My Story (Taishka the Nomad)

Whether you’ve just found this blog or have been following it out for years, you may wonder how I’m qualified to say the things I say. You may think “Does she even know what adversity is? Who is she to tell me to do x, y and z??” I’ve been tempted to write this in the past but felt it might be taken as a pity party, so I never did.

We’re all different and we all deal with life differently. Since I’m not you I haven’t been through what you’ve been through and I never will. Only YOU experience what you experience, and how. No one can truly compare ‘wounds’ in this fashion.

Here’s part of my story…

My mother was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia when she was about 20. I accidentally came along 7 years later, to a mentally ill mother and an alcoholic father. My sister was born 13 months later. Before I was old enough to remember them, my father took my sister and they both moved to British Columbia, while my mother and I remained in Ontario. I was 6 when my half-brother was born. (I’m going to omit the part of the story where my mother dated a man who likely dated her because she had a daughter.)

My sister and I as toddlers. One of us is hungry ;-)

My sister and I as toddlers. One of us is hungry ;-) (There aren’t many pictures of my youth)

My half-brother Damian

My half-brother Damian

One day when I was 8, while my brother and I were playing on the living room floor, my mother turned to me and said “I can’t do this anymore.” Even though I was only 8 I understood what she meant (I’m not sure how, but I did). As all children do I promised I’d behave better, I tried to talk her out of it. Up to this point I’d spent about half of my life in foster homes. When I was 30 I found out I pronounce my own name wrong. Yes indeed, I’ve lived in many foster homes.

Visiting my mother at a mental institution, with my grandmother. This was taken outside on the institution's grounds.

Visiting my mother at a mental institution, with my grandmother. This was taken outside on the institution’s grounds.

My mother relinquished her parental rights to the Children’s Aid Society and my brother and I went back into foster care as crown wards. A year later I went to live with my maternal grandparents (my father’s family have never been involved in my life) and my brother was adopted by an aunt and uncle, who had 4 children of their own. They decided that he’d fit in better if I treated him like a cousin instead of a brother, and I was instructed to behave accordingly. I tried to talk my aunt out of this but I failed. I was 9. This has irreparably harmed the close bond my brother and I had. Due to the realities of living with a schizophrenic, single mother I had taken on motherly duties (I’m told this, I have no memory) and my brother showed that he saw me as his protector. The adoption took away his mother-figure and protector. When I was 11 I stopped joining my grandparents on visits to see my brother and started letting him go. In my mind I just can’t connect my baby brother with the man he is now. To me they’re 2 different people.

Camping with my grandparents (we'd just returned from Church) when I was 12. My youth was plagued by bad haircuts haha.

Camping with my grandparents  (this was after Church on Sunday) when I was 12. My youth was plagued by bad haircuts haha.

When I graduated from high school at 20 that was my 13th school, at best guess. I “aged out” of the foster care system at 21 – the extension was due to still being in school at 18.

The summer when I was 23 two things happened. The Haldol that my mother had been on for many years had stopped working and she ‘ran away from home’; she had put all of her belongings on the front lawn, left the furniture and just took off. Aside from one letter mailed from Northern Ontario there was no word from her. For the rest of the summer I had no idea if she was dead or alive. I also got pregnant. I’d been with that boyfriend for 3 years at that point but he pushed me to have an abortion using a lie. (I found out, after 6 years together, that he’d started looking for his next girlfriend after our 1st year together. After 8 years together, when he found her, he still didn’t tell me.) He also said that I didn’t have his permission to have his child. I dealt with the abortion alone because he didn’t want to talk about it, as well as the disappearance of my mother.

My mother, grandmother and myself. Taken at Christmas before the 'big escape'.

My mother, grandmother and myself. Taken at Christmas before the ‘big escape’.

My mother did finally return. She was found living behind a dumpster in Scarborough at the end of August but wouldn’t tell anyone her name for 3 weeks. My mother spent the rest of her years living in group homes. A life-long smoker, she developed COPD which led to her death.  Every year I’m usually able to successfully ignore Mother’s Day (except for the reminder from well-meaning friends) but not so on the day of her passing, which she unfortunately shares with Michael Jackson.

I’ll omit the rape and date rape in my past, but I will mention my bad relationships. I now see how I’ve had a hand in every one; I allowed men to mistreat me. I didn’t stand up for myself. The police arrested a landlord of mine and that situation happened because I, again, didn’t stand up for myself. I tolerated bad behaviour, thinking being kind and forgiving (turning the other cheek) would make it stop. Men who are bullies don’t ever stop, won’t ever stop, until you make them. There need to be VERY firm boundaries that men are NOT allowed to cross. Actually women too, not just men. We’re not just victimized or bullied sexually. Boundaries are Very, very important.

The fallout from sexual assault/abuse/rape is that the one thing that we’re supposed to have complete ownership of, our bodies, we don’t. I was shown at age 5 or 6 (I just know my know my brother hadn’t been born yet) that my body was not my own. I couldn’t stop anyone from taking what they wanted (and I’ve been shown this as an adult, from men no bigger than me). Respect and love for self is how we set boundaries, how we demand a certain amount of respect from others. When our bodies have been violated, especially at such a young age, there is no foundation to even build this respect on to begin with. We don’t learn respect for our bodies, we don’t learn respect for ourselves. We become people-pleasers, we put others first. This problem persists into adulthood and we can become life-long victims of people who see this weakness in us and exploit it. I never saw this connection until, in my 20’s, I saw an episode of Oprah where she talked about her own rape and this subsequent fallout for victims. Sex, seen as an intimate, loving act between 2 people, is something that may never be felt by a victim of assault. Sex may always just be sex. Intimacy may have to come from other avenues, like trust, affection, protection. And trust, for many of us, may never come at all. Some women become ‘lesbians’ not because they’re gay but because they’ve been too brutalized by men in their lifetime.

My grandparents were the only ones who never lied to me, betrayed me or hurt me. Most others have seen me as fair game.

Despite what men did to me I didn’t ‘evict’ any of them from my life. I should have but I didn’t. My self-esteem still had a long way to go. (Only in the last few months have I started ‘cleaning house’. Better late than never.)

A few months before my mother passed away I had a son.  The father is someone I knew briefly (who I haven’t been able to find since because he told a lot of lies – something men like to do with me). When my son was 4 months old I decided that the best decision for both of us was to relinquish custody. I was 35 but with no support from family or friends, and with welfare looming in our future, I may as well have been a teenager. Raising a baby completely alone is unbelievably scary and daunting, regardless of age.

My mother passed away right after I’d made the decision to give my son up for adoption. Between these 2 situations I couldn’t handle attending her funeral and because of that decision my mother’s death has never quite been real to me. I just concerned myself with my son’s adoption and put my mother out of my mind. She’d had a hard life and I was just happy that her hardship was finally over. Also our relationship improved, since you can’t be angry with a ghost 😉

My sister almost disowned me when she found out I’d decided to relinquish custody of my son (which was the 2nd time she’d almost done this). She did stop speaking to me nearly 3 years ago, for reasons unknown. (She still resides in B.C., as does my father.)

I found a family for my son, through private adoption, and he was adopted at 5 ½ months old. It’s an open adoption and I see him about once a year on his birthday. He just turned 7.

Everything that’s happened in my life I’ve pretty much dealt with on my own; there hasn’t really been any other option. I lived with my grandparents for 5 years before returning to the foster care system at age 14 (my choice; I won’t get into that). I didn’t appreciate it then but those years greatly shaped who I am today. My grandparents were the only people to ever truly accept me for who I am. My mother and my grandparents were the only ones who ever really loved me and now they’re gone. But are the ones we love really gone? I miss them and would give anything to feel their embrace again but somehow it doesn’t feel like they’re…gone. Something is still here with us. How can we come from nothing and return to nothing if the memory of a deceased loved one can spark such strong feelings in us years, even decades, later? How can we still feel such a strong connection to someone who no longer ‘is’? I’ll never believe in this nothingness theory. It just doesn’t hold up for me.

Shortly before I went to go live with my grandparents.

Shortly before I went to go live with my grandparents.

My life hasn’t been easy, and I think it would be safe to say that No one’s life has been easy. We all have our burdens to bear and we all bear those burdens differently. I’ve been taught to be strong from birth, to learn to rely on no one but myself. The funny thing, that I wasn’t prepared for, is that despite the physical, psychological and sexual abuse I’ve received, despite all the lying and betrayal, it’s the adoption that’s been the hardest to deal with. Nothing in life has been as hard as this has been, these past 6 ½ years. Aside from the first year, my visits with my birth son have just been on his birthday and usually only for the length of the party. A brief visit yet I still found that I needed to lessen the pain by paying as much attention to the other children as to my birth son. The love you feel for your child, no matter how infrequently you see them, is staggering. I was never prepared for the experience of this love gushing through my entire body like a brush fire. It’s almost painful. That has surprised me every time. (For his past 3 birthdays I’ve only seen him once; for ½ hour when he turned 5 because I missed his party trying to get there. I won’t go into this further.)

I’d have to say the hardest part of my life was the 3 weeks after signing the adoption papers. In Ontario you have 3 weeks to rescind the adoption. Those were the longest, most excruciating 3 weeks of my life. I Desperately wanted to take my son back but I knew that I couldn’t do that to that family. They’d already fallen in love with him and they were offering him such a good life. And at that point I already cared about them too, and would never want to hurt them that way. I don’t think those feelings have ever been reciprocated but such is life. We need only concern ourselves with our own conduct, not worry about the conduct of others.

As time passes the easiest way to deal with this situation is to put it entirely out of my mind. For chunks of time I try to make myself, to let myself, forget that I had a child (a coping mechanism many birth mothers use). But every single day my stomach says otherwise. I’ll always have this visual reminder. I would dearly love to be a mother again but at 42 I don’t see that happening. Foster mother perhaps?

3 days before my son went to live with his new family.

3 days before my son went to live with his new family. His short-lived ‘puff fish’ phase. I only bought a digital camera 1 week before he left so decent pictures are only from that time frame.

My birth son has fit right in with his adoptive family since day one. He immediately bonded with their other adopted son, his big brother.  The adoptive relationship hasn’t been a smooth one these past 6 ½ years, far from it, but the point wasn’t to pick a family that was a good fit for Me but to pick a family that was a good fit for my Son. And I did just that. My birth son lives a life I could only dream of and that is what I wanted for him.

The things that have made me so strong I wouldn’t wish on anyone. My birth son doesn’t have to be strong like I’ve had to be and that’s the life I want for him.

This movie, Mother and Child, showcases what it’s like for the birth mother and the adopted child, and what hardships both face in a closed adoption. I resonate strongly with this movie. There are 8 parts.

I lived in a shelter for a year and I’ve been out for a year. That was the 4th time I’ve had to give up nearly everything I own (damn expensive lifestyle!!). I’ve also slept on couches at various times in the past few years. School is expensive in more ways than one. I’ve graduated from both college And the school of hard knocks 😛!

Even the strongest of us can still find life hard.  Don’t beat yourself up for feeling despair, we all do at various times. But we always find our way back and you will too. Humans have this unbelievable drive to persevere. You’re not aware of it until you need it, then there it is. (Whoop, there it is! Haha)

As a teenager I was hospitalized 3 times for attempted suicide. As far as I was concerned the last time I was committing suicide, not attempting. I’d heard that 20 sleeping pills would kill you so I took 100. Over the years I’ve begged God to take me many times, but apparently God is more stubborn than I am. I guess I’m here so stay. The one thing we don’t realize is how strong each successive hurdle makes us. We honestly don’t realize how strong we are, we doubt our capacity to deal, to handle. As a baby my mother’s medication was so strong that she’d sleep through my crying so I cried myself to sleep all the time. For food she used to put a box of cookies on a chair; if she slept through my being hungry I could crawl over to the chair, pull myself up and get my own food. This has been a blessing and a curse. I am very strong and very independent, too much so if you ask many people.

I’ve also moved a lot in my life (a few times using only public transit, all by myself). Due to the frequent moves in my youth I don’t feel comfortable staying in one place for long. The required 5-year address list for the Navy Reserves (I didn’t join) was 2 pages long. Someone once told me they knew how it felt to move often….they’d moved 4 times in their life 😒 People see things from where they are, not from where you are. True empathy is rare.

My biological family is big; 3 aunts, 3 uncles and 28 cousins. Due to my mother’s paranoia we didn’t interact with family members much and aside from the years living with my grandparents the rest of my life has been spent estranged from them. I don’t think about it much, that’s just the way it is. I’ve lived most of my life without them. At age 30 I not only found out I pronounce my own name wrong but also why my father’s family had never been part of my life. They’d disowned me when I was 9, when my father tried to get custody of me. When he lost they washed their hands of me…even though they had never been involved in my life to begin with. They’ve only been involved in my sister’s life.

I’d say what’s gotten me through all these years is reading, spending time by myself (truly liking who I am and enjoying my own company) – to center, balance and get away from all the crap – and humour. (In this tweet if you don’t see a disco dancer then think John Travolta. That’s what I see.) Having a dark sense of humour is greatly beneficial. Life is funny in some pretty inappropriate ways. If I could still laugh, sitting in a homeless shelter surrounded by mentally ill people talking to themselves, then I guarantee you can find things to laugh about. Life isn’t that serious, laugh it off 😅

I don’t usually tweet about bird poop, I tweet motivation and wisdom. Check my account out 😊

 

 

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Inspiration, Motivation and Laughter

Because I love you guys here’s a 2nd post for today. These 2 videos I found very inspiring; talks given by 2 very well-known men. Please share the links with anyone you know who could benefit from hearing these words.

No matter who we are we all have tough times and find ourselves in need of encouragement from time to time. We all just want to be loved.

 

I’m back 😊

Wow, I haven’t posted in a very long time! I’ve been giving a lot of love to Twitter @TaishkaLefler and Instagram: taishka_lefler lately, you can check those out for regular doses of happy. Here are some ‘posts’ I wrote for Twitter; my solution to the 140 character limit :p (See? There’s a solution to every problem.)

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Stop

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There are things we do to ourselves every single day. Even every single hour. They are self-defeating. They are self-sabotaging. They are also by choice.

If we chose to stop doing these things, in all or in part, we would see Drastic changes in our lives. Drastic.

Here is your list of actions to live a better, happier life.

STOP…

1) Worrying and being fearful

2) Judging yourself and comparing yourself to others

3) Being embarrassed

4) Explaining or justifying yourself

5) Assuming or jumping to conclusions

6) Doubting your abilities or yourself

7) Rehashing things

8) Putting yourself down

9) Complaining

10) Taking things personally

11) Letting yourself off the hook

In the last hour, the past 60 minutes, how many of these did you do? And how often? Those 11 things are very powerful, and very harmful, behaviours. When you’re happy you don’t do a single one of those. Ok, maybe the last one ;)

Those first 10 behaviours are not motivated by happiness and do not have happy outcomes.

Here’s what you should do instead:

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START…

1) Accept the things that have happened. Deal with situations the best you can, as they arise. Know that most of the things you fear or worry about will NOT happen. Ever.

2) Try to be better today than you were yesterday. You are your only competition, your only comparison. No one is like you and you aren’t like anyone else. Embrace this.

3) You are human and will err. A lot. Accept this and get on with your life :) There’s nothing you could do or that will happen to you that hasn’t already happened to most of the human race (sometimes animals too).

4) It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. You know why you do what you do and think what you think. If any explanation is needed keep it to a minimum. Don’t let someone derail you or try to put holes in your logic, this will demotivate you. Stay on your path. The average way of thinking and logic will not be your way of thinking and logic.

5) You see, hear and think based on biases you’ve accumulated all through your life. Whether you agree or not, listen to what others have to say. Also realize that you don’t know everything, none of us do. You won’t know every facet of every situation. Acknowledge this.

6) You trust and believe in yourself more when there’s no outside influence. So Ignore negative external influences. Don’t compare your abilities. You know what you’re good at and you’ll continue to get even better over time. Stay true to that knowledge. KNOW it! You are DAMN GOOD…at whatever :)

7) Do the best you can and do what you can. That’s all we can ever do. When you’ve wronged someone then right it the next time you see them. If there’s a lesson to be learned from something then learn it. And be done with it. Move forwards not backwards, in thoughts AND actions.

People who succeed in life are rarely reflective. Their gaze is always on the future, that’s why they    succeed. – Unknown

8) No one does you quite like you. They never will. If you know you can work on and improve things then fine, make small steps in the direction of improvement. But ALWAYS commend yourself on the good things about yourself. Do this many times a day, every day. Be grateful for things in your life but also be grateful for yourself. You are….a good friend/listener/caring/thoughtful/hard working/intelligent/resourceful/funny/kind/creative/put others at ease/life of the party/compassionate/ethical/honest/empathic/sympathetic/loving/reliable/lover of animals and small children/chauffeur for friends/help people move/friendly/brighten up people’s day/make people laugh and forget their troubles/volunteer/patient/etc…. (Oh boy, the world needs Many more patient people – I’m not one of them, sorry)

You affect people in ways you will NEVER know. Your actions touch people you’ll never meet.

9) If you can change something (where you live, your job, etc) then do it. If you can’t make any changes then accept the situation and make peace with it so that you can have peace.

10) Nothing anyone does is because of you. Nothing. Not their good mood and certainly not their bad. Not their actions. Not their thoughts. We tend to vent to the first person we see or have contact with, or who lets us. Keep this in mind when someone is giving you a hard time. Always stay calm and don’t reflect back their bad energy, let it dissipate.

If you’re taking offense to something that’s because deep down you agree with what’s being implied. That’s the psychology behind our being defensive about something. When you’re being defensive take note and acknowledge that you have something to work on. And work on it.

11) Make yourself accountable for every goal, every action you want to take. Tell people who will follow up with you, people who will demand accountability from you. Set up rewards for your progress.
Everything you do either makes you money or costs you money. Make a ‘Must Do’ list of 3-6 things every night before bed. Those are your priorities for the following day. At the end of each day take stock of whether you ‘made’ or ‘spent’ money that day, with your daily activities.

 

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You are the CEO of You, Inc. Chief Everything Officer. You are completely in charge, no one else. Every decision you make matters. Your company will either prosper, stagnate, or go bankrupt. It’s up to you.

 

Your Level of Vibration (“My level of what?”)

If you’ve read any spiritual books or articles you’ve likely come across this term.

We all vibrate at different levels, levels that change as our mood changes. Now you may have no idea what that means. Let me explain, as I understand it.

When you’re happy you’re like a spinning top.

When you’re less than happy it’s like when the top spins more slowly, still upright but wobbly. Your ‘vibration’ (or spin) is at a lower level. When you’re angry, negative, or really sad your vibration is at its lowest level, the top is about to fall over from lack of spin.

‘In vibrational alignment’ is another term. When someone is Very happy, uber cheerful, does that sometimes get to you? Too chipper for you? That’s because you’re not in vibrational alignment with that person. You’re both like this:

vibration

When we don’t really believe, deep down, that we deserve something then we are not in vibrational alignment with that thing, like pieces of a puzzle that don’t fit together. This can result in a relationship not working out, someone not calling you back after a first date, or not getting a job. We can actually push things away by trying too hard or coming across as desperate. Money? If somewhere in your mind you don’t feel completely comfortable, completely at ease, with the idea of having a decent amount of money…. then you won’t. These are called self-limiting beliefs.

If there are any mental barriers to something you want, then you won’t get it. Want a relationship, but believe in negative stereotypes because you’ve been hurt? Then you will repel all the good candidates. The match won’t work, can’t work; you’re vibrating at a lower level than the person you want. In this state there’s no point in The Universe matching you two up because you’ll just sabotage it anyway.

puzzle_istockBeing single is the time to work on yourself, to learn to Love yourself, to be Happy with yourself. This will raise your vibration (increase your rate of spin, so to speak) and allow you to be a match to the puzzle pieces that represent all the things that you want in your life. Or being unemployed. This is the time to figure out what you Really want to do with your life. What job, what career, would make you happy and not just pay the bills? Bills will never go away, why give up your joy for them? Working at a job that makes you happy, or working for yourself if that’s what you want, will raise your vibration. It will help you to be a better match to all the great things you want in your life.

Happy people attract certain people, things and events into their lives because they’re a Match to those certain people, things and events. When someone is in a foul mood you don’t want to be anywhere near them, right? Their low level of vibration is much lower than yours and this repels you, physically bothers you. So you look for more pleasant people to be around (people with higher levels of vibration), who make you feel good to be in their presence.

You want your current vibration of needs and wants  vibration-string-6228

to streamline more like this  vibration-string-6259.

As I mentioned in the beginning of this post our levels of vibration are constantly changing. Don’t worry too much about the swing between high and low, that’s just life. But try to vibrate at a higher level (being happier) more often than you vibrate at a lower level (sad, cranky, angry).

And watch the change this brings to your life!

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Connections

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I’ve noticed people feel a connection to the people they’re related to, yet they don’t seem to feel the same way towards all the other people around them.  And if you live in a city you’re always surrounded by people you’re not related to, people who you feel no connection to.

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Back far enough in time we all shared the same DNA but we have this ‘that was then, this is now’ attitude about it.
My uncle, while questing out the Lefler family tree, found a connection to Charles Lindbergh. I find that very cool; aerospace and space exploration are my biggest passions (why I took mechanical engineering and I’m definitely game for the one-way trip to Mars). But being a spiritual person I believe we are souls in bodies, and are connected to absolutely everything in existence.

We sit on public transit, wedged in with many other people, but don’t say a peep to anyone. Why? Because they’re ‘strangers’.
A stranger is a friend you haven’t made yet. We share So Much in common with these so-called strangers. We all want to be happy, strive to improve our lives, have worries, fears, laugh, cry, love and suffer loss.

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So back to this perceived separateness. Get your hands on the documentary ‘I AM’ and about halfway through there’s this fascinating scene with HeartMath and yogurt. I swear to God, yogurt. You will be blown away.

We Are Not Separate. That is an illusion.

Now for some more hidden connectedness. Ever had Reiki?

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What about when you can feel when someone is looking at you? (I actually don’t experience this but I have been caught by others) Or you can just tell when someone is in a good or bad mood? When just being around a certain person always makes you feel comfortable, or uncomfortable? When you think of someone and they then reach out to you, or vice versa?

These are examples of the ‘us’ that is more than just flesh and blood. We are able to detect so much more than what we can hear and see (as those senses are pretty limited).
I think most, if not all of us, have experienced something “paranormal”. Yet we are afraid to say anything, to admit to it, because it’s taboo. Just how ridiculous is that?? We all have this ‘secret’, yet most of us are afraid of what someone else will say or think if we talk about it. Yet they themselves likely would have also experienced something, at some point.

This dirty word “paranormal” is really just our ability to tap into things we’re already connected to, whether in our own world/plane/dimension or another.

You have no connection to the people around you? Oh, you have connection to So Much More than just the 8 billion people who live in this world with you. So Much More…

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