Raging Water

Today was a tough day… the reality of a broken relationship, questioning all my past and current choices, the hurt of misunderstanding, the feeling of shame, the weight of my family’s future and the constant barrage of self sabotaging negative dialogue is raging a war inside my head.  My heart aches, and my body hurts.  My anxiety and depression are becoming difficult to manage…

so I got in the car and took a drive

I took a drive to clear my head and drown my thoughts with music and podcasts, and soon found myself next to the water just north of the city.  Being next to water, in nature, observing creation at it’s finest has always been a calming place for me.  Growing up, I was incredibly fortunate to be exposed to the great outdoors at a young age, when my dad would take me camping each summer from the age of eight.  Although it seemed like injuries were a common, consistent and inevitable right of passage for the Martin boys camping weekend, I looked forward to it each year.  These weekends above most other childhood memories are vivid and are cherished.  They have helped shape me, have affirmed a love of the outdoors, a deep appreciation for back woods first aid skills, and encourage a peace that can only come from being in that environment.

I needed to find that calm today

As I sat trying to admire the beauty, trying desperately to ease the storm inside, I was mesmerized and drawn to the rushing water as it cascaded down the river.  It was loud, reckless, uncontrolled and dangerous.   Yet sitting on the shore, I knew I was safe from the unpredictable current of turmoil raging just a few feet in front of me.

The trajectory of my life has followed a similar path.  What seems to start as a calm, flowing river, quiet and serene, quickly turns into a raging, roaring, and unpredictable series of waves and rapids.   There is a term used in WhiteWater circles called “Reversal”.  This is a place where the current swings upwards and revolves back on itself, causing a treacherous meeting of currents that can drown swimmer and rafters (sourced from https://www.pinnacle-travel.org/whitewater-rafting-glossary/).  This seems to be the place I currently find myself, in an inescapable, treacherous current; almost drowning.

I’m sure there are plenty others who feel stuck in this rotating spiral of vicious waves, trapped with no visible way out, unsure of which way is actually up!  But what actually calmed my own head (and eventually inspired this post), was that although I was fixated on the raging water and the noise it created, turning to look further down stream to see the water become calm, the noise died, the current slowed and peace being found.   The chaos that was so unpredictable, soon made sense.  It became tame, controlled and quiet.  It brought back those soul reassuring and refreshing feelings of being a young boy standing feet from the water, breathing the beauty of the outdoors, weightless and free.  It certainly doesn’t mean that the problems, anxieties, fears and burdens are not still present…they are very much still there… but there is hope that someday soon it will make sense.  The turmoil and chaos of our lives is only there for a time;  it may toss and turn again, swell up, force us back down….

but eventually it becomes quiet, becomes meaningful, and rest and peace will come.


 

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Open Hands

one of the most obvious life lessons I have had the (unfortunate) pleasure of learning over the past few years, is the life is not in my control.  As much as I can try and take control of things and try to steer situations, outcomes, even people in a direction that I feel they should go…I am reminded constantly that it is a futile waste of effort.

Please understand me, I completely agree that there are elements of our days that we do and can control.  We make decisions and choices constantly throughout the day, from the decision to wake up, what to eat, what to wear, to what email to read and send, to bigger life altering and financial decisions etc.  So I certainly agree that parts of this life is choices and control…. it reminds me of one of my favorite prayers.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.” – Reinhold Niebuhr

I’ve struggled with the futility of trying to change situations.  As you know (if you’ve read my other posts), I am a fixer, I want to be able to help anyone with anything…except myself.  It has been ingrained in me that others take priority over my own health and well-being, and I’ve recently been forced to realize that looking after myself is imperative to my successes in helping others (still the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do).  It is also a hard lesson to learn that situations involving others are simply out of my control.  That I can only be responsible for my actions, words, thoughts and choices.  The reaction, response and actions of others are their responsibility and shouldn’t fall on my shoulders.  Again, I understand that choices we make that influence and affect others, that may not have been wise or responsible, may bring consequences that challenge those relationships and those need to be dealt with, however, for the purpose of this post, I am trying to keep it in the shallow end, and not dive into the depth of an endless debate over consequences and ramifications of choices…

so getting back on track…

I’ve began to notice how worn my hands are.  If I hang on to something for too long or grip tight for an extended period, my hands begin to hurt.  Working in my field for as many years as I have has caused some physical changes to the musculature in my hands that elicit this unfortunate reaction.  When I am able to open my hands and relax, pain goes away, circulation and feeling returns.

This has been a reminder of living life holding too tight.  Trying to grip and hold tight to aspects, situations or people that I can’t control. I want to, and the thought of letting go is frightening.  It is full of worry, doubt, fear and anxiety.  And when these things are pulled and ripped out of my hands, it hurts because of how tightly clenched my hands are.

But slowly (very, incredibly slowly), I have begun to let go, to open my hands.  To allow those situations that I know I cannot control to just ‘be’.  To be free, to not let them cause me so much discomfort and pain.  I have been told several times by a couple of counselors and therapists over the years that pain and suffering are different.   That I don’t need to suffer from the pain in my hands if I just open them and allow the life to flow through them again.  There is still pain there, and the memories and past experiences will always be etched in my mind, but I don’t need to let those things hold so much weight that they consume everything.  Holding so tight also limits our ability to be given anything else, as our hands are now full.

Living life with open hands not only eases the suffering, but it allows for opportunities, gifts and situations to be given to us.  Nothing can be given, if we are not ready and open to receive it.  So just as letting go of control can relieve so much stress, suffering and pain, the opposite is true.  It can allow for more to be freely given.

So friends, how are you living?  with open hands or holding too tight to the things you can’t control?!?  Trust me, I know how hard this is.  It is so much easier to write the words, then to put them into practice.  But if there is anything I have learned, it is that the eventual ability to begin to let go and open your hands will begin to bring feeling back and ease the suffering.  It is a work in progress, when we know nothing else but holding tight, the letting go is hard.  I hope and pray that you will be able to begin to open your hands.


as always, my cell is 7058682616, send a text if you need to!

The Good Doctor

To be able to pen words of wisdom and enlightenment, with an inspirational depth unattainable by another human while being consistent and concise with cadence and and incredible advice… is a dream that one day I wish to realize.

I will never be as eloquent and precise as one of my all all time favorite authors Dr. Seuss…I can certainly aspire to be, however he had a way with words that really can’t be replicated…

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”

In my opinion, the book “Oh the Places You’ll Go”, is by far the most inspirational and affirming collection of words I have had the privilege of reading.   When my eldest daughter was born 12 years ago (almost 13…as she continually reminds me), it was the first text I read to her.  With emotional and likely tired tearful eyes I would struggle through the sentences as the truth of its contents spoke to me and my aspiration for her as she would grow and develop into the independent, beautiful and compassionate young lady she is today.

This book was not only read to her, but to my 4 other children when they were all newborns.  It became a father’s tradition.

Somewhere along the years, I let go of the truth of Dr. Seuss’ wisdom and became complacent in my days and struggled with inspiration and motivation.  Each day became a chore and getting myself together in the morning to go to work, put on a friendly face, pretend to care, and just get through, became exhausting.

“When you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.”

 

I found the book the other day while tidying up after putting my kids to bed.  Giving it a read again brought me to tears (which isn’t hard to do), but it brought a swell of emotions of failure, disappointment and grief.  The situations I currently find myself facing these days have been difficult and challenging, and with the recent events that have unfolded in the hockey community with the devastating bus crash that took the lives of sixteen Humbodlt Broncos, I am holding my own kids a little tighter; yet I have a strong feeling of failure as a father.  My kids are my everything; to feel inadequate as a dad and not ever wanting my children to go through life’s difficulty was incredibly heavy in that moment.

I still struggle to get through most days, and when I’m in a dark place of fear, panic and anxiety, believe it or not, I try to remember the words of this book.  Dr. Seuss seemed to know just what I need!  And I think the reason is simple… he was human too, had his own struggles (I’m not going to go through his complete story as it’s a long one), but it makes me realize that I am not alone, and neither are you.  We all have a story and if you feel you are stuck or in a slump, just remember the words of the Dr.

“And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

So…
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!”

 

Don’t give up friends!  Days are hard and long and that’s for real, but if you focus on you struggle, your mountain you’ll never succeed.   If we work together to lift each other up, our mountains we can climb, up to the top.  Be free of your pain you will not, but learn, lean and hope for tomorrow we can have, because you are strong, not alone and loved.



 

I hope you can be inspired or find some strength to carry on… today is your day!  move you mountain and see the places you’ll go.  feel free to text 7058682616 if you need someone to talk with, share your story with or just say hi!

assumptions and judgements

I feel like I live with this strange dichotomy.  I love to teach, to educate and share my knowledge.  To be in front of others; a group of strangers leading them into a deeper understanding of a particular topic I am passionate about.

Yet at the same time

I hate the feeling of being judged.  The thought of standing in front of a group of students or a group of my peers brings on huge anxiety.  Days leading up to an event or course that I am presenting, I begin to experience a dreaded panic, anxiety, worry and fear.  It seems ridiculous and I’ve had a difficult time trying to put reasoning behind the emotion I feel, especially after I’ve taught the same course and given the same talk several times before.  Yet without fail, I’m struck with an anxious fear that keeps me up at night!

During a recent counseling session, it was revealed that I have a fear of being judged.  Its not a selfish, worried about my ‘appearance’, ‘will I say the wrong things’, ‘is my fly down’, ‘do they hate my tattoo’ kind of judgement but rather a self imposed character judgment that I assume others are projecting.  This goes back to the lack of self confidence and self esteem that is non-existent in my life.  Stepping into any situation or social setting brings a feeling of increased nervousness and assumption that I am being judged.  Even when I am with my closest group of friends, my thoughts will begin to erode the joy of spending time with fantastic gentlemen and I’m left asking myself “why would these guys hang out with me?  why waste time with someone so damaged? they probably think I’m just a complete mess…

then the guilt sets in that I have wasted everyone’s time…

I certainly can’t be the only one to feel this way?!?

I could spend some time writing about the dangers of judging others.  How its imperative that we choose to live with an open-mind, trying to understand life’s various perspectives and not judging others as they are likely fighting a battle we cannot see.  But that would be a long post and you likely wouldn’t make it to the end (see what I did there…judged your attention span and your character a little…sorry).

But what I will say is that if we allow ourselves to impose our own judgment on others and how they perceive us, we will do them a complete disservice.  When I question the motives and intent of my good friends, I rob them of the joy of being a blessing to me and sharing their love with me.  When I push my insecurities onto those I’m teaching or speaking to, I limit the potential for them to truly experience and engage in what I can offer, because I hesitate to give the best of me…out of fear of an assumption, nothing legitimate.

The big question is how to change that mindset… how does one escape the fear of the assumption of being judged?  I wish I had the answer!  for now, managing the stress and anxiety is the only thing I seem to be able to do (even though I still don’t do that very well).   Being present in the moment, focusing on the here and now, may offer some distraction to the thoughts of what others are thinking…. but today I will start by apologizing to those I have projected a false assumption that you are judging me…  to my friends, thank you for being true to your geniuine love and friendship, and sorry for not being fully present to receive your gift.


Thank you for continuing to read this blog… I truly do hope you find some encouragement in the words and thoughts of a rambling, broken, imperfect human!! as always, feel free to to text 7058682616 if there is anything I can do to help.

Social Loneliness

According to my social media reach, my popularity and friendships are extensive…I couldn’t begin to tell you just how many “friends” or “followers” I have on all the various platforms I visit daily. This is rather unfortunate and somewhat meaningless to my actual social reality. Running a business has prompted the unfortunate necessity for an online presence to some degree. It seems that in order to build a business or attract new clients, your SEO has to be on point, you need daily or hourly updates on every platform, updated Google listings, Linked-In profile rocking, crushing the InstaStory, MySpace and GeoCities page and tweeting like a boss…

Yet as ‘connected’ as I am (and as we all are), the less it seems we understand how to work as humans. Speaking for myself, I can’t shake the feeling of loneliness that I feel when I’ve sat in Starbucks, updating every profile, creating new promo for the clinic, posting pictures, blogs, ads, and when I lift my head from my screen…I’m alone. Apparently after nine at night is not a popular time for coffee?!? Yet even on a busy weekend with a line up out the door at the local caffeinated establishment, I will still feel that same loneliness. In a crowded place, I feel alone, vulnerable and intimidated.

I’ve reached out to hundreds of online people who visit me on Instagram or Facebook, but I’m sitting alone…and the juxtaposition is sometimes a little depressing.

I’ll be the first to admit that there is a small sense of excitement, or relief when there is some sort of acknowledgement with something that I post. Whether it’s just one person who “likes” a picture or blog post… and the more I think about it, the more I realize that this attitude can’t be healthy. I understand the difficulty that results from putting any of our worth in the hands of those on the other side of a screen, especially when we likely don’t have an actual relationship of any sort with 3/4 of our friend list on the ol Facebook. The danger is to become a false representation of ourselves; an unrealistic version of who we truly are. When we reveal the true side of our daily grind and struggle, we face the reality that we have placed so much worth in the thoughts and response of others on social media that our identity and self worth become compromised.

I’m an individual who thrives on connection with others. Coffee and Conversation is extremely fulfilling…and not necessarily a deep, theological, philosophical or spiritual conversation…just the chance to be in relationship and take time. Time to be genuine, attentive and engaged in someone else. Time to put the screen away and connect with a person. This, to me, is beautiful, powerful and meaningful. I’m never going to solve the worlds problems, but just to share time with someone is priceless.

I was extremely fortunate tonight to meet up with an old friend from High School, who I haven’t seen in almost twenty (yes twenty) years. And I’ll admit that it was all thanks to social media that we connected again. We live and work in the same city that we grew up in, and yet we haven’t connected until now. So there certainly is a place for the social media machine. However, it was all due to the desire to truly connect with someone, and this I appreciate. I have been guilty on too many occasions of not following through on the actual human connection of an invitation to meet up for coffee or drinks with someone. And although the intention is genuine, the action is missing. So to my friend I met with tonight…Thank You for your intention and your willingness to sit and talk. It truly meant a lot and I do hope we do it again soon!

We have become a society that is so connected, yet so incredibly disconnected from one another. I hope to be able to bring back the human element of connectivity to my life. To not allow the surface connection of social media to effect my self worth. I do believe that the social media connection is a part of our society now and should certainly be embraced and used to connect, however, for me, it will truly never replace the human interaction.


Much like last week, I think I’ll challenge us all to do this… meet with someone, put the phone away, and have a coffee (or tea) and genuine conversation. It’s a beautiful thing! Break the loneliness we feel in the crowded places. If you feel alone in the crowd, please know you are not the only one… 7058682616 text if you need someone to share some time with over a coffee.

Opportunity in Hard Places

Jon Acuff’s book “Quitter” is a great book about being caught in the tension between your day job and your dream job, and the steps you need to take in order to quit said day job to exceptionally succeed in your dream job.  I have to admit that there were some concepts in a couple of his earlier books that I have a hard time with… yet I’ve still read all his books and truly appreciate that he recognized some of the faults in his earlier writing and in his latest book “Finish”, has hit a home run!


For more of Jon Acuff’s writing, blog and his new podcast, visit https://acuff.me/ and follow his Twitter page and Instagram for some good laughs and great content


One of the concepts in Quitter that really stuck with me was the importance of finding the small joys in the daily grind of a job you need before moving to the job you want.  I understand this all to well, even though I had the “job” I wanted when I graduate from Massage Therapy and was beginning my practice, I certainly wasn’t finding joy in the daily grind.  I had to help make ends meet as a new husband, starting a career , and not being very busy.  I had to work various retail jobs, selling shoes and slinging coffees all the while trying to build a clientele.  I felt it imperative to do what was completely necessary in order to begin to feel accomplished and ultimately happy in a profession that certainly took a lot of work to build (especially in a female dominated service industry).  I won’t get into detail on the failures and follies I found myself in along my 14 year journey as a therapist…as there are a lot and they bring with them some heartache and anxiety…I’ll save that for the book in the works…

But here I find myself, 14years as a therapist and dealing with personal struggles that have caused some serious hard places.  I’m finally in a place with my business that I am happy with…I work with amazing people, in a great atmosphere and see a ton of potential for the future…but I’ve gone backwards personally.  So now I find I’m drawing parallel between the idea in ‘Quitter’ about finding small joys in the daily grind that will help me move forward in my career, now trying to implement into my personal daily life.

Call it the Business of Life…

Finding hope in the journey continues to resonate with me daily, likely because it seems so hard to do…even though I’ve written about it in several posts already, I still wrestle with it.

Finding opportunity in the hard places sounds easier said then done and I honestly think my struggle with this has been due to my entrepreneurial side; that part of me looking for that big business opportunity.  The giant eye opening, face melting, thunder punch to the solar-plexus kind of opportunity.  Because I have such a difficult time with self care, my mind and efforts go to my business, as this is the primary way in which I support and provide for my family.

I think I got it a little wrong… or a lot wrong.

I’m starting to think that by changing the focus from a tangible, material opportunity, I should start looking for the small personal opportunities to help guide through the hard places.  As much as it is important, and my goals, dreams and passion for the future of my business are legitimately worth some space in the daily meandering of my mind; if I’m personally not in a good place, but constantly feeling the weight of life’s difficulty, I won’t appreciate, honour and respect the business opportunities that come.  I understand that not all of you who are reading this are business owners, and may be sitting at your desk at the office right now, reading this…but I hope you can see that maybe the daily grind wouldn’t be so grinding, if, instead of focusing on the promotion or the need for the new cappuccino maker in the lunch room (that’s a big deal), that starting to focus on finding smaller opportunities to lift yourself out of the hard places can make the day seem bearable and worth it!?!

It might be as simple as taking five minutes and stepping outside to take a deep breath of fresh air and simply appreciating the opportunity to breathe… or sending a quick message to a friend just to say hi and appreciating the opportunity to be able to speak into someone’s day who may need it… or taking a coffee break (this one is more habitual for me, so more of an opportunity to feed my caffeine addiction then anything).

There is beauty in the misery (sounds like a great band name…some will get that reference).  So I guess I’ll challenge us with looking for the small opportunities in the hard places.  When life feels overwhelming and too difficult to find any hope in the difficulty or mundane mediocrity, appreciate the small opportunities, as rare and sparse as they may seem. I really think that once it becomes a part of our day to find a small moment to appreciate some opportunity we can create a small space for hope and a small reprieve.  It certainly doesn’t make the struggle go away, or that difficult co-worker or nagging boss, or broken coffee maker disappear, but maybe it will make them seem a little less heavy.


There is hope in the journey, you don’t travel alone!  as per usual, my thoughts are with you all, especially those that have shared a little of their story with me.  Thank you for your trust and allowing me to share my story as well.  My phone is always on, so text anytime friends 7058682616

Until next time, keep well.

Shadows and Worry

These past few months have not ceased to amaze me… Even though I’ve learned a lot about myself, I’m still struggling to understand, process and implement all the things I need in order to be a better version of me.  And to be honest, I think part of the reason why is fear.  Fear of change, fear of the unknown and a huge fear of failure…again.

I’ve failed a lot… they cling to me like a shadow I can’t get rid of!

Yes I have some successes, and I’m not negating that I have five beautiful kids that I wouldn’t trade for anything in this life.  I finally have a business, career and partners that I am extremely proud of (although it took many failures to get here…another post sometime)… but I still have the constant stresses, anxiety, fear, depression and worry.

I spent a good part of my weekend (when I was supposed to spend it with my kids), in the emergency room worried I was having a heart attack…. now, being a health care provider myself, I am usually pretty in tune with how the body works, so I don’t rush to the doctor or hospital for just anything.  For a couple of weeks, things just felt ‘off’.  I’ve had trouble sleeping for months, but was beginning to experience symptoms that I tried to pass off as lack of sleep, but I began to worry.  Over the course of the days that followed, my stress and anxiety worsened as my fear of my increasing symptoms began to become overwhelming….seriously concerning High Blood Pressure, chest tightness and pain, laboured breathing, headaches, dizziness, and a disconnected feeling I still can’t describe!  My shadow grew and felt like it was consuming me.

As I sat in the emergency room being told by several doctors that all my tests for my heart were negative (thank God), I began to worry that it was something else… This couldn’t be all from stress?!?

Years of internalizing emotions, years of stress and anxiety, years of trying to cope by myself while trying to watch out for others had finally caught up to me….but I don’t know how to deal with this now.

I’ve been checking my blood pressure a couple times a day to see if there is a change, but it’s still been very high, compounding my anxiety, keeping my mind in a shadow.

so now enter Worry…  like a thief, stealing my day and consuming my thoughts for the past few days.  I can’t shake the feeling that any minute something else could happen, and what about tomorrow, what about next week, month, year…

Our days are full of questions, doubts, anxieties and worries.  We all have the desire to wonder about what is around life’s corner.  I truly believe that even those that preach about “living in the moment”, have some thoughts and worry about the future.  It’s a part of our human nature to question and to doubt and to worry.  Its the fear of the unknown that captivates our desire to search for answers… and even though I know that I have no clue what will happen tomorrow, or what will happen when I close my laptop and say goodbye to the beautiful Starbucks staff and walk out the door tonight, I will try to hold on to the fact that the sun will rise tomorrow. I will still have the same worries and the same anxieties, I can’t see that changing anytime soon, but what good does it do to focus on the worry.

One thought I do have about how to deal with this mess I have inside my head, and the mess that might be in yours as well…change your focus.  Worry is something we all face everyday, but if we focus on the shadows that follow us, we will remain lost and worried… A beautiful Switchfoot song, “the Shadow proves the Sunshine” plays in my mind…funny coincidence (or not), I pulled out the album (Nothing is Sound) that has this song on it about a week before all this new physical scare started, and my Dad also randomly made mention of it… so I think my new focus will be to acknowledge the stress, doubts, fears and anxieties, but instead of allowing the worry to consume and steal my day, I will try to focus on the fact that the shadows prove that there is sunshine.  That although life is hard and there is plenty to worry about, there is also plenty to be thankful for, that this is a part of life, but I don’t need to let it be the focus of my day.  Some days all I can say is “I’m breathing” and maybe that is enough…

I don’t have the answer to this one… I think this post brings more questions then answers.  But I will try to remember that the shadows are there, but they prove that the sun is also shinning and I’m still alive…so that’s something!

Hang on friends… there is hope in our journey’s, our worries are strong and linger like shadows, but lets try and focus on the sun and hopefully have some brighter days!


text 7058682616 if your shadows are too much and you can’t seem to find the light…I’d love to chat and help…I’m in the middle of the shadows myself and trying to find my own sunshine.


Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.

Corrie ten Boom