The Journey Begins: Evolution
Updated: Nov 16, 2019
All species evolve on earth over time. Humans are no different. This evolution can be described as:
1. Personal development
2. Spiritual development
3. Professional development
Or any combination of the above.
I believe this is our essential purpose on this earth. The outcome of this evolution in our lifetime is to become our most authentic self. That is what this blog is about my musings regarding my evolutionary journey.
Many people will read this and scoff and think I’m crazy. My hope is it might resonate with others, maybe expose some to new ideas, expand others' knowledge or understanding or at the very least provide entertainment. For me writing and publishing this blog is the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life. The purpose is to share my thoughts and feelings and be vulnerable. Lifting the masks and showing the world my truly authentic self.
My story, how it began.
Over the last few years, I have dove deep into my own personal healing journey. What most people know about me is that I am a Nurse Practitioner, wife, and mother to a beautiful and vibrant 5 y/o girl. What most people don’t know is that I’ve struggled with obesity, anxiety, and depression my entire life. My anxiety and depression have been crippling for most of my adult life, but I am a master at hiding it. I was a high functioning very ill individual for a long time. The sicker I got the more I would throw myself into my work and the better care I gave to everyone around me. Unfortunately, by the time I got home I barely functioned and my husband and daughter got what was leftover. An exhausted and irritable wife and mother. For many years I blamed my work and the world around me, refusing to see my contribution to my own misery.
In the last hours of Mother’s Day in 2014, I woke up to a forceful knock on the door. It was my neighbor standing in fear saying, “my house is on fire”. The nurse in me never overreacts and my subconscious thought was “oh I’m sure it’s a small fire”. I stepped onto our front step and saw his entire house engulfed in flames. At that moment it didn’t occur to me that I would lose my house that night. My fight and flight response immediately kicked in. I ran grabbed my daughter from her crib, wrapped her in a blanket and yelled at my husband to get up, that there was a fire and we needed to leave now. I ran to the end of the driveway with my 18-month-old daughter in my arms. When I turned around, our house, above our bedrooms was on fire. Mesmerized by the fire we watched for hours as our home burned like a paper bag. We lost everything except the clothes on our back that night.
I remember going to my parents afterward and trying to digest what had happened and immediately jumping in to fix it mode and starting a to-do list. I then paused and thought this was a sign for me to live my life differently and I was determined to do so. To learn to speak up and say NO. I have always feared sounding stupid, grinning and nodding and not contributing my ideas or thoughts openly unless I was sure others would agree.
That next year was difficult. But was a blessing, we realized we weren’t a family that valued a big house filled with stuff, multiple cars and that those things did not bring us happiness. Our journey to find happiness caused us to sell our new home and move back to Ottawa. I started a new job with a larger salary, new small apartment, less stuff and a chance to start fresh. It was exciting. I believed I could finally be happy. But I lacked the ability to set boundaries, I had very little self-worth which required me to people please to get external validation. The drive for perfectionism, to be the best wore me out. I burnt out within 9 months of starting my new job.
Burnout is underrecognized and I was embarrassed that I couldn’t hack it and I failed. My identity was my career. I was a Nurse Practitioner and proud of what I did. It was the one thing I knew I was good at. I spent 6 months in bed depressed and exhausted, with barely enough energy to maintain a home and care for my husband and daughter. During that time, I looked to a variety of healing modalities to get better. I sought out my family doctor who validated my burnout and acknowledged the very unhealthy work environment I had come from. I continued to see my counselor and began a journey to include complementary and alternative medicines/therapies as well.
In mainstream or traditional medicine many practitioners are skeptical of complementary and alternative medicines/therapies. However, daily in my practice, I would have patients asking my thoughts on them. I would educate myself and have an open discussion with my patients about them weighing pros and cons, including the financial impact. I had always had an interest in these therapies and dabbled in them myself. But I felt like I needed to keep that a secret so that my professional colleagues wouldn’t think I was insane. I believe that complementary and alternative medicines and traditional mainstream medicine work well together. I had seen traditional medicine fall short for so many of my patients specifically those suffering from chronic pain or mental health issues. It fell short for me. The meds I took for anxiety and depression helped minimally, they were a band-aid solution. Only because I hoped that those pills would be magical and fix everything. Silly, stupid of course intellectually I knew better. I had always educated my patients that they were just meant to take the edge off, assist at bringing your head above water so that the real work could begin. But for many years I wasn’t ready to accept that I had work to do, that I needed deep inner healing.
After being off work for 6 months I felt a bit better, but my ego was bruised, I felt unsure if I wanted to practice nursing anymore. Nursing felt like a ball and chain around my ankle but at the same time, it was my identity. I had no idea who I was without being a Nurse Practitioner. I was afraid. I resigned from my job knowing I couldn’t be healthy if I returned to the toxic workplace. Funnily in Ottawa, there were no jobs, and the jobs that were posted required me to be bilingual and I didn’t speak French. At the time I feared I would never find work again, I feared to get to know myself but now I realize this was Creator’s way of forcing me to do some deep healing. Healing that would not occur if I got another job. Lessons that I needed to learn and wasn’t recognizing. I believe Creator took my livelihood, my assumed identity in a drastic way because I wasn’t listening, learning or evolving. I was doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. Taking me out at the knees was the only way for me to evolve and get closer to my authentic self.
Inspired by Indigenous teachings from spending most of my career working with Aboriginal people. I have always seen health and wellness as more than just physical. Health and wellness have many dimensions. Indigenous teachings talk about the four directions and the importance of physical, spiritual, emotional and mental health. Occupational, intellectual and environmental are the four remaining dimensions. That’s a lot to balance! The reality is we bounce between all the dimensions, reviewing and adjusting as required on a daily, weekly, monthly or annual basis.
This blog will look at topics from all these dimensions. For example, possible blog topics might include the following:
1. Physical Wellness a. Weight loss – my journey to lose 80 lbs, what I’ve learned b. Exercise – yoga, running – my two favorite things to do c. Chronic disease topics
2. Spiritual Wellness: the ability to establish peace and harmony in our lives, to live our purpose, to develop balance between our values and our actions a. Meditation b. Grounding c. Gratitude d. Alternative therapies (Tapping, Reiki, crystal therapy, angel therapy
3. Emotional Wellness: the ability to understand ourselves and cope with life’s challenges, acknowledge our feelings a. Self-care b. Meditation c. Alternative therapies d. Positive psychology e. Mental health topics – ending the stigma
4. Social Wellness: the ability to connect with others and have positive relationships a. Relationships b. Parenting
5. Intellectual Wellness: the ability to open our minds to new ideas and experiences a. Book review
b. Try something new and review it
6. Occupational wellness: the ability to get personal fulfillment from our job and maintain balance a. Work/life balance b. Boundary setting
7. Environmental wellness: the ability to recognize our responsibility for the environment a. To be determined
My hope is to post weekly. Thanks for reading!
The ONLY journey is the journey within. – Rainer Maria Rilke