The following post has been submitted by Lindsay Curran, in collaboration with Jodi Lee Fleming Photography.
Every time I had the intention to start writing this I would begin to cry. I felt like there was never enough time to sit and reflect about what I really wanted to say. Ultimately, I think it was something about putting my thoughts down on paper that made my feelings official and real. That is why it is ironic I needed to devote an entire day for myself, where there were no distractions, in order to write about my relationship with time.
When Jodi first announced the “She is” project I called her immediately to tell her how much I loved the idea and how proud I was of her for creating a project that was asking people to reflect on their own lives, while getting to see a glimpse into someone else's journey. This idea of being able to connect to another person was truly inspiring. Little did I know that the next thing out of her mouth was to ask me if I would be her “She Is” for the month of May. She wanted me to tell my story...
... and, as I sat on the bathroom floor watching my daughter play in the tub, I was excited, and extremely honoured she thought I would be a good addition to her project. However, as months went by, my excitement turned into worry and even a little anxiety. I spent countless days driving to and from work and laying in bed at night pondering. What is my story? What about my journey do I want to talk about?
Then it came to me.
My journey of self-discovery started years ago, and it centers around the relationship I have with myself, and time.
The relationship I've had with myself has definitely had its ups and downs, and as I've reflected on things for the sake of this project, I've decided to start my story at the beginning of my university career. Post secondary is a significant time in an adolescent’s life. It is the start of a new chapter and one that doesn’t often involve having your parents or even your core group of friends by your side. I had chosen to go to Wilfrid Laurier University in the fall of 2003. I will never forget my mom dropping me off at my dorm and feeling scared, anxious and alone. Even though I had one of my closest childhood friends with me, and conveniently living down the hall, I knew I was going to miss my family and group of girlfriends back home.
University presented its own struggles for me. I quickly realized I really had to work for my grades. That year my relationship with myself can only be described as 'riding on a roller coaster that seemed to be never ending'. I developed an outlook on life that was detrimental to not only my academic success but also my personal well-being. By Christmas time I was feeling extremely depressed and my grades were beginning to slip. I spent a lot of time sleeping in my dorm room and not socializing with the other girls on my floor. Not only were my grades hanging on by a thread, but so was my self-esteem. This resulted in weight gain, which I might add, did not help with my depression.
Later that same year I lost a really good friend who had been in the hospital due to a motor vehicle accident. The loss of my friend, Jenna, was devastating. I wanted to quit school, come home and be with my family and friends; in other words, be in a place that gave me comfort and allowed me to escape from my new life where I felt like I was constantly failing. Jenna’s accident was, and is to this day, a reminder of the fragility of life and how everything can be lost in a moment. The rest of the year was all about survival and constantly wanting to come home on weekends. I ended the year getting kicked out of my Honours program, having gained 20 pounds and not liking who I was as a person.
Sometimes in life you need a little help from others. This could not be more true, and that is why I am forever grateful to my mom. I can best describe my mom as that little flicker of light in a lantern, guiding me whenever life begins to get dark. Through my mom’s work she has helped teach me how to focus on ONE THING at a time and reflect on what I want out of life.
This is where the art of letter writing came into play. I will never forget my mom telling me to write a letter to myself venting about all of the things I didn't like, the relationships that were causing me stress and the negative thoughts that were constantly making me feel angry and resentful. I remember finishing my first letter and asking her, "what now?". She then told me I was to either burn it, or rip it up. I looked at her in complete dismay. Destroying my letter reminded me of having to write out lines in grade 8 and then having the teacher rip them up in front of you, making you feel like you just wasted your time. However, what she was asking me to do, after having done it, made perfect sense. So I ripped up my letter into as many pieces as I could and threw them in the trash. She then continued to tell me to release all of my negative thoughts and move forward; leaving them in the past.
Letter writing is personal. It is not the same as venting to another person. There is no one to respond to you and no one to possibly fuel the fire. Getting your thoughts down on paper can sometimes provide you with the clarity you need in a situation. That was the start of my letter writing therapy. Letter writing became a liberating part of my self-development and something I still do today.
Over the next four years I continued to work on myself and let go of things I could not control; which was (and is) not always easy to do. After having graduated from university, I was worried that I would not get accepted to an Ontario Teachers’ College, so I decided instead to apply to the Sunshine Coast University in Australia. I got an early acceptance and was SO excited that this is where my journey was taking me. I went to all of the information sessions, paid my deposit and began planning for the next year of, sun, sand and an entirely new adventure. At the same time, there was a lot of talk about the importance of going to an Ontario Teachers’ College if you wanted to get a full-time job immediately after graduation. I had applied to several Ontario schools, but had not received any acceptance letters. However, life can sometimes surprise you in ways that are totally unexpected. On the last day before I could cancel my Australian offer, I was accepted to the University of Windsor. At that moment I knew I needed to cancel Australia and go to Windsor.
Now, I know what you must be thinking...you gave up a year in Australia for Windsor, Ontario? Hah!
Yet, this was it...this was at that moment in my life when the clouds started to part and revealed that all I needed to do is let go of the things I could not control. Little did I know at the time, but that one decision would lead to a teaching job in Haliburton the following fall, a permanent position in Lindsay one year later, and ultimately the family I have created today.
I think there comes a point in your life when you need to hand the job over to the Universe. This could not be more true of the events that have unfolded in my life.
Returning to my letter writing, I wrote a letter to myself describing all of the things that I was looking for in a partner before I started Teachers College; however, unlike past letters, I held this letter for safe keeping. I knew what mattered to me and what I wanted from someone who I would spend my life with. Insert Craig.
Craig is exactly who I was looking for. I had feared that I would not be able to find someone, who would not only work to understand me, but who I would also want to work for in return. It wasn’t until I let go of that worry and doubt, that I began to enjoy the process of the search. After being married now for four years, I can honestly say Craig is the love and balance I need in my life. When I am overly emotional, irrational or indecisive, he has a way of offering advice to help me see more clearly. He is the perfect sounding board I need to just let me get my thoughts out of my own head. Looking back on when Craig and I met, I realize now that I needed to be ready to meet him.
In order to find someone who I could be happy with, I needed to be happy with myself. I had to trust that whoever I was supposed to meet would come into my life when I was ready, believing in the law of attraction and...
...allowing time to work its magic.
Trusting, or putting 'things out into' the Universe, became a regular part of my belief system. Eckhart Tolle famously said, “Surrender to what is. Say ‘yes’ to life and see how life suddenly starts working for you, rather than against you.” However, this is not to say I haven’t had my road blocks, not knowing which direction to embark on.
Being ready to enter into motherhood was one of those moments. Turning back the clock to two years ago, I would consider my relationship with myself to be fully intact. I considered myself to be self-reflective and I loved my time alone to do something for me, whether it was working out, reading or watching TV. As much as it pains me to admit...I feared what would happen to me if I were to have a baby.
I wasn’t worried about whether I would be a good mom, because I knew the kind of love I already had for my own niece and nephews and the example my own mother set for me...but what I did worry about was losing a part of myself and not being able to get it back. I didn’t want to say this out loud in fear of judgement and being perceived as selfish. Working through my uncertainty of the unknown was difficult and it wasn’t a conversation I wanted to have with other people. Rather, it was one I needed to tackle on my own. I needed to get crystal clear on what I wanted to manifest. I needed to envision it, fall in love with it and believe it was already here; once again, learning to surrender my thoughts. As soon as I was able to do this, and realize my relationship with myself was on-going, I was able to realize that creating a family was only going to further help me develop into the person I want to be. That is when my fear turned into excitement.
Eighteen months ago we welcomed our daughter, Palmer Laighton into the world. Palmer’s presence, and my love for her, has completely changed my outlook on life. All of the events and situations in life that I would have devoted time to worrying about prior, no longer seem important. Being Palmer's mom has truly made me into a stronger woman, and pushed me to be the best version of myself.
Since having Palmer, I have had to dig even deeper into my relationship with TIME. I think it is easy to want to be the control captain of your own life. I am guilty of taking on too much, saying YES to commitments when I should have said NO, and failing to delegate or ask for help when I am juggling too much. Going back to work in November mid-semester was difficult. I never had a problem devoting time for family; that was always from the moment I got home from school until Palmer went to bed. However, what I struggled with was finding the right balance between prepping for my classes, marking, finding time for Craig and I, my family back in Hagersville and...
...time for myself.
I was very in tune with the warning signs my body would give me when I was beginning to fall apart. Releasing that control was (and is) scary, but what I have come to realize is that I do not have to be in control of everything in my life. With the passage of time, and the deadlines that life imposes, learning to let go is the right thing to do.
I (Lindsay) am: learning to surrender.
Subsequently, upon revision of my SHE IS: post, I noticed that I listed my own personal needs last...so evidently I still have some work to do!
Finding time for YOU matters. Taking a moment, whether is it each day, or once a week to do something for you, helps you remember that you are important too. How you talk to yourself matters. Your words are powerful, especially the ones you say to yourself every day. You need to remember not to be so hard on yourself, and acknowledge that what you tell yourself is reality. So, remember to be kind. In the end, the relationship you have with yourself will make you stronger in all other aspects of your life.
I love you,
To my co-creator of the Universe, Jodi; I want to thank you for pushing me to reflect on my journey, and relationship with myself and time. This project has reminded me that when life gets busy it is easy to forget that you just need to breathe, let it go, and let it in.