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[]

It was an emotional return home

Going Home

I’m sure the fact that I wasn’t able to get any sleep on the red-eye flight back to Toronto had a lot to do with it but a few hours after I woke up from my nap to carry on with my Friday afternoon, I became overwhelmed with emotion. There were other factors in play, but they shouldn’t have left me bawling with pure sadness the way I did. I greeted the sadness like an old friend, and let it linger if only for a moment. Once it was gone, I felt a certain kind of zen that I haven’t felt in a long time.

I’m not sure I could live out in British Columbia, but I am changed forever for having been there. It was also emotional because I had allowed myself to forget how much I enjoyed being around the company of the two people I went there to visit. They’re both amazing centres of calm, and love and I adore being around them. I wish I could have stayed longer; next time. Certainly next time.

Snowshoeing the Rainbow Trail in BC

Being out there has also left me with a renewed longing to keep moving. Even though I opened my heart up to joy this year, my body had gotten into the habit of being frozen, and unable to move because I was too sad or depressed to. Though I do wish there was a mountain I could go hiking up right now. There’s something magical about the thinning air, the gorgeous view, the implied solitude that comes with hiking up a mountain rather than a hill that you just can’t replicate in this city1.

The view from Whistler while skiing

I learned a lot of things about myself while I was out on those mountains. I learned that my body is a lot stronger than I think it is, and that I have the tendency to want to give up way too easily. i learned that if I distract myself with pretty sights, and inspiring views and thoughts that I can get through anything. I learned that I am better at practicing techniques when no one is paying attention, and that I get self-conscious when others are giving me instructions and watching. That explains why I taught myself how to ice skate, among many other things in my life.

Emjoying the view from the breakfast hall

I also re-affirmed that for the last two and half years I have been living in fear. I have somehow allowed fear to take the wheel and be the driving force behind most of my decisions. I have been trying to break the habit for the last 3-6 months, but the progress has been slow to say the least. Alas, at least there has been progress. It appears to me that there isn’t going to be a big push out of this one, I am going to have to gradually chip away at it patiently.

One day at a time. One moment at a time.

It’s the best I can do, and that’s all I can ever ask of myself.

Have you ever been to British Columbia? Have you ever been to Whistler? Was it as inspiring to you as it was to me?

Footnotes:
  1. I am certain I am not the first person to say this, but it still needs to be said[]