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.
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.
The other day I was listening to my (perfectly) curated “Fall Fall Fall” seasonal playlist made by yours truly on Spotify and as one of my favourite tunes came on I had this unexpected epiphany about the song that sent me into a spiral of random and interconnected thoughts about repetition. Herein is my attempt to summarize those thoughts in a (hopefully) coherent and eloquent manner for no reason other than getting it out of my brain and onto (virtual) paper. Let me repeat: This is random, but it is interconnected. Or if anything, it feels interconnected. Let’s start by playing this song on repeat:
This lovely track by The Morning Benders has been a favourite of mine for a few months – it inevitably makes it onto most of the playlists that I put together and whenever I hear it I always get all sorts of feels. It’s got all the good things you want to hear in a great song: A slow build up at the beginning, a rolling drum that prevails through the course of the 5 minutes of song, a bridge that sucks you in by dropping most of the instruments and focusing mainly on layered vocals before building back up with all the sounds… It’s a goodie. I’ve listened to it countless times (often on repeat) and love love love it. But something clicked for me the other day when it came on that I had never noticed before. Right around the 40 second mark, after that awesome introductory build up at the beginning of the song, the music swells with strings and a very familiar melody comes into play… Do you hear it?
Did I imagine it, or is there something resonating in those strings that sounds just a little like the strings in this endlessly classic love song? It isn’t exactly the same but there’s this slight familiarity that suddenly became very apparent to me in that moment and I haven’t been able to shake it since. This isn’t to say that I think “Excuses” is copying “At Last” – it’s been years since I’ve read sheet music but I’m sure if you put these two songs side by side they would differ – and it’s quite possible that nobody else will hear this the same way that I do. But to me, the connection is there and it only made me love the song even more.
This newly born enhanced admiration is fascinating. Why is it that I love something even more now that it reminds me of something else that I’ve loved for ages? Is it the familiarity? Is it like the comfort of an old and trusted friend? Is it the fact that repetition is something that I love and embrace whenever possible? I’m certainly guilty of incorporating repetition into my life on a regular basis – songs are repeated multiple times across the playlists that I create on Spotify, I’ve re-read books that I adore countless times (can I get an amen from other HP fans out there?), I will happily watch my favourite TV shows or movies multiple times to the point that I can throw out obscure quotes without any prompting, and I even feel the act of writing this blog to be one of the most feel-good repetitive activities in my life. And now, as I write these words, it is starting to occur to me that it’s not really surprising at all that I love repetition, because it allows me to fill my life with things that I know I adore with complete certainty.
If we apply this idea universally, I think it explains why we see (and more importantly, accept) repetition in so many areas of our lives. We all love the chorus of a song because it’s same words repeated over and over, allowing us to recognize, appreciate, and sing along. It seems like every other song on the radio these days includes a sample from an older song that we all know and love… And because these new artists are drawing from classics that are timeless, they are sure to pull in a wider audience – even the kids who don’t know the original may feel a nostalgic familiarity when they hear the music, perhaps from that one time on the radio when they were quite young or at a distance from an older sibling’s bedroom. Reboots of old movies and sequels seem to achieve the same thing – it’s like all of Hollywood collectively had a realization that remakes and extensions of stories = box office gold. What’s not to love? A classic story is timeless, so retelling it with a slightly new spin is just another way to relive it again and again.
In my English Literature days at university, one of my graduating seminar courses was all about those epic stories that we retell over and over thematically with only minor changes in the plot. The fight of good against evil. The flawed hero. The journey to a distant land and triumphant (or sometimes bittersweet) return home. The evolution of a character from naive youth to wise (or disillusioned) adulthood. Do we tell the same stories and love them unconditionally because their formulaic beginning, middle, and end are predictable but still surprising in their minor variances? What’s that saying? “We are creatures of habit.” We embrace the repetition because we know what to expect and are delighted when what we thought would happen transpires exactly as we predicted.
It’s such a funny concept, because we love that predictable and comfortable feeling of repetition but we are equally thrilled when we are presented with something completely new. Every album by Radiohead is drastically different than the last and nothing ever sounds like anything they’ve done before… And while that consistency of newness is an act of repetition in itself, that novelty produces a feeling unlike anything I can get out of listening to a favourite old song on repeat. The same goes for a film or any type of story that shocks us with a surprise ending or twist along the way that goes against the conventional story-telling that we’ve come to expect in our repeat-saturated society. I love a movie that ends with the main characters not reuniting after a ridiculously romantic grand gesture. I adore stories that end abruptly with no clear indication as to the resolution or aftermath of the climax. I like it when we abandon the repetition every now and then.
This tension between the conventional and unconventional has been on my mind for a few days. I know without question that I love repeat offenders. But I know that I have an equal passion for that which is brand new and unfamiliar – I’ve even written about embracing that type of discomfort on this very blog in the last year. And while the focus of this post has been purely around stories and music, my line of thinking extends to how we live our lives and interact with each other. So much has changed in my life in the last year and while I’ve settled into new routines (thereby grounding myself in repeating familiar daily and weekly activities), I’ve also found myself venturing into unknown territory that’s far from the standard mould of life that I (or society) believed was the only way of living. I followed one template for life (and lived it well) for many years and then it fell apart… Leading me to question if that template is the right one for me, or if there is a different template that exists that I ought to follow, or if I just need to live life without any template at all… Which would be a life of zero repetition in the act of doing things differently and embracing the new or unknown. (Scary! Maybe Exciting!)
As I run through the list of things that repeat in my life that I love passionately, #1 on the list has to be the changing of the seasons. The consistency of observing one season melt into the next is probably one of the most beautiful markers of the passage of time in my life. Spring will always follow Winter. The leaves will always change colour as Summer transitions to Fall. The sun will set in a different spot in the sky throughout the course of a year. In this corner of the world, I know with certainty that the seasons at their very core will always be a constant in my life and that’s incredibly comforting. But, at the same time, I know that every season will be a little bit different than the last… We can know without question that it will eventually snow here, but when and how much is unknown.
So maybe that’s the trick to finding a balance between repeat offenders and new inventors. We can embrace repetition by acknowledging and nodding to things that occurred in the past while simultaneously valuing and striving for something just a little bit different and somewhat new within the act of repeating. For all I know, “Excuses” is an intentional riff on “At Last” (I think that they are both hopelessly romantic in their own way within their respective eras). This blog is often an unintentional source of repetition – whenever I write a post, I question if I’ve used the same words too many times or if I’ve repeated certain phrases or ideas in older posts, but even in that doubt I know that there’s a unique story in every post, even when it refers back to something I’ve already spoken about. And anyway, I think I’ve decided that repetition isn’t necessarily a bad thing… In fact, I actively embraced it today. (Did you notice the repeated use of brackets? Didn’t I already have a blog post title that refers to repeat offenders? Did I use the word repetition a lot? Did I ask several open-ended questions?) Let me repeat: This is random, but it is interconnected.
Does anyone else remember this Apple commercial?
It popped into my head yesterday on my drive home from work as I was dancing in my car in traffic (you’re welcome by the way, fellow commuters, for those entertaining moves) and I had this pretty huge revelation that music is in fact my boyfriend. To be clear, this isn’t because I am now single – even when I was with my ex I was essentially cheating on him every day with music, my true and unwavering lover. Thank you, CSS, for creating Music Is My Hot Hot Sex, because this song literally describes a reality that I think many of us feel, which is that music can be someone’s life, their escape, their release, their passion, their religion, their everything.
Is this a universal truth? Maybe not. I know some people who aren’t bothered by silence and feel no need to fill their lives with music. But for me, my life isn’t really complete without a soundtrack and I can’t imagine a world without the incredible compositions and words that fill my ears on a daily basis.
Before I go any further though… can we talk about that Apple commercial? It is almost unbearably dated, so much so that I had to watch it three times and found myself laughing harder and harder with each viewing. iPods! The size and shape of the device! That keyboard! Those app icons! The blue bar at the bottom of Safari! iTunes!!! They all look archaic! And I’m pretty sure this only dates back to the late 2000’s… yikes. I feel old.
But about my boyfriend. He’s the greatest. He always knows exactly how to change my mood when I need it, or complement it when I just want to embrace the emotion I happen to be feeling in a given moment. He takes me dancing, he helps me fall asleep, he keeps me company when I’m cooking dinner, he makes cleaning the house waaaaaay more fun, he helps me stay sane when I’m stuck in traffic, he keeps me calm and happy when I’m at work, and he fills my life with love.
It’s sort of challenging to write about something auditory – how can I really explain my love of music when all I have is words? The only option is to embrace the medium and share some lyrics from a very small sampling of some of the songs that I love. Disclaimer: This is probably the most random collection of quotes you will come across in your lifetime… Some are happy. Some are sad. Some are deep. Some are silly. Some are weird. Some are really special to me. I present these with no commentary – just the words are enough, at least for me. I hope you enjoy them.
“One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain.” Bob Marley, Trenchtown Rock.
“If there was a better way to go then it would find me, I can’t help it, the road just rolls out behind me, Be kind to me, or treat me mean, I’ll make the most of it, I’m an extraordinary machine.” Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine.
“It’s the terror of knowing, What this world is about…” Queen + David Bowie, Under Pressure.
“Love is the answer, At least for most of the questions in my heart, Like: Why are we here, and Where do we go, and How come it’s so hard?” Jack Johnson, Better Together.
“Cause it’s a bittersweet symphony, this life, Try to make ends meet, You’re a slave to money then you die.” The Verve, Bittersweet Symphony.
“When food is gone you are my daily meal.” Florence and the Machine, You’ve Got The Love.
“No one will be watching us, Why don’t we do it in the road?” The Beatles, Why Don’t We Do It In The Road.
“I’ll write you a song and it won’t be hard to sing, It will be a natural anthem, familiar it will seem.” The Postal Service, Natural Anthem.
“Now how can he have her heart, When it got stole, So he tries to pacify her, Cause what’s inside her never dies.” Amy Winehouse, He Can Only Hold Her.
“When I was young, I dreamt of a passionate obligation to a roommate.” Father John Misty, Bored In The USA.
“You were sorta punk rock, I grew up on hip hop, But you fit me better than my favourite sweater, and I know, That love is mean, and love hurts…” Lana Del Rey, Blue Jeans.
“I can’t tell you how I feel, My heart is like a wheel, Let me roll it.” Paul McCartney, Let Me Roll It.
“All my life I’ve stepped to the rhythm of the drums inside my head.” MØ, Walk This Way.
“Don’t get any big ideas, They’re not gonna happen.” Radiohead, Nude.
“Home is wherever I’m with you.” Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Home.
“I wish that I knew what I know now, When I was younger.” Faces, Ooh La La.
“It’s better to feel pain, than nothing at all, The opposite of love’s indifference.” The Lumineers, Stubborn Love.
“It’s not him who’d come across, The sea to surprise you, Not him who would know, Where in London to find you.” Feist, The Park.
“Stand beside it, we can’t hide the way it makes us glow, It’s no good unless it grows, feel this burning, love of mine.” Beach House, Take Care.
“We could slow dance to rock music, Kiss while we do it, Talk til we both turn blue…” Lana Del Rey, Freak.
Honestly, I could go on for hours and I feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface. So many of the artists and genres I adore aren’t represented here – what can I say, it’s just impossible to really capture all of my boyfriend’s nuances and special traits! And this doesn’t even come close to covering songs without words (or songs with words that I can’t quite make out). Those wordless songs hit me just as hard as the poets I’ve quoted above. Is is possible for me to describe this feeling? When I hear certain chords or a sequence of notes that are so beautiful, or even the simple ooh-ing and ahh-ing of an amazing artist, it’s like this swelling emotion that starts in my heart and expands through my entire body. It fills me up and makes that intangible concept of one’s spirit feel real… because that energy and magic I feel when I listen to really good music can’t really be attributed to anything else but my spirit. Music. Are you my spirit animal?
I know, I’m gushing. I sound like someone who’s newly in love but the funny thing is, this boyfriend has been around forever and my love for him only grows. I love him. I will always love him. He is mine and I am his.
2015 was a big year. I turned 30. I travelled to my favourite places and saw my favourite people. I celebrated the (very) bittersweet 5-year anniversary of purchasing my first house (also known as the end of my first mortgage term) only a few months after agreeing to end the 7-year relationship with the man who shared that home with me. I learned how to live alone. I felt like I was really growing up in a way I’ve never felt before.
It was a doozy, and who knows what 2016 will bring… But it seems fitting to kick off my first post of the year with some random thoughts that came to me over the course of 2015. Call it 30 years of “wisdom” (used with overly enthusiastic air quotes since I feel neither wise nor old enough to give advice). Or more accurately, call it a cumulative list of musings gathered from countless discussions with family, friends, myself, and readings from this brilliant female duo you may be familiar with – Amy Poehler and Tiny Fey.
Here, in no particular order, are an aging 30-year-old lady’s thoughts:
1. Meal planning is quite possibly the best thing I did for myself in 2015. I’m so glad that I committed to sharing my menu adventuring on this blog because it made me accountable to myself and my invisible online friends to keep it up and I benefited by building a repertoire of meals and techniques to maintain a (relatively) healthy diet and stable routine. I’m still at it in 2016 in a different kind of way – but I feel like I laid the groundwork for keeping this going for the rest of my adult life. On a related note…
2. Being an adult is hard. Why does nobody tell you this when you’re a kid?! Seriously. This is no walk in the park. Meal planning, making and keeping a budget, working hard and trying to find work-life balance, maintaining adult friendships, being in a long-term relationship with a partner, trying to be responsible while simultaneously trying to enjoy life… None of it comes easy. I still haven’t figured out this whole grown up thing, and I’m not sure I ever will.
3. Nobody ever grows up and nobody ever really feels their age. The week I turned 30, I told my mom that I still felt like a teenager and she responded that she still feels like she’s 30, so I am now convinced that age is a weird abstract concept and that nobody anywhere in the world actually feels like a real-life grown up. (Anyone care to argue this point? Are there any responsible adults reading this blog?) I think the reality is, we just go along year after year and figure it out as we go. At certain points in time we stop and realize that years have passed and in those fleeting moments we see that we are constantly growing and changing without realizing or understanding how. Really, we’re all just big kids.
4. Impatience is an ugly trait and I need to remember to slow down. You’d think I would learn from the past – the whole time I was a kid and teenager I just wanted to grow up so I could be an adult and live my fabulous life. But, uhhh, see above, point #2. Being an adult isn’t that much fun and I wish I could go back in time to tell myself to stop rushing. And here I am now, just as impatient as I was all those years ago, wanting to move forward and race through this totally weird and uncertain time in my life even though my future is just as ambiguous. I’m impatient ALL THE TIME – whatever I want, I want it NOW. It’s something I really dislike in myself and need to work on.
5. I don’t care as much about making my hair do things it doesn’t want to do. I used to blow dry my hair every other day (I’ve got a bad case of straight hair envy) but since the day I turned 30, I sort of stopped caring about wasting my time trying to tame my crazy curly-thin-but-sometimes-thick-wavy-can’t-decide-what-it-wants-to-do hair. As soon as I let it go I got all kinds of compliments, and, even better, I started to feel more like my real self – as though I was saying to the world, “Yeah, this is my frizzy hair. It’s part of who I am. Deal with it.” Now I can’t imagine myself wearing my hair any other way. (Although I won’t lie – when I get my hair cut and professionally blow dried, I still looooove the look of that silky straight hair.)
6. I am starting to love my body by appreciating and caring for it as though it is a temple. This is happening in a few distinct ways. I started to moisturize my whole body on a daily basis. I floss my teeth almost regularly. I now jog / run / walk a few times a week on a treadmill at the office gym. (It is soooo boring but feels so good to be exercising!) And the most special treatment my body gets is the wonderful practice of yoga, at least twice if not several times a week. Yoga. Wow. It feels amazing and it’s one of those things where I really can’t find words to describe how it makes me feel, except to say that I come out of every session feeling powerful and in control of my body and life.
7. There really is not enough time in the day. With my new routine of treadmill or yoga after work, I’m getting home later than ever so by the time I make dinner and clean up, it’s almost time for bed. Now that my house is for sale, I find my weekends are occupied with keeping the house tidy and clean (while fitting in yoga in the morning). I still have the weekend cooking parties that I adopted in my year of meal planning but the process is even more rigorous so I can pre-cook as much as possible ahead the weeknights knowing that I will be home so late. No matter how hard I try to get up early to tidy on workdays when I have a visit at the house, I somehow get into work later and later. How does one fit in everything they need to do on a daily basis? Getting back to writing the blog has felt nearly impossible, not to mention trying to get myself out more so I don’t become a crazy cat lady who lives alone forever without friends or acquaintances or lovers.
8. Let go of what doesn’t serve you. This is one of the many wisdom nuggets I have picked up from my yoga practice and it’s a beautiful thought that the instructor repeats at each of her sessions. When I feel a negative thought or emotion bubbling up inside of me, I acknowledge it and I feel it in its entirety because I know there’s a reason I feel that way in that moment. But once I’ve felt what I need to feel, I try really hard to let it go. Holding onto anger or sadness or bitterness (or any of that bad stuff) will do nothing to make your life better – it will only bring you down and it gives you no power to move forward. It doesn’t serve you, so move on.
9. Living alone isn’t so bad. The last few months I have adjusted to living alone and I actually quite enjoy it – you can sing as loud as you want, choose what to watch on Netflix, set the menu, and do whatever you want, whenever you want. You make your own schedule and get into your own groove, and keep your home exactly how you want it without negotiating or checking with someone to see if what you’re doing works for them. It’s actually very liberating. (But it can get a little lonely sometimes.)
10. Being alone and being lonely are different things. I learned this fairly quickly as I got used to being single and home alone in a house without another human. Alone time is great. (See above!) You can use the quiet time to reflect on your life, yourself, where you are and where you want to go… all things that sort of get lost in the background when you are surrounded by others. Being alone is a good practice. But being lonely – that’s a different story. Longing for company and feeling like you are missing something by not being with another human isn’t healthy in the way that being alone with yourself is. I think we are made to have companionship, so loneliness is natural when we are left alone for long enough.
11. Dancing is always a good idea. There hasn’t been enough dancing in my life and I intend to make up for lost time in the coming years. When I get those lonely feelings during my alone time, I blast music in my living room and have a solo dance party and immediately feel better. Last weekend I was terribly sick with a cold but I danced out some of the sickness with friends. Dancing is always a good idea.
12. Apparently I have a little feminist rage inside of me. I am acutely aware of what it means to be a woman in the workplace and how it is a different experience for men. It is so subtle and institutional (and certainly not always intentional) but it is always there, underpinning the way we interact with each other. Witnessing it is almost unreal – to sit in a meeting and state a valid opinion and see it get dismissed, only to be acknowledged minutes later when a man says the exact same thing is unbelievable (and insanely frustrating). GIRL POWER!
13. Friends that are gems of the world are precious and we must hold tight to them. This is the sweetest thought that my sister shared with me from a friend of hers and it is the simplest but strongest sentiment to summarize how important it is to hold on to those really special friends in our lives that bring us light and positivity and joy. On a related note, making friends is hard! So hard. It makes me appreciate my gems even more. Now move home, would you? (You know who you are!)
14. Turning 30 felt like no big deal, but turning 31 in a few months feels REALLY OLD. Why? Aging is so weird.
15. Keeping a clean house is a pain but sooooooo nice. Ah, the joys of trying to sell your house. It means that you have to be continually ready to have strangers walk through your home at any given moment… Which is a pain and quite frankly, starting to get really old. I know… it’s a necessary evil… but on the positive side, I have learned that I actually really like to have a tidy and immaculately clean living space. In the past I wouldn’t bother with it but now that I’m in the habit of cleaning up after myself on a daily basis, I just can’t stop. It’s so refreshing and serene to come home to a de-cluttered house.
16. Remember empathy and love for others, always. Empathy hits me like a punch to the gut sometimes and I feel so much for others when I hear about a personal tragedy, but then I tend to forget about maintaining this in day to day life. Having gone through my divorce and spending many, many days in a total daze at work or out and about on the weekend has taught me that we must always try to remember that we never know what someone might be going through and we should always be kind to each other.
17. I’ve stopped being afraid of saying what I want to say. This has been a really big leap for me. I used to worry about rubbing people the wrong way, or scaring them off, or revealing how “crazy” I am, or putting myself into the vulnerable position of being let down after being totally honest and open. But I’ve tried really hard to let go of the fear and just say what I want, when I want. (Of course, always thinking before I speak! I don’t want to hurt anyone, I just want to be honest and truthful to myself.)
18. Everyone’s path is different and it’s important to stay focused on your own. Facebook really challenges this idea because it is a daily reminder of all the things people are doing and achieving – or at least, what they are choosing to publicize. I went so far as to delete the app off my phone for a couple years because I started subconsciously berating myself for not being in the same place as people I went to school with. But then I remembered that we all glamourize our lives online and it really doesn’t matter where others are compared to me, because their lives ultimately have no impact on my own. We’re all on different roads going at a different pace, and that’s OK.
19. It’s easier to care less about what people think the older you get. Or at least I hope it is – there are some days that I question if I have really gotten to the point where I can safely say that I don’t care at all, but sometimes it really feels this way. In the last year, I’ve gotten tattoos on my wrists, starting saying whatever I want at work (and outside of work), I’ve stopped worrying as much about what people think of my appearance by focusing instead on what makes me happy and comfortable, and and and… it’s liberating.
20. It’s also easier to be more sure of what you want as you get older. Maybe it’s the divorce talking but things have never been clearer to me in terms of what I want in a partner, how I want to treat that partner, what I want in life, what I want RIGHT NOW and what I want tomorrow. It doesn’t mean I can have those things immediately, but the clarity is wonderful. (Even if that clarity sometimes gets blurred and confused – which it tends to do!)
21. I’m still a hopeless dreamer and romantic who believes that something great is ahead. I mean… I know my life isn’t like a movie (no life is) but I still believe that I will eventually have a great love, a great career, a great home, a great life… Is that foolish? Optimistic? Basic? I don’t really care. All I know is that I believe that loving hard and wanting to love and be loved is a beautiful thing, and sort of the whole point of our crazy existence. I believe it is out there for me, not only romantically but in the way I want to live the rest of my life.
22. A well stocked wine rack is a blessing, but also dangerous. So very dangerous.
23. Logic and emotion are at opposite ends of a spectrum that I cannot master. These guys do NOT see eye to eye but in my brain they are equals, fighting each other constantly with the same weight and pulling me from one end to the other. The emotional side makes me feel ALL the emotions in the most extreme way while the logical side makes me reason with and explain the emotions, either telling me why I shouldn’t feel a certain way or helping me to understand the emotion even if I can’t pull myself out of it. These guys really need to buddy up. It would help me feel a little less crazy. Speaking of opposite ends of a spectrum…
24. Life is paradoxical and confusing. Is it just me? Is it because I’m a Gemini? It seems to me that we are surrounded by paradox and that we must constantly negotiate between these battling juxtapositions whether internally or externally. For example: My current mood includes frustration at myself for being indecisive about a good number of open questions in my life at this exact moment while also trying to hold onto my laid back mantra of “nonetofigo” that tells me to sit back and NOT decide, trusting that things will work out. I feel a strong desire to be alone now that I’m single, but an equally strong desire to have someone special in my life. I feel the need to propel myself forward into a new phase of my life but also feel terrified at the thought of moving forward, instead opting for the safety and comfort of standing still.
25. There could be something to astrology. When I was younger, I remember reading my horoscope in the newspaper nearly every morning, but none of it ever made sense or really seemed to apply. I’ve always sort of appreciated astrology at a distance – not really paying too much attention but knowing the details at a high level. But more recently I find myself really seeing myself and others as those cosmic signs attributed to the time of year we are born. Really though. I am SUCH Gemini. My twins are constantly fighting each other in my head or tagging in and out in my dealings with the world.
26. It is good to challenge yourself to say yes, but just as good to challenge yourself to say no too. I believe so strongly in trying to live with yes energy. It’s this special attitude focused on positivity, an openness to saying yes, and a constant endeavour to push that yes out into the universe so you can give and get it back. For a Gemini like me, it’s hard to keep at it all the time (that evil twin comes out, and she can be a real downer). But I’m working hard to try to say yes more, keeping in mind that it’s OK to say no. A friend reminds me regularly to practice saying yes, but not to forget to practice saying no when something doesn’t feel right or just isn’t what I want.
27. Being uncomfortable can be a good thing. It means that you might be pushing yourself to try something new. It means that you might be opening yourself up to an incredible experience because you’ve said yes instead of no. It means that you might be on the verge of some significant personal change and growth. It means you might be accepting that change sucks but is something we gotta do. Or it might mean that your jeans are too tight. That’s a bad kind of uncomfortable.
28. You have to keep pushing yourself, ALWAYS. Nobody else is going to do it for you. You can be encouraged by others (directly or indirectly) but at the end of the day, they won’t be there to nudge you forward. Push out of your comfort zone, push to keep doing the thing you want to do (or don’t want to do but know you need to do). Push past the fear of saying what you really want to say. Push yourself and great things will happen. But, pushing ourselves isn’t always easy… I know this from experience…
29. Pushing to keep this blog alive is a challenge. Just like pushing myself to run or go to yoga, just like getting myself out of my comfort zone to enhance my life, just like everything that requires giving myself a nudge, I love writing this blog so much and it feels so great to do it… but somehow it just doesn’t come easy. It’s like knowing how good I will feel after yoga but really having to force myself to go sometimes – I’m still working at it.
30. Just Ride. Lana Del Rey knows what’s up: “I hear the birds on the summer breeze, I drive fast, I am alone at midnight, Been trying hard not to get into trouble, but I, I’ve got a war in my mind, So I just ride, Just ride… I’m tired of feeling like I’m fucking crazy, I’m tired of driving ’til I see stars in my eyes, It’s all I’ve got to keep myself sane, baby, So I just ride, I just ride.”