Im Going Outward Bound Once Again- Well, Sort of

Im Going Outward Bound Once Again- Well, Sort of

Saturday, 21 December 2013

My Christmas wish for you...

It is the Winter Solstice!

The shortest day of the year, a time when the darkness in longest, a time to gather inside, and snuggle down. It is a few days away from Christmas, and there is much excitement in the air.

Since it has been awhile since my last post, this will be a longer post than normal. After all, it is the day of darkness, and the season of abundance, so tonight is a perfect night to read a long post.

So are your ready? Make a cup of tea, snuggle down in your favourite chair, and relax. Turn off your phones, and put whatever you are doing on hold. Take a deep breath, relax and enjoy.

During the past month I  have been in a ringette tournament, been sick with a flu  bug, had a cold from Hell, dealing with day to day challenges, a lap top computer that had died on me,getting a new one and  then having to exchange it three times. Put the excitement for the Christmas season on top of that and as you can see I have been a wee bit busy. It has not been bad, just busy.

And with this busyness comes my daily challenges and remembering I have to take care of myself, and then knowing I needed to do a blog post. I have been a little off balance, but it has not been too bad. I have been checking in with my therapist and family doctor, and considering everything, I am doing pretty good.

I love this time of year. It is also full of triggers and history of not great stuff. I have worked hard to make sure I  have moments of joy in the season, and one of those moments is going to cut down a Christmas tree with my son.

I love having a real Christmas tree, I love the smell, the look and the feeling of a tree in my house. Its something that speaks to me, and something that is good for my soul. I love to turn the house lights off, sit back, turn the Christmas tree lights in and just look. I does not matter how many Christmas' I have had, I still love this and it is one of my favourite, if not the most favourite thing about the holidays.

Monday afternoon was the day my son and I went on the great adventure, of finding the right, or perfect Christmas tree.

We went to a couple of places, the first place, the trees were way to small. The second  place the trees were to expensive. The third tree farm we went to, the price and in the end, the tree was just right. The elderly gentleman who owns and operates the tree farm came out with a chainsaw and cut the tree down for us. I think he is a retired logger and really enjoys doing this. My son and I put the tree on the roof of the car and drive home.

This is a magical time of the year. What happened next, happens to me each year. I know I should not be surprised, but I am each and every time.

As I was driving home, the friction of the car passing through the  air makes the tree grow!!! It really does! When we got home, the tree was longer and wider then when we put it on the car.I just start laughing.

My son takes the tree off the roof rack and later on I prepare to bring it into the house. This was not as easy task, as the tree is way wider then the door. I put the tree stand on it, and then with some strength, I pull the tree through the door. I had already trimmed the tree, but the top of it reached our eight foot ceiling. I placed it in the corner, in front of two bookcases, and all you can see of them is the top left corner of one! It is a huge tree, big and bushy, you can't see through it and it and makes the house smell wonderful. I love it.

After I got it up, and secured it,  I pull out a couple of dead needles and notice some straw on one of the branches. I reach in, up to my arm pits, I told you it was a big tree, pulled out the straw and low and behold, in my hand was a birds nest, no shit, a real birds nest made out of straw, about four inches across!

I could not believe this, this has never happened  before and I thought, " I wonder if this means its going to be a very special Christmas." I am now in the process of preserving that nest.

Later that night, I decorated the tree. This year I have made some glass icicles and given them as gifts and made some for my tree and I really like how they look on this gigantic tree.After the decorations and ornaments were put on, I turned off the house lights, breathed in the lovely pine scent, sat back in quiet solitude and looked at the tree, and thought of this past year, of all the blessings I have in my life, and of all the people who have helped me get to where I am today.

I thought back to when I first started my journey, of all the dark days, confusion, and unbelievable pain I experienced. Back then, every time I would make progress,something else would come up. It was like having a big wound, a scab would grow over it, and then I would have to pull it off again, exposing the raw emotions to the air, and my God, it hurt, it stung, and there were days I wondered if it was all worth it. It took so much energy to put one foot in front of the other,let alone get dressed and go outside, and there were many days I could not do the former.

I thought about the days and nights of darkness, real darkness deep in my soul, I could not see the light,I wasn't even sure it existed.  I was exhausted, I did not know how I was going to make it through the next 15 minutes, let alone the next day.To top it off I was terrified of the world, terrified of my illness, terrified of not knowing where my life was heading.

As I sat and gazed upon my beautiful, full tree, I then started thinking about some people I know who are beginning their journey. I wondered how they were doing, where they were in their journey and hoping that the can hang on and feel and deal with what they need to, and eventually come out the other end a healthier and happier person.

I remember when I started looking at the circumstances that caused me to dissociate. The very thought of doing this scared the shit out of me and I spent much energy distracting myself from those pesky emotions. But in time, I realized I needed to deal with it all if I was going to move forward. As the process continued, I realized that the fear was holding me back, and what was hiding in the deep dark recesses of my mind,would loose their power once the light was shone upon them.

 I thought about how I needed to feel the old pain and hurts,to have space for the new,so that I could be at a place where I am now. A place where I can feel the love people have for me, a place where I am not ashamed of who I am or what I have been through, a place where I am connected to humanity, my friends and my family.

I was not always connected to people. In fact, because of what happened to me, I had put up walls around me, and dissociated from the human race. Some use drugs and alcohol to numb, my drug of choice was dissociation. This did help me to survive as a child, kept away the pain, but it isolated me and shut me off from all positive interactions. It also stoped me from trusting others.

I realize now, why I did not trust, and I guess I knew back then why I did not trust, but I knew of no alternative, as I  had had very little experience of that.Not only did I not trust others, but because I could not trust the world, I did not trust myself. What I mean by this, is that I did not try anything new, because I was afraid I would get into trouble if I did it wrong.

But.little by little, with the help of some wonderful knowledgeable and caring people, I slowly learned to trust them, the world and eventually myself.

So, why am I telling you this. I am telling you this because I want you to know, that no matter where you are in your journey- and lets face it, everyone is on a journey- it can get better. I'm telling you this because I want you to know that the pain, as bad and as deep as it feels, will not go on forever. I am telling you this because you can learn to trust the world, and yourself and it really can get better.I am telling you this because there is light at the end of the fog, you may not see or feel it, but it is there. I am telling you this because I want you to know that no matter what happened to you, what you had to do to survive,or what they told you, you are precious. That preciousness was shining and present the day you were born, everyone has it. Others may have  tried to put it out, dumping all the crap on it, but it is still there, and when the time is right, when you are ready, it will emerge and shine through, and you and it will be brilliant and amazing.

 My Christmas wish for you, is to know, that you are precious, that you do matter, that  you are not alone and that your life can get better.

My Christmas wish for you, is to know that you do have the strength to get through this, the strength to work through and have an amazing life.

My Christmas wish for you is that , you feel loved and special.

As I sit back at gaze at my tree, the room lights are off and the tree and its lights look amazing. I notice the icicles I have made are shining and sparkling. They look nice when the room lights are on, but in the dark they are stunning and brilliant, and are showing their true beauty.

Very much like when one looks at and works through their dark and painful issues. It may be dark, but this is a place in which you discover how strong you really are and your shining and brilliant light will get you through.

As I was walking out of the house yesterday, I look down, and on the ground is a stone that looks just like a birds egg. I pick it up and low and behold it is a birds egg. It has a little hole in it from where another bird had been at it, but besides that its whole and perfect. And its just the right size for the nest that was in my Christmas tree.

Yes, It is going to be a special Christmas

May you find Joy in unexpected places
May you feel at Peace in your corner of the world
May you find Comfort in the little things
May you feel Loved

This is my Christmas wish for you

Until next time

Monday, 18 November 2013

The universe is showing me how far I have come..

Dedicated to G.

Its been a very interesting week, a week full of gifts and blessings.

Last Wednesday was my birthday, but the celebrations started before then. There was one time in my life when I didn't think anyone cared, I now know different. My friends and immediate family have been amazing, and I have received much love from them all. I am blessed.

This does show me how far I have come, because, not only am I much loved, I can receive this love and caring, and this ability has enriched my life beyond measure!

Man, I have come a long way!!

It's been a long journey, its been a difficult journey, but it has been so worth it.

This year, I have been able to stay present each time I got together with friends or family for my birthday, be it for lunch, dinner, having a coffee, going for a walk etc. It is pretty amazing. I can remember each moment with these people that care for me. Not only can I remember, I didn't "shrug it off."

I look back now and realize that this "shrugging it off" was a way of protecting myself. I could care and love someone else, but I could not really receive love at the deep level I can now.

So, "what is different" I ask myself?

Well, I think its many things.

I needed to protect myself, emotionally, and I realize by doing this I protected my essence, the core of who I am. By putting up the "shrugging shield" I kept the real me safe. Another one of my many survival skills!

It took a long time to find Me. It took many tears,and hard work to slowly peel away the layers of this onion. Each time I pulled a layer off, another raw and painful  aspect of my self and my life was exposed. I would work on that layer till it no longer hurt, then pulled it off to expose the next layer. This process was repeated many, many times. With each peeled layer I grew stronger.

Its been a tough journey, but as one friend told me " you have already survived it", its now a matter of processing. And it was a tough slog. I didn't know one could cry so much and not get dehydrated. I did not know that the body and every cell could hurt so much, and I  couldn't  even blame it on the flu.I thought the nightmares and flashbacks would never end! But they do.

I learned that I was not stupid, worthless, a useless piece of crap and ugly. I learned I was not to blame for all that happened to me, and that I definitely DID NOT deserve any of it.

And along this journey of peeling the onion, I learned who I really was, and I learned to love myself. Until I learned to love myself, I could not really accept that anyone could love me just as I am. And I learned who my real friends were!

These friends stuck with me, supported and encouraged me. As much as I know they wanted to fix it for me, they could not, so they did the next best thing, they stuck by my side! This support came in many forms, be it a cup of tea, listening, going for a walk, sending cards or e-mails, quietly sitting with me or visiting me while I was at  the " St Joseph Spa and treatment center "- aka, the psych unit at the local hospital. Some quietly waited while I did my work and welcomed me with open arms once I resumed my activities.

And I had amazing professional help. They have no idea how much they have helped me in my recovery, but that's  another blog.

Along this journey I noticed that the more I loved and forgave myself, and the more authentic I became, the more love and support came into my life. This continues to this day.

My relationships now have a deep, rich connection. The love touches my essence, my soul, the very core of who I am, and I am a much better and ricer person for it.

The other day I explained it like this to someone.

Before, my life and relationships were like paint tubes sitting, unopened on a cold white canvas. Each separate, on their own. Then with my work, they were slowly opened, paint started to come out onto the canvas, but they were still one dimensional, separate. The more I worked the more paint came out and now it is being turned into an amazing picture, multi-dimensional and now with multiple materials and textures. It is deep, rich, and amazing, just like my life.

Its been an amazing birthday, I have been sent, and felt  love from across the country, and this afternoon I am meeting with more friends to celebrate over a coffee.

For all of you who are on your journeys- ( and lets face it, everyone is on their own journey, but not everyone realizes that)-be it the beginning, middle or end, please believe me, it is worth all the work. When the old beliefs and cognitive errors come to visit, to sabotage your work and progress, tell them to take a hike and that I  have told you it can and does get better, and your life will be better and much richer for it. When you learn to love yourself, its amazing what doors start to open. Doors you didn't even know were there.

When those old beliefs and cognitive errors ask you "well who the hell is Suzy", tell them this...

I was born on Friday the 13th. My parents were told I would not survive, and if I did survive I "would be a vegetable." I guess that just shows that I have been  a rebel since the second I was born! And that you have my support and energy sent your way, wherever you are in your journey.

I send you all love and support in your journey.

Those are my thoughts for today

cheers and be well

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Reflections From a Fog bank…..

Those of you who read my blog – (which I am very grateful for) - will know that while my town has been covered in a fog bank, I have been visited by my own personal fog bank.  I have been working on sitting with it and being open to discoveries, I have been surprised by what I learned. 

As I said in my last blog, feeling proud brought me anxiety and shame. I have been listening to where that comes from and working on that. Once I acknowledged these emotions and came to understand where they came from I was able to put those “cognitive errors” to rest.  And once I did that I was amazed at what I created space for.

Getting rid of the old opens space for anew.

Since my Outward Bound course I have noticed a change coming. I came back a different person, a much more whole, wiser, confident and inspired person. As with any change there is an adjustment period.  I could feel this happening and then I started to wonder about my writing, my life, and all those types of life questions. I wondered why they were coming up, but now I know.

Until I was able to “sit in the fog and listen” and allow the issues to come up, I would be going around in circles with the anxiety and shame and that is not a fun place to be.  As uncomfortable as it was to look at the issues, I’m glad I did.

Dissociative Identity Disorder is a very complex, multilevel (no pun intended) condition. What a person thinks or appears to be is often not what the reality is. Here is an example, early in my diagnoses, what my body language was saying and what I was feeling was often the complete opposite. Just like last week, my anxiety about “where is my life and writing going” really was in reality, feelings of anxiety and shame I experienced when I feel proud of myself. 

Now that the shame and anxiety no longer needed to protect me, I can feel proud of my accomplishments, and feel good about what I have done. With that came the clarity of moments and things I can be proud of.

It was amazing, I was sitting in my therapist office talking and then I had a vision of a rain drop- which represented one thing I should be proud of,- dropping into a crystal container, then another, then another and all these memories of things came flooding back to me. I am still in awe of that moment.

 Over the last week this has continued, things will come out of the blue, it’s pretty amazing. Once I realized I no longer need to “protect” myself and I was safe, doors have just opened up.

Dissociation saved my life. I paid a lot for it, meaning I have missed out on a lot because of the dissociation. It impeded my memory, took my career, ability to work, stole my dreams of being a doctor and elementary school teacher etc.

 But I have to look on the good side; it allowed my essence, writing, sense of humor, humanity etc. to be protected. It protected the real me, bundled me up in a very protective shell so that no one could break through and take away these aspects of me. It protected the very essence of who I was!

Now that I am safe, it is safe to be me, I no longer need to “protect” what I have done. I can feel proud!!

I have come a long way. I have stopped the generational cycle of abuse, I have been an amazing early childhood educator, I have overcome insurmountable odds, I am a published writer, I’m a good Mom, a good friend, and the list keeps growing!

And I hiked the Rookie Mountains during my Outward Bound course!  During that course one of the many gifts I brought back from the mountains is my essence. The thing that makes me who I am, that thing that I had been looking for all my life, I always felt something was missing, and now I have it firmly in my fold and I hold it very lovingly close to me. 

This Outward Bound course has changed me , I can not go back to who I was,  and I don't want to. 

I have created space for the anew to come up front and center and I like what I am seeing.

While I am learning to be comfortable in my new skin, I will continue to write. I may never have a best seller, or go on tour but I will write not because I want to, but because I have to, I truly believe I have a story to tell.

I will continue to advocate and educate about mental illness and give presentations, and I will continue to be the best that I can be. 

Now it’s safe to see all the good I have done, now that I have recovered my essence I can allow all the positive aspects that are me to join together and I think that is a pretty powerful combination!

I know I have made a difference in the lives of children, youth and adults, and I hope to continue to do so.  I hope to inspire others and let them know it can get better. 

I think that’s a pretty good calling. 

 As the fog starts to lift, I will thank it for its gift of wisdom and understanding. The sun will break through and I will watch it shine onto the crystal container that is getting filled each day. 

Those are my thoughts for the day

I wish you well on  making room for anew.

cheers and be well


Sunday, 27 October 2013

The Gift Of Fog

Fog is amazing!!!! 

I find the fog fascinating, how it silently and gentle moves into place, covering everything with a misty blanket. It can refract the sunlight, swallow headlights, muffle and distort sound.  You can’t hold it, this light and fluffy water cotton candy, but it swallows anything in its path.

Fog  makes the invisible, visible! The fogs condensation clings to the threads of spider webs, creating hanging droplets of glass balls. With the fog comes cooler temperatures and one can see their breath, and while on a walk the other day I saw “duck prints” where a duck had walked across the dew covered grass. If the fog was not here, I would not have seen any of these.

For the last ten days my town has been covered in a very thick fog bank. Both the airport and harbor have been socked in causing havoc for people trying to get somewhere. Traffic  on the roads has been moving slower and if you have high beams on at night you can become disoriented. 

Sometimes the best thing to do when the fog arrives is to sit still and enjoy it and try not to get somewhere else!

I have also been visited by my own personal fog bank and could not see where I was going and this was causing me much anxiety. I was waking in the night,- when I did sleep- was cold and could not warm up, trembling, feeling discombobulated, mixing up days and all round feeling crappy. I knew the signs of my complex P.T.S.D. but could not figure out why it would be acting up. Life was good, I am safe, I completed my Outward Bound course, people were reading my blog- which still surprises me- and I was feeling pretty proud of these and other accomplishments. My mental health is the best it has ever been, so what was going on?  I was trying to figure this out, and like driving in the fog with your high beams on, I was disoriented and could not see where I was going.

I had therapy this week and my therapist encouraged me to sit " with my fog"and listen to the insides and see and feel what was going on, then it came to me. I was feeling proud, and this caused much anxiety.

You may say” Why should feeling proud of oneself cause anxiety?”

As those of you who read my blog living with D.I.D. is complex. 

When a child accomplishes something they feel proud of themselves. They are excited and want to tell people about what they have done, be it catch a ball, learn to read, ride a bike, etc. In a healthy family the child is allowed to tell the parents and others in their life, and accomplishments are shared by all and celebrated. This was not my family.

When I accomplished anything and felt proud, I would tell them, and for the most part I was shut down. Meaning I was told to quit bragging, or the famous “who do you think you are that anyone would want to know” etc. I learned at a very early age to keep my accomplishments to myself and would only tell a very select few, if any at all. 

Fast forward all these years later. This week in my therapist’s office, with her encouragement and support,  I sat in “my fog” and listened and what I heard surprised me. 

I learned that feeling proud of my accomplishments brought feelings of anxiety and shame.

I told you it was complex!!!!

I learned that when one feels proud, they also feel excited about that accomplishment and they are able to stay in the proud and excited mode. I can’t.

What happens to me is that when I feel proud, I feel excited about my accomplishments and then, because of my history, I go into anxiety and shame as the old baggage shows up. When I started to feel this anxiety and shame it brought back the old coping mechanism.  This showed up as being on hyper alert, looking for safety, being on guard for any danger, interrupted sleep etc., thus my symptoms of Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is a knee jerk reaction. But until I notice and address it, it will always be a knee jerk reaction and one of my default systems. Meaning that it will by-pass all the stuff I know, and go to that old pathway known as a “cognitive error.” 

So, I guess my next assignment- if I choose to take it- is to learn to be comfortable with feeling proud  and the excitement that comes along with it, and not go into that default zone of anxiety and shame.

Being in this fog has been a gift. By slowly exploring my inner fog, the invisible became visible.

Like in the real fog, it’s not always a good idea to start traveling around looking for something. The next time a personal fog bank shows up- and believe me it will- I will try to remember this past week, remember I am safe and strong, that my  boat  is securely moored  to the dock and to sit in the fog and listen. I’m sure I will once again be surprised at what it tells me. 

Those are my thoughts for today

I wish you all well and safety as your travel through your own fog

Cheers and be well


Tuesday, 15 October 2013

I’m Doing Research…..

Yesterday was a lovely fall day, a crisp cool morning and a clear warm day. It was a beautiful day for a walk, so I took two. The first walk was one and a half hours long by myself, and the second one was a shorter one in the afternoon with a friend. They were both lovely.

After the afternoon walk we stopped at our local coffee shop, ordered our coffees and sat outside chatting. It was great to spend time with her and catch up.

I told her that I have been waking up in the middle of the night wondering what I was going to do with my life. 

As we all know, things are always worse in the middle of the night. There are no distractions and you have ample time to “Go to Rome” as one of my past therapist would say. Meaning, that your thoughts take off in a panic and go on a trip all their own,  ending  up who knows where..usually in  a worse case scenarios with  lots of assumptions..usually wrong ones at that!!!!

I know this, but I am still waking in the night with that question going on in my head. I am trying to find out where this is coming from and what’s really behind this question.

As with each time I go through this, and I do have to remember “I have been here before,” I get frustrated with my limits because of this illness. I cannot do as much as other people do, and they seem to do it so effortlessly.  I know there is a reason I am like this, but that does not take away the frustration of the situation.

I get frustrated with being able to do something one day, and not being able to do it the next. As I have mentioned before, this tends to screw up for planning ahead. I can hope to do something, but that does not mean I will be able to carry it out.

 I know I do stuff with my life. I guess it just does not look like the “normal things” people do with their life, which really means have a career and be successful at what they do. But I guess success looks different to each individual.

I don’t always feel like this, but I guess this is my “flavor of the week.” 

As I am talking to my friend, the topic turns to my writing. 

I enjoy writing, I feel better when I write, and I think I am not too bad at it. I remember as a 7 year old, writing for a class assignment – (Grade 3)-and feeling the muse, even though I did not know what it was at the time. The story seemed to pour out of me and it seemed to come with no effort.  The teacher was impressed and read it to the whole class, my mother’s friend wanted to publish it. But as with anything I did as a kid, it got squashed and was never encouraged.  That part of me that wanted to write never wrote again and hid away inside, until these last  few years. 

As I’m talking of this I realize that the “what am I going to do with my life?” really means, what am I going to do with my writing? Where am I going to go with it? What am I going to write? And what makes a successful writer? I guess the last question is the one I have been hung up on.

I know some successful writers. Now these writers have been published and their books are doing well. Some write whenever they get the chance, and some have a schedule they stick to ever day to write. I don’t, and I can’t, I have tried and it just does not work for me. 

So, I guess I have to find out what works for me. And, with me I know this is a work in progress. 

Then as I’m talking it hits me.

I found a piece of myself on my Outward Bound trip; I had many great discoveries and came back a much more whole person. Taking this course has changed me, it has been life altering and it has been a gift. Then I realize it’s kind of like when I come out of the hospital.

When I come out of the hospital I have recovered a lost part of myself and it takes time to “get back on track”, and this is no different.

And, like every time I recover a lost piece of myself, I am elated, and I want to get on with my life. And like every time, I need to process what has happened and its re wiring the brain, this also takes time and energy.

And, like every time, I learn that I am not as patient with myself as I would like to be.

I am once again finding out who I really am, and until that is done I cannot focus on my writing like I would like to.

I tell this to my friend and she says “You are doing research. You are learning who you are, that’s research. You are thinking about your writing and what to write, that is research. It may not look like what we think research is, but you are doing it”.

I liked that and told her I am going to borrow it.

So, like any good writer, I guess I am doing research. This sounds much nicer then “Why the hell aren’t your writing more?” And it does help me  take the pressure off of myself.

 I ask myself and my friend…Am I going to write a book, what am I going to write, who is going to read my writing, will there be lots of readers, or will I be a quiet writer and have   just be a few people who read what I write? 

Where I am going to go with my writing?

Then I realized I am not going to go anywhere with my writing, it is going to take me and go where it is supposed to go! 

Just like the time when I was in therapy shortly after I was correctly diagnosed. I was wondering where I was going to go from there. I was trying to plan my future. What do I have to do, maybe I have to go back to school, find another job, what am I going to do with my life?  Then my guardian angel lovingly hit me across the side of my head with a very padded 2x4 and told me to “stop reaching for the brass ring. Stop trying to find the glove to fit you, it will be there when the time is right, but for now you need to do your work and be formed for that glove so you are ready when the time comes.
So I sat back, relaxed and opened myself and my trust to the universe and knew that I would do what I am meant to do, and it would be all right.

I guess I have to do the same thing with my writing. I have to sit back, be open to the universe,do the research, and believe it will work out as it is supposed to. 

I received many wonderful, amazing and heartfelt gifts on my Outward Bound Course; I have grown and changed for the better.  I need to do the research and process all that happened to me, all that I gained and all of me that came back.

It will take time and I need to be gentle and patient with myself. And I do know that my writing, like my life, will be much richer for it. For that I am grateful. 

I wish you all well in your discoveries and research.

Those are my thoughts for today
Cheers and be well

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

I Feel A Change Coming…….

 I look out my window and  see the raindrops gathering on the bows of Western  Redcedar tree. The raindrops  slowly pool together until they hit the critical point where they become heavy enough and run down its fan like sprays that come off its branches. They seem to hang on momentarily, then drop off, the branch bounces back up, ready for a replay.  I get up to put a sweater on.

Yes, there is a change coming.

 Fall is here. Even if it’s only been here a few days, you can feel the change. 

The rain has become heavier, the air cooler, leaves changing colour and apples are dropping off the trees. Light snow has dusted the surrounding mountains and the smell of decaying leaves and wood smoke great me as I go for a walk. 

When the  clear blue skies and sun are out, there is crispness in the air. I can see my breath and when I come home from my daily-or almost daily- walk, my cheeks are cool and have a red tinge to them.

Un like most other areas of Canada where there is a definite change of seasons, here on Vancouver Island the seasons slowly merge from one to another, and this fall is no different. I love this time of year.

Some people do not like it . Some see it as a time of death and sadness, as the nights close in, flowers die, trees become dormant etc, but I don’t. I see warmth in the colours, all be it they are not as spectacular as most other areas of Canada.  But here, this time of year, the maple leaves change from green, to an amazing array of yellow and gold before they fall off. The light this time of year is warmer and gives off amazingly long shadows.  The coats on the local deer have changed from  light brown to a spectacular rich, dark reddish brown that looks as if it’s made out of mahogany, it truly is beautiful. And in the next month the first of the Trumpeter swans will show up to winter over and fatten up, to get ready for their spring migration back up north. 

For me, there is also internal change coming.

When I first got back off of my Outward Bound Course, life became unexpectedly busy. It has just been in the last week that things have started to settle down and I have had the opportunity to start to process the amazing adventure that I had. 

I can say the person who went on that course and the person who came back are not the same. I mean I am the same but different, and it has been a bit of a challenge. This is in a good way.

I have noticed that some of my old life does not feel right, nothing drastic, just little things.  Things like where do I really want to put my limited energy? Do I see things the same way? Priorities have changed and I am seeing things with new eyes.  

I also recovered a lost, or not really lost, but very distant persona, or aspect of myself. I knew it was always there, but it was like a planet floating on the outer orbit. It would pass close by every once in a while, but never close enough for me to reel her in. Well, I did just that on this course.

It was, and is amazing, and like any new addition to the family, or relative coming to live with you, there is a period of adjustment.

I guess I am in the adjustment period.

I am also calmer, more at peace with myself and my life. I notice I worry less about when my disability pension will be put in the bank and what am I going to do in the future.  I am living more in the moment. I have much more gratitude for my life and for those who are in it. I value and respect myself more than ever thought I would.

There have been a few brief moments where the old “worry” would come back, but I noticed and was able to ground myself and stay in the present. I also know, this will take time as I am making new pathways in my brain, and as I have said before, this can be tiring work, but it is so worth it. 

Yes, I feel a change coming. Like the change of seasons here, it will not be dramatic, it will be subtle, it will happen bit by bit, day by day, and when it does, I know it will be right for me. I am open to it and I look forward to the new and improved me. 

I will keep you all posted on this new and exciting chapter of my life. 

Those are my thoughts for today
PS- Here is a Thank you Letter I sent to Outward bound, to send to the sponsors of the Women of Courage program

An open letter to all Outward Bound Women of Courage sponsors…

My name is Suzy Venuta and I have just finished the Women of Courage Alberta program ten days ago. At the end of each course we are asked to write a thank you letter to our sponsors, to thank them for supporting this amazing program. We did that on the morning of the 14th, before we were picked up to depart.  It had been an intense week, I was tired and I felt I did not get to fully express my thanks and what the program has done for me, thus this letter.

The Women of Courage is a program for women who have had violence at some point in their life. Violence, especially if experienced in childhood, can change a person and distort the way they see the world, themselves, and their self-worth. It can isolate and cripple.

I have spent the last ten days thinking about and processing the amazing week I had in the Rookies, I mean, what better classroom to learn. I have been telling people about my adventure, for that’s what it was, but I find it hard to put into words, but I will try.  

Women of Courage programs are not about a group of ladies sitting around a cabin having appy’s  and getting  a pedicure! Mind you at points during the course I wished it was!

On a Saturday afternoon a group of women gathered at a hotel in Canmore, Alberta. This group  were all strangers to each other and the only commonality was having violence at some point in our life. A few made small talk, many were quiet. It was with some trepidation that I, and I’m sure the rest, waited for the organizers to show up. We were all strangers, but by the end of the week we were strong, supportive, valued members of this very diverse group. We became an amazing community!

Before my course I wrote the following post on my blog

“…  I am taking this course to learn more about myself, who I really am and what I can really do. I am taking this course to meet challenges and put some old ghosts and “cognitive errors” to rest. I am taking this course to celebrate how far I have come and dig down a little deeper to find that authenticity that is me. ….”

Well, I can tell you I found more than that.

 This course is one of the toughest things I have ever done, physically, mentally and emotionally.  Many times I wondered “what the Hell am I doing here and why did I sign up for this?” There were times I was short of breath, my lungs and legs burned and I could only focus on one step at a time. And there were no shortage of moments when I thought I could not make it, where the weight of the pack and task just seemed too much for me.

There were also great moments of growth, deep down belly laughs, connections, heartfelt moments and many tears of gratitude. There were Epiphany’s, amazing support and joy. There were times of surprise and great discoveries and I learned that I can do more than I had believed. I grew stronger every day and the world as well as my pack became lighter. 

It will take a book to write all that I have gained from this program but I wanted to thank all the sponsors and fundraisers for providing support to this wonderful program. I am on a disability pension and funds are tight, but your support allowed me to apply and be granted a bursary to participate. That is a gift that I will be forever grateful.

I also wrote on my blog

“… while on this course I will also be honoring everyone past and present, alive or dead who have helped me to get where I am today. They may have played a big part, or just a very small role. They may have been in my life for years, or it may have been just one chance meeting, or not know me at all…..”

You do not know me and likely will never meet me, but you gift has made an unimaginable positive impact on my life. I will hold it close to my heart always. 

With this wonderful group and our supportive instructors I learned it was safe to trust, to ask for help, and to be who I really am. I discovered my strength, my laugh, my resiliency and my authenticity. But most importantly I found my essence; this is something that had been locked away for over 50 years. The next day one of the group members mentioned to me “You are just glowing.”  

I have grown from this course and will continue that growth for many years to come.

I am slowly getting back into my life and I will continue to advocate and write about mental health issues, but I will do it with more confidence and conviction. I will have much richer relationships with myself, my family and friends. I will dare to do more than I ever thought possible. I will laugh deeper, cry freely, and I will be more at peace with myself and my life.

I send you my heartfelt thanks and deep gratitude for this amazing life changing opportunity.

Thank you
Suzy Venuta