“I was at Coachella, leaning on your shoulder, watching your husband swing in time, I guess I was in it, cause baby for a minute, it was Woodstock in my mind…” – Lana Del Rey, Coachella – Woodstock In My Mind.
Here’s a potentially grandiose statement: Festival life is the best life. While Coachella is across country borders and on the opposite side of this continent, here in Montreal we have Osheaga every summer and just like Lana felt some Woodstock vibes at Coachella this year, I felt the same sort of transformative magic over the 3 days at my music festival this August. The impact was so huge that nearly a month after the festival has closed, I still feel it reverberating now – this feeling that the power and energy of festival life should and must find its way into our everyday lives.
My experience with Osheaga has been limited – I attended a couple times in the first few years when the festival was in its infancy and my interest then waned for several years, perhaps around the same time that I forgot that music is my boyfriend / I bought a house and had no disposable income… But last year, everything changed. Four little (big) words: Radiohead. Lana. Del. Rey. My two favourite artists, headlining a music festival in the city I was growing to love more and more as I waited for my house to sell in the suburban countryside just outside of Montreal? It was meant for me. I went. I danced. I loved. It brought back memories of what it is that causes me to thrive in the environment of a live show – the energy and joy of people around you, all focused on the universal love of music and musicians – in other words, real life magic.
So, long before the lineup was announced in early 2017, it was already evident to me that I would be attending, if not for the music then to absorb that magic and revel in its power. When the lineup was finally released, I saw a handful of musicians I loved overpowered by a mass of groups and individuals I had never heard of. And in that moment it became clear that this was an opportunity to not only discover new music (and I did, oh did I ever) but also a chance to approach this festival with an open and free heart willing to go with the flow and do whatever felt right in the moment, with little regard for the scheduled performances.
The result was a series of vivid and magical moments that were very much true of Osheaga-August-2017-Montreal-Quebec, but could very well have been Woodstock-August-1969-White-Lake-New-York (barring all the iPhones and Instagram posts). What follows are snapshots of moments and nothing more, but while they are nothing, they are equally everything – these are my Osheaga-rose-coloured moments.
Appreciation of the weather and elements: On Day 1, Friday, August 4th, it pours. There is thunder and lightning. It rains sideways at times. Shows are cancelled for a few hours. Attendees huddle under trees in the hopes that they will not get electrocuted by lightning. Strangers become friends as they wait for the claps of thunder to pass so the music can start again. And in what most would call miserable weather, I find myself in the middle of a bleak and nearly empty field in front of the tiniest stage laughing hysterically at warm pellets of rain falling onto my face, soaking my body to its core. Because what is life, but a series of moments that are either bright and sunny or dark and miserable? Even in the dark and hot rain, my spirit soars and is in appreciation of everything Mother Nature has decided to throw at us.
Dancing with strangers: Late afternoon on the first day after being poured on for hours, the sun comes out and we find a (relatively) dry patch of grass to plop down on for 1 or 2 sets so we can gather our energy for the night ahead. And yet, after sitting for only a few minutes, I spot 2 people a few feet away dancing with an energy that is infectious. I lean over to my friend to tell her that I want to – no, I must join them, if only for a moment… So we do. We hop up and start dancing with them and they immediately accept us, even going so far as to share their dance move, uniquely called “The Cauliflower” – but they tell us that it can be named whatever we want. All that matters is embracing the arched backward and forward movement and enthusiastic waving of your arms. The time we spend dancing with them is fleeting, perhaps the length of only one song, but they are the kindest and most open dance partners I’ve ever encountered.
Love Love Love: Everywhere I turn, I see love incarnate. Free and open or delicate and closed, it is there in every form. Couples sway together or stand still, simply holding each other in a quiet moment. Friends run from stage to stage holding hands. Men loving each other, women loving each other, men and women loving each other, friends loving each other – it appears at different moments in different iterations and in every interaction I witness, there is a tenderness and passion so powerful that it radiates through the atmosphere, creating a blissful energy that is impossible to ignore.
Music Music Music: While my peak lineup was realized at Osheaga in 2016, going into this weekend there are still artists I am excited to see and they deliver performances that fill my heart and body to maximum capacity. I fall madly in love with Father John Misty as he smokes a cig while singing with fervour about the end of the world. My body explodes with energy and dance as Justice flawlessly transitions from one song to the next in a way that feels intense and epic. Alabama Shakes paralyze me temporarily – I am floored and unable to process the power of Brittany Howard’s hypnotic voice and feel the same emotion from others around me; the crowd at this set is so quiet it’s almost eerie.
Dance Dance Dance: I realize at one point over the weekend that my ability to weave through the crowds with ease and agility is not necessarily because of my small stature, but more because I have not stopped dancing since I have stepped onto the Osheaga playground. Yes, of course there is dancing at each of the sets – even when the music is soft and quiet I find myself dancing in slow motion, and this escalates all the way to the opposite end of the spectrum when an act like Sofi Tukker has me jumping and spinning non-stop for 60 minutes. But as I traverse from stage to stage around and between masses of people, it occurs to me that this too is a dance – and not the metaphorical kind. I’m actually dancing as I lead the way for my little crew of friends and this moment of realization is powerful: I am a sorceress of dance-navigation.
Style Style Style: Another moment of epiphany comes to me about mid-way through the weekend – festival style is the best style. Not because it is so crazy / over-the-top / dramatic / silly (which it is, and then some) but because it represents people in their most free and fearless state, wearing that which they most desire without fear of judgement. It is fun and wild and worn with pride – there is no trace of shame or insecurity on the faces of the spectacularly dressed, myself included. (Alright, I’ll admit it, I’m not so out there – crop tops and shorts and running shoes are low key but I leave my bras at home and that feels amazing.)
Goodwill amongst the lovers (or strangers, if you need to be literal): I feel that I cannot call the attendees of this festival strangers, particularly after spending 3 days with them in the same environment. They are all lovers… Of music, of dance, of style, of (let’s be honest) drugs and alcohol, of the manifested energy at the festival, of specific artists, of friends / lovers who love Osheaga (second-hand festival lovers)… and what they love on this list is irrelevant, because we are united by our presence in this place. We are respectful of each other’s space when it gets crowded. We offer strangers hand sanitizer at the porta-potty. We chase each other down when we notice someone has dropped a shirt or money. We love each other. We are lovers and strangers who care for each other in the tiniest but most meaningful ways.
Quiet and loud living in harmony: Most of my time is spent at what my friend and I decide to call the floating stage – a dock of inter-connected plastic blocks that rocks and bounces over a body of water under a tall DJ booth that blasts the best dance music all weekend. The music is fast and loud and the energy high – but early one afternoon only steps away over a wide bridge that crosses a calm body of water flanked by greenery, we stumble upon the quietest and smallest stage where a beautiful solitary female sings softly as the lovers around us lounge on the grass. This juxtaposition of quiet and loud so close yet so completely separate strikes us as pure magic and we stand in the quiet for several moments, taking in the serene energy around us… breathing deeply before we return to the wild jumping and dancing of the floating stage.
Bodies of water and seas of people: The location of Osheaga changes this year due to renovations on the other side of the island so the space is foreign but quickly adopted by me as an adult playground largely thanks to the numerous bridges that we need to crisscross to travel from stage to stage. Every moment crossing a bridge feels like a deep sigh of happiness (quite literally, my friend sighs with every crossing) and more than once we stop in the middle of a bridge to take in views of the water or watch people around us passing, engrossed in their own world and experience. Late on Day 3 it occurs to me that we are not only surrounded by bodies of water under the bridges and around the island; our lovers – the other festival attendees – represent a sea of people that flows around the playground in a beautiful swirl of water unlike any I have seen or felt before. There is the calm stream of people at the tiny stage where the movement is so slow we feel that we are creek-side… And then there are the strong tides of people moving back and forth between the 2 main stages, so powerful that one can get swept away if they do not keep their head up and footing strong.
Knowing looks on the Metro: The best feeling at the beginning of each day is being underground in the Metro and noticing or catching the eye of a fellow Osheaga lover. They are unmistakable, not because of their bright pink wristbands but because their style or their giddy energy screams OSHEAGA. A similar sentiment is felt at the end of the night – we all exit the playground together and as we return to the real world, we feel united even as we trickle away at every stop.
Closing ceremonies and a powerful drop of energy: The Weeknd closes Osheaga and he goes out with the best bang possible – fireworks. Yet even as he returns to the stage for his encore, lovers begin to exit – perhaps in an effort to get a jump on their special time in the Metro with other lovers? As the lights turn on and my immediate lovers suggest we depart, I request that we stand completely still. Let the lovers around us go, we’re in no rush, we have a long wait to get home. So we stand facing the main stage, watching and feeling the tide of people split and part around us… And in that moment, I feel a powerful surge of energy in the air that sparks and begins to fizzle. It is the energy of the lovers and this magical festival, slowly dropping from the upper levels of the atmosphere, quieting and softening as it releases until it drops to my toes and dissipates into the earth. I silently thank the lovers (and organizers!! WHO ARE YOU, YOU MAGICAL BEINGS?!) while attempting to absorb the energy so I can carry this magic into the real world, and say goodnight.
Or, adventures in relocating. As I write these words, I am sitting in a completely new and foreign space which, at some point in time (probably sooner than I think), will feel fundamentally like home. This jumbled mess, this area bursting with the salvaged artifacts of my life, this magical yet very real apartment is mine. All mine. Just mine. Mine and mine alone. It feels like a friendly acquaintance who I may be just a little familiar with, if only because it is filled to the brim with my belongings which have yet to find their rightful place in this tiny space. But I can tell – even in these first few hours of being truly settled in for my first night here – this is going to be my home and quite possibly the best home that I have ever made for myself. This is an adventure.
It’s unusual for me to feel so sure and certain of something like this, but there’s one resounding fact that I can’t ignore: My move into this apartment was absolutely delightful. CAN WE TALK ABOUT THIS?! Moving. Is. The. Worst. Who on earth has ever taken any joy in moving? (Apart from perhaps professional movers, who I can only assume are enjoying their work, if anything because they are getting paid for it…) Seriously. Let’s talk about this.
Why Moving Is Terrible
- You put your entire life into boxes. This sucks because you don’t really know where anything is, or if you do, you can’t easily access it and tape guns are basically the devil. (Deceptive, sharp, temperamental, THE WORST.)
- Putting said life into boxes tends to lead to an existential crisis. (Why do I have so many things? Should I keep this memento from a trip I hardly remember? Will I need this extra trash can?)
- Money, Money, Money. Paying for movers, paying for moving permits, paying to rent a truck, etc. Or, if you’re lucky and have wonderful friends / family to help you bypass those expenses, you still end up buying new things for the new place. (Because you got rid of the trash can, WHY DID YOU GET RID OF THE TRASH CAN?!)
- Change is never fun. We love routine and we love the familiar, so letting that go and embracing a move to a new space is always a little uncomfortable. Even for people who “claim” to love change. (Who are these people? I need to understand the inner workings of their beautiful / crazy minds.)
- No matter how much you plan it out, the actual move is always hectic. Timing doesn’t work, things get misplaced, you can’t find the f$%&ing tape gun when you need it the most… it’s a bit of a hot mess.
- The physical and emotional strain is killer. Arms and back are screaming while heart is breaking. Every move is the end of a period in your life so like it or not, there’s a little bit of a heartbreak that goes with the act of relocating.
So. That’s my shortlist for the (one-sided) debate about why moving is the worst. And based on this write-up, I’m starting to doubt my own statement above regarding delighting in this move… But both things are true. Moving is terrible and I hate it, of course! But both things are true. This move was special for me. It was my first time really moving out on my own – not with a partner, not down the highway to a dormitory for school, not to the basement of my parents’ home after my sad divorce – this was MY move. And. It. Was. The. Best.
Why My Move Was The Best Move
- Independence Day isn’t just a holiday in America. I felt strong and independent rocking this move almost entirely by myself. Run back and forth to the car 15 times to unload all my boxes filled with kitchen things? No problem. Play tetris / jenga with my car to fit as much as possible in an effort to reduce trips back and forth between Home A and Home B? I killed it! Figure out where to store all the kitchen things from those 15 boxes? I got this!
- I also had a lot of help. Don’t get me wrong. I felt very Beyoncé circa the Destiny’s Child Charlie’s Angels era, but I had friends and family on standby to help with the last chunk of the move, when the heavy lifting couldn’t be managed by me and me alone. I am so grateful and so very lucky to have good people in my life who love and support me, even when I go all independent woman on them.
- Somehow there was boundless energy flowing out of me from Friday afternoon at 5PM all the way until this fine Tuesday evening at 10PM. (Where did this come from? Usually I need so much sleep… Was I high on this move? Am I going to crash at some point? HOW AM I STILL AWAKE RIGHT NOW??)
- My new apartment is really cool. EXPOSED BRICK. Need I say more? I guess loving the space you are moving to can sort of soften the blow of moving being the worst.
- This is a huge change in my life and for once I have absolutely no doubt that this is the right thing for me and that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. That casual acquaintance is fast becoming a close friend, even in the short time I have spent writing these words. (Maybe an inaugural blog post is just what I needed to settle in?)
- As always, the universe gives us exactly what we need. Every tiny setback I encountered turned out to be quite the opposite. The timing that I thought was so off was just perfect. My body told me when I was hungry and when it was time to dance around the empty apartment. Strangers opened doors for me by chance only when I was carrying the heaviest boxes. The universe is magic.
I am still buzzing from this move. I’m living (officially as of tonight) in an unreal space that I could never have imagined myself to be in a few years ago. In fact, I don’t think I could ever have guessed that I would end up in this apartment, in this city, living this different and unexpected life. Certainly I would NEVER have thought that I would enjoy any form of relocating, but as I said, this was a special move. It was a movement toward embracing change while shaking off the past. It was 100% me going all in on me. It was and it is, always, an adventure.
This might feel familiar. This might be a little repetitive. This might be a reiteration of a train of thought already shared. This might be the beginning of a new pattern: “Keep writing about something until maybe it sort of makes sense and don’t stop until you get to the very heart of it.” This title might seem unoriginal. This title might, in fact, be completely unoriginal. But do you feel it? Do you feel a sense of excitement as you hear a tiny bell ringing in the back of your mind? Do you feel a certain level of recognition and certainty about where this is going? Do you know exactly what I am about to discuss? Do you see the pattern?
Over the last few months, since my feeble attempt to write about repetition last October, I have found myself thinking about questions that prove somewhat difficult to answer: Why do we repeat ourselves? What patterns do we repeat? How do we break the cycle? When do we find ourselves rejecting change compared to when we push against repetition, instead opting to embrace change and try something new? Who drives us to repeat patterns or invent something completely unfamiliar and original? Where do we see patterns repeating themselves in our own lives and in society? The repetition question has been repeatedly coming to mind and with each moment of contemplation I get a new idea that drives me to want to write about this topic again. But, this weird pattern has emerged in my brain where I have this spark of thought about repetition and then I lose it… almost as if my head is trying to prevent me from looking too closely at this recurring phenomenon that is so prevalent in our lives. (What’s up with that, head? You don’t want me to get to the heart of the big questions in life? Too bad, I’m trying today.)
There is obviously comfort in the familiarity of repetition. Think about the little kid who is so excited to do the same things over and over again – playing peekaboo or replaying the same movie or singing the same song or repeating the same silly action over and over. Their pure delight in the action of repetition is fascinating in our investigation of our attachment to patterns, because their little brains are just developing and I like to think of them as a clean slate and representation of who we are at our very core, before we get too sullied by the world around us. And certainly it may be that these children and babies are just thrilled by the content of what is being repeated, but I am inclined to think that there is something happening at a much deeper psychological level.
Seeing the same thing on a loop, to observe something happening over and over, it’s something we continue to enjoy in our adult life. Maybe we aren’t squealing and clapping like the toddler, but we’re just as excited to know what the expected outcome is – perhaps this explains why GIFs have become so popular? But knowing (HA! More like thinking you know) or expecting a certain result can be problematic. Setting an expectation is automatically setting yourself up for disappointment and failure because nothing in life goes exactly as planned and in every pattern we repeat, there will always be a slight difference in the next iteration. And because the evolution of a pattern is so minute in every repetition, it becomes challenging for us to recognize the shift, which might explain why we are so blind to the risk of setting expectations and so eager to repeat the same things over and over.
There is so much repetition in our individual day to day lives. We eat, we sleep, we repeat. We go to work, we follow the same routine – even if our jobs are non-traditional and crazy, that is a form of repetition in its own way, knowing that there is a guaranteed lack of consistency. When I drive to work I am on auto-pilot, I do not think about where I’m going, I just go because I know the route by heart and I drive it twice a day backwards and forwards. Sure, the level of traffic varies and the number of good or bad drivers rises and drops on any given day – but I know the essence of that drive will remain consistent.
We see the same sort of repetition in society – people are born, they are part of a family, they go to school, they graduate, they get a job, they fall in love, they get married, they make their own family, they raise a child, they (probably) get a divorce, and it all happens again and again. So there is this interesting dynamic between the personal individualistic patterns that we follow in our day to day lives, in that the way we do things and repeat ourselves feed into these ancient and traditional patterns that are repeating in society on a much larger scale. At the individual level we repeat patterns that are inherent to our own psyche. We make choices and act a certain way in a repetition and pattern that is core to who we are as a person. But at the societal level, we are doing the same thing collectively in a more universal manner, by participating in and reinforcing the norms and societal constraints of society as we know it. And this raises an even bigger question – which patterns are harder to break, those that we create in our own lives or those that are part of a much larger social construct?
There is a certain degree of paralysis when we attempt to eliminate repetition from our lives. Trying to break or push against any pattern – whether it is at the individual or societal level – is incredibly challenging and difficult because patterns are so inherent to how we behave, how others expect us to behave, and what we expect of ourselves. And when the patterns have been around for years and years, it becomes even more difficult. Right now I find myself questioning these large social patterns and I think many people do, particularly when we look at all the unrest in the world right now with people asking “why aren’t more women in power, why do minorities continue to be repressed, why is it that male white privilege dominates?”
Putting aside those hard-hitting questions, I struggle with the general question of whether patterns and repetition as a whole are good or bad. And like every repetition question I’ve posed, there is no easy answer. I think at the societal level that perhaps we should always be pushing against patterns in an effort to evolve and hopefully become better as a human race – why do what has always been done when maybe another way could be ground-breaking and change our lives? So naturally I tend to have the same idea when it comes to the individual level (don’t just break patterns, smash them!) but there is something that feels a little more challenging in that sentiment because there might be some patterns that we follow that are good for us.
But what is a good pattern and what is a bad one? Certainly the easiest answer here is bad = hurting yourself or someone else but nothing is that black and white and there are countless shades of grey. I’m not sure how we are supposed to identify which of the patterns are good and which of the patterns are bad, or if we are really meant to. The best we can do is try to remain conscious of what we’re doing so we feel less doomed to repeat the same mistakes and patterns that we can identify as resolutely bad or at the very least advisable to avoid.
So maybe the point of all this is just to observe and be aware of the repetition because it seems that we are destined for a life of pattern making. We are locked into doing things again and again, even when we recognize the pattern, even when we are really conscious of the repetition and literally saying “I don’t know why I am doing this again, I know I am going to hurt myself or something bad will happen as a result of what I am doing right now,” somehow we just cannot stop ourselves… So maybe observation and awareness is critical in an effort to just watch it and maybe learn from it in the slightest and smallest way.
This feels right if we consider what I mentioned above about the risk of expectations – that when we repeat ourselves it does change a little bit, that there is a slight difference to the iteration of the pattern. Perhaps by observing and being consciously aware of the patterns and repetition, we learn something and help ourselves to change the pattern incrementally in the littlest ways possible with each reiteration until we reach an ideal state. (I tried very unsuccessfully to convey this in my last post about repetition, so maybe with this iteration I’m going to get it right? If not, I will repeat myself in a few months when I collect my thoughts all over again.)
Let’s imagine our lives and the patterns within them to be like a slow rhythmic dance that repeats itself continually but changes ever so slightly with each return to the start… like a GIF that evolves and changes a tiny bit when it replays… like a song that sounds the same but is just a little bit different and a little bit better because something changes in it with every new listen. In that slow dance, we are looping around the room again and again but never stepping in the exact same place.
It’s a beautiful dance, but it also sounds completely exhausting that we are constantly taking these tiny little steps towards making a change to a pattern that is so intrinsic to and at the very core of our being. But at the same time, life is hard and things do not change overnight. Change is hard and nobody likes it – I know this because the biggest part of my job at the moment is dedicated to implementing a significant change in the way we operate in the company and everyone hates me as the driver of the change… But that’s life. It is one long story, one slow dance, where you grow and change little by little, year after year, month after month, day after day. I have personally seen this slow (yet strangely fast) change happen, especially in the last two years of my life, where it seems that everything has been changing in these tiny little ways through all these new experiences I am having, and I see myself learning from them and reacting differently every time with every passing experience repeating itself while being just a little bit different too.
If at the individual level we accept and acknowledge that we just need to take it slowly and observe the patterns and hopefully learn from them and change them ever so slightly every time we find ourselves repeating something, does the same principle apply at the societal level? Can we come to collective acceptance and acknowledgement that change is slow and that we all need to be united in taking these tiny steps to make the change by observing and being aware of it? I think yes, because in the social dialogue and discourse that we are seeing in recent years, we are doing just that. We are observing, we are questioning, and we are hopefully learning.
It’s a slow dance. We can’t break (or smash!) patterns immediately, as much as I want to. But doing new things that make me uncomfortable, repeating new and old patterns in different iterations, embracing my love of learning… These are all a very gentle twist in my dance across the room. Doing something that is new with no prior pattern or knowledge is exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. We don’t have a template. We don’t know the steps to this new dance. But, watching and modifying the pattern as we go, asking these hard questions, stumbling over our feet as we try a new move on the dance floor, learning and relearning – that’s a dance I’m happy to sway to.
Last year was filled with travels in twos. Beautiful British Columbia twice – once at the beginning of summer and once at the end of the year. Flamboyant Florida twice last winter – for an escape from the brutal cold in Canada. Never-endingly-thrilling New York City twice – once in the spring and once in the fall. Mon coeur Montreal twice last summer – for a break from my life in the country. And in all these travels, in every adventure and every day spent in these wonderful places, the one thing I felt consistently was complete awe at the very existence of so many different worlds within this one world of ours.
The same thought inevitably found its way to the top of my mind whenever I boarded a plane to fly back home and I kept asking myself the same question: How can it be that I am leaving a location so magical and special, where life and the energy of that place will continue to exist and go on when I am gone? At this very moment, some of my favourite people are in these locations going about their day-to-day lives, interacting with people in those worlds and experiencing a completely different reality than the one that I am in.
What’s incredible to me is that inherent difference in space but unity in time – that these different worlds exist across expansive spaces on the same plane of time (even when there are three hours separating me from BC). I remember very distinctly thinking how strange it was to be lounging on a beach in Florida while there was a totally different world back home that was cold, grey, and snowy. I can still feel the wonder welling up inside of me as I walked the streets of NYC, taking in the enormous buildings and frenetic atmosphere around me as I contemplated that my house back home was sitting quiet and empty on a quaint little road. I hiked up mountains in British Columbia and questioned how this magical and overwhelming scenery could be part of Canada when so much of what I know from home is minuscule landscape, comparatively. And even only 45 minutes from home when I stayed in the charming city of Montreal, it was still apparent to me that my life in the city was drastically unlike my life in the country.
We go along in our lives operating in a very specific space, building a world around us that is shaped by our environment and the people in it. But with every movement to a different space, we are allowing ourselves to experience a whole new world that runs in parallel with our own and in those different worlds, anything and everything is possible. Our world at home continues to exist but in our travels and transportation to a different world, we engage with an alternate universe that is comprised of a space that is not our own but simultaneously made our own in that very instant. Even if only temporarily, that world belongs to us and we are active participants in that universe, separate and detached from our world back home.
That transportation to another world is powerful. We leave behind the familiarity of home, of routine, of the known world we occupy daily and we enter into a realm of infinite possibility. Some might refer to this as a sort of alter ego on vacation – a person who is away from home and in an unencumbered state, fully free to do as she or he pleases, shedding responsibility and the mundane while welcoming freewheeling and the unknown. The world we know is behind us and a new world is available to us to explore and fall in love with in every trip to an alternate universe.
It’s not just me feeling this, right? There is something about visiting a different world that loosens something up inside us. And certainly me on vacation > me at work, but it’s not just a simple equation that we are happier and having more fun when we travel or leave home. The underlying magic is in our capacity to remove ourselves completely from the world we know by adapting to and wholly embracing the new world we find ourselves in… Not to mention the people in it.
Have you ever stepped back for a moment in a crowded space far from home to appreciate how many people there are on this planet? And in that moment of appreciation, have you recognized that every individual has a world of their own that could potentially intersect with yours in that very instant, or even more incredibly, at another point in time in your life? Mind. Blown. In our travels to different worlds, we interact not only with a new space but with new people, who might come into our lives for a fleeting period of time or become an essential part of our existence moving forward. Who knows who will cross your path when you explore a new world?
This year is shaping up to be another filled with travels (turns out selling your house and paying off your debt gives you an unforeseen freedom and drive to do all the things and go to all the places and have all the adventures). It started early with my last trip to BC rolling into 2017, an impromptu weekend with my best friends in Miami at the end of January, a too-short long weekend in NYC just a couple weeks ago with my Miami Mamis… And the feeling grows stronger with every trip: These alternate universes within the one world I live in are astounding. I’ve already got other trips lined up in the coming months to visit friends and family who are spread out around this incredible planet in a series of different worlds and while I don’t have a magic carpet, I know the secret to accessing a whole new world – you just need to open your eyes and see it. Seriously, Aladdin had it right – don’t you dare close your eyes.
1. Starting this blog was one of the best things I’ve ever done. Regardless of whether or not my random posts are being read / enjoyed / appreciated / contemplated… This weird little corner of the Internet is a documentary of my adventures and gives me incredible perspective through the long lens of my posts over the last few years. I recently reread my Thirty Thoughts when I was feeling low to remind myself of some of the big ideas I had and I was so grateful to have that list available to recapture where I was and what I thought around this time last year. Lots of things have changed (and lots of things have stayed the same), so I feel compelled to complete this exercise a second time, adding one extra thought for this last yearlong trip around the sun.
2. Let’s all try to be grateful. The gratitude I felt as I was reading my thirty-year-old lady musings from 2016 stemmed from a conversation I’ve had with a friend several times over the last year about how we must remember to be grateful for what we have and to practice that gratitude in our day-to-day lives. I am thankful I have a roof over my head, food to eat, clean water to drink, my health, and the best family and friends a person could ask for. The rest is inconsequential, so I do my best to focus on and say a silent thank you for the things that I am fortunate to have. And speaking of gratitude…
3. Vacation days are literally the best thing ever. OK, I know this one is obvious, but I’ve realized that there are some people in the world who don’t value their vacation time, and that is just CRAZY to me. When I take days off work, I am OFF. No email. No phone calls or texts from co-workers. No thought whatsoever about what is happening at the office. Completely disconnecting is the healthiest thing I can do for my brain and I always come back to work refreshed and happy with a positive attitude. (That might also have to do with the vacation days being spent in the best places in the world with my favourite people… but that sort of comes with the vacation territory, right?)
4. Exercise = Improved Mental Health. In the last 2 years I have started to prioritize loving my body by treating it to exercise and good care… and while the exercise has changed (Dear Yoga, I still miss you and I promise I will come back to you one day), the resulting endorphins are consistently wonderful. It became glaringly clear one day a few weeks ago when I had a would-be terrible day at work paired with a speeding ticket on my lunch hour, and I found myself laughing it off. When I later questioned how it could be that I was so upbeat, I remembered that I had done a heavy round of resistance training that morning before work… and voila, happy me. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
5. I am happiest next to a body of water. Ocean, lake, canal, whatever. Give me a spot in the sand with the rhythmic sound of waves crashing loudly against the shore, or let me find a quiet spot along something smaller to take in the smell of damp earth under the ripple of ebbing waters… I’ll take anything.
6. Every year gets better – even during the hardest time of my life. In the last couple of years I ended a long term relationship, gave up my animals, said goodbye to the beautiful home that I built with my best friend, and pretty much turned my entire life upside-down. It was sad and hard… but somehow when I look back on 2015 and 2016, I can say with complete certainty that they have been the best years of my life. Sure, I lost a lot. But I gained so much more – a greater perspective about my life and priorities, a freedom and drive to explore all the things, new friends, and a newfound positive attitude that was missing throughout my twenties. It feels like every passing year has been better than the last and I’m inclined to believe that this upward trajectory continues as we get older. (Like a fine wine? 1985 was a good year after all.)
7. I might be a little bit psychic. Seriously. I dreamt of a poster for Montreal’s Osheaga music festival featuring Radiohead and Lana Del Rey’s names side by side, and 3 days later THAT POSTER WAS RELEASED. I’m telepathic. (And I bet I know what you’re thinking right now – that I’m nuts – am I right? Psychic, I told you!)
8. Music and dancing are core to my existence. Last year I swore that I would dance more and… oh, did I dance. 2016: year of the dancing emoji. I discovered new genres of music that filled my body with ecstatic joy, I swayed to my all-time favourite musicians (and discovered a few new ones) at Osheaga, I tore up the dance floor at weddings and parties, and I realized that the best and last boyfriend in my life will always be music. I sang at the top of my lungs pretty much every time I was alone in my car, shamelessly sang karaoke (loved every minute and am hoping to do it again soon), and even braved an open mic night after a few drinks (which I did not love as much… lack of lyrics in front of me and messing up the words to Blackbird = awkward and disrespectful to The Beatles).
9. Turning 30 was the beginning of an enormous life shift. It’s not like I woke up at 30 and suddenly everything had changed, but as I approach 32 in a few months time, I’ve realized that I’ve started on a new journey in the span of 2 years and I don’t think it is a coincidence that it coincides with the start of a new decade of my life. It’s sort of wild to think that we can suddenly change and grow and evolve every 10 years, no?
10. Having a mortgage is cool but not having one is fine too. Home ownership was great in so many ways, but selling my house and walking away from that heavy commitment was liberating. I’m glad to have seen both sides and to know what each experience feels like.
11. Living alone is fantastic. It was funny reading about my adjustment to living in an empty because my post last year was written only a few months after my ex had moved out. Forget the thought that “living alone isn’t so bad” – all said and done, I lived alone for 15 months and I genuinely loved it by the end.
12. Being scared is life affirming and exhilarating. Two experiences taught me this lesson. First, I repelled down a rock and climbed back up the rope on a hike in beautiful British Columbia. It was steep. I was sure I was going to fall and cut myself open and bleed out in the woods or smash my head or break a limb. But I didn’t. I was strong and powerful and I did it. Second, I got lost in a mosh pit in the middle of a rowdy set at a music festival and was separated from friends in a sea of people. It took 20 minutes to break through to a clearing on the side of the crowd and another 5 to find my friends, who were traumatized. But me, I felt a natural high. I actually threw my head up to the sky and yelled, “WE’RE ALIVE!!!” Does that mean I’m a little bit crazy? Maybe. But in both cases, my pounding heart and the hot blood coursing through my veins gave me an appreciation for life unlike anything I have ever felt before.
13. Being brave sometimes means you need to be a little vulnerable. Yes, doing the scary and life threatening things means subjecting your body to being its most vulnerable and fragile. But, even more terrifying is the bravery it takes to get vulnerable with your words – to really speak your truth without holding back. I can’t always get there but I’m doing my best.
14. I am always hungry. Actually starving. Dying to eat at all hours of the day. Will always answer “yes” when asked if I want to eat. Thinking about what I will eat next, when in the middle of a meal. Can I blame this on all that extra exercise? Why is my stomach growling right now?
15. Everything changes but some things stay the same. Yes, I know that’s an oxymoron. But it’s true, no? When I was packing my entire life into boxes late last year, I came across some old journals and found entries from over 10 years ago that captured a lot of things about me that remain true to this day: I hate making decisions. I am boy crazy. I feed off of and respond to the energy of people around me. While I was just a kid then with little understanding of what was ahead and how much I would grow and change, I still hit on some fundamental things about myself that are consistently part of who I am.
16. There are very real #relationshipgoals in my life. I find myself stepping back lately and observing the healthy relationships around me and thinking about how modelling after the people I love in their interactions with the people they love is a very real goal for me. The couples are all different and have their ups and downs, but they have these admirable qualities that show me what a great relationship should look like: Caring for your best friend, seeking out adventure together, sweetness in all your interactions, openness and trust in your journey together, and crazy-head-over-heels-madly-in-love love for each other. #relationshipgoals right?
17. Single or spoken for are both perfectly fine. Don’t get me wrong, although I’m writing about some serious goals for my next relationship, I’m also extremely content with this single lady life I’m making for myself. This is a pretty big deal for me because I pretty much spent all of my late teens and twenties going from one long term relationship to the next, and I’ve never really spent that much time alone with myself. It’s wonderful. Sometimes hard. Sometimes amazing. Always fascinating. And often confusing, because in this adjustment to single life I find myself going back and forth between an impulse to find a partner and a desire to continue on this solitary journey – at least for now.
18. The struggle to decide between two options is extreme for me. Certainly the debate of single vs. taken is a good example of this challenge, but it goes much deeper. I can always look at both ends of a spectrum or see both sides of a story, and I consistently find myself stuck somewhere in the middle, unable to settle on which way to go. A friend of mine helped me realize how extreme this is for me recently when she said that everyone struggles with making choices but that it seems to her that it’s somehow much harder for me… And I was so grateful that she said it because it has made me feel crazy for the longest time. It doesn’t change my inability to decide but at least knowing that I have this greater affliction keeps me a tiny bit saner. And…
19. There is always a third option. This was one of those big “AHA!” moments in a discussion with my friend where we hit on this incredible concept that we never need to feel locked into only two choices or two ends of a spectrum. There’s always another angle to consider, always an alternative we haven’t looked at yet, and always a third option. We just need to remember it’s there.
20. The dynamic of public and private is perplexing. We’re more than half way through my brain dump of random thoughts (with hopefully the teeniest bit of wisdom) and I’m starting to realize that I’m really baring my soul with this one. It’s a strange thing, to be so open and public on this blog when I tend to be very private and shy in real life, always hesitant to talk about myself and quietly protecting from – what, the world? Two ends of a spectrum and I guess I’m somewhere in between, as usual.
21. “Girls doing whatever the fuck they want” is a bitching motto. Speaks for itself. My thanks to The Wing for this one.
22. There are parts of my job that I actually really love. It feels sort of strange to say it, but it’s true. There’s been this huge project at work that I’ve been leading for almost a year and it’s sort of taking over my life, but somehow I’ve gotten to the point that I’m starting to enjoy it. We’ve hit a stride and we are making progress. Organization and producing work are my strongest qualities and I’m getting to stretch those muscles on a daily basis. I’m working with really smart people who get the goal of the project. I am challenged every single day and pushed harder to produce, and it feels great.
23. But… I still have no idea what I’m doing with my life. It’s nice to be in a place where I feel like I don’t hate my work but I still know that this isn’t my forever career and that I’ll need to eventually make a change. But, see above point #18 – I’ve got this little problem with making big life-changing decisions, so I’m still feeling a little stuck. Will it ever be easier? I’m not sure, but I’m really trying.
24. Letting go and letting things be is sometimes best. While I’m still totally lost and unsure of where I’m going and what I’m doing, I’ve decided that easing up is better than forcing it. Trying to define and decide and figure everything out is doing nothing for me and a friend recently suggested that little steps are perfectly fine. This revelation isn’t really new but it’s something I seem to always forget and rediscover on an annual basis – going back to nonetofigo (no need to figure it out, it’s a thing, don’t question it), doing one thing at a time and believing that it will all become clear and that things will reveal themselves naturally.
25. Different types of love are possible. Alright, I’ll be honest, I stole this line from Desert Island Disk off of Radiohead’s new album (did Thom know I needed this beautiful collection of songs last year?) but the words are perfectly true. We can love and be loved in so many different ways, yet I think we often feel constrained by the concept of a traditional love story. It’s not always boy-meets-girl-they-fall-in-love-they-break-up-they-get-back-together-and-live-happily-ever-after. It can be complicated or obvious or challenging or simple or hard or fun or gut-wrenching or thrilling or feel both right and wrong and everywhere in between. It can be different from one day to the next and it can change with alarming frequency. And in all these different types of love – whether confusing or crystal clear – there is still a persistent and underlying joy in the act of loving. Thom!! How do you always know!?
26. Marriage and babies are starting to make me feel like a grown up. Let’s be clear. I’m not married. I have no babies. I don’t think either of those things are anywhere close to possible in my current world but seeing people around me going down that road definitely makes all us big kids seem a little bit more adult. It’s totally weird.
27. “Tell me about yourself” are 4 words I often dread. How can I possibly summarize all the things about me that I feel are important, and how do I bypass all the boring things that I think are meaningless? I’m generally terrible at small talk and meeting new people – socially awkward for life, yo. And yet, I absolutely love getting to know new people. There’s something exciting about someone being a blank slate, like a mystery that you get to solve in your own unique way. It is fascinating to encounter another person and know nothing about them, slowly piecing together who they are by hearing their stories and asking the kinds of questions you hope they might ask you. (My questions are usually food-related, are we surprised?)
28. My head is always in the clouds. I mean… I might be a tiny bit obsessed with skylines, and my favourite sunsets are those with a cluster of clouds. The layers of colour and dimension are out of this world when clouds pile on top of each other and I suppose I am attracted to the dreamlike quality of these fluffy puffs of air that are constantly moving and changing and reconfiguring in a beautiful slow dance across the sky. I can’t help but stop sometimes to tilt my head up to the sky and take it all in. Am I just a dreamer who refuses to be grounded in reality? Or does this just mean I have a deep appreciation for beauty? Probably both.
29. There are things that are impossible to describe or explain but can be felt with complete certainty. This is probably what most would describe as a gut feeling. But it’s something more – it’s an unspoken communication that is felt. Whether that communication is individually with ourselves, with another person, or with the entire universe – it is intensely powerful and a little bit magic. Sometimes we can’t find words to express a feeling or a thought but it’s there, like it’s on the tip of our tongues… And that inability to put it in words isn’t a failing, it’s the nature of the thing being so huge that we can’t even define it. If that idea feels wild but somehow makes sense (because really, how can I put into words a thing that is founded on being unable to speak the words), then just wait, because…
30. There is an unspoken third element in every connection we make with another person. You are an individual human being on this planet with your own unique experiences and perspectives that you can and do try to share with others. And every other person in the world is exactly the same – we all see things differently, even if we are aligned in our values and beliefs, and no matter how hard we try, we will only ever understand others through our own lens. But, we crash into each other every single day and those differences somehow fuse together to create this powerful and unspoken third element that connects you with that someone else. So when you make a friend or find a lover or pretty much interact with any person anywhere at any time, you create a relationship with this person that is made up of that magical connection of you and them combined – and that third thing binds you together in a way that cannot be explained, only felt.
31. The universe is magic and gives us exactly what we need. Have I made this statement on this blog already? I think I probably have and I don’t care if it’s repetitive. (I love repetition, remember?) There is no doubt in my mind that things happen for a reason and that the universe is constantly conspiring in our favour to make magic, happy coincidences, powerful connections, and all the good things in between. And, in the darkest times when I question all the ugliness and bad feels in the world, I still know deep down that this is the universe at work, turning and moving toward something new and better. I know, I know. I went all magic crazy with my last 3 thoughts but… Magic is something you make, and I think we all need some magic in our lives.
Last week was the end of a long chapter in my life. The house I lived in for 6 years transferred ownership to my buyers and I officially moved out. I will never pull into that driveway again, never dash up the stairs to grab the scarf I forgot in my closet, never make a huge mess in the kitchen while putting together a delicious meal, never enjoy a glass of wine with loved ones on the couch in the living room, never plant another garden in the backyard… It is with absolute certainty that I can say that this experience would serve as the perfect definition of bittersweet. All week long I found myself sitting in the middle of two extreme emotions: liberated joy and crushing sadness.
The latter was the stronger of the two feelings in the last few days as I went through the closing of the sale and emptying of the final things in the house; but there was a constant optimism underlying the sorrow attempting to remind me of the great things ahead. Emotions are tricky, aren’t they? The logical side of me was rolling her eyes at the weepy side and biting her tongue even though she wanted to shout: “Hey dummy, you’ve been waiting for months to sell your house and move on from this break-up, why are you so sad!?” Conversely, the emotional side of me was angry at the rational side and more than once she wailed: “Why doesn’t logical me and everyone else understand why I feel sad, and isn’t it OK to feel this way anyway?!” Fortunately I am somehow comfortable living in the middle of juxtapositional craziness and although I felt completely disheveled, I was equally fine with oscillating between the sad and happy, rolling with whichever felt stronger and appreciating that what I was feeing was all valid.
That said, it’s been a tough couple of weeks. Particularly the last handful of times I went into the empty house, after I had moved out and was returning to pick up the last of my boxes or clean up before handing over the keys to the new owners… I left the house in tears more than once and felt sick to my stomach every time I drove away. There’s something quite heartbreaking about saying a goodbye that you know is permanent. It was the same feeling I had when I said goodbye to the dog and the cats that my ex took after we split – there’s this terrible finality in walking away from something or someone you know you will never see again. And in this case, this goodbye was to a really beautiful house that I cherished very dearly as a wonderful home for many years. And even though the life I shared with my former partner is over and I know that he and I are both better off in our new lives, I still have happy memories of the time we had together in that home.
So my goal with this post is to pay tribute to the house, my home, which I loved and will always love. And if Julie Andrews has taught me anything (apart from the best word in the world, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious), when I’m feeling sad, I just need to think of a few of my favourite things. Here are a few from the first house I ever owned.
The floors. Hardwood oak, medium brown, with beautiful and unique swirls in every individual piece. I still remember the first days of installation – pulling each strip of wood from the piles of boxes, delighting in the idea that these gorgeous pieces were just like a fingerprint or snowflake, unique and unlike any other in the pile.
The mudroom. Square slabs of slate in shades of grey, blue, yellow, green, and even a speckle or two of red – all with a magical feel of the cosmos that would take me away into reveries of outer-space whenever I allowed myself to stop for a moment to recognize their beauty. One side of the room was comprised of pale grey built-in cabinets framing the washing machine and dryer with a large and sturdy matching bench opposite, all designed for optimal convenience in this welcoming room that served as my main entry on the side of the house.
The dolomite. The kitchen was already perfectly installed when we purchased the house (IKEA kitchens for the win!) so there wasn’t really much to do in this room apart from dressing it up a bit. The dolomite tile that I chose as backsplash was absolutely stunning: a soft white with the faintest whispers of grey streaking throughout, along with a pale grey grout… it was special. And then to top it all off, functional hand-build shelving was added on either side of the stove, just above the backsplash.
The closet. One of my favourite decisions made in the early days of the purchase was to tear down the wall between the linen closet in the hallway upstairs and the walk-in closet in the master bedroom, leaving me with all the space a girl could need for a (dare I say it?) dream closet. Pure white, good lighting, hooks for days, bead-board and ample shelving – it was the best closet I’ve ever had. (And that’s saying a lot, because the first place I ever rented had a spare bedroom that I used as a full closet.)
The fireplace. Remember that cosmic tile from my incredible mudroom? It was reclaimed for a fireplace-makeover in the first few years at the house. Where the fireplace was previously a pale indistinct purple-beige with absolutely NOTHING going for it, the refreshing makeover gave the mantlepiece new life with a crisp white on top contrasted by the bold and bright colours of the slate along the base.
The colours. Fossil Grey, Stratosphere, Seagull Grey… I can’t remember all the creative names of the paint colours I chose over the years but the colours are imprinted in my memory. Deep blues upstairs, a pale baby blue in the kitchen, varying shades of grey throughout the main floor, pure white in the bathroom and closets, and a pale greyish green in the mudroom all gave me joy from the first stroke of the paintbrush until the very last time I walked through the house.
Why were these my favourite things? I chose them. Living in this house allowed me the experience of my very first time decorating my own place, choosing the finishing touches, playing interior designer, and leaving my mark in every room. But, as much as I had a role to play in choosing the aesthetics in each room, my ex played a much larger role by installing them and adding special touches that I will always remember with gratitude. Strangely it occurred to me as I was writing – all the things I listed are vestiges of his handiwork. He was (and is) a talented craftsman – a quality that I continue to admire to this day. Just as I loved my house and will always love it, I loved him and always will. We weren’t right for each other, but he was good to me and we made a beautiful home together.
Saying goodbye to this house was as much a goodbye to the structure as much as it was a goodbye to him and all the beautiful work he did. “A few of my favourite things” could turn into an ongoing series about all the amazing work he did in that house – the raised bed for my garden in the backyard, the sturdy bannister that he installed after tearing out the weird wonky original that was there when we bought the place, those handmade cabinets and countertop he custom built around our washer and dryer in the mudroom, the inserts he installed in the oversized windows to give them an extra touch of character… It was a good home that we made, even though it wasn’t meant to be ours forever.
On that very last night in the house I walked from room to room, running my fingers along on the walls, taking in every corner in the hope that I would never forget those precious spaces. And now, as I write these words, I feel a fond appreciation for the home we made together and the lovely work he did for us in that house. More importantly, I know that there was great love in that home and that is something truly unforgettable. He worked hard and we worked hard together – regardless of how it ended, that house remains a monument to that love and work, and that is what I said goodbye to. These are, they were, they always will be, a few of my favourite things.
*Disclaimer: Most of this post was written over 7 months ago, when I wrongly believed that my house was sold. (Oh, how young and naive I was.) I started to write a congratulatory (and somewhat panicked) summary of how I was feeling in the midst of this transformational moment in my life… and then I abandoned ship when the sale didn’t quite pan out. Since then, I have lived through the highs and lows of additional offers that have fallen through, each time becoming more anxious and eager to sell. And now, over a year after listing the property, my house has actually sold.
Or, should I say, the house? It isn’t mine anymore. It is betrothed to another. It is no longer mine. It is surreal and strange to feel that using the word “my” isn’t even appropriate anymore. This is just a place for me to sleep and house my clothes. It is currently a hot mess of boxes and empty cupboards and I will be out of here in about 3 weeks. It is all very odd but satisfyingly clear that this is exactly how it was supposed to happen.
When I reread the extremely premature post that I started before the sale was really a final sale, and considered the title of the post (which is left exactly as it was when I started to write in April), what strikes me the most is that I really got it right with that concept: Sold. Or, Everything’s Changing. EVERYTHING IS CHANGING. And everything is ALWAYS changing… because the things I expressed in April have evolved and shifted and grown in such a way that reading my April segment feels like I’m reading from a different story altogether. The story-teller is the same, but she’s changed a lot in half a year.
April 2016: Written prior to the first heartbreak of an almost-sale.
My house is officially sold. It is so unreal that I sort of need to say it again: My house is officially sold. This is huge. This is really and truly and finally the beginning of the end of my 7-year relationship (and 6-month divorce). It didn’t occur to me until very recently that this break-up isn’t really over until the house is sold, the closing papers signed, and all of our things divided and moved out. While this house is still owned in both our names, while his last few things sit collecting dust in the basement, while the cats he will eventually take live here, we are still in a twisted post-divorce relationship. By default I am and continue to be intrinsically connected to my ex no matter how much I think and feel that I am ready to be separated from him. Until the day we walk away from this beautiful home forever, we are still part of each other’s lives and it was a total shock when I finally had this realization. (How was this not glaringly obvious from the start?) Here I was thinking I was moving forward, when really I have just been teetering on the verge of that final major change without quite falling off the ledge. Well. Now I’m in a free fall. Everything’s changing.
With this change comes an influx of varying thoughts and emotions that change more often than I can keep track: Relieved that the house has finally sold. Sad that I have to leave the (now broken) home that I have cherished for over 5 years. Happy that I can finally move on from this break-up. Heartbroken that I soon have to say goodbye to my cats. Satisfied that we were able to sell for the price we wanted. Scared (with a side of panic) that I am moving into the next phase of my life which is completely unknown and unplanned. Excited for the immediate possibilities just ahead of me now that I won’t have the burden of a mortgage and house to care for. Stressed about packing my entire house in less than a month. And just exhausted by the range of emotions.
When I first shared that I was going through this separation, I wrote about my need to take things one day at a time. Those digestible days started to roll into one another and soon weeks turned into months and I started to see this break-up in phases and steps. But all along, I felt this wonderful comfort living in a limbo where I was somewhat stuck between moving forward and staying completely still in the tightly bound restriction of my unsold house. So here I am, now freed of that constraint, and the certainty of change has me paralyzed.
Most people dislike change. Or at least this is a general assumption I have made to make myself feel better about my utter repulsion at uncontrolled change. It is uncomfortable and scary and I won’t deny it – I hate it! But… I am trying to embrace it, first, because I have no choice and second, because I know that the benefits of this particular change will be positive and exciting. When I shared my Thirty Thoughts at the beginning of the year I wrote about pushing to get out of my comfort zone and this is the biggest push I can think of. The fact that I can’t control it makes it an even better adventure, because I will have to force myself to let go and live my mantra of nonetofigo by going with the flow and making choices when they are immediately in front of me. Scary! Trying to frame it as exciting!
As I have inched toward that sold sign being displayed on my front lawn (FYI, selling a house is a crazy process), I have tried to mentally prepare myself for the discomfort of change that is just ahead of me. Going to yoga really helps, mainly by keeping me grounded and helping me release stress – that hour on my mat is an exercise in breathing slowly while focusing on my body and spirit, and after each session I feel calm and happy and at peace with whichever emotion might be at the top of my heart on that given day. Lately I have taken this further by setting an intention at the start of each session. This is something a few of the instructors encourage for your hour of practice and it’s a simple statement you repeat to yourself – may I be happy, may I be calm, may I find strength, etc. I always make a point to choose an intention that reflects how I’m feeling off the mat – to love myself and enjoy my time alone, to release my stress and anxiety, to say yes and try to live with yes energy, and so on.
When it became clear in recent weeks that the sale of my house was imminent, I found myself regularly repeating “may I embrace change” at the start of each session. Hopefully it’s preparing me for what’s ahead and incredibly, the very first time I set this intention I was offered the opportunity to embrace change almost immediately. It was a Monday night session of yoga with a new instructor I had never seen before and mid-way through the hour she announced that we would be doing wall yoga for the rest of the session. Wall Yoga! Talk about a major change in my usual yoga routine. I laughed to myself internally, repeated “may I embrace change” and (delicately) jumped into the harness.
It was terrifying for about 3 minutes… and then so much fun. You literally hang off the wall in your usual poses and completely let go, allowing the harness and gravity to hold you in place while pulling you downward in perfect harmony. It is one of the most liberating things I have ever done in my life: The act of relinquishing all control, releasing the fear of falling, and finding that magical spot between hanging and holding myself firmly in the pose, all while taking those deep and calming breaths… it was amazing. Yoga already makes me feel so powerful in body and mind, so pushing sideways off a wall with just the tips of my toes brought me to superhero level.
The universe was clearly trying to send me a message when I set that intention for the first time. Embracing change doesn’t have to be terrible. It can actually be the greatest feeling in the world. I don’t think I could make this statement without having gone through the process of evolving from being totally scared of letting go in that harness to being completely enthralled with the powerful energy I felt once I got past the initial discomfort. And I know this experience was meant to happen exactly when it did, just as I find myself on the very edge of this immense change in my life.
So although it is difficult, I am trying my best to put a positive spin on the coming changes. The safety of my limbo between the break-up and my new life has put me into a lull that I’ve been happy to settle into – you can’t make major choices or changes when you still have the responsibility of a shared mortgage with your former boyfriend, and that’s suited me just fine. It’s like I hit pause on my life while the house has been listed so I could go through the process of grieving for and moving on from the relationship.
Now I’m approaching the end of that cosy little pause; it’s time to hit the play button and I’m going to have to start making decisions about what happens next. There are some big questions looming… Where will I go? What will I do? Who will I share my life with? Have I really learned from the failings of my last relationship and will I be better in my next? It’s a lot to think about and with every question comes the implication of another change in my life. It’s scary. But sort of exciting. As my sister told me on one of my bad days when the prospect of all this change had me in a panic, the possibilities are endless and that’s not a bad thing! I have all the freedom in the world to do whatever I want – the only limitation is what I choose to impose upon myself.
My intention to embrace change in that yoga class and the ensuing adventures in wall yoga feel like a microcosm of my entire life and current situation. Saying yes to change instead of no, feeling that very real fear when confronted with making a change, going through the uncomfortable process of changing, and then realizing that the change is better than anything I could have imagined was exhilarating. I’m starting to believe that this could apply in all areas of my life and I think I’m actually getting on board with my sister’s excitement about the endless possibilities (instead of letting the crippling fear take me over). It’s a choice to say “yes, this is scary, but yes, this will be thrilling too.” It’s a decision to let go and accept that it’s impossible to control everything. It’s the difference between jumping and falling off that ledge. I like to think of it as somewhere in between – I want to jump fearlessly into the unknown and fall with an open heart toward whatever will come, knowing that wherever I land will be a place filled with people I love, fuelled by the positive energy that I bring with me.
November 2016: Written after a year of divorce and growth.
So much changed in the 7 months since I first thought my house was sold. My 6-month divorce extended into a year-long debacle that dragged on for so long that I would sometimes forget that I still had a house for sale and an ex-boyfriend still in my life. People would ask me if it was hard and stressful to still have this going on, and it became such a standard part of my existence that I would just shrug and say, “meh, not really”.
And yet, when I got the call from my agent – the call confirming that all the conditions were lifted, meaning that this was really done – I cried. I laughed and I shrieked and I cried, and I felt as though a physical weight had been lifted off of me. It was a weight that I had carried for so long that I didn’t even realize it was there, dragging me down and telling me that this was normal, this was real life. The shift was unbelievable. Suddenly I felt so light and so free – able to breath, able to stretch, able to lift my head and consider everything available to me in this enormous and amazing world. No more limbo.
Reading the incredibly long thought process about my impending (and then aborted) exit from limbo shows me how much things really do change. (And also how they sort of don’t?)
- I don’t have cats anymore. I said goodbye to them in July and it was heartbreaking… but I survived.
- Moving in less than a month? HA! What was I so worried about? I have 3 weeks this time and I’m thrilled to be ripping off this bandage as quickly as possible.
- I haven’t been to yoga in months… and this trip down memory lane has reminded me how much I was getting from that practice. Why did I ever give it up?
- At some point between April and November, I started to embrace the things that scare me. There’s something exhilarating about being afraid and pushing through that fear – there’s nothing quite like breaking through to the other side. To me, it brings out these amazing feelings of being powerful and alive.
- I feel dubious about how optimistic I was by the end of my April post. Was I fooling myself into thinking that I was ready for these big changes? Was it a beautiful lie I told to find comfort when so much was uncertain? I’m not sure that I really felt ready to move forward… compared to now when I’m practically counting the days until this is all behind me.
- The big questions still plague me (Where will I go? What will I do next? How will I do in my next relationship?) and so do the people asking them (CAN I JUST MOVE OUT OF MY HOUSE AND END MY 8 YEAR RELATIONSHIP PLEASE?) but they don’t bother me as much. Nonetofigo, one day at a time, I’ll get there.
- I feel no panic whatsoever. Complete uncertainty, yes. Extreme excitement, absolutely. But there’s an absence of panic for sure.
I’m ready. Bring on all the changes, let’s see where my next adventure takes me.