If now is not a good time in your life, don’t quit.
Trophy – an event I had the pleasure to stumble upon this past Saturday afternoon offered the community a chance to hear about life-changing moments that altered others’ lives.
The white tents each had someone in them, with a short, true story that happened to them. All of these tales centred around the themes of hope, change, small moments, shifting and enlightenment. I wandered through the exhibit for hours. Some stories, were hard to listen to, others caused spontaneous laughter shared between us. At the end of each sharing session, the storyteller asked you a single question. They were deep, and meaningful questions you don’t normally share or discuss with people you have just met. However, when someone is vulnerable in front of me, I cannot help but share as well. I almost feel compelled to. If felt safe to share with these people. Everyone was respectful, genuine and lovely. I particularly enjoyed the Native influence stories. Collectively, this small area of the city, had overcome adversity, poverty, sexual abuse, fires, floods, disapproval, insecurity, shame, doubt and so much more.
Some of the questions I can remember are as follows:
“What have you done for love?”
“Who has impacted your life, in a positive or negative way and how would you thank them?”
“How do you feel about the future?”
There were also several stations where you could interact and leave a message of something you want to let go of (This was all burned that night), plant a seed and leave a message of your personal growth and appreciation of self on the tree, send a postcard to a loved one and more.
Everyone seemed more chipper that Saturday afternoon. United and more hopeful than ever. The energy was palpable. I wondered: who thought of this event? Has this ever been done before? And if so, where was I? It was what I needed on Saturday. It was a “treat yo self” type of day and one filled with anticipation of the future, reflection of the past and pondering.
Until next time Ottawa, I hope you amaze me again soon.
Today is the day! *cue Taylor Swift’s infamous song: 22*
Thought I would share 22 things I’ve learnt in the last year and expand on a few that have shaped the lady I have become over the last year. There’s no order of importance, because they are all equally significant. Hope these are #relatable and provide you with belly laughs and joy this wonderful morning.
Warning: This is definitely a longer read, so feel free just to pick out the ones that speak to you or read the numbered and bolded one liners. (I won’t even know or be offended).
1: Relationships are fluid and whatever you want them to be.
Forget the labels, forget the judgement of passersby, friends or family and enjoy the people you are with. Of course if everyone in your close circles do not like said significant other or new bestie, they are probably right and you are… less right. Which brings us to number two.
-To your parents (they are wise beyond your years and know a LOT more than you think they let on to)
-Your body (It is unique, and it is yours. Treat it with respect, dignity and care.)
-Your health care professionals (they have experience and they have seen it all. Let them make recommendations and ask them a million questions, I swear they love it when you do this)
3: It’s okay to say NO.
It’s better to say NO right off the bat. Say you are not able to commit to something rather than attempt to complete it and burn out, or back out. People don’t like this, and it doesn’t feel so nice either. I’m definitely guilty of over-committing myself and trying to keep my schedule full but it’s better to find a manageable balance.
4: Speak your Truth.
Your truth may not be the same as the person next to you. It may not even be the same as the person you experienced something with – a moment, a relationship, ANYTHING! You don’t have to share your truth with others, it can be as simple as speaking aloud to yourself, writing it down or keeping it in your heart.
5: Love yourself.
Get to know yourself and feel comfortable in your skin, your thoughts, and in solitude. Everyone is a different, you’ll get to know what you like. Treat yourself right and this will begin to merge into how you treat and love others too.
6: Get help.
This ties into number five. It’s difficult to truly love and cherish everything about yourself. It’s a good idea to share your struggles with a friend, a family member, counselor or therapist. Life isn’t meant to be lived alone; it’s not about suffering silently. There is absolutely nothing too BIG or too small to be shared. It’s all relevant.
7: Take breaks and unplug.
Don’t be a hero and push yourself. Whether it’s work, studying or social media. It’s more than okay to get up go outside, take a dip in the pool, write, read, watch some TV or whatever makes you relax.
8: Dream big.
Whatever it is, whatever you want to accomplish there is nothing stopping you from reaching your potential. Sure, you may have to take the scenic route, exit off the highway and re-route along the way but this shouldn’t stop you from trying altogether. Pick yourself up, grab your closest buds and get back on the road to success and dreams come true.
9: Stay connected.
I don’t mean on social media, or through text message. There are important friends, and professional connections that can get you places and bring opportunities to you just by staying in touch. Try to email or visit significant mentors or figures in your life to keep that line of communication open. You never know when something unexpected and wonderful may arise just because you didn’t let that connection die off.
10: Try new things, even if they seem scary, and don’t leave before they even start.
I cannot stress enough how hard this one is for me. I used to be that child that would show up to a sports try out, a presentation, an interview, or ANYTHING new and unfamiliar and want to leave before it even started. I would try to sabotage the opportunity, not want to show up, leave as soon as I got there and just quit because of fear of the unknown. I also cannot stress that EVERY SINGLE TIME that I pushed myself and stayed to try the thing that scared me or made me extremely anxious led to the BEST memories, opportunities and times in my life. Funny how that works, hey?
12: Prayer is powerful but God is even more so.
Spending time in a church community, wherever you go, and whether you are visiting temporarily or not, to me it’s always been home. There’s something about worshiping and simply being with fellow believers that makes my heart full and my soul dance.
I’ve increasingly found that the mornings I start in prayer are infinitely better. Discovering this has led to many happy days and much healing in the past 6 months.
13: Solo adventures or adventures with strangers are just as good adventures with friends.
14: Family is everything and has your back always.
I always grew up thinking that everyone had a tight knit family, and everyone loved everyone. Put simply, this is not true and I was very naive. I took for granted the support I’ve constantly been given. Well, never again. My family rocks!
15: Be honest.
16: Be forgiving, but not foolish.
What’s that saying… Fool me once, shame on you – fool me twice shame on me? It’s important to recognize that people make mistakes. No one is perfect and misunderstandings happen. If you’re being duped on a regular basis and ending up dishing out forgiveness constantly it might be time to realize that the only fool here, is you.
17: Be grateful.
Recognize and give praise for the wonderful things in your life. Taking some time to reflect on 5 things that you are happy about, or 5 things you are thankful for really boosts the mood and puts you in a great mindset.
18: Express yourself.
Let other people know when they’ve done something incredible, made something worth noting or you like their outfit. Be plentiful in your compliments and express how they make you feel.
This can also extend to expression of self through how you dress, what you do with your hair, or how you treat your body. Make yourself presentable in the ways that YOU like, not how you think you’re supposed to look or what society deems as pretty, feminine, desirable etc.
Get rid of the fantasies and the preconceived notions in your head. However, living in reality, recognizing what is real, what is good and what is right is a lot harder done than said.
20: Don’t settle.
21: Eat right, and exercise.
This is most definitely the Kinesiology student within me talking. Sitting is a real issue, and lack of physical activity contributes to many physical and mental disorders. Personally, I find that when I am exercising more often and more regularly, I naturally start to eat better. This year a new spark of kitchen curiosity ignited and I’m all about trying vegan meals and new recipes.
22: Keep in touch with your creative side.
Writing, painting and music are mine. What are yours?
I now commence my 22nd year around the sun. Living, loving and learning every single day. Hope it’s a good one. Thanks to all for celebrating with me!
Mary Carol and I met touring a gym in the small town I moved to over the summer. This white haired, rounded woman walked with fervor and grace. She took her time reading the instructions for each cable weighted machine with care, as if her life depended on it, which it might have. The weight of her legs, her protruding voluminous stomach and her barely swaying arms slowed her down, yet the smile on her face remained with each strained movement. Her voice, like honey poured into morning tea, asked questions to the seasoned trainer walking us through the concourse. She was ready for a change in lifestyle, and so was I.
A week went by before I saw Mary Carol again. The sight of this lady caused a nerve-like pang in my heart and as it spread memories of my grandmother deep in my brain back towards that heart of mine, a slow smile crept across my cheeks. The loss of my grandmother hit hard. The first month was like living in a sandstorm, my eyes were constantly filled with gunk, I fell frequently as sudden winds took all the strength I had away, and the volume of my lungs severely reduced. I could still smell her smokey apartment, feel her fragile grasp of my hand in her final moments and hear her dry swallow my name. I can admit, I’m still not over this loss.
One look at Mary Carol and you knew she was close to her neighbors, her family, and her community. She looked as though she were once a traveler of the world, with stories intertwined in the wrinkles on her loving face. This grandmother figure probably gardened, made a stellar batch of chocolate chip oatmeal cookies and owned a sofa chair that made you sink deeply into the cushions the second you placed your bottom on the fabric.
When Mary Carol met my gaze, she smiled back warmly. Her crystal blue eyes read my soul in that moment. As if she heard what my heart needed and my spirit desired. I approached her on the stair climber, mounted the machine next to hers. Here, began an unlikely friendship.
Thanks for reading today, friends! Little pieces of my thoughts lay in this piece and I present this unedited, unfiltered short fictional read with a heart full of gratitude this morning. Elements are taken from my life, with a twist of exaggeration and imagination. Enjoy your Monday!
Have you ever taken an inventory?
Of life events
Sat down and reflected on what is
What will never be
Have you ever mapped your mind?
Sat in sadness, solace, serendipity
You are not your lists – Your to dos
To buys or
To donate bins
Your life is not a bucket list
But a string of events carefully crafted
By a Being that loves you that yearns for you
that calls your name
Things I’ve lost in the past year:
- 1 grandparent
- 2 close friends
- 5 socks
- 7 nights sleep worrying
Things I’ve gained in the past year:
- 23 new items of clothing
- 12 credit card bills with my name on them
- 1 new city
- 1 therapist
- 1 Coffee addiction
Calendar dates that suck:
- January 13
- January 25
- February 7
- September 11
- November 28
Things I tell myself in the mirror:
- “Those don’t match”
- “Work it girl”
- “Stop dancing you’re going to be late for work”
Do not forget:
- You are loved
- You are never alone
- If you’re trying your best, how can you ever tell yourself that you aren’t good enough
- This too shall pass (how classic).