The Winding Path

Counselling Services provided by Barb Zacharias

October 2021: 50 Years Young: A Retrospective.

Posted on Oct 19, 2021

Today is my 50th birthday. While that is a non-event for some, for me it has significance beyond the culturally conditioned issue with women aging. But let’s start there. In today’s society, there are plenty of mixed messages to choose from regarding women aging. At one end we can embrace it, or, we can purportedly fight it with the proverbial potions and lotions as well as supplements, medications, surgery, and a host of other treatments. It is a billionaire’s dream industry. I find it sad that we, as women, literally buy into this phenomenon, trying to make ourselves into someone that we are not:  nubile. Young and sexually desirable.

The first point of contention is objectively undeniable. We are no longer young according to the calendar and passage of time. The second is subjective. Sexual desirability is personal and age exempt. What turns on one person won’t arouse another. There are young people with libido issues as well as aged. Desirability is what you make it –for yourself being desired as well as what you desire. Emotional connection based upon consistent attention and affection is the foundation for a satisfying sex life, which includes knowing what is arousing to you and your partner. Chemistry and desirability between a couple includes appearance (which we know changes over time and circumstances) as much or as little as you choose. Hygiene notwithstanding. 😉 It is not a sole question of finding certain physical traits appealing—again subjective. What is appealing to one person is repelling to another.

My point is that we are buying into a lie when we chase “nubility” as a legitimate course of action to accommodate aging. That would be denial. We are in denial about aging and succumbing to shame messages that we are not valuable unless we are youthful looking and sexually desirable as per an industry or cultural standard. It is a sad state of affairs.

I just finished reading a book entitled On Turning 50: Celebrating Mid-Life Discoveries by Cathleen Rountree that was published in 1993. I found it engaging, inspiring, informative, and in one aspect, disheartening. For the most part, I had to remind myself the book was published 30 years ago given the relevant content. In all likelihood, some of the women who participated in the book are now deceased, or at the very least, octogenarians. What saddened me was how little has changed in 30 years. We, as women, face the same challenges and obstacles today. The only advantage we have is improved access to information about aging and the openness to talk about it. So thank you to all the women who have shared their experiences and paved the path for all who follow.

In mythological terms, women are usually categorized as the maiden, matron, or old crone. Personally I look forward to being an old crone: the wise old woman who lives in the woods. 🙂 Some days, I feel like I embody her already. Other days I feel my mid-life. I think we mistakenly view our 50s as the halfway point of our lives (I certainly do no wish to live to 100!). I have come to perceive our 50s as the midpoint of adulthood given our brains are not fully developed until the age of 24 or so. I can see myself living another 25 years, maybe a bit longer. That in itself is a revealing statement given my struggle with depression and childhood trauma.

There was a time I could not see myself living past my mid-thirties—the age my birth mother died. After reading Motherless Daughters by Hope Edelman, years ago, I was somewhat prepared for this and able to normalize it contextually. Sometimes it still is a surprise to think I have made it all the way to age 50. And there are, admittedly, days when I do not want to live out a full adult life when the depression seeps in and steals my joy. Those days remain very real for me. Thankfully not as frequent as in my youth—a stage of life I would not return to for all the billionaires in the world!

I, personally, have no desire to be nubile. I was going to say ‘once again;’ but at my core, I have never seen myself that way. However as I look at old photos, I can admit that I was young and desirable, in the stage-of-life sense. I have always struggled with fitting in, being appealing to the masses, socially acceptable. However, like many women, I learned early on that “nubility” makes you vulnerable to being taken advantage of and/or traumatized for a lifetime. It is a catch22 to be desired. Our sense-of-self may require it until we learn better; but it also puts us in harm’s way as well as steals our power and authenticity.

I much prefer being 50. I quite enjoyed my 40s. I think the subtitle of the book says it well: celebrating mid-life discoveries. Something I have never done before: look forward to what’s ahead. My struggles with depression included suicidal fixation in my adolescence; which I was fortunately able to downgrade to a tiredness-of-life-in-general: wanting the end to come sooner than later, simply because I tired of the ongoing struggle. But after a near-death experience in my late twenties, I realized that my end would come when it was “time” and not a moment sooner. I was spared for a reason. Even now, on the low days, I ponder about that reason being fulfilled and hence the end can come whenever my allotted time is complete. When all is well with my mental health, I look forward to what is left to discover about myself and the world around me.

If I struggled with believing I am a person of worth and value in the first half of my life, I hope in the second half of my adulthood, I can celebrate more of life’s discoveries. A significant part of embracing aging is being our authentic selves and knowing what we have to offer. Understanding we all have the gift of life, it is up to each one of us how to make the most of that gift both in what we receive in this life and what we give. May your life have purpose and meaning rooted in a strong inner core/sense  of self—not defined externally by industries and shame messages.

My birthday wish today is that you all experience a wonder-filled aging process—wherever you might be on that path.

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September 2021: Democracy

Posted on Sep 11, 2021

“Change is fueled by anger and disappointment, as well as by inspiration and patience.”

~Sally Armstrong, Ascent of Women (2013)

Another election is upon us. And if you recall, last time I blogged about my disappointment in politicians and the political system. I remain jaded and cynical about the effectiveness of Canada’s democratic system. If I could call for electoral reform, I would. I understand that some folks are trying to do just that. The party system just isn’t working in our modern day and age. All party platforms are relatively the same…and irrelevant in the big picture.

In a world where politicians truly represent their constituents, they would take the time and effort to visit the people in their ridings, get to know them and their concerns. In all the years I have been a registered voter, I can only recall two visits by political candidates: once in the Yukon (and I did vote for that candidate because she appeared to hear where I was coming from and my concerns; whether they were represented is another matter); and the other day here in Pine Falls. Unfortunately the timing was terrible, so I was unable to chat with him.

To my way of thinking, democracy is another form of bullying and or the popularity vote. And we all know that popular does not always mean best for the general public. It also means that minority groups are essentially left out in the cold. If your concerns do not match the majority, you are SOL. It is another way of being told you are unimportant.

If I had my druthers (an old fashioned turn of phrase referring to “I’d rather), voting would be about specific issues, not about party platforms or people. For it really doesn’t matter who is representing your riding or the country, f*ck ups occur regardless. Messes are made. Clean ups sometimes make things worse. Personal and political agendas from within and without tend to influence the system more so than citizens. Trust in officials is non-existent. Quite frankly they haven’t earned it. But that is a side rant.

My idea of electoral reform involves making use of the electronic platforms currently available that are secure and efficient. I would like my voice heard (represented), even if unpopular or in the minority—which I think could happen either by non-party representatives in government who use their salaries to get to know their constituents and their concerns, or by presenting an electronic platform in which I could state my concerns. The more valuable data would be the stats on how Canadians vote on different issues—not people or parties—and how it is discussed by the power brokers. Not debated like parliament is currently set up, but truly an exchange of ideas.

People will always disagree. Where the wheels fall off the wagon is no different than in relationship counselling. Couples must first hear and acknowledge where each person is coming from before they can negotiate middle ground. Our tendency is to prove who is right and who is wrong—create chasms rather than bridging the gaps. We need to throw that thinking out the window. It is archaic and ineffective.

If we want to thrive in this modern age, we need to embrace change—no only in our thinking, but also in the ways we communicate our thinking. We want to force our way of thinking onto others—whether it’s gun control or vaccines or education reform or cultural values. We also want to shut down hearing what others have to say, labeling them whiners or idiots or whatever suits our fancy to create distance. Even if we don’t agree, we all have a point. Sometimes it appears inconvenient or uncomfortable or unreasonable. But seldom do we take the time to hear where the other person is coming from. If we did, middle ground is more likely to be reached.

Compromise has become a dirty a word because it is often confused with sacrifice. If one person gives up or gives in, that is not compromise. Compromise involves all concerned parties giving “a little” to get “a little.” That’s middle ground, not one person having to concede all ground. And if one person is conceding much more than the other, that is not compromise either. We are once again looking at bullying—applying pressure to the underdog to get what we what. Both/all parties must feel discomfort as well as relief—in appropriate proportions.

So much for that part of my rant. My third political point has to do with the cop out excuse that if we didn’t create the problem, we are not responsible for the solution. This one gets my goat every time. And it is prolific on Facebook. Especially where minority groups are concerned—particularly indigenous groups. However, democracy created the genocide laws and their enforcement, and only democracy can end them. But who is speaking up to even make it a votable issue?

By saying the plight of our neighbours (however far removed from our experience) is not our problem is heartless and irresponsible. It communicates to the original occupants of this country, or newcomers, that we don’t care about them: they are unimportant, nonexistent, not worth our time. And in the case of the original occupants: shame on us! For they did not treat us that way. They extended friendship, respect, shared resources, helped us thrive. And the newcomers of the day took advantage.

It appalls me that people truly don’t care about others different from them. We are all human beings. No one having more or less value. But we certainly create us vs them mentalities every day. Whether it is giving ourselves an excuse not to get involved or shutting down conversations claiming the other perspective is weak or stupid or un-evolved. Facebook is a fantastic platform for sharing views as well as shunning.

I am currently reading a book by Canadian journalist, Sally Armstrong, called Ascent of Women. I think it’s a must read for any human being with an open heart and mind. The introduction alone inspired me not to give up—which I have a tendency to want to do when faced with animosity or apathy. We are so scared of “other,” “different,” or the unknown. It’s time to face our fears, find our courage, and press on to make the world a better place than when we stepped onto the world’s stage. We can all do better.

I am a cynic and doubt reform or great change. It takes a lot of effort some days to keep trying. If that book is anything to go by, time is not a factor—personal responsibility is. And as long as I have breath, I will do what I can to press forward. Maybe change will happen. Maybe it won’t. If women in developing countries can wait decades to see results, maybe I can hang in there a bit longer—and not give up so easily.

“The first thing to get out of the way is expectation that virtue always triumphs; in truth, most attempts to confront and defeat misdeeds are only partially successful or else seem to be outright failures. It doesn’t matter; nothing is wasted in the universe. Even an effort that apparently goes nowhere will influence the future. Though the system looks untouched, it has a fatal crack in it. The next assault, or the one after that, will bring it down. At the very least, someone, somewhere, has learned a lesson and will be more thoughtful.”
~ June Callwood, Canadian journalist and social activist

as quoted by Sally Armstrong, Ascent of Women (2013), p. 15

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Summer 2021: Dreams

Posted on Aug 18, 2021

This afternoon, I finished reading Design Your Next Chapter by Debbie Travis (2018). I have been a fan of hers for many years, first being introduced to her vibrant decorating style on the show CityLine (then hosted by Marilyn Denis) followed by The Marilyn Denis Show. I greatly admire both of those women. And I have no doubt Debbie’s influence is evident in my décor schemes.

Reading about Debbie’s next chapter prompted reflection of my own, as well as the realization that I have had a few “next chapters” in my life already, whose trajectories followed much of what Debbie described in her book—which was affirming in knowing I can keep going. Having been exposed to the concept of her Tuscan adventures on the aforementioned TV shows, it was interesting reading about her journey of ups and downs. It was an arduous process fraught with obstacles as well as exciting progress. My chapters have been less dramatic—I think; but none-the-less challenging and rewarding.

I also hope I have at least another two chapters yet to develop: my own version of retreats (but for trauma recovery) and writing my memoirs. Both are daunting in their own way and feel more of a dream then close to reality. I peck away at both, unsure what the next steps will be most of the time. But some things can remain unknown as I am not ready to move forward past where I am right now. Which of course gets me to thinking about where I am at this point in time; and how I’ve gotten here.

I felt a kinship with Debbie’s description of her Tuscan life and gratitude for my own dream life of sorts. Sometimes I cannot believe it’s really true. It may not be Tuscany, but it is my own idyllic environment. As I ponder these things, I am lying in my hammock in my beautifully-treed backyard. At first, mosquitoes made me consider returning indoors; but a slight breeze soon changed their minds and mine.

I finished reading the book; and as I reflected upon what I read, daycare kids were being picked up across the street. The dogs “greeted” a few passers-by. The breeze felt like a gentle caress on my skin. I did not want to leave my idyllic spot as much as my mind was telling me to “get on with it.” Then I remembered the notepad app in my phone—which I actually had with me outside (not a frequent occurrence)—and decided I could start my blog from the comforts of my backyard on this gorgeous summer day.

Marveling at how “almost perfect” my life appears to be, a nagging voice reminds me of what remains to be achieved or done. However, I wouldn’t trade the life I have now for any other. Sure, I had to sacrifice financial stability; but I am learning the Universe has a way of working things out. I just need constant reminders. The book also made me think about how I’ve put making a difference ahead of financial success when most people “get ahead” first, then “give back.” Now I’m wondering how to get ahead without losing at giving back.

Therein lies the quandary: I hate “the hustle.” I love the work, but I don’t like networking or finding new avenues for referrals or clientele. Aka: drumming up business. Sales, especially of my own services, is not my forté. In close association with that is helping clients find ways to pay for my much-needed counselling services.

My profession is a complicated industry where the well-off have easier access to wellness. I have spent a lot of time and effort trying to make counselling more accessible to all. Playing by the rules and jumping through hoops has been exhausting. I no longer have the inclination or wherewithal to be an EAP (Employee Assistance Program) service provider. It saddens me to some degree that I have arrived at the place where I can only offer my services to those who can afford to pay for them and/or can figure out how to access funding (which isn’t always accessible—unless you run with the big dogs and play by the big dog rules).

So, as much as it is worrisome, it is a huge relief to get out of the proverbial rat race and trust the Universe a bit more—counter to what the avid hustlers have to say. As I said, I love the work, but not chasing after clientele and/or payment. My challenge is to find the sweet spot between networking and allowing things to work out. All the while dreaming about a time when I don’t have to chase the money but can “just be.” I have no idea how my retreat idea will come to fruition, but it is something I have thought about for a long time—same for writing my memoirs.

I have since moved from the outdoors in as my phoned died and pets requested feeding. Yet I remain in my reflective state of mind, being grateful for where I am at the moment. I may not be where I need to be financially (the word self-sufficient comes to mind), but all-in-all I am a lucky girl. Lying in a hammock reflecting and reading. What a way to spend some time on a sunny afternoon.

And who knows when that next chapter will be revealed? In the meantime, I have plenty to do. What about you?

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May 2021: True Love

Posted on May 23, 2021

May 2021: True Love

When I started writing this blog, I was sitting outside on my deck after a light drizzle had refreshed the great outdoors following a few very warm days. Imagine with me the vivid green of the new leaves, the birds singing nature’s soundtrack in the background, punctuated by the drone of a helicopter. Surprisingly, there is a lull in the usual cacophony made by vehicles and voices.

A moment of peace and serenity. Just a moment. Vehicles are once again steadily passing by my corner. The sun is burning through the cloud cover. I once again hear voices throughout the neighbourhood. A moment.

Sometimes I would like to live  in the woods away from all these background noises. To soak in nature’s quiet existence. But something always pulls me back. I suppose it is that innate need for connection. Something currently in short supply in our world. We seem to be headed toward a dystopian society. Some would say we are already there.

Why is it so hard for humans to maintain kindness and compassion? Why do we impose our beliefs on others or shut down disparate voices? Why can we not invite dialogue? Listen to each other’s experiences? Make reasonable and informed decisions? Why do we insist on being antagonistic? We all have the same capabilities of operating from kindness or apathy or aggression. Why do we choose the last two on a consistent basis?

I know these are rhetorical questions. Just where my mind is wandering. Which leads me to wonder how does one maintain hope in dystopia? And…it comes back to connection, reaching out. Finding one person that can be your anchor. Reminds me of holocaust and other genocide survivors. Their saving grace: community. A group of safe people providing consistency and connection.

During a global pandemic, it is very challenging to find a safe community. Meeting virtually has its limits. Humans need to touch each other. To offer comfort and support: physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, relationally. In direct contrast with our need for community and connection, I informed a client the other day that true love can only be found within.

I realize those with conservative religious beliefs will counter that with statements about God. However, most religious faiths acknowledge the inward attunement that requires: even praying is an inward focus formulating thoughts that are sent out into the universe from our innermost being. Most of our prayer conversations happen inside our head. Most faiths also espouse that God already is within us and/or we are part of the divine Oneness.

Maybe that’s where to find community: in our oneness. But I digress from my thoughts on True Love. We tend to externalize love. We seek it outside ourselves in other people (and/or deities that are defined by faith systems). In doing so, we subject feeling loved to the vagaries of people and situations beyond our control —much like the weather. Similar to the external vs internal locus of control for our sense of self.

If our sense of self is based externally, those externals are in flux; and we lose security or stability. We never know who we are at given moment unless someone or something provides feedback (aka external validation). If our sense of self is based within, it is not dependent upon ever changing external factors. Much like shooting at a moving target.

So. To pull these thoughts together. If we can find “True Love” within instead of without, how does that impact the choices we make? How we seek to get our legitimate needs met, including connection and belonging? How we pursue our passions? How we center ourselves? How we shape our lives? How we choose romantic partners? When we develop a strong inner core, that may or may not include religious beliefs or spiritual practices, we know that we always have our own back. We can provide the consistency, stability, and security we crave and constantly seek externally.

How many of us actually treat ourselves with the compassionate care we crave from others?

For me, practicing “True Love” means making sacrifices as well as indulgences. By choosing to live as close to nature as I can, it involves living without the security of a steady income. My love of nature means I live further away from urban conveniences. Practicing True Love also means setting boundaries such as limiting contact with toxic people. I am an introvert, so I need to ensure I have sufficient alone time to recharge after interacting with fellow humans. Being an animal lover also means I make choices that impact where and how I live and how I spend some of my money when I have it.

Most importantly, True Love means I talk to myself much more gently than I used to. It means listening to my gut, my intuition, my Higher Self. It means interacting with the Divine Mystery, keeping an open mind, and a guarded heart. What True Love is not is narcissism, selfishness, arrogance, and the like. True Love makes us better humans, not less-tolerable ones.

While I was writing this blog in my journal, my pen ran out of ink. The last thing I wrote was: By looking within for consistent caring presence…

I’m not sure how I was going to end that sentence, but my current thought sees it as a challenge for me to look within for a consistent caring presence. My True Self is my constant companion. I am always with myself. As ludicrous as that sounds, there can be comfort there if we treat our Inner Selves well. I cannot say that I do. I tend to be very hard on myself and unkind. As a recovering people-pleaser and workaholic, looking within instead of without for validation and support is not any easy task. And as I mentioned, sometimes looking within is just as troubling as without.

Finding True Love within is about checking our judgements at the doorway to our heart and mind and soul. It is about offering ourselves grace, speaking kindly, acknowledging limitations and mistakes, as well offering comfort and support. It is about taking responsibility for our lives—not for the externals that shaped us, but living with the consequences of unmet attachment needs, childhood woundings, conditioning, and imposed value systems.

By looking within we can make sure our inner compass is set to True North. And not everyone’s compass settings will look the same or point in the same direction. Unlike our planet, the inner workings of people have a variety of directions to turn to. I admit I have difficulties with this as there are some things I believe are universal such as opposing racism, sexism, poverty, injustice, and the like. Others do not believe as I do. My only hope is that I learn how to invite dialogue instead of drawing lines in the sand. And that I can turn within for support when I fail rather than punishment—whether that is seen as encountering the Internal Divine, my Higher Self, my Inner Compass, or my Interior Family.

My hope is that when you look within today, you will also encounter True Love. Maybe we can start by addressing ourselves as “Dear One,” as in, “Dear One, I see you.” Namaste. Perhaps that is enough: to look in the mirror, make the hand pose, and greet yourself: The spirit in me sees the spirit in you. Namaste.

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April 2021: Body Love, Pt 2

Posted on Apr 26, 2021

April 2021: Body Love, Pt 2

I received some exciting news at the doctor’s office earlier this week: I lost 3.5 lbs! After four years of steadily gaining 10 lbs per year for no apparent reason, this was a huge relief. No thanks to the medical community, I might add. Out of desperation, I began looking into my health concerns on my own. I read books. I completed questionnaires. Following recommendations from my research, I began a new supplement regimen targeted at thyroid function and female hormones as well as using essential oils and aromatherapy. I tweaked my food intake. I listened to my body. Most importantly, I did (and continue to do) the difficult emotional work.

I haven’t done the math to figure out how long it would take me to lose 40+ pounds at the rate of ~2 lbs per month (if that still continues). I am not even focusing on weight loss per se. If it happens, great. If it doesn’t, that’s okay too. As long as the weight gain stops. Because my 5’2” frame technically can’t handle this much “extra” me.

Fortunately, I am blessed with an hourglass figure plus the tendency to gain weight fairly proportionally all over my body. However, I have not always appreciated my curves. Especially in my younger, thinner years when my figure was disproportionately curvaceous in the caboose. I was teased about my big bum since junior high. I remember as a camp counsellor, campers commenting on my generous proportions in that one area. I grew up listening to my maternal aunts bemoan the state of their behinds and fluctuations in weight, size, and shape. I did not hear any positive messages about body image that I can recall.

I definitely felt defective.

I have hated my body—or at the very least questioned its abilities—my entire life. Even as a younger child I sensed I was different (eg. not wanting to exert myself physically) which turns out was likely the very early stages of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome—not to mention my mental health issues that have always been there: unnamed, unacknowledged. It has been a long, tiresome, arduous journey to reclaim my unwanted bits and bobs. With my mental health finally stabilized, it was evidently time to work on body issues—both internal and external.

I remember my last significant weight loss like it was yesterday—even thought it was nearly ten years ago. At the time I assumed it was due to the grief work prompted by the death of a beloved pet, Gracie. In retrospect, it was due to Leaky Gut Syndrome (stomach not absorbing nutrients properly) which required going on a strict “diet” regimen for two years (and then slowly reintroducing foods to determine what was safe to eat). My first dramatic weight gain got blamed on a new anti-anxiety med. Changes were made, lost half the weight gained, which seemed to be my body’s new normal. Just as I was coming to terms with this version of my body, the gradual weight gain began much to my chagrin and bewilderment. What was my body dong to me? Why did it hate me so much?

On the latest leg of my body acceptance journey, I have been reading books by Geneen Roth. I highly recommend anything written by her if you struggle with any sort of compulsive behaviour. In particular, her workbook, “Why Weight?” is very perceptive and asks the tough questions with compassion. One of which is to ask your fat what it’s doing for you. For me, the answer was surprising. My extra weight responded with “we’re here for you.” Without my extreme weight changes, I would never have faced the internalized deprivation and shame messages (which surface whether we are over or under weight). I have weight/body image issues regardless of the numbers on a scale or clothing size. Looking at photos taken during my intense grief work (aka weight loss period), I recall I still hated my body shape, particularly my derriere. It didn’t help I felt unseen by my then husband. I remember vowing I would never gain weight again, discarded all my “fat” clothes (of a certain size), only to gain back all that weight and much more. I hated my body for betraying me.

Yet my weight is here for me in that if I had stayed “thin,” me, myself, & I would have continued betraying my body by shaming it every day (and several times a day). My body does know what is best for me, if only I stop to listen and respect what I hear. Just like my essential or True Self, my body longs to be loved. We have been to hell and back emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically. The least I can do is appreciate how it keeps working for me—day in and day out, through good times and bad. My body loves me unconditionally. It moves, breathes, circulates blood, and heals itself (albeit slowly) regardless of how much I disrespect it.

So instead of yet another rant (and believe me, I have a few held in reserve 🙂 ), I decided to share a bit of my body love journey—and all because I lost 3.5 lbs. There are so many contributing factors, I wouldn’t know where to start; but I will make a list of resources I consulted. Key among them are the nuggets mined from Geneen Roth’s shared experiences. I will try to summarize a few key points.

1) When we compulsively [insert behaviour here: eat, smoke, clean, organize, work, etc.], we are trying to nourish ourselves—to feed a hungry heart, not necessarily an empty tummy. We must slow down the compulsion to figure out what we are actually craving (eg. attention and affection) which food (or whatever) is not actually going to satisfy.

2) Awareness of the compulsive behaviour in the moment is the starting point—and being willing to try another way to satisfy the craving/care for self/feed the hungry heart/self-soothe.

3) Show the body (and your Self) some love—mindfully bathe/shower/apply lotion, repeat daily affirmation statements, seek out comforting touch, give yourself a hug, listen to music, create something meaningful, go for a walk, be in nature, get a massage, call a trusted friend, etc.

4) Explore the shame and/or deprivation messages and do something about them: keep, discard, modify.

5) Get to know your body inside and out! Don’t settle. Honour the trial and error method. Keep looking for solutions until you are satisfied.

May you experience an inner shift in your body love journey, however slight. It all counts. Never forget: you count and matter. Love and appreciate your Self, in some small way, today.

List of resources:
The Thyroid Solution by Ridha Arem, MD (2007).
The Supercharged Hormone Diet (2011) ORThe Hormone Diet (2010) by Natasha Turner, ND.
The Canadian Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Sherry Torkos, BSc Phm (2013).
The Complete Aromatherapy & Essential Oils Handbook for Everyday Wellness, by Nerys Purchon & Lora Cantele (2014).
The Art of Dressing Curves: The Best-Kept Secrets of a Fashion Stylist by Susan Moses (2016).
Feeding the Hungry Heart: The Experience of Compulsive Eating by Geneen Roth (1982/1993).
Breaking Free from Emotional Eating by Geneen Roth (1984/2003).
Why Weight? A Workbook for Ending Compulsive Eating by Geneen Roth (1989).
The Self-Acceptance Project: How to Be Kind and Compassionate Toward Yourself in Any Situation, by Various Authors, Tami Simon, editor (2016)

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March 2021: Time Warp

Posted on Mar 19, 2021

March 2021: Time Warp

I fully intended to blog about something that I mentioned on social media; but this week’s life experience rose to the top of the queue. In an attitude of solidarity with fellow, mental-illness strugglers, I am choosing to rant about the absurdity of the semiannual time change.

Past experience has taught me to always schedule “recovery time” post time change—whether springing forward or falling backwards. If I operated like a corporation, this would be viewed as a significant financial loss as I am not earning an income during scheduled down time. Fortunately I don’t think in those terms. However, sometimes that is the only language the “powers-that-be” understand. Given the numerous statistics that indicate the time change is not a good idea (increased emergency visits, car accidents, and the like), it does beg the question why any country would agree to something that detracts rather than adds to a person’s quality of life.

However, the goal of this blog is not to petition the government to stop the insanity; but rather to normalize what I experienced this past week and what many of you likely also went through. This past weekend, I followed through with the usual protocols. Changing the clocks before going to bed Saturday night. Giving myself an unhurried Sunday morning. Only having one (unavoidable) scheduled item for the afternoon. Monday was more of the same. I allowed myself as much flexibility as I could as I am usually more tired than usual during these time adjustments.

So I was surprised by my drop in mood come Monday. I questioned whether I needed to ask my doctor to increase my anti-depressant (which I have been gradually reducing). That was a check point for me. I was frighteningly near the edge of the abyss; and I did not want to go there. It was akin to PTSD flashbacks imagining the effort of crawling out of the depression abyss; and I wanted to avoid that all costs. This had me worried. What was happening that my whole system appeared off kilter?

By Tuesday I was still sluggish but no longer near the edge of the abyss. I could tell my body was adjusting; but everything feels “off” given our circadian rhythm is so dependent upon the movement of the sun and takes its cues from the amount of daylight. The days feel “wrong” to me with this time warp. Made me question why we “need” an extra hour of daylight at the end of the day when we live above the 49th parallel and have plenty long enough days as it is. Who needs daylight at 10pm??? In summer I am very dependent on blocking out the evening light, not absorbing it.

To me, taking advantage of the summer sun would involve installing solar panels. Not trying to manufacture a longer day. Why do we try to play with the concept of time? The day still only has 24 hours. Our bodies can only do so much with our given time. I fail to see the logic in messing with the natural function of the planet, sun, and moon. There are so many better things to do with our resources—a key one being rethinking the structured 40-hour work week. Now there is something that might actually allow people to take advantage of daylight hours.

So I guess there is one thing I can extract from this week’s depression scare: I am grateful I am self-employed and can plan my days with wellness rather than profits in mind. The irony is that focusing on my wellness means taking advantage of the times of day when I am most productive which translates into efficiency (work smarter, not harder). But my definitions of productivity and efficiency differ from the corporate world which requires a servitude to a bottom line and profit shares.

It also made me frustrated that a nonsensical “tradition” was imposed upon me. Something I didn’t want or need, that didn’t contribute to the greater good or overall well-being of the planet. Something that actually caused harm in the form of a depressive episode. If I may add, unlike masks and vaccines which are intended to stop the advancement of a deadly virus. At the worst, masks are uncomfortable but don’t cause any harm. For those claiming duress, there are many accommodations like home deliveries to counter the need to leave your house which requires the wearing of a mask. There are no accommodations for mental-illness setbacks triggered by mandated time changes.

Hence, I am grateful I am not a slave to the 40-hour work week and someone else’s bottom line. The trade off is less personal income and no financial security; but I have come to terms with that. For me, messing with time has no benefits and only creates chaos. If it wouldn’t complicate my life, I wouldn’t bother with the time change. So if your week was as filled with emotional upheaval as mine was, take heart. You are not alone. And you are not crazy. Just live in a crazy world.

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