It’s Not How Fast That Matters

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Something that I came to realize a little later than I would have liked, is that life is not a race. There is not a perfect timeline that we should all be adhering to. There is not a pass or fail for the accomplishments we attain at different ages and stages of our life. It’s okay if we are not marching to the same drum that everyone else around us seems to be marching too.

My life took some unexpected turns, such as my diagnosis with bipolar, that diagnosis was not something I envisioned as a little girl planning out my family, education and career (I was a wee bit odd and started looking at universities when I was in grade 6). My diagnosis impacted my life drastically, not to mention bipolar in general before my formal diagnosis. At times I felt inferior to those around me, I felt like I was watching everyone pass me by with school, career, relationships, marriage, children and so forth while I struggled just to stay balanced and afloat. At least that was the case until I finally came to the realization that I was on my own path. I was growing, I was becoming better, I was gaining perspective and insight, I was meeting my goals – I was just doing it slower than I imagined I would. And there is NOTHING wrong with that.  So long as you are putting one foot in front of the other you will reach your destination and if you stop harassing yourself, you will probably enjoy the process a whole lot more – smelling the roses instead of rushing past and trampling them.

It’s okay to grow slowly. It’s okay to go at a pace that isn’t the norm. When you aren’t rushing thru life trying to keep up with what everyone else is doing, it will allow you to look at where you are going with more clarity and less time will be wasted tripping and taking wrong turns or ending up at dead ends. Be kind to yourself.

I am 26, turning 27 in a few weeks – I have a diploma, not the degree I envisioned I would have from a young age. I have no children and I am just getting married this October (yes, 27 to some people may seem young to get married however, when your mom and sisters were all married by the age of 20, 27 can start to feel old) Anyways, my point is – this is where I am at and I am proud of myself. I overcame so much to be where I am. I have a diploma – I have succeeded in my education, it took me YEARS, but I never gave up and I achieved something for myself. If you knew my educational struggle with my mental health you would understand why a diploma means so much to me and my family. I have met the most amazing man and I am the happiest I have ever been. I am getting married – and I know that I didn’t just settle with any young bloke, I waited because I knew my worth.  The right things are happening in my life because I didn’t give up. I didn’t let my slow growth defeat the progress I knew I was making.

Don’t wallow in discouragement that your growth may be going slower than you like. Don’t be discouraged about your dreams that have yet to be achieved, because they will be – so long as you are true to yourself and put in the effort. I have no doubt you will accomplish amazing things.

I am so much happier accepting my life at the unique pace that it marches to. Don’t compare your pace to that of your neighbours. Be yourself. Love yourself. Nourish yourself and grow slowly – but never give up and never stop growing.

– Steph

Be The Change

I’ve been on the rise (not in a hypomanic way), I’m feeling a lot better than I have in weeks passed. I think it’s fair to say that I was in a low – everything seemed doom and gloom and my positive outlook on life was overshadowed by negative thoughts that I couldn’t seem to shake. It’s been a while since my mental state has been crippled by my mood so severely. I was getting out of bed in the morning but just barely.

It’s times like these that really make me reflect on my mood management skills.

I won some battles and lost some battles over the course of my low. I didn’t quit my job which was something I would have done in a heartbeat if I didn’t do a self-check. The thought was there and the fuel feeding the fire was real! But I did some self-talk and conclude the cons outweighed the pros. So the job stayed BUT I did give my notice yesterday, because I am moving – there was no need to do it prematurely as I have bills to pay. This is the longest I’ve ever stayed with a job, no need to burn the bridge and end on bad terms. I’m not sure if anyone else with bipolar can relate BUT I never stayed with an employer longer than 6 months prior to this job. I would lose interest, feel like people were picking up on my moods (which cycled a lot more frequently) orrrrrr I was always starting school which would all cause me to quit. I hated being anywhere too long. I’ve never been fired, but I definitely never stuck around.

Another win was I maintained communication with my fiancé, I let him know how I was feeling and we talked thru things rather than me shutting him out. I also talked with my family and doctor, all of which helped me manage my mood.

I didn’t exercise or eat in accordance to my goals for the majority of my low. That was a battle I lost. It happens.

I (and my fiancé) created some plans to overcome my negative thoughts that were on repeat throughout this low, and I think that improved my mental state. I find that if you can pinpoint what your repeating negative narrative is, you can find a way to counter it, which will help your mood improve quicker. There is always a repeating narrative. Something that you repeat to yourself, whether it’s that you are worthless, an inconvenience to those around you, incompetent, a 2 out of 10, not creative, never finishing anything you start, swallowed by debt, etc… It’s safe to say that this low manifested a new narrative regarding my self appearance, lack of creativity and work which all trickled into my self-worth.

I was curious as to what my new narrative would be, because I’ve been so happy and everything seemed to be going well and I have been conquering the narratives that plagued my past. Let’s just say my mind was surprisingly creative when it came up with my negative narratives this time around.

So what did we come up with –

Once I move to Victoria I am going to enrol in a sewing class. Nothing fancy, but something to get my wheels turning again and reintroduce that passion into my life. Next I will be taking classical guitar lessons, I’ve already found a teacher. I am beyond excited to add these dimensions into my life. Lastly, in terms of my style – if you can’t find what you like, do it yourself. We determined that it might become a fun hobby and good motivation to do fashion posts either on my blog or Instagram that adhere to the standards of modesty I have in my life. It may help me find more people with similar styles that I can connect with or inspire other young women to dress modestly while maintaining their own independent style that isn’t cookie cutter.  I am trying to think outside the box. I’m not about to say that my style is going to be off the chain, but it will be a step in the right direction to express myself creatively and will definitely beat wearing gym clothes all the time.

I feel hopeful. I feel determined. And I feel like I’ve got a grip on my self worth. I know I’m not a 2 out 10. I know my worth is far beyond that. I have imperfections as everyone does BUT at the end of the day it’s not about everyone else. It’s about me and the self love and respect I offer myself. I am going to get nowhere fast if I talk with such disdain towards myself. You can only sustain true happiness and change thru self love. I don’t need surgery, I don’t need the perfect body, I just need to love myself as I am and work on being the best version of myself. If you give everything you’ve got there will never be any regrets. My creativity has been hindered – I know this. So, rather than dwelling on it unhappily I will make a change in my life to do something about it.

Anyways, I hope everyone is doing well. The journey to my happily ever after continues, but I have no doubt I’m on the right path.

– Steph

A Weed Or A Wish

A wish

I’ve been fairly consumed with planning and preparing for my new future. The wedding is almost in a double-digit countdown which is a surreal feeling.

I’ve been reading more articles about bipolar disorder a well as a book that I was given when I was first diagnosed. Knowledge is power and it never hurts to go over a critical component of your life. I am not nervous about being married. I am very excited about it, I am however nervous about the change that marriage will entail. I am bracing myself for the change, because as anyone with bipolar knows, change can bring on an episode going either direction – up or down. It’s obviously not by choice, it’s just a natural phenomenon. When the change is drastic enough so becomes the mood.

I’ve been doing well so far, my anxiety has been a bit more pronounced but I have still maintained a happy demeanour. It’s so funny how you become so in-tune with your body after years of dissecting your moods, reactions, triggers, and ticks. One of the bonuses of active participation in improving my health is I am always aware of myself. That’s one of the things my doctors have commented on, on more than a few occasions. I am a very self-aware individual. My mentality is the only way to progress is to be self aware, if you are aware of your weaknesses they can become strengths, if you are aware of your strengths you can apply them to your goals. If you are accomplishing your goals you are becoming the best version of yourself. It all begins with self-awareness.

Self-awareness, is something I’ve had to work on. It required a perspective shift. It required me to take control of my life, take hold of my bipolar and to not be a victim of my mental health. Bipolar was initially a curse in my mind, but it has turned into one of my strengths over the course of the past few years. As one of my sister refers to it as a “super power”. Getting to this point of peace with my bipolar has been a journey, but I have grown immensely. I am not a perfect personification of someone with their bipolar under control, however I am someone with bipolar who has found happiness, when it once robbed me of it. Happiness is not something I experience at all times, there are times that I feel alone and like I am trapped in a dark abyss, however I know that the darkness will fade eventually and I remind myself of this and it helps keep my hope alive.

Taking charge of your bipolar is taking the good with the bad, the highs with the lows and everything in between. It’s not picking and choosing parts of it when it is easy or convenient.

This quote is perfect, some people see a weed. I see a wish. Some see bipolar as a curse. I see it as an opportunity. When you shift your perspective, you will find opportunity in more than you could possibly imagine.

– Steph

Give It A Rest 

This topic came up briefly in a conversation this week, and I thought it would make a good blog post especially as we are entering the new year with our plethora of resolutions. 
On our grand journey of life, amidst all of our goals and in between the ups and downs we have, I believe it is vital to learn the difference between resting and quitting. It’s okay if life exhausts us mentally and physically! That is bound to happen at some point and time  but what isn’t okay is rolling over and playing dead as life pasts you by.

Take a breather.

Rest, regroup, and refocus then get back on the horse.

Giving up can lead to poor self-esteem, it can cripple you and create a mentality that you are incapable of following thru with anything, that you will never succeed; that you are a failure. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Each of us is capable of accomplishing our goals, we may stumble a little more than the average person at times BUT that’s doesn’t mean that we are incapable.

If we have a heartbeat we are capable. If we have a desire we are already on our way, we just need to implement action. And when we implement action we need to recognize that if we to rest, regroup, or refocus it doesn’t mean that we’ve quit.

Sometimes our rest may need to be a little longer BUT that’s okay! So long as you pull up your socks and keep moving forward. Remember, progress not perfection.

Don’t get caught up in negative self talk- labeling yourself as a failure if there is a standstill on your journey. You are not a failure. You are human. Taking a rest is not failing. And that is a distinction you need to be aware of. Once you can distinguish that you are still on track to meet your goal even though you’ve rested, the goal will not seem as overwhelming  because you will realize you don’t have to “start over” every time there is a slight hiccup.

Allow me to make an analogy.

If you hike a mountain it is not uncommon to rest. Now, may I point out that just because you rest it does not mean that you’ve quit. If we looked at every time you rested while hiking a mountain as quitting (meaning you had no choice but to turn around and hike back down the mountain). You would be backtracking non-stop! At that rate you would never reach your goal of getting to the top. You would most likely be exhausted physically and mentally and reach a point where you didn’t even want to step foot on the mountain. No body hikes like that! And for good reason.

Look at your goals with that mentality, permit yourself to rest without backtracking all the way to the beginning. Pick up where you left off and move forward. Remind yourself that you are trying and that is what counts.

Trying is HUGE! Do not dismiss your efforts with so little value. No one ever accomplished anything without trying first. So, try, try and try again.
This is an exciting time of year where goals are ablaze, be excited, don’t be discouraged. Recognize that 2018 is going to be your year, and it is going to have ups and downs and standstills and that is perfectly okay – it will not take away from it being any less your year, and an amazing one at that. 
– Steph

Choose Happy

It’s that time of year again – when it’s a new year.

I love New Years, it’s a time of reflection and anticipation. What a sublime mix!

So much has happened in the year 2017, I’d say mostly good but undoubtably there were some challenges along the way. I feel excited to see what 2018 brings. There have been so many new beginnings for me recently so New Years seems fitting and right on schedule.

I love the simple illustration above, 1 year = 365 opportunities. How great is that?!

We are about to embark on a new 365 day adventure.

And what would New Years be without goals?? I’m all about goals, I believe they should be set beyond the New Years hype but if New Years gets people into a goal oriented mindset so be it. My “2018″ goal is to work on my balance. I want to be a modern renaissance woman. I want improve my intellect, spirituality and physicality. I want my knowledge, enlightenment and action to all increase.

It’s exciting to think I have an entire year to measure my progress. From where I was at the beginning of 2017 to where I am now. Life changing. I’ve had so many profound experiences that have shaped me. I think I’ve managed to become better from my experiences – not bitter. And now I get to bring my new package into 2018.

I recently bought some wall hangings for my new apartment one says “This is the good life” and the other says “choose happy”. I get a kick out of both. I live with bipolar, I live a life that no one would wish on anyone but at this point in my life I know I’m living the good life – bipolar and all. And secondly, choose happy, sometimes my mood is not my choice. This is why I chose this wall hanging. I used to resent when people would say “just choose to be happy” but now my perception has changed and I bought this wall hanging to remind myself that beyond the scope of my health their is a choice with how I choose to live. Regardless to my lows and highs. I still can choose me. And I choose happy.

If I feel nothing – I still choose happy.

If I’m crying for hours – I still choose happy.

If I have to fight with myself for days or weeks – I still choose happy.

It’s worth fighting for, it’s the life I want, the person I want to be – happy. We may not get to feel happy but the twist is that we can still choose happy. And at the end of the dark tunnel, that is the light that I see and hold on to.

Think of 2018 and all that it has to offer. Think of where you want to be in life and make it happen, you have 365 days to try and I guarantee you will become better day by day.

Look for positivity, radiate positivity and do not settle for anything less.

There is no need to justify negativity in your life whatever form it may be. 2018 is your year.

Choose happy, and remind yourself that it’s your life and you are living the good life. And if you aren’t then change things until you can say you are. Be in control of your life because it’s yours and yours alone.

Own 2018.

Happy New Years everyone!

– Steph

Just Live A Little


Life.

My oh my. 

I’m currently working on making the most of my life. Recently I had someone walk into my life, mind you I showed them the exit… BUT for the brief time they were in my life they caused me to re-evaluate how I was living it. I am the most stable I’ve ever been – this is a fact. But there is more than just being stable. More than just holding the status quo.

I’ve done things in my life, but I haven’t all at the same time. Living was such a struggle for so many years I feel like my life was a bit of a write-off. Perhaps I haven’t completely escaped the mentality of just surviving. 

But I’m here. I’m alive and I want my life to reflect that.

I was asked about my bucket list and I only had 2 things to list off. On top of that the two ideas weren’t even that creative! 

That just won’t do.

Over the course of two weeks I developed a bucket list. Or rather “lists”. One list outlines things I would like to do over the course of 2017/2018, and the other lists things I’d like to do in a lifetime. I’m trying to step outside of my box, escape the mundane routine I’ve created. Add a little bedazzle. Spice things up. You get the idea.

I’m really proud of my list, it took quite a bit of effort to create it. 

It’s so easy to get into a routine, routine is good don’t get me wrong BUT there should be more. More to life. Where did my exploratory nature go? Where is my sense of adventure?

I was going thru a bit of depression the past while, feeling trapped. But I realized I was the one putting myself in the cage or like I referred to it earlier – a box. I was the one restricting myself, no one else.

When you feel trapped you are the only one who can free yourself, whatever that situation may be.

Escaping our box is a choice, and most often it requires that we put in effort and feel a bit uncomfortable. And why must we feel uncomfortable? Because my dear friends, we are stepping outside of our norm and its the price we must pay.

And when I say I want to live life I don’t mean I need to climb Mount Everest or backpack thru Europe, not saying I’d turn down the opportunity.  What I’m talking about is reading books, going to museums and art galleries, taking guitar lessons, joining a choir, going to a paint night (which I just did … my painting was terrible! But I had fun making it, and that’s what it’s all about), simple yet impactful things that will add dimension to my life. 

Dimension that’s my objective. I want to have something to talk about, things to look forward to. I want to meet people, enrich my life with perspective. Expand my way of looking at life and take advantage of the life I’ve been blessed with.

I want to be an actively engaged in my life rather than passively letting it pass me by.

I feel so passionately about this new outlook on life, I feel alive and excited for what is to going to happen because of me making it happen. 

Ask yourself if you are trapped in routine, feeling like life is escaping you – then make a list. Make a list of things outside of your box and start doing them.

It’s been a big year for me. Lots of new chapters with school ending, me getting my dream job, a couple of toads crossing my path. I feel like in my life’s story is picking up its pace and it’s only going to get better! 

Stop thinking about all the things you’d like to do. Take action and do them. Liberate yourself from the box you live in and add dimension to your life. Stay stable but add a little bedazzle. 

– Steph

Sparkle Baby

Why don’t those weekly pill boxes come bedazzled??! Quick! Someone take that idea and run with it, I guarantee you’ll make a fortune. Seriously who doesn’t like some sparkle? 

Until that day comes I’ll be using my plain pill box … well …mine is pink so that’s not completely plain… and i do love pink. Honestly though, pre counting my pills has changed my life *dramatic pause* alright it hasn’t really BUT it’s so convenient, I highly recommend doing it.

Moving on … 

This summer hasn’t exactly gone according to plan. I thought I was going to be a blogging diva and write a bunch of witty uplifting posts… yah. That hasn’t happened. I honestly just haven’t felt inspired… these past few months and when I say few … I mean like 6 months …lifes mojo has been challenging. 

Getting the weight off that I gained from taking seroquel has been a struggle… I’ve felt like I have been beating my head against a wall. I’ve gone 4 weeks sugar free, gluten free and starch free (don’t ask me how I’ve survived I still don’t know)… I haven’t gained weight but I haven’t noticed a difference. Mind you in those 4 weeks I took a break from the gym…YES I was going before my 4 week break, it’s just I’ve just been so disheartened by putting in all those hours sweating and i have literally nothing to show for it. 

Tomorrow I will be going to the the gym. That is my word and I’ll make good on it in my next post. 

I have a trip planned for either winter break or at the end of the school year in April and I want nothing more than to feel confident in a swim suit and confident when I have my photo taken. This is going to be the trip of my dreams, I’m going to my father’s home country of Nicaragua. I’ve always wanted go and it’s finally happening. I need to:

1. Look sexy to attract all the handsome latin men.

2.Practice my spanish so I can speak to all the handsome latin men 

3.Practice my dancing so that I can dance with the handsome latin men.

You can see I’m excited to see the country … jokes aside I’m excited to see where my dad grew up and the handsome latin men are a bonus. 

Back to the topic of weight… this summer my cousin got married and I was asked to be a bridesmaid… honestly I almost told her no because I felt so self conscious about being in photos. But I pushed past my discomfort to share a special day with her. 

I’ve been so unhappy with my weight and it’s shown in my confidence which isnt sexy. I honestly don’t feel like me when I look at me. It’s been a challenge, but I accept the challenge because I’m going to defeat it. I may cry a lot in the process but I will be triumphant.

Hopefully with the gym involved again and eating without sugar, gluten and starch I’ll see the weight melt off. If not … I honestly don’t know what I’ll do BUT I’ll worry about that later if it comes to that.

I know that I’ve come too far with my health to give up now. I want to be both mentally healthy and physically healthy. And I will have both. I’m turning 25 this year and this will be my year with no strings attached. 

I’m hoping to keep my posts more consistent I’ll most likely try to track my weightloss journey as it happens and who knows maybe we can do it together. 

– Steph