I had a perfect date on Monday. Spa day, complete with a massage and a few hours swimming and floating in the mineral pool. There was wine, a light dinner, and interesting dialogue. The thing is, I was alone.
I once bought a book titled, “Imagine a Woman In Love With Herself” because I loved the concept. I knew how much time, attention and affection I gave to a man when I was in love, so the idea of putting all of that energy back into myself was intriguing. I bought the book about 15 years ago, if I remember correctly. I would have been 30 at the time. It took me another 15 years to fully fall in love with myself. The vast majority of women I know experience intense struggles with self-acceptance and self-love. It seems that self-loathing is the norm, rather than self-loving. We all receive so many negative messages while growing up. From mean girls, from the media, from unhealthy families and unhealthy friends. We are virtually trained to doubt our selves, our skills, our bodies, and our intrinsic value.
I see a beautiful thing happening with some of my female friends as they age. It seems that as we soften externally, we also soften internally. In the best possible way. We stop judging other women, and learn to support them instead. We stop being so ridiculously hard on ourselves. We stop putting up with people who don’t treat us well. And all of these things, eventually, lead to self-love. And then the really magical part happens…when we truly love ourselves, other people become irresistibly attracted to us. We radiate something that people want to be near, and be a part of.
How are you doing on your own journey to self-love? I know some amazing women who get there in their 30s. But they are few and far-between. It’s more likely to see this magical shift happen in women who are in their 40s and 50s. I am now part of a community of lovely and strong women who know how to love themselves and one another. If you’re young, you’ve got this to look forward to. If you’re mature and haven’t learned these valuable skills yet, don’t give up. Go take yourself on a perfect date.
Twenty-five years ago today, I did something really dumb: I married someone I didn’t really want to marry. No need to go into the details of why I did that — suffice to say all of the reasons I went through with it were based in fear and self-doubt. I was only 20, and I was yielding to pressure and expectations from others. I was not authoring my own life. I was allowing myself to be pushed around by circumstances. I have compassion for my 20-year-old self who went through that, but I also want to use the wisdom I have gained (the hard way) to help others avoid similar mistakes. It is surprising how often I hear similar stories from my clients. One told me about how she didn’t want to get out of the limo when it arrived at the church, because she knew she didn’t want to marry her fiancé. But she went through with it, against her own better judgement. A few years later, I was counselling her through a separation that had become incredibly stressful and frightening for her. In my own case, the marriage lasted three years. It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t great. And marriage should be great, if you are marrying the right person. If you feel anything less than thrilled and incredibly lucky to be marrying the person you are standing next to, then just don’t do it. It is scary and incredibly difficult to call off an engagement (especially on the day of the wedding) but it is a far better alternative to wasting years of your life (and the other person’s) and ending up going through the drama and trauma of a divorce, which is a very likely outcome of marrying someone you are not thrilled about.
So, why do I use the word “celebrating” in my blog title? Because I quite love the person I have become, 25 years later. I didn’t get here easily, but I got here. I love the life I have finally created for myself, including the opportunity to help others make better choices than I made. One of my favourite parts of my counselling practice is helping young women navigate through relationship choices, and seeing them make better choices than I made. Celebrate your life and your loves, and know that you are worthy of someone you feel incredibly lucky to be with. If more people held out for that, we would all be functioning better as a society.
Yesterday I received an email alerting me that there was some “unwanted text” showing on my web site. The email included a screen shot, showing what the visitor to my site had seen. Much to my horror, a lewd phrase was showing near the top of every page of my web site. To make matters worse, I later discovered that the line of lewd text was also an active link to a pornographic web site. How did this happen? Apparently a security issue with a “widget” within the template that I had used to create my site had allowed some person to attach the link to sites that use that particular template. I was horrified, embarrassed, and angry that someone would do that. (Talk about someone who needs counselling, eh?) I managed to fix the problem by changing to a different template. So aviscounselling.com now has a new look — hope you like it. As someone who always tries to make the best of a bad situation, I had to ask myself, “What is the silver lining of this cloudy experience?” I was able to come up with a few things. First of all, I made a new friend. It turns out that the woman who alerted me to the problem is someone who is very much a part of my “community” and we discovered that we had 20 mutual friends and acquaintances on Facebook. I was deeply grateful that she had taken a minute out of her busy day to send me the email letting me know about the problem. It was a nice affirmation that sometimes, when we’re not watching out for ourselves, someone else is watching out for us. And that brings me to my next point…that I wasn’t watching out for myself. Granted, I never imagined that someone would be able to sabotage a web site that I have maintained completely on my own for five years. But I admit that I was not being diligent about checking my own site regularly. I am not particularly tech savvy, and I find it frustrating to continually deal with “updates” and changes regarding computers. My least favourite part of my job is maintaining a web site, so I had been avoiding it. This security breach was a big wake-up call, and a reminder that avoiding the things we don’t like dealing with is not the answer. Avoidance often just leads to bigger problems — and that was clearly the case here. I would like to make a public apology to anyone who visited my site during the last several weeks when the unsavoury text was visible there. I would like to say a public “thank you” to Alesha, the woman who alerted me. And I would like to remind everyone that avoiding the things we don’t like to deal with is not a good way to go, for any of us. What is going on in your life right now that needs to be dealt with head-on, instead of avoiding it?
Last week I was interviewed for an article in the Victoria Times Colonist. The article addresses the grief that many people feel during the holiday season when they are missing their loved ones. A widow is featured in the article, but the ideas presented apply to anyone who is sad during the holidays. We all experience loss, whether it be through death of a loved one, divorce, relocation, broken friendships, or any other circumstances that separate us from people we have loved. Here is a link to the article: http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/when-the-holidays-are-tinged-with-grief-1.767605
Supposedly tonight is a rare, special night for meteor showers. Some spectacular number of meteors are apparently going to be visible whizzing through the night sky. I haven’t done my fact-checking on this, as the scientific details are not what’s important to me at this moment. What’s important to me is the long-held notion that we can “wish upon a falling star” and our wishes will come true. Whatever you call it, a meteor, shooting star, falling star…humans have long been fascinated with this wonder of nature and have imbued the phenomenon with magical abilities. Here’s the really important part: If you saw a shooting star tonight, what would you wish for? More importantly, what are you doing in your daily life to make that wish come true? Most wishes come true through persistence and perseverance. Consistent daily efforts that propel you in the direction of your desires are the key. What are you doing, on a daily basis, to make your wish come true?
Beginning May 1, 2013, Avis Counselling will be located at 1863 Oak Bay Avenue. It is a beautiful heritage building with five offices occupied by counsellors, social workers and psychiatrists. You will find Avis Counselling in Suite 101.
If there’s one thing I’m a fan of, it is self-awareness. Awareness is the first step toward any positive change. Self-awareness isn’t always easy, and we often don’t like what we see when the awareness sheds light on it. But knowing that something needs to change is essential before the change can occur.
My own self-awareness has shown me that I need to change something regarding my blogs on this site. I have realized that my tendencies toward perfectionism stop me from sharing my thoughts as often as I would like. I procrastinate writing blog entries because I am waiting for a time when it feels that I can do a perfect, thorough job. This needs to change. So…I am now introducing the mini blog. I will write more often, even when the thought I’d like to share is only a sentence or two. A morsel is better than nothing at all while hungrily awaiting a proper word-meal.
I often have thoughts to share here that invite discussion. Questions I can post that provoke thoughtful response. Please feel free to comment, discuss, and share your own thoughts. What is your recent self-awareness telling you? What needs to change?
Exciting news: Avis Counselling is moving to a new office on May 1, 2013! Just a stone’s throw away from the current location, the new building is a beautiful character building located at 1863 Oak Bay Avenue. More details and a photo coming soon!
The tough economic climate of 2012 has impacted most small businesses, including my own. When people struggle to pay for their basic survival needs, counselling becomes a luxury that they can’t afford. Yet the mental and emotional stress caused by economic struggle creates a need for counselling. The solution? Free counselling.
When individuals take care of their mental and emotional health, the whole community benefits. People who are taking care of themselves are more likely to find creative solutions for problems. They are also more capable of working collaboratively to innovate ways of functioning better as a society. When those things happen, the economic health of the community is likely to improve.
So, as my personal contribution toward stimulating the economy, I am offering free counselling to new clients on Fridays through the remainder of 2012. The theory? Ripple effect. If I am able to provide a service that helps people to function better in their lives, then they will be more creative, collaborative, and able to do good work in the community that will ultimately benefit us all.
A friend and I were talking yesterday about the concept of thriving versus surviving. She said, “you can’t thrive when you are focused on surviving.” I thought for a moment and replied, “no, because they are different energies.” The energy of survival is fear-based, while the energy of thriving is based in trust or faith that your basic needs will be taken care of. We all have times in our lives when survival is the dominant focus. We are hard-wired to have natural fears that allow us to continue as a species. But when the fear that we are not going to have our basic survival needs met stays around too long, we can get stuck in a fear-based mindset that really does block us from thriving. In order to thrive, we must be receptive to all the many positive things that might come our way. When we are locked in fear, we often cannot recognize or receive those positive things. Or they don’t come our way at all, because our negative energy is blocking them.
See if you can trust that your basic needs will be met, and move into a more open, receptive, trust-based mindset. Then watch for good things to come your way, to allow you to begin to THRIVE. If you try it and it works for you, tell me your story in the comments section.