The Big Difference (K.Blais)

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Awful things happen to us or to the people we love and care about. Terrible things occur continuously in our daily lives. We make decisions which end up being disastrous, although they may have seemed like the best option at the time, and in other cases choices are made for us without our having any say in them at all. Sometimes we hold the power in the decision-making process, and other times we are completely powerless.

Through it all though we strive to stand up and not to sink. We do our best not to let the floods drown us or to pull us down into the depths of despair, even though they may threaten to.

It isn’t always easy. And it doesn’t always work for all of us.

It is essential to remind ourselves that eventually the waters will recede. It’s tricky to remember that sometimes though and, by no means, do we ever intend to make light of the terrible things that happen, but it remains extremely important to attempt to search for the positive amidst the negative.

Out of every horrendous situation is there always a positive to be found? Depending on individual perspectives the answers may vary: maybe, maybe not… and maybe not right away. But, if we search hard enough there is always a bit of light, a small glimmer of hope, a tiny piece of dry land that we can place our feet on, even if it’s just a tiptoe to start. Maybe sometimes the negative just requires a different perspective.

A very close person to me, my dear friend Tracy, has struggled with some health issues over the past couple of years. She one day found herself with mobility issues, needed surgery to repair her knee injury, had a health scare with a dangerous item on the job site, and was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after that (all issues completely unrelated to one another). Add to that other issues which she has dealt with throughout her life, the scope of her tribulations was immense. To be perfectly honest, her world was bleak and dark and at some very low points. With so many negatives piling up on her, there were days when getting out of bed was too much for her to think about.

The floods threatened to close in on her on more than one occasion, but through it all she always searched for that tiny aspect of hope, that glimmer of light, that small piece of land on which she could attempt to stand. Her faith led her to the belief that her cancer was a blessing because having gone through what she had, she was able to be a support system to others battling with cancer. Her journey led her to new friendships which she may have otherwise not have made. Her struggles allowed her to realize the love that so many people had for her. The darkness has allowed her to appreciate the light all that much more. All the negatives that have happened to her have led to so many more positives in her life because she chose to see past them.

Some of us battle with physical or mental health issues, or have loved ones which are battling, which have affected our (and their) quality of life. Frustration, powerlessness, and a feeling of incompetency may overwhelm us. It can be hard to find the positive when we feel so awful. Sometimes we have to realize the negative for what it is. Sometimes we need to surf the waves when we cannot stop them.

Financially or materially we may be experiencing damage or loss. There may be days when our situation seems so bleak that there seems to be no place to go. It is hard to find the positive when the negatives are reflected in everything we have, even our bank accounts.

We may have lost a loved one or loved ones. We all know someone who has experienced the immense grief of losing a person very close to them. It’s extremely hard to see the positive in death and loss, especially when we are in mourning. Sometimes though death can bring us closer to those who remain in our lives. Sometimes death brings a new appreciation for all that we had and all that we have shared with that person, and it may encourage us to cherish and hold dear the time we have with the loved ones left with us. A belief that we will be reunited with our loved one one day can offer peace. Sometimes death can lead us back to life: to living each moment to the fullest and with a deeper appreciation, and may even lead us to taking nothing, even the little things, for granted.

Perhaps relationships have dissolved, friendships and partners have been lost, and life as we knew it has become an illusion. It is difficult to see the negative when everything around us in our personal life seems in a disarray. Sometimes it is difficult to understand how things can fall apart so easily… and perhaps we neglect to see that sometimes things need to fall apart so better things can come together.

Being positive does not mean to ignore the negative. There is no need to put blinders on and pretend that the negative does not exist. Being positive, and living a life which chooses to focus on the positive, can simply mean to live by overcoming the negative. That’s the big difference.

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Letting The Air Get At It (K.Blais)

An old wives’ tale speaks about letting a wound get air in order to heal better. Although medical opinion varies on whether on a wound site heals better covered or uncovered, I am of the belief that both physical and emotional wounds heal better when air is allowed to get in and the wound is given permission to breathe.

Hurt, betrayal, disappointment, embarrassment, and even humiliation have become emotional wounds common in life. Whether intentional or unintentional, because of simple negligence or ignorance, or because of malicious spite triggered by envy or revenge, wounds occur.

We are hurt by those we thought would never hurt us. We are betrayed by those who we believed had our back unconditionally. We are disappointed by how we are treated by others, especially when we would never treat them in the same way. We are embarrassed when we are called out in front of others, or when we are ridiculed when we least expect it. We are humiliated when we believe that what we thought would never happen to us, has indeed happened.

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So, what do we do?

Some of us may bandage it all up, wrapping the damage of the wound tightly to us. We may hide the injury away, underneath a protective covering, hoping that in time the wound will heal on its own. And perhaps the wound will heal. It may disappear entirely with only a trace of a scar or it may seep for a long while, oozing within itself, barely contained behind the bandage that holds it, before eventually healing in its own way.

Some of us may decide not to cover the wound. We may let the wound remain open, airing it out, because we believe that when we can air out our wounds they will heal more quickly and with less oozing and scarring. We leave the wound open instead of covered, baring our injury, in the hope that air and time will heal.

Airing out an emotional wound requires courage. For some it may be talking to a trusted friend about our feelings. For others it may be writing or blogging about a troublesome issue, or in a less public forum, it may mean journaling or writing private letters. In any case, the airing out is important for those people to heal.

Airing out takes courage because sometimes people perceive us as angry. They may think that we are on a rant and pissed off again. They may think we are too sensitive, that we take too much to heart, that we need to let things go a bit more. They may tell us to focus on what really matters (which is entirely subjective), and to let things roll off our backs. And maybe they are right.

Maybe we are angry and pissed off. Maybe we are too sensitive, too heartfelt, and too conscientious about justice and fairness to others. Maybe we believe that the world needs to remember that everyone has feelings and those feelings should be valued no matter who you are or what you can or cannot do for someone else. Maybe we feel that being kind will always be more important than being right.

But that doesn’t make us wrong in feeling any of these ways. Airing or ‘talking’ about when we have been hurt, when we feel wronged, even when we feel insecure can help us face our own perspective, as well as to see and hear someone else’s. We can heal faster when we realize that we are not alone, that others have felt and will feel this same, or in a similar, way. We can learn from another person’s experiences, we can receive valuable advice, or we can simply hear “I get it. I understand.”

We may be embarrassed by our wounds. We may feel childish or juvenile. We may think that we appear weak or ineffective when we allow our wounds to be exposed for anyone else to see. We may feel that we are to blame for allowing these things and/or people to hurt us, in some cases repeatedly. We may even believe that perhaps we someone deserve to be wounded.

But, it takes a strong person to speak about hurt and betrayal. It takes strength and courage to reach out and to bare ourselves and our hurt to someone else. We may be allowing patterns to repeat themselves in our lives, but that is why it is so important to air out our injuries. When things hit the air sometimes the reasons for them become more obvious to us. We are able to reflect a little more clearly on ourselves and on the situation surrounding us. We can see and evaluate the truth about ourselves and others. We can learn, we can understand and be understood, and we can grow.

It may also take time, but airing out our wounds can allow us to heal more quickly and healthily. We will still continue to be hurt by others at times, this is most likely inevitable, but perhaps we can learn to allow the air to heal us. And perhaps we may also learn how to prevent a greater wound from taking place in the future.

(photo courtesy of steptohealth.com)

Being Elsa (K.Blais)


Yep, that’s right. I have become Elsa. I don’t spontaneously burst into song, nor do I conjure up a storm and freeze everything in my path when I am angry or upset (now that’s not to say that some days I wouldn’t like to!), but for all intents and purposes I like to think that I have become, at least a little bit, like Elsa.

While I have written and posted on similar topics, ideas, and concepts throughout the years, I have found myself, as of late, really relying and focusing on the idea of “Let it go”.

I have used and reused the phrase lately probably more than anyone cares to hear, and, perhaps in some ways, it has become my mantra. But whatever works, right? And “let it go” works.

I say “let it go” to my children when I recognize they are becoming bogged down and focused on issues which seem big to them, but which I know are draining their time, energy, and positivity. When their friends (or their siblings) treat them unfairly and they cannot get past the point that it “isn’t fair”, I tell them to “let it go”. They are right, ‘it’ may not be fair, but they have to recognize that, realize it for what it is, express their feelings, but then to move on.

I tell my students to “let it go” for many of the same reasons. It is important that their voices and concerns are heard, but they must also realize that it is equally, if not, more important to “rise above” and move forward. Dwelling on things which we cannot control seldom does us any good. We must also recognize that and move on.

I tell myself to “let it go” when I recognize that I am becoming weighed down by things which are not good for me to be so focused on. There are days when the world either becomes too big or too small and either overwhelms or underwhelms me. There are times when I want more and then there are times when I want less. There are moments when I forget to be simply be grateful, to be happy with what I have been blessed with, and to work for what I want.

Far too often we may find ourselves caught up in issues or business that are really none of our concern. We need to take a step back and ask ourselves some pretty serious questions when we involve ourselves in things not directly related to our own personal life. Does or should this really concern me? Does being involved in this, does knowing (or needing to know) this information really affect my life? Am I involving myself for the right reasons, or am I becoming involved to benefit or to make myself feel better? Am I holding on to something that isn’t mine to begin with? Would it be better to simply “let it go”?

One of the most interesting quotes which I have read most recently is by F. Scott Fitzgerald , “It is more important to be kind, than to be right.” Perhaps maybe we need to let go of things which weigh us down, of the things which are unfair, and of the importance of being right. It is more important to be kind than to let less than important issues and concerns hurt our relationships with others needlessly. 

Maybe it’s time we were all a little more like Elsa. 

The View From Down Here (K. Blais)

I wrote a love letter to a boy once. In it I told him about the things I liked, one of which was lying under the Christmas tree and looking up at the branches. 

  

I remembered this “love letter” the other night. The idea had struck me in the quiet of the late hours that I should revisit my childhood and lie down beneath the lit Christmas tree. Truth be told I could only get my head and shoulders under it, but as I gazed up at the branches the love letter popped into my head. 

It wasn’t the love letter that inspired me to write this post however, but as I thought about the letter and I wondered if the boy I wrote it to even remembered it, I thought about the secrets we keep. 

I never told anyone about the letter. In all actuality that very same boy is married to a friend now. I’m sure we would all probably laugh and joke about the letter if it ever got brought up, but it seems content to keep its own secret for now. 

As I lay under the Christmas tree and gazed up at its branches I also thought about how different it looked  on the underside and how my perspective of my tree was entirely changed. The angle in which I could see the ornaments was completely different and while the tree was still pretty, it definitely looked less glamorous from underneath. 

I wonder if we only let people see one side of us, the glamorous side, will they ever truly understand us or what goes on under our branches? 

I told a dear friend recently that it’s ok to be weak in front of others that care about us and that it is completely acceptable to show that we have feelings that can be hurt. I truly believe that there is nothing wrong in letting others know that they have caused hurt. It really doesn’t make us weak, or less, or give others any power over us. In fact, it reminds everyone, including us, that we are human and that we feel. It is no secret that if you prick us, we will all bleed. 

But yet so many of us tend to keep so much of ourselves hidden, even the wonderful things that make us who we are. Some of us may feel that people will like us more if they only see certain sides of us. Some feel that they don’t want to be seen as ‘soft’ or ‘sensitive’ or even ‘too emotional’. We keep a lot of our “mushy” stuff hidden for fear that we may scare others away. 

Life is too short for regrets though. Perhaps we should all start baring a bit more of our undersides to others. Maybe if we started to share more of ourselves, the world would become a less complicated place. While filters are good (and we should definitely think before we speak and say something hurtful), maybe we need to filter a bit less and love a bit more. 

What if we all focused this Christmas season on telling others how much we care about them? What if we spread peace, love, and joy by sharing more of ourselves? 

Maybe we don’t have to keep so much of ourselves a secret. Even those things that we perceive as flaws can be intriguing and captivating to others. 

Perhaps we should be more like the Christmas tree – shining bright, beautiful in our own way for all to see, from no matter what angle. 

“Practice Your Pain” (K.Blais)

I’ve borrowed the title for this blog post from my not-so-secret crush, Jim Cuddy. I was listening to “Banks of the 49” the other day and, while I know the song by heart, it struck me that these three words are something that I have been doing a lot of lately. (I tried to find a link from YouTube to share of the song, but unfortunately there wasn’t one available. If you have the chance to hear the song, please listen to it! One of things that I respect most about Jim is his understanding of human emotion and his unique perspective on it.)

So far 2015 has felt like one constant drama after another. There have been a number of things which have happened which have made me question the ‘goodness’ in people, but more importantly I have also had to question my own responses to many of these incidents.

I had hoped as I grew older that I would toughen up a bit and not take things so personally. My dad once told me I had to grow “thicker skin” in dealing with certain people in my life and I agreed with him because he was, and still is, right. All too often I let ‘people’ affect me more than they should. I’m not sure if I have been successful at all at doing that, however. Some days I think maybe I’m fighting a losing battle because maybe I am not meant to be a “thick-skinned” person.

I’ve always been “sensitive”, which continuously made me vulnerable and easily hurt I suppose. I would take most things to heart, even if they weren’t intended to directly hurt me. It’s not that I always try to make things “about me”, but more that I am very sensitive to how others are feeling as well.

As I was listening to Jim’s velvety voice (yes, it does sound like velvet), I realized with a start that practicing my pain is exactly what I have been doing… for the past six months.

Just over six months ago, I was involved in a very hurtful conversation in which words were thrown like daggers to my heart. I was shaken to my core at the individual’s true feelings which were clearly expressed. Later those words were taken back and apologized for, but the hurt couldn’t be erased. Still the hurt remained and still remains.

There were multiple factors which contributed to the pain caused that day: stress, disappointment about other events, even miscommunication. None of that erases the hurt, even if it may help to explain it.

After several months, I finally concluded that I was disliked, and probably never had been liked in the first place. This conclusion, however accurate or inaccurate, hurt immensely.

I vowed to forgive and tried to forget. I am still trying to in fact. I find myself lamenting about the incident though, reliving each moment and hurtful word. There were (are) nights that I still lie in bed and relive the conversation over and over.

Jim’s words helped me to realize that this reliving is a continuous practice of the pain which I felt that day. The more I lamented about it, the more I practiced feeling the pain over and over. I was perfectly practicing the pain and in practicing it repeatedly and to perfection I wasn’t allowing myself to heal from it either. Practicing became like a bad habit, especially when I was feeling down about other things. If something else hurt my feelings, I remembered how hurt I was about this particular incident and the practice regime intensified and continued.

Practice is often good, but over practice can hurt also especially when it prevents us from moving on to focus on other areas or to distributing our time and energy to other areas of our life.

My Christian beliefs guide me to forgive others, especially when they have asked for my forgiveness. God has granted me a thinking mind though, and I also realize that I should learn from these incidents as well to protect myself in the future.

But if I continue to practice my pain, am I truly forgiving the individual who asked for my forgiveness?

My heart tells me no, that I’m not. I also realize though that I may have needed this time, this amount of practice, to process it all and to begin to think about healing. Quite honestly, I’d really like to quit practicing and start living pain free again. I hope and pray that I have the inner strength to make this possible.

Forgiveness takes time. Healing takes time. And maybe practicing our pain allows us to take that time, to nurture ourselves, to lick our own wounds, and to begin to stand upright and confident again.

Looking Back: What Is This Thing We Call Love? (K.Blais)

Revisiting an old favourite. This post was published a couple of years ago on Valentine’s Day.

(photo courtesy of wikipedia.org)

A blog post on Valentine’s Day – how can I not write about love?

First off, where exactly did the tradition of Valentine’s Day, or the Feast of Saint Valentine, come from? Let me tell you a story — please forgive me if all of its details are not exact. It may have been paraphrased at the writer’s discretion. 😉

There once was a priest by the name of Valentinus (Valentine) who lived in Rome about 250 years after Jesus was born in Bethlehem. At that time, Claudius the Cruel was the Emperor of Rome. St. Valentine, the priest, didn’t like Claudius and many people felt the same way. Claudius believed that Rome should have a big army which he wanted men to volunteer to join. Many men did not want to leave their families, wives, and girlfriends to go off and fight wars and so limited numbers volunteered for the Roman war.

Of course, having so few men join his army made Emperor Claudius very angry. He developed this crazy idea that if men were not married then they would be more willing to join his army. Emperor Claudius declared that there would be no more marriages. St. Valentine, along with others, felt that this was ridiculous and indeed cruel. One of Valentine’s duties as a priest was to marry people – and he kept doing it. Even after Emperor Claudius passed the law forbidding marriage, Valentine continued performing marriage ceremonies secretly.

One night, during one of these secret ceremonies, footsteps were heard at Valentine’s door. The couple he was marrying escaped, but Valentine was caught. He was thrown into jail. His punishment would be death.

Many young people visited Valentine while he was imprisoned. Flowers and notes were thrown up to his window. His supporters wanted him to know that they too believed in love. One of the young people, the daughter of the prison guard, was allowed to visit Valentine in his cell. The two would talk for hours. The prison guard’s daughter believed that Valentine had done the right thing by continuing to perform marriage ceremonies. She supported her friend.

On the day that Valentine was to be sentenced to death, he left the prison guard’s daughter a note thanking her for her friendship and loyalty. The note was signed, ‘From your Valentine’.

It was that little note, written on the day of Valentine’s death, February 14th, 269 A.D., that started the custom of exchanging love notes on Valentine’s Day. Now every year on this day people think of love and friendship. If they know Valentine’s story, they also remember how Claudius tried to stand in the way of love, and how Valentine proved that love cannot be beaten.

So, what is love? Oh yes, I know what the dictionary says, but really, what IS love?

Well first, maybe let’s talk about what love is NOT.

Love is NOT a fluffy sort of thing nor is it a word which should be lightly or randomly used. When we say it, we need to mean it! Love is a feeling of very deep affection. Love is more than just romantic love. (Let’s briefly point out that love is separate from lust – although the two are often mistaken.)

Love is NOT control. Loving someone does not mean that you use your love to control that person’s behaviours, emotions, or even reactions to situations or events. Love will rein in behaviours and actions that may cause the loved one harm or that are made under duress or without clarity of thought, provided that the reining in is, itself, done lovingly.

Love is NOT vengeful nor is it vindictive. Love cannot be about keeping score. It must be about forgiveness and moving forward.

Love is NOT jealous, or hurtful. Love must not be about ownership or infliction of pain, emotional or otherwise. Love is not about hurt, but about preventing hurt. Love is about healing and helping to take away pain when hurt occurs.

Love IS a true and deep emotion, one that is long lasting. When I think of my children and my loved ones, I think of love that never ends. No matter what happens, I know that I will love those people forever.

Love IS respectful and supportive. Love is also generous with that respect and support. Love will sacrifice for loved ones. There is no truer, deeper love than “agape” love: to love like Jesus, with a desire for nothing but the best for others.

Love IS kind and compassionate. Love helps when needed and shows compassion on those who are weak, sad, or suffering.

Love IS loyal. It stands up for truth. Love will take a stand against injustice, hatred, and prejudice. It will speak up and stand up for others, even if it is standing alone.

Today, on Valentine’s Day, let’s think about love in its purest and best forms – the love for family and very dear friends, the love for others, even strangers, in order to show them kindness and compassion, and the love for values and beliefs and standing up for truth.

Let’s focus on the innocence of children and love. Children love unconditionally – let’s take our example from them. Let’s work to keep their minds fresh and innocent, untainted by societal integrations of equating love with lust and sex. Let’s be strong role models in regards to love that comes from the heart.

Let’s remember that love is the greatest gift anyone can give. The commercialism of Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to dictate that we forget about the true demonstrations of love: doing kind things for others, giving a kiss and a hug, making a homemade card and / or a meal for someone, going out of our way for someone else, calling, emailing, or texting someone just to say we are thinking of them. Please note: these demonstrations of love can happen EACH and EVERY day of the year, not just on Valentine’s Day!

Let’s aim to center our thoughts on the real idea behind Valentine’s Day: to love one another just as we, ourselves, were created in love.

(photo courtesy of photobucket.com)

(Dear Readers, Your reads, comments, likes, and shares are messages of love to me! Thank you for your support, always! Please take a moment to like our Facebook page, Writing For The Love of It, and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @kim_blais. With great affection, ~ K ~)

Dusting Off The Shelf (K.Blais)

(Photo courtesy of
PDPhoto.org)

I had the pleasure of visiting a tiny and quaint used bookstore over the break. W and I stumbled upon Prince Street Books & Coffee Co. after we finished a fabulous lunch at a new favourite restaurant, The Schwarma House. Our bellies full, our breath saturated with garlic (so tasty, but afterwards still tasting same garlic makes one impossibly regretful), we ventured into the bookstore, a place we both had always known about, but hadn’t taken the opportunity to visit.

It was a small place, but a booklover’s heaven. My eyes couldn’t take in all the books on the shelves, each literally filled to the ceiling with a wide variety and assortment of works by many different authors and various genres. We scoured the shelves on the lookout for two books to continue a trilogy she had unknowingly began reading and now had to find out the ending to. I, having reignited my passion for reading for pleasure, was simply looking for something different to dive into.

I came across the book Best Kept Secret by Amy Hatvany. It’s titled intrigued me and, reading the inside of the trade paperback, I could already feel myself connecting with the main character and her challenges of balancing motherhood and being a writer. Her best kept secret is not one that I will reveal here nor one that I personally can admit to, but I did find myself uncomfortably relating to her relationships with others and how she let very few people “in” to see the real her. (To be honest I put the book down a few times in the bookstore, only to pick it back up and, ultimately, to make the decision to buy it. I knew it was something that I had to read. I guess you could even say that I couldn’t just leave it on the shelf.)

Like the main character, Cadence, I too have felt like I have sometimes only shown parts of myself to others. I know I am not alone in this as others have expressed these same things to me in conversations over the years. We let others see the parts of us that we wish them to see. I have often wondered if this is the allure to our social media outlets – we can paint a picture of what our lives look like and that picture can show only the aspects we want it to. (Check out Down The Rabbit-Hole for my previously posted thoughts on this.)

Sometimes it’s easier to show only parts of ourselves to others because we are afraid of them seeing the real us. Opening ourselves up permits us to become vulnerable to others – to their scrutiny, judgment, and even to their expectations. Maybe we are afraid of them seeing who we really are with our flaws, our insecurities, and our inadequacies. Maybe trust has been an issue with us and we worry that if we allow others in, they will hurt us in some way. Perhaps this worry comes from experiences we have had in the past, possibly even with different people, and we are afraid of making the same mistakes or at least feeling the same hurt or betrayal.

In the same sense, sometimes we protect ourselves in our relationships with others by holding them at arm’s length, pushing them away, or maybe even placing the relationship, person, or issue we are facing up on a shelf to gather dust. We may find it difficult to reach out to those people after we have been vulnerable with them or maybe because of who we were when we spent time with them is not who we are anymore. At other times it can feel like a bridge has been burnt, a hand in cards has been folded, or even that the straw has (almost) broken the camel’s back.

Sometimes the people or relationships which we leave up on a shelf gathering dust are the ones that we often wish we could reach out to or get back to the same place with again, but yet for some reason feel that we can’t. Maybe circumstances or time has changed, making us feel that we cannot break down the wall which has been put up or find the ladder needed to reach the high shelf. Perhaps even an apology and forgiveness is in order but we cannot find it within ourselves to take the first step in giving the apology or even in accepting it.

Sometimes the people we leave up on a shelf gathering dust are the ones that we need the most. The ones that we need to tell us that we will be ok, that no matter what we are still important in their lives even though distance, time, and circumstances may change us. We may have placed these people or relationships on a shelf but perhaps there doesn’t always seem to be an opportunity to reach up to the shelf and bring those things into our view again.

Sometimes it’s hard to apologize, especially without repeating well-worn phrases which lose their meaning over time and repetition. It’s hard to bridge the widening gap between what was then and what is now. It’s hard to open up the compartments in your mind to allow room for things to cross-sect and intertwine. Our lives become so scheduled and regimented that we can lose sight of how things can still fit together and how we can make things work simply by holding onto the hope that they will.

Maybe it’s time for a little spring cleaning. Like the books so high up on the bookshelf in a quaint little bookstore, it’s time to take down those precious things we have left to gather dust and bring them back into the light. It could be time to open again those shelved books and to read a new chapter. Maybe it’s time to renew those relationships which we have left to sit on their own. Perhaps it’s time to reach out to those who we may have forgotten or who we fear may have forgotten us.

You see, that’s the great thing about dust: once it is wiped away it allows us to see the beauty of everything that still lies beneath it.

 

 

 

The Bittersweet Bite Of Reality (K.Blais)


(image courtesy of Google images)

 

reality check (noun) : an occasion on which one is reminded of the state of things in the real world. (from Google dictionary)

reality check (noun) : a word or phrase used to bring a person back into the life of those around them, sometimes used to smash hopes and dreams. (from urbandictionary.com)

 

Reality checks can be harsh. In all actuality, I once described a reality check as being similar to a brick to the face. The sudden realization, the slap or bite of reality, can often be a very hard and bitter pill to swallow. (An interesting side note: The idea of the reality pill was popularized in science fiction culture and was derived from the 1999 film The Matrix. The red pill and its opposite, the blue pill, are pop culture symbols representing the choice between embracing the sometimes painful truth of reality (red) and the blissful ignorance of illusion (blue). In the movie, the main character Neo is offered the choice between a red pill and a blue pill. The blue pill would allow him to remain in the fabricated reality of the Matrix. The red pill would lead to his escape from the Matrix and into the “real world”. information from Wikipedia.org)

From my perspective, I’ve noted that reality checks often occur when we believe things to be a certain way, when in actuality they are not. In our mind (in our world, if you wish), we truly believe these things to be true. Maybe we are naïve, maybe we are wearing the proverbial rose-coloured glasses, or maybe we have even been fooled (tricked, lied to) into believing them. Sometimes reality checks are given out by others, sometimes we arrive at them ourselves. At times, reality checks can be enlightening, other times they can be devastating. The reality pill can be a difficult pill to swallow.

In considering my conversations with friends and loved ones, I have noted that the suddenness of an abrupt reality check has been extra cruel as of late. It may seem that we are cruising along on the highway of life when suddenly we are hit with a flat tire. The reality check is not the flat tire, however, because those things do happen just as life happens. Where the reality lies is in the fact that the help needed to fix the flat tire is not available, or is not willing to be available, to help. That, itself, is the bite of reality; when we are disappointed by the actions of others it is often because we would be willing to do so much more for them.

For some of us, we are givers. We give and give and give until there is almost nothing (if not nothing) left for ourselves. Friends and family may need us and may lean on us to provide emotional or even financial support to them on a continuous basis. We love, so we help. Unfortunately, the reality check of ‘helping’ is that there are also many, many takers in the world. Some will take and take and take from us without ever being thankful or appreciative (or, at least without demonstrating it sincerely), let alone returning any of that good back to us.

There may also come a time when reality hits that we must be willing to see things and people as they are, rather than as we hope, wish, or expect them to be. That also can be a difficult pill to swallow. It is especially hard when someone disappoints and hurts us. Perhaps something has been done that is hypocritical or has betrayed our trust, maybe our heart has even been broken. We may even begin to question ourselves and doubt our own instincts – ‘How could I have been so foolish to have trusted him?’, ‘How could I not have seen this coming?’, ‘Why was I so willing to believe the best about her?’

It could also be that maybe we have invested a huge amount of time, energy, and focus into a friendship or relationship only to be pushed aside when we are no longer needed. The reality may hit that while we truly believed that we could rely on that person, he/she was never capable of being the kind of friend that we were to him or her. This is often a sad, but necessary, realization to face and with it comes a huge amount of disappointment and letdown. We may feel embarrassed for having been played for a fool. Perhaps placing expectations on the friendship or relationship may have even been its undoing. But, having said that, there isn’t anything wrong in expecting fair treatment from others or expecting to be treated with the same respect which we give to others either.

Friends, reality checks are not always bad. There comes with the bite of reality a bittersweet realization and clarity. We may experience disappointment in having put ourselves in the position to be let down, but we can learn a valuable lesson from the experience. We can move forward with our eyes wide open. We can lessen our expectations on situations, friendships, and relationships and accept people and things the way they are, not the way we want them to be. This acceptance may also lead to an understanding that the friendship or situation cannot continue in the same direction as well. We can let things take their course and happen the way the way they are meant to happen, all the while keeping this newfound reality in check. The noise and drama can stop – we can accept the bite, we don’t have to like it but we need to accept it, and move on towards healing in a quieter frame of mind. Life becomes easier when you accept an apology you never got. (Robert Brault)

The bittersweet bite of reality can be an opportunity where we take a closer look at ourselves and how we handle conflict and disappointments in our lives. I am strong because I’ve been weak. I am fearless because I have been afraid. I am wise because I have been foolish. (Anonymous) The acceptance of the bite may take time, as most things do, but after all is said and done, if we look at the reality check as an opportunity to learn and grow we can become a stronger, braver, wiser person because of it.

“This, Too, Shall Pass”: Finding Inner Strength (K.Blais)

It struck me today that these are trying times. That may end up being the understatement of the year, but it’s a statement nonetheless.

So many of us, as well as our friends and loved ones, are going through various personal, emotional, and financial difficulties that there doesn’t seem to be much sense to any of it. As if viewing a film, we stand back and watch helplessly, hearts breaking, as those we care about damage themselves, relationships with others fall apart, and the stress and strain of finances take their toll. Maybe we even experience it ourselves. The universe can seem dark and unforgiving. So how in the world can we and our loved ones experience some of the most life changing trials and expect to carry on, to look ahead to a better future?

Perhaps it’s not about the future years from now though. It could be about the future as far ahead as we can see. Maybe it’s the next hour, the next day, or the next week that we need to get through. Perhaps simply getting out of bed in the morning is the hardest step for some of us to take. Whatever the future is to each of us, I believe that we all can find the inner strength to make it happen.

(image courtesy of Google images)

Inner strength is often called resilience, and is thought of as the ability to cope with stressful situations which occur in life. Finding our inner strength can be thought of as staying positive and finding light even in dark situations. (information courtesy of ask.com)

We were all born with inner strength – the drive to survive and thrive.

But what if we don’t think we can? What if we really don’t feel strong enough to see any future? What if we don’t believe that we can get through whatever tribulation we have found ourselves in?

First off, we have to believe that we truly do have the strength to overcome difficulty. So much of our success, and failure, in life is determined by the mental attitude with which we approach things. If we think we can, we can. If we think we can’t, we can’t. Mind over matter isn’t just a saying. If you believe in it, you can make it happen. Likewise, if you believe that something will destroy you, then that can happen too. Keeping a positive attitude can go a long way.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’ll even say it as many times as necessary, we need to surround ourselves with people who help us draw on the inner strength deep within us. Immersing yourself in people who truly believe in you and your capabilities is one of the main keys to finding, and maintaining, your own inner strength. Choose people who share the same values as you and hold them close. Finding people who support you, your choices, and your actions (maybe even if they don’t always agree with them) can be enough to hold you up when the going gets tough and the waters are murky.

Lean on your faith, your beliefs, and trust that God knows what’s best. If your faith isn’t a strong element in your life, then sometimes simply believing that things happen for a reason and that everything will work out for the best can help too. Have faith and believe that you can handle “this”, whatever the “this” might be.

Sometimes it is necessary to just let go. Try not to “sweat the small stuff”. Let go of past hurts or mistakes that you may have made and focus on the present situation and how you can best handle it. You don’t have to handle it perfectly either. Do your best and then let it go.

Be thankful for the hard times because they will help you appreciate the good ones. There are many things in each of our lives for which we can be immensely grateful for. Cling to those ‘good things’ when the going is rough. The ‘good things’ will bring you peace.

Remember: “This, too, shall pass”. You are never given more than you can handle. A door doesn’t close without a window opening. The road may seem dark, but believe that you will find the light to show the way.

Inner strength may not always seem like your own strongpoint. You may find yourself in the middle of some ‘disastrous situation’ and not know where to turn or even if you have the strength to continue on. When inner strength is needed though, you will find your resilience and the courage to move forward one moment at a time. A small step, a deep breath, and the knowledge that each day is a new beginning may be enough to keep you going. It may never be easy, but it will always be worth the effort.

Best Kept Secrets (K.Blais)

I used to find secrets exciting. It used to send a thrill of anticipation through me when I was a young girl and secrets were whispered at slumber parties and into friend’s ears on the playground.

Today, secrets often make me feel anxious and, sometimes, a bit uneasy. While secrets were fun as a child, usually who had a crush on who or who was going to ask who to dance, secrets as an adult are usually a whole lot bigger and scarier. In my adulthood, I’ve also realized that some secrets should not be kept.

I’ve often wondered why people keep some things a secret. Pieces of information like how one lost a lot of weight or where the best place is to buy skin care products are not secrets that I feel should be held from others. If the knowledge behind these issues would help others, then why wouldn’t we want to share? Why wouldn’t we want to help someone else? If something has helped or benefitted us, why shouldn’t we share it to the benefit of others?

There are times when it is helpful to confide in someone, to share a hurt, a betrayal, or an issue that we do not want shared with others. These types of things I like to call confidentialities. Confidentialities are pieces of information that we share with a chosen friend, but are not something that we want others to know. Not necessarily are they secrets, but they may be parts of us that we only allow a select few to see. Sharing these things with a trusted friend may even help us to understand ourselves better too.

If we cannot help others, then we should, at least, not hurt them. And some secrets can hurt. Secrets that harm others or do not lend themselves to supporting them are not secrets that are good. I also believe that children should never be encouraged to keep secrets from their parents, (unless of course they are “present” or “party” secrets). We teach children that “secrets” that make us feel yucky inside are not ‘good’ secrets and perhaps that’s an ideal rule of thumb for adults as well.

Sometimes we keep secrets in an effort to not hurt others, but it still happens. Purposely or inadvertently there are times when we withhold the truth in an attempt to ‘protect’ someone, when in actuality, we only cause them more pain when they eventually find out the truth anyway. No one seems to ever win with these types of secrets. It could even be said that the road to hell is paved with well-intentioned secrets.

Issues such as mental illnesses and depression should not be kept a secret. I recently attended a suicide awareness evening in my local community. It was an evening to raise awareness about suicide, and to break the silence around mental illness. These issues often affect everyone around the person who is suffering, whether the person suffering realizes it or not. While some may feel that it does not need to be ‘broadcasted’, mental illness should not be considered a “dirty little secret” kept behind closed doors. Secrets like the feelings and desires to self harm or to end one’s life should never be kept. As caring individuals we should try to reach out to others when we see them quiet and alone. Encouraging them to share their feelings, their thoughts, and even their secrets could possibly be the key that opens the door that they have kept shut for so long. Reaching out to them may be the proof they need that they are not alone. And, if they need more help than we can offer, we need to reach out to those who can. Breaking through secrets can sometimes be the best thing.

As people, and as humankind, we should aim to support one another. We should be generous with words and actions. We should offer help when possible and give advice when asked. Our focus should be to encourage, not discourage. We should work to build each other up, not tear each other down. We need to share the good things with others, as well as the bad. If faith brings you strength, then share it with others. We all need to have and to be someone to lean on when the seas are rough. If we strive to be a beacon of light to others when the way is dark, then we can also offer a safe port and welcome those who seem to be lost in their own tides.

Some secrets are just small voices that need to be heard. Some of the best kept secrets, should not kept secret at all.