Finding the Happiness

Meditation

I wrote about my fist foray into meditation a few weeks ago.  You can find that article here: (What Happened When I Started Meditating)  It’s been over a month now and I’ve had a extremely cool and interesting journey with it.  Some of the results of meditation were what I thought they would be, but then other things started happening that I never imagined.  After so short a time learning to meditate I’ve discovered so much about myself in completely surprising ways.

I’ve listed and explained these amazing new things below, and I encourage you to tell me about your own in the comments below!

1.) Finding Happiness:  This is a new one as of just a few days ago.  For the first few weeks of meditation I felt good afterwards.  Calm, relaxed and ready for whatever lay ahead.  I thought my meditations were successful since after a nice 20 minute session I felt good.  I had no idea that ‘good’ was just a start.  This morning after a nice long meditation of breathing in white positive light, I stretched in bed and smiled, feeling happy.

Happiness has always been my goal.  I’ve always wanted to say that ‘I am happy’ and know that I’m being honest.  I’m so close!  A month ago it felt further away, but this morning I realized that it’s right there in front of me.  After meditating I felt happy.  Truly happy.  It doesn’t always last through the whole day yet, but it will!  Meditation first helped me find the calm, which in turn is helping me find the happy!  The point is that I never knew how to find it before.  Suddenly I have the tools to seek it out and pull it down inside of me.  If I wasn’t addicted to meditation before, I certainly am now!

2.) Work Atmosphere:  I’ve talked about my business partner several times.  He’s… hard to always be around.  His biggest flaw is really that he’s oblivious to the people around him.  For the last few months I’ve been frustrated and resentful towards him.  You know that feeling of frustration that burns right in the lower part of your chest?  Yeah, that feeling.  It built and built until I couldn’t find calm if my life depended on it!  Insert the beginning part of my meditation journey. Continue reading

The New Feminism

FEMINISM

Here’s a little thing about me.  I love being a girl.  I can get down in the mud with the best of them, but in my daily life, I like things that would be labelled ‘feminine’.  I like pink and lace.  I like having smooth legs and bouncy curly hair.  I love experimenting with make-up and feeling light and girly.  But I also believe strongly in equality.  Not just for women, for everyone.  I thought standing up to fight put me in a category that would ridicule me for my ‘girly-ness’.  I was no naive.

Growing up I believed that calling someone a ‘feminist’ was an insult.  No joke!  As a child I was a tomboy, and for a little stretch I even cut my hair short like a boy and didn’t wear make-up.  I dressed in tracksuits every day and spent my time playing soccer and fighting with my mom about ‘looking nice’ for events.  If there was ever going to be a cliche feminist in my school, it would have been me.  But I hated it!  I shrunk back, just wanting to be me.  Why do I have to label myself?  Why couldn’t I just be a girl that like the dress like a boy?  Why did I have to be a ‘feminist’?

Emma Watson said it best in her speech at the UN Conference back in 2014 when they launched the campaign #HeforShe.  If you haven’t heard it yet, it’s a must!!  She talks about this very cliche.  We’re hearing the word ‘feminist’ and putting a very ugly picture on it.  I think of a very belligerently obnoxious woman dressed to look like man, ranting about gender equality without ever giving a second to have a serious discussion or hear other opinions.  A sermon, pushing her beliefs on the rest of us.  Our opinion is wrong if it differs form hers.  Sometimes when I think of a ‘feminist’ I hear my friends mom going on and on about the disgusting cruelty of men as she smoked and refused to shower.  I see the kids teasing me at school, or the teacher who had armpit hair that they all laughed at.

(Here’s the link: Emma Watson UN Speech.  Feminism has become a bad word.)

A few months ago there was a girl in my go-to coffee shop with armpit hair and hairy legs.  I couldn’t care less about those choices, but she was being very obvious about holding her arms up and spreading her legs like she was a guy sitting down.  Her entire self said ‘look at me, I’m a feminist and I’m going to get in your face’.  I wanted to tell her that I agree with a lot of her views, but I don’t respond to her aggression.  You attack me, it doesn’t matter what you’re saying, I’m going to be defensive.  Of course it’s not all about me, but there are a lot of people who respond the same way I do.

I shy away from people like her not because I don’t believe in the same things they do, but because in my experience they look at me like I’m the problem.  Something for them to fight and pressure.  They want to tell me I’m wrong just by looking at me.  This coffee shop girl didn’t ask me a single questions.  She saw my heals and pink hair streak and labelled me.  I’d conformed to the way ‘men’ saw me.  I was playing by their rules.  Her mind was made up about me based on a single look.

What are we really fighting for?  What does being a feminist mean? Continue reading

Phone Addiction

phone-addiction

Hello, my name is Jayne, and I am an addict.  (is that cliche?)

I’ve had a serious addict in my family, so I know the signs.  It was a hard thing to watch.  I think that you can’t truly understand what an addict is dealing with until you’ve felt it.  Even watching someone go through it does not explain the actual feel of it.  Some of us have felt it on a small level, like the sugar you can’t stop eating or the self-destructive behaviours you can’t shake.  Addiction is everywhere, and yet we haven’t really figured out how to fix it.

I have a few addictions, thankfully nothing too serious, but today I’m going to talk about my phone addiction.  I can say very confidently that I have a problem.  Better yet, this post is coming afterwards, so I had a problem!

My councillor asked me what causes me work stress outside of work.  When I’m at home, why does work come up?  Why does it jump to mind?  I answered honestly about fearing I would miss emails, needing to check constantly just in case, being notified when I was getting emails, etc.  We realized together that 90% of that came from my phone.  It dinged every time I received an email, beeped for messages, and alerted me to anything that could possibly happen!!  I understood right then that every single time my phone made a noise, my anxiety skyrocketed.  My phones constant jarring music sent my heart racing, no matter which sound it was.  Even if my mom called I would feel that anxiety.  I don’t have a ‘Gilmore Girls’ situation with my mom.  We get along just fine.

She asked me how often I get an email after hours that needs to be answered in the next five seconds?  I thought about it for a long time.  The answer is almost never.  I answer everything right away because I’m like that, but it doesn’t need to be answered.  If there was a real emergency, everyone has my cell number so they would just call.

So I turned the notifications off for the evening.  I would have to manually check the email if I wanted to check.  I told myself I would check before dinner and before bed.  If it wasn’t urgent, I would flag it to answer in the morning.  Continue reading

What Happened When I Started Meditating

meditation-lotusTwo weeks ago I started meditating seriously for the first time.  I’ve stumbled around the idea for years but I’ve never actually tried.  Maybe one half-hearted session here or there, but nothing substantial that could possibly have had an affect.  Then I started seeing a councillors who asked me what I thought I could do to help relieve stress and anxiety.  I told her meditation.  She asked why I’d never done it if I knew the answer.  I had absolutely no answer for her.

So she gave me my first homework assignment.  Meditate a little bit every day for a short time.  Even a few minutes, as long as it’s every day.  ‘But here’s the catch!’ she said quickly.  ‘I know who you are and I know you’re going to work hard at this.  Don’t!  Don’t try to be good at meditation or do it right.  There’s no such thing.  Just let it go’.  That advise turned out to be the key for me.

I’m an overachiever, so my ‘little bit’ every day turned into twice a day for at least twenty minutes.  I lay in bed because sitting felt uncomfortable, and I really set myself up to do it right.  I dimmed the lights, set me intentions to really give this a go, and told myself that I wasn’t going to do this right anyway so there was no use getting frustrated as my mind wanders.

I was surprised at how gentle it turned out to be.  I’m so used to working hard for everything.  I thought this would feel the same way.  But I wasn’t at all.  Once I started breathing and listening to the guiding voice, it was very gentle and soothing.  I let my mind settle, I focused on calm, and when thoughts came into my head I acknowledged them and then gently let them drift away.

Something funny happened to me after I started meditating.   Continue reading

Violation of Safety

unsafe

About two weeks before Christmas, my new office was broken into.  Things were stolen, walls were smashes, a mess was made.  Thankfully at the end of the day it was not as bad as it looked, but it took awhile to bounce back.

A few days later, things kept happening because of that break-in.  The landlords of the building were refusing to reinforce the door at the front, saying it was ‘tenant error’ that caused the break in.  I logged into our bank account and we found out cheques were stolen and cashed.  Our credit card was compromised.  It was almost an entire day changing all our account information and stressing about what we might have missed.  Five days later and I was sitting at my desk crying in absolute stress.  I was overwhelmed and afraid, and I just broke down.  My business partner kept telling me not to take it personally, but he just didn’t understand.  My entire safety had been violated.  For the first time in my single life living in the city, I was afraid.

Here’s where things pressed on me.  First, I was completely alone.  My business partner was away seeing family, so I dealt with the entire break-in completely by myself.  I had the repairs done.  I cleaned up.  I dealt with the police.  I made the decisions.  I’m proud that I was able to calmly handle everything the way I did.  But I was alone.  When I went home at night, I felt unsafe in my normally very safe apartment.  I got up and dreaded going back to the office, certain it had happened again.  I hated sitting in the office knowing someone had been through all my things.  I was convinced the burglars had gotten my address somewhere and would target my home next.  I sat in the office by myself for a week, and felt completely exposed.

Over the holidays I went to my moms and we then took a trip to sun peaks.  I was gone a week and a half.  Every night I had this sinking feeling in my stomach that my apartment would be ransacked when I got back.  I was afraid to go home.  I stayed with my mom longer than I intended because I didn’t want to deal with it.  The hour long drive back was one of the longest of my entire life.  My heart thumped wildly in my chest as I went up the stairs.

My apartment was safe.

This is the part that really gets me.  I don’t care about the space.  I got it repaired.  I don’t care about what banking info was compromised.  At the end of the day the banks protected us.  I don’t think I would even really care if my apartment was broken into.  There’s nothing I have that I can’t replace.  I’ve started with nothing once, I can do it again.

But the fear.  The feeling of being unsafe.  Looking at people as they pass and judging them, wondering if they are dangerous to me.  This is something I’ve never experienced before.  I’ve lived a relatively safe life.  I’ve never been threatened or hurt.  I go about life blissfully, thinking the best.  That core belief has been shake, and I can’t seem to get myself back. Continue reading

It’s all in my Head

inyourheadA few years ago when I was still with my ex, I used to have this argument with him in my head.  I would anticipate him saying things and figure out how I would respond.  I’d have entire arguments without him even being in the room!  Do you think I’m crazy yet?

It took me a long time to learn that the reason I was it was because I was hoping for an argument to get out the things I needed to say.  I was afraid to be the instigator, but certain things were weighing so heavily on me that I was hoping for reasons to get them out.  I wanted him to give me an opening so at the end of the day, I wasn’t the one always bringing up issues.  This speaks to both an issue with me and him.  I was too concerned with being considered a ‘complainer’, and he avoided confrontation at all cost, even if it meant we never talked about a single issue we had.

It went on and on.  Even after we broke up I kept having them.  If he called today, this is what I would say.  If he forced me to tell him what went wrong, this is what I would say.  It took months to get over doing this.  Months of just letting those issues go, and realizing that being happy with myself was more important than teaching him a lesson.  If he didn’t want to learn, it wasn’t my job to teach him.  I’m happy to say that it’s been two years, and I’ve stopped having arguments in my head.

Yesterday I realized I was doing it again.  For the past few weeks, I’ve been having arguments in my head with my business partner.  At first they were conversations.  I would go home and have logical conversations with him, all in my head.  But after awhile my frustration with him grew, and I would wake up in the morning and immediately start having these arguments with him.  They get me so angry!  I work out my frustration by almost becoming hysterical at him, sometimes crying, and yet I’ve never once actually said anything to him.  When I get to the office, I smile and go about my day like I’m not actually angry.  How is this healthy? Continue reading

Red Christmas Cups

Starbucks Red CupsI’ve hesitated writing this for the last few days.  When such strong opinions start to surge through social media, pointing out the absurdity in them can often come across just as belligerent and uneducated as the original argument.  But I feel strongly with this one.  I feel we’re missing the entire point.  Instead of accidently offending everyone of one believe we’re missing that this entire debacle speaks directly to how far we still have to go to accept all the people of this world.  This is my opinion, and if I offend you, I am profoundly sorry.

From what I understand, Starbucks is under fire for being ‘anti-Jesus’ by refusing to celebrate Christmas with simple red cups.  Because they haven’t written ‘Merry Christmas’ on them (which they haven’t done in years), they’ve inadvertently sent a message to all who celebrate Christmas that they no longer support the Holiday.

I’m going to skip this overreaction and go directly to the simple fact that ‘not everyone celebrates Christmas.’

My best friend is someone I love with my whole heart.  She’s loving, caring and above all else, compassionate.  I honestly can’t say two words together negative about her.  If I were going to give a list of the attributes that make a wonderful, beautiful person, I would be listing her virtues.  We’ve been friends for ten years and the memories we’ve created together are magical.  Why do I bring her up?  She doesn’t celebrate Christmas. Her family is Vietnamese and they celebrate Chinese New Year the way we celebrate our Christmas.  I don’t know enough about Vietnamese culture to know if this is true generally, but it is true of her family.  When she and I first met working at a movie theater as teens, she quickly agreed to work Christmas Day if I would work Chinese New Year.  I immediately agreed because Christmas was such an important thing for my family.  I  never once thought anything of it.  She used to tell me about her families celebrations and once I even got to participate with her family.  It was so much fun!  I was absolutely thrilled to take part in something that means so much to her.  Every year I get her something for Chinese New Year, and every year she and I go do something Christmasy together, like see the lights at Van Dusen Gardens or see VSO choir singing Christmas Carols at Saint Andrew’s-Wesley church.  She loves the lights and festivities, and she loves the beauty of the songs and laughter.

My friend is not a judgemental person.  She’s never once walked through the thousands of stores that pour Christmas out in waves and complained that they were offending her religious beliefs.  She’s never said that she felt excluded.  She doesn’t care.  She sees our culture of Christmas and sometimes participates, but it’s never been part of her life.  When she walks into Starbucks right now and is handed a red cup, she knows it’s because of Christmas.  No one is hiding it.  It doesn’t matter to her.  Maybe it should.  Maybe she should get angry that they don’t incorporate any of her beliefs.  But instead she drinks her coffee and does the most important thing; she thanks the barista!

When I heard that this argument was taking place I was stunned.  I love Christmas!  I was raised Christian and I understand what Christmas is supposed to be about.  I’m not a practicing Christian anymore, but I grew up with nativity scenes and stories from the Bible.  I also love Starbucks.  They have gotten me through many a long day and I like their coffee.  I know there are people who prefer other companies, but that’s not the point of this.  I personally like Starbucks.  And as a raised Christian, I don’t feel offended in the slightest at their red cups. Continue reading