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┬áto 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.

­čÖé 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[]

Changing my relationship with Anger

I was originally going to call this post, Leaving Anger Behind, except that isn’t what I’m going. I am not going to pretend or lie to myself that I would ever be completely free from anger. That would be a little naive of me. As someone born with the ability to feel things so incredibly, intensely1, I need to accept the fact that this ‘gift’ includes the entire spectrum of emotions from elation to devastation2.

This is an endeavour that I’ve attempted before, and I thought I had succeeded… but of course, I didn’t anticipate going through a trauma like I did in the last two years. I didn’t prepare to deal with healing from a trauma3 before it happened; I was ill-equipped to come out of it with as much poise and grace as I would have liked.

Oh but the lessons I’ve learned! So. Many. Lessons.

Take my relationship with anger; for example. Anger is this… temptress… it uses it’s hardness seductively to make you think that it will serve as a good shield to protect you from things that might hurt you. Oh and how it works; it works really well. What it doesn’t tell you? What it doesn’t tell you is that it also shields you from the most beautiful moments, when you are vulnerable enough to feel the kind of joy that comes from being completely real with someone. When both of your shields are down, and you’re able to look at each other with all of your battle wounds and just be4. It doesn’t tell you about missing out on that, and you don’t realize it until that moment is long gone.

Now I may have missed moments already, but I’m in a much better place now to see any future moments that may come my way. I didn’t get to this place on my own. This place where I can finally say I am no longer angry5. I am incredibly blessed to have the most amazing friends who spent many hours listening to me when I needed someone to listen, and holding me when I needed to be held, and working out with me when I needed to let off some steam. There is no way I would have made it to this point if it weren’t for any of you6.

I digress.

It may seem obvious, but it wasn’t always obvious to me; the most important thing I’m practising is how to avoid getting angry with myself for things that really aren’t my fault, nor are/were in my control. Also important, is not getting angry at myself even if something is/was within my control. I know I won’t always succeed7, and because that falls under the category of ‘things I can’t control’; if it happens, I just have to recognize what’s happening, accept it and forgive myself rather than getting upset that it happened ‘yet again’. It’s a practice that’s easier said than done. Until you’ve practiced it enough times that it just becomes easy, and oh-so rewarding.

It’s been nice being able to come across a situation that – just last month – would have had me spiraling into all of the negative thoughts that have kept me down, but to instead be able to take a breath and let it go. Sometimes, I have to vent to a friend first and talk things out before I can let go, and that’s okay too8.

I’m not saying anger doesn’t have it’s place in a person’s life. I’m just saying it has no place in mine.

Photo unrelated, though somehow related. Taken while out on a hike with my brother and his/the family dog, Drogo. Follow me on instagram: @fragileheart
Footnotes:
  1. double adjectives because that’s now intense it is[]
  2. or whatever extreme you’d prefer[]
  3. how could I know I would be traumatised by such things?[]
  4. Oh right, I’m not writing a poem right now. Heh. I got carried away with my analogy[]
  5. or depressed for that matter[]
  6. there is also therapy but um, I actually pay him so…[]
  7. because surprise, I’m human![]
  8. thankfully, it’s okay to my friends too – THANK YOU!![]

The Pursuit of Balance

I have an addictive personality. For the most part, I’ve either been lucky enough or strong enough not to get into anything too bad – gambling, heavy drugs, etc… even when I had an alcohol and/or soft drug ‘problem’ it still wasn’t ever as bad as it could have been.

Hip Hop Dance Class with Danny Davalos

My latest addiction? Exercise. After giving up my aforementioned vices1, I just can’t get enough. It all started because Marie was tweeting about the progress she had made after two weeks of working out; she got me a guest pass her gym and the rest is history. I have been trying all sorts of classes2 and I can feel myself getting stronger every week. I remember feeling this way a few years ago when I first started really loving biking around the city3, and thus beginning my foray into exercise – yes, for the first time in my life.

Now more than ever though, I’m glad I started my fitness journey with years of practising Yoga. After several days of beating my body up through all sorts of different work-outs, I end up with all sorts of kinks in all sorts of places. Yoga, especially hot yoga, gives me a way to massage and stretch all those aching muscles and still get some strength training in. Yesterday, I tried a version of Yoga that was a little harder than the kind I normally do.

I usually go to Moksha Yoga which is practised in a hot room, and you are meant to gracefully, purposefully and gently move in to every pose and hold each pose for a few breaths. This kind is by far my favourite for obvious reasons. The class yesterday, which was Ashtanga Yoga, had some similarities, and a lot of differences. The biggest difference that I really struggled with were the poses that had us contorting our bodies into all sorts of weird, limb-tangling positions. I thought I was flexible, and I am, but this is a whole other level. I’m kind of interested to try to see if I can practise to the point of completing all the poses one day though.

The instructor was talking to us in between his chanting-instructions4, telling us about how when you feel tension in those positions, you have to breathe into the spot to help release the tension that is there. Within reason, he said, that tension is your body’s signal to you that there is something that needs to be worked out. Sounds like it would add some balance to the intense workouts I put my body through the rest of the week.

It’s all about balance, after all. It’s all well and good to be “fit”, but what good is being fit if you can’t function on a day-to-day basis? I wish it were that easy to maintain balance with emotional and mental fitness though, but I’m working on that. Productive distractions5, focusing on work, and the awesome projects I get to be a part of all help but they aren’t always enough.

I have to remind my self constantly that balance isn’t about forgetting or getting rid of the bad. It’s all about learning how to leverage the bad to make the good even better. The bad highlight the good by contrast. I don’t think it’s ideal when the bad and the good are present in extremes, but for some people that’s just how things are. I’m still trying to figure out how to maintain balance with such heavy emotions tipping my scales on any given day, and I doubt I’ll ever have to stop trying. I just hope one day, I can be okay with continually having to try. I’m pretty sure that when that happens, I’ll find that peace I’ve been searching for.

Footnotes:
  1. ok I didn’t give up alcohol completely but trust me it’s a big change[]
  2. click on that link if you want to watch me at hip hop dance class this past Saturday[]
  3. and having semi-acrobatic sex with a partner who shall remain nameless[]
  4. which is another thing I need to get used to, the instructors at Moksha speak to us in English[]
  5. like podcasts and audio books, home projects and the like[]

Don’t let the door hit you on your way out, 2013!

Well, I guess that’s it. Isn’t it? This year is finally behind us. I’ve never looked forward for a year to end so much as I have this year. This year was the worst year out of all the years of life. And yet a lot of wonderful things happened1; I guess it just goes to show that there is always good that will come out of a bad situation. I just wish there had been more good this year than bad.

The things I wish to never forget about 2013:

1. That time I was in the pilot episode of a reality TV show called, Come Date With Me on the W Network.

Still from Come Date With Me Canada

2. Being auctioned off at Love a Heart2. Photo credit: Chris Luckhardt.

Facebook Events | Love a Heart

3. Stage Managing for Canadian Music Week and meeting #LeBeau, Garret3.

Canadian Music Week Stage Manager

4. Stage Managing for North By North East and meeting Sloan. Sorry no pictures.
5. Getting a brand new family member, Drogo.

Drogo Sy!

6. Having a custom vine made just for me by Cyrstal Light Canada.

Facebook | Crystal Light Canada | Weird & Wonderful You

7. Assistant Stage Managing for Pride and getting to meet and work with En Vogue.

En Vogue at Pride 2013

8. Going to Cunt Cottage and having an amazing weekend away from the city.

http://fragileheart.com/wp-content/uploads/cunt-cottage.jpg

9. Working for TIFF and getting to see some stars up-close-and-personal-like. No pictures, because I want to be able to work there again in 2014.
10. Going on a boat cruise with Shannon & the gang courtesy of Crazy Uncle. No pictures because I have no idea what I did with the pictures from that cruise. Oops.
11. Volunteering for TEDxToronto4.

TEDxToronto 2013

12. Being in a feature film that won an award at TOIndieFF2013, was part of the official selection at DIFF2013 and reviewed here.

Unhappy Happy Still
13. Working on the 48 hour film project where our team won Best Ensemble Cast.

Hashtag Bougie Productions

13. Meeting and falling in love with #LeBeau’s two daughters5. No pictures, of course. They’re too wittle.
14. Celebrating Christmas with our families and getting 2nd Christmas with the girls. Also no pictures, because I’m a spoil sport like that.
15. Being able to celeberate my birthday & the holidays with some really awesome friends. Again; no pictures, because we didn’t take a group photo and there are too many great ones to choose from.
16. Getting to keep in touch with my wifey, Christine Estima even though she’s a gazillion miles away.

Skyping with the Wifey

Last but not least…
17. Getting to do this fun photoshoot for Ford Canada with the ever-sexy, Ford Fiesta, Marie & Brock.

Date Night with the Ford Fiesta

Shopping fun with Marie & the Ford Fiesta

I’m not at all interested in re-living the past that was this horrible year, so I won’t go into any details about it. I would rather look forward with hope and excitement for what 2014 might have to bring. I can only hope that it’ll be a good year because if my own personal history has taught me anything 2015 is set to be another doozy. You see, there’s something about years that end in zeros and fives – they don’t like me very much. I had a terrible 1995, I can’t say 2000 was any better, 2005 was horrible, 2010 was another nightmare year… mind you, they were all bad for heartbreak but not much else.

Anyway, that’s a whole 365 days away. For now, here’s hoping that in 2014, I…:

  • …no longer have to worry about how I’m going to pay for groceries or laundry.
  • …can actually afford to meet up with friends at least once a week.
  • …find the energy to get off my ass and start exercising again.
  • …will visit my parents and cook for them more often.
  • …will stop worrying about things that I really have no control over.
  • …can reconnect with some old friends who I miss but have drifted away from, for no good reason. And stay connected.
  • …get to go camping twice – once with the family, and once with the man and/or friends.
  • …get to visit somewhere I have never been.
  • …write more for this blog.
  • …learn how to make a Filipino dish I have never made before, but love to eat.

And that’s about it. I had a longer list but I’ve cut it down some in an attempt to be a little more realistic with my resolutions. I didn’t make any resolutions for 2013 because at this age, I’m kind of over them. Since 2013 was such a bad year though, I needed some things to look forward to. And these are some of the more important things I’m looking forward to for this New Year.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

What are you looking forward to in 2014?

Footnotes:
  1. I met Garret this year after all[]
  2. an annual favourite[]
  3. Nope. Not his real name[]
  4. another annual favourite[]
  5. and finally having children in my life. wee![]