Thanks for being an interesting one, 2016

My view while brushing up on my skiing skills last January

This time last year I was fighting to keep a love that I was losing. I think it’s amusing to look back at the situation, because I was fighting so hard and of course it did nothing because: I was the only one left fighting. I just hope that the next time that happens, I stop fighting sooner so I can save myself the time. I’ve spent the last four months of the year off of online dating platforms and also not actively seeking to date1. It has been extremely rewarding to say the least2.

Stunning views in Pemberton, BC

This Christmas season, as the entire world welled up with sentimental, and loving feelings it was really tempting to feel sad about the things I still miss. Except I have so much to be grateful for in my life right now that I’d be foolish to give in permanently. I’ve allowed myself small moments of sadness, but just enough that allows me to appreciate all that I do have.

I’m not going to pretend I’m completely healed though. I have a long way to go, but at least it’s gotten easier to see, and remain on the bright side. I’ve been listening to The Book of Joy by Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama and Douglas Carlton Abrams and it’s the most perfect thing to listen to around this time of year, but I’m sure it would be great at any time.

When depression is something you’re susceptible to, it’s so far too easy to become angry at the world; to become someone quick to anger, and to become afflicted by that cynicism that every city-dweller is so prone/accustomed to. I hate being that way. I was there though: Someone’s bag on the subway accidentally touched my leg and that person is an asshole; someone didn’t respond to my text message for two days and that person is an asshole3.

I had actually downloaded the book in September, but I had to wait until I finished a few other books before I could listen to it. What karmic timing that I was able to start it last week. My favourite lessons are:

Be mischievous. Don’t take life too seriously; don’t be afraid to make jokes and to have fun with life.

Let suffering shape you. There are always going to be bad times; be prepared for it, don’t escape it and allow it to teach you the life lessons it is meant to teach you. Be graceful in spite of suffering, but don’t judge yourself for the times when you aren’t able to be. Just strive to be better next time. So much of what causes heartache is when you try hard to change the way things are, rather than just accepting them as they are.

Fear has a purpose. If something terrifies you, take the time to figure out what that fear is trying to teach you. Sometimes it’s only purpose is to show you what you want most of all, and sometimes that fear is trying to show you areas in which you still need to grow.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it”.

Minimizing worry is a worthwhile exercise. Stress and Anxiety are a part of life, and can’t be avoided. Something is always going to happen to cause stress, anxiety or worry. It takes training, but it is possible. There isn’t really an easy answer to make it happen either. You have to find what works for you but I would suggest reading or listening to audiobooks such as The Book of Joy or The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck might be a good place to start.

Prioritize Rest. Whether you just need 10 minutes of absolute quiet or 10 hours of sleep, or a good 3 hours at the gym – whatever you need to feel ‘right’. It’s easier to maintain your calm, and not over react to what life throws at you when you’re in a good head space.

Joy and Sorrow are tied together, and the less you try to separate them the easier it will be to see the importance of both in maintaining happiness and joy.

By far, my absolute favourite lesson from the book, and one that continually comes up as they carry on:

Be compassionate. Make it the focus of your life. Spend minutes, even hours a day figuring out how you can be better at being compassionate every day. Practice it so it becomes like breathing. It doesn’t matter whether other people will be doing the same – that isn’t your burden to carry. But MOST IMPORTANTLY: Be compassionate with yourself. Allow yourself to get angry, allow yourself to feel all the things – both positive and negative. What matters are your actions. Remain positive in your actions, and you can help spread joy and compassion.

It’s been great feeling like I can trust the universe again. It’s been great feeling like I can trust people again. What i am really enjoying is the feeling that I can trust myself to make the right choices, and behave in a way that I can be proud of. I’m also enjoying the fact that I don’t beat myself up too much when I don’t behave in a way that I can be proud of, because I know that I’ll behave in a way that at the very least attempts to make up for it. I know I’m not perfect, but that doesn’t mean I can’t stop trying and it doesn’t mean I should give up when I fail either.

I know we’re all still trying to figure things out, and I think that’s the most important thing to remember. No one has all the answers and when someone does something that doesn’t make sense or seems to be coming from a negative place – give them the benefit of the doubt. Rather than acting as if you are sure their actions are rooted in the negative, assume the best, and give them a chance to explain. I know it can seem like the world is inherently evil because of what we hear in the news but believe anyway damn it. Just fucking do it.

🙂 Or don’t. I’m not a cop.

In no particular order, my 2016 recapped in pictures:

Footnotes:
  1. for the first time in my life since I’ve known anything about dating and love[]
  2. funny though that I haven’t been ‘alone’ in that time… the difference is that I haven’t been actively seeking anything[]
  3. for the sake of argument, let’s say they had a legitimate reason for not responding[]

The relevance of time

I’ll never stop loving the sky

If i ever stop and think about everything I’ve been through, I almost can’t believe just how much of it has really happened. I often wonder how it is that I keep going as if I have never failed before. And yet, I’ve been told time and time again that I need to stop being so insecure. It’s such a funny thing. I despise cockiness, and entitlement and try my best not to fall into either characteristic1.

Five years ago, I was moving into a beautiful house in the Junction Triangle and leaving a job I absolutely loved due to a series of unfortunate circumstances2. It was a two-bedroom first-floor-of-a-fully-detached-house apartment, with gorgeous french doors between the living room and the office3, an enormous kitchen, bathroom and backyard. I loved that house. I was just beginning my journey as a freelancer4. Which, I’d like to think I’ve gotten really good at but my still-almost-always-near-empty bank account tells me that I have a LOT more work to do to really get better at it. I also thought I was finally healed after a horrendous betrayal by a lover5. I would later learn that the scars from that betrayal weren’t actually healed, I was merely self-medicating extremely efficiently and masking the pain. A lot has actually happened between now and then, but to be honest, I can’t say that my life feels that much different than it did back then.

I certainly feel like a different person: I’m more confident; I give less fucks. There are things I’m unhappy about, but I’ve been trying something6 since January that I hope will finally make the difference. I also feel like I’m getting more cynical, and honestly, I don’t like it. I’ve always cared about people – whether they were close friends, or acquaintances – as if they were the most precious people on the planet and I genuinely believed that about each and everyone of them. I’m finding my ability to feel that way waning, and it’s honestly breaking my heart. I believe this is the result of the work I’ve been doing to practice better emotional first-aid, and self-care. I refuse to believe that this shift is permanent, however. I think that maybe this is just an exercise in self-preservation. I’m sure I’ll be back to my slightly-naive, ever-optimistic, caring-sharing-lovey-dovey self soon enough.

Either that, or I’ve finally actually grown up and I’m going to take even less of your bullshit than I ever used to 😉

Happy Birthday to Me. Love y’all.
Footnotes:
  1. I doubt that I’ve been 100% successful, but I would like to think that I’m successful most of the time[]
  2. i.e. bed bugs, and some irresponsibility on my part[]
  3. originally a dining room[]
  4. in all of the things[]
  5. who turned out to be quite the sociopath[]
  6. minimalism[]

Four years ago

The other day, a friend of mine who takes amazing photographs, Chris Luckhardt posted something on his Instagram account that got me thinking about the horrible earthquake that devastated Japan. His post:

Chris Luckhardt (@chrisluckhardt) • Instagram photos and videos

Since you can’t read the full description that Chris wrote in the screen cap, Chris said:

“4 years ago, a devastating 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit the coast of Japan and caused catastrophic damage across a wide region. 

#JapanQuakeTO was a charity fundraiser held in Toronto to support Japan and the relief efforts. The ad hoc event raised almost $10,000 for the Canadian Red Cross. I was the event photographer and ran a photo booth. 

A recent report confirmed 15,891 deaths, 6,152 injured, and 2,584 people missing across twenty prefectures, as well as 228,863 people living away from their home in either temporary housing or due to permanent relocation. 127,290 buildings totally collapsed, with a further 272,788 buildings ‘half collapsed’, and another 747,989 buildings partially damaged. 

On a personal note, my first trip to Japan occurred 8 months later (a 5 days whirlwind trip to explore Hashima Island) and I immediately fell in love with the country. I’ve returned 6 more times, lived in Kawasaki for 2 months, and have become friends with a few people directly affected by the tragedy. 

Stay strong Japan and I’ll see you again soon.”

It reminded me of something I read about and watched around the same time the earthquake hit; a story that still helps to remind me that there are great people in this world. While it wasn’t about the same natural disaster, it still reminded me of the same kind of people like those who organized, rallied, and supported #JapanQuakeTO. I’m glad I saved it somewhere so I can share it with you now:

b90ZE

Please click through to BBC News to watch the video of Mr. Yamada talk about why he wanted to replace younger men and women to clean up the sites contaminated with radiation; because the internet-produced photo above really does not do him justice and I can’t embed any of the photos I found of him speaking on my blog.

Disclaimer: I’m so done reading about all-the-horrible-things so from now on, I hope to write about the things that either restore my faith in humanity or make me smile and love life1. Not that I really need to explain myself to anyone.

What’s your favourite story that restored your faith in humanity?

Footnotes:
  1. whether it is relevant to right now or not[]

Remembrance Day

There is a part of me that wonders why I care about these people who I’ve never met, nor have I ever seen their suffering first hand. There is another part of me though, that just says, ‘shut up and respect the things you know nothing about.’ And that is what I chose to listen to on days like Remembrance Day, and 9/11. They have lived through1 some horrible shit, including the loss of their loved ones2 and at the very least, they deserve my thoughts today.

Found on Imgur: Memorial Day
Found on Imgur
Footnotes:
  1. and some are no longer with us[]
  2. sometimes all their loved ones[]