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[]

Darkness and light; Ebb and Flow.

Whatever happens in my life, there is something I must always to remind myself of constantly: everything is temporary. Nothing is permanent and that does not have to be a bad thing.

For far too long now, I have been plagued by thoughts that can only be described as dark. All the while, I have managed to be grateful for my life and all the wonderful people and things that I am surrounded by. And sometime in the last month, I got fed up with letting these dark thoughts ruin my good days.

After I forgave myself for losing a relationship with someone very important to me because of said dark thoughts, I decided I would never let that happen again.

IMG_6805
I’m in the war of my life, at the door of my life, out of time and there’s no where to run. 
— John Mayer, War of My Life

I’ve waged a war on said dark thoughts, but this war isn’t a violent one. That wouldn’t do me any good to be at [a violent] war with myself. It’s a war because it’s serious, but my methods are only ever gentle. I’ve been abusive to myself for far too long. I’m making progress: Less than two months ago, whenever a dark thought would enter my mind it would devour me and my entire being. It would be all that I saw, and if someone or something was able to distract me briefly it would only ever succeed momentarily.

It’s been a process, and there are some days when the fight is harder than other days. The light gets brighter every day, and I’m doing well to leave traces of where I’ve been so that if I ever get drawn back by those dark thoughts I can find my way around them. I know now that being ‘plagued’ by these sort of dark thoughts is actually something that can be considered a strength.

Come again?

The way I see it, these thoughts come to me along with the good thoughts because I can see every situation from all sides. I like to think it’s one of the reasons that I’m so good with people; why I thrive as a volunteer manager; I don’t have a problem putting myself in someone else’s shoes and taking multiple steps. One problem is that I let what I see affect me too much; I allow myself to forget who I am and how fucking amazing I am.
[Sidebar: I used to think that I do this, not because I have low self-esteem, but because I am humble. I know better now].

The even bigger problem lies in the fact that I have developed a horrible habit of focusing on the negative. Mind you, it’s human nature to get stuck in the negative, but I’m pretty tired of it and I can’t help but think back to the first TED talk I truly fell in love with by Barbara Arrowsmith-Young on how she changed her brain as I continue on this journey. These resources and many others are my ammo for this war I’m in against my bad habits.

I don’t assume there won’t be darkness when the war is over; it would be naive and foolish of me to think that way. All that I want is for the darkness to stay in its corner, and leave me, and joy to spend our days together basking in the light.

Nothing to see here, except that It’s All Happening

I had a lot of people asking me if everything was okay after my last post. The most genuine answer I can give you is that it’s nothing I can’t handle. A million different song lyrics are flying through my head right now, but I will refrain from using them.

In keeping with my open invitation to Joy for 2016, I’m going to focus on thinking and writing about the things that make me happy. Like the fact Canadian Music Week is almost 2 months away. Insert internal squealing. Okay, maybe a little external squealing as well.

I spent this past Saturday meeting many of the new volunteers who will be joining our existing team of super-star volunteers who love music as much as1 I do. It was a long day of repeated speeches for our side of the room, but I wouldn’t have been anywhere else.

I’ve had many great years working on music festivals, and they’re a part of my life that continually bring me joy. They are one of the main reasons I gave up full-time work, and I fight every day to make sure I can be a part of the productions that bring unforgettable experiences to so many. I think back on the days before I was on this side of production, and I have the most fond memories of being in a room with electric energy, looking over at a friend, and just smiling – without a word – knowing that you’re both having the best time; yes because you were there together but also because the show was amazing.

Lakes of Canada at the Garrison in 2013

When I was first accepted as a Stage Manager in 2010, I never thought I would be joining the team 6 years later as an Assistant Volunteer Co-orindator/Crew Chief but here I am. Ok, that may not be entirely true. I always hoped it would happen, but I didn’t it would. I thought that maybe I’d need to go back to full-time work and/or I would be out of the country. I’ve almost moved somewhere else at least 3 times in the last 6 years2.

I’ve never felt so ready to take on a role in my life. I’m nervous, but also incredibly excited. I will not sleep very much for a few weeks leading up to the festival, and especially during the festival but it will be amazing. Who needs sleep anyway?

Just in case you’re interested, I wrote a list of lessons I learned from volunteering for the last 10 festivals I’ve been a part of.

Footnotes:
  1. or more than[]
  2. let’s not talk about all the reasons that have kept me here though[]

Zen in the wind

Something is working. My open invitation to Joy seems to have worked, though I still find myself experiencing more moments of melancholy more often than I’d like. I am working on finding the source, and either eliminating said source or attempting to amend the situation though – I wish I could say more than that, but it really isn’t something I’m willing to talk about here just yet.

IMG_5761There were many things I wanted to write about for this week but as I walked through the city during sunset after an epic 90 minute yoga class, listening to my latest audio book1… I couldn’t help but feel so full in my heart. It was the first 90 minute class I have been to since I started taking Yoga again after a two year hiatus. And as I sat in front of my computer, all I wanted to do was capture this feeling in words.

Truth be told, I didn’t even remember that it was a 90 minute class. It was not an easy class. We held each pose for at least two more breaths than usual, there were many options to take the stretch deeper with each pose; options that I took as often as I could. I came out of the class feeling so incredibly calm, and strong. My face couldn’t help but maintain a smile the entire walk home. I wanted to go for a run, but I still had to do laundry and make and eat dinner; and I wanted to go to be a good girl and go to bed early so I could wake up early and have a relaxed morning before work.

That class was the proof I needed that I am getting better; that my efforts are worthwhile; that I am getting closer to the me that I lost so many years ago. I’m not just revelling in the physical benefits that I am getting from Yoga either. I’ve learned some pretty bad behaviours in the last two years; behaviours that, when mixed with my highly emotional and passionate demeanour, only spell trouble for the life of zen and calm that I so crave. Yoga, and a few of my own exercises and practices are slowly but surely chipping away at these bad behaviours; and I can only hope the changes will last a lifetime since I’m doing them so mindfully this time around.

The rest of my evening was quiet and satisfying. What caused me to welcome the joyful cry that came to me after I devoured my dinner, was that it2 is within reach again. And that’s enough to make me feel full of zen and calm right there.

One day at a time. One moment a time. And for heaven’s sake, breathe.

What brings you peace?

Footnotes:
  1. I may or may not be addicted to audio books[]
  2. said life of zen and calm that I crave[]