Week 16 (or so): The vacation and its aftermath

So, I’ve lost track of the weeks. Whoops. 

I was on a really great streak, though. It was really great for me to do it, though. I was accountable to everyone who reads this, or, at least, it felt like it. I’m still losing weight, though. Hooray! 

The truth is, I’m struggling to write about this summer. I always preferred winter anyways, but this summer is a brutal reminder of what happened last summer. I struggle with the idea of telling the full truth here – what’s worse, telling the harsh truth about why you’re struggling to focus on the goals you’ve set, or be silent and appear to have given up? I feel like I give up far too often, but that harsh truth…. yeesh. Yeesh. I never understood how someone can have big heavy secrets until last year – and now I have secrets that I’ll never tell anyone.

I’d like to think that the harsh truth can be forgotten, one day. The tears and the alcohol and the begging and the crushing depression – maybe that will go away. I think I’m on the best path I’ve been on in years… but that has been sticking in my mind. Those broken pieces, those secrets, that crushing blackness – I’m so afraid that it will happen again. 

However, in an effort to show my dedication to my goals and avoid that harsh truth, I’d like to write about my vacation. The first real runaway I’ve had since 2013. I’ve had time off, but it was plagued by depression, anxiety, and all the fun that comes with those bastards. So, this year, I decided to take time off, properly. To enjoy my volunteer gig at Edmonton Folk Music Fest, to dance all night, and then to camp in the Shuswap with a group of amazing humans. I started volunteering on Wednesday evening, and this is what my Folk Fest did for my FitBit. 

  • Wednesday – 14,784
  • Thursday – 21,117
  • Friday – 14,161
  • Saturday- 28,426
  • Sunday- 18,052
  • Monday- 10,228

For anyone who doesn’t want to do the math, that’s 106,768 steps in 6 days. It wasn’t all walking – I did lots of dancing, lots of wandering. I (with the help of my astounding parents) meal prepped for my camping trip, and I was on my way on Monday evening (only part way, though. I though I’d be able to drive to the Shuswap on Monday, but HOLY MAN I needed sleep). 

I derailed in the Shuswap. We had a great time – lots of swimming, lots of walking, lots of games, lots of laughs – and my diet fell off my mind. I had all kinds of other things to think on, and I feel relatively OK that I fell. I still lost weight that week (I think I can blame the one truly horrific hangover for that), but now, I’m struggling to get back on the horse. Or should I say treadmill? I’m struggling to get back into my routine, back onto my treadmill. And now I’m back at work, working even earlier than usual for a few weeks, and it’s been a tough two days. And maybe I’m being a wimp or maybe I’m over tired, or maybe it’s the anxiety and sheer panic that hit me two days before my vacation ended, but it hasn’t been a good two days. It’s been a sad and stressful two days, and now, I’m back to the edge of panic. 

I know that a lunch time walk would feel AMAZING. I know that I need groceries in order to keep up meal planning. I also know that my get up and go… just got up and left. Once I’m back into the routine, I’ll likely sleep better and will likely stop worrying so much (insert audience laughter here). But getting there? Oh man. SO MUCH HARDER THAN I WAS EXPECTING. 

Anyone out there have any tips? How do you get back onto the treadmill? 

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Love letters 

Many years ago, I sat on the edge of a cement wall next to the Sydney Opera House and wrote a postcard to myself.

To step back – I left Canada with a very banged up, very scared little heart. My boyfriend of 1.5 years had been cheating on me for over a year. I had never traveled alone before. I had never carried a backpack as far as I was going to. I was afraid of a lot – heights, water, sharks, big bugs, being let down after over 15 years of planning – but I did what my parents taught me to do and packed my bags and did it anyway.

It ended up being one of the most important things I’ve ever done. It still doesn’t feel like it’s been (spoiler, holy fuck time flies) 10 years since I moved back to Canada. I remember the utter terror and excitement of landing in Auckland, and I remember feeling elated when I extended the trip by moving to Perth. I got over my fear of heights by being tied to a bridge and leaping off, I got over my fear of bugs by swagging in the desert, I conquered my fear of sharks and water at the same time by learning to dive. Suffice to say that my coming back to Canada made me feel like a completely different person – one that I became genuinely afraid to lose.

I didn’t want to be the scared girl in the corner any longer. I wanted to remember the feeling of being able to conquer anything I set my mind to, the true joy of being a brave person. So, on the last day of my journey, I wrote a letter to myself, reminding me of what I had accomplished and how powerful I really was.

To honour that, and to say goodbye to the shit year that was 2016, and to joyously welcome 2017….

Dear N.

You beautiful, wonderful, astounding creature.

You made it. You’re officially on the other side of the worst year of your life. There were moments where you laid down, little girl, and you almost didn’t (or couldn’t) get back up. There were moments where you thought it was over – when the failures and the broken heart and the turmoil almost broke you forever. When you raised your voice and started screaming to wound the people closest to you. When you cried until your eyes swelled shut and you didn’t have tears anymore but you kept crying anyway.

Baby, you made it.

And not only did you make it, you made it healthier than you have been in YEARS. You have learned more about yourself this year than any year before – how to deal with your emotions, how to meditate best for you, what you need to keep yourself healthy – and you have healed so many of the hurts. After finally turning to see yourself, you saw what needed fixing. And you fixed it. You’re still a bit of a chubby panda, but you finally even fell in love with those curves and accepted every single inch. 

Hell. You didn’t even see the freckles under your eyes until this year. How lovely is that? You can hold crazy yoga poses and walk forever and lift weights and rock climb- maybe you aren’t the beauty specific, but you’re a smoke show, traffic stopping babe nevertheless. You even stopped believing in love for awhile- how crazy is it that the best, sexiest, and most fulfilling relationship you’ve ever had is with your beautiful self? Even crazier- why did it take you so long? 

There is a lot of mystery surrounding your life right now. Things are in a holding pattern right now, and you are usually way more prepared (ahem, you anal planner you, ahem) than this. But you know what? You fell down HARD this summer. You failed the worst you literally ever have. But you know what, babe? You’ve been into the darkness. You can’t be afraid anymore, because you’ve seen the other side. So embrace this mystery, the unknown. Your path is leading you precisely where you need to go. Keep loving fiercely and keep volunteering and keep laughing and drinking green smoothies. Keep crying at movies and keep praying and meditating and working your ass off. 

You have everything you need. 

Keep moving forward, you stunning goddess. 

With so much love and joy and respect,

N

The summer of 2015!

First, let’s press play on my eternal summer song.

Right on. Grooviest tune I know. Catchy. Reminds me of drinking and singing with friends in Australia. Feel free to dance a little as you read.

So far, this summer has been awesome. It’s been busy as sometimes, and a lot of the time I’ve felt overwhelmed with the things going on in my life. That said – I’m going to practice a little bit of gratitude today, because my soul needs it.

  • This summer has been about volunteering. I’ve been volunteering as long as I can remember – for Santas Anonymous, for the Hinton SPCA, and now for the Freewill Shakespeare Festival, Noorish Yoga, and the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. I’ve spent a lot of time in ugly volunteer shirts this summer, laughing and talking in the sunshine.

    volunteer

  • This summer has been about great music – the Wild Mountain Music Festival, the Calgary Folk Festival, the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. I’ve heard Corb Lund, Delhi to Dublin, Oka, the Joel Plaskett Emergency, Whitehorse, Shakey Graves, the John Butler Trio, Jenny Lewis, Frasey Ford, Ashley MacIsaac – to name a few! I’ve danced a lot, drank some, and generally had a blast. Next up in the great summer of music? The Edmonton Symphony Under the Sky. Heck yes.
    YEG
    (thanks to the lovely ROB for the image)
  • This summer has been about friendships. Old friends, new ones. I went on a bit of a runaway with one of my oldest friends, and woke up with a sore stomach from laughing all night (and a sore head from all of the beer. Won’t lie there). I volunteered with newish friends, and definitely feel like I made some lasting friendships. I spent a weekend camping with two of my dearest friends, which is always full of laughter and stories. This weekend holds moving two of my most favourite people, and drinking mojitos with another group of amazing individuals. How lucky is that? I feel pretty darn lucky.
  • This summer has been about trying to figure out how to do yoga in a smoking hot basement when it’s +30 outside. The short answer is – bad N to her practice that has slid to 1 night a week because it’s all I can handle. I am not a fan of the heat – can it snow already, please? Or at least rain every night so I can sleep?
  • This summer has been the year of camping in the badlands, which is something that I have wanted to do for years and just haven’t done. It wasn’t strictly badlands – as my pal Joe described it – it was where the prairies met the badlands. Either way, the company was fabulous, the river was lazy, wide, and cool, and the food tremendous.sunset
  • This summer has been punctuated by one really amazing, slow kiss after a second date. The night was warm, and there were butterflies during said kiss and wide grins immediately following, and lots of hope for the possibility with this guy. Sadly, it was just one kiss and then done – boo to that. But. Clearly not meant to be. And that’s okay too. Because, sometimes – all a girl needs is a slow, sweet kiss that gives her butterflies to remind her that there are kisses like that out there.
  • This summer has been about trying my first (and very likely last) prairie oyster. Turns out, garlic butter covers all manner of sins. For those of you who don’t know, a prairie oyster is bull testicles. It was…. interesting. As I described it to my BFF this week – it was like a sausage bite. Until you think about what it actually was.
  • This summer has been full of family visits – literally. I’ve seen my brother more this summer than I have in the last 3 years. My parents have been in the city more than they ever have been, and sometimes with my very short, bossy notice (more on that reasoning in a moment). I’ll be visiting with my father’s sister in September – she’s never been to Alberta in my lifetime, so I’m so excited to get to know her more!
  • This summer has been the summer of buying property. That’s right – I definitely purchased my first home this summer. I take possession at the end of August, which is equal parts terrifying and elating. It’s the most perfect place for me – full of light and high ceilings and dark laminate and a kitchen big enough for two. I’ve spent a lot of my summer getting ready to move – buying plates and glasses, finding bar stools to fit at the island. I’m now packing my books up, sorting through years of memories and purging from the things that I no longer need in my life. It’s been about daydreaming about the colour of my bedroom – do I keep it the sapphire colour? Or should I paint it a more aqua colour, to help bring out the purple crystals in the closet chandelier? It’s been about trying to find a date for an open house that works for my pal GG AND my brother, while keeping in mind that I may have an overnight guest (or five) for that weekend. It was about telling my Nana about this achievement, and hearing her get oh-so excited for me.

This year is going by so quickly. It makes me happy that I’m able to be here, and be present within it. In the meantime… have a little bit of a smile, courtesy of Bill Watterson.

Calvin

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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