Laurenaissance

Vulnerability – It Makes Us Real

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My life is full of mistakes. I have loved the wrong man, trusted the wrong friend, been hurt more times than I can count, I have stayed too long in the wrong job, and I have been terrified to move on to something else because I live with a very strong case of imposter syndrome.  And while I hope that I won’t repeat these mistakes – it is inevitable.  Because I truly want to believe the best in people. I hope that my work life improves.  I wake up every day wanting to be smarter than I was the day before. Not only smarter, but braver.  And kinder, and more sophisticated. I want to be more me. There isn’t a whole lot that is wrong with the kind of person that I am. I just want a life that I can be proud of. A life without shame. Spoiler alert – I am proud of the little life that I have created.

But a life without shame can’t be had. No matter what I do, someone will call me out on some aspect.  I’ve had a bad couple of weeks. I ended up sleeping in my closet – and someone that I used to know called me pathetic for doing what I needed to do. Or maybe it was for doing what I needed to do and sharing it. Doesn’t matter. The point is – I took measures to take care of myself, and he didn’t agree with my methods and tried to shame me for them.  Me feeling hurt, scared, and angry from that reaction doesn’t do me any good. Once upon a time, I would have taken those words, and changed my behaviour. I would have tried to be better behaved, be more like the kind of person he wanted me to be.  But I learned this lesson a few years ago, I will never be the kind of person someone else wants me to be. I can only be the best version of me that I find acceptable.  We are all flawed, this is what makes us fantastic. Just because I (sometimes) find it necessary to act in ways that you may not understand, doesn’t mean that I am not of value.

I grew up in a family, where we didn’t show our cards. We worked hard, we had our eyes on our own paper, and we didn’t talk about our feelings. We grew callouses on top of our emotions. Being vulnerable – or letting others see that you are vulnerable was not an option.  And thats fine. It doesn’t work for me – but I can see how it might be easier to live that way. But I have carried around a lifetime of shame. My earliest memories are something that nightmares are made of. And the moment that I started accepting those events, and owning them as part of what makes me Laura, and then sharing them – I started to let go of the pain. I will probably not be free of the pain completely, but I am able to enjoy moments of life. Whereas previously, I didn’t think I deserved to have a single good moment.  Do you know what happens when you feel like you don’t deserve happiness – you form toxic relationships (if at all), you become a shut in, you find yourself in near constant chaos (and not the good kind), you aren’t able to speak up for yourself, and you most certainly will never see yourself as a valuable or good person.  And this is why I share my struggles. You may find it necessary to call me out on that behaviour, but disappointing myself is a whole lot worse than disappointing you.  My apologies if that hurts your feelings, but if I am not honest with myself – then I can’t be honest with you.

I have a hard time trusting people, which sounds counter-intuitive to embracing vulnerability. But I also know that if I don’t take that risk (trust), I will never get any better. So I will always ask the “dumb” question, tell the person he is liked (I still struggle with love – but I am working on it), hold a person’s hand when they are having a rough day – even if I have just encountered them on the street for the first time, share a meal and a conversation with a person who needs to share his or her story. These moments mean everything to me. I don’t do it to feel stronger – I do it so someone else can.

These are a few of the gifts that I have been given, because I have chosen to be open about my struggles and my story. Vulnerability has allowed me to:

  • forgive
  • relate better to children (thats important when you work with children)
  • be open to new ideas
  • be more creative
  • stand up to bullies (or ignore them when it calls for that)
  • create better relationships with my family
  • have wonderful friends
  • become much more empathetic
  • smile
  • volunteer
  • go outside
  • listen
  • be sincere
  • not worry about seeing the world differently than others
  • do my own thing

There is not one thing on that list that I could do when I was living a life that someone else wanted me to lead; when I tried to be pulled together, and stoic (there is absolutely nothing wrong with those qualities, they are in fact ones that I admire). But they aren’t me.  My life needs to be a bit messy, colourful, emotional, and filled with both light and dark. I need to do things on my timetable. And I need to not be shamed when I choose to live differently than you. So I live life on my terms. It’s chaotic but its so so good.

I wish the good life for you, however you choose to live.
*Photo Source Trammell Hudson via Flickr

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abuse, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, intovertism, Laurenaissance

Walk-in Closet Needed

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In better days, this is what my closet looks like. But its also something else.  Its where I go when life gets to be too much.  I throw down a sleeping bag, and some pillows, bring in a cup of juice, and I close the doors and sit in here until I calm down.  I know its strange.  You don’t need to tell me that its unhealthy. I know that it is. But its also May – a month that is (historically) difficult and filled with anxiety. And while its still early days, the expectation is high that it will match past years.

In the past 2 days I feel like I have lost 15 pounds (I havent) but I am sick, exhausted, and so anxious. I am frantic. The reason?  Its May.  There is nothing I can do to change it. Calling it April 32nd isn’t going to make things better. All I can do is get through this month the best way I can. That means scheduling a bunch of stuff, so I don’t have a lot of alone time to think bad thoughts.  And when I have spare time, putting myself in a small space. I am not claustrophobic, however open spaces really bother me.  So here I am sitting in my closet.  And here is where I will stay until my next student arrives.  I will most likely be sleeping here tonight.  And chances are, I will have a makeshift desk set up-so I can work in here tomorrow.  The clothes are a bit bothersome, but since I don’t have anywhere else to put them, I have no choice but to share their space.

My life isn’t terrible.  I am not destitute or hungry. I am employed, I have friends, people care about me. I am even loved.  But I am in a bit of pain right now.  And this is the only thing that I can think of that will make me feel better.

I will add a little levity and say that my next place will have much nicer closets, also I really need to go shopping.

 

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intovertism, Laurenaissance, Uncategorized

This Introverted Irish Girl’s Guide to St Patrick’s Day

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.   ~ W. B Yeats

“The Lake Isle of Innisfree” perfectly sums up how I feel about life in general, but is especially pertinent on St Patrick’s Day; not because it was written by an Irish poet about life in rural Ireland.  But because I seek peace, quiet, and solitude.  I long to be in a place where people are outnumbered by birds,beasts, flowers, and trees. I will celebrate a not so distant St Patrick’s Day (and many other days) in a place just like the poem mentions. Because I need it to thrive.  But for now, I am in a city in a country far away from Ireland.  And I live among a bunch of people who pretend to be Irish for one day. How do I know they are imposters –  they wear silly hats, drink green beer, and act appallingly in public in the middle of the afternoon.  I choose to not so silently judge these people.  But its ok – because I am outlining how I choose to observe the day of the Saint  who got some metaphorical snakes to follow him out of Ireland, and those rowdy types can feel free to judge my choices.

*I spent the majority of the day spring cleaning. St  Patrick’s Day seems like a good day to get rid of dirt and toxic energy. Everyone knows that weren’t actually snakes in Ireland during the 5th Century, and snakes were most likely a metaphor for evil (you know Adam and Eve and the apple). I figure cleaning is a good way to honour Ireland’s Patron Saint.
*I have a drop of whisky, with a little bit of soda, and lemon. It’s irish whisky (obviously).
*Usually I would make my mom’s potato pancake recipe, but Im not eating potatoes right now, so dinner is salmon and asparagus (green has to figure into this day somehow).
*Tonight we will watch one of my most favourite movies of all time, The Secret of Roan Irish. Its an incredible Irish fable. You can view the trailer here.

And to prove that I am not some total judgemental prude – I leave you with this.

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Sláinte.

 

 

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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, cooking, Laurenaissance, The Other Side

The End is Near

I am nearing the end of a 4 week elimination diet.  And for the most part, I have done not too badly with it.  I had one day where I ate just about every carbohydrate I could find – luckily I had a total of 1/4 cup of rice and a can of kidney beans at home, and about $5 dollars in my pocket which was enough to buy a latte and a croissant at the cafe down the street.  And other than going out for dinner one time in the last 4 weeks, and had 3 bites of a very chocolatey dessert which resulted in the most wicked headache ever, I have pretty much toed the line when it comes to this diet (holy long sentence – and breathe!). And I can now pronounce that sugar is evil.

I feel FANTASTIC.  Here is the list of changes that have happened:

  • My anxiety has been greatly reduced
  • I have loads of energy
  • My jeans fit better
  • I have lost an entire shoe size (figure that one out – because I cant)
  • The only real noticeable weight that I have lost is in my chest, because I no longer have any bras that fit (figures I would lose there first). But yay for shopping days!
  • My hair is healthier, and doesn’t fall out nearly as much
  • My skin is much less dry – and dare I say, almost glowy
  • I feel terrible when I sneak in a carbohydrate
  • Berries now taste like mold.  They don’t have mold – I checked, its my taste buds that are wrecked.
  • I am managing to save a few extra $$$ a month – probably because I have to stay home now.
  • I am happier.  Like way happier.  Like super happy.

And this is what I look like after almost an entire month on this diet.

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For those of you who don’t remember what I looked like when I started this journey – I looked like this 4 weeks ago.

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Go ahead and tell me I look much better now – I love hearing that. Check out the fact that I no longer have humongous black circles under my eyes. I can only speculate of course, but I think they may be gone for good.

And here is the best news – because Im feeling so much better (the lack of anxiety especially), I am going to continue on this journey – with a slightly altered diet. I simply must have oranges. And tomatoes on second thought I don’t need tomatoes.. But chilies – my chamomile tea really misses those things. I’ll try it out, anyway.

 

 

 

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Laurenaissance, music, scheduling, Uncategorized

Time For Me

Lately, I have been running out of time. Not just losing track of time -I am doing that, but actually finding that there are not enough hours to get everything done. It all came to a head this week, when I found that I wasn’t able to complete some projects that had a deadline. This is unusual for me.  No matter how tired I am – or how busy I get, I always manage to complete things on time. Turns out I can’t do that anymore. I’ve also noticed that I have started cancelling appointments, and sighing with relief when other people cancel on me. I find myself falling into bed completely exhausted and actually sleeping for a few hours – this is the one positive thing that has come from all this over-scheduling.

I had a conversation with a friend of mine about this- and she had a brilliant idea via Michelle Obama (not that they are friends or anything – she went to an event/lecture by her). Mrs. Obama talked about how when she is constructing her calendar, she schedules in her must do things (for herself or for her children) first, before scheduling other meetings/events/appearances.

I was listening to this, thinking I have a very different kind of life than the former First Lady, but I definitely have a scheduling problem. So, while I have a completely insane schedule for the rest of February and March (which includes working 7 days a week), I can try this out for April and the subsequent months.  Now, I already have a proposed calendar – but I have managed to do a bit of moving things around and I think I have come up with a plan. It feels like I work 80+ hrs a week. What makes it seem like I am always working, is that I don’t ever schedule in things like billing, or scheduling, or lesson prep. I do those on my own time.  And so I am often sending out invoices from my phone, while I am waiting for a movie to start on a Sunday night. This is unacceptable.  But if I take a careful look at my calendar, I notice that I have a 2.5 hr block between lessons on a tuesday, where I can do my invoicing and follow ups (and so Im going to schedule in some admin time – DONE!). I shouldn’t have to look at that every week – which gives me a few extra hours a week for practicing, and checking in with parents, and maybe even do a bit of marketing.  So instead of using that time- for scarfing down dinner or madly preparing for the next lesson, I can invest that time back into my own business.

The one aspect that my calendar is missing is time for me.  I have already made lunch hours a time to get a bit of exercise (me).  I have an entire freezer full of already prepared dinners, so I don’t have to worry about cooking for the next 3 weeks, but I rarely schedule fun.  Mostly because by the time I get around to it – Im fast asleep.

Here is what my average week looks like:

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Work = 40 hrs
Ensemble Rehearsal = 7.5 hrs
Lessons = 15.5hrs
Admin = 2.5 – 5 hrs
Practice= 10 hrs

And if you add in the volunteer hours I work, you can add in an average of 2 hrs a week. That brings me up to almost 80 (hah! so I was right).  But there is definitely time for me.  In fact, I am quite surprised at how much white space is in my calendar.  I don’t feel the need to schedule every single minute of my life – but I like knowing that there is room for almost everything I want to be doing.  And now that I have realized that I can reschedule things, in order for me to have a  more balanced life, I feel like I won’t be missing deadlines, or forgetting things. In fact, I feel like I have quite a lot of room to breathe. Maybe so much room, that I should take on another project. Or maybe just schedule in some fun things, until I start feeling like me again.

*I purposely don’t put my practice hours into my calendar because right now, I am feeling the need to be flexible with my playing.  Also did you notice – no therapy sessions for March! Time for a bit of a rest.

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Laurenaissance, The Other Side

The Psychic

I went to see a psychic today this week. And it was wonderful.

Before this experience, I was more skeptic than believer. I felt that if you were having a bad time of it, a $50-100 session with a psychic might be a better investment than a weekly session with a therapist, if all you were looking for was to know that everything would all work out. But other than that, I have never really had much use for knowing what is coming up – as change is constant.

Today changed all of that.

I walked into the storefront feeling good.  Feeling like change is coming into my life. A lot of change. Good change. Necessary change. I have been feeling like life has gotten a bit too small lately, and I want to move on to new challenges, other places, find different people. I have been feeling like I want to add more of me into the world, and that is certainly a new feeling.

And here is what came up in the reading:

 

 

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Before we even started the spread, the card at the bottom of the deck (and apparently this is important) was the Wheel of Fortune. Didn’t I tell you that change was coming into my life. This is the card that makes things happen.  Change!  And then she (lets call her H) started laying cards down, and making really encouraging sounds.  And when she finished dealing (that’s what you call it, right?) she said – “this is really exciting”.  Cue the goosebumps!  I love it when people are excited!  Before I tell you about the cards – let me just say, that I felt like someone was standing behind me yelling “yes!” while pumping their fist into the air.  This is how positive that morning was for me.

First card “H” pulls is The Empress (thats me)- she is in reverse.  Which means there is some dissatisfaction. And that is the truth. I am ready to move to more creative pursuits.  I have dreams of opening my own shop – and I am scared. But the next card is the Knight of Wands – a man who knows what he wants, and he gets it.  A man who is dynamic, and is smart, and is driven, and who is going to take that journey with me.  I know this man – and he is a great influence in my life.  All of this is true.

Moving on, she flips over the Fool. The only card in the entire deck that worries me.  It worries me, because I don’t understand it. Before this week – I thought it was a reflection of who I am, someone that can’t be taken seriously.  A joke.  A flake of some sort. But its not true. The fool represents unlimited potential. It multiplies the effects of everything else by 10.  I was told that this is the card of blind faith. Of trust. To go with my gut – and believe in what I am doing. And now that I have had a few days to think about it, this may be the most powerful card of all, for me. Because what I have never done is trust in anyone, let alone myself. The time is now.

The Fool was paired with the six of pentacles. Which could mean that the creative endeavour could mean less money, especially in the getting started years.  But that less money does not mean less happiness. This is already a lesson I have learned in my life, it does not worry me. If the Knight decides to stick around – then I have nothing to worry about.

Next comes the Emperor – in this position, he is seen as a mentor. An older male – someone who believes in structure.  I have a mentor, he believes more in flexibility than structure – but he has his moments. He deserves a phone call about everything that has been going on (including this reading).  The card paired with it, is the 8 of wands.  This means travel.  And a relocation.  For work, for love, for life. Knight of Wands are you listening?

Which transitions into the next two cards, the two of wands- meaning travel, enthusiasm, inspiration; and the three of pentacles – entering into an agreement with someone, a partnership.  This tells us that the possibility for an overseas relocation could very well go hand in hand with a new job.  A more creative job. Less structure, more creation.  Maybe this will let me be the fully realized artist that I desperately want to become (and by fully realized, I just mean full time).

So far so good, its pretty much everything I want to happen. And then Hailey moves onto the last two cards.  The nine of cups – the wish fulfillment card. All of my dreams are coming true. The happily ever after that I have dreamed of my entire life is possible.  And so what is the final card – the only card that could come after a card like that. The Lovers.  Apparently the happily ever after comes with the Knight of Wands.

The really interesting thing that happened was after the major reading. She chose 4 additional cards – you can see them in the photos (they are the small cards), and two of the cards she chose had already appeared in the reading, the wheel of fortune, and the two of wands. Basically solidifying the fact that change is indeed coming – and there are faraway places to visit in my future.

So there you have it folks, my future. It looks to be a great one.

 

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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, cooking, Laurenaissance

When A Diagnosis Gives You Back Your Life

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Five days ago I started an elimination diet for thyroid dysfunction after I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease.  The photo on the left (where I look like a serial killer) was taken on Sunday (day 1). The photo on the right was taken this afternoon (day 5).  Neither photo has a filter, and the only makeup I am wearing in today’s photo is lipstick.  Even I can tell that the difference is fairly amazing.

So what causes the difference?  A diet that has no sugar, no dairy, no grain, no fruit, a considerable less amount of vegetables that I am used to eating, way more protein than I want to eat – which forces me to drink twice the amount of water than normal.

This is what has happened to me in the last 5 days:

  • I had a really rough start – I woke up having a panic attack in the middle of the night, and ended up in the emergency room.  I can’t 100% be sure that it is diet related (considering it happened on the first day), but eating animals is not natural for me – so it might be related. A little valium and some rest, and I am fine.
  • My skin is a lot clearer, and brighter.
  • My eyes are clear.
  • I am hungry all the time. I am obsessed with food now. If I am not eating or cooking, then I am counting down the minutes until I can be eating or cooking. I hope this passes soon – I am so tired of looking at photos of food on pinterest and instagram.
  • I have lost 7lbs in 5 days (without trying).
  • I walk faster
  • For the very first time since I have been living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome I don’t have huge dark circles under my eyes.
  • I don’t crave salt! Seriously for 20 years I have basically wanted to have a salt lick installed in every room in my apartment. NO MORE!
  • I am still exhausted but its a different kind. Its the kind that is caused by over scheduling ones self.  I understand its early days still – but I am hopeful.
  • Today, I feel pretty.  And I can’t tell you the last time I was able to say that.
  • I smile

I feel a little like I am getting my life back.  I have a long way to go, but I am definitely healing. And a healing journey makes me happy.

One final lesson that I learned  – a single cinnamon red heart is enough to cause a headache for an entire night. So now we know, sugar really is detrimental.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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