A penny for your thoughts, a nickel for your wisdom

Come you all, lost ones

Come find me

Bathe in these shallow waters with me

Seal your gaping, heart aching wounds

Consolidate that overflowing flesh

Lean into me – I feel you

I feel the agony of time

The time it has taken us to get here

Misery threaded through our veins

Craving, salivating for a distraction from ourselves.

 

Uncage our sorrows, set them free

For there, I find your beauty and mine

Free in heart, mind and deep divine

Show me your scars, your deepest pain

That is where we reside

Therein lies our free – that Soulful part of you and me

Forever longing to be seen.

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Adaptability & Resiliency

It’s crazy how adaptable we are as humans. I’ve been considering this a lot lately, particularly so because of all the changes in my life recently. I moved from a densely populated central-urban area to a more sub-urban part of the city. Moving in itself can be anxiety-provoking and stressful. My partner and I have been in the process of selling his condo and buying our first house for the past 10 months. Now we have finally moved into our lovely new home and I feel so happy here. But it was a big change nonetheless, and much effort went into making this dream a reality for us.

Amongst all this change (and at times it felt very chaotic), I managed to adapt through it all. I have zero doubt that part of what got me through it is my commitment to Self-Love and Self-Care, the support of my mom, fiancé, therapists, family and friends. Utilizing the tools I have learned and resourcing Myself continuously is what got me through. There was so much going on and it seemed like it was all happening at once, including many ups, downs and uncertainties with the salon I work at. I am slowly adapting to my new home environment, surroundings and my more peaceful life here in our pleasant sanctuary. We also decided to go on a vacation right after our move to celebrate recent milestone birthdays for both of us (Me 30 and my Fiancé 40). While this sounds amazing and full of adventure, for someone who needs a fair bit of time to process and integrate change, travelling so soon after a move was challenging. I am a nervous flyer (I hate turbulence) and even the thought of going on this trip was giving me pretty major anxiety before we left. It took me a few days after arriving in Mexico to settle into “vacation mode” – whatever that means. It wasn’t until day 6 into our vacation that I started to fully feel relaxed…and our vacation was coming to a close the next day!

In a very roundabout way what I’m trying to say is that through all of this, and considering my anxiety and OCD – I find Myself to be quite adaptable through it all. I am so much more resilient than I realize sometimes. Life has a way of testing us and it’s not until the aftermath that I can see Myself more clearly. I can see my strength, my courage and the progress I’ve made. I can appreciate how much I’ve grown. I can drink in the significance of these changes in my life – the way they test me, the way that I am always given exactly what I am ready for. It’s not comfortable along the way – expansion and growth is a stretch. There’s a new edge to be found. A new way of managing situations, a new perspective to be had. New feelings to be felt, new things surfacing to be released and making themselves visible for healing. It’s all in our evolution during this beautiful, crazy, indescribable, wondrous, incredible gift of Life.

Much Love,

Raina Aurora

What OCD looks like…the invisible monster

I began to really struggle with OCD about 3 years ago. I didn’t realize that it was OCD right away. Because of my severe anxiety I started obsessing over things. The way things looked, how I placed things, ruminating over small details for long periods of time. In the beginning, I just did things a certain way because it made me feel less anxious. So it seemed like a no-brainer. Why wouldn’t I do something that made me feel safe enough to leave the house? Eventually, the more rituals I did, the more rituals I added in. Now for most things I do, there is a very specific way I do them. From showering, to getting dressed, to leaving the house, to counting my breaths, to checking for cars coming on the street numerous times. The more I do these “compulsions”, the more they consume me.

Not doing the compulsions can bring about varying feelings of extreme anxiety. Thoughts that the worst possible thing will happen to me. The type of OCD I deal with is health related OCD. It is the fear that something horrible might happen to me. I read on an OCD recovery blog that OCD attacks what we value most. Since I value my health so highly, this makes sense to me. Sometimes I wonder where these intrusive fearful thoughts come from (aside from Trauma), and I realize that OCD is sneaky and will go after the very thing that means the most to you. My well-being is something that I take great pride in. I have devoted a lot of energy to being my healthiest self over the past 4 years. Yes I have made mistakes, yes I have messed up. But that’s also how I’ve learned. So when I feel one of my biggest values being threatened by these scary thoughts, it only makes sense that I would try to do anything to make the thoughts go away. The funny (or not so funny) part is, that the further you try and the harder you try to make the thoughts go away, the more persistent they become. It is actually by acknowledging the thought and seeing it for what it truly is – just a thought – that it actually dissipates. By welcoming the anxiety and accepting it, allowing it to be, it holds less power. Sometimes I literally tell Myself “this is anxiety”. Or “this is a thought, and thoughts aren’t facts”. These little phrases help me observe what is going on with compassion and acceptance, rather than getting so caught up with the thoughts and entering what I call the OCD whirlpool. If I stay on the edge of the whirlpool it is much easier to avoid getting sucked in. Sometimes I do get sucked right into the middle, and it is much more difficult to get out. But I CAN STILL GET OUT. That’s the most important part to remember. I do have a choice – and so do you.

One of the worst parts about dealing with OCD is the shame. It’s something I try and hide from most people, with the exception of very close family. I think I’ve only told one friend. It’s a scary thing to tell people, I worry they might think I’m crazy, or broken, or incapable. I’m worried people will judge me. I still feel the shame. I worry people can see me doing these weird compulsions, or rituals. I’m sure people notice, and probably wonder what I am doing. Maybe they have just accepted that I’m a weird person. Which wouldn’t be the worst thing. Or maybe they are too scared to ask me. Maybe they don’t even notice at all. Whatever people think, the fear is that OCD makes me strange and unlovable. Makes me abnormal in some way. So everyday, I have to choose between the shame of someone seeing the rituals I am doing, or the intense anxiety and frustration/panic/confusion of not doing them. It can feel debilitating at times.

Luckily, I am working with an OCD specialist and together we have come up with exposures for me to do. Exposures are when you deliberately don’t perform your compulsive rituals. I didn’t start with the hardest one, but I have done some pretty difficult exposures. Gradually, as I gain success in my exposure therapy, my confidence grows. The idea is that I have to repeat the same exposure enough times for my brain to become comfortable with the discomfort or anxiety. So eventually my anxiety goes down, and it goes away much quicker than by actually doing the compulsive behaviours. My confidence is building, and it’s been very sticky here and there. I’ve been through some very rough patches, but they made me stronger.

When we are thrown off balance – as is inevitable in life, we learn to strengthen our core.   The stronger our core becomes the less we can get thrown off so easily. And the next time we get uncentered we know how to come back to homeostasis much quicker.

Trauma and “mental illness” is not an easy thing to talk about. Or write about. I just want people out there to really know that. Writing this post was hard. And scary. Know and appreciate that when someone opens up to you about their struggle – this is bravery. This is their healing. So consider it an honour to be a part of another human being’s healing. I’m not talking about people dump-truck piling their negativity on you. That is called having no boundaries. Vulnerabilty and bravery have boundaries. Be deliberate in your vulnerability. Be vulnerable with the right people, for the right reasons. And always remember that you are doing things in exactly the right time, at the right pace, for you.

 

Much Love,

Raina Aurora

 

 

A mid-day Daydream

I accept my flaws and see them as what makes me human. My setbacks become my growth, so should I choose it. I choose my own healing. I reclaim my body as my own. She always has been. My soul is forever mine – to tend with love and kindness. My heart is strong as I hold her with love with love and compassion. She is supported and she is Free.

Free from the chains that once bound me.

Free from the pain I clung to.

Free from the things I had the courage to acknowledge and feel.

Free from the repetitive trauma-wheel.

Scared as I feel new energy opening up within my body. Excited and hopeful as I feel space being freed. Old wounds being sealed and healed. Unblocking pathways for energy to FLOW. Stuck things washing away with the tides of the ocean waves inside me. Calmer shores are cleared. Pink, peachy, smooth, gold-dusted sparkly sands sink ever so slightly beneath my feet. Just damp enough to feel hydrated. Just cool enough to soothe the warm soles of my feet on a hot summer day. As I walk along the ocean’s shore amidst the sunset. Pink, purple, lavender-blue hues line the skies. All the colours meld seamlessly together, and yet they all have their own space. They are all distinguishable, lovable, here. Time floats on. I continue breathing. In, out, with the tide.

Much Love,

Raina Aurora

Denying another person’s reality is a form of abuse

One of the most hurtful things a person can do is to deny another person’s feelings or pretend that they don’t exist or matter. This hurts us to the core of our being because at some point in our lives, many of us weren’t believed or were made to feel like our feelings weren’t important. The more your feelings are denied or be-littled, the more afraid you feel to share them. Afraid of the reaction from another and afraid of being blamed for “starting an argument”. Afraid of being made out to be “wrong” or “bad” in some way. This is shame. Shaming someone’s very real emotional experience is detrimental to our feeling of safety and well-being.

I want to tell Myself and all of you something.

YOUR FEELINGS ARE REAL AND THEY MATTER.

YOUR FEELINGS ARE NOT WRONG.

YOU ARE ENTITLED TO YOUR OWN EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCE.

YOU DESERVE TO BE HEARD AND LISTENED TO WITH OPENNESS AND CURIOSITY AND LOVE.

Isn’t this what we all crave after all? To be really seen and heard for our truth? To be understood at a deeper level? Sometimes I feel like I have to “prove” or justify my feelings – which then spills out into other areas of my life. Feeling like I continuously have to prove my worth affects how I love, how I work, how I lead and how I connect. This is not to say that I shouldn’t try. Effort is different from trying to prove your enoughness. Let me say that again. Effort is different from trying to prove your enoughness. If you are doing something because you genuinely want to support another person or work towards your goals this is effort. It won’t always be easy and you will still have to push yourself at times. But this effort is very different from doing things out of fear that you will not otherwise be accepted.

Try to remember this: when someone puts you down or shames you, it is not about you. It is a reflection of themselves and their own unresolved issues. It is their insecurities, their hidden feelings of anger or resentment sliding through. And it can be nasty. If someone diminishes your feelings, it is because they are uncomfortable with their own. You can’t be witness and hold safe space for someone else’s feelings unless you are able to do the same for yourself. Feel your feelings people…or they will get the best of you and spin out onto others. Stuffed hurt feelings create more hurt feelings. You can’t release your feelings until you have felt them. So don’t keep them captive. Don’t pretend your feelings don’t exist. That’s like pretending you don’t exist. Express your feelings in healthy ways – don’t let them run you on the sidelines.

Take a moment to think of how and when you may have dismissed someone else’s feelings. I know I have done it, and it’s a hard thing to admit. Most of us have done it at some point – or at many points. Stop the cycle of hurt and start listening to others with openness and with consideration.

Much Love,

Raina Aurora

 

 

Put on your princess dress!

Tuesday inspiration:

pagan-kids

When I see little girls in their sparkly, Disney themed princess dresses I get all excited. There’s something so magical and real about wearing your sparkly princess dress out in public. These little girls don’t care what anyone else is thinking about them. They just pick out their favourite glittery dress and get ready to embody their own princess self. They sparkle wherever they go and light up the world around them!

So put on your own version of your princess dress today. Throw on something that makes you smile a little bit bigger, walk a little bit taller and appreciate every step you take. Because YOU ARE LIFE…and that IS amazing! You are worth celebrating! Choose something that makes you feel like a damn Queen! Because you ARE!

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Depression feels like

depression-looks-likeDepression feels like a dark grey space surrounding every part of your being. It feels like you are severely deprived of joy and the idea of things that would usually bring you joy don’t seem like options. You feel like a mute among the sea of stimulus around you. You feel tired. You feel like everything is too much and yet nothing is enough to make you feel. You feel like a zombie walking around in the fog. Everything seems dimly light and in shadows. You struggle to find a life raft into the sun.

For me, depression isn’t something I usually talk about. I think I make myself so busy so that I don’t even have time to feel the depression. I am afraid that if I slow down for a minute, I might just sink into the sand and be unable to squirm my way out again. Until I tire myself right out and then I sink anyways. So everyday I put on the mask, the cloak of glitter, make myself the person I’m “supposed” to be. Sometimes she is bright and shiny, she is a people-pleaser and seeks validation from the outside world. If I push myself to keep going, maybe I can outrun the immense sadness that longs to be felt inside. Maybe I can keep those tears at bay for one more day.

But this is not the only part of me. And that is true for most of us. We are made up of many sides, many moving parts and pieces. I also have this tenacious strength – the strength that gets me out of bed in the morning, the strength that gets to me where I need to be, the strength that keeps me going towards my dreams. But I think I need to allow myself to be sad more. Sometimes I don’t even know what I am sad about…but it feels good to cry. Crying usually releases some of the tension, the depression locked away. It soothes the pain and opens a crack of sunlight into my soul again. I can build on that sunlight.