An Evening of Awe and Learning

Stones in waterI am really enjoying where this Journey of Faith has been taking me so far this year. I can’t believe it’s already been about 6 weeks since I came to the idea of learning about different religions, faiths, and beliefs, educating myself on where they came from and how they got to this point, and the many differences and similarities between them all.

Tonight was day three of a six week course on Islamic Thought and Culture. I knew nothing about this religion before this course, and now I am in awe of the similarities to other religions I know of and how many of them have a connection running through them. I love learning so much that I get an adrenaline rush or a high off of the process. I love sinking my teeth into this subject and seeing how it all feels right within this journey I am on. I am where I am supposed to be; wondering, pondering, and researching the questions about how these faiths intersect, and seeing how we aren’t all that different after all. Maybe we, as people with differences who can meld into communities, can create communities that embrace each other’s religions.

It was not long after I decided which religions or faiths I would learn about each month that I realized there would be no possible way I could stay dedicated to this timeline. How can I just learn about one religion this month when the third religion I have listed is having a festival I want to attend and write about, or this person from the end of the year’s faith is only in town in the summer. I can’t possibly expect myself to be so rigid. Religions, faiths, and beliefs are what they are because of the people who uphold them, speak about them, celebrate them, and live them in their heart and their lives. One cannot put that to a timeline. But I needed to have some structure to all of this learning in my life. How can I make both happen at once?

I have decided to not make the months rigid, but use it as a guideline for when I don’t have something in particular to go to or see on a certain date. Reading and reviewing books, journals, and religious texts can be done at any time during the months, and may stay within my loose guidelines. But I have so much to see, places to go, and people to meet. I can’t wait to schedule in more interviews, find more resources, walk into buildings of faith of all kinds, and enjoy food, clothing, languages that are completely new to me. I want to experience the joy of people talking about their rituals and customs, hearing their views of my beliefs, and meeting people who are intrigued to know about this journey I am on.

Along the way I will be able to tell my own story. I will find the words I need to tell you about how I came to this journey of mine. I will tell you about the good things and the bad, and somewhere in their my own history will come to light – both to you and to me. There comes a time when some people look back on their own life and can’t see the steps they have taken to get thus far. I need to look back because I need to appreciate who I am and how I became me. Through my learning about me, I can better teach my daughter about her mother. My journey in this life is not just my own. There are many people who have come into my life and, whether they know it or not, are an integral part of who I am. To this I give them thanks.

So, my dear readers, you are also coming on this journey with me. I hope you enjoy the adventurous ride that is to come. It’s been an incredible one getting to this point. I’m glad for your company.

Once again, it is Passionately Written…

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Choosing Freedom

Yesterday was a pretty amazing day in Canada. Bell Let’s Talk day raised over $6.2 million. Just one call, text, tweet, and share at a time, Canadians coast-to-coast helped to break the stigma surrounding mental illness in Canada. I am proud to have participated in this initiative. I believe in it because mental illness has touched my life in many ways. I have lived with depression and anxiety for 28 years, but I didn’t always know what it was. Others in my family have also had bouts with depression or anxiety, but it was never talked about. How can you get better if you never talk about what is wrong? And why must there be shame in the struggles that can’t be seen?


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There is power in numbers, as we saw in the 126 million #BellLetsTalk communications yesterday. But more than that, there is power in voice. It takes just one person to speak up for a ripple effect to begin. Start talking in your family, school, office, or community and see what happens. If you are struggling, isn’t it nice to have someone there to talk to? Well, maybe someone in your life just needs to know you will listen. Open the conversation and see who jumps in.

Earlier today, I read a wonderful article in Chatelaine Magazine. Stephanie Reidy wrote about her 20 year battle with depression, and it really resonated with me – the feelings, the denial, and the ultimate choice of getting help or losing everything. Stephanie’s story is similar to a lot of people; one big difference is that she got help and now tells her story to others in the hopes of connecting with at least one person meant to hear it that day. This is the piece that resonated with me the most. I, too, have told my story of abuse and pain to others in the hopes of making a difference in just one person’s life. I may never know who I may help, but I feel that everything I have gone through in my life will be worth it if just one person hears my story and speaks up about their own.


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I am just one person in a sea of many, but I am ready to start the ripple effect. Who will be the next to tell their story?

As always, it is Passionately Written.

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Wading Through The Darkness

Feel Better

I have mental illness. I fight to see a brighter side to the darkness each day, and sometimes each minute. Laughter, newly fallen snow, and beautiful bright sunny days are the best canvas for me to paint my smile. Writing is my drug of euphoria. My daughter is my daily gift. I have mental illness, but you may not ever see it unless you know me. There is no better way to combat stigma than with education and using your voice. Write it; speak it; whisper it; scream it; sing it; sign it. Any way will work if you just keep the message going. Mental illness sucks; let’s beat it at it’s own game. Don’t be silent! Be proud, be courageous, and be healthy! #BellLetsTalk

Now, shall we start the conversation? Who feels brave enough to say that mental illness has touched their life? It isn’t something to be ashamed about. Saying it will give you the empathy to be there for your loved one, the courage to stand and fight your own battle, or the chance at eradicating the stigma of mental illness in your own community. Stand up and be heard. I’m listening. You aren’t alone.


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Passionately Written by yours truly…

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Reading The Pain Away

My Mantra

My Mantra

I just read a wonderful post about why a woman chooses to read romance novels to get her through chronic pain. It moved me so deeply that I wrote the following comment in response. And I realized that this comment explains so much about me and who I am that I wanted to include it on my Passionately Written page. I want so much to tell my stories because I know somehow I will help someone else, as the writer of the linked post did for me. Please read her post as well:

And this was my response to her:

Wow, Elyse…it’s like you lived a chunk of my life. I was a competitive figure skater until I was 17 years old. At 16, I had yet another skating injury, wrist tendonitis, but it wasn’t going away. It then went to my left wrist, and over the next 4 months went throughout majour parts of my body. While this went on, I experienced head pains that would bring me to my knees. After giving up skating to concentrate on my last year of high school, the pains were unbearable and I did much of my schoolwork at home. Tests, pleading with doctors, being ignored, and the phrase that stuck with me the worst was “It’s all in your head.” Yes, that’s right. The headaches are in my head. Now if you could fix them and give me my young athletic body back, I’ll be happy to leave.

A rotten year later, I heard from a muffled unbelieving voice that I had been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. My “old English” doctor didn’t believe it, and I left unfulfilled and questioning what it all meant. Within a month, a neurologist told me I had “common migraines” which are bad headaches every day. Medications came and went over the next several years, little relief, and ulcers became my painful friend in my stomach. Needless to say, I sucked up the pain, got a job in retail, and became an insufferable workaholic for the next decade.

Age 29, I got married, pregnant with my daughter, and learned that the pregnancy was not a fan of Fibromyalgia. Most wonderful, and yet painful time of my working life. My daughter is about to turn 13 years old in a week, and I have spent that last decade of her life in constant pain, limping, crippled up some days, and have now been diagnosed with my third type of migraine. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t love the strength this pain has given me to become the strong person I am, but I hate it for denying my daughter the pleasure of running, playing, and some days even hugging without discomfort.

I have led a great life up to today, and I wouldn’t change anything because of what I might lose if I did. I’m a divorced single mom who homeschools my daughter with epilepsy. But I have given my daughter the love of reading, books, and writing as well. The adventures through the words on a page can give you the intelligence, emotions, and strength to make it through another bout of pain or depression. It is in many ways a prescription that can be filled infinitely and used as often as possible. I thank the books that I read, the authors that I review for, and the blogs that I write that allow me to stay in the comfort of my home with pain and depression, but I can still make differences to my daughter and the people I connect with online. Never has reading and writing meant so much to me than now, when disability comes knocking but it doesn’t have to rule my every moment.

Thank you so much for this post. I think it’ll become a post of my writing blog. Much love and healing thoughts.

Do you have anyone you know dealing with chronic pain or any other chronic health problem? How do you deal with the stress, pain, depression, etc? What are your go-to distractions from what you are dealing with?

Let me know your thoughts of what is Passionately Written…