The Unprecedented Life: Dissecting the Meaning of Comfort and Boredom

Unprecedented-Life-Dissecting-Boredom-Comfort

Do you ever find yourself in the midst of excitement, inspiration, or just pure happiness and all of a sudden, not know what to do with yourself? Like suddenly you are ready to fly off the roof, dance around your apartment, sing in your shower, write that chapter, make that craft, or do that thing you were wanting to do for so long, but you just don’t know where to begin? You get so caught up in the emotion of it all that you reach a place of odds within yourself and start to wonder, ‘what now?’

I find the “what nows” to be the most problematic questions of them all. It begins the ever-looping game of self-destruction: a game that simply cannot be won. And most often, when you find yourself there, it becomes another tactic of foreboding joy. Fear is sneaky that way. It takes on many masks. It encloses you into a world of stagnancy and the possibility of a life outside of the one you are living becomes more and more distant. The funny thing is, in conversation, we have shaped this notion into something else entirely, only so we are able to justify why we are living in such a way. Suddenly boredom has become comfort.

So let’s talk about it. What exactly is comfort? Well, it’s defined as a state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint.

Boredom, on the other hand, is defined as to tire or make weary by being dull, repetitious, or uninteresting.

The first point I’d like to make is that I have absolutely no idea how these two words began to encompass the same state of being. And second, I would argue that neither of these are bad places to be. Before you think I’m a lunatic, just hear me out for a minute!

I think boredom has a purpose, but not the one we’re conventionally used to understanding. Rob Bell says it perfectly in his podcast, where he explains that we used to have small gaps in our lives. Maybe the moments we were waiting in the doctor’s office for our checkup or waiting for your food to arrive at a restaurant, walking to work, etc. It’s in these moments where we have some free time to actually reflect and process what is going on with us. And within those moments of boredom, creativity is often born. Nowadays, however, we find ourselves filling those gaps with checking our phones, our email, texting, scrolling. We don’t have that same time to process, reflect, and digest our days. It’s such an insightful podcast and I’d definitely recommend giving it a listen!

 

When we talk about comfort, what I understand of it is that we are talking about an acceptance and a sense of knowing. Comfort does not always have to mean a sense of familiarity, though it can. But it can also mean knowing yourself completely and therefore, knowing what and who you need to surround yourself with, what you need at any given moment, and how to be still with yourself. Comfort means accepting where you are right now and encompassing this state of relaxation with your present self and this present moment.

When we dissect both of these words, we can understand that neither of them have the intention to create mundane lives for us. Neither of them are a war for us to battle. Both, however, do facilitate growth in some way, shape, or form.

When we ask the question of “what now?”, we’re talking in a place of dissatisfaction with our present state. We’re talking from a place where we haven’t gotten the chance to fully reflect on our days and ourselves. And we haven’t given our lives a chance to prove what the purpose of these moments are. Because if we were all to look back, there is a very distinct and subtle way in which the trajectory of our lives led us to who we were meant to become.

And something I continuously remind myself in moments where I step out of this comfort is a word by Hagrid, who once said, “What’s coming will come, and we will meet it when it does.”

Courtesy and Misconduct: When to Hold on to Relationships

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I get blinded very easily. Not to say that I trust easily, but when I do, everything turns cloudy. My black and white vision suddenly becomes grey and all I can see is their rightness, even if that means that I’m in the wrong.  I don’t have a lot of pride when it comes to the people in my life that I love. Everything that comes with social conduct falls away and all I want to do is protect them from anything and everything. Sometimes that meant holding their pain for them. Other times it meant standing up for them. And then, in those odd cases, it meant leaving them behind to protect them from me.

I’ve talked about how that’s often led me to stop their growth, but what I haven’t discussed much is my own aloofness. How all of this didn’t just harm the people I love, but it also hurt me. Distractions are funny that way. Some people wander over to binge watch tv shows, others scroll up and down their phones for hours; but for me, I focus on everyone else’s problems.

I’ve been thinking about being courteous lately. Dating someone new means that they don’t always fall in line with what you’ve been used to in the past. I’m not going to lie, it did bother me. When you’ve been with people who fall under the same line, it’s a strange thing to experience something new. New behaviour, new voices, new laughter, new ways of expression. It’s a funny thing to learn about another human, to get close to another human, and then on top of that, it’s even stranger when that human doesn’t match what you are used to.

So back to courtesy. I’ve been making attempts to dissect it and what it actually means, and what I’ve realized is that it is just following societal expectations. It might just mean looking for social cues to accommodate yourself to. There are rules to dating, unwritten ones and written ones that we tend to follow intentionally. But what happens when someone doesn’t? Would you rather them play the role of being courteous, or would you rather them be authentic?

What I’m trying to get at is that I think our expectations for people tend to hold us back from new experiences. I know that mine have and I know that sometimes they still do. I also know that we’ve skewed away from the meaning of some words like courtesy for example. Something that was intended to mean politeness towards others later became mangled with the notion of chivalry.

I’ve been working on setting my priorities straight, creating a mental and physical note on what is actually important to me in any relationship whether it be a friendship, a partner, a family member, etc. What are my non-negotiables and what am I able to withstand? What do I want versus what I actually need?

In making the effort of becoming more intentional with everything that I do, I also want to apply that towards who I surround myself with. Our people have a lot to do with how we feel, what we expect, and how we communicate and think for ourselves. As social beings, there’s no way to avoid the mixing of your energies – that is unless you decide to completely isolate yourself from all of humanity for the remainder of your life. Either way, if you plan on holding on to relationships, remember that who you let into your life is a choice and you can say no (which was a hard lesson for me to get a grip on).

When you learn to accept instead of expect, there are fewer disappointments. But when it comes to other human beings, I think we have to really become clear on ourselves first. I remember going through a time of transformation when it felt like everything in my life was being ripped away from me. But looking back, I see it now for what it was: a decluttering. Sometimes we need that, too. But I think that before that, we have to know what we need and before we know what we need, we have to know who we are. Because we are always becoming, there’s always going to be the ups and downs, changing and restructuring. That’s the hard part (and the interesting part).

I think to avoid all of that gunk, we choose to stick to the standard rules of expectations that were given to us. But easier doesn’t always mean better. And I would argue that it’s actually more painful to live that way. To shut everyone else out. To hold on to belief systems you never bothered to look in to.

As Ziad Abdelnour once said, time decides who you meet in your life, your heart decides who you want in your life, and your behaviour decides who stays in your life.

something to look forward to

something-to-look-forward-to

I don’t pay attention to the
world ending.
it has ended for me
many times
and began again in the morning.

– Nayyirah Waheed

It would be easy for me to say that things are going well, but I think it’s more truthful to say that I worked towards making them better. These past couple of months felt like they were testing me. Each day, a new battle for me to learn how to conquer. Everything felt like a challenge. Everything felt uneasy, breakable, and anything I felt I had, disposable. It was only until I took a trip back home a few weeks ago that I came back to my sense of gratitude. I guess literally looking at the life you left behind can do that for you sometimes.

We forget, a lot of times, our progress because it tends gets diminished by our day to day routines, just like we can’t notice the changes in our physical appearance until we look back at photos of what we used to look like. In that same sense, we can forget our spiritual, emotional, and intellectual progress. The changes are so slight each day that it’s only when we take a trip down memory lane that we realize we wouldn’t make the same decisions if we went back. That our mindset, our perspective, our outlook is just different. That we, as a whole, are new.

A friend told me something in passing and I don’t think her intention was to completely change the way that I think, because it never really is. But that’s exactly what it did. When telling her about my trip back to Toronto when I had initially booked it in spontaneous fashion, her response was, “That’s really good! It’s always nice to have something to look forward to.” Something about that struck a chord with me. It was like knowing something all along but finally clueing into what it actually means.

It’s always nice to have something to look forward to.

That was it. That was the answer I was looking for without even realizing the question that was hidden in my subconscious the whole time. The times in my life when I was happiest was when I had something to look forward to. And it didn’t always have to be big. It could be looking forward to going home and taking a nice, long bubble bath and reading. It could be writing. It could be trying out a new class which I’ve been doing a lot lately. It could be spending one-on-one time with a friend. It could be booking a trip or taking a long walk in the snowfall. But it’s always nice to have something to look forward to. More than that, it gives you a boost of energy, excitement, and enthusiasm when you have something to look forward to. It puts a beat to your step. It makes you dance awkwardly alone in your bedroom in the morning. It gives you hope. It gives you meaning and purpose.

I think a lot of times, at least speaking for myself, I tried (and still sometimes find myself trying) to create purpose and meaning in my life through accomplishments that are viewed as societally successful. But the truth is, the meaning of it all is to remember that all of this could be taken away from you at any moment. The meaning is that you get to make this time whatever you want it to be. The meaning is happiness and joy. To find it within yourself and then spread it like wildfire.

I’ve been really intentional about making it a point to have something to look forward to each week. I booked a trip to Hong Kong and then Thailand. I’m spending more time with friends that I have a strong meaningful connection with. I’m actively putting myself out there, taking dance classes, going to kickboxing, trying out different yoga studios and barre classes. I’m walking around in the snow I feel followed me here to Vancouver. I’m reading new books that are giving me life. I purposefully move myself to the other side of the street so that the sun can touch my face and I can rest in its warmth. I’m writing on this blog again. All of which are things I get to look forward to, each week and each day.

So you can say that things are going well, but the truth is, I am actively working on making them better. And it all starts with having something to look forward to.

An Illustrated Mind: The Reality of Time and Perception

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Time isn’t real, but emotions are. When we equate time to value, meaning and worth, we lose touch with what is actually true, which is how we feel. Time is a social construct, it’s man-made – but emotions aren’t. So when we invest more in time, meaning how long something lasts, how old we are, how short-lived an experience is, and try to force our emotions to be consistent with that, we are not investing in reality. We are investing in constructs. When we invest more in time, we invest less in our emotions and, therefore, we are investing less in our own truth.

I’ve had the flu for the past 2 weeks which is awful for any one of us to go through, but I would argue, even more awful for someone who likes to keep herself busy at all times. This period in the span of my life is actually fairly short, but whenever we are going through anything painful or draining, whether it be an experience, a sickness, or a mood, it seems to stretch time. We feel it’s longer even though the hours of the day remain the same.

After working on my health for so long and seeing so much progress for the past two years, I felt like a failure getting the flu. That is until I changed my mindset into looking at it as a challenge. This was a calling for me. A moment given to me so that I would be forced into paying more attention to my body instead of my ever-wandering mind. When this clicked, I realized I needed to stop everything. I did continue going to work but as soon as I came home, I would fill up on fluids: tea and lots of water. I would drink soup and up my vitamin C intake (a.k.a: more oranges for me!). I would sleep so early it didn’t make sense. Sometimes 5:30 or 6:00pm. I took a hot bubble bath each night and wouldn’t put any strain on myself. I wouldn’t stay near the screen for too long, I wouldn’t even read because it gave me a migraine. When I say I did everything I possibly could to take care of my body, I’m not kidding.

I’m not going to lie, it was a rough time for my mind. It wanted so badly to take back control so many times. It wanted me to get back into research. It wanted to read all the books. It wanted to write. It wanted to go to kickboxing. It wanted to go see my friends and go to social events that were happening in my area. It wanted so much but my body just needed rest and a whole lot of it!

What this period gave me was forced attention that was due for quite some time. It gave me time to reflect, to journal, to meditate, to sit with myself, and to process all the motions of last month that I haven’t given myself the time or space to do. So as awful as this period was and as horrible as I felt, is it strange to say that at the same time, it was the best thing for me? That I might even be grateful for getting sick?

Coming into yesterday and even today, I felt this surge. Like I’ve been struck by a lightning bolt of joy that I thought had forgotten about me. It’s been months since I’ve felt like this, but maybe I needed this time to get here.

Perception is a funny thing that way. How we perceive becomes how we understand our reality. It was only when I shifted from a negative thought pattern about getting sick to viewing it as an opportunity that everything seemed to come together. I’m starting to become more and more intentional about everything that I do and everything I put out. At the same time, I want to keep myself aware of everything that is given to me, whether it’s something not ideal like the flu, or something great. The thing is, nothing is objectively good or bad. It’s us that make that decision, and often instinctively.

Gratitude shouldn’t just be a reaction to getting what you want, but it’s more about noticing the little things and stubbornly look for the good, even in unpleasant situations. The flu isn’t pleasant, but it’s not the most unpleasant situation I could have been facing. It’s just some rubble on the road.

I guess with this post I wanted to place importance on paying attention to yourself. We get caught up in all the doing of things that we tend to forget that everything has its own lesson, it’s own message. The universe, God, life, or whatever you choose to call it, is always responding to you just like how you are always in conversation with it.

And, eventually everything connects.

Belief Systems and Hypnosis: When Wounds Make Us Victims

Belief-Systems-And-Hypnosis

There is no avoidance of despair. There is only really an acceptance needed for it. It catches us at odd times of our lives, but these moments, this tribute it pays into our being is always beneficial.

There are sacred places we all travel to, but often times, they don’t feel so sacred. They feel rather brutal instead. They challenge our every thought, every belief system we had in place for ourselves. They leave us isolated, fending for someone, something, anything really. They give us space we wish didn’t have to feel so empty in. And they are slow moving. Time seems to take a sudden hit and becomes silly putty, stretching to no end. We panic. We try to escape. But there is no exit. There is only us.

I’ve tried to escape myself so many times it feels habitual. Over the years, I’ve molded myself differently, created boundaries where they were needed, and held myself accountable for my own lack of judgments. What I once thought to be true was that there were some wounds that just needed more time. I’d been doing the work but maybe it just wasn’t the right moment for healing.

But what I’ve come to understand is that looking at our memories, our past pains and our stories as ‘wounds’ doesn’t create much resolution for them. It just lets us remain the victim. And as long as we’re the victim, we are also hopeless.

Instead, I’m beginning to really dig deeper into the belief systems I have in place from these wounds. Ones that have shaped not only how I’ve lived my life, but also how I continue to look at life in the present moment. They shape how we look at ourselves, how we react to conversations or behaviours from others.

A couple of months ago, I went to go see a hypnotherapist. My discovery of Groupon had me trying all of the things and this one caught my eye right off the bat. I’m not going to lie, I was skeptical, but I was also challenged by a lot of high recommendations. When I went, Adrian (my hypnotherapist) explained the process. That he believed in rewiring our brains to positive thinking which is supposed to be our natural state of being. Hypnotherapy was just his method of helping people get there. Basically, by engaging our subconscious mind and bringing it into our awareness, clinical hypnotherapy reinforces positive thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. And when he explained the process, I realized as humans, we can fall into a trance pretty easily, and we do it fairly often.

For example in movie theaters when we become absorbed into the setting and the characters, whenever you become lost in thought, etc. And it’s in these trances that are uncontrolled that we become highly suggestible – meaning that we are sensitive to anything that gets thrown our way or pops up in our mind and forms some sort of belief system within us about ourselves.

It’s easy to fall into negative thinking traps in our present, so imagine just how easy it was to create negative beliefs and assumptions in our childhood, while our brains were merely developing. Any of these negative beliefs or assumptions we accepted about ourselves during trance in our childhood can follow us into adulthood. For instance: “I’m not good enough,” “I’m not lovable,” “I am incapable,” “I’m unwanted” just to name a few. But these lists, these beliefs that we have ingrained in ourselves have been wiring our outlook on life.

If we choose to break it down and look at the core, we might just find that the root of all our pain was always a belief system we formed in place for ourselves. And when we find that, and when we repeat the positive version aloud to ourselves (convinced of it to be true or not) each day, we can mindfully change our lives for the better.

As Saji Ijiyemi once said, “Whatever you believe is true is true even if it is not true.”

dictators and puppet shows: what we decide and what is decided for us

dictators-and-puppet-shows

There’s this echo I’ve been hearing that’s urging me to move on, but when I ask in what direction, it goes silent. A strange thing it is to feel a completion when you’re in the midst of something. It’s like feeling closure while you’re still in the relationship. You don’t know what the end brings, but you just know it’s time to find out what else needs to begin in its place.

That’s what I’ve been going through lately. The feeling of an end smack dab in the middle of everything I’m around. It’s something that doesn’t make much sense to a rational mind, but it makes even less sense to remain stagnant to your soul. It’s this in-between influx sensation that asks us to be patient. Mostly because it is these moments when there is the greatest risk of impulsive behaviour.

This intrinsic knowledge that we get is what leads us to change. If we don’t listen to it, we risk this sort of dissonance within ourselves. This dissonance between how we feel and what we’re doing. Sure, we can trick our minds out of it for a little while. We can convince ourselves that what we feel isn’t real, but what we’re doing is. But for how long?

There are some of us who are keen on change, some who are impulsive with it, and some who need to be dragged into it. What we tend to forget is that we’re the deciding factor. We get to choose how we go about this. Whether we listen to this quiet indication that’s pointing us to the correct path, or whether we ignore it and suffer the internal consequences until we inevitably end up where we were always meant to be.

I do believe in fate, but I also believe in free will. Both make sense because we choose how we get to the paths that were drawn out for us. We choose how to react, we choose how to speak, and we choose how to behave. What is meant for us makes space for us, but who we choose to be as we get there and who we choose to become once we have arrived is up to you and me.

We’re not merely puppets in a show, but we’re also not the dictators either. There’s an in-between to everything and if we find out where that is and what that means for us, we might just find what we were looking for all along: this sense of inner peace and joy. The kind that doesn’t fade and reappear, the one that isn’t dependant on a situation. It’s the kind that sticks. It’s the kind that brings you satisfaction in the right here and now.

big changes, guilty feelings

big-changes-guilty-feelings

The rain here is different – warmer, kinder. Difficult to explain. I guess like most things, you’d have to feel it to understand.

I bought some candles today to warm up my space and make it feel cozier; more like home, I suppose. It’s working.

It’s officially been a little over three weeks since I’ve been in Vancouver and it feels like it has been months. People keep telling me that that’s a good thing and I think I believe them. I feel a sense of belonging here that I’ve never felt before. And everything that is new still has this sense of familiarity to it that I can’t really explain.

It feels like everyone’s been injected with some calmness drug and I’m the odd one who doesn’t know how to relax. Maybe it’ll rub off on me eventually. Here’s hoping!

One of my best and oldest friends and I have been sending letters to one another. Handwritten letters that we post at the post office. Very old school and very heart felt. I like that I have someone I can do this with. Someone who I can write to about anything and everything, kind of like what I do over here. But I always get a response back with updates and stories. Letter-writing is so personal that way. There’s this connection you get out of putting pen to paper that just isn’t the same thing as a phone call or text message. You feel more open speaking about your truth.

What I’ve been realizing more and more is that when you make a big change in your life, there’s this very high expectation that you have and also get from others, that you will be happy all the time. That you will be excited all the time. It’s true that I’ve moved into a completely new place that I am really excited for. It’s breathtaking. It’s soothing. It’s both familiar and new. It’s the kind of place I’ve always wanted to be in because some part of me must have known that this is where I’d feel home. And I do.

That being said, it doesn’t mean that you won’t experience any other emotion. That it will only be excitement and giddiness. I’m so beyond grateful for being here, but I am still the same person within this new environment, which means that I still have mental health struggles, anxiety, depression that comes and goes in waves now. It means I’ll still feel nostalgic. I’ll still feel sad and angry and lonely. But I’ll feel happy, too. Just because you’re experiencing something great, doesn’t mean that you have to feel great all the time.

I realized that when talking to friends or family, I thought I had to pretend. Even though I was excited, I was going through such a wide range of emotions all at once and it felt pretty overwhelming. But I felt like I couldn’t share that with anyone because how ungrateful would I seem? I should feel happy, I kept telling myself. Why am I crying? Why am I nostalgic? Why am I feeling anything else?

And I felt guilty for it all. For the moments I felt overwhelmed. For the times I cried. For the times I chose to stay in and read instead of going and exploring.

Thanks to the great practice of meditation and reflecting a lot, I realized that right now, my job is to feel at home here. I’ve only been here a short time but since it felt like longer, I thought I should have done more by now. So I had to hit the pause button a little, take a step back and evaluate what would make me feel sane right now. And I knew (because we always know deep down what it is that we need). And it was that I needed to really feel at home.

So I went out and bought a cozy cushion and throw blanket for my couch so I can make it a comfortable little reading nook for myself. I bought candles that smell like baked goods (because those are my favorite) and placed them around my apartment. I set a bubble bath for myself and lit a candle so that I could read for a little while. And that is exactly what I needed.

If you follow me on twitter, you know that I am an avid hiker. I love to explore more than anything, but right now, what I need is to have some days where I stay in and read, take a bubble bath, do some yoga, and write. I need to feel at home and ever since I listened to that voice of knowing, I’ve been feeling calm and good instead of frantic and anxious.

When it’s time to explore more, I’ll do that, too. But there is no rush. I’m here for a while and I needed to give myself some room to feel that.

Sometimes, we just need to listen to the voice that tells us what we already know, but rarely act on. It knows a lot more than the loud voice, I promise.

 

diluted air: great things happen more than once

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There’s this sea of calm in the air everywhere I go and I have to admit that every change comes with an adjustment, even if it’s a good change. I’m used to busy people rushing through the streets. I’m used to speed-walking, getting pushed to the side as I try to glide my way to work. I’m used to small towns and busy lives. I’m used to waiting for time to pass. Lingering for more moments like the ones I get to experience every day now. It’s an odd thing for me, this life.

It hasn’t set in yet that this life is mine. I walk around like it’s a game and I’m a novice player, making her first attempt. I laugh when I walk by thrift stores, scouring over the home goods that can now have a place in my own apartment. “It’s funny,” I think, because I can’t get myself to believe that any of this is real. That this isn’t just a figment of my imagination or an unconscious dream-like state that I’m in. That this is my reality.

They say this is what happens when you are in the midst of big moments of your life. Maybe this is how you get through them. Maybe this is how you’re not driven to complete insanity. Because you just can’t make sense of it yet. That this is it. This has happened. This is what your life looks like now. You’re married to this person. Or, you’ve had a baby. Or like in my case, you’ve moved across the country by yourself and don’t know anyone or anything here.

I wonder sometimes if this is a glimpse back into what childhood felt like. You’re constantly stimulated by everything around you because everything is new. You’re in awe of this new world, of the simple things. The things that no one else really pays attention to because either they’ve seen it too many times or perhaps they’ve never really looked.

I try to hold myself back from hugging every tree, brushing every hint of green that surrounds me (for the sake of not looking like a crazy person). I don’t know exactly how I fit in here just yet, but somehow none of that matters. Maybe it’s because I finally get to live here being this version of myself. Maybe it’s that I get to decide what kind of life I want or how I want to live it. But I guess everything just feels limitless. Like boundaries seize to exist anymore.

I feel like I’ve left a small world that was so comforting and familiar and entered into something far bigger than myself. Something that seems so out of reach, even though I’ve already arrived. I remember a time when I circled around a thought that nearly paralyzed me but also kept my hope alive. It was: There has got to be more to life than this.

I think I found the more.

not everyone is as lucky as a writer

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Getting my hair done is one of the most therapeutic things for me. Not only because of the obvious: that afterward, I’m always left feeling more confident and peppy, but the process itself is soothing for me. I think one of the most important things for me is finding the right hair dresser, someone who genuinely enjoys her work and one I can have a good, honest, and friendly relationship with.

The process of getting my hair done takes three hours minimum, so it may sound pretty obvious that I want to like whoever I’m spending time with. The woman I go to is an expert and lover of colour. You know, I used to walk into any hair salon and have an itinerary of how things are going to go and what I wanted the outcome to be. I always left disappointed but too afraid to say anything that might hurt their feelings. And then something changed these past couple of years when I realized that just like I want freedom with my craft of writing, why wouldn’t anyone else want it with their passion?

About a year ago, when I was searching for a new hair dresser and finally found one, I walked in telling her an idea I had and then said, “But do whatever you think is best. Have fun and just play. Hair always grows back anyway.”

I think that was the moment of liberation that my hair stylist needed. Sometimes when working in any field for so long, you start adhering to the demands. I mean, you can’t exactly say no to a customer when they tell you they want something. It’s their hair. It’s their body. And you are the one doing the service.

So I wanted to try it out. This thing where I let go of my need to control and let her just have fun with my hair; do whatever she wanted with it – with the exclusion of dying it pink….you gotta draw the line somewhere.

She kept checking in with me, asking if it were okay if she were to cut it shorter, dye it darker, maybe do a balayage. I just smiled and told her to do whatever she thought would look best.

And then her shoulders loosened their grip. Her fingers mangled themselves into my hair, brushing the roots to lift them. When I tried talking to her, I realized that she didn’t respond which was concerning until I looked at her face. She was in the zone.

If you’re a creative person, you know the zone. We always want to be in the zone. We live for the zone. We live in the zone and when we’re not, we’re trying to get in it because it’s the most gratifying place to be. It’s where you feel the most alive.

When I saw that transcended look on her face, a weight inside of me lifted too. I felt like I was in good hands. I felt safe because anyone doing anything for you with that much love and passion will make you feel safe.

A friend of mine also works at the salon and it was nice having the three of us women talk, laugh, and be in this great wave of energy together. Now every time I walk in, I see my hairdresser’s eyes twinkle because it means that she gets to play.

The reason I’m telling you this is because it gave me a greater sense of gratitude towards my own passion, which is obviously writing. I realized that not all passions have the option of feeling this sense of freedom and playfulness every day like I do. I mean, with writing, all you need is a pen, a paper, and your imagination. That’s really lucky. I can play whenever I choose too. I can make up stories and write lyrics or poems, maybe even a funny rap here and there. But not all passions can have that option on a day-to-day basis.

I mean, I obviously feel less creative on some days. I feel like I don’t have any downtime on others. But the option is always there for me. I can take 10 minutes out of my day to have the same kind of fun that my hairdresser might have been waiting months for.

It’s crazy for me to wrap around my head why more people don’t trust someone completely with their craft, especially someone with 15+ years of experience and someone who still finds so much joy in her work. I mean, every time she’s finished with me, I’m so SO happy with the outcome (which has not always been the case).

But it hurts to think that she doesn’t have the same option as me. I mean, you have clients who have very specific notes on what they want and hair color and cut isn’t exactly something you can take 10 minutes out of your day to randomly do freely.

But this is something I want to bring and seek out more and more. That when I need any service, to take the time to look for someone who truly enjoys their work and cares about me. That’s all you need to get a better outcome than what you expected as well as an added bonus: you get to be in the zone with them.

Unreliable Sources: A Note On My Writing Process

I started this blog as a way to document my life, keep track of my growth and let out all that I once bottled inside. I do the same with my journals, though it’s a lot harder for me to read back on those entries than it is to read my old posts here. The great part about having old work is that you’re able to compare not only what your life once looked like, but also the progress you’ve made in your writing.

When I write a post here, it’s not scheduled. It’s published shortly after I write it and quickly edit. I like writing in the mornings and clearing my head-space, so sometimes I don’t even remember what it is that I wrote about. More times than not, I have to read back on the post before publishing to find a common theme that I can use to make the title.

The great part of this process that I chose is that I trust in the flow of it. Writing is the one place I can trust myself in, while other areas of my life carry a lot of doubt. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll have anything more to say, but as soon as pen meets paper, I find that I always do.

Some things written here are rough, choppy or not true to what I believe now. I don’t hold myself to the person who writes my blogs posts, my journal entries, my stories, or my poems. That’s because after I’ve written anything, it is now in the past.

I’m glad I get to bring you guys with me: readers, bloggers, and fellow writers, because you know exactly what I mean. Sometimes you write something that moments later, you don’t agree with anymore. Sometimes you need to write things that are true. Sometimes you need to write things to get more clarity on whether or not they are true. Sometimes you have to tell lies to tell the truth. Sometimes you have to be vulnerable to see your own truth.

I think that’s the most beautiful thing about any kind of art. It’s a courageous act, not because it’s hard to do. But because it opens up every part of yourself, even the parts that you don’t like to shine the light on. Those are the most interesting parts for me. The dark, the broken, the lonely.

I wrote a post once about how the things that I write are not who I am. I think sometimes when I try to explain this, it comes off as being unreliable. I don’t know if that’s accurate. I think it just shows that we’re a lot more complex than we make ourselves out to be or perceive others as.

when you don’t get what you want

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I’ve been waiting for a job offer that it turns out wasn’t meant for me. There is still a job that awaits for my arrival, but the position I hoped for, it turns out is taken. I was disappointed and pretty upset about it when I first heard yesterday morning. I forgot that I was blessed enough to have a job for me across the country in the first place. It saves so much time, energy and stress to be in the position I am in than in one where I moved across the country with absolutely nothing and had to start from scratch.

The woman who will soon be my boss is also ready to work out an action plan right away so that I can get a higher position within a few weeks time. I’ll still be making more than I do now, and I’ll be in a completely new place, one where the moment I stepped into, I felt like I was home.

There are so many good things that I could have focused on, but I found myself looking at the one negative aspect. What a human thing to do. I mean, it’s a survival instinct to focus on the negative, the faults, because our ancestors needed to for the sake of their own lives. But we don’t really need it anymore. Our negatives, especially in this day and age aren’t always life-threatening. What was once a great tool for survival is now a stress-inducing threat to ourselves. What used to save us is now what kills us. Oh, the irony.

I get really personal on here, mostly because I want you guys to know all the ways I’m human. That you’re not alone in the way you think or feel, perceive, or react. That we’re all in this together. I never wanted to inspire others by being perfect. I want to inspire them by how I deal with all my imperfections…which I have a lot of.

When I fall into what I like to call my “worry-clustered dark hole”, I try to catch myself and I’m getting a lot better – faster – at doing that. I take a step back and breathe a couple of deep breaths to bring myself back to what is true.

Here is what is true:

  1. I am healthy and alive
  2. I am privileged to be able to move across the country on my own
  3. I am blessed to have a job that awaits my arrival and an apartment I can make into a home
  4. I am lucky to have such amazing people who support me, cry with me, love me, and know me. I’m lucky to have created the family I’ve always wanted
  5. I’m grateful to have a passion that just requires a pen and paper. Something that’s always held me together and stayed by my side throughout my life.

Sometimes writing it out reminds you of what you already know, but don’t necessarily focus on. There is so much I could add to the list, but I’ll leave it at that for now. Sometimes we have to acknowledge the good and make do with that which didn’t meet our expectations.

Some things aren’t meant for us. Some things aren’t meant for the timeline we create; they have their own timeline to manifest in. Something my mom always says and has reminded me since I was a little girl was that there is a time for everything and what I believe is that we have to trust in that. And in the meanwhile, we should do the work that we can. There are so many times I lose my focus only to remember that I can gain it right back if I want to.

It’s like meditating. The point isn’t to be hard on yourself when your mind wanders. We are human and our mind does wander. The point is to get better at catching yourself when it does. To train your mind to be still. For longer. And longer. And longer.

Our lives are like that. Losing focus isn’t a downward fall. Gaining it back is what the point was all along. Being upset, angry or depressed isn’t a failing. It’s the effort in picking yourself up, little by little, each and every day is what builds character. And when we don’t get what we want, sometimes that’s another test for our patience and our trust in the manifestation of our lives.

This time, I didn’t get what I wanted…in one area of my life. But should that depict how I see my future? Or worse, how I see myself?

Short answer: No.

At this point that I’m at, I’m kind of excited for whatever is to come. Because, from my experience, when certain things don’t work out, greater things do.

On Compromising Your Triggers: How Badly Do I Want My Dream Life?

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I had bad dreams I can’t remember. All I know is that my waking was an inconvenience to them as it was for me. Maybe it’s the exhaustion that’s catching up with me or my frazzled state of uncertainty with the position I’ll be getting at work when I arrive in Vancouver.

I can feel my drive extinguishing the more the muscles in my body throb. Everything is sore and my vision gets foggier the closer it gets to the final decision. My life is put on pause until I know. No flights have been booked, even though I’ll be going sometime next month. My hydro isn’t set up, I haven’t booked my internet or my bed to deliver. Everything is waiting for me and I can’t seem to find the patience to wait any longer.

When you wait a certain amount of time for any sort of decision to be made, whether it be a job prospect, an interview of sorts, the conclusion of a relationship, or whatever it may be, you start to doubt it all. You wonder if you got your hopes too high only to get disappointed with the end result. You start to lose that stream of excitement you once had and stumble into self-doubt instead, nitpicking and searching for all the things you could have done wrong. All the things that could lead the answer to not be in your favor.

That’s the cycle I’ve found myself in lately and have been having a great amount of difficulty getting out of. As hard as I try, this thing keeps hovering over me, clouding my judgment, my intuition, and my faith. If there is one lesson I’ve always battled with, it’s how to trust. How to trust in things, people, the universe, and myself.

I wish I were one of those people who didn’t have a high level of anxiety. I wish I knew what it felt like to be calm and accept the moment I’m in now. But it’s hard for me and it always has been. We all have some things in us that are more difficult to work on and resolve than others. This just happens to be mine.

I always knew that adventurous people were more excited than afraid, but I didn’t know that it meant the fear still lingered. And when one of my good friends and coworkers told me they were in awe of how I could just up and move across the country without ever having been there (my first time was last week when I went apartment hunting), it struck me that whatever is to come, I am doing what I’ve always wanted to do. I’m beginning the adventure I’ve always craved. This is simply the first stop, and this is simply how it feels to begin acting on your dreams.

I get a lot of questions from people who have troubles beginning a creative venture. Whether it be writing their first book, starting a blog, taking up photography, etc. They ask how to begin and I wonder a lot why they think I’m some kind of expert at it. But I guess I never feared creativity. I never put too much pressure on it, probably because I never expected anything monetary out of it. I have no trouble writing a blog like this and keeping up with it, without attaching any click bait headlines for media attention. I don’t mind having a few readers who keep coming back to read what I have to say – I actually love this small little family I have here. I don’t have a problem writing the first draft of a novel and letting it sit there until it’s ready to be edited.

Creativity has never been a fear of mine, but financial security always has been. I care about my writing so much that, much like how Elizabeth Gilbert wrote in Big Magic, I always wanted to support it with a job. I never wanted to have to worry about money, even though I have had to for most of my life. I know that when I worry about how I’m going to pay rent, I’m not paying attention to the characters that want to tell me their stories. I don’t mind working to live a comfortable life so that I can pay attention to my writing when I get home. That’s actually my ideal lifestyle and that’s what I’ve achieved this past year.

But with moving comes bigger expenses, more uncertainty, and a greater risk factor. With my other dream of getting to see the world and live in different parts of it also comes this re-establishing of my financial well-being over and over. I know that I might have to work a couple of jobs again and recreate a routine that will work for my writing. I know that rest is going to be needed because moving takes a toll on your body and mind. I know that with excitement and adventure also comes fear and frustration.

But sometimes we have to compromise. I had to compromise re-establishing a new sense of financial security because I wanted to live across the country more than I was afraid of not having enough money to feel secure. I know myself enough to know that I’m resourceful and can find other jobs if I need to. I can find other ways to make money if it comes down to it. I’m grateful enough to be working for a company that is spread all over the world and is willing to transfer you anywhere you like so long as you are a good worker. I’m grateful to have a job waiting for me, even if I don’t know what position it will be yet. Even though I don’t know how much I’ll be making or if I’ll need to stack on something else with it.

Financial security is a trigger for me, and it sets off a load of fears. I know what it’s like to have absolutely nothing. To have less than a dollar in your bank account. To tell your friends you don’t want to go to dinner because you aren’t hungry, even though it’s because you can barely afford to eat at all this week. I know the embarrassment that comes when your landlord emails your roommates to tell them you haven’t paid rent this month and you laugh it off, saying you completely forgot about it even though you couldn’t get it off your mind because you were scouring to find a way to pay it.

So to be where I am, in a place where I can support myself completely took a lot, but the idea of ever getting back there, to that specific point in my life scares the hell out of me, even though I know I’d have to fall pretty hard to get there again. And even though I know I wouldn’t get back there and I know I have more options now than I did before; I know that I have a full-time job that waits for me across the country and I know I have money in the bank that I’ve saved from living frugally for the past few years, it’s still scary. It still haunts me. It still keeps me up at night.

I’ve realized that maybe this lingering fear in me is just something I have to sit with and acknowledge. It’s something I have to not hide from anymore. It’s also something I can’t let hold me back any longer. Sometimes what helps in these moments is making a list of the worst possible outcomes that could come from a big decision and then what to do if they happen. The more I do that, the more I realize that the worst case scenario is not even that bad. It’s actually something I should be grateful for. And sometimes to begin living the life you want, you have to compromise some parts of yourself that hold you back from it.

As Nelson Mandela once said, “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” It’s nice to finally understand what that really means.

Creating Stories: What My Life Could Have Been

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A lot of stories I create come from what my life could have been if certain things had worked out and others hadn’t. I think about it a lot. How different my life would be, how different a person I could have become.

It can be terrifying looking back and noticing how each moment has made such a profound impact on us. How these crumbles of pain, happiness, anger, and fear all came together in some shape or another to create this soul that we currently have. But knowing this has its own set of consequences and sometimes I find myself paranoid at each detail because I know that it can do quite a lot.

I’m a bit of a nit picker. I pay attention to details the way a detective would. Maybe it’s my scorpionic nature or my curiosity towards all that which creates a human experience, but I’ve always been observant. The thing about being observant is that most people will assume you are aloof, mostly because observation requires little speech and more listening. I won’t remember how a stranger looks, but I’ll remember their insecurities. I won’t remember your name but I’ll remember how your eyes dampened when you saw a cat wandering the streets alone and all you wanted to do was take it home and love and nurture him the way all living beings need to be loved and nurtured. I don’t know your favourite colour but I know that your face lights up when you see a young couple who are in the early stages of falling in love. And I know that deep down, you want that for yourself.

I notice people, mostly because I know firsthand that people want to be noticed. We walk around feeling misunderstood, wearing the face of our representatives so that people don’t have to worry about what lurks inside of us.

I think that’s why I fell in love with writing at a very young age. It’s because I wanted to be understood and not feel so alone anymore. But observing everyone else around me was a constant reminder that we all feel that way. That maybe we’re all connected in our aloneness. That my story could be told through any character. That your story could, too. Because when it comes down to it, we’re all the same. We all want the same things, we just have different strategies, upbringings, stories, experiences, relationships that shape the way we go seeking whatever it is that we want. And that thing that we all desire is ultimately happiness.

So I think about it a lot. What other lives I could have lived if certain moments were different in my past. Whoever I became because of those differences, I wonder, would that person be happy? Maybe who I am now wouldn’t be, because I like my life and I like who I am and even though it took a long time to get here, I know that I wouldn’t replace this inner joy inside of me for anything. But I ask, would that person that I would be in that life, be happy there? Would they have a different soul that yearns for different things? Or would we have the same?

I don’t know, and I don’t think that I ever will. But I think that’s the magic of creating stories. We can live all of the lives we could have lived and in the end, still end up inside of our own.

The Difference Between Tough and Strong

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I like to say that I’m good at doing things on my own, probably because I am. But on the contrary, you won’t typically hear me say that I’m terrible at asking for help, especially when I need it. But that’s also true.

I’ve always been that way. When I was 7 years old, I dreamt of being an author (because I had just figured out that books were written by actual people) and let my mind escape into a future where I was my own version of wonder woman…you know, the one who wrote novels and started a non-profit organization. Oh yeah, she sang too and wrote her own lyrics and knew how to play every instrument. She was also a top secret agent who performed concerts with her girl group on the side. They were called the Soul Sisters or something along those lines. You know, realistic goals.

Even when I dreamt these things that were in collaboration with others, I dreamt that I was in charge of making things happen. Some people might translate that into a knowing that you want to be a leader of some sorts, but what I’ve wondered about is whether its mostly because I am still not fully able to trust others.

I like things to be done a certain way and sometimes, I think that I’m the only person who is able to accomplish what it is that I need. I know, I know, it’s a little egotistical…or a lot. But what it comes from is not having a stable sense of support growing up and so I got used to this assumption in my head that reminded me that people were unreliable. You have yourself in this world and no one else. The message was pretty clear and pretty true when I was growing up…and then I hit the real world. Then I moved out of my parents home. Then I was introduced to a whole new set of faces and personalities. But I always remembered what I learned. I always remembered that whoever these people were, they were not to be relied on.

It was only recently that I came to realize that this is a very lonely way to walk through your life. To place this assumption that you ingrained in yourself since childhood, and now seem to apply to everyone else around you and anyone you will ever meet. To believe that you have a right to help others but they don’t get that same chance with you. It’s a very ‘tough’ person thing to do, but what I now want is not to be a tough person. I’d rather be a strong person, instead.

The difference between being tough and strong is the amount of vulnerability you offer from within yourself. I’ve gotten used to being tough because I didn’t know there was even a difference. Tough meant I didn’t want to look weak, so I didn’t show my emotions. Tough meant I put a big smile on my face every day and buried the truth deep inside of me until even I couldn’t see it anymore. Tough meant that even my closest of friends knew nothing about me. Tough meant that I lived through a representative, instead of who I actually was.

I’ve come to understand that strength looks a lot different than this. Strength means opening yourself up to connection. It means saying your truth. It means letting people in. It means trusting those who have shown up time and time again. It means letting people show up for you in the first place.

I thought that to be strong meant that I had to do it on my own, but really it means the exact opposite. I’m still learning, I’m still trying to catch myself in these moments. But I think that understanding the difference helped. And when that voice inside me screams that people aren’t reliable, I remind it that I am learning how to distinguish the truth of that. Because, as Brene Brown says, “When you first start trying to be vulnerable, people are going to freak out and there will be pushback. You will scare some people. But vulnerability is a great filter. If people can’t accept your vulnerability, they don’t deserve your trust.” Meaning that all of this is not to say that I am suddenly trusting of all humans that walk this planet, but I’m practicing sharing with people who have earned the right to hear my story. I’m practicing allowing them to show up. I’m practicing this whole connection thing that I’ve strained away from for most of my life.

What I’m beginning to realize is that I may have been missing out before, because the more I practice, the more I know it’s worth it.

Secret Lives and False Beliefs: The Stories We Keep Hearing

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My creative process relentlessly sets a place on the table for music, and ever since I can remember, it always has. Since I was a child, I didn’t play with toys that had no musical element to them. Growing up, books and music were my escape from reality. I create stories to music. I create scenes to lyrics. I owe a lot to the artists and musicians who have allowed me those fantasies and worlds apart from my own.

If you were to talk to my mom about my childhood, she would kindly state that I was always half present, if that. Most of the time, I was far away, somewhere distant. Somewhere no one could quite understand and somewhere I had no words to explain. We laugh about it now, how she thought that there was something off about me. That it was strange that I would have to ask people to repeat themselves dozens of times before I made myself pay attention to what they were trying to say. And other times, I would pay such close attention but not say a word in response. I would just observe and then drift away, completing their sentence, making up the remainder of their story.

My world had friends and lovers, magic and dragons. My worlds were romantic and tragic, evil and envious. But I could only be 100 percent in them if I were listening to the music that set the tone they had. I actively sought out lyrics that matched my characters and their moods. I gave them faces and bodies that were present in my real world, from people I actually knew. And then, I got to make them into whatever I wanted. I got to play in a way I felt restricted otherwise. No one had to know about these places I went to. It was my dark secret and I felt both clever and misunderstood when I was taken for an aloof, ignorant, or naïve kid.

My family moved around a lot and being a quiet and socially awkward introvert didn’t exactly make me the most popular kid either. For most of my childhood, I lacked friendships and when I got them, it didn’t take them long to realize that there was no way to relate to me. It was only in high school that I learned how to socialize properly, mostly because I felt I had to. I mean, when you have an extroverted older sister who is always flying through men and envied by women, there are certain thoughts you have. Thoughts that typically pertain to all the faults you might have. I wondered why I couldn’t be more like her. Why I enjoyed being on my own so much. Why I didn’t want to be with real people as much as I wanted to be with my characters. There had to be something off about me. I mean, everyone else thought it so it was about time that I did, too.

When I first started to form “real” friendships, I still had my secrets. I felt very Hannah Montana, living a double life. One where I was truly happy and with my music, my characters and my other world. The other where I got through the day. I was 14 and then 15, my secret world becoming something much bigger. Now it was not just in my head, but it was blogging, finding a whole community of people online, learning the ins and outs of CSS, HTML, and web design. It was getting a web internship with a marketing firm in Los Angeles where I got to be a web designer and created layouts for different brands. I had no idea what the hell I was doing. I mean, I was 15! But somehow I did and I told no one about it. I would get phone calls from my boss in LA and we would have meetings about what the next company was looking for.

The only person that knew was my mom…sort of. She knew I was doing something, but she didn’t ask too many questions. I still got my secret world. The one with my characters and music, then the one where I got to really be me, say whatever I wanted through my blog, and then my internship. It was exhilarating. I didn’t feel so alone anymore, not when I was away from school and my friends and the real people in my life.

There was a girl, Yolanda, who taught me all about web design and Photoline (which was the cheaper version of Photoshop back in the day). She started a website that became an online magazine and asked if I could be an advice columnist on it. We became close and I guess she’d been reading my blog and somehow thought that 15 year old me had something she could advise other people. I’ve never been one to back down on anything that gets me excited, so I gave her a “hell yes”. Running my blog on the side, I had a separate email for that advice column and was flooded with emails every day. Somehow, I always knew what to say. It was so easy for me to help other people manage their lives even though it was next to impossible for me to manage my own. Yolanda eventually moved on to other things and left the domain completely when it expired the next year so I was just left with my blog.

The reason I’m telling you all of this is because I remember this time so clearly. Every moment that I felt out of place and where it was that I finally felt I belonged. I remember it because I believed people when they said there was something wrong with me. I remember it because I’m far from it now, even though I still feel like that socially awkward and ‘out of place’ kid a lot of the time. And I remember it because I know a lot more now than I did at those ages. I know that it’s my differences that have got me to where I am. It’s my love for living in other worlds that let me finish the first draft of a novel. It’s the socially awkward parts that let me become a great listener and observer. Doing that makes me understand people better, write dialogue better, create stories better and also have stronger authentic friendships (in real life). All of which I thought was wrong with me are now things I am so grateful for.

There’s always messages floating around that are there to tell you your differences should be embraced, but none of it makes sense until it actually clicks. Until one day you wake up and you realize you’ve lived a very strange and curious life. That it’s a life you want to continue living. Even though for most of my life, the things that have set me apart felt like a burden, they don’t anymore. Because what I’ve come to learn is that you cannot have any sort of influence on the world by being just like it.

The Rate of Frequency: What To Do When Life Becomes Repetitive

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Energy matches energy, and the frequency that you put out into the world is what you receive back from it. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately because it’s something I really believe in. But I’ve also wondered on what level that remains true. If I’m having a bad day and not in the most upbeat mood, does that mean I’ll attract more sorrow? If I’m angry about something, does that mean I will attract more madness? And in that sense, if I have a rough day, does that mean I’ll have a rough time ahead of me? What I’m trying to understand is whether this notion applies to a daily attitude or a deeper intention.

Lately I’ve been feeling like I’m attracting more and more chaos because my mind has been chaotic and I found myself worrying that this cycle of a scattered mind that matches a scattered life will carry on for a long period of time. If it’s just a wheel that keeps turning in the same energy because the more scattered my life feels, the more scattered my mind becomes and vice versa. So in this way, I wonder how lasting this effect will be and how to go about changing it.

When our lives start feeling circular, how do we keep moving forward?

In an effort to not drive myself too crazy, I wanted to dive deeper into what it means for energy to match energy. And, in this search, I realized that your mindset and intentions are your frequency, whereas your mood or emotions are in constant fluctuation. Emotions are supposed to be fleeting – that is, unless we cling on to them. So on a day to day basis, I think it helped for me to know that I’m not screwing up my life by being in a shitty mood. And what I can do, is change the way I talk to myself in the midst of whatever it is that I’m going through.

Though my days didn’t look exactly the same (because none of ours do), my mindset was pretty circular. I kept worrying that I would remain in this chaos forever. That this is all it will ever be. And it was this energy of worry and permanence that attracted more anxiety, worry, and circularity. My thought pattern was the only thing that remained static, but because I focused so intensely on it, that’s how I began to perceive everything else. And in response, I attracted even more of that.

I think we get too caught up in this idea of permanence. That our lives will always look one way simply because they have been for a little while. And when I started panicking about how my bad days would mean I would have a bad life, I had to give myself a serious reality check and bring myself back to zero. Sometimes I get too caught up in details that I miss the point, and when I overanalyzed this particular truth that I believe about our lives, I forgot the most obvious thing.

Energy is interchangeable. It’s a wave that can be altered and replaced at any point, meaning that it is most definitely not permanent. But that doesn’t mean we don’t pay attention to our days because, in the long run, it is our days that make up our lives. It just means that maybe we have to set a daily practice, a daily intention. Each day asks something new of us and I think it’s our job to take at least 10 minutes for ourselves to reflect and understand what that is.

Maybe it means finding one thing to be grateful for throughout the day. Maybe it means to let out what you’ve been bottling in and let yourself have a good cry. It could be reaching out to someone for help or offering yourself to them. It could mean exercise or a mindfulness practice. It could mean spending quality time with friends or spending time in solitude. Or it could mean trying your best to have a positive attitude at work. Each day asks something new of us and each day brings something new to us as well. But we’re all looking for the big signs and missing out on the little clues, offerings, and gifts that we receive every day.

Changing your mindset is a daily practice that can look different for everyone, but it involves setting intentions or altering them. When we talk about energy matching energy, it doesn’t mean that your sadness today will become a permanent state. Nothing is ever that simple. But you do get to decide what kind of person you want to be in the emotional state or energy you are in. You get to decide how you talk to yourself in this place. As David James Lees said, “Be mindful of your self-talk. It’s a conversation with the universe.”

Permanent Impatience: When to Shift Your Energy

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I feel as though I crossed through a tidal wave yesterday. In a time when my stress and anxiety levels are at an ultimate high, I came across a colleague at work who was going through something I had just surpassed a few months ago. It was like a shifting of gears, a transfer of the kind of energy I felt inside myself and was also putting out into the world. Suddenly, I found my stress and anxiety for my own life drift away and understood that this time could be better used to help lift up and support another person. I realized that I was in the position to do something and out of the blue, there became a reason – a purpose – for the last two months I’ll be spending in this town.

It’s funny how life works. How you can be so caught up within yourself and then someone will either come to you or you open yourself up to them, and you realize that although you feel so isolated in yourself, they don’t have to. They don’t have to go through this alone because you’ve been in that exact situation yourself and you’ve gotten yourself out of it. You’ve gained these tools and resources from that experience and now you can utilize them to help heal and support them through it.

I think that sometimes we get too caught up in our own problems. In the age of independence, there’s a lot of isolation. That is, if you close yourself off to everyone around you. Because in the midst of my own internal chaos, I found connection. And even though this problem is outside of my own current one, I realize that that doesn’t matter. Because sometimes, our problems are only understood and resolved with time. Being human means that we get stressed and worried anyways because we just want to do something about it. We want to be in control. But sometimes, all we are asked to do is be patient.

I think when that person at work came to me with their most vulnerable selves, it was the universe forcing my own patience by shifting my energies. Sometimes we need that tug…at least I know that I do. Because maybe in helping someone else, my focus will also shift and I won’t stress on my own impatience.

I do believe that nothing is a coincidence and everything happens for a reason. The universe sends us exactly what we are ready for at the exact time we need it in our lives. I also believe in the power of connection and that when you find yourself getting too caught up in your own isolated struggles, ask for help. Asking for help could look different for everybody, but in my case, it meant opening myself up again to others instead of living in my own head.

“Vulnerability is the essence of connection and connection is the essence of existence.”
                                                                             – Leo Christopher

 

Reverse Compartmentalizing: Feel It to Let it Go

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What’s been popping up into my mind these past few months is the mantra of how we spend our days is how we spend our lives. For a lot of people, this is inspiring and motivational, a reminder to change small parts of our days in order to live the lives we aspire to. But the more I think about it…or let’s be honest, overthink about it, I’ve understood that for me, it has been a little stress-inducing.

I’m a doer. I like waking up early and getting things done before I head to my full-time job. The list of tasks I set for myself (besides the mandatory get groceries, do laundry, pay bills, etc.) is pretty heavy but it keeps me satisfied. The more I feel I accomplish in a morning, the more I add to my plate to “challenge” myself with. What more can I do? What else do I desire to create or make or accomplish today?

So as you can imagine, if I stress so much on how I am spending my days, it just adds to my productivity addiction. I’ve written a post before on the difference between a productive life and a valuable one, so today I want to talk a bit about this mantra. The thought of how we spend our days becoming how we spend the rest of our lives.

For someone whose initial instinct is to understand this saying as an indicator that I should continue adding to my list of tasks, I want to change gears a little (for the sake of my own sanity). I wonder, what if we thought about this on an emotional level? What if instead, we measured our lives, not by how much we can do and accomplish, but instead on how we feel and how to understand those feelings. Because if I know anything, it’s that when you can understand your emotions and pay attention to your thought processes and reactions, you’ll also be able to understand where you should be spending most of your energy. You’ll be able to understand what you need, what brings you joy, and what you want just by tuning into yourself a little bit.

If you’re anything like me, you’re pretty good at compartmentalising your feelings, especially when you’re at work. Alright, you caught me. I say “compartmentalising” but I really mean ‘suppressing’…whatever. But I mean, we’ve heard time and time again to not bring our personal lives to our jobs, right? So what if I told you that you should not only pay attention to how you feel at any time of the day, but also that paying attention to your emotions doesn’t necessarily mean having to put them on display for the world to see? Because on a more rational level, let’s be real…we can’t be sobbing at work every day. There is shit that needs to get done!

Living in this world means that we also have to manage our level of self-awareness and emotional output around our day-to-day lives. What that typically means is that sometimes we can’t exactly have an anger tantrum or a mental breakdown at our job or at your kid’s birthday party, or at a meeting, etc. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t show our vulnerability. If you guys have been following me for a while, you know that I’m a huge advocate for sharing your most vulnerable self…to the right people of course.

But there are moments in our everyday lives where we know that it’s the wrong place and time to showcase our emotions. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pay attention to them. For instance, I’ve started regularly checking in with myself multiple times a day. Anytime someone might aggravate me or shares a sad story, expresses their love etc. I tap into how that makes me feel. But that person might just be a customer, and for business (and maturity level) purposes, I can’t exactly throw a temper tantrum if someone pisses me off. What I can do though is take note of that instance and internally set a reminder for myself to feel what I needed to feel…but when I get home.

It might seem silly, but these small interactions that we have each and every day need to be released so that they don’t build up over time. Before the age of smartphones, when people were waiting in line, sitting in their car, or had any downtime to themselves, it gave them a chance to reflect. But now we’re getting more and more into an age of distractions (i.e. scroll, scroll, scroll). So it might seem a little silly or waste of time at first to go home from your day at work and remember instances that made you feel anything so that you can feel them, but it really does help.

Taking the time to reflect on your day, every day, even if it’s only for 10 minutes can really change the way that you understand yourself. You can get to know what your triggers are the more you pay attention to the small things. You can understand who you feel happiest around and who maybe doesn’t bring the best version of yourself forward. What brought you joy, even if it was just for a moment? What made your stomach turn? What did you read? What did you hear? And how did it make you feel?

How we spend our days may be how we spend our lives. But I think paying attention to ourselves and how we feel throughout our days might give us a greater indication on how we should be feeling throughout our lives. Again, this doesn’t mean that you are going to feel happy all day every day. Happiness is an emotion, just like sadness. It’s meant to come and go. However, in learning more about ourselves and in paying attention to our emotions by reflecting on them, we can learn the right tools, place ourselves around the right people, and gain a better understanding of what we can do or change to get back to our home base.

The Gravity of Knowing: A Home I’ve Never Been To

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“The only way to know what the next right thing is, is to get very still, block out all the voices from the world and go inside yourself. There is a knowing that rises inside of us when we get quiet enough. Some call it God, others call it intuition or wisdom. It doesn’t matter what you call it—it only matters that you know how to tap into it. To me, it feels more like gravity settling in than words I can hear. This is the new revolution for women: To stop explaining our damn selves. Just do the next right thing, one thing at a time. That’ll take us all the way home.”

– Glennon Doyle Melton

It came to me in a whisper, unrecognisable because my voice usually speaks to me in panic. It’s usually loud and difficult to tune out. It’s not the nicest voice but it likes to tell me its rational and I’m not. So this was different for me. It was simultaneously soothing and terrifying.

A coworker and good friend of mine was telling me about her new potential job in Toronto. She’s been in the same little rut I’ve been in and this new opportunity presented itself in such a quick manner that she’s picking up her things and moving there next week. I think I may have picked up something that was in her when she spoke. She was vibrant and excited and scared and I was so excited for her. And then it happened. I heard myself telling her I planned to move to Vancouver in September when my sublet lease was done.

Vancouver was always in the back of my head. Being alongside beautiful nature, a province that is striving to be the most environmentally friendly and sustainable in the world by 2020. The healthy lifestyle. Being able to experience the life of a city and also secluding myself towards nature when I need a retreat. Everything has always drawn me there, but I always thought I would move abroad first. My plan was always to stay in this small town so I could save up enough to move abroad for two years and travel. Maybe I’d settle down in Vancouver afterwards, when I had travelled enough to want to stay in one place for a long time.

But I heard myself saying something different and I didn’t know if it was a lie or if something in me just wanted to match that spark in her. But once our conversation was over, I took myself aside so I could see what was really going on and that’s when I heard it. The quiet voice. The one I never heard before. The one that felt so outside of me but also completely within. And it told me that Vancouver was next and that Europe and travel and seeing the rest of the world, that would come too. But this is next. Something is there.

I’ve talked a bit about the gravity of knowing here before. It’s something I’m trying to learn to listen to more often. It’s something I’m trying to learn to pay attention to. It’s difficult when our ego is so loud and takes up most of the room. But when I heard it, I told myself I needed to listen to it. Or at the very least, explore the idea.

The first thing that popped into my head was how expensive this would be. The move itself would be pricey and then living there would be too. What if I couldn’t find a job? What if I’m just being impulsive? What if. What if. What if.

And then I told that voice to quiet down, in a motherly tone. I was still at work so sorry to customers who might have passed by me and heard me talking to myself. It must have been weird. But anyways, I knew I had to listen to this, because from my experience, this voice, this whisper, this gravity is a clue. It’s a knowing.

I went over to my store manager and asked him if we could talk about something privately and brought him this plan I had yet to figure out and that’s when I knew even more. By the way his eyes lit up at the idea. How excited he was for me. How eager he became to help me and support me with this move in any way he could. The way he told me he’d get me a secure job with one of our stores in Vancouver and how he’ll get me a raise and probably a promotion there. He told me to email him a preference list of which area I’d want to work in Vancouver because with his recommendation, the stores will be fighting for me. All I felt in that moment was complete gratitude. I’m so grateful to be surrounded with so much love and so much respect and with managers and coworkers who value one another’s work ethic.

When I told my mom, her eyes watered down so quickly with joy, and then I did the thing I feared: I called my dad. Our relationship has been pretty non-existant but we’re both trying to slowly create something. We’re both trying to learn about each other the way we never got to when I was growing up. I wasn’t expecting him to have the response he did, but it was the first time I’d seen any emotion flutter his face other than anger. It was just happiness and all of a sudden, he was willing to do anything to help me move there. He was willing to help me apartment hunt and he was willing to take the trip up there with me in July to put a deposit down on a place and to explore a city I’d call home even though I’ve never been there.

Because I listened to that small voice that told me this crazy thing that was outside of my plan, it brought everyone together. It connected me further with my work family. It brought me this new bond with my dad that I’ve never had before. And it also brings me more uncertainty than ever.

Moving to another province that’s a five-hour flight (or a 4-5 day drive) from where I live, a place I’ve never been to, is a terrifying and exhilarating thought. It’s something I never really imagined myself doing, at least not yet. I was supposed to be saving more for abroad. I was supposed to be doing a lot of other things. But because I listened to this thing, because I paid attention to it and gave it room to speak, I found myself right in the center of where I needed to be.

When things align like this, you have to remind yourself to be more grateful than afraid. I’m afraid because all the money I have saved so far is now going towards this move and a new place instead of abroad. I’m afraid because that city is far more expensive that my current one. I’m afraid because I don’t know anyone there. I’m afraid because I’ve never even been there.

But I know this is it. I know there is something there for me. I know that because I’ve learned to trust that voice. I know that because just putting this idea out there has brought a lot of people in my life together to help me and support me in this transition. I know that it’s just a few months away and there’s a lot to do, but I also know that it’s completely worth it.

I know that because this is the feeling I’ve been craving for so long. This is a challenge I’ve been asking for. Something that’s exciting and scary and brings me closer to something far bigger than me.

I’m excited for September and I’m excited for Vancouver. I’m excited about this change and I’m excited to see what’s in store for me. I believe that energy transfers and flows and I know that something in me clicked with the energy my friend had.

When in doubt, stubbornly trust yourself. The small voice knows more than the loud one.

 

Living in Secondary Colours: What Happens When We Forget the Core?

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“The only way to gain power in a world that is moving too fast is to learn to slow down. And the only way to spread one’s influence wide is to learn how to go deep. The world we want for ourselves and our children will not emerge from electronic speed, but rather from spiritual stillness that takes root in our souls. Then, and only then, will we create a world that reflects the heart instead of shattering it”

–  Marianne Williamson 

Over the past year or so, I’ve been amazed by the raw. I’ve grown more and more interested in primary thoughts, primary colours, the first drafts, the first words, and the first loves.

I think as humans, we are each given a raw soul. Each one differs from the rest and yet, the truths are, for some intrinsic and unknown reason, the same. That’s why for thousands and thousands of years, we’ve all been entrapped and restless to seek the answers to the same questions.

For some reason, the soul that you have has chosen your body to call it home. Why? I don’t think we’ll ever know, and I don’t think we need to. I think what we do need to learn is what this particular soul that we’ve been given yearns for.

We see nature and how its habits have stayed consistent for thousands of years. The trees know how to prepare for the winter and how to flourish in the summer. They know how to change colours in the fall and how to grow bigger in the heat. They know because they’ve been doing it for so long and any learned behaviour just becomes a natural way of being at some point.

But for us, we’re all doing it for the first time. This is the body this soul chose for the first time. We are trying to learn how to listen to it for the first time. And the cost of rawness is our messy and complicated lives.

If we think of primary colours: the reds, the yellows, and the blues; they are beautiful on their own. But with them, we got to create oranges, purples, and greens. That flourishment, that secondary beauty, was a creation. It’s a bonus. But sometimes, I think we get too caught up in the secondaries and the flourishments that I think we forget about what it takes to create that beauty. If we have no foundation, there can be no growth. Instead, we’ll just be floating in the air. I think sometimes, we forget about the raw tools that allow us to create.

We forget that it is only when we come to our core, when we accept our rawness, that we can then flourish it into a greater authentic beauty.

If we go back to how the trees learned their behaviour and really dig down to the essential point of which they understood how to flow with the weather, we can understand that all they needed to learn was how to be. It’s been a pretty hard thing for me to wrap my own mind around. Living in this particular culture, I’m ingrained with the idea of pushing myself, being ambitious, fighting for what I believe in, and protecting who I am. And so the idea of just being is a foreign concept.

But our bodies and our minds already know how to rise us to the highest version of ourselves. Our pushing and fighting and attempts to control our lives just make us get in the way of ourselves.

The less we battle with our own lives and ourselves, and the more we just let ourselves be, the easier it will be for us to flow and rise to our highest selves. Our souls know things that we don’t. Let’s try and let them do their jobs and stop getting in the way of ourselves over and over again.

The state of being looks different for all of us, but the place is the same. We just have to learn how to come back to the raw and the primary so that we can flourish and create something far bigger than ourselves. And that thing you’ll have created? You’ll know what it feels like because you’ll feel connected. Maybe not with as many people, but instead with nature, with the sunrise, and the moon phases. You’ll feel like a part of the natural flow of our universe.

The Notion of Surrender: A Form of Defeat or Connection?

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The theme of my life has lately been understanding the notion of surrender so that I can stop resisting it. If I were to describe this process that I’m going through, I would relate it to a human ripping his or her skin apart for the first time, in its initial transformation into a werewolf. That’s the extent of pain I’ve been feeling and that’s the pain I’m trying to stop resisting, because when I do allow myself to rest in it, I come out exhausted, drained, and weak. The more yoga I do, the more I write my book, the more I read, the more I check in with myself; the more I do all of the things that are supposed to be good for me, the more I experience this outbreak of pain that is so internal but results in an external state of defeat.

It’s a difficult thing to describe because it’s a difficult thing for me to understand right now. But what I’ve done to help with the process is understand the act of surrender a little bit more. And with that, I’ve come to believe that in its most simplest of forms, surrender is both acceptance and forgiveness. But what I recently came to realize is that maybe it can be love, too. And if love and hate are written on the same spectrum of passion, is surrender just a form of defeat to all that is within you? And if you are what you love, does that mean that you are also all of that of which you hate?

We all perceive and experience love differently. The way we go about it, the way we feel it, what we need from it and what we want from it; it’s all different because we’re all different. So how is it that love is a uniting? Shouldn’t it just be ripping us apart more?

It didn’t really make sense to me until it clicked that love is a surrender. When we form any relationship, whether it be with a friend, a partner, a family member, or a coworker, we are surrendering. We each experience love differently, but when we form a healthy relationship of any sorts, we surrender by compromising our egos. Our needs and wants don’t always meet the needs and wants of another, but when we reach that compromise to form a union with another human being, we’re surrendering to our souls and compromising our egos. Because what love is, is a surrender to yourself for something greater and outside of you: it is a surrender for connection. Because even though our egos want different things, they are fueled in the same manner. Because even though we are all different, we are more the same.

But before we surrender to a love shared with another human being, I think we first have to surrender to ourselves.

There was a time when I thought I could only love myself once I no longer had any flaws. But being human means that you will always be flawed. I mean, how else would we grow? But if you can only love yourself once you’re the size you want to be or are in the field you want to be in or as financially stable as you want to be or have clear skin, etc. etc., then you will always find an excuse for not participating in this practice of self-love. We can’t keep telling ourselves that once we check boxes A, B, and C, then we will love ourselves because we’ll always find something else that is wrong. Needless to say, that isn’t a bad thing because the point of the human journey is just a state of becoming, and always becoming. If you didn’t become aware of the parts of you that need more work, then you wouldn’t be growing.

But it’s all a practice. I mean, your soul is the only soul like that in this world and it chose your body to call home. Therefore, you are the first person to try and figure out what it needs and what its purpose is. That process is messy and complicated because anything being done for the first time is messy and complicated. Your job is simply to feed your soul and that’s tricky because you have an ego thats voice tends to be a bit louder.

But maybe our job here is just to learn all the wrong things and try and be all the wrong things only to come back to ourselves so that we can peel away all the layers we spent years adding to. And so that we can find the root of it all again. Because that is where our truth lies. That is where it has always been. And maybe, we can understand that the process of unlearning is surrender.

Sometimes when you begin to surrender, you relate it to a form of defeat. That’s what makes the process so hard. That’s what makes the peeling away feel like a shredding of your skin. But what that defeat really is, is just compromising the ego for a connection that is far greater than yourself: it’s a connection with your soul.

What Comes First: Forgiveness or an Apology?

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About a year ago, I walked the streets of downtown with a girl who was once my friend. She laughed at an outburst of anger she had the night before, lashing out at a few friends of hers. “I just told them I’m sorry and it’s all over now,” she dismissed. On our way home, she added, “Sometimes people just need to hear you say sorry to stop overreacting. So you just say it and move on. The funny part is, you don’t even have to mean it.”

I don’t know about you, but that struck a nerve with me. But it also made me think: How often do we jump to apologize before we own up to our mistakes? When we say sorry, are we asking for forgiveness or are we asking someone to let it go and move on?

I hear some male friends of mine banter about how quick they are to apologize to their girlfriends because “that’s all they need to hear.” I look back and question not only the apologies I’ve received, but also the ones I’ve offered.

For me, apologies are extremely difficult. I’ll apologize to walls I’ve bumped into or strangers I get in the way of while crossing streets, but when it comes down to the important things, admitting that I was in the wrong doesn’t make me feel so guilty as it does shameful. I apologize TOO much. My problem is more-so taking on all the blame and consequently feeling like a bad person than it is getting rid of the blame altogether. And on the flip side of that, I have trouble forgiving people who may have brought me a lot of pain.

So, hearing this come from someone I was once so close to made me question who else handed out sorry’s like they were extra treats on Halloween? When we apologize, are we asking for forgiveness? Or on the contrary, are we asking someone to dismiss our poor behaviour?

I wanted to look further into what forgiveness really is because learning this had the potential of making my ability to forgive others even harder than it already is. I found a few talks that (one of my favorite people) Rob Bell has given. To understand what forgiveness is, we also have to understand what it isn’t, or doesn’t have to be.

Forgiveness doesn’t have to mean condoning.

By this, I mean that you don’t have to set aside the fact that what that person did was wrong and unjust. Forgiving someone is separate from condoning a behavior.

Forgiveness doesn’t have to mean forgetting.

This one seems pretty self-explanatory, and in simple conversations where there may have been a misunderstanding of what someone said, you can clear the air. You can say, “I don’t know if you meant it like this, but when you said ____, it hurt me.” They tell you they’re sorry and didn’t mean it that way and boom it’s over. Misunderstandings are settled and you can move on. HOWEVER, in other cases, forgiveness can mean having to remember. In cases of assault, for instance, to forgive someone for the pain they caused you means you not only shouldn’t forget about it, but you have to remember. Sometimes remembering means setting essential boundaries in place to protect yourself with.

Forgiveness doesn’t have to mean reconciling. 

Things don’t have to go back to the way they once were just because you have forgiven someone. Sometimes it means they never can. But forgiveness and reconciliation are two separate things. They don’t have to coincide.

But as Rob Bell explains, what forgiveness always is, is personal. You can’t forgive an institution because it’s far too broad. For instance, those who grew up with strict religious practices might grow to become atheists and have anger towards religious institutions. Someone who worked at a corporation may have been adversely affected by it and consequently, grew a distaste towards corporations as a whole.

When it comes down to that, we drift too far out of our reach. Rob Bell describes this as paralyzing because this person feels all sorts of anger and emotional resentment from being wronged. But this is paralyzing and lethal because we cannot forgive a faceless entity. It’s not that institution or organization that you’re angry at, but someone within that institution – a human being (or human beings) – who have wronged you. You have to break it down to fully understand who that is or who they are so that you are able to forgive them. To be free from that bitterness and anger you hold, you have to name those people or that person.

Forgiveness is personal.

What I’ve come to understand is to ask for forgiveness, you have to first, forgive yourself. And to forgive another does not necessitate an apology from them. It’s more of a process within yourself that sets you free. Forgiveness is something I can offer, but it’s always something that’s difficult for me to do for others. I hope that even understanding it more and being given the breakdown of what forgiveness is and isn’t can help you guys as much as it has already been helping me. When we forgive, we let go of the weight that has been burdening on our shoulders. But like I said, it’s a process, but it’s a process towards our own freedom.

Finding Joy Amidst Pain: When You Already Have What You Need

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You guys must be wondering where I’ve been, and from my previous posts, the last you heard from me was in a difficult situation amidst a tremendous amount of loss. The end of December, I spent all of my efforts to try and get myself out of this situation, because losing someone is difficult enough but living with close friends that you lost is even harder.

There’s a loss you face where distance dismantles a relationship and it’s something you don’t notice until so much time has gone by when you step back and wonder, what happened? How did we become so separate? When did we lose touch? And can we get back to where we once were?

This one happens to be much more confrontational and since I’m still in the midst of it, I don’t want to spew out any details that I would gain more clarity on when I’m outside of the situation. There is a fear that I’m currently living again where I am present in my loss. Where I have to see it day to day. Where I can’t separate myself from it to clear my head. Where I sleep in the room next to it.

And I’ve tried to find another place, to distance myself because I know from experience that the tension that can brought about when this much pain lives together doesn’t typically go well. I’m aware of that, and yet all my efforts worked against me and in some weird way, I am completely at peace with that. Why? Because I also have experience with knowing that sometimes when you feel stuck in situations, that’s when you finally get to the point where you try anything to free yourself. And often times, it’s the thing you’ve always wanted to do. It’s the thing you feared in the first place, but this situation is more fearful and more painful. Being here makes your other fears a lot smaller and a lot more doable.

I have to say, in every situation when I’m lost and in a great amount of pain; in every single situation where I am suffering, there is always at least ONE thing that I am handed. Sometimes it’s a job or opportunity, sometimes it’s a new friend, sometimes it’s a new perspective, a new hobby, a new pursuit, but always something. This one thing that you are given is often dismissed. I have to admit coming from a place where I can attest to dismissing any potential good because it wasn’t exactly what I needed to get out of this current situation or this current pain. It wasn’t what I had in mind, so I denied the attempt and sent my apologies (often in a snarky manner). I dismissed that thing as “not good enough”, “not what I want”, or “not what I need”.

We fixate so much on our current pain that we feel we know what we need best to learn from it and let it pass through us. And then, when we don’t get what we need (whether it be a resolution to a broken relationship, a financial difficulty, a loss, etc.) we become more and more frustrated. Hell, we become pissed off. And I know this road very well. I know it because I’ve lived it many times in different contexts. This time, I wanted it to be different. This time, I wanted to be different.

So I accepted the thing that was given to me during this hard time which will indefinitely last for another four months before I am able to physically get myself out of it. Emotionally, I don’t ever give myself a time frame for that.

Here’s another note: Often times, you have to work to actually SEE what that thing is. My experience right now with this dilemma was that I recognized my pain. I know it’ll teach me something. I also know that I won’t understand that right now because I am living in it. So I decided that I needed to make a few changes in myself to cope with this. We all have tools or resources that we can go to. We all have something that brings us joy, even momentarily. For me, it’s dancing. It’s listening to music on the highest volume and letting go completely with my movement, and it’s a sort of moving meditation for me. I made a physical note and pasted it on my wall to remind myself that I HAD to dance each morning when I first got up. I don’t care if I’m tired. I don’t care if I don’t want to do it. I have to, because it always makes me feel good once I actually do it.

I started a habit of writing a minimum of 3 things that I am grateful for every day. I wanted to focus on the joy that I know still existed and I needed to constantly remind myself of it. I wanted that to be where I placed my energy. I wanted that to be what I looked for every day.

And then, I started to learn how to accept the love that exists around me; the love that I wasn’t placing my focus on. I was so wrapped up in the pain of this loss that I had no energy left to feel love. I wanted to feel love from these two friends, and I didn’t. So I made it my mission to overwhelm myself with all of the people who did love me and care about me and support me. It turns out, I have a lot of those and yet, I didn’t even realize it because I wasn’t focusing on them. I was focusing on what I came home to each night. But what I learned is that just because I come home to this, doesn’t mean that’s all the connection I have. Just because I’m focused on loss, doesn’t mean I have no love around me. I’ve been so absent in the blogosphere because when I say I overwhelmed myself with love, I literally tried to spend as much time in my day as possible with these lovely people in my life.

That was my own self-work that I had to do to cope with my pain. It doesn’t take it away or remove it, which was never my intention in the first place, but it shifts my focus to what I do have. I mean, that’s what gratitude is and that’s what I chose to live in by practicing it daily, and I have to say that it created this inner joy in me that just doesn’t go away. I say joy and not happiness because there is a distinction between the two. Happiness is an emotion like any other that comes and goes. You feel it, then you don’t. But joy is just an inner peace, a love that you feel regardless of any emotion that you have.

And then, the thing that I was given became clear all of a sudden. I picked up the book I was working on and had dropped to the side a few months ago and I started writing in it again. I added to my daily practices, including writing this book (a minimum of 1000 words a day) every single day. I was side-tracked from it a few months ago because I was facing a different emotional challenge, one where I was working a few jobs and getting emotionally abused at one of them which took a great toll on me. Even after I left that place, I knew I needed some time to heal and get my physical health back on track so that my mental health could find something to ground it. And you know what happened when I picked up this project again?

I fell in love.

I set a bare minimum of 1000 words a day just because that is doable and even on days I don’t feel like writing, I can manage 1000 words. But every ounce of spare time I get, I’m researching and writing and trying to educate myself more on what I’m writing about. I’m emailing people to interview and getting responses. I’m being directed to more resources and I’m learning and writing and learning and writing. I am so completely entrenched in this project that it literally feels like falling in love. I think about it every day. I daydream about it. I find it more difficult to sleep at night, but I make myself sleep earlier so that I can wake up early to work on it. And it’s everything that I need right now, but also not a solution to the problem I’m having. And yet, it’s healing me anyways.

When I learned to finally accept the one thing that was given to me, I knew it wouldn’t solve my problem. I knew it wasn’t the solution I was seeking, but I took it and it ended up doing what I least expected. It brought me joy AND happiness amidst pain and loss. This is a first for me, and I ask you guys to work hard so you can see what you are given in this time of your pain.

This wasn’t the only thing I was given. I was given all the love I mentioned. I was given an opportunity to strengthen the beautiful relationships I already had with people in my life. I was given this project to work on, but I was given a tremendous amount of love as well. And so, even though this pain still exists; even though I’ll be living in it for the next couple of months; even though none of this is the solution that I was actively seeking, I realized that I didn’t know what it was that I needed. So when I accepted this love, this project, and this daily practice of gratitude, I found that what I needed were things I was already surrounded with.

Sometimes, we just have to look a little harder.

 

The Art of Needing: What it Means to Accept Love You Already Have

The-Art-of-Needing

I’m back at my favorite coffee shop where I often sit in the booth right by the window that overlooks the lake. Right now it’s smoothed over with a cast of ice because even water needs a layer of protection over the winter. Even water needs to stand still and lay low for a little while before the snow begins to melt again and it can go back to flowing alongside the sun and moon. Everyone and everything cannot live fully without rest and protection at some point. Not the plants, not the water, not the trees, and not us humans either.

The difference is, the elements have had centuries to learn how to coordinate with one another, whereas we have had to start from scratch. We have this short amount of time to understand how to protect ourselves when necessary and we have a short amount of time to learn how to rest. I think that instead, we’ve taken one too far and forgotten about the other. I think we turned what was meant to be protection, into a shield of distancing. Instead of protecting ourselves from what could harm us, we kind of went overboard and began to hide. We hide from the truths; we hide from rest and rather lie in busyness, and we hide from each other.

But the water coordinates its protection alongside the sky and the wind and the trees and plants. All elements work together to protect each other. All elements work together to rest.

They’ve learned how to love, whereas we have learned how to be “independent”.

The truth is, that these past few months have been extremely difficult for me. The truth is, I’m the person who is usually there if anyone needs me but refuses to ask for help when I need it back. That is until this month when I realized I need to quit being stubborn and ask for it. And I asked for it EVERYWHERE. Anywhere I could get help and love and connection, I reached out. I told people that right now, I needed them. Right now, I needed help and the help that they could give me was just their presence. Them being here, them showing up, them listening to me, and them showing their love was what I needed.

I realized this situation that occurred and my needing to move out of my current apartment was something I couldn’t do alone, even though the process is solo. I realized that what I could learn from this messy point of my life where I feel unwanted, alone, and unloved, was how to finally accept love from everywhere else that it existed in my life.

It’s something I never really understood how to go about, accepting love. It felt like a form of attention-seeking, a plate of neediness whereas I’d rather be independent. I hated depending on people because what most of my life has shown me is that people are unreliable. What this situation I am currently in had shown me is that people are unreliable. But instead of doing it alone, which is what my normal stance would be, I yelled “I need you” from the top of my lungs.

You know what the response was? – Everything I asked for, and more. At the point in my life where my living situation had taken a U-turn and I was left feeling more alone and unloved than I have in a long time, I took it as a challenge of growth. I took it as a time to learn how to accept love.

We are so used to fixating on the bad, even if everything else around us is beautiful. So obviously, the love I wasn’t receiving at home from those friends was the love I was fixating on. When I branched out, when I asked for love and when I admitted to needing, I realized that there was so much more around me. I realized that I am surrounded by a tremendous amount of love absolutely everywhere, except in this apartment. So when people were there, and when people are still here, my vision broadened and I shifted my energy to focus on what I did have. It was standing right in front of me the whole time. It was people I spent all my time with, people who cared about my well-being, people who loved me. People I loved and cared about back. People I had been there for. And now, people that are here for me.

It was difficult to go home before. I felt my memory being erased the closer I got and I anticipated the anxiety, depression, and loneliness to come. I anticipated the worst behavior from people I was once closest to. And all that anticipation that was followed by validation of my fears closed me off to everything else I was surrounded with. So on the day I decided to begin asking for help and needing, I also decided that I would live in that energy. I would focus on that energy because these are the great and wonderful people who should, at the very least, feel my love back. My giving back for their love would be my living in the energy, protection, and love that they provided me with. What’s the use of shelter when you don’t live in it?

It’s funny the way life works. It’s funny that I had lived most of my life trying to move closer towards independence. What I learned is that our society has merged independence with disconnection. To be independent means to not rely on others. It means to not depend. It means to not need. It means to not accept love. So you know what I learned? I learned how to be distant. I learned how to keep to myself. I learned how to hide.

But just this past month, I learned that I was doing it all wrong. Turns out, I like depending on people sometimes. Sometimes you need to, and sometimes, they need to depend on you. This cycle of needing and being needed is what keeps you protected and connected. It’s what creates love.

The water, the trees, the sky, the sun, and the moon all work together to protect and rest. Let’s learn to do the same. Let’s learn how to accept the love we are already surrounded with. In a world that capitalizes on our loneliness, let’s challenge the notion and connect. Let’s need each other.

Accommodating Suffering: A Note on Creating a Mess

creating-a-mess

I care for myself a smidge more than I care for others. I wasn’t always this way. I actually used to not care for myself at all, probably because I didn’t like who I was all that much. I gave and gave until I had nothing left to offer and nothing left for myself either. It seemed to be a virtuous life I was living, or at least that’s what I told myself. And people took. They took what they could get from me even if it meant sparing little to nothing for myself.

People like a “yes man”. They like listening to someone who will carry their pain for them, whether they exhale it out in the form of anger, sadness, disgust, judgment or self-pity. I took it from them and I carried it for myself because I could handle it. Sometimes it meant I was their punching bag. Sometimes it meant I accommodate myself for whatever they need. Other times it meant I was their source of motivation. As long as they didn’t have to feel the pain for themselves, it was okay with me because feeling pain is bad but I was used to it. I could take more and more and more and let me tell you that people just LOVE to give theirs away and hand it over to you. But I also let them. Or not only did I let them, I asked them for it.

It was a scary cycle, one that I honestly thought was making me into a better person. But all it ended up doing was help people manipulate me. Let me repeat that, I would HELP people manipulate me. All it did was add to my pain. All it did was make me weaker and weaker until I felt so broken, I couldn’t move most days. I couldn’t leave my bed and when I did, sometimes it meant that I made it as far as the floor next to my bed and just lay there because it was colder on the hardwood floor and I just needed to feel something – particularly something more physical instead of perpetual mental strain.

So I guess now, I don’t feel FOR people. Instead, I will feel WITH them. And yes, there is a difference. I will still care about their well-being and their happiness. I will still be there if and when they need me and in those times, I will feel their pain alongside them. But I will not feel it for them. I will not take their pain because I have my own; because we all have our own. It’s not our job or our duty to carry someone else’s pain for them. It’s not even virtuous. It actually causes more suffering on both parties. I carry all too much and completely break and they don’t get to do the thing that pain comes for: They don’t get to learn. I take that away from them just as they are quick to hand it over.

And then there are times where what is best for us will affect other people and bring them pain. Maybe you’re in a long-standing marriage and tell your significant other that you’re gay, or a lesbian, or want to get surgery to change your gender. Maybe it means distancing yourself off from a friend who is a good person, but not healthy to have in your life. These are just a few examples of things that may cause others pain, but may end your suffering. Doing these sorts of things, and making these decisions does not make you selfish, it means you respect yourself. It means you accept the truth. It means you care about people enough to not have to lie to them by pretending. It means you care about yourself enough not to live in that lie by pretending. People will hurt. People will be angry. You will hurt and you will also be angry and guilty and made to feel selfish. But that is often the process of bringing the truth forward. That is the process and consequence of living in your own truth. That is often what has to happen to end suffering, for everyone, even if it looks like you have created a bigger mess.

Here’s the thing about life: It’s a lot like cleaning your room. When you’re cleaning your room, it tends to get a whole lot messier than it was before, until it cleans up entirely. Because while you’re cleaning, you come across things you forgot about and can either discard or keep and find a place for. You can come across things that you’ve never used and probably never will, and throw them away or give them to someone who will get more use out of it. You can also come across things you loved but no longer need. Then as you create a bigger mess, and as you keep finding more and more things that you either keep and find a place for or choose to discard, your room will be cleaner than it was before. The bigger mess was needed in the middle to make the end result cleaner and better.

Messes don’t necessarily mean things are wrong. Sometimes, it means you have to re-assess. It is a signal that means things are going to be cleaner.

Foreboding Joy: Dress-Rehearsing For Future Pain

foreboding-joy

Listening to countless talks and speeches by shame and vulnerability researcher, Brené Brown, and then sitting down and reading some of her books, I was really taken aback by some of her findings. I started to reflect on how I’ve been living my life and whether I wanted to continue living it this way. What did I get out of it? There are so many things that she discusses that hit me pretty hard, but the one thing that struck me the most was her analyzing the fear of joy.

When I first heard her speak of it, I was so relieved because I honestly thought I was the only one with this problem. This is something I’ve been battling for a long time and have discussed in my counseling sessions for years, trying to work through it over and over and still not fully understanding why exactly I am so afraid to feel happiness.

Depression, anxiety, pain and tragedy are not new to me. They are actually so familiar that I’d say I’m most comfortable when I am in the midst of them. That doesn’t mean they are joyful for me, but it means that these states are ones I know how to live in. I know these scripts, I know my reactions and I know how I am and who I am within them. Comfort and enjoyment are two separate entities that can blend together, but for me, they’ve always held space between one another.

In reading Brené’s books, I realized that my whole life has been spent foreboding joy. Why feel it and live in it when you know it will pass? I’m almost embarrassed to admit that this past summer was my first time immersing myself in joy completely. I was eating healthy, nourishing food because I could afford to; I was working full-time; I practiced yoga regularly; I participated in writer events and was introduced to a creative community that I felt I belonged to; I was learning how to expand my creativity with more visual projects like merchandising and I began to learn how to play the guitar. Everything was so good for once and I was on a high that I never experienced before. That is until I took a step back to look at all the good that was happening around me and thought, “Oh shit. Something bad is about to happen.” Because what we are made to understand is that when things are good, and especially when things are too good, that is a clear indication and a fair warning that something terrible is headed your way.

So then what do we do? We begin to anticipate the pain and dress-rehearse tragedy. We numb ourselves from feeling too much because that will make our future pain more bearable. We see it coming, so it won’t be as bad, right?

But here’s the thing: we cannot selectively numb. If we choose to numb ourselves from pain, we also numb ourselves from joy. Have any of you ever had a really cool opportunity and instantly told yourself to not get too excited about it? So if it doesn’t work out, you didn’t get your hopes up and if it does, it’s a pleasant surprise.

It’s easier to live in the neutral setting. It’s easier to numb. But you are also not really living. You’re not enjoying the best part of life: the highs and the lows. The lows that you grow from and the highs that you glow in.

What also happens is that you begin to guard yourself from the opportunity to connect. For instance, about a month ago, a boy asked me out on a date to go go-kart racing and deep down I was really excited about it. What a cool thing, right? But I told myself not to be because it probably wouldn’t work out or it could be a disaster or blah blah *insert excuse here*. So when a really good friend of mine came to me with her excitement and asked if I was looking forward to it, I shot her down. I told her it wasn’t that big of a deal. And then, when it didn’t happen (long story short, he canceled), and she asked if I was okay, I said I was fine because it wasn’t that big of a deal. Yes, I didn’t let myself get excited and I didn’t let myself feel disappointment, BUT, I also missed out on a chance to connect.

When you feel that excitement and share that with someone, and then you feel disappointed, you share that with them too. One of the best parts of life is to need and be needed. In the midst of our vulnerability comes this beautiful opportunity to connect with someone else. But the numbing takes that away, too.

Numbing is avoidance; it is our distancing from our own humanity and the humanity that allows us to connect with one another. Anticipating pain doesn’t make future pain non-existent, it just causes this sort of pre-suffering.

As Brené says, we’re trying to dress rehearse tragedy so that we can beat vulnerability to the punch. But is giving up and numbing a worthwhile life to live? And instead, in those moments of joy when we get perspective on all the good around us, what if we were to practice gratitude instead of anticipating pain to come?

 

Existence and Disturbance: Becoming an Intruder Of Your Own Life

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Last night, one of my closest friends invited me into her state of vulnerability. She shared with me how her long-term relationship had ended abruptly, which is something neither her nor I expected. It came out of the blue. It was a dismissal; a case of unwanting. It was a blindsight but also a moment of complete and expected humanness. In that moment, I froze completely in a state of shock, which I then grew more and more interested in. By that, I mean that I do what I always do when I’m curious about anything – I research the hell out of it.

I started to look up the psychology behind emotional shock, but what came up was more about trauma and medical diagnoses which was not exactly what I was looking for. So I looked up the definition of shock and came across a synonym that fit perfectly – disturbance.

Because the internet has this magical way of sucking us into zones we can’t explain how exactly we reached, I somehow ended up in a Hindi-English site of definitions. Like I said, I can’t really explain how I got there but it’s kind of like when you watch a YouTube video of a clumsy cat and then somehow end up on an organic meal delivery start-up site. These things just happen!

Anyways, something I glared over just clicked with me. This is what it said:

Disturbance: setting something in motion

Disturbance, by definition, is some sort of an intrusion or interruption in your life. It asks you to completely shift your thoughts, motives, and actions. It asks you to completely shift the way in which you are currently living.

What I found interesting about this particular way of looking at disturbance is that it is taken from the perspective of moving forward. Because at its roots, disturbance is a calling. It is a calling for you to move further into your truest self.

Disturbance is an offsetting of balance that asks you to question everything that you were once certain of. Because here’s the thing about certainty: it’s unreliable. It asks you to question what you value, what is important, and it also displays for you, the true members of your tribe.

And even though at the time, this shock or disturbance – this occurrence of an event that you could have never seen coming your way – may be a treacherous, dark and slippery road, we have to remember that disturbance is a gift. Disturbance enters when we are living still and without question. It comes to set us back in motion by twisting our path unexpectedly and in ways that ask us to challenge every notion of our beings and each aspect of our current lives.

Yes, disturbance is an intrusion, but in the way that it makes you become an intruder of your own life. With this, we can either carry on, existing in the same manner, hoping that the shock and the pain that coincides will go away with time. Or, we can shift and change and transform to re-take ownership, but of a new and better life that we can create for ourselves.

Disturbance asks you to completely shift the way in which you are currently living. It makes you become an intruder of your current life because it believes that you can create a better one. If it trusts and believes in us so much, what is stopping us from doing the same for ourselves?

Defying Pain: Are Hardships Dismantling My Progress?

defying-pain

I ask myself this question a lot. It’s as if in the midst of becoming new, I had promised myself that this better version of me would no longer have to deal with depression, anxiety, or difficult circumstances. No, this version would simply be able to live in her happily ever after now. The hard part is over. It’s all easy, breezy, beautiful CoverGirl from here on out.

Writing this out, all I can really see is denial, denial, denial.

I was at a high, a level of consistent happiness that I never experienced before. Friends and strangers alike would tell me I glowed when I spoke. They asked me how I did it – as if I could lay out some informative step-by-step manual of sorts that they too could follow, word by word. But I loved it. I thought, “So this is what they all mean when they say that to help others, you must help yourself first.” It was a clicking; a universal understanding that finally made sense to me as I began to live by it.

And then life made a u-turn, circumstances changed, and all of a sudden I found myself back where I had first begun. I found myself on old terms with anxiety and depression. Getting out of bed in the mornings became more and more difficult. Dreaming was once again my safe place and reality, something I just had to move past for a set amount of hours until I could go back to sleep. Motivating myself to do the simplest things took all the energy I had away from me and I persisted with my attempts at isolation while longing for some way to re-connect.

I know this place. This is my disastrous comfort zone. All of a sudden, I’m no longer glowing, but instead, I find myself fading. Sometimes I fear that I’ll withdraw so much that I’ll disappear altogether. Was the happiness I felt an unintentional glitch in my life?

So yes, this place is familiar. I know it pretty well actually, but who I am in this place is different.

What I’ve come to understand about progress is that it is anything but linear. It actually looks a lot more like this:

what-progress-looks-like

 

Progress is more of an upward circular motion of ups, downs, and in-betweens – but it is an upwards motion nonetheless. When we find ourselves in hard times, we all of a sudden become convinced that this means we are failing and that all the work we did on ourselves was for nothing. And if we stay on this fear-based thought process, we may find ourselves at the root, when we begin to question: What is the point?

What is the point of being a decent human if you’re still going to experience heartache? What is the point of hard work when you still have to experience failure? What is the point of caring when you are still going to be rejected? What is the point of trying? What is the point of my existence?

That’s a dangerous zone to enter, which I know that most of us have come to at some point or another already. So instead of feeding ourselves more doubt, I ask you to change the question.

It’s frustrating when you’ve reached a point of clear progression, one that is visible and you can identify, succumb yourself into only to find yourself back in a dark place. So here’s the first thing I’ll remind you that I have to keep reminding myself: Life is not difficult because you are doing it wrong. Life is difficult because it is designed that way.

I tend to forget that fairly often. We’re all just so used to either taking all the blame or finding something or someone to place it all on. But there is no blame here. This just is.

Instead, ask yourself who you are in this situation in comparison to who you once were. What tools, strength, wisdom, and resources that you have built over time can you bring here, to this place of pain? And on the flip side, what parts of yourself can you improve or strengthen during this time? What can you learn from this that can help you become even more?

Progress does not have a definitive endpoint. If you are a living, breathing being, you are and will continue to be in the process of becoming. When entering this dark place again, I realized that in the outburst of happiness, I think I convinced myself that not only had I become a better version of myself, but this was also the best version I could ever be. Of course, the major problem with that is that it leaves little to no room at all for further growth. As if I had learned everything I could ever know, and become everything that I could ever be at the age of 20. HA!

My point is that your progression does not dismantle with hard times, it strengthens. As much as we would all love to be consistently happy all the time, you don’t grow from there. You grow from pain and discomfort, which funnily enough is what we try so hard to get rid of or avoid completely.

Pain is not failure; it’s an opportunity. If we shut it out, ignore it, or distract ourselves from it while mistaking it as a form of “de-progression”, we miss out on the opportunity to become more. In thinking that pain is failure, we might just wind up resisting growth.

As Glennon Doyle Melton once said: Pain is just a traveling professor. When pain knocks on the door – wise ones breathe deep and say “Come in. Sit down with me. And don’t leave until you’ve taught me what I need to know.”

We’re Not Running Out of Time. We’re Running Out of Patience

running-out-of-time-running-out-of-patience

I’ve always taken great interest in time in all of its forms: the length of our lives, documenting our memories, sharing our stories, but most importantly, the timing of things. By that, I mean the way we categorize good and bad timing in regards to relationships, jobs, and our day-to-day lives.  It’s the “we are wasting our time”, “Life is short”, “You are late” and “It’s just bad timing”.

Everything that we do is dictated by the clocks we have hanging over our heads

So what I’ve been wondering is this: Is living an unsatisfying life our way of rebelling against time? Is it our mockery to not go after what we want? Is it our way of telling the universe that it’s wrong and we have more time than we think?

But then, it turns on us. We get caught up in this joke that we have internalized and we start working at the wrong job. We start living for money rather than earning money to live. We get nice houses and fancy cars. We consume and consume and then we come to think, “Now what?”

So maybe we’re not running out time, we’re simply wasting the short amount that we have. And maybe, we’re simply running out of patience.

I think we’re all just fucking tired at this point. We’re tired of our lives not going the way we wanted. We’re tired of enduring pain over and over again. We’re tired of all the garbage that society feeds us. We are tired of this horrific election. And we’re tired of ourselves. We’re tired of our minds and our worries, our anxieties, and our fears. We’re tired of it all.

That’s kind of where I’m at right now. I feel like I’m just trying to get through each day so that I can go to bed and somehow conjure up enough energy to get through the next. What I’m beginning to wonder is whether this is such a bad thing. Maybe we have to go through these extremes in order to learn how to focus on one day at a time. Maybe in a weird and twisted way, this is how I learn how to be more present.

Perhaps getting through each day can turn into making the most of each day. On both ends of the spectrum, our focus is on the present. The outlook, however, is what is in need of change.

I think gratitude journals, or even just writing down 3 things that you are grateful for every day, can help with that. It can help maintain the present-based focus but change the outlook. To be honest, this is something I’ve always overlooked or just buried in the back of my mind. I’d always tell myself that “I’ll just say the things I’m thankful for in my head,” but 1) I don’t remember to do this and 2) I think it’s more useful to write it down.

After a week, a month, etc., you can look back at what you were thankful for each day and most likely, you’ll see a common theme. I think that’ll give us more awareness on where we should spend the majority of our energy. Being someone who writes so much, I know the effects that words have on the way we look at the world, as well as the way we choose to live in it. So that’s exactly what I intend to do, and it would be amazing if you guys were to join me with this. Let’s live in the effects of our gratitude by just writing down 3 things every night before we go to bed or every morning before we begin our day (or both).

If you’re standing where I am – just trying to get through each day – I think that we’re on the right track; we’re just on the wrong end of the spectrum. Let’s try to make the most of our day rather than get through it.

I get that sometimes all we can do is use the little energy that we have to just get through. That’s okay, too. You do what you have to do today and sometimes that means to just breathe or take a walk or cry. But remember that it all comes in waves, flowing up and down. I think gratitude can help shift our gaze in the midst of any state we are in, as long as we remain patient enough to let it do its work.

Substituting a Productive Life for a Valuable One

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We see it everywhere now. It’s the era of to-do lists that spreads “how-to guide” flags and shines the light on how to get the most done in the least amount of time.

I’m so glad that there is becoming a bigger movement towards understanding that our lives are short and that we must live each day to the fullest. I mean, that message has been floating around for so long but it seems like now we are finally getting a grasp on it. But, somewhere along the way, we misinterpreted a meaningful life for a productive one.

With trying to get everything done – running from one errand to the next, checking things off our to-do lists, scanning for emails on our smartphones as we eat our lunch, and checking alerts and notifications to make sure that we don’t miss anything – we are missing our entire lives. With the mixed messages flying around, maybe we misunderstood that living your life to the fullest doesn’t mean rushing your way through life. I think it actually means that we have to slow down. 

If we were to take another look at our to-do lists with a separate set of eyes, what have we done today that brought us joy? (Other than the damn check mark beside the errand, people.)

Dig deeper. What did you do that held value to you? What did you do that holds meaning? What did you do that lit you up and made you feel good?

So today, I’m choosing to replace the word ‘productive’ with ‘value’ because I’ve been caught up in this, too. I don’t know how to slow down. I just like doing things and then more and more. But I’m beginning to wonder whether productivity is actually a distraction. Maybe, like perfectionism, it is fear dressed up in fancy attire. What are you trying so hard not to focus on? What are you afraid your mind will think of if you were to stop doing all of these tasks?

If we look at the ways in which information is thrown at us, it only makes sense to react with anxiety. And, if we remember, anxiety is future-oriented, and the worry – or the ‘unproductive-mind-banter’, as I like to call it – that comes along with it is often very fast paced. Put together, it’s easy to understand how our minds got confused and misinterpreted the important because we no longer get to decide that.

Except we do.

But it’s all a process of unlearning. We have to distinguish the meaning behind the language that we use and the language that we see and hear. Our choice of words and others’ choices of words affect us SO much more than we think. With that, we have to distinguish what the underlying truth is.

So today, I want you all to take another look at your to-do lists. Today I want you to replace your desire to be productive with the desire to be intentional. What holds value? What doesn’t? Just a little dose of this question every single day, and let’s see together, where exactly it takes us.

What can you do today that will give you value? This doesn’t have to be anything major and dramatic or life-altering. It can be setting aside 10 minutes to journal, picking up that book you set aside and reading for 20 minutes before you go to bed. It can be brewing yourself a cup of coffee and absorbing the taste of it in quiet. It can be eating dinner at the restaurant that just opened up near you. It can be taking a walk or spending time with your pet, friends, or significant other. It can be anything at all. The requirement is simply setting any amount of time, whether it be 10 minutes or an hour, each day, for yourself. But remember that doing something for yourself doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to do it by yourself. It can be solitary, or it can be social. This is your time.

Just a little dose of this question and this doing, every single day, and let’s see together, where exactly it takes us.

The Resilience Factor: Why All News is Bad News

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Sometimes I wonder why we seek the different while praising the normal. What we are accustom to is often where we feel most comfortable, but also least satisfied. The repetition of our lives is where we rest and where we are resilient. Maybe envy is our way of praising the different. Maybe we aren’t sure how to applaud things that don’t conform, but our discomfort hinders our ability to love it.

I think we are all wired to handle things we would never think we were capable of. It’s like the elasticity of our brain, and how we still can’t understand all the ways it can stretch, adjust, and recreate.

I’ve been thinking a lot about bad news in relation to the election, the media, and how we all have been feeling like our world is collapsing. When only bad news is heightened and a headline such as Taylor Swift’s breakup is given as much importance, coverage, and attention as a war, or a death, our minds tend to leverage that information as the same.

It’s our ability to prioritize, along with the skewed headlines in the media. What we often forget is that these people need to report breaking news constantly in an effort to keep their jobs. However, when we see these varying messages and different levels of information, our minds become imbalanced.

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend listening to the RobCast episode on Breaking News.

Most often, the things that build up in our minds to make the world appear as if it’s all going downhill are centered around these mixed messages.

In the RobCast episode, Rob Bell talks about instant notifications. It’s how we subscribe to get alerts from certain media channels which in turn, has changed our control over what we hear and when. Instead of reading the newspaper, where you get to decide which columns or sections you want to read and when you want to sit down and read it, some person in an office somewhere gets to do that for you now. That person gets to decide when a mass population gets alerted on whatever they decide is important.

In this day, of course we are all going to be worried and anxious all the time. It only makes sense for us to react that way. When we are constantly being fed information; When we have no control over what we see or when we see it, we no longer get to decide what is of value to us. Therefore, we no longer get to decide what we should spend our time thinking or worrying about because all of it is being thrown at us and all of it is bad.

How can we possibly even think of taking any sort of action or raising any sort of awareness to a cause when there are so many important ones out there to choose from?

But, we are more resilient than we give ourselves credit for. We can stretch from those constraints. We can level out the imbalance that comes from the mixed messages being sent our way. We can turn off notifications and unsubscribe to alerts. We can find a time in the day to read the news and we can read the articles we want. We can read the ones we decide are of value to us.

No, the world is not perfect and it is good to be informed. However, we should get to decide where to place our focus and energy. We should get to decide what is important to us.

 

10 Reasons Why I’m a Nasty Woman

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This recent movement that Donald Trump has accidentally fueled has brought all of us women together, and seemingly in opposition to him. The Nasty Woman Movement is our stories and our truths. It is how women are beginning to live their lives in such a way that goes against what history has taught us. It is how we are becoming everything that is in contrast to what history has told us to be.

The Nasty Woman Movement is using our voices to support and empower one another while we continue to battle the hard struck cold of misogyny that still exists today.

Here are 10 reasons why I’m a nasty woman:

I am a Nasty Woman Because:

  1. I am both an honest and sensitive human

  2. I no longer rest on the train of people-pleasers. And no, having an opinion doesn’t make me a bitch. Being a woman doesn’t automatically place me in the role of being someone who just stands there in the sidelines, smiling and nodding to whatever you say. I have a voice, too and I should be allowed to use it.

  3. My body is mine and NOT just for the sake of man’s pleasure

  4. Having sex does not make me a slut. Saying “no” does not make me a prude.

  5. My happiness is not dictated by a man’s presence in my life.

  6. My body changes by the minute, just like everybody else’s. It is for no one’s approval or disapproval.

  7. I am a feminist, which doesn’t automatically make me a crazy man-hater.

  8. I cry and I get emotional. Being sensitive or expressing how I feel does not make me weak.

  9. Wanting love does not make me desperate. Enjoying being single does not make me “in denial”. And my relationship status does not dictate my worth.

  10. Lastly, I am a Nasty Woman because I am confident and insecure, bold and timid.

I am a Nasty Woman because I would like to live my life without constant judgment and disapproval. I am a Nasty Woman because I’m just a human who wants to be treated as an equal.

In a society that profits from a woman’s insecurities; in a society that wants women to be warped in competitions against one another, our support, empowerment, and love for each other are acts of rebellion.

So let’s be rebels together.

 

The Courtesy of Crooked: A Linear Life is not a Growing One

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Crooked.

Definition: bent or twisted out of shape or out of place.

Lately, I’ve been feeling crooked; like my body is not standing up the way that it should. It’s like I’m being weighed down and to the side by people, pressure, timing, and the desire to belong. Most of all, I’m being weighed down by my mind. My mind has always been the dictator. It makes all the calls. Its need to control has often left me exhausted and burnt out.

When you’re crooked, you seek some sort of middle ground. You want to balance out the body and mind so that they are only allowed to take charge of things that they have the ability to control.

But being the born pleaser that I am, things tend to get out of hand and nobody ends up happy. In attempts to please both my body and mind, I find myself living in a self-imposed contradiction and a constant state of frustration. Who do I listen to, and when? Can they just solve this on their own and split up the roles and responsibilities so girlfriend over here can get some peace?

Right now, I’m trying to separate my mind and body from my soul so that I can fully understand the core of what they need on their own. I’ve allowed my mind to take control for so long that I’ve almost forced it to parent my body – the body that it then chose to shame. Even though the both of them are so utterly connected, they are fed differently. By working as separate entities, they seek different things to bring to the table; and when they combine their varying fruits together, they become the same. This is because they both have the same means and the same intentions, which is to feed your soul.

My body’s poor and painful reactions throughout my entire life were red flags. This continuous decline in my physical health were attempts at signalling and trying to indicate to me that my mind doesn’t know everything, nor can it succeed at doing everything. This is supposed to be a team effort. My body was trying to have a voice and tell me that it had something to contribute, but I never listened.

I’m still learning how to place them together; how to distinguish which one is in charge of what role and how they can compliment each other by joining into something that ignites my soul.

But for now, I’m a little crooked, and that’s okay. It’s not the best position to be in, and it ensures me the back pains of an 80-year-old, but I understand that this is the place I need to be in right now. As much as I would like to be upright, you don’t learn and grow from being linear. Linear is stable, static, and unhindered. Linear is a resting station, and sometimes a place to recharge. But you don’t grow from linear, you learn from the crooked.

 

The Kindness Dilemma

When you’re a child, you’re often taught to be kind to people and there is a very black and white idea painted for what is means to be nice and what it means to be mean. Let me exemplify it for you:

“Chad pushed me in the playground, Mom”

  • Conclusion: Well, looks like Chad has got some anger management issues to deal with. NEVER trust a boy named Chad, Layla. Fuck Chad.

Then there’s Layla, the sweet girl who personalized Valentine’s Day cards for everyone in the class, INCLUDING Chad, even though he pushed her in the playground. (PS: Remember when everyone got Valentine’s Day cards from the entire class? Why is that not a thing anymore?)

  • Conclusion: Layla is a nice girl. You should be friends with Layla. Everyone should be like Layla! YAY LAYLA!

There, the distinct behaviors of mean and kind. The good and bad.

What happens when you grow up? Why does the distinction become so blurry? I guess we come to understand the difference between actions and intentions. We understand mistakes and we understand that doing something wrong doesn’t make you a bad person, it just makes you human.

But when did the goodness that comes from a kind heart become a weakness? Why has being mean and selfish become the trait that only the strongest people possess? When did the definition of strength evolve into something so individualistic? And when did the calculated result of this strength begin resting on monetization?

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Formula for an Unsuccessful Life

If you are nice, you get walked on. People who get walked on can never earn good money because they are sensitive and care too much. You have to be stronger than that to survive in this world.

Weakness: Kind, Caring, Sensitive   →   Outcome: Not earning enough money, allowing others to take advantage of you. 

Formula for a Successful Life

However, the idea of “only looking out for yourself”, having to step on some people to get where you want to be; That is the one and only way to reach success.

Strength: Not trusting people, using others in order to get what you want, being mean →  Outcome: Money Money Money! Success! WOO!

Note: These are very broad formulas. The ways in which people may use them are different and situational. This also doesn’t define people in a black and white fashion of good or bad. But those are the formulas, the standards, the mindsets and the unwritten terms we have all come to agree upon for how to succeed in this world. It’s a very simplistic model for us to understand what aspects of ourselves we might have to change in order to potentially receive better outcomes.

If we were to dig a little deeper into how success has gained this universal definition, we have to start talking about capitalism and social moments and the history of how the world slowly became what it is. If you want the detailed description and outline of all of that, I suggest you read a sociology textbook. Even then, there are blurry lines because not everything can be explained with reason. Everything is somehow a result of environments/events interacting with humanity. We can always try and predict or reason the reactions that people have or will have, but some things are what they are and we may never know why. Some things can never be FULLY explained, especially when it boils down to people.

However, somewhere along the way, the word ‘success’ started being defined in a materialistic way. It’s about how much money you earn, how many clothes you can afford, the brands you are able to purchase from, the house you are able to live in and the car you can afford to drive in. To be successful is to have people envy all of the luxuries we can afford. To be successful is to appear to have it all. What really is ‘having it all’? What is all this success even for?

It’s supposed to be for happiness. That’s what it always boils down to, isn’t it? The desire to be content. The desire to be free. The desire to not feel empty or lonely. It’s the destination we all long for. But when we are advised to not be so trusting of people, to not be so kind, to not be so generous, and not be so helpful, and we listen to it, we are opting into this belief of a life where happiness is a commodity. We are opting out of the idea that love is a factor in all of this.

When we advise others to be untrusting, less kind, and less forgiving, we are teaching them to unlearn how to love.

When I get thanked for being kind at my work by customers, they are quick to ask me whether or not I make commission from this job. Because obviously if I am kind, there MUST be something I get out of it, and it MUST be monetary. Why else would I do it? What good reason does a human have to be kind to other humans?

My question is, why must there be a reason? When I answer ‘no’ to the question of gaining commission, they’re often shocked and then confused. And if you’re wondering whether this reaction brings me joy, it doesn’t. It actually fuels me with anger because this is an insult to the world. It is an insult to the way we are living and it is an insult to the way we are raised to survive in this society, but it is also the truth.

No, you don’t get money from being kind to others, but you know what you do get? You get that kindness back. You get respect. You get truth. You get honesty. You get forgiveness. You get help.

You get love

From this one act – the most simple and complex thing to do – you get this magnificent experience of what it really means to be human. And that, my friends, is fucking success.

I Don’t Have a Passion and The Reason I Stopped Looking For One

These days I’ve been feeling like I’m in a cycle of perpetual exhaustion. There is not enough time to do all of the things I want to be doing and I’m expanding my days by staying up later, waking up earlier, to do them all. I can’t seem to keep up with my own interests. But what I’m scared to ask myself is this: Can someone get burnt out from doing all of the things they love? IS THAT A THING THAT CAN HAPPEN? Because if it is, I would appear to be the most selfish human in the world for complaining about something that is such a privilege.

I want to continue working 40+ hours a week. I want to do my readings and assignments for university. I want to read for fun. I want to blog and write. I want to journal. I want to meditate. I want to learn photography and coding and enhance my graphic design skills. I want to keep learning how to play the guitar. I want to listen to latest episodes of the podcasts I’m following. I want to meal prep for the week and clean and do laundry (but let’s be real, cleaning and laundry end up moving to the bottom of my priorities list). I want to continue writing my book and I want to see that friend who I made plans with 2 months ago and still haven’t gotten around to. I want to wash my hair because it’s been so long that dry shampoo can’t even fix it! I want to spend more time with my cat because he’s so lonely and I’m not home enough.

I get to do a majority of these things, but waking up at 5am every day and going to sleep around midnight is too short of a time period. I need more time. I almost feel like I’ve transitioned from someone who dreaded having to be alive for another day to someone who is addicted to life. A former insomniac who wanted to sleep to just get away from the world to someone who drinks so much coffee to stay awake and continue making things.

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The most wonderful and terrifying part about myself is my motivation to keep working, keep learning, and most importantly, keep creating. The scary part is how fleeting all of my interests are. I hop from one thing to the next and the one after that. I have to constantly remind myself that this is what a life of following your curiosity looks like and this is the life where I feel happiest, but it is also not the life suggested by western society.

Sometimes I wonder why I can’t just like doing one thing and stick to it and grow with it. I admire people who have that kind of dedication. Often times, I wonder if I’m even cut out for any long-term commitments in general. Why is it that I don’t only have one passion and why is it that my many interests become a bore after a certain amount of time? Why is it that I move from one thing to the next and then go back to the first one, and then move on to something completely different, over and over again? How am I supposed to make any decisions in my life if I’m not even sure I’ll want to move forward with it a few weeks from now? And lastly, WHY IS EVERYTHING ALWAYS SO MESSY?

So that’s just about what has been racking up in my mind my whole life. It is also the reason I’ve always felt very out of place, even growing up. I’ve always felt like I was born at the wrong time or the wrong place. The basis in which I work, think and behave goes completely against the ways in which we are made to believe we should be. We are supposed to passionate about one thing and we are supposed to follow that, and only that, all throughout our lives and grow it into a career. So basically, I should be the exact opposite of myself to get anywhere in life, which means I just have to change every part of who I am. Just what I needed to hear! I’ll get right on that, thanks.

And then I stumbled on this.

And suddenly, it all made sense. The woman Liz Gilbert was talking about was everything that I was and still am.

She explains the world as being divided into two very different kinds of people: the Jackhammers and the Hummingbirds. You put a passion in a Jackhammer’s hands and they just drill away, never veering. That is what they do and that is who they are. Hummingbirds, however, spend their lives doing it very differently. They move from tree to tree, from flower to flower, from field to field. Trying many things, weaving various aspects of the world together. The service that they do in the world is cross-pollinating. Both kinds of people are essential in this world because that is how we were made to be. But in a world that fetishizes passion, the hummingbirds are made to believe that they are doing it all wrong.

But both kinds of people are essential in this world because that is how we were made to be and I’M A FREAKING HUMMINGBIRD.

So no, that doesn’t mean that life has suddenly become simple and I never beat myself up about the way that I am. It’s not that I don’t fear the constant change I bring about in my own life on a daily basis. But a lot can come from just knowing that you are not alone and that has brought more than just comfort into my life. It has also given me acceptance. It allowed me to give myself the permission slip to continue doing what I’m doing and being who I am, and not feeling guilty about it (most of the time).

No, I don’t have just one passion. I’m passionate about many things – some fade quickly and some last fairly long. Everything is always fleeting and moving and changing. But what does stick is my passion for life and my passion for creating.

No one should ever have to feel guilty about the way they are wired because that is who they must be in this world. That is who we were always made to be. Being exactly who you are in this world is doing a service to humanity as a whole.

 On that note, I hope you all have a magical Tuesday and continue to follow your instincts and curiosity.

Why I Chose to Quit my Life – A Not-so Morbid Tale

I’ve never been capable of making decisions at ease, rather it was my sister who got praised with that gene. Growing up, my mom, my sister and I formed our own little exclusive squad where our rituals included eating one large pizza each, every single day after school, and coming home to read, play, or watch re-runs of Sailor Moon on our the satellite television that we illegally installed.

Side Story: I didn’t know our satellite was illegal for the longest time and so I would go to school as a fourth grader telling my friends to watch *insert TV show here* on channel 1000+ and would actually get into heated arguments about how that channel really does exist. One debacle was with a boy I’ll refer to as Jim Newson. He didn’t believe I literally had thousands of channels on my TV and so I told him to come over so he could see for himself. I had a huge crush on Jim so I really wanted him to come over. He never did. And that was the end of my third non-existent relationship. 

Back to what I was saying: Decision-making has never been my forte. I guess it came alongside this need to fulfill everyone’s wishes and desires. I didn’t mind putting my own at stake to ensure that their’s were met. I’ve always been a people-pleaser, and I’ve lived comfortably, even floated in the midst of deep misery, satisfying what everyone else needs from me. Until one day, it was no longer okay. Until one day that I decided: not this.

I took a hard look at my life, where I was, the person I was becoming, and who I wanted to be. I had no idea what I intended to do with my life, but all that I did know was that it wasn’t this. It wasn’t the life that I was currently living. I didn’t want to live this way and I didn’t want to be this way. For once in my life, I decided to decide for myself.

Now, for a person who is constantly thinking about how my life choices will affect all those surrounding me, it appeared to be a bit selfish at first. Until I decided that being selfish is exactly what I needed to be. Is it so bad to want to live your life the way you want to live it? And so, the most rational thing I could do was to be the most irrational human being I have ever been, and spoiler alert: it was liberating…at first.

When you’re diving into this new and exciting revelation, everything seems to get a tad blurry. It’s kind of like when people win the lottery and all of a sudden they have all this money that they’ve never come across before and they decide to just splurge all of it at once. That’s the kind of adrenaline rush I got, and so in the heat of the moment, I decided to say adios to university. It felt like it had done what it was supposed to do with my life. It gave me an experience, and I felt that it was time to finish it once and for all, and so I changed my 4 year program into a 3 year one so that I could graduate early (I should be done in December this year). I turned my part-time job into a full-time one so that I could be more financially stable doing whatever the hell I was going to do. So I was on my way to do…something. I would be done school so that would no longer be a burden. I would be working full time so I could support myself while doing that thing that I’m going to do that I haven’t quite figured out yet. Either way, WOO! I’M MAKING MY OWN DECISIONS! YIPEE! I was being pulled in by so much excitement and adrenaline and craze all at once and it was both the greatest and briefest moment.

And then, it was reality check time. When this whole super-crazy-oh-my-god-I’m-a-strong-independent-woman-who-can-make-her-own-life-choices rush passed, as it always does, I was finally struck by the ever-so familiar banter of thoughts that were deeply rooted in fear. If you’re a sociopath or some glimmering non-human entity floating around the world, you might be wondering what this thought-process looks like. Well, it went a little like this:

Did you just drop everything you’ve ever worked for? Do you understand WHAT THE HELL YOU ARE DOING? Yeah, I don’t think you do. Finish your four years of school, you idiot. Get a real adult job. Do what you’re supposed to do because I don’t know if you know this, but you just left a life of comfort without even DECIDING what you are going to do with all this spare time. Are you just going to work retail the rest of your life? Is that what you want to do? Keep struggling financially then, hunny. What happened to ambition? What happened to dreams? What happened to FINANCIAL SECURITY?!! HELLOOOOO? Are you listening? You’re a loser. You’re going to be a bum. You’re going to sit on your ass every single day of your life and do nothing and be nothing and that is it. Good job. This is why you don’t make decisions you nutjob. You don’t know how to do this. Get some perspective for once. Get a reality check. You. are. a. failure. That isn’t going to change anytime soon.

Day after day, this is what it felt like. It felt like the one time I decided to decide, I had chosen wrong. I didn’t have experience making choices for myself and I had just made the greatest, life-altering one, so what the hell was I thinking?

I focused more on school because maybe if I did that, I would feel more passionate about my degree and want to pursue it as a career. Maybe changing it back to 4-years would be better? I could do that, right? However, that plan clearly didn’t work. The only way I could actually pause these intrusive thoughts, I soon found, was to read. And so, I read. I read books on books on books just to get away from this idea that I had completely ruined my life. I was taken out of my own reality into magical places. I was shifted back into the world of books that had always been my own true place of comfort and safety. And then one day, after placing a bookmark in another novel to grab a bite to eat, I was ready for the fear-banter to begin again. But that’s not what I got this day. Instead, this faint curious notion patted me on the back and whispered, “You like books,” and I’m kind of just standing there waiting for my leftover Chinese food to heat up in the microwave like, “Yeah, no shit Sherlock.” And then, in response to that, something else happened. It was something along the lines of, “What if you decided to write a book?” What if I did?

It’s not like the fear banter just went away (because when does it ever?) but I decided to look into this idea. What if I decided to write a book? What harm could it do to my life? None. How much excitement could it bring to my life? – Potentially, a lot. I mean, you can probably tell that weighing the pros and cons wasn’t the most difficult of tasks. So that’s it. This is what I’ve decided to do, and for once, it feels like I’m doing something right. I don’t know how long this is going to take and I really don’t know what I’m doing while I’m doing it, but progress is being made. I didn’t know at the time what I needed to be doing, but all I knew was that everything I was currently doing, was not it. What I’ve learned is that sometimes, that’s all you need to know. I don’t know what’ll happen from here on out, and to be completely honest, I feel really uncomfortable while I’m doing all this. But it’s the good kind of discomfort. It’s the, “Hey, you’re not completely miserable and don’t really know what to do with feeling content for once” kind of discomfort. But for once, although I have nothing completely planned out for my life, I feel more okay than I ever have before. All of this because I didn’t want the life I had, and made the decision not to live that way anymore, even before I had the slightest idea of the life I did want. All I can say is that if this is selfish, then being selfish is really fun!

I’ll also be blogging regularly again to let you guys know about what’s going on, what progress is being made, and the emotional roller-coaster of it all. It feels good to be back.

I Have No Idea What I’m Doing, But I’m Doing It

I “announced” on twitter that I had some pretty big news that I’d share with you guys. I mean, the word “announce” makes it sound all big and important and probably made you think it had something to do with you, and perhaps it does. Maybe the decision I have been going back and forth with for quite some time until finally coming to a solid conclusion, will help you make yours. Let me start by going back to the early days of elementary school.

I was a nerd. I was THE nerd. I was THE teacher’s pet (not as annoying and never the person constantly raising their hand up to answer every question, because I was shy and awkward) but I just did my work, I got really good grades, and I had great relationships with my teachers. That’s really all it was to me. School has always been my safe place. I can do school, and I can do it well. I can spend hours of my time color-coding my notes and adding page numbers and a table of content to my notebooks because I’m a weirdo, and I think it’s fun. I can spend days and nights living off of coffee and little to no sleep, just studying. I was the ideal candidate for university because I pretty much fit all the criteria. That was, until I got here.

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I’ve told you guys before that I once had a plan for myself. I was going to finish high school, do my undergrad, my masters, my PhD in Clinical Psychology, and then go straight to work. That plan, as you all may know if you’ve read my posts from time to time, has fallen apart over the years. Clinical psychology seemed like the perfect route for me. I’ve always wanted to pursue a career where I could live my life to help others while also being able to pay my bills and this field hit both the check-marks! Kind of perfect, right? Wrong!

Over the years, I’ve begun to understand my love of learning about people and watching people (okay, it sounds creepy but all you people-watching lovers should get where I’m coming from). I used to be a really quiet person and I’ve always been a strong listener which has helped me throughout the years because I’ve learned that being the person who always has something to say doesn’t necessarily make you more knowledgeable. I think it’s more important to have to hear what others have to say and take it in, understand it, and take time to digest the information before deciding whether you agree with it or not. Listening gives you perspective and I think that’s also helped me as a writer. Observation can take you places. You heard it here first, folks!

Now, let’s just jump into the subject of part-time jobs. I have always hated working. For some reason, going in to work has always given me great anxiety. It doesn’t matter if I get along with everyone there and the work environment is great – I just don’t like it, or I guess, I didn’t like it. Then again, I’ve only really worked at fast-food joints and restaurants. Despite my hatred towards going in to work, I have always been a great worker. I am someone who loves working while I’m on the job, however, going in to work (like that 20 minute time frame before clocking in), I panic. If I were to paint a picture for you, imagine what a person looks like when they are experiencing a heart attack, and that was what it felt like in my brain. So as a result of that, I called in sick quite often and gave most of my shifts away. As much as I loved working while I was there, the pre-panic attacks were not worth it. Maybe a part of it was the “people-pleaser” in me that gets anxious that I might screw up and everyone will hate me and I’ll become the worst employee. Another part of me simply hated the routine lifestyle that it promoted. So I moved around a lot from job to job. Having a job was never much of an option for me, only because in short, I needed to survive and help my mom pay the bills. So recently, when I got a job at my favourite clothing store, Urban Outfitters, I was giddy and excited, but cautious at the same time because it was likely that this will be yet another temporary gig, meaning that I should still keep copies of my resume at hand.

Then, something happened. Instead of that panic moment, I began to feel excitement with going to work. I walked in to an environment that embraced creativity and freedom of expression. I don’t work with people who constantly nag me about what I’m going to do with my degree. Instead, the topic of creative passions always seems to arise. I get to talk about my writing and they talk about their passion of strumming the strings of their acoustic guitar or the feeling they get when they colour a page with delicate strokes of a brush. I work with creatives and with that, I learned that my one stop for everything in my wardrobe was also my one stop at finding my kind of people. The environment is hectic and you have to constantly run around, completing different tasks as you go. Every day is different and you never really know what you’re going to have to deal with when you go to work. It’s busy and chaotic and overwhelmingly exciting. It’s my element. With that, Urban Outfitters has become my home. It’s a place that offers opportunities in not only retail, but also other departments. A place that has visual departments, craftsmen, fashion, music, and the one thing that’s dearest to my heart: writing.

With my internship, working, and full-time school, things have been more than chaotic lately. I get to fall in love with writing each day as I make my way through my internship. I get to surround myself with creative people at work. School however, has become less and less important in my life. It’s not to say that I haven’t learned anything from it, but it’s more than I’ve found something better, and I almost feel like school is holding me back from going further into what I want to do with my life. School is routine-based whereas I’m looking for a beautiful mess to conquer.

I saw a quote recently as I was scrolling through my pinterest feed that said “You did not wake up today to be mediocre,” and it hit a nerve. I feel that right now, school is the only thing stopping me from becoming more, from doing more. For someone who loved school, I know that a lot of that love came from the safety it gave me. I know that as long as I’m in school, even though I’m accumulating debt, I can put the real world on pause. But school is boring for me. The content is interesting and something I would enjoy doing if it weren’t so structured and rushed.

In a post I published a while back, I mentioned that I wanted to remove all backup plans in my life so that with whatever I decide to pursue, there is no option but to succeed in it, and I think my time at school is coming to an end. From wanting to continue studies until my late 20’s to finishing up this year and graduating early, it’s probably the greatest risk I’ll ever take. I hold a lot of importance to education. I think it’s a great base for knowledge, not only about the world, but yourself. At the same time, I think learning by actively doing something is also very important. I think taking risks are important. Most of all, I think listening to your gut is important. I don’t think school is for everyone, and I learned that as much as I want it to, it isn’t for me. I like being busy. I like running around. I like having tasks thrown at me to complete for a deadline. That’s what I get at my internship and Urban Outfitters, but not university. I don’t like sitting in lectures for hours at a time because I’m a fidgety person and I need to constantly be doing things. I don’t like reading books to be rushed and forced because it’s something I otherwise, naturally enjoy doing. I like busy. I like chaos. But I despise structure, and that’s what school really is. That’s why I think it’s great for some people, but I’m not one of them.

Maybe jumping into the real world and figuring things out when I have no plan at all is the worst idea and will lead me to great distress. Or, maybe it will be the best decision I will ever make. Either way, instead of completing 4 years, I’ll finish up after my 3rd (this year) and work full-time, keep writing at my internship and blog, find other writing gigs, and basically just see where life takes me. Every individual that I admire is someone who has taken great risks in life and it led them to great struggle but then, great success. I have no idea what I’m doing, but for once, I think I’m headed in the right direction and I need to trust my gut on this one. In order to have great things come your way, you have to believe that you deserve them and have the confidence to just go for it (or do what I’m doing and fake it ’till you make it!)

This year is going to continue being tough because I have a lot on my plate, right now. But, I hope you guys will stick around for this exciting/terrifying adventure I hope is coming my way.

Forced Writing Isn’t Always a Bad Thing, I Do it Everyday

There is a moment each day when I begin to question why I do it, why I write. There are instances when I wonder if I even have enough thoughts that are meaningful enough to display for the world to see. I wonder if I have enough to say, or if this is it. This is where the motivation ends. This is when my voice vanishes. This is when I have no more left to say. Each day, I have this moment. Each day, I wonder why I write and if I have the momentum to continue doing it for the rest of my life.

I’ve mentioned quite a few times on twitter chats and even in a few of my blog posts that when I write on my blog, it’s always spontaneous. I never plan out what to say. I don’t know what I’m writing about until I’m finished. I don’t even create a title for my posts until I’m done reading it through and find a theme in my words. Then, I just quickly edit any grammatical errors and hit the publish button. It doesn’t take much thought. I just write and the words just flow, but there is always that fear while I’m writing, that it might all be rubbish. What if nothing I say makes sense? What if there is no meaning or message to send off? What if it’s all just stupid ramblings that no one will care to read? The reason I hit publish right away is because I know if I wait any longer, I won’t publish it at all. Doubt will get in the way and a piece of writing that has the potential of helping someone out will vanish. It will be non-existent.

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The most terrifying thing about writing is the freedom that comes along with it. But that is also the excitement of it. There are days I wonder why I write, but that feeling goes away once I force myself to do it anyway. You may think writing comes naturally, but that isn’t always the case. Sometimes you have to force out the doubt to get to the good stuff. I have pages upon pages in my journal with: “Why am I doing this. I’m stupid. I’m not a writer. There are so many people our there who are better than me. What makes me think I can do this? I’m stupid. This is stupid. I suck. I suck. I suck,” written repeatedly. Then, out of nowhere, something blossoms out. It’s unexpected, it’s random, and it doesn’t always flow, but it comes out.

Writing has a lot to do with release. Often we think this release is simply of our rummaging thoughts or hidden agendas, but the greatest release is that of doubt and fear. Sometimes writing “I suck” over and over on a piece of paper will finally release that sense of doubt so that you can continue writing about what is really on your mind. Then, the writing becomes natural. But writing about doubt, I find, is often forced. It’s forced because when we question our abilities, we run away from our passions. When I begin to fear my future, I don’t want to write, but I force myself to.

So don’t waste your art. It’s easy to forget the importance of each and every one of our voices. We have seen things from a perspective nobody else has. We have a way of speaking that nobody else shares. We have stories that nobody else knows. But in the end, we can all relate to the emotions that have been felt. When fear creeps up and doubt clouds over you, don’t run away thinking that you have lost your natural ability. Remember that sometimes, we have to force out the doubt to get back to doing what we love, naturally.

The Art of Storytelling

Music has always held it’s own place in my heart. As a child, I would browse around the the music section of toy stores and the stationary sections of dollar stores. Any- and everything I owned had to have some sort of a melodic tune incorporated within it. Between writing and music, there was nothing else I needed to feel satisfied.

There was a time in my life that I like to call the ‘nobody gets me phase’ where I chose to dress in baggy t-shirts and over-sized jeans. It was the time where I wore too much eyeliner alongside an extremely deep sided part to my hair that managed to completely cover one of my eyes. The whole point was so that I had to constantly blow hair away from my face Ariel style, duh! I sat on the floor in the small corner of my room, large headphones covered my ears and were attached to a walkman the size of my father’s hand. I blared melodies sung by Avril Lavigne while reading dark and twisted novels. Ah, those were the days. To this day, I still feel the need to explain the story behind the red painted walls of my room that have black borders around them and the one wall with large black and white stripes, mimicking the image of a zebra. “I’m just a fifth-grader who wants to be different and at the same time, just like everybody else because fitting in is crucial and red is a vibrant colour and zebras are cool and nobody gets me! GOD, MOM!” 

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My point is that whatever phase I was going through in my life, music, reading and writing were always a part of it. In a world filled with magic and so much life, we are all still left a little broken, mended, and bruised. But in some way, art has a way of binding us all together. I think that is what has always drawn me towards it, even at a young age. Whether it be music, painting, writing, or anything else of the sorts, art has way of telling a story. But it is a form of storytelling that remains subjective. Once any piece of art is placed in the world, it is no longer the creator’s, but it is left for the rest of us to interpret in whichever way we choose.

Just take the story I told you for instance, about that specific ‘nobody gets me’ phase in my life. Some of you may read it only to be reminded of a time where you were almost that exact person, too. Others may recall a different phase in their life that may be just as cringe-worthy. Either way, storytelling has never failed to be the one thing that binds us all together. It is the one thing that connects our emotions to someone else’s and for a moment, may it be a split-second of time, you feel a little less alone in this world. There is beauty that comes with a simple melody, a single lyric, a dialogue in a novel, or splattered paint on a canvas, that has the power to resonate with us.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be the typical forms of creativity that can be viewed as art, or forms of storytelling. A single whiff of an old fragrance can carry the ability to bring you back to your sixth grade dance when you finally got the chance to awkwardly slow dance with your longstanding crush. Perfumes hold stories, as does the messenger backpack you lugged around your right shoulder throughout the ninth grade, regardless of the aching sensations it brought to your body. Just about anything can be used to tell a story. But it is just up to you to bring that story to life.

Making the Ordinary, Extraordinary

I’ve been a little obsessed with Hozier’s song, Someone New lately, especially Sarah Close’s cover of it. A lyric that I have been replaying over and over in my head is, I fall in love just a little, oh a little bit, everyday, with someone new, and I think there’s almost an underlying message that can be taken from that single line in the song. I love how music can do that to you. I love how a single lyric can resonate with your life and create such a large impact in the way you begin to perceive it.

I’ve been really into mindfulness ever since I took part in a psychological study during my first year of university. There was a group of about ten of us that got together every week and we were taught different steps on how to become more mindful in our everyday life. If you don’t know much about mindfulness, it is basically about teaching yourself to become more present and conscious in the moment. And, after reading Natalie Goldberg’s book, Writing Down the Bones, which I highly recommend all you bloggers and writers to pick up at your nearest bookstore, it made me become more motivated to apply these little notions into my everyday life.

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For someone who has a very large itch to travel, it’s not something I can afford to do right now. As much as I would love to drop everything and spend months in South America or Europe, backpacking around, spending nights in hostels, and walking through the depths of unknown territories, I am an extremely broke university student. So instead of moping and whining about how tragic my life is, what I have begun to do is try to experience what I consider to be the ordinary aspects of my everyday life as extraordinary. By training myself to change the way I perceive things, I’ve found that I’ve gained more interest in simplicity and I’ve come to learn that although I am unable to travel right now, there is a way to make the most out of where I am right now.

Natalie Goldberg’s book is filled with very short ‘chapters’ which are one-two pages long that are completely different from one another. By that, I mean that you could flip through to page 57 for instance, and be able to read it without having read any of the pages before. One of the chapters, or sections, or whatever you would like to call them, that stuck with me was about a time she was in Hopi Land in Arizona where she went to see snake dances. There was so much depth to the scenery and so many aspects to the dance that Goldberg didn’t know how she could even begin writing about it. Not until her friend suggested that she describe the entire experience in an ordinary way. To those who were a part of this festival, it was something they had seen every other year for their whole lives, however, to an outsider, all of this was new territory.

Taking that in, I began to wonder how my life would be if I were to look at every ordinary aspect of it in such a way that a complete outsider would. What would happen if every morning, I fell in love with the crisp taste of my fresh cup of coffee or the lingering scent that remained on an old sweatshirt I left on the floor that my cat had slept on the night before? What would happen if I took the time to observe my surroundings in that same manner every time I left my house? What would happen if I allowed myself to feel the breeze touch my skin on a windy day or felt my cheeks burning when the sun rested upon them? What would happen if I not only became more present, but became obsessed over the simple things that occurred in my everyday life? They always say that when you have nothing to write about, write about your obsessions because you would be surprised at how much can come out of you when you’re passionate about it. So if I were to fall in love or become obsessed with everything, not only would I be enjoying life more, but I would also have much more to write about. Is this intriguing you yet?

I’m still practicing all of these things, but I’ve found that the more I practice, the richer my life begins to feel. For someone who is otherwise very unobservant and in constant stress over my future, this has almost led me to become much more calm and peaceful. It’s been teaching me to fully embrace the world around me as I experience it, and let it go once that moment has passed. So I urge you to try it. Just try falling in love, just a little, oh a little bit, everyday with something or someone new.

Why it’s Okay to Not Know What You Are Doing With Your Life

No one tells you how difficult your late teens to early twenties are going to be. They all say that college/university is the best four years of your life and then once you hit the real world, that’s when the hardships and struggles really begin. I think that factors in to why these years are much harder than they supposedly should be. We go in with these high hopes and expectations of great happiness, excessive drinking, lifelong friendships, and long hours of studying. But it’s all manageable, they say. “That’s the whole fun of the experience.”

I have to agree with that to some extent because university thus far has been the best two years of my life, but it has also been two of the hardest. Moving away from home and deciding what I wanted to do for the rest of my life was a lot to expect from a naive 17 year old who, only a year prior, had to ask permission to go to the bathroom during class hours. Now, I had to decide what I was supposed to be doing for the rest of my life, and I was expected to stick with that decision.

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If you had asked me two years ago what I wanted from my life, I would have answered: a well paid career as a clinical psychologist. I would have mentioned that after my undergraduate degree I would pursue my master’s and then a PhD. I would have told you about the schools I researched that offered that program and the grand internship opportunities that came along with them. I would have continued with acknowledging the fact that these internships would land me my supposed dream job and from then on, I would be a working girl (or woman, I guess). I had it all planned out. I knew all the steps I had to take to get to where I wanted to be. I saw my end goal but I could never see further than that.

I have never been much of a planner, but when it comes to my career, a plan seemed to be the safest option. My parents pursued their passions and then decided to drop everything, move to Canada with zero dollars in their bank accounts, and gave up their dreams to work long hours with low salaries. Being someone who has faced and is still facing financial struggle throughout my life, I wanted security. I wanted stability. I wanted, for once, to know what it felt like to be comfortable.

I wanted a life where paying my phone bill didn’t involve constant calls to my phone company making payment arrangements I couldn’t keep. I wanted a life where I wouldn’t have to feel shameful telling my landlord that my rent would come in late yet again. I wanted to know what it felt like to go to a restaurant with my friends and not have to spend the majority of my time there calculating the cost of the food in my head, fearing I wouldn’t have enough money to pay for it. I wanted to know what it felt like to not have to tell my roommates I had enough food in the house, embarrassed of the fact that I didn’t have enough money to purchase any more groceries. Security. Stability. Comfort. It sounded like an ideal life to me.

I got accepted to my dream university and I even found a way to arrange student loans and received a few bursaries so that I could pay for it all by myself. I went in with a plan that I was determined to follow through on. Come second year when it was time to declare my major, I got accepted to the psychology plan and was damn proud of myself for it! My plan was coming along well. Things were going just as I had hoped. But for some reason, I wasn’t happy. But this was what I wanted. This was what I needed. I couldn’t change anything now. I had my life all set out for myself and everything was going the way I wanted it to. I liked the program but some part of me couldn’t see a future with it. And then as second year went on, I became more unhappy than I have ever been before. I became lost, insecure, and felt as though my life was crumbling right in front of my own eyes. Nothing made sense. Somehow this safe plan had become the source of my depression (alongside other things).

So I wrote. I wrote every night in my journal as I had done practically my whole life and somehow, that was the only thing that felt safe anymore. That was the only thing I found comfort in. The very thought of having all that noise and clutter that was rampaging through my brain being given a place to be let out privately, allowed me to feel secure.

I’m a writer. I’ve always been a writer and I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I just wanted security a little bit more. Can you really blame me though? But what I’ve come to learn is that you can never really plan out your life. I think you should always set goals for yourself, but never limit your options and never settle for something that may lead you to become unhappy. I’ve learned that it’s better to pursue what you love to do than settle for something you are simply capable of doing because life has no guarantees. My parents for instance, are currently not doing what they love to do and they still struggle to pay their monthly bills. Not pursuing your passion doesn’t guarantee you a safer life just like pursuing your passion doesn’t guarantee you an unsafe one. So I don’t have any plans for myself. I do plan on finishing my degree but solely to gain more knowledge for myself, from my courses. I plan on having a career in writing, but I’m not sure which direction I want to go in just yet. I have realized that sometimes, it is best to just keep doing what you love to do and see where it takes you. Sometimes uncertainty is what leads to the greatest satisfactions in life. And hey, I was never really much of a planner anyways right?

How Altering your Definitions can Alter the Course of your Life

If you follow me on twitter, you know that I’ve been sick for the past few days. Don’t worry, it’s nothing serious. Probably just a cold or the flu or a bug or a virus or according to WebMD, cancer. It’s totally fine you guys! I swear. I think. I don’t really know. *Putting a halt to the drama queen act now*

I think it’s pretty common with injuries or sickness to have this feeling of wanting to be normal again and for wishing that you appreciated it more when all was good in the health department. But once we feel fine again, all is forgotten. For some reason, it is difficult to remember the exact feeling of defeat once you have overcome it. So I began to wonder why that is so. As humans, do we try and block out all of the negative obstacles we have conquered with our rose coloured glasses to make life appear much simpler than it is? Is that what makes us perceive success as something so unattainable

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Maybe it’s not that we have completely forgotten the feeling but rather that we have mastered the art of not remembering. Blocking out the past doesn’t make it disappear. It doesn’t mean it never happened. But it does make life appear more sunny, even if we are just fooling ourselves. It’s amazing how good we have gotten at tricking our own minds. Kudos to the human brain!

But are there consequences that come along with this fake perception of the world we have created for ourselves? Is this constant suppression of all the negative slowly building up inside of us, only to explode later on? Is this how we unconsciously bottle up our feelings? Has this habit become so common that we are no longer capable of coming up with any other options for dealing with it?

Here’s one: acceptance. Perhaps this is the only solution that lies midway between the two extremes of dwelling over our past and completely blocking it out. If we are capable of tricking our own minds to such a great extent, why don’t we choose a healthier option? Our brains have great abilities – abilities that are far beyond our current knowledge. Then why don’t we use it to accept what has happened to us? Wouldn’t that be better in the long run so that we can truly move on?

I guess the notion of moving on is very subjective. Many people tend to believe it means cutting things out of your life. I agree to that, but to an extent. Think of how you feel after a terrible break up. There are stages you go through before you can completely move on from the situation. However, cutting ties with an individual is much different from cutting a memory out of your brain (or at least attempting to do so). Deleting them off of all your social media, burning your pictures, and returning a box filled with their things is a way cutting ties, but I think we see it in a different light. We think the moment we get rid of any sentimental items that could remind us of that individual, we can forget the relationship existed altogether. But moving on is more about accepting the fact that the relationship existed. Accepting the good and the bad parts of it. Accepting that it no longer exists. And accepting that that is okay.

We put so much weight on physical objects and try very hard to give them meaning. So I guess it makes sense that we assume once that object is removed, the meaning and the memory attached to it will disappear along with it. Of course that isn’t true but how far have we come in convincing ourselves that it is? If we are capable of tricking out minds, aren’t we also capable of training ourselves to do the opposite?

I think we are proficient enough to do much more than we give ourselves credit for. Training your mind to accept rather than forget is a difficult task but that doesn’t mean it cannot be done. We can change the definitions we place on moving on and letting go. We can really do it all. The only thing stopping us is really just ourselves.

A New Perspective on How We Live

Pain demands to be felt.
Love demands uncertainty.
And freedom demands consequences.

I think that in the midst of our chaotic lives, we guard ourselves from vulnerability.
The fear of rejection and failure runs the course of our lives.
But we allow it to.

We smile at the pain, ignorant of the inspiration that can be gained from it.
We run from love although it is capable of freeing us from worry.
We find impossibility in freedom and drown in the comfort of restraint.

Perhaps if we didn’t allow fear to dictate our lives, we would live with less pain, more love, and bask in our freedom.
Perhaps then, we would finally be able to breathe.

What’s to Fear when we have all the Answers?

There are many things in this world that I fear of. They say that fear holds us back from doing what we want most but having no fear whatsoever would leave us oblivious and naive. I fear the unknown. I fear not having answers. But more than that, I fear having the wrong answers. I fear commonsense.

What I’ve learned about commonsense is that there is none. Everything that we assume we know can be looked at from a different perspective and similar questions we all have can be answered with different opinions in mind. We tend to forget about the grey area that lies between what is thought to be right and wrong. But maybe it’s not that we forget about it. Maybe we are simply ignorant towards it. I for one admit that I love having answers. It makes things easier. It makes life less complicated. But the problem comes when we fail to question anything anymore, simply assuming that what we know is correct. How do we know that though? Is it because that is what we learned while growing up? Is it because that is what our parents, teachers, guardians, or siblings told us? Is it because someone we look up to shares the same view?

I believe one of the scariest things someone can do is live their entire life not questioning anything and then waking up one day unhappy but confused because they thought they did everything they were ‘supposed’ to do. They did everything the ‘right’ way but then realized that that was not what they wanted in the first place.

I’m not saying there is a time limitation on when you should be doing what you should be doing but the longer we live without questions, the longer it will take to find the answers. What we don’t always realize is that the answers we have are subjective. They are useful, but usually they are only beneficial for ourselves. And other times, we will realize that there are some questions we have that we will never receive answers to. I think a reasonable goal to achieve for the benefit of our own mental state is to be able to live with questions and only questions. Once we are able to do that, I think we will find more peace and content in our lives.

No one Lives the Life you are Dreaming of

We tend to focus on conversing about our accomplishments all too often, which is not a bad thing I might add. It’s good to be proud of ourselves. However, we don’t place enough importance on our struggles. We either forget or fail to mention what it took to reach that particular goal. In an attempt to embody this ideal image of ourselves, we place great emphasis on our strengths. Many believe the media to be the source of instilling this idea of perfection into our minds, however, I think that this stemmed from our own insecurities – the media then took its course and used the power of influence to emphasize them.
 
We have taken it upon ourselves to be unique, strong and independent because that’s what our society defines as success. But in the works of becoming who we strive to be, we tend to embellish the individual we currently are in the face of others – A.K.A.: We fake it ‘till we make it. Again, nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with striving to become a better person or setting goals for yourself. However, in the midst of all of this, we place band-aids on the wounds left on us and cover up the scars that reveal any sign of struggle, hoping they will vanish with time. We don’t want to look back on the hardships and so we aim to forget about them altogether. When we are finally happy and proud of succeeding in a particular goal, we tend to get lost in that emotion.
We don’t want people to know how hard it was to accomplish this because that would make us look weak. We don’t want to people to know we needed much help and support along the way because that would make us appear to be less independent. We don’t want to tell people that we were inspired by someone else because that would make us less unique.

 
Each struggle we face seems to be the toughest one we have to conquer. We look back on being a child, reminiscing on how simple those days were. But what about the bullying you faced? What about listening to your parents argue every night through your bedroom and not being able to understand what was happening? What about losing friendships and going to school with the fear that you will spend recess all alone, again? Childhood seems simple now that we’ve grown up and now that we are facing different battles. We forget about the struggle once it’s over but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t there in the first place or that it wasn’t a hard one. That’s where I think the root of the need for perfection lies.
 
Insecurities are strengthened by listening to how great everyone’s lives are, forgetting that others embellish their stories just as much as we do. We don’t hear about their struggles – only the good parts, and so we forget that they are there.  We feel alone, wanting our lives to be as “perfect” and successful as theirs and so we then aim for that kind of life. We aim for a life filled with accomplishments but no obstacles to overcome along the way.
 
The media is the problem, but so are we. It’s difficult to remember that failure and hardship is what makes success as great as it is. We forget because we don’t talk about it. So let’s start talking about it. Let’s stop being ashamed of going through a hard time. Let’s stop thinking about it as a weakness. Let’s stop pretending our success came with no failures along the way. Let’s stop letting others believe we live the perfect life, knowing that it is unattainable and let’s stop believing that others don’t struggle simply because they don’t mention it. Let’s start accepting that life comes with obstacles but it also comes with great rewards. And let’s begin this change by just talking about it. 

Don’t F With the F-Word

You must think, “this girl took one Gender Studies class and suddenly thinks she knows it all.” Actually, it was two classes, thank you very much. But the truth is, I don’t know it all. What I do know is that feminism comes with a bad name. I used to be one of the many people who believe that a feminist appears almost man-like but is rather a man-hater. She is against all the fairytales you grew up reading and she refuses to let a man open a door for her. And when he tries to pull out a chair for you to sit in, well that behavior cannot be tolerated at all!

The media misguides us to believe that feminism is a joke. They tell tales of females that are notably masculine in manner or appearance. They want us to believe that this should not be a movement. They want us to think that the problem has been resolved. They want us to hide in the nearest cupboard when the term is floating through the air. “You’re a feminist? Oh okay. I have to go…um…change my underwear. Yeah. Okay. Bye.”

I have to admit that I am not a fan of the term ‘feminism’. It tends to give the wrong impression of women trying to take over the world and ultimately defeat men. Truth: We don’t hate men and we don’t look like men. Feminism simply means equality. Seriously, that’s it. It includes both men and women who just want to be equal to one another. Do you support gender equality? Newsflash: You’re a feminist.

The problem is that with fewer and fewer individuals wanting to identify themselves as feminists because of shame, embarrassment, or lack of knowledge, most don’t even know that this problem exists. It’s true, women have come a long way from back in the old days. However, we have not made it all the way. There are still parts of the world where women are treated like property. But that’s not what I’m going to talk about. I’m going to talk about the little instances that you don’t notice or think twice about in your everyday life.

When I was in high school, I had limitations on the clothing that I could wear. Obviously I was not planning on going to school in my underwear but I could not wear clothing that revealed my shoulders and skirts and shorts had to be mid-length. Why? Because it was too distracting. Did I listen to these rules? No. Did that mean that there were many instances that I had to run the opposite direction from the terrifying woman with a walkie-talkie in her hand who was also known as my vice principal? Yes, yes it did. Here’s my view on it: I break rules only when I see no point in them being there in the first place. Why can’t I wear an off-the-shoulder top to school? My boobs are not hanging out and I am not being too revealing. Why do I have to cover myself up so that I do not distract any men? I went to a public school for God’s sake!

Why is it that girls are taught that they are always the problem? Why should we be the ones who are careful about our appearances, leaving our drinks at the table or walking alone at night? Why is it that we are made to look responsible for being harassed at a bar due to our little black dress? This is not okay and this is not something we should learn to accept because “that’s just the way things are”. I believe in the power of knowledge and the more people that know about this issue and fight for it, the bigger the shot we have for making a change.

I do believe that one voice can make a change but only if it is strong and knowledgeable enough to speak to a wide audience and make them believe that together, we can make a difference.

I Have a Crush on my Blog

“I’m sorry but what does that even mean? You’re weird.”

Well you impatient hooligans, I’m about to tell you exactly what I mean and maybe there is a slight chance that you will agree with me.

From the moment I created this blog, a part of me fell in love with it. I may not be a big-time blogger who has countless readers and numerous comments on each post, but this is my space. I write because it’s therapeutic. I write because my forms of excitement cannot just simply be contained in my head. I write because maybe even a single sentence has a possibility of helping someone somewhere. I write because I love to write.

If you have read my Blogmopolitan quiz, you know that my favourite time of day is at night when I can write about it. It doesn’t necessarily have to be on my blog, but it could be my journal or the notes app on my iPhone (which tends to happen often when I’m travelling and get struck with an idea). Every morning when I wake up, that is the part of my day I look forward to and when it finally comes, I get goosebumps and this sort of tingly feeling in my body. It’s creepy and weird, but I crave it. That’s what keeps me going. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it is very similar to the butterflies you get in your stomach when that cute boy you’ve been talking to kisses you for the first time or you go on your very first date. It’s a magical feeling and I am fortunate enough to feel it each and every day.

I think about my blog all. the. time. I think about ideas for posts. I think about what I can improve. I think about my favourite bloggers and what inspiration I can take from them. And when I am not thinking about it, I am checking up on it — whether that be responding to emails, comments, checking stats, etc etc.

What I love the most is that it never gets boring. I am one who gets tired of routines and uniformity, but with blogging, there is always something new out there. There are always new blogs you can read, bloggers you can meet, improvements you can make and layouts you can change. Nothing is stable and I love it. There is always a new goal you can set for yourself to meet and ways to spice things up when they are starting to get tedious.

It’s not a hobby, it’s an addiction. If you feel the same way, care to share so I don’t feel alone in my weirdness?

Why I Stopped Caring About my Size and How You Can Too

I don’t know if you can remember the exact moment that you began to realize you were insecure about your body, but I happen to remember the details of that day very clearly. I was in the sixth grade, the lights were dim and we all dragged our seats slowly to the middle of the classroom to begin watching a movie. I sat beside a thin, tall, and beautiful girl — lets call her Kyla. She was funny, outgoing, athletic, easy to talk to and had all the boys wrapped around her finger. She was the girl everyone envied and she was also my best friend.

I couldn’t help but question why someone like her was friends with someone like me. Let me give you a brief description of myself in the sixth grade: long frizzy black hair that was always secure in neat pigtails, bug eyes and full lips that at the time were disproportionate to my face and eyebrows that were reaching the top of my forehead. So why the hell would a girl who is so put together want to be friends with me? Was it because she looked even better standing next to me? Was it simply an ego-boost? Either way, I didn’t really care. In fact, I felt honored to hold the title of her best friend.

Anyways, as we were watching the movie, Kyla was casually flirting with a few boys that sat around us. “I have such a food belly right now,” she joked as she lifted her shirt to reveal her flat-as-a-board stomach. She then glared at me as if it was now my turn. Yeah I know, sixth grade was weird. At the time, I never really questioned anything Kyla told me to do — I would just do it. My desire to be like her outweighed anything she wanted from me and so I didn’t think twice before lifting up my sweater to reveal my stomach. The reaction was the best part. You see, I was fully aware that I did not have her body and so was she. It was no surprise that I had a little bit of a bulging stomach but nonetheless, her eyes widened. She laughed and so did the boys as she said, “Wow, you’ve got a real big one eh Santa?”And that my friends was the day my insecurities were unleashed.

Ever since that day, I never looked at myself in the mirror the same way. I would always find a flaw to be ashamed of. I would constantly compare myself to strangers who walked past me on the streets. I would Google pictures of beautiful celebrities and just sit and stare at the screen for long periods of time, praying to look like them. On top of all of those things, I began to limit the amount of food I was eating.

From there, my insecurities grew even more. It was no longer just about my physical appearance, but it began to also affect my personality. I guess my thought process may have been something like this: I may not be able to look like any of these beautiful girls, but maybe if I behave exactly like them, people will think I’m cool. I then began to focus so much on talking and acting like these girls that I no longer had a personality of my own. I had completely lost myself.

I began to develop my personality more and more after starting high school, but my physical insecurities remained intact. When shopping with my friends, I would purposely buy smaller sized clothing that would just barely fit so I would be able to say that I wore a size double zero. Numbers began to take over my life. From calorie counting to clothing size, it got way too out of control.

It was actually the beginning of this year when I had sort of an epiphany. I started to realize that my problem was wearing clothing that was just plain wrong for my body. Obviously buying a size double zero when you are actually a size one is going to be very different. Buying clothes that didn’t fit me made me more insecure than I already was, not only because it was difficult to get on, but they also made certain parts of my body look more bulgy. After beginning to try on clothes that not only fit me, but fit me well and also watching countless reruns of TLC’s What Not to Wear, I noticed a difference in my confidence. I felt happier, I looked better, and for once, I was comfortable in my own skin.

Obviously I still have insecurities — I mean, we all do. But things are not out of hand anymore and I can look at myself in the mirror without being disgusted. None of us look exactly the way we want to, but I don’t think it’s the size of your pants that make the difference, but it’s more of how they fit your body and how comfortable you are in them. I never understood how significant it is to wear the right clothes, and now that I do, I feel like a completely different person!

A few tips and tricks of mine:
1. Bring more than one size of a each top or bottom to the fitting-room. Every store’s sizing is a little different so the best way to find the perfect fit is to have options!

2. The best finds are always the unexpected ones. I always try on clothes that I wouldn’t usually wear and I always end up finding such amazing pieces that way!

3. Bring an honest friend for a second opinion. Always purchase what feel most comfortable wearing but for those times you are conflicted, it’s always handy to have someone to tell you which pair of jeans makes your butt look perkier. 

Her Campus National Intercollegiette Conference 2014

Originally posted on Her Campus Queens
 

My love affair with New York City began before I had ever traveled there. I had always thought of it as this magical place where people with dreams reside and in the midst of all the noise and commotion of the city, it’s a place where all of those dreams have a chance of coming true. The first time I went to New York was last year with my family and I spent most of my time there observing all of my surroundings, taking pictures in my mind (and also at the time, my poor quality camera phone) to capture the beauty of it all in motion right there in front of me. This year was completely different.

I attended the Her Campus Intercollegiette Conference on Saturday July 12 and Sunday July 13. As excited as I was, I didn’t want to get my hopes up too high for an amazing trip for the slight chance that I may become disappointed with the result. But of course, I was wrong to even consider the possibility of something going wrong (other than getting lost in the subway multiple times) because it was beyond what I could ever imagine.

I attended the conference with a fellow Her Campus writer from my chapter (she’s on the right) and we decided to make a weekend out of this trip, neither of us with the slightest idea of what to expect of it.

The moment we stepped on the campus of Columbia University, I knew that whatever came next would be worth it — and if it wasn’t, we could just spend the rest of the time taking pictures #nofilter.

 

Anyways, when we finally got inside for registration, they handed us these adorable name-tags and a completely packed goody bag. And when I say packed, I mean overflowing with free stuff and everyone who knows anything about me knows how much I love free stuff! After grabbing some breakfast, we all took a seat for an introduction and the first keynote speaker. While munching away my delicious blueberry flavoured Luna bar, I took the time to look around the room at everyone who was just as eager as I was for this opportunity. I realized that I was surrounded by people with goals and dreams, those of which were similar to mine, and we had all come together in this magical city to try and make something out of them. There was something we all could take out of this conference and the greatest feeling was that we were all in this together.

The most memorable person I had met would probably be Emma Barker, Cosmopolitan’s Sex and Relationships Editor. Typically, I thought I would get a chance to meet her after watching her seminar, however, the lineup was far too long and I decided that I would talk to her near the end of the conference during the networking reception. Well, that is not exactly how it happened. My friend and I decided that during the lunch hour, we should take pictures around the campus after we eat. It made sense at the time, but come to think of it, it was probably not the best idea to take pictures the moment after we stuffed our faces with Chipotle. Of course in that moment, our excitement overpowered the functioning of our brains. After countless photo-shoot sessions and attempting to pose in every stance possible, we realized we had five minutes to get back into the conference to listen to the next speaker. While speed-walking in heels, I abruptly came to stop after noticing that I had just seen Emma Barker walk past me. I didn’t exactly know what move to make next and so I did what any rational human being would do — I yelled her name and began to run towards her. Now, please note that I am in no way a runner. I do not understand people who run or how they do it consistently and for longer than a period of two minutes. The only reason that I would ever run is if a murderer is chasing me and also I guess to meet Emma Barker. Not only did I run, but I did it in my heels. Don’t worry, the pain caught up to me moments after but I do not regret it at all. Anyhow, I realized that when I finally caught up to her, I had no idea what to say. I may have even forgotten how to speak in English for a moment. However, even though I stuttered my way through every word, she was such a kind person and still somehow managed to hold a conversation with me. Afterwards I felt a mix between a sense of accomplishment and complete embarrassment. It was fantastic.

Overall, I learned so much about different aspects of not only writing, but the whole magazine world. The marketing aspects, the photography, the digital vs print, and how it is difficult to get in the industry but it isn’t impossible. But if you think about it, struggle comes along with every part of your life so you might as well put everything into what you love and make the struggle worth it. Like I said, it was the perfect weekend and I definitely plan to go again next year!