Grief, Interrupted

grief

/ grēf /  noun •
deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone’s death.
sorrow, misery, sadness, anguish, pain, distress, heartache, heartbreak, agony, torment, dejection, despair; mourning, mournfulness, bereavement.
“she was overcome with grief”

At some point in our lives, we will all be met by Death. That part of life is expected. What comes completely out of left field is the way grief touches us.

When I was barely 21 years old, I experienced the deepest, darkest, most desperate touch of grief. Too keep my story short, I lost one of my best friends in the most senseless and meaningless way possible: murder. My  (and our community’s) loss was tragic, public and still to this day, unexplained.

grief

Ten years ago I was hurled onto a path of grief that would subtly influence my everyday way of being. Ten years ago, I wailed. Primally. Never have I flung myself to the floor in emotional paralysis. Never have I dry-heaved through floods of tears. Never have I sworn at a God I now believed to be sadistic and cruel. Never has my whole being been thrown into chaotic ruins.

O B L I T E R A T E D  //  destitute  //  D E C I M A T E D

I knew my world would be different, but I couldn’t have anticipated this. Ten years pass, and the waters calmed. Peace permeated my story, the stabbing dulled to a dry ache, and a new normality was found — or so I thought.

dormant

It’s ten years later and my life is far more beautiful than I expected. And then, a loss that is not my own, barrelled into my stratosphere and tore open my decade-old wound. Without warning, it was 2007 all over again. ‘But this is not my loss.’ On repeat.. this is not my loss, so why am I so fragile?  Someone cherished in my partner’s life suddenly ceased to exist. Really, this had nothing to do with me. I shouldn’t feel this way. Guilt overturned my heart, and confusion clouded my head.

grief

Why did everything feel so raw?

The only connection I drew was vague, but the connecting theme was that the deaths of our loved ones were unexpected. They were both young and fun-loving women with so much more to do and give. Sigh. Were.

I was triggered

As the hours and days passed by, the cloud of confusion began to settle and my a-ha moment arrived. Let it be known I am not a grief specialist, but I know what I was feeling. I had been triggered*. For a week I empathetically sat with my partner’s sorrow and witnessed him process his raw emotions as they surfaced.

Like a bullet it penetrated me. At close range, I was witnessing a process I went through ten years prior. What I was feeling now was what I had felt then. My grief had been re-opened and I felt it all over again. I was in my second wind of grief. I’m no grief specialist, but I am an expert in examining my own feelings.

I now know that grief:
  • Is life-long and life-altering,
  • Can exist in the presence of happiness, and
  • Makes sacred space for new-coming grievers to be with their new emotions + realities.

Death came without warning, and it sucked the breath out of me. My dormant and unexpressed grief had been unveiled. I now see a more colourful an d3D version of grief. My second a-ha moment surfaced.

grief

I had intentionally stopped processing my feelings of grief shortly after my friend died. I guess I was never really through the grief. Now I question if we ever really are.

Witnessing my partner’s grief has, in some respects, been traumatic, but it has also been cathartic. My experiences with grief have offered my partner a sacred + safe space to explore his emotions, and in turn, my partner’s grief has offered me safe haven to continue to experience mine.

In her book Courage to Grieve, social worker Judy Tatelbaum writes ‘we must thoroughly experience all the feelings evoked by our loss‘, and if we don’t ‘problems and symptoms of unsuccessful grief‘ will occur.

There is no one size fits all prescription when it comes to grief. It comes thick, powerful and in waves. We gain little experiential advantage for the next death.

what did I gain from my loss?

grief

I’ve always been one to seek out the silver-lining in every situation, but death has endlessly challenged that. Up until now, I only saw how death gave me an appreciation for life. As time flies by, I realize I have gained so much more:

→  An ever-deepening sense of empathy,
→  The wherewithal to inspire, sustain and treasure intimate connectedness with others,
→  An unwavering sense of resilience,
→  An ability to recover, and
→  A life where I make more meaningful and heart-centred life choices.

Nothing will ever fill the void that was created by the death of my friend, but maybe I can create something beautiful in the space that has been left behind.

 

Liked this post? Stay tuned for ‘How to Stand with Grief’.

people pleasers

Are you a People Pleaser?

Caveat: This is not a post bashing people pleasers. Making people happy is a gift + a pleasure. I myself am impassioned to help people feel that they intrinsically matter. Because they do. However, if my actions are not aligned to my own wants/needs the act of pleasing people becomes fertile ground for resentment + hurt. And that’s not good for anyone.

How do we identify a people pleaser? Great question.

A people pleaser is someone who says ‘ummmmm..’ before tepidly responding with a half-honest answer. They’re the kind who are incapable of saying no. They are also renowned to be the nicest + most generous people on Earth.

Well, that’s only half the truth. While people pleasers have hearts of gold, I hate to say it — they have spines of jelly. Let me explain.

PEOPLE PLEASERS ARE FEAR-STRIKEN

People pleasers are afraid of the truth. And what do people typically do when they’re afraid of something? The exact opposite thing.

People pleasers are liars.

But let’s be clear. I don’t believe people pleasers intentionally lie to us. I truly believe we are all just doing our best, but a people pleaser is magnetically drawn to lie because of their fears.

Some people are innately afraid their opinions will be rejected or criticized. Why does that scare us? Because rejection and criticism hurt like a sumb*tch. It’s a biology thing: our bodies are designed to avoid the things that hurt us — emotional pain included.

Criticisms are just one way of saying, ‘this isn’t good enough’, and that hurts. But that’s not the whole story – that’s just where we stop listening. If we listened a little longer we would hear that a criticism is someone telling us, ‘this isn’t good enough for ME’ or ‘this is not to MY liking’.

Really, a criticism is someone stating their personal preference. For a people pleaser, this is the ultimate battle wound because they take things personally.

Want to stop taking things personally? Read The Four Agreements →

A people pleaser typically fears three things:

  • They fear exposure, which could lead to the pain of being misunderstood or unheard.
  • They fear attention, for fear of being ‘too’ seen.
  • They fear commitment, more specifically, commitment to their opinions which they may not have the fortitude to defend.

If a people pleaser can’t defend their opinion, they lose external credibility + more painfully, they lose the approval of those around them.

PEOPLE PLEASERS SEEK APPROVAL

Don’t we all want to be accepted? The trouble with always seeking external approval is we tend to assume we can accurately read someone’s mind. Assume all you like, but you know what assumptions make: An ASS out of you and me.

Dude, you’re not peanut butter and you can’t please everyone. When we dilute ourselves, we lose our potency — our strength and we start to taste generic — bland even. A bland person is not one who will turn heads, and you… you were born to turn heads.

PEOPLE PLEASERS ARE MANIPULATIVE

Ouch. Hits you right in the gut, doesn’t it? It should. Like I said before, people pleasers are liars. I want you to think back to a time where you chose to withhold your unedited answer.

  • What was your motive for withholding your truth?
  • What was the reaction you were trying to control, mitigate or avoid?
  • What was the opinion you hoped to avoid, perhaps for fear of judgement?

Uncomfortable yet? Me too.

A people pleaser will tell us what we want to hear because they want us to like them. That’s selfish, right? It’s also controlling. A people pleaser craves control: control over our reaction, control over what our reaction means, and control over the outcome of our conversation.

AM I DOOMED TO BE A PEOPLE PLEASER?

people pleaser

NOPE! You are only doomed to a behaviour if you are vehemently against change. The first step is accepting + receiving the possibility of change.

If you’ve read this far you clearly crave change + growth; or at the very least you’re aware change would benefit you in some way. AmIRight?

stop people pleasing

Question:  Do you do less of what you want because you try to make everyone else happy? Do you feel like you’re missing out? I was like that once.

But not anymore. Now, I do everything I want guiltlessly. No matter the audience, I speak with confidence in my opinions and myself.

(By the way:  Doing what I want doesn’t make me selfish! It makes me honest and brave enough to speak out when something doesn’t feel good for me. If I say yes to something that is not aligned with my values, I offer a major disservice to the other person, and ultimately myself. It’s lose-lose.)

You too, can do what YOU want. Effortlessly. Guiltlessly. Shamelessly. Let me show you.

Schedule your complimentary session with me, and let’s perforate those people pleasing ways. Okay, let’s chat!

 

Uncomfortable Conversations: What’s in it for me?

This is going to be quick + dirty, and very much unlike uncomfortable conversations in real life.

What is an uncomfortable conversation?

An uncomfortable conversation is one that ends with consequences. However + whatever the situation is like now, is not necessarily how it will be by the end of the conversation.

These chats usually occur when there’s a decision to be made about a specific situation. They typically manifest with those who are important to you, usually a boss or loved one. Did you get a low performance rating or did your partner tick you off for the umpteenth time?

You are at a crossroads, a fork in the road – whatever you’re metaphor, something’s gotta give. Uncomfortable conversations usually call you to feel prepared or psyched up. You need to be ready to have them. Or do you?

get comfortable having uncomfortable conversations

It’s easier said that done, but it’s also easier the more often you do it.

One of my personal branding goals for 2017 has been to become comfortable having uncomfortable conversations. Up until now, I spent hours, days, weeks and yes, even years gearing myself up for conversations. In my experience, postponing these pivotal conversations caused me years of unnecessary heartache (and likely added a few grey hairs to my head). And for what?

The only logical reason (that ends up being completely illogical) is fear. I was afraid. I was afraid to be hurt, afraid to hurt, afraid to change, and afraid to ask for what I wanted. In the end, I put myself and others in precarious positions where I ended up being wholly inauthentic to myself and others.

that’s no way to live

So 2017 has been my turning point. The seeds for my new ability to lean in to discomfort were sown at the start of October. It was the start of what is my [foreve]relationship, and I wanted it to work. Clearly, what I had been doing wasn’t working and something needed to change. I can’t change others, so I chose to change my behaviour.

Let me tell you, it still makes me sick to my stomach to have these uncomfortable conversations. But the work I have done and continue to do pays off in leaps and bounds. I won’t share what I do exactly (yet!), but let me share what you stand to gain when you lean in.

  1. Clarity:  I feel I no longer wade through the swaths of my thoughts to find the truest parts of myself. I equate having uncomfortable conversations to journalling. In speaking from my heart and mind I sift through what is true and fake. When it comes time to speak, I have quicker access to the truth about me me versus the stories I tell myself.
  2. Confidence:  My confidence in myself and others has hit an all time high. After every uncomfortable conversation I am more apt to trust people and situations abundantly. I am confident in who I am which in turn makes me confident about the information I ingest. I got this.
  3. Connection:  Since I started shifting this habit I have noticed I feel more connected to the people around me. There’s something empowering about giving voice to who I am through conversation that ultimately lays the foundations for my core self. Call me crazy, but the more I say ‘this is what happens to me when X happens’, the more solid I become in who I am – and the easier it is for loved ones to connect to me.

I can honestly say that uncomfortable conversations have allowed me to become more comfortable with myself and others. I never question someone’s intent, and I no longer worry where I stand. Jumping over my fears has landed me in the lush lands of limitless possibilities.

you can do it too!

If you’d like to learn more about having uncomfortable conversations, please get in touch. I’d love to share how I continue to gain clarity, confidence and connection in my life.

Book a complimentary call with me – I’d love to hear from you!

I’m Not Good Enough: Waging War on your Inner Critic

For me, 2016 was mentally, spiritually and emotionally charged. It was 366 days of face plants and feeling not good enough, peppered with some of the most soul-liberating experiences of my life. I became part of a tribe that breathed oxygen into the embers of my soul; I found a man that sees the world the way I do; and I finally began to experience the joy of living in the moment. Against all I’m hearing, 2016 was a fan-freaking-tastic year.

not good enough

Rearview Mirror: 2016 was full of amazing people + experiences!

As amazing the year, I am still troubled by my mental gremlins and inner nay-sayers. The kind that insidiously infuse my thoughts with sharp and pointed words. I have never been so self-aware, and it highlights a thought that has played and continues to mercilessly plague my mind:

I’M NOT GOOD ENOUGH

As a fiercely independent woman running her own business and home, the voice that speaks ‘I’m not good enough’ feels paralyzing and wholly incongruent. The more I noticed the relentless renegade on my confidence, the more I realized that this four-word sentence tortures me daily – hourly even. It’s a tape on constant loop.

SHIT

But I can’t be the only one, right? I had to know. I reached out to some of my heroines and I was shocked. My idols beat themselves up, too! I guess even Queen B rests her crown while she falls apart.

not good enough

YOU’RE STILL NOT GOOD ENOUGH

Goddamn. Do you hear that? I don’t know about you, but I’m sick to death of this voice getting the most airtime in my head. It drags me further away from what I desperately desire to be. My suspicion? This small voice, my Inner Critic, wants to see me fail.

WHAT A BITCH

If you’re noticing me talk about this ‘not good enough’ voice as a separate entity, you’d be 100% correct. If I’ve learned anything about my scatterbrain, it’s that not all the voices I hear are my own, and some voices aren’t worth my attention. While some are humbly brilliant, other voices appear to exist for myself decimation or evolutionary speaking, my protection.

Either way, my Inner Critic’s voice isn’t one I want myself or clients to hear, and so I’d like to share how we wage war to win our ‘not good enough’ battles.

 

HOW TO WIN THE ‘I’M NOT GOOD ENOUGH’ battle WITH YOURSELF

1.     Observe when tHIS VOICE comes to mind.
  • In what situations does your Inner Critic’s voice grow louder?
  • How do you feel when its voice roars?
  • What does the voice sound like? Angry, defeated, lost, sinister?
2.     Ask yourself the purpose of the ‘not good enough’ voice.
  • What is the voice trying to protect you from?
  • What might your Inner Critic be trying to tell you?
3.     Notice your natural tendency with this voice.
  • What is your go-to reaction when you hear your Inner Critic?
  • Do you amplify it like a loudspeaker or become weighed down by its heavy fog?
  • How do you want to react?
4.     Watch how the Voice influences your actions.
  • What happens when you internalize your ‘not good enough’ voice?
  • How does it affect your interactions with people around you, particularly loved ones?

Flip the Script + Shift Gears!

5.     Question the cost-benefit OF believing this voice at face value.
  • What benefit is there for you to invest in the belief of ‘I’m not good enough’?
  • What will it cost you to listen to your Inner Critic?
6.     Find an ally.
  • You have many voices in your head bigger than this niggling one. Find it.
  • When do you hear your bigger, calm and omnipotent voice emerge? Yes, you have one.
  • What do they sound like? What advice might this voice offer you for your Inner Critic battle?
  • Name it. Name your Inner Sage and love them intensely. They want you to succeed.

The Power of Choice

As long as we’re breathing there will always be a version of the ‘I’m not good enough’ tape on repeat in our heads. How loudly we play the tape, how often we hit play, and how we choose to dance to it is another story. If your Inner Critic is loud, stop, drop, and choose another voice to help you along.

I am constantly astounded by the tenacity and resourcefulness of humans. We have such capacity to love each other beyond measure, and it’s only a matter of practice for us to extend this love inwards.

With love,

//  K  xo

 

2016: Views from my Rearview Mirror

2016 is slipping into my rearview mirror, and everyone is in reflection mode. As I sit here in my childhood bedroom, I remember the word that struck me on the final chime of Big Ben’s toll: turbulent. Somehow, I knew 2016 would be a year unlike any other and she did not disappoint.

But my silver-lining wired mind just can’t give in to the idea that 2016 was a complete catastrophe. I can’t ignore that somehow the sun continued to shine and time and time again, humankind rose to the occasion. Together, we made it through.

In 2016, my love of sharing the written word returned to me, and wove together a beautiful tapestry to colour this year my best yet. With that love of words in mind, here’s what 2016 meant to me:

tribe + COMMUNITY

2016 was the year my tribe and community exploded. Once I found my purpose and founded KD and You, the floodgates opened. A beautiful group of humans walked into my life, all who shared the same vision of the world as me. We shared many a growing pain, and many a tear. They witnessed me in my most confusing moments, and held space for me to find my way. 2016 was the year I realized and fulfilled my need to be part of a tribe, and I’m thankful I did.

2016

Passion + Purpose + Drive

2016 was the year I re-discovered my purpose and found a place to channel my drive + passion for people: Coaching. My heart beats for this work, and it is the most succulent and gratifying thing I’ve done to date. I was directionless for so long, and 2016 was the year I found my own clarity + confidence to chase a better life for myself. 2016 was the year my heart matched my walk.

Read about How I Found My Passion here →

When I look back on KD and You’s first year, I am so proud of what I have accomplished: a registered business doing what I love, a roster of paying clients, and blog features by some incredibly companies: YYC Girl Gang, Pink Productions, and Bourbon and Honey. I’m both honoured and excited by the opportunities that have come my way, and can’t wait for more in 2017!

Fierce Courage + Risks

2016 saw me take a stand. There were many moments where my value of unbridled loyalty slapped me in the face, called me to be fiercely courageous and take a stand against injustice. Some of those moments had severe consequences, but they were not without purpose.

I left a job that no longer served me and took KD and You full-time. It was the riskiest thing I have ever done, but it gave me the fortitude to know that no matter what, I will always land on my feet. I will never regret the moments where I stood up for what I believe in, or the lesson that what I have to say does matter.

Limitlessness + jet-setting + adventure

Loyalty vs. Freedom. Late 2016 laid way for a tumultuous fight between two of my highest held values. My loyalty took me to Toronto to work side-by-side with one of the cornerstone people. The situation took a larger-than-anticipated toll on me, but it was exactly what I needed to do.

By leaning into my loyalty, I opened myself up to the incredible opportunity to travel nationally for work, a chance to overcome my fear of driving, and the experience of pure adventure. I will never forget the feeling of flying down the 407, beats blaring full volume through my car speakers without a destination in mind. That feeling of limitlessness and empowerment will never leave me.

Love + serendipity + vulnerability

I’m not typically the girl who broadcasts her love life, but early 2016 taught me the difficult lesson that sometimes love isn’t enough. I walked away from a five year relationship and a partner I loved very dearly. I was neither hopeful nor hopeless that great love would find me again, but I wanted nothing to do with it.

And so I ‘Let it Be’.  I indulged in the things that made me happy: coaching, time with friends, and hiking in the Rocky Mountains. Little did I know love would find me at the top of Jumping Pound Mountain.

One could say I was wholly unprepared for this, but my time flying back and forth from Toronto gave me the mental space to decide what I wanted to do: run away, or to give love one last try. If I  trust anything about myself, it’s my ability to hope against hope.

2016: I came home to myself

2016 was an all-round doozy. It was my 30th year of life and there were some astronomic highs and doleful lows, but I have never been closer to my best self until now.

I trust myself more, I love myself more, and I now have an unwavering belief that everything will work out the way it was intended. As turbulent the course, 2016 will go down in my history as the most transformational year of my life.

2017 is right around the corner and if I’ve learned anything from 2016, it’s to stay true to myself. And that’s exactly what I plan on doing.

How will you enter 2017?