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 one with all the questions

IMG_5856When will I learn?
When will I stop beating myself up?
Why can’t I stop?
How do I stop?
When will it stop?

How can I make this day better?
How can I make someone’s day?
Do I make the people I love happy?
How can I make the people I love happy?
Where does this guilt come from?
Did I make the right choice?
Will it be the end of the world if it wasn’t?
Where will I be this time next year?
Will I still feel this way?
How do I feel?
Do i like the way I feel?
What can I do about it?
Who can I talk to about it?
Am I proud of myself?
Are my loved ones proud of me?
How can I be someone worthwhile?
Can I do more?
Can I do better?
Can I be better?

Did I blow out the candle in the kitchen?
Did I pay my phone bill?
Did I text my parents this weekend?
Did I respond to everyone who texted me?
Did I return the phone calls I needed to?

Will I ever find zen again?

[This isn’t even half of what goes through my head sometimes. I am not ashamed. I am who I am; it is all I can ever be].

Shake it out, because Life is Sweet

Borrowing a phrase from one of my favourite sirens, Florence; sometimes the best thing you can do is shake it out because it’s hard to dance with a Demon on your back. I’ve been battling with my own demons for some time now1. Some of them manifest from external sources2 but at the end of the day, my demons are my own. I’m the only one who can shut them up.

I don’t have suicidal tendencies… except that there are these moments when a part of my brain flashes images of3 about doing things that would probably kill me if I were to carry them out IRL. Things like jumping in front of the incoming train, off a bridge, out of a moving car, through a window of a condo apartment that’s high enough.

I love speed

There’s a part of me that’s an adrenaline junkie and she visualizes these things because these images. Then there’s another part of me who likes to write stories in my head. The two of then together bring me said images whether I’m in a good or bad mood. What’s fun is that I also always manage to survive said actions4; I somehow superhero my way out of dying. Because happy endings are better than sad ones.

Thankfully, I know better than to carry these fantasies out. What if one day I got so emotional, high  ((you can be high on love right?)) and/or drunk that I lose that grip on reality? It’s a scary thought but it happens. More often than it should. I’m a pretty private person5. For all the things that I vocalize through social media and to my closest friends, I have at least 10 other thoughts I keep to myself6. I doubt I’m the only one who goes through this.

It’s hard for me to admit when I’m depressed. I hate feeling sorry for myself; almost as much as I hate feeling other people’s pity for me. There were far too many days this past Autumn when I would wake up to a gorgeous sunny day and all I wanted to do was block my windows from the sun and go back to sleep.

I’m not sure what else to say right now. It’s really hard to admit that.

The thing I find most puzzling is that this past summer had been one of the best summers I can remember. That’s all I’m really willing to say about it for now though. I just know that I still feel off most days. I still don’t feel like myself but at least now I feel like I’m slipping into someone new7 with a little more ease. When I get to a point when I can look back at all this and smile, I can’t wait for the day I can thank the catalyst8.

I had to come to terms with the fact that I let things affect me whether I want to admit it or not. I used to deny myself the ability to feel something if I think it’s going to negatively affect someone else. I still do that, but I am getting better at finding the balance between taking care of myself and taking care of everyone else around me instead. It isn’t easy fighting yourself to change for the better but I think I’m doing an decent job. So, I wanted to talk about it because whether I know it or not, there may be someone out there who needs to read this.

Partners for Mental Health held Let’s Call BullS#!T in January and I’m happy to see that wasn’t the end of the conversation surrounding Mental Illness. I wanted to share these thoughts in support of someone I adore immensely, who is doing something very brave9 in honour of her late Mother’s memory.

Ashley Gibson: Life Is Sweet

Ashley Gibson is a fascinating creature who I’m honoured to call a friend. Ashley’s Solo Cabaret, Life is Sweet, is happening at the Flying Beaver Pubaret this Friday, February 22nd at 9:30pm. Door proceeds are being donated to the CAMH Foundation but the show is sold-out; However, she is also accepting donations through the CAMH website.

“Every February I am faced with a bleak, cold month in Toronto with my mother’s death anniversary on February 24th to top it all off. For the last couple of years I’ve made concerted efforts to do something nice for myself on that day to make it easier to cope and to honour her. This year I decided to create something that has been rumbling in my soul for a long time. On February 22nd I will be performing ‘Life is Sweet, Even in February’ to honour my mother. The show will feature a range of songs that she enjoyed and songs that remind me of her alongside stories of her life, our time together, the impact of her mental illness, and my journey through healing after her death.” – Ashley Gibson

I have been lucky: no one that close to me has ever taken their own life; nor have I ever witnessed it happen. The thing is, I never want to. No one should ever have to see that happen. No one should ever feel like it’s the only way out. We can’t predict when that’s going to happen or for whom. There is no magic pill that’s going solve the problem, but conversation goes a long way towards helping spread the sentiment10 that they’re not alone.

And at the end of the day, isn’t that what we all want? To be Forever Not Alone?

Footnotes:
  1. something like the last year and  half[]
  2. like other people[]
  3. i.e. fantasizes[]
  4. in my fantasies[]
  5. insert your shocked reaction here[]
  6. on a slow day[]
  7. and actually, better[]
  8. yeah, not telling[]
  9. as she does[]
  10. whether they want the reminder or not[]

When change hurts

It has been a journey to say the least. The last few months have been a wonderful whirlwind of ups, downs and important lessons and realizations. I think the one lesson that I didn’t expect to learn after all this is that despite being able to adapt to my surroundings extremely well -how much my bearings are affected if I don’t have a proper place to sleep.

For the last three months I have been sleeping on my Ikea love-seat because I couldn’t sleep on my bed1 until three nights ago. Depending on what way you look at it, you could say it cost me a lot but I don’t think placing blame on circumstance does me any good so it just is what it was: a learning experience. Heck, it didn’t kill me right?

30 years. As of some time in the late evening on November 7th, the cells and whatever spirit that make up this girl right here would have been alive for 30 years. I’ll admit there is a part of me that feels like a bit of a disappointment but then there’s another part of me that knows that my life is only just beginning so long as I allow myself the chance at said beginning.

Live each day as if it were your last. Someone great said that to me recently as we were walking the 6.5kms to my new home2 at 4am. By the way, don’t let the knowledge of this act taint your image of bohunkCA; he was the perfect jerk as always – and yes ladies, he was totally topless the whole way there 😉

I want to make an art out of living life, where I find joy in every little moment of every day – regardless of what is going on at the time. Growing up, I had never really paid much attention to the things that really made my heart soar. I knew the obvious things like music3, food, love, and sex… all those self-indulgent sort of things. But now I’m paying more attention to how happy it makes me to be around people like my family and closest friends4.

I know I have lot of work to do up ahead of me but I do think I am up to the task. It feels strange to say that I have never really felt this ready before but I guess I’m just done being afraid. I’m still in the process of getting my life back but I have no doubt that whatever is coming next is going to be amazing. It’s been amazing even when it should have been horrible so how could it not?!

I want to know though: did you love or hate turning 30?

Footnotes:
  1. I really don’t want to say it, don’t make me say it: I had bed bugs[]
  2. it was so old school I couldn’t resist but agree to walk home with him[]
  3. specifically singing[]
  4. the ones who have stuck by me no matter what fucked up shit I’ve done – you know who you are[]