September 20

Butting It Out

**Note 1** I actually started writing this several months ago. Then summer happened and came along with it were the tough choices of whether or not I’d rather be frolicking outside or banging my head against my lap top trying to string together words I’m happy with.

If only there was an emoji for my decision making abilities…

Oh wait, there is…

poo

Maybe I’m being too hard on myself. I’ve turned out okay(ish) depending on the day of the week and the time of the month, so I suppose I’ve done a few things right.

I have, however, made one decision I can finally say I am – without a doubt – proud of and have zero regrets or second thoughts.

And no, it has nothing to do with my dating life.

**Note 2** At the time of initially writing this, my dating life was still on its nine-year hiatus and that has surprisingly changed, which is a story for another time.**

Anyway.

I quit smoking.

People quit smoking all the time… so why is this such a big deal for me?

My choice to begin in the first place isn’t one I’m proud of. Sometimes, you have to travel to the dark side to appreciate the light. Right? (Still waiting for the light to manifest itself into my romantic life).

**Note 3** Sometime last year, I was having a conversation with a friend about my lack luster love life. I brought up the topic of smoking and how I felt that it was something I had to give up before I could totally attract a healthy relationship – as much of what I had been attracting over the last decade has been toxic (not all, though!). I was treating myself with toxic habits and attracting similar relationships to the one I had with my self. Voila! Not long after butting it out, my perpetual single life smoldered out as well… again, a story for another time.

Regardless, it was a large part of who I was… and who I wasn’t.

In fact, I was such a stealthy smoker that most people in my life didn’t even know.

I was a mostly private – and heavy – puffer (of cigarettes, just to clarify) for 20 years.

Two decades.

That’s a long time.

For 20 years, I relied on these magic toxic filled sticks to make me feel at ease.  They were my dirty little companions in times of anxiety, excitement, boredom, and busyness. They were a social crutch. Ever been awkwardly waiting for someone at a bar? Easy, go for a smoke while you pretend to text someone.

They went great with wine, telephone conversations, driving, and they were my way to step back and quiet my mind. And let’s not forget coffee – nothing went better with caffeine than a dose of carbon monoxide.

Don’t even get me started on how great it was after sex… Well, so I’ve been told…

And I actually enjoyed it.

“Life is short… do what you enjoy. I could quit smoking and then I could get hit by a bus. It’s my only bad habit… I eat well and I exercise…. I really do take care of myself. I could have worse habits!”

This was my reasoning each and every time.

For twenty years I told myself that this was something I had full control over. I controlled them, not the other way around. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

The mere thought of going somewhere and not being able to have a cigarette or needing to hide it sent me into anxiety. Despite being careless with my own health, I was always cautious and considerate of those who I shared my bad habits with.

My car was stocked with the necessities. Gum, mouthwash, hand sanitizer, and body spray galore. I was like a Health and Beauty aisle at Walmart on wheels. Minus the Health part.

I had ‘quit’ several times over the years. Nothing stuck for more than a couple weeks, tops. I had tried the gum, patches, cold turkey and medications. The terrible dreams were one thing, but my raging bitch moods were another story. Don’t even get me started on being on Champix when you are PMSing. Guys, if you think we are too emotional then… think again.  You haven’t felt true toxic wrath until you’ve seen a crampy, high strung woman too bloated for her fat pants sans her cigarette. That terrifies even me.

I actually felt it was in the best interest of my own well-being and the safety of others to continue to light up.

Although I had ‘wanted’ to butt out for a long time, the one habit I never bothered to adjust was my thought patterns. I had always ‘worked’ on quitting smoking, but I never worked on my mind. For a while, I had only wanted to quit to have extra cash.

I had started CrossFit in 2012 to challenge my mental and physical strength. By no means do I consider myself highly competitive or even all that athletic, but I wanted something that pushed me just a little bit harder. I had only taken small sips of the proverbial Kool-Aid… which was enough to quench my thirst for a healthier lifestyle.

cfIt wasn’t solely CrossFit – much of it was also the changing social perception. Gone were the days of sandbox ashtrays in shopping malls and street corners. I had been a social outcast for the better part of my childhood and smoking was something I did to fit in to some -any- kind of crowd. Despite the changing laws and stigmas – it was still easy enough to hide. But, trying to mask the fact that I was losing a lung before the CrossFit warm-up was even over was getting to be a real challenge – and not the kind I signed up for. I dreaded things like sprints and thrusters, and wall balls and burpees were the absolute worst. And what was the first thing I did after walking out of the torture chambers? Torture my body even more. And not for positive gains.

The more I went, the more I began to feel like a hypocrite. That’s like claiming to be a nature lover as you nudge the remnants of your nic-stick into a sidewalk nook and cranny.

Finally, my mind began to change. Slowly but surely, I began to hate it. I had a hard enough time explaining to narrow minded people why I am was still single and child-less at 33, never mind trying to justify why I was dating the slick devilish darts.

smokeIt had occurred to me that my mind had been conditioned to think cigarettes were ‘cool’ and simply a part of ‘who I was’. The only way I could quit was to rewire my brain and adopt new ways of thinking. Rather than being accustomed to telling myself it was something I needed, I began to tell myself the opposite. (Now if I could only translate this into every other area of my life, I’d be set!) I also did what I have been seemingly good at in other areas of my life – I focused on the negatives. That’s right – but this time for good reason. I filled my brain with the very worst things I could think of. Rather than thinking about how much I enjoyed it with a cold beer on a hot summer night – I consciously thought about all the toxins I was polluting my body with and spent time asking Siri to show me blackened lungs.

One morning, I got into my car and left for work. I had one cigarette left. This is where panic mode would usually set in and I would need to b-line to the Mac’s store. I opened my glove box to dig out some change – only to have the content of primarily empty cigarette packages fall out. I stared at the pile of money I had turned into a toxic wasteland.

And that was it. This is stupid. I kept on driving – which might have been the best decision I have ever made.

Deep breath.

(Because I can do that now.)

 

April 9

How to Be Something!

Be

If you’re human, chances are you may share the same sentiments.  If you’re one of the few that is totally 1000% satisfied with all that you are doing and have it totally figured out, I salute you.

Oh, and as a side note, I should mention these are thoughts that prelude what will be my next rant… somewhere along the lines about why I jumped from the routine and security of a corporate desk job that I relatively enjoyed, into self employment uncertainty.  I thought about writing it all as it’s really one long string of thoughts, but we’re busy people. We got other shit to do and I’m sure you’ve already fallen asleep, anyway.

Moving on…

For the last twenty-some years, I’ve been following a similar routine. 8-5 at a desk (or a variation of). At first it was school. Much like the general population, Monday to Friday I would haul my ass to class before the sound of the bell and sit at a desk. Save for recess breaks, when I would scramble to find someone to play with. I was an awkward kid, don’t judge.

Then the bell rang and us rug rats scurried back to class. Back to a wooden slab of a desk to be spoon fed all sorts of interesting and relevant information that I am sure we all fully remember and utilize every day in adulthood. All in hopes that one day we will land a good career, and ‘be something’.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against school. I enjoyed phys ed, creative writing classes, and even failing math more times than I can count on one hand (I can only count to five, anyway). There were plenty of good things. Like overcoming the fear of speaking to an audience. I learned what I was good at, and I learned about the kinds of things I never wanted to do again.

It also taught me many of other things – social interaction, how to sit at a desk for prolonged periods of time, strengths and weaknesses, constructive criticism, how to meet deadlines, how to create sudden and spontaneous illnesses, forge sick notes, how to slice open an innocent frog, acceptance of routine (blah), and so on.  There were some teachers that simply showed up and read from a text book, and others that helped you to go past your fears and brought out the very best in you.

knowledgeBut in my opinion, there’s a lot of important topics school doesn’t cover in great detail – which are crucial to long term happiness. Unfortunately, they can only been taught through experience. There is no ‘Art of Being Human 101′ or ‘Inward Journey for Beginners’ or ‘Fundamentals of Soulful Living’ and you can’t get your Masters in Mindfulness. Important lessons that really help you BE the best you can be – in whatever field you choose.

And there was always that nagging question:

“So have you decided what you want to be when you grow up, Tanis?”

How do I know? Who says I’m going to grow up anyway? What if I die tomorrow? Does that mean I didn’t BEcome anything? But I already AM something, I AM me, and if I am ME, I’ll also BE me when I ‘grow up’, so doesn’t that mean I’ve already chosen what I wish to BE?

I loathe this question.

It makes it sound like you are not fully a human BEing unless you attach a fancy title to yourself. I guess you’re just merely human-ing, or something like that. Science is wrong, you’re heart only starts beating once you’ve found the perfect job to brag about. (This is incorrect, by the way).

So after school, I scurried off into the ‘real world’ and signed up for the rat race. Be something! Be something! I need to be something!!

As a society, we are caught up in labels, perceived meaning and the pressure to ‘be’ something that already exists (which is YOU, btw)… and less on what it actually means to BE. If you are reading this, I can only assume you’re alive – in which case you are already what you need to be.

“OMG. You’re famous?! Please let me lick the dirt off your heels! I bow to you!”
“Wow! You’re a lawyer! That’s so awesome!”
“So you’re a delivery person… Oh. That’s cool.”
“You drive a garbage truck? What?”
“Heh, so you work at McDonalds? Do you, like, not have any motivation in life? Ew.”

But, seriously. What if I really do actually enjoy flipping burgers and it makes me intrinsically happy? I actually really do enjoy BBQing.

routine3So, most of my life was spent in a relentless attempt to get to the top of some invisible ladder so that at my high school reunion I could say, “Look at me, look at what I am being!” And I was something. I was something that excelled in my field and sat a desk for a determined amount of time every day, Monday to Friday.

Anyway, after several fancy titles, a lot of time spent busy ‘being something’ – I decided I didn’t want to do the dance of routine anymore. I felt stifled and empty, not to mention I’m a terrible dancer.  I didn’t want to do things I wasn’t totally passionate about just to satisfy some ridiculous perception we have.  Disregarding who you are, compromising yourself in exchange for an inflated ego, a perceived monetary value of what you are ‘worth’ just so you can get by and hopefully go out and start enjoying life by the time you’re damn near dead, or because of a bunch of narcissistic societal beliefs, doesn’t equate to success. It adds up to misery and wastes the essence of who you truly are. Time you spend ignoring what you believe to be your true purpose is time you can never get back. Yeah, you can never get time back – that’s scary shit!

So I jumped. Into a foreign land of not knowing, no security, and not much routine. It might have been the most secure choice I have made. But, more on that later.

For now, though, here’s the thing:

Success is not defined from your job or the label you give yourself. If you’ve got degrees and certifications coming out of your you-know-what and you are a terrible person, I am sorry, but you are not a success.  All that does is make you a terrible person with a good education.

Success comes from BEing. That’s it, that’s all. Simply being. Being in the moment. As best you can. Great things happen when you choose to be awesome at LIFE, not just a label. BE a good person. That’s all there is too it.

If you don’t design your life, someone else will. That little nagging voice in your heart telling you to chase your dreams? Or at the very least, to make a change? It’s a real thing, listen to it.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The crime which bankrupts men and nations is that of turning aside from one’s main purpose to serve a job here and there.”

You are already what you want to BE.

Go out and do it.

Be

 

March 24

Deep Thoughts About Some Thoughts

right

I haven’t been blogging as much because I am working on my first book and I don’t want to give away toooo many of my stories here. Speaking of book writing, it is proving to be the most frustrating thing EVER.

I am quickly discovering the many stages of writing a book, which go a little like:

Write, edit, delete, writer’s block, ****ing curse, curse louder, tiny creative moment, omg write it down now!, delete, throw shit, wine, write like a mad man, more wine, headache, whine, edit, repeat.

Anyway… that’s not what this is about – but that’s more or less what I’ve been working on. I would love to share what guided me to that decision, because it is really quite miraculous – but I’m also saving that for my book.

What was I going to say again?

Don’t mind my A.D.D… holy shit there’s actually sunshine happening outside! Oh, right… anyway… I’ve noticed that I generally write when things are on the up and up. Positivity! Great! But, I’m human and I don’t always have sunshine blowing out my rear end. Sometimes, there are times when I feel like, how can I possibly share an inspirational story when that is the last thing I feel?

I find that I am pretty good at helping others get past some of their own negative self talk – and it is really quite astounding how many souls have come into my journey lately and have been opening their eyes to things about themselves that they hadn’t seen before. It’s quite rewarding, actually. But when my turn comes and I’m in the midst of one of my own pity parties (which are many), good luck getting me to leave. My own stubborness to flip my frown upside down despite how many things I have to be grateful for is sometimes my own worst enemy.

thoughts1It’s one of those things about myself that I continually work on. I don’t think the key is to boycott any feeling of sadness, but rather to honour every emotion (energy in motion) and to be mindful of where our thoughts take us, as they have a vital role in creating our environment.

The last couple years I’ve been incredibly unhappy with where I am at in my professional life. All  I have been able to think of is how stuck I feel, how I am not doing what I should be doing and how I am not living up to my true potential. There are some days I feel as though I am a waste (sounds morbid, but I have no other way of putting it) and I’m pretty sure I’ve shed tears daily for the last couple years consecutively. There is something about it that causes me a great deal of sadness. I’ve had a number of hopeful opportunities fall through the cracks, and I consistently think that sometimes I shouldn’t even bother because no one is going to give me a chance, anyway. Then again, I am the only one in charge of creating my own opportunities – and I am also in charge of sabotaging them with my thoughts – which I do, before they even happen.

I know for a fact, what I am doing is not something that is aligned with my soul or gives me any type of fulfillment.  Sure, I suppose this is likely true of 98% of the working population, but in my mind very few of us are able to move beyond these feelings because we are limited by our own negative thought patterns.

Some people might say, “suck it up, that’s life.” But I beg to differ. That is not life. That is what we are accustomed to thinking. Out of an infinite universe containing billions upon billions of other universes, I certainly did not come to this tiny rock of all places for no reason at all. I have shit to do and my soul knows when I am not doing what I am here to do. In the same breath, that is not entirely correct because I know I am always exactly where I need to be in any given moment… but ‘exactly where I need to be’  isn’t always a place I particularly like. And in another breath, there is always a lesson to be learnt in the place we are.

Long story short, I’ve been spending a good chunk of the last while solely focusing on how I feel stuck and nothing else.

What I get in return? MORE AND MORE of the same. And more! I am creating my very own reality.

The same thing goes with finances. I’ve gotten by for the majority of my life, but the perpetual thought in my mind is always one of:

“I can’t afford it. I can’t do this, I can’t do that. Every time I get a little bit ahead, something happens. I can’t. I don’t have enough. I can’t, I can’t I can’t. Somebody call the wahhhhmublance because I can’t stop crying about everything I can’t do!”

… and the list goes on. My thoughts consistently operate from a place of lack, rather than gratitude for what I do have.

As a result? Even more of the same. In fact, just the other week, I was thinking about how there is something coming up for me that I can’t afford – and guess what? My car broke down.

Energy goes where attention flows.
Energy goes where attention flows.
ENERGY GOES WHERE ATTENTION FLOWS.

This is not some generic statement that we hear over and over again – it is truth.
rightThe things is, I KNOW that this is happening… I am acutely aware of it, but yet I continually get in the way of my own self. I can very easily look at some of my other thoughts and intentions of things I have wanted to manifest into my life that and how they have unfolded almost perfectly. Effortlessly. Some of them are absolutely mind blowing and still leave me and those in my life rather speechless. Things that the vast majority of people would tell me, “Get real, that chances of that happening are impossible.”  I would love to share them, but I am also saving that for my book.

I also have a friend that I have known for a few years. For as long as I’ve known her, she has always talked about how she is secretly a millionaire. Quite honestly, all she does is talk about how much money she has. She is forever speaking about how she can do just about anything because she has the finances to do it. She doesn’t do anything differently than me, but every time I see her – she seems to have even more. On the other hand, she consistently talks about how alone she is and how the potential romantic partners she meets are always of the same breed – abusive and controlling. She talks about how she will never meet anyone that compliments her and how she is destined to be alone and miserable forever.

For the past couple years I have known her, I have heard her thoughts – which are always the same. It is quite astounding to watch as what she thinks about, is created.

Changing  your thought pattern isn’t the easiest thing to do. I struggle with my own every minute of every day. Almost every time I run into a challenge or something that hasn’t worked out (which is often because there is something better coming that we can’t yet see), I immediately fall into the trappings of my negative thought patterns. Almost always, I throw a tantrum and right away I say, “that’s it! I’m done! I’m done hoping for things to work out because they never do! Why bother if it always leads to disappointment?! WHYYYY!!”

When I think that way, I begin to believe it. When I believe it, I put energy into it and ultimately I continue to create more of the same. And that, right there – is one of my biggest personal challenges.

Having said that, I’m thinking I’m about to change all of that.

I originally had other intentions for this post – there was something entirely different I was going to rant about. Perhaps, I will save that for my book as well.

Where do your thoughts take you? What are YOU creating for yourself?