boyfriends* and bullies are fucktards…*only the mean ones :-)

did you find when you were younger you thought you knew everything and the cockiness that exuded with that knowledge, in hindsight was a tad bit out of line…my own cockiness about being a good friend, a good girlfriend, a good daughter, a good sister, a good worker is slowly diminishing as the years progress….as you experience each experience in life, expectations of how the story ends often disappoints…that’s what I’m learning in my 40’s…lower the expectations and you’ll have less disappointments…but jesus how low does one go…do we put out positive vibes to the universe and sit back and wait…hummm how’s that going for ya….

I remember a friend once saying “I’m a good friend and I expect others to treat me as I do them”…and yah she’s right…but is that setting us up for frustrations…and one could insert any word in that sentence “I’m a good worker…” or “I’m a good girlfriend” and still the story ends in frustrations…I’m struggling to strike the balance and I often wonder if others are too…and then as I sit back, I think is there a balance…I’m happy with what I’ve accomplished and the path I’ve taken may not make sense to others and I like to think I don’t care…but then the human emotions in me tell me I do…I share and I don’t get the response I want, I don’t share and I don’t get the response I want – then the fuck it I can’t win response comes to my lips…

looking back on my life, there has been tremendous growth in me as a person…I can own that…I don’t think my parents would have mapped out my life the way I experienced it…I think they love the person I am today and are super proud of the work I do…but I think they must have had many sleepless nights thinking ‘what the fuck’…it is so not all rainbows and butterflies and puffy carebears and smurfs in the backyard…

I watched the dr. phil show the other day, yes I’m addicted and he had posted warning signs of how you know you are in an abusive relationship – I ticked 8 out of 9…past not current – don’t freak out my peeps…I’ve come to realize that some past years of my life were honestly miserable despite the smiles and laughs, deep down the self-hate started back then…the worthlessness, the degradation, the blah-blah-blahness of my world weighed me down…my mother sent me a picture the other week and it was taken around this time and I shrilled at the look of my young, innocent face…the lack of luster, the lack of confidence and the pure hidden eagerness that lived inside of me, yet was not allowed to surface…I wrote ‘never ever share that with anyone’…she wrote, ‘I won’t sweetheart just reminiscing’…

it’s hard being vulnerable and it’s even harder staring at that vulnerability when it’s you…but vulnerability is strength…it’s guided me to where I am today…it helps me help others…that picture made me feel icky…it took me back to the very day it was taken…it took me back to a dark place that I never want to go again…it’s amazing how a flicker in time can stir so many emotions…it should have been sadness that was conjured up but it was actually anger…god I’m my father’s daughter – bit of anger never hurt anyone danielle…but honestly anger deep in my belly…an anger at myself for being such a fucking idiot but more so an anger at the other person for being such a dick…how one human can degrade another human boggles my mind…

it would happen to me once more…degradation should be a punishable by stoning – back to the biblical times…

I truly never thought of myself as having had been in a relationship like I was and it really didn’t hit me until another experience caused me to lose myself…I lost myself again for about two years, two long, long years…actually it was probably longer than that but my memory allows me to say two…as a successful career woman, I devote my time to my work…I chose that…I don’t need a husband, I don’t yearn for children, I don’t long for a bigger house and I don’t need to live an extravagant life…what I need is my sanity, my confidence, my clear mind, my desire to make a difference, my longing to uphold my namesake and my link – myself…that was taken away from me again a few years ago…

it’s hard being vulnerable…and boy am I angry at myself…what’s the saying, fool me once, shame on you…fool me twice, shame on me…well shame shame on me for I let that degradation resurface into a monster I never thought I’d battle…but battle I fucking did…

deep inhale in and here goes – did you ever think at your age you could be caught in the middle of a storm so powerful that you literally lost all your senses…imagine no beginning, no middle and no ending to a storm that brewed its’ head ever so slowly…a tiny gust of wind here…a drizzle of rain there…the blue sky changing before your eyes into a dark, deep black swirling overhead…did you ever meet someone so sweet and kind and captivating that you get tangled in a weave of deception…every word, every gesture, every sentence, every emotion, every movement becomes the beginning of your ending…

when you get yourself out of a slump and you soar into a new world where you embrace every moment, you swear never again body, mind and soul, never again will you be that young, innocent girl in that picture that lacked luster and confidence…when mom showed me it, I thought ahhhh for fucks sake I did it again…why share this now, because I’m learning that even the strongest people fall sometimes…confidence, competence, and a love for living is not enough sometimes because that innocence that exists in all of us sometimes makes us vulnerable to the predators around us…

some of you know and some of you don’t know that I was bullied and harassed as an adult in an environment that I adore…there I said it…I’m not a young girl in school who is being bullied because I’ve got pimples and I’m overweight…I’m not a high school student who sent sexy pictures to my boyfriend who now has them posted all over social media…I’m not a young kid struggling with my sexuality and being cornered in the school yard…but I’m no different them any of them going through this…I was a 43 year old successful career woman targeted for reasons beyond my understanding…

I lived a lie for a while, not knowing what was happening until someone took me aside and said it out loud to me ‘you are being bullied’ and handed me a book on harassment…I reached for a tissue, which ended up being a bounce sheet and I let the tears flow…heads up a bounce sheet doesn’t work well on a tear filled face – may work well for static but not this, I promise…I can speak freely of this experience now without having a meltdown, well not a major one at least…for those that stayed by me, phew – thank you…for those that I lost, I’m sorry I wasn’t able to sustain us…

I kept saying how does an adult be bullied…I’ve read, I’ve talked, I’ve meditated, I’ve drank, I’ve cried…I’ve wanted to run, run as fast as I could and I was on the verge of leaving something I loved for the simply notion to run…and then I remembered I don’t run – like legit physically don’t run…lol lol…no seriously, my father taught me never to run and that allowed me to slow down…it allowed me to slow down and experience the bullying and the harassing in an almost mindful manner…sounds super creepy but I let myself slow down to experience it, so I could be strong enough to stand up to it…I refer to them as it because bullies don’t deserve a proper introduction…

why share this though…why blog…well because it’s hard being vulnerable…but I now know vulnerability is strength and I now know bullies target strength by honing in on the innocence that exists in our person…and that’s okay – it’s nothing I did…it’s nothing I said…I can’t own it because I didn’t create it…but I can own my reaction to it and I can own how it’s made me grow into a better person, a better clinician and better human…but it’s changed me in a way that I can’t explain to some…like the young, innocent girl in the picture lacking luster and confidence, I am now that career focused adult full of confidence that lives with chronic stress…

I watched a video the other day on stress and what stress does to your body…the physiological impact that occurred inside my body wrecked me…what once was strong muscles, clear skin, free mind, legs that could walk forever – is gone…the joy, the desire to engage in meaningful activities, the sound of laughter, the desire for passion and love, the desire to take care of myself – out the window…as I ticked off the trigger points from dr. phil on relationships, I found I was again ticking off the trigger points from this god blessed cartoon video on stress…

I did a group recently on anxiety which in hindsight is freaking hilarious looking back because I probably had the highest anxiety amongst the peeps in the room…like legit wanted to jump out of my own skin as I lectured on this common phenomenon…some stress is good I would say, it often is that motivating factor that you need to put the skip in your step when starting something new…too much stress, I would say is a bad thing because it’s more than just an emotion it’s a physical response…I would go through symptoms of stress and ask have you ever experienced heartburn (inner voice says yes), irritability (inner voice screams fuck yes), headaches (yup losing my sight from time to time), cravings for comfort food (inner voice says yup don’t even cook anymore), weight gain (inner voices says for fucks sake, #obvi), insomnia (inner voice says yes), acne (skin looks like shit, yup), or fatigue (I yawn when I say the word fatigue, so yup)…

why am I the girl who had to have a shitty relationship that probably fucked me over to the point that trust is an everlasting issue…why am I the girl who was bullied as an adult…well because shit happens…it’s not the end of the world to have had my experiences…it’s a gift to have had my experiences…it takes a lot to reteach your mind about the fight or flight concept…but my experiences have made me sit back and realize that I only enjoy flights that take me to sunny destinations…there is so much going on in this world around us…why do we as a society feel the need to break others down…as humans we do that enough to ourselves…I’m not getting younger, I’m not going to get a second chance to live my life…this is it, this is who I am, this is what I got and this is my journey to celebrate as I choose…

going into the next phase of my life, I refuse to give in to the evils of this world that often surround us…yah I may lose myself for a while and I may need a kick in the guts to come back around but knowing that I’m a survivor keeps me going…knowing that I stood up and screamed NO keeps me going…I made a pack with myself that I will never give up on myself, I will be the most important person in my life and I will choose me over and over again because I only got one life to live…let’s make it memorable…

don’t worry about being the good friend, the good girlfriend, the good daughter, the good sister or the good worker – work on being the best you first, that’s where happiness starts…bad shit happens everyday but today you woke up breathing – embrace that…

it’s hard being vulnerable but it’s super fun growing old happily…

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a letter to my father…

reblogging just because this man, i adore…#happyfathersday

Nanette Danielle

Without you there would be no me…

I’m sure the first words you said to me were “fuckin fuck you nearly killed your mother” as you held this tiny babe in your hands…what in the world was going through your mind as mom laid in a bed in recovery and you in a room with a brand new baby…well “fuck” was either at the start or the end of the sentence, who am I kidding it was definitely the first and last word…you always were a man of many words…

I’ll never know who you were then…but mom did and she picked you and we know she’s picky…I thank god for you daily and I thank the world for placing me in your arms that day many years ago…

despite the struggles, despite the heartaches, despite the long hours and days, you worked your ass off for us…I remember the…

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Horses: A Partnership Embedded in Recovery.

For those of you that have been following me since I started this adventure of blogging, know my style is informal and full of grammar and punctuation no-no’s…but it’s me and it’s my comfort zone. I’ve had so much feedback on my writing over the last couple of years, I wanted to share even more with you – having taken on a masters program, I am entering a new world of wanting to share my stories, my knowledge and my experiences more and more each day, attempting to reach different audiences and hoping my rambling sentences may have impact on one, just one of you out there.

This blog will be a little different as it is being shared with my classmates and professor and therefore opening me up to a very different audience – sometimes my comfort comes in writing with not knowing who this blog is reaching and then when someone I know says something to me or writes me in private, I sometimes freeze and think – OMG they know this about me. It’s a very enlightening feeling this sharing and yet it’s led me to where I am today. Today as I write, I open myself and my adventures in horse therapy up for constructive criticism, for growth in my partnership with Te’sipow Therapeutic Services, for growth in my clinical practice and for growth in my own self, I submit this blog to my current course mates – yikes, exposure therapy!!

Horses…why horses…I sit back and think why in the world did I enter into this partnership with a girl, a stranger I’m glad I met…

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I work as an occupational therapist on a community-based mental health and addictions program servicing clients with severe and persistent mental illness. The philosophy behind the team is based on the belief that clients are the center of their own care, are unique, and have the right to service that promotes independence. The team seeks to empower clients by promoting the use of the client’s natural supports in their own environment. It focuses on assisting clients to build their skills and supports within the client’s home and community. A common theme discussed regularly within this team’s client population is the difficulty experienced in identifying and engaging in meaningful and purposeful occupations, lack of self esteem, lack of communication skills, lack of purpose and feeling needed and lack of control. As occupational therapists, we have the ability and skills to foster therapeutic relationships, integrate clients into their communities and offer them creative options to explore meaningful activity that will empower them along their journey. For many of our clients, they experience daily symptoms and societal reaction to them; they experience limited access to participation, limited resources and overwhelming messages of what they cannot do.

With the growing research on service animals for individuals with severe and persistent mental illness and the shift to utilizing natural community based resources, I started exploring alternative programming for my clientele in November 2014. The majority of equine-assisted therapy (EAT) programs researched offer an opportunity for horse-minded individuals to bond with, care for and learn from the animal. I really wanted to move away from hospital based formal programming and get my clients reacquainted with the natural environment, as I believe that it is essential for recovery whether it be physical, mental, emotional or spiritual recovery.

The confidence, self-esteem, feeling of purpose and control of many people with severe and persistent mental illness are low, partly due to self-stigma, lack of choices and lack of meaning in one’s life. Such self-experiences result in poor occupational performance outcomes such as reduced independent functioning, community participation and integration and progress in their personal recovery journeys. The bond that forms between horse and human is unique. The horse in comparison to any other animal has an innate ability to pick up on human emotions, interactions and intention.

 Although there are many EAT programs across the country, this EAT program is unique in that it consists of an occupational therapist – as mental health practitioner, and a therapeutic recreation worker – as horse facilitator, and peer supporter with lived mental health experience. Vital to the operation is the partnership developed with Te’sipow Therapeutic Services, owner of the stable and horses. The collaborative approach with Te’sipow Therapeutic Services provides the optimal opportunity for clients to find meaning and purpose in their time spent with the horses. It is our goal that upon completion of the program, clients will demonstrate growth both in life and social skills and ultimately progression in their recovery journey. When asked what they want to get out of the program our clients state, they want “calmness”, they want “the voices to take a break”, they want their “abuser to hear their voice”, they want to “gain control” and they want “to believe that someone believes” in them.

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The three programs offered are:

  1. Horse Time – includes grooming and feeding the horses, learning safety rules and basic control on the ground. In terms of skills learned, it focuses on physical activity, promoting independence, increasing awareness of activities of daily living, making choices, compassion, boundaries, and social, life and work skills.
  1. Spirit Horse – clients are guided through various experiences including: watching the dynamics of the horses and herd, identifying relationships and dynamics in the herd, entering the herd to catch a horse, trust exercises with the horses, learning to communicate with a horse, building symbolic obstacles to accomplish with the horse, individual and/or group tasks with the herd, and symbolic painting on the horses. Through my experience with the program I have come to believe that horses have an undeniable ability to bring about change in people; they mirror a situation and show us the best and worst of ourselves.
  1. Work Skills – a volunteer opportunity for clients whereby they are responsible for cleaning the stable stalls and grounds, collecting saw dust, gathering tools, spreading hay and filling water buckets. This program offers clients the opportunity to get volunteer hours, participate in a physical activity and build skills to better prepare for them for work. It is also be a great learning opportunity for them to gain knowledge about their own work readiness and a self-awareness of their own skills. From an occupational therapy perspective it allows assessment of a client’s work readiness, attention/concentration, overall endurance/activity tolerance, ability to follow direction, multi task and ability to work within a group as well as independently.

 Our clients come from a variety of backgrounds and upbringings, have a variety of mental health diagnoses and have varying goals that they are working on. What brings them together following the stable session is the bond that they develop with the horses. As soon as we walk into the stable and breath in that first breathe of sawdust, hay and horse smell, we hear the clients breathe a sigh of relief – some describe it as a “freedom from the chaotic world” they live in, a “release from all worries” and “a calmness in [their] head”. Several themes have emerged from the feedback from the programming. Clients used words such as “calm”, “loved”, “happy”, “peaceful”, “safe” and “makes me feel like I’m in control” when describing how the interaction with the horses made them feel. When asked about how the programming helped with recovery, most people responded it helped them socially “as it was great to meet new people”; the hands on experience with the horses was reported to help with mood – “they made me happy”; and a few people reported that they learned how to be assertive “in an appropriate way”. When asked what skills did the participants learn, the majority reported “confidence”, “knowing when to have fun”, “how to bond”, “how to develop trust”, “how to be creative”, “how to communicate”, “how to connect with horses”, and “overcoming my fear of horses”.

My own experience working with clients who experience fear, voices, trauma, fatigue, sleep deprivation and watching them caress an animal and hearing them say “thank you” not to me, not to the facilitator but to the horse encourages me as a therapist to continue the advocacy for EAT programming, further development of the Spirit Horse Hope Arena and Te’sipow Therapeutic Services.

Horses…why horses…because I could never mimic what happens in the round pen in an office setting. As an adjunct therapy intervention, it has been proven essential to recovery.

For more information on programming, please visit www.spirithorsenl.com or like on Facebook – Spirit Horse with Te’sipow Therapeutic Services.

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if only…

if only…

two tiny words with the weight of the world attached to them…I had a friend ask me the other day if I had ever wanted kids, to which I responded “I really did once upon a time” and then my life began…she responded, “if only, hey” and me “yup, if only”…

if only i had met the ‘one’ that everyone talks about…I’d be in a house with three bedrooms, filled with toys and the pitter patter of feet going about their days…I’d be home at 4, cooking supper for the family and sitting around a table built for daily use…I’d be clearing away the dishes as the hubby filled the tub and bathed the babies for the night…I’d be sitting, drinking tea, listening to the laughter come from the bathroom above me, listening to the kids and their father fill the night air with love…if only…

if only I had stayed in past relationships because it was the safe thing to do…if only I had said yes to the one that came back and begged…I’d be in a house – we’d be renting for sure – and kids, not sure…I’d be home at 6, I’d have to cook supper, we’d eat watching television, I’d clean up and I’d yearn for conversation…I’d yearn for laughter and I’d yearn for love…I’d be sitting, drinking tea, listening to him play music from another room while I was trying to concentrate, read or listen to a favourite show…the night air would be filled with silence, judgment and a sadness, the kind only I would know…if only…

if only I had stayed in that night…if only I hadn’t been in that situation at that exact moment maybe I wouldn’t have lost interest in working out…I’d be still going into the gym three mornings a week, I’d be the strongest I’d ever been, I’d be flaunting and shining and eating my homemade granola bars…I’d be home by 5, I’d be cooking and singing away…I’d pack my breakfast and lunch by 6…I’d run a bath for myself and the night air would breathe away the worries of the day…if only…

if only I had never taken that job…if only those people were good people I wouldn’t have been hurt…if only others didn’t trust in me to be strong…I’d be happy, eager…I’d be stress free, worry free and light hearted…my trust would be unscathed, my body untouched, my mind unharmed, my passion unhurt…hiding wouldn’t be an option, anger wouldn’t be a daily emotion and nightmares wouldn’t rock my world…if only…

if only…I were skinnier, happier, healthier, taller, leaner, stronger…if only…my hair was longer, my clothes nicer, my phone newer, my gaming better, my education higher, my pay greater…if only…I had a job, I had a house, I had a yard, I had a snow blower, I had a car, I had a cabin, I had a…I had a…if only…

what happens to us if we live by these words, we’d never allow ourselves to feel, to fail, to cry, to laugh, to embrace and to love…we’d never leave our houses if the hurt that disables us never heals…we’d never learn from our mistakes, those shitty ass mistakes that we all make and we all shake our heads and think ‘gentle Christ did I do that’…we learn our greatest lessons from feeling disappointed in our own selves…our biggest regrets are the things we grow from and by god we’ll never make the same mistake twice, well some of us will but then we learn twice as hard…

I call myself reality danielle sometimes, both in work and in my personal life…the ‘if only’ game has come and gone in my life…I have a few days left before my 45th and I refuse to play the ‘if only’ game with myself anymore…sure I could have a three bedroom house full of kids and love…sure I could still be working a day job with no chance of advancement and living a shitty ass life with a shitty ass man…sure I could still be that kick ass gym girl with an ass as hard as a rock…sure I could have left a job where I was being harassed and bullied and found a new work place…if only I had done those things…

if only…i teach others daily that life is about passion and desires and it is so worth living…have I ever thought of ending it, life that it…have I ever thought others would be better off without me…have I ever thought of leaving it all and vanishing – hells yah I have…looking inside, I’m the one eternally single but eternally happy – insert higher tone on that last happy…if only others knew what my happy looked like…sometimes a loss equates my experiences…sometimes a celebration equates my loss…if only others knew…

I think I’m a pretty intelligent individual and I often think others are truly numb to my feelings and experiences…if only they got it…

if only others thought about others as much as I think about them…holy philosophical…its my damn writing addiction…

a client asked me the other day was I “happy and at peace”, “did I find my person” and “have I found my passion”…we were at a local coffee shop and I literally replied “well holy jesus girl, which do I answer first” – we both laughed…my answers…

I always think I’m happy until I’m driving home in my car and my cheek glistens in the sun and I taste a saltiness on my upper lip and I am crying…is it an unhappiness or an overhappiness, I pondered…“do you really cry by yourself she asked” – mother of mercy yes, I replied…and we laughed…my tears often are a result of a disappointment or a fault in my own self of setting expectations that others can not live up to, or do not have the time or idea that I’ve even set them…my tears are for the “if only” scenarios I play in my mind…but to answer the question, yes I’m happy because my “if only” scenarios would have never led me to the life I live today…

peace…this was a hard one…I wasn’t sure what she meant by peace…“I’m not sure what your definition of peace is but I feel secure, if that makes sense”…she nodded…secure in my own body, secure in my faith, secure in my thoughts and secure in my love for myself”…are we ever at peace with our decisions and life choices – I couldn’t answer that…

my person…if only I had that person that was my soul mate, one to share my ups and my downs…one that knew my likes and dislikes…one that would answer a text, a phone call, or simply know I needed a get away…if only…I answered simply “I found my person about 3years ago”, she smiled and I continued “I had no idea who this person was but when I saw her I thought, damn this is my rock”…I chuckled and I said “girl my person is myself”…“if only I was my own person”, she said…

if only I could teach others to enjoy alone time, if only I could instill a sense of self worth in those that question themselves, if only I could show how my heart beats with every accomplishment I reach…if only…

a life yearning for what we don’t have, I truly believe is a life wasting what we have…decisions we make daily shape and nurture us…it saddens me to think that people are lonely, sad and can’t survive without dependency…but I own that, I shouldn’t judge…that’s my downfall, I have nothing left to give somedays and that’s just me…I think I’m so comfortable in my own skin that I practice what it would be like when the world will present me with the biggest sadness that I can dream of…that’s my coping mechanism and it’s my weakness – the inability to give what others want…

if only…

I was told by a great woman one night that she feels sorry for me…with a chuckle she added because I shut everyone out…the table giggled and I gulped…

if only I didn’t…

my if only scenarios led me to a life – a self proclaimed workaholic, blogger, aspiring published author, mother of a 4-legged monster, auntie to amazing little men, realist, lover of travel and addicted to living…my qualities – a passion for my work, a desire to learn, a willingness to try but only those things I want, an eye for design, an honestly that is sometimes brutal and a willingness to lose to maintain my dignity…

if only i wasn’t me…who would I be…I always wonder that…who would I want to be…

if you could live a life that you thought you’d live, would you be happier, smile more, enjoy more, love bigger and survive longer – if only you had the answer…

life is a gift, a gift that keeps on giving…surrounding yourself with those that make you shine is the goal in life…there is no place for longing for what we think we need…I may not have the hard rock ass of my 30year old self but I have the experience of the 44year old self that has come a long way…

in life we’re either hammering the nails to expand our path or we’ve pounding them out to remove the obstacles that present themselves along the way…if only you could learn to accept the path you’ve ventured – happiness would never elude you…

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the week I lost my voice…

the week I lost my voice…

being sick doesn’t come easy to me…I don’t like slowing down and I’m talking about mentally slowing down…physically slowing down is happening quite easily for me – is it age, is it laziness, is it giving up or is it ‘frankly darling I don’t give a damn’…but mentally slowing down, kills me…I know my body, I know it well…I knew I was getting sick because I was overworked, overwhelmed and simply out of time…I don’t give myself a break, I’ve forgotten how to…but my aging body, well it shuts down for me…

this time, it took my voice…

now I got many stares this week and I had many people say ‘jesus, stay off you sound horrible’ to which I replied – in a whisper ‘I feel fine, why would I stay off’…to which they replied ‘you’re crazy’…so I worked…but I worked without a voice and it taught me a valuable lesson…

I learned that I really love my voice and man do I use it…I never shut the fuck up…always poking, always prodding, always reaching for the phone, always asking questions, always answering questions…and I love it…I work for a living and I work damn hard…this week, I sat in my office unable to answer the phone – killed me as I saw phone numbers that were calling me back…killed me to not be able to pick up and ask the hard questions to the people trying to avoid my hard questions…and I’m sure when they got my voicemail, they breathed a sigh of relief and said to themselves ‘thanks be to god, she didn’t answer’…my blood boiled…

I need answers, people depend on these answers…is there funding for his schooling…does she qualify for home supports…why did his employer put quit instead of lay off on that god damn slip…did that lawyer call you back…did you get your money back…when are your exams…did you get your textbook yet…do you have your bus pass to get to work…did you get that interview…did you go to the grocery store…did you get to the food bank…is your resume done…how was your test…is your assignment back…are you still falling out of your bed…did you get your bathtub equipment…

my lovely, lovely voice…

I learned this week that the one thing my father taught me in this world was to speak up and never ever be spoken over…fight, god damn it fight for what you want and fight for what you know is right…fight, god damn it fight…I’ve often been told that I am my father’s daughter, cause man I fight everyday…not in a loud obnoxious way but in a way that is for the betterment of my clients and myself…

I was born to be self-sufficient and I was born to be an advocate…the loss of my voice taught me that this week…

i sat in a meeting this week and attempted to participate…attempted…I was sitting back listening and dying on the inside to interrupt, ask questions, redirect and offer suggestions…I tried a couple of times, a squeaky whisper escaped my lips and those who heard the whisper tilted their heads as if to say ‘what the fuck was that’ and laughed at my attempt and those who didn’t hear, continued to talk over my whispers…my insides turned warm for a bit and then I embraced it as a little exercise…and I thought, Christ imagine in a room trying to speak up, attempting to ask a question or clarify a point and no one hears you…imagine…and then it struck me, this is how my clients feel…descriptions of being laughed at, crippled by fear of the head tilts, nausea of being heard and ignored and thoughts of the unknown in a room of faces…it’s the everyday experience of those who have not yet become self-sufficient, have not yet learned to believe in themselves, who have not yet looked in the mirror and liked what they saw…sometimes the lack of being heard leads to screams and these screams are often viewed as illness, aggression, rudeness or lack of control when simply it could be a plea of ‘please listen to me’…

having a voice is having confidence in oneself to use that voice…it’s a choice of what to do with it and how to use it for the betterment of yourself and society in general…i met with a client this week who put up with my whispers and he looked at me when describing how school has changed him and said ‘I can finally look in the mirror and see my reflection and say you’re doing good kid, you’re doing good’ – I teared up a little and we both laughed as I did a jazz hands symbol with him at the coffee shop…instilling hope in others who haven’t found their voice yet is why I push myself to the brink of losing mine…that one sentence this week, that one smile, that one image made the experiences of this week with no voice matter…I was able to pass on to him the ability to hear his own voice, see his own reflection and finally after 15years admit, ‘I’m okay’…

I could write stories all day about my clients because it is them that gives me the drive to get up everyday and be willing to put myself out on a limb to walk alongside them on their recovery journey…how they get there doesn’t matter, I have all the time in the world…I work in an area where voices take on so many meanings…I work in an area where I challenge myself, my co-workers and my clients to challenge themselves and be open to an out of the box experience…I don’t like ‘cookie cutter’ interventions and I’ve been that person who will attempt a vision board to help a person believe that they are worthy of having a dream…I’ve been that person who will colour alongside a woman who has been called stupid all her life and who thinks she isn’t worthy of having a long term goal…I’ve been that person who will go to a stable in minus 19 degree weather to groom a horse with a person who has never felt wanted, needed and loved…I’ve been and I’ll always be that person who believes everyone has dreams, desires, aspirations and goals no matter what life has dealt them…and I’ll always be that person who will use her voice till there no longer is a voice to advocate for those who haven’t found there’s yet…my voice is worth hearing and I’ll teach you that yours is too…

my lovely, lovely voice, this brief loss of you has taught me a valuable lesson…

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whoever said ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me’ was a fucking liar

passion, meaning and purpose…

if I were to record how often I say these words out loud man the ink would run dry…I’m in a place now in my professional and personal life that I am forging ahead with what I know works…what I know matters…and what I know can make a difference…I’ve felt passion before – even if it were for a moment, even if it were alcohol induced, we’ve all felt passion…but when I sit back and think about meaning and purpose, I draw a blank…

I believe I was put on this earth to matter…but matter to who or whom…

the meaning of life and love changes so frequently… blogging has become a right of passage for me…it’s what I do to keep my mind active, calm and alert and it’s what has given me a new meaning to my life and my ability to love…if you’re following me and reading you’ll know that I’ve been going through some up and down times within my own life and have sought out help to get me through…through the past couple of years, I’ve become a better person…I’ve become a person who can say they had a breakdown but I’m proud to state that I’m that person that had a breakdown and grew from it…I use the words harassment and bullying different now and I approach others with a new view…a view from an experience and not from a book…

life and love…those aren’t the things that got me through my experience…it’d be a nice story if it was…but my family and friends didn’t help me – they didn’t understand and to be honest they didn’t have the information nor the time of day from me to help them understand…what helped me was a couple of co-workers, a psychologist and a dog…that darkness was bloody dark, lonely and haunting…if I had to project being in a situation that I found myself in and if I had to project who would be there for me – I would never have listed those above…I have a strong, supportive family, I have great friends and I have access to great resources…but I didn’t need them, I needed me…

at the end of the day when my head hit the pillow…it was just me…

I believe I was put on this earth to matter…but matter to who or whom…a little voice inside me answers “you, stupid, you”…but the big bad wolf in my head sometimes answers differently…we spend our lives trying to please others, trying to tiptoe around those who are struggling, trying to satisfy every invite, trying to have the house that is pristine in case anyone drops over…well by jesus, no one ever just drops over anymore so i gave up giving two shits a few years ago and man was it liberating…at this point in my life, if I can get up, shower and get the pup to not shit inside, it’s a damn fine day…

passion…god I love passion…

I took some time recently and did something for myself…it was a silly thing, it was a massage…I actually took time out of a day and went for a selfish massage…“why are you here”, she asked me…”I’m a workaholic, diagnosed with chronic stress disorder and I haven’t done anything for myself in a long time”, I answered sarcastically with a wide grin…“okay” was her response…an hour and a bit later, my receipt read “tension and stress” and I walked out with a smile on my face and a second appointment booked…I sat in my car and I had tears coming down my face as I called a friend to tell her my experience…I was rambling, perhaps a tad bit manic and I had tears in my eyes…something happened to me that day…you know what it was, I actually took a breath, a deep breath because I wanted to not because I had to…

for so long my breathing has been shallow and forced…I’ve developed a constant cough…am I sick, nope…I’m literally in such a hurry, always running, always going to the next thing in my schedule…never taking the time to breathe because I want to, that I lose my breath and I cough…that day, well that hour, my selfish hour – I took a deep breath, I held it and I let it out and I swear to god I let out about 44years of pent up feelings and about 2years of nothingness, avoidance and fear…when I was laying there, vulnerable to the environment, a scent of Japanese mint brought me back to my grandfather’s bedroom, a bottle of vick’s vapour rub and he’s gentle voice saying, “child, what are you doing”….my bottom lip quivered and I took a deep breath…and it felt awesome…

I bought that Japanese mint for myself that day and every morning, I crack the top of the bottle, I pour 2drops into my hands, rub them lightly together, cup my hands to my face and I make sure I breathe…that’s how I start my day…simple…my days are still long, my weeks never ending…but I’m breathing…breathing for me…

passion, meaning and purpose…my passion is my life…my meaning is my work…my purpose is my life’s work…that’s why I’m here… at the end of the day when my head hits my pillow…it’s just me…and that’s enough…

I think people get passion, meaning and purpose mixed up sometimes and get stuck in the lust, consequences and single-mindedness of life…I’ve grown so much out of an experience that crushed me…thinking back on my daily struggles, I never thought I would say I’m thankful for the experience now because I’m stronger, more confident and well just better…I still have nightmares, I still experience hypervigilance, followed by increased anxiety and then fatigue, I still get fleeting moments of paranoia and I still have flashback scenarios going around my head…but it doesn’t define me anymore…

since these experiences, I’ve been told “you need to lose weight”, “you need to walk the dog more”, “you need to go back to the gym”, “you need to do less work” – and I could keep going on…people don’t mean these things in a harmful way and I know that and hells yah I should do all of those things…but my life, my say…I’ve learned in practice that you let your client lead you…their goals will often not be what you think they should be doing, but you support them in whatever way you can…I have more supports around me than I know what to do with…but when I lay my head on my pillow, it’s just me…

whoever said ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me’ was a fucking liar…man names do hurt…people are assholes…that’s why ‘just me’ sometimes is enough…and when you’re comfortable with ‘just me’ on the pillow, you’ll know who your supports really are…

passion, meaning and purpose…fight for it…when you win, you’ll find your Japanese mint and you’ll breathe…

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every moment with you…#makingit

we sat in the cabana steering at the pool, the adult pool cause let’s be honest, who sits with kids when you don’t have to…we sat there and my sister giggled and in one sentence she changed my viewpoint that day…”isn’t this a great age”, she said…”I mean to be able to sit back and do this and not to worry about tomorrow, this is making it”…

making it…I’ve been thinking about those words for a few months…reveling in the experiences we had…reveling in the moments we shared and the memories we made…making it…two often unimportant words, until put together in a context and then “making it” describes a significant life experience…

in my 20’s “making it” was living with a guy I adored, dreaming of a house, a ring, a baby, a life…I lost friends, I lost sleep and I lost myself…there must have been a piece of me that told me this wasn’t how “making it” should feel…taking myself directly past go in the game of life and back to university despite being accused of doing so for alternate reasons, I marched on…beaten down verbally and emotionally, I managed to finish – it wasn’t your regular 4yr degree…oh my goodness no…it took me 7yrs to walk across the stage with my undergrad…I worked full time for minimum wage, I went to school doing one course at a time, I managed to study on lunch breaks which were 30minutes, I managed to study late at night as I lay in a bed alone while my dream guy played loud music in another room, I managed to pass – I managed to pass…I got sick in my last semester, ended up with emergency surgery but by god, I passed…I walked across the stage with my stomach packed with gauze to help heal an infection that was nasty and lasted about 2years…yup, I struggled…”making it” – I rethought…

in my 30’s “making it” was leaving home and driving many miles away with my parents in a truck full of stuff for me to settle into a new home, a new province and a new experience…I still can’t believe I did this but gentle god, thankfully I got in the truck that morning…I cried most of the way – yup 30 and crying my heart out about leaving a province I adore, friends I couldn’t live without and a family that had become my security blanket…at 29, I got luggage for Christmas, I giggled and joked “you got me fucking luggage” – oh the things our parents do…a sign – yup, a well played sign…walking into a classroom at 30years old and staring at 47other people from all walks of life – getting in to that school was my “making it”…

I’ve always been passionate about what I love…well hang on now, reading that sentence back doesn’t fit how I once lived my life…I think I’ve blocked out my life from 21 to 29 – it’s like an 8year block that I can’t relive cause FUCK it really, truly sucked…it’s amazing how much you can hate something and not let go…once I hit the road and stood on my own two feet, something happened…I’m not going to lie, that move was hard…the morning my folks drove away, I stared at them from my front window and cried, got myself ready for school and walked into a building full of fresh faces not knowing what the fuck we got ourselves into…it was those 3years that I found my voice, I found my independence and I found my best friends and that was “making it”…

hit mid-30’s and “making it” was making a good pay check, getting an extension on student loans and partying our worries away…it was freedom, a freedom I had never felt before…I had gone from living pay check to pay check, looking to my folks for loans to get us through to a whole pay check that was mine…I remember getting my first one and giggling my ass off…and then we went out and celebrated…and then we went out and celebrated…and then we went out and celebrated…hummmm…we actually didn’t stop…the experiences we lived those first few years were eye opening and we drank the stories and the worries away…my “making it” turning into “fake it till you make it hogan”…

now in my 40’s – “making it” takes on a whole new meaning…I look back at my experiences both good and bad and thank god for them…I’m the person I am today because of all that is my past…the loss of my best friend at an early age, sucky relationships, a return to school – not once but twice, a move away from home, and a sick father – all experiences that as my nephew would say “makes my heart hurt forever”…we are who we are because of where we came from, who we encounter and how we treat others…I got through all that and I was sailing, sailing away, well not literally sailing cause I’d drown but clipping through life without a care in the world…my work was my life, I overworked, overplayed, over enjoyed and overindulged in many a good and a bad way…

“making it”…I read a meme a while ago that alluded to the fact that somedays you sit back and realize that all your friends are getting married, having babies and you’re still in the corner drinking wine…well I nearly died at it and shared it with everyone in my contact list…true story though – there comes a time in life that friends take different paths and we’re so happy for them…but there comes a time in life that you sit back and think, hummmmm wait a god damn minute…where’s my wedding and where’s my baby, oh wait where’s the fucking corkscrew cause baby I chose the wine”…

“making it”…

44…no wedding, no baby…but a couple of corkscrews and passion for life that will out live a lot of the marriages and a passion for life that will grow as I watch my friend’s babies walk for the first time, say their first words, call me auntie, hold out their arms up to get me to pick them up…that’s my “making it”…I was watching tons of videos lately getting prepared for a group and I came across a brilliant woman who has lived a life with a somewhat debilitating mental health diagnosis…a brilliant woman who stated that it came a time in her life that she realized that she doesn’t have to put aside her issues to be “normal” “to make it”…what she needed to do was just be her…find fulfillment, find purpose, find meaning – and once you do that you will experience satisfaction…

I think we yearn for a life that we’re supposed to have…that cognitive response to life…I should…what if…I must…what if…I need to, now…if I don’t, I’ll never have it…that cognitive response leads into a physiological response and you live your days with heart racing, mind chaotic, thoughts muddled and emotions heightened…sometimes we think others have it all…the partner, the white picket fence, the car, the kids, the events, the bond…and it’s their “making it” not mine…

we’ll never live in a state of pure happiness 24/7…if you think you do, you’re kidding yourself or trying to kid others…social media these days has a way of fooling the fools…people tend to think why is everyone else happy – look they’re on vacation…look at the smiles…look at the parties…look at all their friends…look at those comments…ya can’t kid a kidder my peeps…social media has us ruined…

you can’t hide behind a filter – adjusting the angles, adjusting the color, adjusting the lighting…until your expose yourself to yourself, there’ll always be a filter…as my own life plays out, I’m learning that I can’t take a picture of satisfaction…I can’t take a picture of sure bliss…as my life plays out, I’m learning that my filter is not a reflection of who I am but rather a reflection of what I think others want to see…every moment in my life, I’ve been working towards success…but measuring success is hard…is success “making it”…is having the house, the car and the bank account “making it”…every moment I’ve spent thinking about success…every moment I’ve spent yearning for love…every moment I’ve spent thinking I could do more, make more and live better, I’ve missed a moment of opportunity to flourish in my own success, my own “making it”…a missed moment sometimes can be a lifetime of a missed memory…

into my life came a puppy…I went from wishing I had someone to start my morning with a smile and a simple sentence that started with “every moment with you, I feel _________” to a morning of me fighting for a place to lie on my bed, wiping away puppy eye gook and a morning with “every moment with you, has been a happy moment”…animals have an innate sense of reading our emotions, our inner, darkest secrets…animals are a glorious creature that can help us out of our darkest moments….my animal, my puppy, my little monster came into my life at the darkest moment…I didn’t know it at the time, but that was the darkest moments of nanette danielle hogan’s life…it was a cold day when I got him but my heart warmed looking into his eyes…he had me at hello – well he had me….at that moment, and every moment since, when I feel low, when I feel down, when I feel things are a little hopeless – I look into his eyes, or I touch his little body and that warmth comes back…the it’s okay feeling comes back…

that four legged monster is the love of my life right now…my best friend…my savior…being his momma has become my “making it”…coming home to a house with a jumping puppy who won’t leave my side is my “making it”…my house is my sanctuary, my white picket fence is actually pressure treated wood built high enough so a 114lb monster can’t jump it; my bank account dwindles quicker than good ole john wayne can pull his gun out of his holster; my baby was born with 4legs; and my car, well it smells like dog – exposed…

yahhh I’ve “made it”, I’ve made it mine…my life exposed…I still hate sharing but I’m okay with exposure…

keep the filters for your coffee not your life…expose yourself and gain an appreciation for what you’ve accomplished, not what you yearn for…

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