IM Going Outward Bound Once Again- Well, Sort of.

IM Going Outward Bound Once Again- Well, Sort of.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

My Christmas Present To You....

I posted this image on my Facebook page the other day. As much as I love the holidays, it can also be a challenge for me.

 I love the lights, the laughter the music, and maybe it’s the optimistic hope that the future can be better.

It can also be a time of challenges for me and reminders of what I can’t do. These reminders worm their way into my psyche when I am tired, stressed or get to busy, which makes this time of year can be even more challenging.

Along with this image on my Facebook page I wrote… “Something to think about. This time of year can be hard for those of us who need to be extra vigilant taking care of ourselves and our mental health. If I don't come to your Christmas Party, get together with you and your friends, or go to the office party- it’s not about you, it is about me. I'm touched that you would like me to be there with you- but please remember I'm doing what I need to do to keep my mental health the best it can be through the holidays, and I am grateful you are in my life.”

I guess you could say the theme for the holidays is balance. By taking care of myself, I can enjoy more times with family and friends in the future. I am also a firm believer that everything does not need to happen in one day. I’m grateful that you have a gift for me, and want to give it to me before Christmas, but I value our friendship too much to meet with you in a rush, for 20 minutes when I am stressed. If we meet like that, I am not able to give you the time and attention you deserve, and I would not be able to give you my authentic self, and I think you are worth at least that much.

A couple of weeks ago I had a conversation with a person. They wanted me to volunteer to do something. I thought about it, and knew I was at my limit and said I was sorry but I could not do it. Their reply was- “It’s only for a couple of hours.” I have had this comment said to me before, and would get angry, so I have had time to work on my reply. This time I said to them “If I was in the middle of Chemotherapy, would you say to me it’s only a couple of hours? Of course you wouldn’t because you know how exhausting and debilitating Chemo can be. When I am struggling with my mental health, it can be just as exhausting and debilitating, please respect that.”

We then went on and had a lovely conversation about mental health, the stigma around mental illness and why more discussion and education needs to happen around that.

As the old year comes to a close I see people posting the idea of starting the year off with an empty jar, and as the year goes by, write on little slips of paper memories, things you have done etc throughout  the year, and at the end of the year-empty the jar and read them. I think this is a great idea and a good reminder that sometimes we get so busy we forget about these treasures.

Well, here is my Christmas presents to all of you.
I know the struggles I have throughout the year, and I imagine you have your own struggles and dark times as well.

Christmas Present # 1- YOU ARE NOT ALONE. No matter what or how you are feeling, please believe me, you are not the only one who has gone through, is going through, or will ever go through what you are at any given moment. You may feel like you are the only one, but you are not. I have gone through mental health struggles, I have friends who have gone through mental health struggles, and we walk along beside you, supporting you, reminding you that you ARE NOT ALONE!!!

Christmas Present #2- YOU ARE OF VALUE AND WORTH. Yes, I have had many moments when I thought, and at that time, truly believed that no one cared about me, and that my existence never had any positive impact on the world. Some of the worst times for me have been when I have felt disconnected from myself, as well as the world around me. It can be a very lonely and cold place. At that point in time I was not able to see that I was loved or that I mattered. But let me tell you hear and now, you are cared for, you do make an important contribution to this world just by being here. Chances are you have made a difference to someone you will never know about it. A smile from a passing stranger or someone holding a door open for me made all the difference to me in those very challenging days. . We don’t know what stories other people are carrying around. You may not be able to feel or see that you make a difference, or that you are cared and thought about right now, but please believe me you do.

Christmas Present #3 – YOU ARE NOT YOUR ILLNESS. I know that with the energy, time and commitment I use to focus on being well, I can sometimes feel like I am my illness, especially during the times of struggle.  Times when I could hardly get out of bed and it took everything I had just to get up, or get dressed or using all my resources to go outside for a short walk, not because I wanted to, but because I knew it was for my mental health. It can be exhausting, and when I am there, I am working 24 hours alongside my illness to get better. It is at those times I need to be reminded I am not my illness. YOU ARE NOT YOUR ILLNESS!!! Please keep reminding yourself of that.

I would like you to do the following for me…
If I knew each and every one of you who read my blog, and I was able to, I would give you the following, but since I can’t, I ask you to do this for yourself.

I would give you three empty jars, decorate them if you like and do the following.
In one jar write on tags or pieces of paper would hold all the amazing things you have and did do through the year. Whatever it was, nothing is too small. It could be a slip of paper that says-“I woke up today”  it could be “met friend for coffee” “went to library” “smiled at a stranger”  “faced the sun and let it warm my face” anything that you did, big or small.

 In the second jar, on slips of paper or tags, I would like you to write up “Things I would do for a friend when they are struggling, or something I would do to treat myself. ”  These could be things like “cups of tea” walk in the park” “reminding them how special they are” etc. It could be “Going for ice crème, movie” etc.

In the third jar-place notes or tags with things that you CAN DO or have done throughout the year. If you have a job, write down things you can do at your job It could be things like “I can walk” this may sound silly, but sometimes we need to be reminded of what we can do and others cant. It could be things like being a good friend, writer, artist, listener etc., you get the idea.

Now place these in a place of prominence, and fill them as the year goes by. When a time comes that you are feeling low, or the old belief worms itself into your brain that you are your illness, you are worthless etc- which is a cognitive error- go to the jar, pull one of the tags out and read it. Be reminded of who you are, what you can do, and that you are of much worth. Take a deep breath, know you are not alone, and vow to make it for another day.  

These are my Christmas presents to you, and I hope, that when you need it most, you will be able to find the treasures that are you and within you.

May you all, feel Peace, love and contentment for now and always.

With Gratitude


Friday, 28 August 2015

Welcome Home...

Well, I am home, and I not only survived my last Outward Bound trip, I thrived. I was going to say the thriving was not noticeable until I got home and recovered, but that’s not true.

Outward Bound is about discoveries, adventure, challenges and digging down deep. It’s about finding out who you really are and being delighted in what you find. 

To say it was an “interesting adventure” would be an understatement. I met some amazing women, had some amazing growth and spent an entire week Ghost Busting and laying old beliefs to rest. Like the surroundings, The North Coast Trail, on the northern tip of Vancouver Island, it was wild, it was hard, at times brutal, and it was beautiful beyond words.

As usual, with every Outward Bound trip, I was nervous, and had not really slept well for the few nights before the trip. I kept waking up at 3:00 am wondering what the Hell I had gotten myself into. There were moments I actually thought of pulling out. Telling myself I would be more comfortable staying at home- true fact- I would get more sleep at home,-another true fact- but somewhere inside my intuition told me, this was going to be a moment of amazing growth, and I needed to do this trip to move forward. As it turned out- this, also, was a true fact!

The groups start and departure point was the Scout Camp, Camp Gilwell, right here in the Comox valley,  and I’m thinking “oh boy!” This was an area a friend, who also had Dissociative Identity Disorder, and I, would go to sit on the river’s edge and chat, look for fossils, cry and just try to find something to hang on to keep us going for another day. Sadly, she is no longer with us. So I knew right off that bat that the universe was going to challenge me, I just had no idea how much.

The group of us get together, chat for a bit, and find out we are going on The North Coast Trail. I’m thinking “Yes!” Then “Wholly Shit!” I have heard about this trail!!!”We then make our last phone calls, e-mails, texts etc. to let family and friends know we have safely arrived, put the phones and electronic devices away for a week and our adventure begins.  We sort out what gear is needed, instructions on how to dress in layers, receive lovely little journals to write in, then have a circle and chat for a bit, then have a few moments of quiet time down by the river, the very same path and spot on the river my friend and I had taken countless times many years ago.

After we get together we once again, chat about the course, why we are here, what we want to get out of it and just start to get to know each other. We make plans for an early departure, and hit the sack. After a night of only a few hours’ sleep, we are up, pack our packs and load the truck up, hop into the van and on our way, we have a luxury coffee stop in Courtenay to grab coffees to go, and we are on our way up to Pt. Hardy, a 3-4 hour drive, where we will get a 1 and ½ hour water taxi ride to our start destination Cape Sutil. 

The water taxi ride was amazing, the sea was calm, we saw Sea otters, deer on a beach and the scenery was rugged and spectacular. I, and as I found out later others, naively thought we would just have to jump off the front of the boat into a couple of feet of water and walk to the beach. NOT!!! 

We had to get to the drop off point at high tide, and the boat nosed its way up against a steep rock, about 10 feet or so high, - it felt like 20 to me- we had to get off the front of the boat and scale up the rock. Ok, panic moment #3 so far. I won’t write down what I was thinking, but I could not watch the others get off the boat, with packs and make their way up, my panic was so bad I had to focus on breathing and I kept looking out to the ocean. I must have had this look of terror on my face as even the boat captain said “you will be alright.” One of the instructors came over and checked in with me and told me I was doing the right thing and that she would carry my pack up for me. I felt my old coping system kicking in, the old, numbing/dissociating  myself from the moment, or the submit and collapse-“we can’t do that” 

My time came and I didn’t climb up the rock, I crawled on all fours, thinking, “shit”- (used a different word) it’s just started and I’m screwed” –(once again used a different word!) It was very emotional for me, but with the help and support I made it.

We all (including the 2 dozen fresh eggs) – safely got up the rock, along the edge and down to the beach. Once my legs and arms stopped trembling I looked around and the scenery was stunning, hard packed sandy beach, thick forest, amazing rock outcroppings, deep sea foam green water, and mosquitoes.

We move ourselves and gear down the beach, unpack the food packs and have lunch. I’m thinking “I could spend the whole week at this spot” but I knew that’s not what I was there for. It was a lovely day, a slight breeze was coming off the water that made it cool, but not cold. It was amazingly beautiful, I could look out the ocean for miles, and somewhere there was a fog horn sending its low drone across the waters. I felt better once I had something to eat, and after we learned how to set up the tents, and broke off into groups to set them up.

 We then went and got water from a stream further down the beach, treated that, learned how to pack our backpacks correctly, how to work the stoves, and then had some time to ourselves.  Later that afternoon I noticed myself wishing I was somewhere else. I found this interesting as it was beautiful, and I would have gladly stayed there all week. I didn’t push the feelings away, or discredit what I was feeling, instead I was curious and wondered where this was coming from. I walked along the hard packed sand, amazed at the patterns that the water and tide left behind. Chatted with some of the ladies on the course and then it was dinner time.

After dinner and clean up, we had a circle. We had many circles throughout the week, to check in and find out what was going to be happening etc.  One of the instructors asked us to check in with ourselves and our thoughts for the next day on the trail in one or two words. Mine was FEAR. It was then that I realized why I had been feeling like I had earlier. I was on a beach, all be it beautiful, on the very northern tip of Vancouver Island. My fight/flight old coping style kicked in and I had nowhere to go. I didn’t want to become numb and “check out” so I was sitting with the uncomfortable. And it was uncomfortable and scary, freighting and very emotional and then I came to realize what this was all about. I told the group that I grew up on the Island, so I was “taking back my back yard” and I was terrified because I knew that I would be confronting lots of old ghosts, memories, challenging old belief systems and I knew I would have lots of flashbacks.  With teary eyes,  I know I needed to do it to move forward. I also know once I get to the other side, it won’t be as scary as I think it will be. I told them the next day would be frightening and challenging, it was then that one of the instructors reminded me that “you don’t need to do it on your own, you can ask for help and support.” That was good to hear, and I also knew that would be a challenge on its own.

That night in the never ending twilight, I did some journaling. I had copied a message my best friend sent me before I left.  “Have a wonderful time, I know you are going to exorcise some horrible memories, hope you have fun and remember to find beauty in each day. I admire your sense of adventure.”  I then laid down, thought about the day and what was coming, and listened to the Fog horn and the ocean as the tide rose. I had a million dollar ocean view through my tent door, and after many hours I finally got a few hours’ sleep.

I woke early the next morning with a headache, got dressed and walked down to the water. I was the 1st one up and love that time in the morning before the world wakes up.  The water was calm, sky a little overcast with small patches of blue breaking through, and that amazing view. The bugs were out- as they are early morning so I covered my head, as I sat on a rock and did some journaling. It was going to be an interesting day, starting with myself and one of the ladies making breakfast.

In time we get breakfast, pack up, get ready and once again we have a circle before we head off to the trail. I pull out my abalone shell and sage from home, do a smudge and invite anyone to do it if they want. They do, and this becomes our ritual each day before heading on to the trail.  As we put the packs on, I wonder what lies ahead.  I could not imagine in my wildest dream what was ahead of us.

We walk along the beach and I silently say good bye and thank it for taking care of us, we climb over a few logs, some more graceful then others,-I'm the Not so graceful one-  and we start up the trail. I’m thinking, this is good, I can do this and we are on our way. The trail was great for about the 1st hour and then it becomes a grind, and then it becomes an even more grind….it was a beautiful grind, but a grind all the same.

That day was a challenge in more ways than one. I confronted old ghosts, flashbacks and old beliefs every step of the way. The way the afternoon light came through the trees, smell of the forest, sponginess of the ground, the moss on the trees, and me being the turtle of the group.  I also saw a forest full of more shades of green then I had ever seen, trees that were so old I thought “ If only you could talk, the stories you could tell us.” As we make our way up through he gruelling trail I ask myself – as I do on every Outward Bound course I have taken, “why the Hell did  you sign up for this? “

 We came out of the forest and onto the beach, not a nice sandy beach, a beach full off boulders the size of dinner plates, thousands of them, and at some parts they must have been 30 feet deep. I was thinking of the force of Mother Nature and her strength and the tons these things must weigh. And the view was amazing, no matter where you looked on this whole trip, the views were amazing. One of the ladies found a “mermaid sack”- which is egg cases of Skates, I had never seen one, and then they found another one even bigger.

As the day went on we were in and out of the forest, along the beach, back up into the forest. On one of the beaches, on the boulders I rolled out on my ankle, twisted it and my knee- just to put a bit more challenge in it.  I was ok, I felt like a fool, and we carried on. There were area where we had to climb up a dirt cliff side by using tree roots and pulling ourselves up by a thick rope that was there, and then having to scale down the other side the same way. It was during these times that I took up the offer of having someone “Sherpa” my pack up and down for me. Being the turtle of the pack really sucked, but the group- every one of them were amazing, offering help and support along the way. I must admit it did take me some time to actually accept it graciously, and in time ask for help.

As we made our way along the trail and eventually came to a beach where we were going to set up camp. It had been a hard and gruelling day but in no time, with everyone working together the camp was set up. We had dinner, cleaned up and some of us went for a walk. The sun slowly made its way down and the orange and reds in the sky was beyond beautiful, I think breath taking is the better word. It had been a hard day, and I was more than happy to hit the hay- mind you hay would have been softer- Once again as I laid in my sleeping bag, as tired as I was I could not sleep. I was thinking about the past day, the ups and downs, literally as well as figuratively, and I thought about all the times people in the group had offered their help and hand to help me up and over physical as well as psychological barriers. It was then, with sadness, that I realized this is what should have happened to me when I was a kid.

 It was once again a long time before I fell asleep, but it was amazing to listen to fog horn and the waves as they crept up along the shore to high tide.

The next morning I am once again the 1st one up. The tide was out, exposing giant rocks, with strands of green and brown kelp hanging down the sides. Some of these rocks were at least 8 feet higher than me. One spot there was water half way up the rock, and the contrast with the  blue water and  green and brown kelp was amazing. I took a picture of it and would not have been surprised if some mermaids had surfaced. 

That morning we start off, with taped ankle so I don’t roll out on it again- and the 1st thing we encounter as we come off the beach onto the trail, is another rope assisted climb up a steep embankment. I swore to myself. .”You have got to be f…ing kidding”- I said this many times to myself and out loud throughout the week. As my pulsed raced, I could feel it in my ears I thought- “nope- we have to try this.” And with deep breaths and shaking legs I made it up, and down the other side on my own with my pack on. This was huge for me, and the hoots and hollers of congratulations from the group was something else. As the day and hike went there were more challenges, more offer and asking for help, more flashbacks and more amazing scenery. We saw Sea Otters, Porpoises and   an Orca and her calf- well the rest of the group saw it, as I had just turned my back to the ocean- I did see the Dorsal fin as it went down-we climbed up/over and under logs, Up and around huge rocks on the beach, walked on rocky gravely beaches and pretty much everything in between.

We came to another amazing enchanted beach, with magical rock formations an amazingly clear water. This was where we were going to camp for the night. Once camp was set up I sat on a log and promptly, momentarily fell asleep. I was sore and exhausted, but could not believe the beauty that surrounded me. Once again everyone worked together as a team, dinner was made, water was collected, we explored the magical rock formations and a fire was made. It was lovely to sit around that fire as a group, talk about the day and look around at the vast wild beauty. I told the group that I knew growth would happen to me on this trip, I just did not realize so much would happen in such a short time.  Above us, on a cliff was an eagle’s nest and the pair welcomed us with the song. It was the wild North Coast of the island and it was beautiful.

I went to bed that night and soon after I got some much needed sleep. I did hear the tide come up once again in the wee hours of the morning, but did manage to get back to sleep. The next morning as I was waking up I had this huge realization of the enormity of the abuse, neglect and terror I experienced in the first 20 years of my life. This may sound like a bad thing, but it was not. Not, until that moment, could I see it as a whole, it had always been fragments of this, flashbacks of that etc. There was so much of it for so many years, never just one or two things, it was a constant. But that morning, I could, for the 1st time, see it as a whole, instead of those fractured bits of me. It’s hard to explain, but this was a huge psychological shift, like an integration of my psyche. I knew an enormous step in my healing to be the best that I could be, just happened.

  Once again, I am up early, and even though I am tired and sore, I feel a lightness about me that I had never experienced before. I get dressed, crawl out of my tent and notice that the tide is out, and the scenery was even more spectacular. With the low tide, rocks, sand, barnacles, sea urchins and other varied sea life was exposed. The rocks were once again higher than me, and it was a surreal feeling when I realized these rocks are under water most of the time, and I was walking on the bottom of the ocean.

Everyone slowly wakes up, breakfast is made, camp is packed up and it is another day of adventures, more rope assisted climbs and descents, more walking through and on top of amazing rock formations, and more surprises as we see beauty all around us. This was going to be a long day as we need to get to Shuttleworth Bay, as that was going to be our pick up point with the water taxi the next day. . On this day I was able to ask for help when I need it, be it holding my hand and helping me up a big step, or a shoulder to lean on as I crossed over the logs with my pack on, or asking someone to carry my pack across a single log bridge, I also noticed I was more comfortable walking on and over things, a bit better balance and somehow I felt stronger.

 This was also the day I hit “The Wall” “My Wall”

 We were walking along rocky beach, rocks moving out from under our feet all the time and it seemed to go forever. This is when I hit the point where I wanted to tell everyone where to go- not that they were doing anything wrong, but it’s just how I was feeling- I wanted to throw my pack and walking poles into the ocean and sit down and not move anymore, and have a huge hissy fit. One of instructors saw this, she came up along beside me and talked to me while we walked. I then start to have tears streaming down my face, but this does not phase her one bit. With her support she talks to me and allows me to feel what I am feeling, and with that, I am able to process my emotions, and like a wave, they dissipate.

 We come around a bend and are pleasantly surprised to see Shuttleworth Bay. We were there sooner then we thought it would be, it was not going to be a long and grueling day.  The tide was going out and the last hour of hiking was on hard packed, level sand, and once again the scenery was amazing. It was pure bliss.

This was where we were are going to do our solo component of the course.  The solo is a time of quiet reflection, Instructions are given, tarps and tents are set up,( you could choose if you wanted to solo in a tent or under a tarp),  and we are sent on our way, not that we went far. Being on the bay, we could see each other, but we were not to talk to each other. It was like a silent retreat, to reflect on the past few days on the trail and whatever else came up.

 We were allowed to have small fires, so I went and, with great difficulty, I got a small fire going. I burned some sage and dried cedar that I brought, looked into the fire and thought about not only the past days with this group, but my life, where I had been, where I was then, and what I wanted to do in the future. It was a calm night and once again twilight lingered around until about 11:30.  A gentle breeze was coming off the ocean and when I was ready I pulled out a handful of stones I had brought with me.

 I had picked these stones  up off the side of the road that I lived when I was younger, from when I  was 13 to 20 years old. I thought I would leave these rocks somewhere on the trail, as a symbolic gesture of leaving the past behind. I was so busy I had not thought about them much, but now seemed the perfect time. With contemplation and tears I threw them, one at a time into the hot coals of the burning fire. I was thinking of that little kid that was me, that had horrific things happen to her, and how it never seemed to stop. The violence, abuse, poverty and neglect that went on until I left home. I thought about the fact that even when I did leave home, what happened to me would haunt me and affected me for decades to come, and I thought about  how it had affected the ones I loved. 

 I thought about the healing journey I had been on and the amazing people, including Outward Bound Women Of Courage, who have helped me on my healing path. I thought about the times I felt I could not go on, the struggles and the pain. I felt profound gratitude to be where I was at that very moment.
I thought about this amazing, courageous, smart, funny, caring group of women I had traveled with on the trail. The laughs, the cries, the amazing gift of support, love and friendship they had given me, all while being on their own internal journey and challenges on the trail. I thought about the many discoveries each and every one of us found, be it internally or externally, and I knew this growth would continue once we got home. 

I thought about the multiple eco systems we hiked through, the beauty in unexpected places, pale wild roses growing like an arbour at one of our trail entrances from the beach, rolling waves of the wild West Coast, multiple shells and sea creatures, the eagles that gifted us with one of their feathers, breath taking views and the ever-changing forest we walked through.

 I thought about the amazing instructors, the support and wisdom each one of them had, and how they knew just when to step in, and when to back away, and allow each and every one of us to discover that there was more in us then we realized. It had been an amazing time on the trail, it had been hard. I remembered on 2 of the days I forlornly watched two coast guard ships go past on the horizon and fantasised about them coming to pick us up at that moment- they didn’t the shit heads! I’m glad they didn’t. I had changed, and grown so much on that trail, with these wonderful women, on this Wild Coast and I would be forever grateful. There was a part of me that sad that it was going to be leaving the trail the next day, but my knees were pretty happy.  

With one last smudge, I sent thanks out to the universe, asked it to protect everyone that night. I poured water on the fire and crawled into my tent. I left the tent door open, with screen in place, Once again it was a million dollar view. The tide was coming in, inching its way up the long sandy beach, and intermittent clouds would allow the crescent moon to look down upon us.

I did not sleep well, I had nightmares like ones I had in the past, but this time round when I woke from them, there was no fear attached to them, it was like they had lost their power over me. I found that fascinating. It had rained during the night, the first rain of the trip. As I child I had been cold, wet and hungry, so having it rain while I was camping was also a trigger. But this time I was able to roll over and go back to sleep. I also thought this was fascinating, yep, something had definitely shifted.

Once again I am up early the next morning, I get dressed and walk down to the water’s edge bring my sage and abalone shell with me.  It is beautiful, I look out to the ocean and all I see is never ending ocean. I Place the sage in the shell, light it and hold the shell with both hands. While looking down I then smudge myself and silently stand there with closed eyes, breathing deep, full of gratitude for this wonderful gift and feeling the slight breeze on my face and hands. When I am ready I look up across the ocean and I the distant I see the water spout of a Grey Whale and the top of his/her back as they go back under. It was amazing, and even more so when more whales do the same thing. I stood there and watched for what seems like forever, what an amazing experience and gift.  On my way back up to my tent I notice that in the night the tide had come up and washed away the debris from the fire the previous evening, stones and all.

The instructors brought us breakfast and coffee, and a few hours later we once more come get back together after our solos. I was exhausted and elated at the same time. We talked as a group how the solo was for each of us, there were varied emotions and thoughts. Fear, anxiety, anger, excitement, trepidation, longing for it last longer. But one thing we all felt, was the felling that we had accomplished something extraordinary, on the trail and the solo. This was not a cake walk, or an easy stroll down the street. This was hard work that we did as a group, and could only be accomplished by working as a group. We had gained bragging rights!!!

Soon it was time to pack up, and get ready to be picked up by water taxi. We put our packs on and walked a short along the beach distance to the rendezvous point. We once again sat in a circle and the instructors laid out a deck of cards with various pictures on them. They asked us to pick a card or two that spoke to us. I picked 2 cards. One with a drawing of lightning and storm clouds, the other of a sunrise. I explained there were many dark times and storms for me on this trail, as there was in my life. But I now felt that many shifts had happened, and I could feel a new world opening up for me. I had no idea what it would be, but I knew it was coming. Once again, I told them I knew growth would happen for me, I just didn’t realize so much would happen in such a short time, and their support, encouragement and this safe environment had allowed that to happen. This was an incredible gift and would be with me always.

We start to gather up our things and as the water taxi is seen on the horizon, we have one last group smudge. This time the 2 instructors hold the sage and feather and smudge each one of individually. Emotions ran through and over me, I tried to hold them back but I knew I was safe and let them go. It had been an amazing time, it was beyond hard emotionally and physically. I had flashbacks and horrid memories come flying at me with pretty much every step I took. Old beliefs tried to make their way to my conscious when I struggled, and, some of them did make it. It took enormous focus and energy to not only watch every step I took on the trail, but also to stay in the moment and not dissociate. It was time to let all this go, and like the stones washed away in the night, let these emotions I was feeling to wash over me and leave them here on the Wild North Coast Trail.

As the water Taxi came to the pickup point, we all pick our packs up and I notice the smiles, and I swear everyone is standing a little straighter and a little taller.

It’s a lovely 2 hour boat ride back to Pt. Hardy, and as we get closer to the home port, we come into rain. The support team was there to greet us with smiles and drive us to a campsite that we are staying at that night. Soon after arrival the rain just starts coming down in buckets. We set up the tents and start dinner, I will never forget the picture of Arden, standing by the stoves cooking, as the rain is pouring off the hood of her coat, and she is still smiling. The owners of the campsite have a very large, 3 sided wood shed, with a wood stove in the middle. It has a sink with running hot and cold water, counters, lights, and chairs to sit on. He invites us in we sit in comfort as we get to know him and his wife and other people who are camping there. We have hot drinks and I am initiated into the “Tim Tam Slam” club.

You get a cookie called a Tim Tam- they are from new Zealand- these rectangle cookies are rich, covered with chocolate, and have a soft chocolaty center. You have your hot drink-mine was hot chocolate- you take a small bite off of one corner, take another small bite off the opposing corner, put the cookie part way in your hot drink and suck on it like a straw. In a very short time the hot liquid is drawn up through the cookie and just as you get the hot liquid to your mouth -you will fell the cookie start to get soft- you throw the whole thing in your mouth and it melts all at once. It is an experience!!!

I am the first one to turn in that night, it is still light out as I crawl into my sleeping bag as the rain is pouring down. I sleep like a log, I slept so sound I did not even hear my tent mate come in.
The next morning the owner of the campground gets up and makes us all the most amazing, fluffy pancakes I have ever had. We tidy up, pack up camp and are on our way back to Camp Gilwell.

 Upon arrival we are met by more smiling support staff and congratulated on our accomplishment. We unload and start sorting and cleaning all the gear and have a much needed, and sought after shower. The support staff make us an amazing dinner, and we are served at the decorated picnic tables. We felt like royalty. The dinner was amazing, plentiful  and I looked around the table at all the smiling women. We had started out as strangers, but we became more than a community, we became a family. We supported and helped each other, when someone was having a bad day, we each stepped it up and helped a little more. We learned to trust one another and learned that it was safe to be ourselves. These women, who were strangers, I am proud to say are now my friends. They are all beautiful, inside and out, intelligent, creative, and powerful. They have an amazing sense of humor and are courageous beyond words.

Later that evening we have our “Pin ceremony” Each one of us receives an Outward Bound Canada pin. The only way you can receive this pin is by completing one of their courses. 

Amongst the tall pines and cedars, we sat in a circle by the river and had our Pin ceremony. Before you get your pin, each person holds it and “chargers” it, sending good thoughts and vibes, and if they wish too, say a few words about the person it is going too. It is just one more magical moment of the trip. It was amazing to hear what people said about each other, and there was a recurring theme, strength, wisdom, resilience, inspiration, compassion, and thoughtfulness. There was laughter, there was tears and there was deep felt gratitude for everyone on that trip and all we had been through. We had connected as  many of us had never connected before. We all grew in ways that surprised and delighted us, and I think we all realized we are all beautiful just the way we were.

Soon it was time for bed, and I lay awake for many hours. Thinking about the past week, the wolf and bear scat we found, owl pellets, and wolf prints in the sand. The amazing green colors of the forest, and the surreal feeling of walking on the sand while Muscles and Gooseneck Barnacles hang from the rock formations 10 feet above you. The amazing array of logs 20 feet thick that Mother Nature had thrown up on th beach that we had to walk across to get to and from the beaches, the sunsets and sun rises, various types of moss hanging from tress and the amphibian egg sacks we found in a pond on our 1st day on the trail. The views that looked like something from a National Geographic special. I thought about the tears frustration, exhaustion, laughter and deep down belly laughs we all experienced. I thought about my life, where I had been and wondered where I was going. I thought about this amazing sisterhood I had become part of, and I knew I would miss them dearly.

I also thought about our next little jaunt before breakfast the next morning and hoped it was not going to be at Nymph Falls. It was.

The next morning we are up and gather in the van for our next mini adventure and as the driver is going along the road, I ask them if they are going to Nymph Falls, they are,-you know what I silently said to myself- I told them it was further up the road and on the left hand side. We pull into the parking lot I am trying to calm myself, and we get out of the van. The instructions are to go along the trail, run or mindfully walk, and meet up at the falls. If you’re always running here and there try walking, if you walk all the time, try running. The idea is to push our comfort zone a little bit. As soon as they said that, my eyes well up and I say..”Just being here is pushing my comfort zone.” One of the instructors says, “Is this a trigger place for you?” I replied “Yep, sure is, this feels like it has been a week long heavy duty therapy session.”  It was hard, but I mindfully,but mostly not so mindfully, - walked to the falls. Once again flashbacks, old beliefs etc came flying at me everywhere I looked. But with the support of the group and instructors I did some more ghost busting and I was not going to let them win.

We get back to camp and were once more treated to a feast. It was a great breakfast and there was lots of chatter and laughing. All too soon it is time to pack up, gather our things and head our separate ways. There was hugs, laughter, pictures taken and plenty of tears, and yes, I do miss my sisterhood.

I think often think about those beautiful women on my course. Suzanne, Jillian, Sherry, Arden, Gabrielle, Jenny, Asia and Jody. I can see their smiles, hear their laughter, and fell their strength. I can feel them with me and I will be forever grateful for their amazing gifts they have given me, this has allowed me to discover who I am. That is priceless!

It took me some time to recover when I got back home, and there have been amazing changes with me. Some large, some small. I am now able to stand up for myself and take an item back to the store and request a refund or exchange, or to get them to somehow rectify the situation. I had tea with my retired psychiatrist- and his wife, he was the one I was seeing when I went on my very 1st Women of Courage course back in 2005- he said to  "if there was word to describe what I saw it would be Differenter. Of all the courses you have been on, you seem to be the most changed from this one.” I asked him “How?" You seem to stand taller and straighter, more sure and secure with who you are.” Was his reply.

It was a bit rough as I knew I had a lot more work to do once I got home and off the trail. I have worked with my therapist and we have worked through the emotions and the processing of the discoveries I found on the trail, working through the grief of what happened to me,and celebrating  my new found discoveries  has allowed space to open up and let all the new and wonderful things in my life in.

I have gone on day hikes in Srathcona Park with one of the girls from my ringette team and it has been amazing.  It has been amazing and enlightening, because of the last W.O.C. course, I am now able to go on these hikes without having the "boogie man" around the next corner or following me, this is an amazing feeling of freedom, something I have never be able to experience before. I am now able to be fully in the present and take in my surroundings and soak up all that amazing beauty around me.  
There was one trail we were on, we were along a ridgeline and it opened up to a place that was covered in fallen logs and the trail seemed to peter out. There was little ground vegetation as it was in the shade. We stood and started to look around for the trail, if we followed one section that looked like a trail, we would go over the steep incline- fine for a deer, but not us, - I then told my hiking partner to look for a place where the fallen logs had been cut with a chainsaw, and that's where the trail would be, we did, and found it and carried on. Now this may not seem like a big deal, but in the past, I would have been filled with panic and not be able to pull that information, thought out of my brain. I would have had to go back, and now that I think of it, I would not have even gotten that far as the "boogie man" would have stopped me from even trying a trail I had never been on, let alone something 4 hours in the mountains. Because of the last W.O.C. course I was able to carry on and enjoy the rest of the day.  

Before going on the course I was scheduled to do 2 presentations during the teacher’s professional development days. One in Campbell River, and one here in the Comox Valley. This is a huge breakthrough for me, and I believe the school boards, and I will be talking about children and youth mental health and what they can do to help support their students. Before I went on the course I wondered if I could pull it off, now I have no worries whatsoever, and know I can go in there 100 % who I am, I don’t need to do it any other way.  

It has been a busy summer, and now it gets even better. A few weeks ago I received an e-mail from Outward Bound Canada ….. You may have heard that we are running an alumni trip in the Bugaboos this September 4 - 10th. CMH has lent us their facilities & staff (including their chef!) and we are running a modified lodge based course for WOC alumni. Still a WOC course with all the good stuff but also an added element.
We still have a few spaces to fill and are looking for former students who would make good ambassadors for the WOC program. Women who would feel comfortable speaking out - perhaps on camera - and representing what we do to potential donors and sponsors. We are hoping to put together a PR package for WOC to use to attract potential Donors &/or Sponsors :)
We are striving to have representation from across the country - various ages and stages - and you will be sleeping in beds and this time have access to flush toilettes! 
If this is something that would be of interest to you please let me know. The course begins and ends in Calgary so you would have to be able to make your own way there and back.
Have a super rest of your day!

I will give you 3 guesses what my answer was!!! This time next week I will be getting to know the other ladies in the group and another adventure will begin. Who would have thought that 45 years ago, when I was in grade 8, when a few people from Outward Bound Canada came and spoke to the school, I would be doing this all these years later? And yes, I am taking two packages of Tim Tam cookies to introduce others to the Tim Tam Slam!

Who would have thought, that back in February, when I was having a very hard time, when everything seemed too much, that I would be doing this 6 months later. This once again goes to show, you never know what is around the corner and that is why you need to hang on, even when you can’t see the corner, let alone the light.

Those of us who have experienced childhood trauma, especially severe trauma and abuse, never felt safe, or learned who we were or what we could do, because we spent all our energy for so many years trying to survive. We never had the luxury of relaxing, or being in a place of safety where we could discover and explore who we are. We had to always be on alert to watch, to read others, to try to stay one step ahead of the chaos.

I have spent many years and enormous energy working on my past issues, learning why I felt and did the things I did, and then to learn new coping skills. It has been hard, painful, scary and grueling work and many times I did not think I was going to make it. But, so far I have.
Today my son and I went down to one of the Puntledge River and watched the Spring Salmon swimming around, waiting to go back home, back up the river.

I guess all my therapy, growth and hard work is about coming home, not to a specific place, but to oneself, to who I really am, the ME that was hidden away and afraid to come out.

There is no big party, fancy ball or press announcements for this homecoming. I am fine with that. Because, this Homecoming is sweet, just the way it is.

I will leave you with a poem someone sent me during a very difficult time.

The Unbroken

There is a brokenness
out of which comes the unbroken,
a shatteredness
out of which blooms the unshatterable.
There is sorrow
beyond grief which leads to joy
and a fragility
out of whose depths emerges strength.

there is a hollow space
too vast for words
through which we pass with each loss,
out of whose darkness
we are snatched into being

There is a cry deeper than all sound
whose serrated edges cut the heart
as we break open to the place inside
which is unbreakable and whole,
while learning to sing.

Those are my thoughts for today. Be safe and well in your journey, and one day you will be welcoming your true self home.

Cheers and be well


Thursday, 11 June 2015

I'm Going Outward Bound...

In just over 72 hours, I am going in an amazing 8 day epic journey. No, this is not a cruise, Club med, or trip to the Caribbean, this is a journey that will happen in my own back yard. I am going on an Outward Bound Canada, Women of Courage course!

If you have been reading my D.I.D. blog for a while, you may know I have gone on one of these courses just over 18 months ago, in the Canadian Rookies. It was a journey of a life time, and like this one, there was no one to carry my bags or make my beds, it was a backpacking trip, for a week, in the amazing Rocky Mountains. When I finished that course,-at times I did wonder if I would finish it - I never thought I would be taking another one so soon.

Outward Bound are not luxury, fresh sheets, hotel lobby kind of trips. I tell people “this aint no tea party” In fact, they are hard, emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually, but they are an amazing gift.

What is the Women of Courage program about? Here is a bit from their web site

“Outward Bound Canada’s Women of Courage Program offers inspiring journeys of adventure, challenge and healing in the Canadian wilderness for women who have experienced violence and/or abuse. This may include sexual, physical or emotional abuse perpetrated by any individual, and experienced at any time during a woman’s life. Led by our expert team of talented and compassionate female instructors, courses focus predominantly on increasing self-esteem and self-reliance, building supportive relationships with other women, enhancing body awareness and encouraging a sense of physical strength - serving as a catalyst for powerful growth and change. Since 1988, over 1000 women have experienced this transformative journey with Outward Bound Canada.

It is an amazing experience. This trip will happen at the north end of Vancouver Island, and it will be one of the most challenging ones for me. I grew up on Vancouver Island, This is my home. It is also a place full or triggers, flashbacks and where horrific things happened to me. I was born in Victoria and moved up to the Comox Valley when I was 8 years old. I moved away when I was 25, thinking that I could run away from my past, I soon found out that was not so. 10 years, and many life events later I moved back to the Comox Valley. That was 20 years ago. It has been a journey.

When I tell some people I will be going on a backpacking trip somewhere in Cape Scott Park, most of them think it’s a really neat adventure. But this is not going on a trip with a bunch of friends, resting and sitting around a campfire, drinking wine, sitting and lazing the days away.

Some people ask me ‘why would you want to do that!” Well, each to their own, but I am going because I want to be challenged, in a supportive environment, and see what I can really do.

This may not be a big deal for some, but for people that have been abused as children, the scars last a life time.  For me, I carried around fear, self-doubt and a feeling of worthlessness most of my life. Some people say- “why can’t you just get over it- it happened so long ago?” Which, I now realize was their issue with it, but once again at the time it made me feel like I was once again doing something wrong. Why couldn’t I get better, why was I feeling like I did, why could I not “just pull my socks up?”

Studies now show that childhood adversities can affect a person over their life time. I’m not feeling this way or have my mental health issues because I am weak or lazy or “just refuse to move on” The severe abuse, terror and neglect I suffered for 20 years, has affected the way my brain works. Here are a couple of links explaining what happens.

But, as always with my blogs, I talk about HOPE !!!

15 years ago, I had no idea I would be where I am now, in fact I had no idea if I would be alive. I could never have imagined I would be the mental health educator/advocate/writer that I am today. I could never imagine the joy, connection and love I feel for, and from people around me. I could never imagine I would feel such profound gratitude for the life I have now, and those who are in it. I have worked hard to get here, I have had amazing professionals, friends and family members who believed in me when I could not believe in myself. I have had people see worth, love and light in me when all I felt and saw was darkness. I have had, and continue to have, people in my life, who will carry the light for me, and help guide me, when I can’t see around the dark corner. I will be forever grateful.

I have been on a long healing journey, to find out why I was feeling/acting like I did. To discover who I am and who I could be, and to discover potential in me that I never knew was there. And Outward Bound has helped me along the way. I am slowly taking my life back. Sure, I still have bad days, some real, real bad days, but I am having more and more good days. I will always have challenges around my illness, but as I tell the youth I talk to, I am not my illness. I am slowly but surely discovering the light that is within me.

I have worked long and hard to find my way back home- metaphorically speaking. Meaning, it has been, and will continue to be a journey of discovery, pulling away the layers and finding the real, authentic me. Finding the Me, before all the abuse and crap happened. The Me, that could smile for a camera, before that all took an evil turn. The Me, that resides deep within, waiting for the moment when it is safe and supportive, to be able to come out.

When I was little, I loved being outside,running, laying in the grass watching the clouds go by, listening to the birds, smelling the ocean, feeling the wind on my face. I loved being around trees, the smell of the old cedar logs and laying on a bed of moss. But, then a time came when even those scared spaces and moments were no longer safe.

I have been homeless, cold, hungry and hiding in the pouring rain, freezing waiting for the chaos to finish so I could go home again.

On this backpacking trip, being in my own back yard, I am going to be running into all those memories, flashbacks and triggers front and center. But I have worked hard to get where I am and I have also sent Outward Bound a support plan, with suggestions on what the instructors can do to help me stay in the moment if I do get triggered.

For me, this Outward Bound, Women of Courage trip is about two things. Taking back my home, the mountains and ocean, trees, sand, wind, sun, rain and stars. To let go of the triggers and create space to welcome home the Me that was lost all those years ago.

Outward Bound Women of Courage is not just an outdoor adventure, it is a journey to find and discover. This is not “just a backpacking trip.” This is a mission to find once again those sacred spaces and times and to bring home the lost.  It’s going to be one a Hell of a welcoming home party!

Those are my thoughts for now, I will report back in once I get back and recover form this amazing discovery.

Cheers and be well, and safe on your journeys.


Sunday, 31 May 2015

One Step at a Time,..Repeat...Repeat....Repeat....

It has been 4 weeks since my last blog post, and like my life, what I plan on doing and what ends up happening is often two different things.

The month of April was pretty busy for me, actually really busy, and I thought I would have a nice quiet May. Since May is Mental Health Month, I had signed up for a blog challenge, #Blog4MH , and thought I would write a blog every two weeks. As you can see, it did not turn out that way. But, I am learning that is fine, and I have learned a thing or two about myself on the way.

I have come to the conclusion that life, everyone’s life, is made up of millions of single steps at a time. I have also learned that if I look at life and what I want to do, one step at a time, it helps ease my panic and anxiety about “having to get it done now”

Let’s start with my garden.  I really enjoy my garden, I grow flowers because as I told someone asked me “Why don’t you grow food, it could feed you,” my reply was “I grow flowers because flowers feed my soul.” My poor garden was pretty much neglected last year, I had no energy and the flowers and weeds were having a great “Love In,” and by this spring the crab grass was so high I could sit down in it and no one would see me.

It was a daunting task when I looked at it, and seemed overwhelming, there was so much of it. This was a challenge as in the past if things seemed overwhelming I would give up- this is an old defence mechanism from childhood- But, one morning I think “time to get going on this.” I spent two hours out there the 1st morning, and it was a mess. As I am pulling, digging and yanking out the crabgrass and weeds, it seems like I am getting nowhere there is so much of it. The Sweet Williams that in the past covered most of the garden with its amazing display of scent and colour, were few and far between. They were being chocked out.  When I finished it looked like I didn’t even put a dent in it. I go back out for a couple hours in the early morning the next day. I continue this for the rest of the week then on a Saturday spend 2 hours in the afternoon, and 3 hours that evening, and the garden is ready for more seeds.

For me, gardening is very therapeutic. While pulling the weeds I thought taking care of my garden is like taking care of my mental health. My garden will always have crabgrass, once it’s in your garden, its roots travel far and wide and come up all over the place. I will always have my mental illness, and it will be far reaching, and show up in unexpected places, but if I can keep on top of both, I will benefit.

 I planted some seeds and have started to water them, and of course, as soon as they come up- which still amazes me- some crabgrass starts to pop through. It’s good to pull the young crabgrass out, but doing so would pull up the seedlings, so I have decided to leave the crabgrass there, until the seedlings are big enough and strong enough so that they will not be disturbed when I pull out the grass.

This reflects my life in so many ways. I only have so much energy. As I told a friend the other day, “I only get so many M.P.G. - (Miles per gallon,) - and some days the mileage is worse than others. I need to be mindful of what my mileage is every day, and act accordingly. Some days I will start off with a full tank but it will be empty by lunch time, some days it will last me the whole day, and some days I start with an empty tank. I have to be very mindful and self-caring those days when my tank is empty. If I try to do too much on those days, even if it’s something I want to do, it will take longer for me to recover and fill my tanks.  Just like disturbing the young seedlings, it will take the plant more energy to get re rooted.

The middle of this month I had about 10 days where I didn’t have much gas. It was frustrating to say the least and I was stressing about doing another blog post. This stress only came from myself, no one else, but it’s an old deprivation behaviour- “if I don’t get it done now it will never get done,”  and the good ole Complex P.T.S.D. “ I have to get it done because I said I would and I will be in trouble etc. if I don’t.

I realized neither was true, but my nervous system felt different. So it took a lot of self-care, energy and mindfulness on my part to not get so worked up about it. And, as you all see, I did survive, the world did not come to an end because I didn’t write the amount of blog posts I said I would.
This month, being Mental Health month, I have been busy with speaking engagements. I have spoken to 4 groups or classes so far and I have two more coming up this week. I LOVE doing this, I get so much out of it and the youth and adults I have spoken to have been amazing and asked great questions.

Every time I come away feeling amazed, grateful and honoured that people and youth have stepped out of there comfort zone, and welcomed me and we have had some amazing conversations.  I have received emails from the facilitators or teachers.
thank you a zillion times over and over.
You rock.
kids talking about you in the halls all afternoon.""

…”Thank you for your time and amazing insight, stories and perspectives. The students have been coming up to me – telling me that you have made the most impact on them out of all our speakers. They really appreciated how you made your presentation real for them. They took away useful information that they could immediately use.”

 She was taking a lot in. Her life sucks and she feels helpless. I believe you gave her back some Hope. Thank you so much for that.”..

“Your message is very powerful; not soap boxy or victimizing, but empowering. You are doing the work you were meant to do and the rest of us need to hear it. You really do have a gift.

More than once someone once asked me how did I end up speaking about mental health, sometime my answer is just taking one step at a time, not knowing where I was going, but knew I needed to keep moving forward.

And, speaking of one step at a time, I am going on another Outward Bound course.

This is a Women of Courage course, for women who have had violence at some time in their life and I am doing a backpacking course at the north end of Vancouver Island. 

 I didn’t know about this course until April 27th when a friend sent me the info- we had both been on the one in the Rookie Mountains in September of 2013. I thought about it for a few hours and said ” "Suzy, sometimes the universe sends you a gift and you have to step forward and take it.” So I sent in an inquiry, they sent me the forms, I filled those out, then there was the hour long interview on the phone, then they talked to my therapist, and yes, I am accepted and the course starts 2 weeks today.

This is going to be a huge challenge both physically and emotionally. When I did the one in the Rookies I remember on the 1st day saying to self…”You should have practiced more on the stairs at the Spit” By one of the beaches here, a set of stairs has been built that you can go up, and the view is amazing.

 So as soon as I sent in my application I started to go up them. The 1st morning I went up I could not believe how hard they were, I was only up the 20th step and I had to take a break. “Wholly crap” I thought, “How the Hell am I going to be able to do these?” Well, I did do them one very slow step at a time. And I have done them 5 times every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning since then. 

I am not fast or run up them, but I do get up them and I am getting stronger in the legs and lungs each time I do it.  When I start to get tired I take a breathing break and then carry on. These breathing breaks have gotten shorter and the recovery time is quicker. I still get tired when I do them and when this happens I focus on the stair in front of me and tell myself “One step at a time”

Last Saturday I received confirmation the course is a go and I am going, so I started to walk around town with a loaded pack. I am now carrying 37 lbs. for 4 miles. It’s not easy and once again I  have to break the walk down to one step at a time.

I will not have the amount of time to train as I did for the trip in the Rookies, and I was worried about that, but then realized, I am in better shape than I was a month ago, so that helps.

I have been on other Women of Courage Courses, the one I mentioned in the Rookies and I took a canoeing one in Ontario in 2005. They have all been amazing, challenging and I have recovered a part of myself on each trip. But I think this one will be the most challenging emotionally for me. 

The other two trips took places where I had never been, but this one, being on the island, is taking place “In my back yard” I grew up on the island and this is where all the abuse, trauma and terror happened. I love being in the woods but as I wrote in my safety/support plan for the instructors …
“I grew up on Vancouver Island, and this course is taking place in “my back yard” meaning, this is where 20 years of severe and horrific abuse, neglect and terror happened to me. The smell of a rotting cedar log, sound of wind through the maples, smell of the ocean can all bring about flashbacks. I am usually fine with these but in moments of stress they may flare up….. Being short of breath, cold, wet and hungry is another trigger…”

So as you can see this is going to be a huge challenge in more ways than one. But I know the Outward Bound staff are experienced, supportive and they have my support plan to help me through these challenges. They know I have Dissociative Identity Disorder, and Complex PTSD, and I know I will come back a much stronger, whole happier person for taking this trip.

Some people have asked me “Why would you want to go on something like that?” I guess the answer is that it is another step forward for me. Yes, I’m nervous, especially about the 24 hour solo section of the course. I’m nervous about being cold, wet and hungry and being triggered, and running out of breath. But I also know, this is an amazing opportunity for me to push myself a little further- actually a lot- in a supportive environment, and take back my life, take back that part of myself that loved the smell, colours and textures of the outdoors before the trauma happened. This is an amazing opportunity to start “Taking back my home.”

Yes I will get frustrated, angry, upset and ask myself many times “Why the Hell did I think this was a good idea.”  “ If I had known it was going to be this hard I would not have signed up” There will be moments of elation as I survived being pushed further then I thought possible, and I’m sure moments of laughter and connectedness. And, I’m sure there will be times where all I can focus on is moving one step at a time.

But I know it will be worth it.

I think back to my garden and pulling all the weeds. I was sitting crossed legged in the grass pulling and digging at the chunks of crabgrass and swearing at it when something pricked into my hand. After swearing again, I took a look, and there in amongst all the weeds and tangle, was a tiny rose bush I had planted a couple of years ago. And growing upward through all the grass and weeds was a thin branch with a single beautiful pink rose on it. I stopped, looked at it for a moment and thought, “There is always hope.” This plant had never flowered before.

When I speak to the parents, youth, and write my blogs I like to think I give people hope and encourage them to keep moving forward one step at a time. Life can be hard, it will be full of challenges, trials and tribulations, but it is all worth it.

I went an watered my garden this morning  and the seeds I planted are coming up, and the Sweet Williams that were choked out, are coming back, finer and stronger than ever.

Those are my thoughts for today, may you all be safe in your journeys.

Cheers and be well