight. My strength was depleted andJ I had no desire to repair myself again.

If it had been up to me, I’d probably still be in a ball on the ground. But I had people surround me and shower me with love and support. They were patient with me, knowing that they couldn’t pick me up. I had to do that for myself.

They let me find my way, all the while showing me reason after reason why I needed to rise again. So when I slowly began to drag myself from the ground, it wasn’t for me. It was for them. For my parents who cared for me. For my sister who spent time with me. For my friends who called and texted me, for my church who prayed for me, for the long distance friends who sent messages, for my nieces and nephews who always gave me a reason to smile.

And as I began to rise for them, I found the strength to rise for myself as well. To recapture my spirit, my passion, my positivity, my love and my life. I reminded myself of the life still ahead, the God who loved me and had it all worked out. I reminded myself of my own worth and why giving up is not an option.

So, three and a half months after my fall, I am starting fresh. I am beginning again. Not only do I see a future, but I am excited for it. And I have got so many people cheering me on.

Once again, I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

A week ago I got a new job. It happened really fast. It was the first and only job I applied for. I had an interview on Tuesday morning and got an email less than an hour later asking me to go in for training that night. I was in training Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Yesterday I worked my first shift on my own.

I’ll admit it is all a bit overwhelming. Today was my first free day and I was wiped. But it is a good ‘wiped’. It is an accomplished ‘wiped’.

The job is at a local, family run gym that has three locations in Essex County. I am mainly working at the Lasalle gym. It is a fairly stress free job that allows me lots of face to face interaction with people. It’s the meeting and getting to know new people that makes me feel alive. I love working the public! I am able to use my customer service and people skills in a chill work environment with lovely co-workers. And to top it off, I get to wear yoga pants and runners to work! Can’t beat that πŸ™‚

It is a very active job, and since I’ll be at the gym for work anyway, I have no excuse not to work out, which is so important for both mental and physical health.

I’ve also started a new hobby and kept up with my writing, which are both giving me a sense of accomplishment and joy. I have been writing, even if it is just a little, every day.

The hobby I’ve taken up is jewelry making. And it turns out, I am actually pretty good at it. I love it and find it relaxing, and there is the potential that it could become a nice little side business for me. People have already expressed an interest in purchasing some of my pieces. Crazy, huh? I never imagined that would be something I would do.

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It’s all a fresh start.

And it has been a wonderful reminder that no matter how hard I fall, I can always get up. There is always something new around the corner to try. There are many reasons to rise again and keep going.

As you face a fall in the future, or if you are in the middle of one now, be encouraged. Once you hit the ground, the only way to go is up. And you can do it.

There are people who love who are cheering for you and need you to get up again. But more importantly, you need to rise again for yourself.

You are filled with beauty, talents, gifts, skills and love, and the world needs you. You are here for a reason. Remember that the next time you are struggling to get up.

And I promise I will too.

Outside the Lines

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When I was a kid, I loved to colour. I would draw and then colour my own creations, or I would colour pages in a colouring book. Even in childhood, I was a perfectionist, and I worked so hard to colour within the lines of the picture. It devastated me when I went outside the lines. I saw it as a failure.

Lately I’ve started to see life as colouring book. Everybody is given a page and we are to colour it in from birth to death. Most people’s pages look quite similar. Grow up, attend school, start a career, buy a car, meet that special someone, buy a house, get a pet, have some kids.

And this is not a bad picture. Not at all. It’s beautiful. And it’s exactly what we, and society, expect for our lives. Some will colour outside their lines either by choice or circumstance. You get divorced, lose your job, are in an accident.

But even when those things happen, you deal with them and continue with your life. Share custody of the kids, find a new job, recover. Get back in the lines of your page.

Then there are some who’s lives don’t fit within that page. They don’t fit the description society expects of them. Their only choice is to do the best they can, but they’ll end up colouring outside the lines.

A couple of weeks ago I was talking to someone close to me about my recent battle with depression. He said I wasn’t bouncing back as quick as I have in the past. He also observed that I wasn’t fighting as hard as I have before.

I started to think about why that was. This depression hit me hard. It knocked the wind out of me and held me down by stomping on my body. Is it worse than it has been before? No, but it’s different.

First, I have been dealing with this disease for over twenty years now, and to be honest, I am exhausted. I’m exhausted from the battles, the never ending fight. I’ve been worn down. This illness has burned me out.

That’s one of the reasons I am taking longer to bounce back.

But the main reason, the main difference, this time is that my depression also came with a life change. I finally had to accept that working a full time job was too much for me. Stress triggered my depression, and there are very few jobs without stress.

I also had to recognize that I wasn’t being fair to the people who were hiring me. When I am healthy, I am great at work. At all of my jobs, I have been well liked, worked hard and done a good job.

When I was there.

The problem was when my depression hit and I would have to take sick days, or I would go to work but couldn’t concentrate and had a short temper. Or I’d be late because it was really hard to get out of bed.

And that’s not fair to the people I worked for, and with.

So, I have accepted that I will likely never have a full time job again.

That brought on all kinds of worries and anxieties. How was I going to get money? Would I have to depend on my family to take care of me for the rest of my life? Would I be able to live on my own again? Would I lose my car, the one independence I have left?

These questions flew around and around my head daily, pushing me further and further down.

I don’t know what my future is going to be. I know I won’t be fitting into those colouring pages.

So, now what?

It’s a question I’ve been asking constantly and no one has an answer. I recognize that no one truly knows what their future brings, but everyone has plans. They have an idea of where they are going and what they are going to do.

My life hasn’t gone according to plan. And every time I’ve tried to colour inside of the lines of that page, it blows up in my face.

Does that mean I give in to the depression? Do I just give up because I don’t fit into society’s expectation, and I fear the judgement of others when they find out?

No.

It means I have to colour outside the lines.

My life is never going to look like what society deems as the norm. And that’s ok.

I am going to get creative with my life. I will find what’s best for me.

I am going to colour outside the lines.