Keep your eyes on your own work!

During my last year of university, I was an RA and dating a dude who wasn’t good for me. We had a fight two days after my grandmother died, and I retreated to my music and my laptop to write a paper rather than continue to duke it out. I don’t like to fight, never have, so grieving and writing about The Monk was the best choice for me. He called me later that night, so drunk that he could barely say my name, and mumbled that he needed me. Tired of fighting, tired of crying, (and, let’s be honest, wanting some cuddles) I walked over to his place in my boots and fuzzy shorts (ah, university) and found him in the bathtub with an empty bottle of gin, a note, a knife, and arms full of slashes.

Even though I’d been trained in suicide counselling, I had no idea what to do. I got my BF out of the tub and cleaned his wounds, checking for depth (thank God, none of them were anything but flesh wounds). I sat next to my guy as he slept that night and listened to him breathe, too afraid to sleep. I called the RA on duty, who called our boss, who showed up at 8 a.m. to escort both my boyfriend and I to the campus counselling office.

To put it mildly, I was fucking furious. And heartbroken. And afraid.

I am a late bloomer, in the emotional sense of the word. I suppose, reflecting back, I have been learning this lesson for the last ten years, but I’m really learning it all now.

A few years ago, I realized that I, through a mess of my own damn making, am in emotional shambles. In times where joy isn’t an option, I default to anger – I always have – because being angry hurts less than being sad or lonely or afraid. I find it infinitely easier  to be pissed rather than allowing myself to feel the pain. And, if being angry isn’t an option, I will bury the feelings that I don’t want to feel. This is a battle that I am open about, a battle I am constantly fighting, and one that I want to end. It doesn’t serve me, it makes for hellish yoga sessions (because I’m constantly at war with myself), and I think it makes me more awkward than ever.

And then, a book found me. I read an excerpt from a book called Emotional Agility, and it resonated in a big way. So, thanks to Amazon, a bunch of weeks later, my new book in hand, I dig in. The things I’ve noticed so far:

  • I love/hate books that are so right that you can’t argue it.
  • It references A Course in Miracles, because of course it bloody well does. That literally makes every single self help book that I’ve picked up over the last 3 years
  • It’s already a game changer for me.

So, now, is the part I’ve been batting around.

I have an active presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. And, as much as I like keeping up with my friends and family, social media is one of those mediums where you are constantly up close and personal in people’s best lives. I especially have a hard time because I want to be married and be a mother so so badly. And I am of the age that most of my friends are either one or both of these things. So I have to struggle with envy as I’m overwhelmed with my friend’s joyous celebrations. And I don’t like that. I am happy for you, dammit, let me be just bliss. I have started this work – I started during the GYGC Challenge, and now it’s time to use all the tools available to heal this hurt.

Social media can be used to look into the lives of anyone – former lovers, employers, former classmates who made your life hell, strangers that you will never meet. In full disclosure, I have blocked the people I’m afraid to see – and the harder my life is, the easier it is to slip behind a screen and disappear into a world where I feel more confident. I’ve always felt like it was easier to make friends behind a screen – my best friend through my teenage years was the result of a random ICQ search, and our friendship lasted a long time. And yes, we ended up meeting IRL almost 10 years after we connected. At the same time, I disappear into a world where I am boring, and alone, and a geek – a world full of “best selves” at a time where I’m trying to unearth my best self. Social media makes me lonelier than ever, and also makes me wonder if the Beatles didn’t have a clue when they asked where do all the lonely people come from.

Here is what I know.

My biggest source of anxiety is that I’m never going to be good enough. That I’ll never be normal enough for a big true love, that I am going to be alone forever and die with 8 cats. And this book is really helping me dig into that, to feel it as I ought to, to help me deal with the pain and sadness in a healthy way. The author also suggests writing every day, and being mindful with social media, to really remember whose journey it is that you are on. “We’ve been taught this idea since grade school – keep your eyes on your own work!” Pretty much as soon as I read that chapter, I looked at my online presence – really looked. I’ve maintained a constant stream of jokes for over 3 years – a timeline that started when my heart was broken. My feed is something that I’ve crafted to make people around me – and, by extension, myself -feel better. I love doing it – but is it something that makes me better?

So today I’m challenging myself. Throwing the gauntlet. Drawing the line in the sand. Steeling my nerves. Screwing my courage to the sticking place. Running out of bad metaphors.

I’m taking a week away from social media – something I’ve literally never done while on Canadian soil. As of 12 p.m., November 1, I will be away from it for a week (maybe 2, depending on how it goes) – and really, really away from it. The only caveat – because I maintain social media presence for both of my jobs, I will be signing in because it’s part of my employment. Email is also not covered in this challenge – because it’s the sole communication tool for my second job, and my Board commitments, etc. So. No personal social media. No online dating. Email. Only employment-based social media.

So, if you and I maintain our friendship on Facebook Messenger. If we send each other funny pictures. Keep messaging, keep sending. I promise I’ll get back to you. If it’s an emergency – maybe try texting (or calling) me. Until then… I’m planning on being buried in books.

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A Year Later

It’s been a full years since the completion of the Get Your Glow yoga challenge. 365 days, and 2 weeks.

Honestly – it feels like it’s been both longer and shorter than that. My life changed irrevocably, that goes without saying. It hasn’t always been easy – somedays, it’s been a pain in my nerdy ass to maintain some of the lessons that I learned over that 8 week period. So, it feels like a good time to check in.

A year later

Food –I still maintain a mostly-vegan diet. I eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, and have maintained using other forms of protein (chickpeas, looking at you here). I’m not super strict about the lifestyle, but I do try to maintain it. Reason being – my body feels way better without a lot of meat in it. My guts works better without having to digest meat, my skin feels better, my whole body feels good. That said, still can’t give up the cheese. My sugar addiction is back in full force, which I loathe. I find myself craving it after almost every single meal, minus breakfast (my theory about that – I have fruit in every breakfast, whether I’m having a green smoothie or fruit and yoghurt, so I get a natural sugar fix there), but most days I can ignore the cravings. Coffee – also back in my life daily. Can I blame my 530AM wakeups to be out the door for 630? Oh, and my overall attitude towards getting a good night’s sleep. Which, lemme tell you, is slightly piss poor.

Maintain a yoga practice – mostly, sometimes. Given that I’m still a karma yoga, I am guaranteed one practice a week. I’ve been good over the last month, and generally practice twice a week at Noorish, and once at home to stretch out my back. That said, I no longer practice 5 days a week. Why? Busy, plain and simple. Which, in my mind, is a crappy excuse for how amazing a multi-practice week made me feel. I’ve talked to my “manager” and friend at the yoga studio about it – I’m so glad that I’m not the only one who has a free pass, who doesn’t come all the time. Still. I want to get better at this whole multiple classes in a week thing again. I miss my practice so much.

Meditation – I meditate for at least 20 minutes daily. Every single day, I get mindful and still and focus on my breath or a mantra and I love this. Love love love this.

Permission – in my ensuite bathroom, I have a sticky on my mirror that reads “Give yourself permission”. Every morning after my shower, as I do my hair and my makeup, I read this note to myself. I am still learning to give myself permission. I have written about my mean girl, and how hard I need to fight not to bash myself – and I have found that I need a daily reminder to be gentle. I need to remind myself that it’s okay to take time for myself – to have a night off, to demand that I have time to meal plan and grocery shop, to go to yoga rather for a beer with a friend. I have even learned to be gentle if I slip – if I have homemade pizza rather than salad, if I’m having a bad day and would like something sweet – I’m not mean to myself any longer. Which, by the way, feels absolutely and utterly astounding. I always thought I loved myself – this challenge showed me the way to really, really loving myself. One big by-product of this permission (and something I wrote about last) is the ability to be authentic and vulnerable, even though it scares me. The challenge gave me permission to be me – something that I needed more than anything.

I am so hyper aware that my journey so far in my life has shaped me into this perfectly lovely yet wounded creature. Now more than ever, I identify with this:

Kintsukuroi

There have been a lot of changes since my GYGC – both good and bad. New Job became Hell Job, Dream Job fell into my lap, Karma Yoga takes up my Thursdays, JM came back into my life and left again, I purchased a home and moved my life there, joined a Board, left a Board, started getting into better shape, joined the Shakespeare Board, spent a summer volunteering, gave up on dating, created some amazing friendships, lost some friendships, started dating again (with amazing and exciting results). All up, my life is pretty darn astounding. I have a great job that challenges me, I have amazing friends and family, I have a home I’m proud of. A lot of this, and I truly believe this – is because I found a new shiny path. A path forged in the yoga studio, and in my kitchen.

Einstein (man I love that guy!) may have said it best:

“Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.”

Reflection on 2014, and hope for 2015

I love the new year. I love new beginnings – the idea of them, the planning, the feeling that you get when you open up a new day timer. I get a thrill thinking about all of the possibilities for next year, and it makes me happy to reflect on the past year. So, without further ado – a recap.

2014 was the year of miracles.
I learned about miracles this year. I wrote (and read!!) about them several times, but I also discovered an awesome, undocumented method of working my own miracles.

My dad and I spent a lot of time in the backyard this year – especially relating to the next point – and this place, is my haven. It is the safest place I can think of – when the zombies come, I’ll be hiding in the treehouse in my parent’s backyard. When things got really bad, and I wasn’t able to take anymore, I came home. We called our coffee and Bailey’s working miracles – it turns out, we were. After we spent a few days in our contemplative silence, whether we were painting or putting benches together, we had breakthroughs. We had made changes in my life, in my dad’s life – in our collective silence, and comradery – and we now call it making our miracles. Today, in fact – we made miracles happen.

2014 was the year of anxiety and depression.
I learned this year that anxiety and depression are cyclical. Where one is, the other will likely follow. I had panic attacks before 2014 – but nothing like what was going to come. My first panic attack that kept me from work happened in January, and I literally could not get out of bed. I laid there, trying to hold onto the good things as panic seized me – I felt like I was having a heart attack, and drowning, and being lit on fire ALL AT THE SAME TIME. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t see – and by the time it was over, I felt brittle, like ancient glass. I felt like it I let my guard down, I would shatter and explode everywhere. I cried, and then prayed, hoping it wouldn’t happen again. Crying and praying wasn’t enough. It happened again. Over and over, with stronger intensity.

I also learned that I am strong enough to defeat both.

2014 was the year of friendships.
As previously mentioned – I really learned to value my people this year. My friendships grew stronger, and I became surrounded by astounding, powerful people. As I learned to lean on others, I let others lean on me. Rather than being powerful for everyone, and leaving nothing for me – as I did for a long time – I gave, and took. I learned how wonderful a friendship built on written correspondence could be (psst…. KP – I do mean you. KM was taken, so I have to use your maiden name…), I learned how much it means to me that I have women who support me as much as I support them. I already knew the importance of female friends – my parents both drove the importance of friendships into me, and my mom especially had some really powerful female friends – but this year really drove this need in me.

2014 was the year of the ironworker.
I love me a bad boy. I blame the black and white movies – James Dean and Marlon Brando…. Who wouldn’t have a crush on these brooding, dark leading men? Of course, as I grew, the bad boys grew with me. Romeo, Mr. Darcy (he was a bastard at first too), Robin Hood (both Kevin Costner AND Cary Elwes), Norman Reedus, Charlie Hunnam… the list marches ON. And, of course, if you look back at my history, you’ll notice a fair amount of bad boys. None of these, though, had shit on the ironworker.

I think I was supposed to meet him for 3 reasons. First, for LUSH. Because who doesn’t love natural products that make you smell divine? Second, because I had to know what I deserved – namely, a man who will bring me breakfast and hold me in the hard times, a man who will call me his queen, a man who loves me. Three, because I had to leave him. The bad boy thing? Yeh. Over it. (In real life, that is. I’ll always crush on the fictional bad boys).

2014 was the year of the geek.
This was the final year of new Middle Earth. The year of Guardians of the Galaxy, the year of new Star Wars trailers. This year was the year that I learned how to embrace my inner geek – the year I planned to create not one, but two geeky quilts – and this year I learned where the best comic books stores in Edmonton are. I waited in line for the Dwarves at Comic Expo, and sang along with the original TMNT voice actors as they sang the theme.

I am okay with being a geek. More than okay. And I have the underwear to prove it.

2014 was the year of the New Job.
This was the year that I was finally able to write like a motherfucker. That’s right, I fulfilled my Dear Sugar dream. I write. Daily. I write websites and social media and blog posts and newsletters and key messages and articles. I fought and fought to tell the story at my old job – and now, I finally get to tell the story. I get to tell the stories of this beautiful, local, not for profit – and I am so happy.

That, and the fact that I am totally thrilled that I wake up EXCITED. Every day, I wake up happy. There are some things I miss about my old job (Hi JAM. You asked me once to tell you a story – here they are), but I wouldn’t go back. I am beyond thrilled to go back to work on Monday, January 5. It’s still December 31.

2015
I am so excited for the possibilities of 2015. It’s there, waiting like a good book, to be cracked open and savoured. I don’t really have any resolutions, simply because the things I want (like, losing enough weight to fit into my favourite blue jeans from college) seem so cliché. My standard is “have more great sex”, simply because 1) WHO DOESN’T WANT MORE GREAT SEX, and 2) See point 1. It’s been my only official resolution for… 5 years? Maybe more?

But, I think I have a few things figured out for 2015.

2015 will be the year of the letter.
I want to handwrite letters. Really. KP and I once talked about writing a novel through letters to one another. I sent multiple letters with Christmas cards. I want to write letters to my hero in Camrose. Who doesn’t love getting letters?

2015 will be the year of the adventure.
There are so many big things possible with 2015, and the New Job. I really want to take myself on an adventure. The REAL question is – where? Peru? Everest Base Camp? Maybe I’ll go back to Tofino and hang out? Or. Maybe I’ll be really brave and enrol in a Masters program, and visit Tofino ON THE WEEKEND.

2015 will be the year of Doctor Who and quilting.
Only because I haven’t yet watched Doctor Who, and I have two quilts that I’d like to create. For me. Because I can. And, because why not?

2015 will be the year of the book.
Yep. I fell off the reading wagon a little bit this year. I’m making it semi-official. I’m going to read a new book every week this year. At least. Because what isn’t better with a good book?

2015 will be the year of love.
Oh, love. What kind of love? Friend love. Family love. Literary love. Self love. Especially self love. I want to look in the mirror and be so full of love. I’ve been following some advice from my wise card reader – I’ve been looking in the mirror and daring myself to just love – even though I’m not perfect, even though I’m not thin or overly fit, even though I’m just me – and that’s my goal this year. I just want to have a year of mad, crazy, stupid love. Even if it’s with myself – I just want lots and lots of love.

Happy New Year, everyone. I wish you love, health, and all the great sex you can handle.

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