The Universe

A One-Way Ticket to the Rest of my Life

Recently, as you may have read, I came to the decision that it was time for a bit of direction. I was full of ideas and dreams – but had no plan in place to help them become part of reality, and it was high time that changed. In years of late, I think I’ve become more of a big-picture thinker – whether the current situation is life-shattering or miniscule, I try to think of how my future self would look back on my current course of action. Perhaps that’s why I have such difficulty understanding people’s choice to perpetuate rifts and disagreements – we’re only given a finite time on this earth, so why choose to waste time on something futile? 

This mentality has been the fuel for the newfound decision to take direction of my life. I don’t want to look back in fifty years time at my twenties and say I wasted them, settling for a job that, though pleasant, doesn’t exercise my strengths or passions. I don’t want to say I wasted these years surfing Facebook, watching back episodes of Star Trek, or saving for a rainy day instead of spending time actually living. I don’t want to live in a state of the perpetually unfinished – an education once started but never complete; an idea for a story once hatched but never written; a dream once borne but never transitioned into actuality. Now is the time I can make the choice to take control, and though the thought slightly terrifies me, there are three things that have been swirling around my mind, desperate to escape the confines of the immaterialised and take shape to become the rest of my life. It’s easy to talk about dreams and bucket lists that have no set expiry date, meanwhile being perfectly content to coast through the day-to-day without taking any risks. I’m happy that I started my 26 Before 26 last summer – it’s pushed me through my 25th year and made me grasp opportunities, take leaps, and do things I’d always dreamed of, but never had the proverbial balls to try. But these were all small things that though in part, add up to me becoming more comfortable with myself, don’t ultimately influence the grand scheme of things. I may be more comfortable in front of a group, and I may have developed a few new skills, but this isn’t the stuff of great magnitude. This isn’t stuff that charters the course of the rest of one’s life. 

But these three dreams, these three swirling ideas that wrap themselves around my day-to-day, may very well be just that.  I only have three more years as a twenty-something, and I need this decade to close on accomplishment. Three more years, three big ideas. It’s going to take patience, dedication, and financial hits. It’s going to take a shift in priorities, lifestyle changes, and lots of perseverance. It’s going to take a heck of a lot of faith, and a few big risks. But I can’t break this pull I’m feeling; I’ve been offered a one-way ticket to a threefold destination, and there’s no stopping the train. One of these stops involves higher education. One of these stops involves my biggest passion in life, and the pursuit of the ultimate dream. And one of these stops  involves something that wasn’t on my radar this time last year, but now seems the only way forward. Over the last few weeks, I’ve taken small steps into this new territory – and I’ve never felt more strongly that life is becoming exactly what it was meant to be.

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The Weighting Game

Remember last year, when I realised I’d lost all my sick days at work rather quickly, and that when I get ill, I get hardcore ill, and started fretting I was going to get fired? My hypothesis was that because I was theoretically underweight (and my BMI was low), my immune system was pretty much a giant wuss. Fast-forward to now. Sweet and I have been on a major health overhaul for the last few weeks – we’ve both been exercising more, and have switched our eating habits to eating five or six little meals and snacks throughout the day instead of three heftier ones. I’ve heard for years this is way better health-wise. Now I just have to clear the piles of greeting cards off the treadmill and start working jogging back into my routine (it was brought to my attention recently that my wedding was three months ago, and my physical activity had plummeted to basically zero since saying “I do”), and I’ll be set!

Last week, though, I noticed an unexpected side-effect of the new diet: I’d put on six pounds. Before the wedding, people were eternally telling me to eat something, asking if I was deliberately losing weight, and pretty much hinting I was borderline anorexic (NOT true in the slightest). Yet crazily, it was something I was proud of. I was proud to be skinny because though I have huge body-image issues (don’t we all?), unlike the shape of my nose this was something over which I had some control. I never snacked, I drank nothing but water, I refused to order puddings, and I’d never eat anything past seven PM. Enter the new diet, where I’m suddenly taking granola bars, fruit snacks, crackers, cheese and yoghurt along with my lunch to work, snacking every few hours and thinking I need to invest in some sort of lunch briefcase – and I wonder why I’m surprised to have put on weight. My first reaction was one of despair: all of a sudden my skinny jeans were feeling uncomfortable, the scale slapped me in the face, and my first instinct was to wail like a giant baby. Sweet immediately reassured me, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of discontent – I wanted to get healthy, but I didn’t want to put on weight. Catch 22. Deep down, I know that when my BMI is 18.3 and all sources point to that being unhealthy, that gaining weight healthily is a good thing – but I can’t seem to feel comfortable doing it. Does that mean I value physical appearance over physical wellbeing? Does that mean I’m a terribly shallow human being? I hope not, but I feel incredibly uncomfortable not being comfortable that maybe I’m actually reaching my “healthy weight”, and I don’t know how to change my thought patterns.

Last year when I was thinking about this sort of thing, I felt like a giant hypocrite putting any energy at all into thinking such negative things. I wrote: I’m 104 lbs right now and I still feel like a whale after I eat a big meal. But I don’t skip meals or throw up or anything. I’m just naturally small framed and consequently the slightest bulge stands out a mile.  To me – and so, in my head, to everyone else as well. I just want to be able to overcome it – all of it, not to be seen as attractive by other people, but to feel confident in myself so I’m not held back so much, so I don’t shy away from people so much, scared of what they might be thinking.  I want to be able to be comfortable and confident. I want to be able to contribute to the world and this seems to be the one destination to which I can’t see a clear path. Six months later, I still feel like a hypocrite, advocating for stepping outside your comfort zone and challenging yourself to grow, to be a better person, to make a difference in the world when I’m guilty of spending my time thinking about something so shallow.

But maybe I just needed to read this post from the wise and beautiful Hannah Katy, which landed at the top of my Reader just seconds ago as I was about to wrap this post up. The Universe does work in interesting ways. Maybe I need to take a leaf from her book, and decide that if I, too, “had two extra hours to my every day, I would surely dedicate the 120 minutes to tracking down a scholar who could point out to me just where women started missing parts and cutting themselves off at the knees. Where it began… Where he believes it might end… Where we learned verbs like “comparing,” “despising,” and “sizing.”  And started using our adjectives to belittle our bodies and devalue our worth.”

Maybe I just need to listen to this incredible girl who I’ve not had the good fortune of meeting face-to-face, but who never fails to pull me back to what’s really important in life. Who never ceases to help me by sweeping my negative thoughts out onto the street and replacing them with the ones that deserve to be in the spotlight.  I really do value health and wellbeing, and I really do make an effort to eat and live well. I know that to live where I do, surrounded by the people I am, to have a home and a  job and a working body I am incredibly, incredibly lucky. But how do you become comfortable with being a bit bigger healthier in a world that’s encouraged you to feel blessed to be skinny your whole life? I’ve scoured the Internet for “healthy BMI” sites, and they are full of tips on losing weight – but it’s hard to find any information at all on gaining weight in order to be healthy – and feeling okay doing it. I realise reading this back, how frightfully superficial this all sounds  (and that this is probably anonymous troll-bait territory), but I’ve always told you I’ll write honestly, and I can’t pretend it’s not something I’m thinking about right now. I hope you’ll forgive me, and that soon, my thoughts can be more in line with what they should be.

Second Star On The Right, Straight On ‘Til Morning

It hit me a few days ago, while looking through recent posts, drafts, and randomly jotted ideas, that a great deal of what’s been on my mind has subconsciously been revolving around the idea of direction. Titles talked of ships lost at sea, of searching for clues, and of living in the void – the paradox of knowing what I want, yet having no map nor compass to tell me where I am going. [Sidenote: I am in love with this tattoo, but my wrists are far too small!] As was pointed out several times toward the end of 2010, last year was one of finding myself. Scratch that, creating myself. Taking steps to take an image embedded on the walls of my mind to a living, breathing girl who finally gets to call the shots. Eliminating the deadweight and breaking through those self-contructed ceilings. My life is accompanied by an ongoing list of goals, of things to strive for, because I believe in continual growth and continual experience, and that the only life worth living is one dictated by no other but yourself. But until now, those goals have paved the way to a vague and hazy destination. I’ve had no direction. I’ve aimed for the sky and hoped for the best without giving second thought as to what constellation I want to land in. I think there’s a lot to be said for living in the present moment. But I don’t think it hurts to have a bit of a plan.

I was talking to a friend recently about how our younger selves envisioned our grown-up lives. We joked about how we thought we’d have husbands, children, degrees, and own our own homes by the time we hit 25. When we were younger, it seemed like the only option. The road was paved straight and smooth, and marked clearly along the way. My parents did it by 22; 25 would be easy! So what happened? I think life happened; the very thing that occurs when what you are told as a child that what you should be doing with your life doesn’t line up with what you want from life. Of course, I wanted an education, a career, a relationship, and the proverbial white picket fence. I still do. But I think, as with so many things, lessons only sink in the way they were supposed to when they come from within. I’ve learned in life that one must forge their own path of their own devising, being allowed to stray and get lost and learn things along the way. One can be told to do this and not to do that, but none of it’s going to mean anything if it isn’t intrinsic. The realisation has come lately that what I am doing in my day-to-day existence does not necessarily line up with what I want to be able to say I did with my life. And if nothing else, discrepancy has to be the fuel for change.

In my early twenties, my problem was that I had no idea what I wanted. I didn’t know what the path looked like or if what I was being told to do was what I really should be doing. I remember struggling, at seventeen, to figure out what I wanted to do in University. I was always drawn to English and Psychology, even advertising, but I was told I’d never get a job in any of those fields, and that people “spend years paying lots of money and getting into lots of debt to get degrees they never end up using.”  Still under my parents’ roof and rule, I tossed the ideas aside, and continued with my application for University with no idea what I was working towards. As long as it wasn’t what people had told me I couldn’t possibly pursue, I figured simply being inside an academic institution for nine or ten hours a day was enough to say I was on the right path.

But then life happened. I moved out, spent money on furniture, broke up with my then-boyfriend, got kicked out of our apartment, and had to go crawling back home. Except my parents had downsized when I’d  moved out, and there wasn’t any room at the inn.  I spent three weeks on a sofa in the basement surrounded by laundry and boxes, all the while hunting for my own place. But I couldn’t get my own place without making more money. And I couldn’t make more money while I was still in school. So then began the chapter of adult independence. I had to work to live, and I didn’t have the money to pay for schooling, rent AND food. So I very reluctantly eliminated the non-immediately-essential.

The years since were full of life lessons, and I wouldn’t change my twenties for the world. Yes, they may have been full of heartache and moments darker than I’d ever dare share, but they also taught me who I wanted to be. The Universe will always provide hints as to what path you should be on. If you aren’t listening, it’ll just try harder until something catastrophic zaps you with a lightning bolt and literally throws you back on track. If you are listening, you’ll be led to where you’re meant to be. Lately, I cannot seem to shake the feeling that in fifty years and I look back on my life, I’ll be filled with regret if I never took the risk of following my passions. There’s a fire in my heart waiting to shine brightly and every day I choose to spend updating someone else’s spreadsheets is another day I haven’t followed my dreams. I know what those dreams are now, and they involve great risk. Throwing everything that’s comfortable and routine up into the air and taking a big giant leap into unfamiliar territory. They involve following a rocky path without streetlights or signposts along the way, with no guarantee of a destination; no guarantee that at the end of it all, the dreams will come true. But I suppose that’s where having faith in the Universe comes in. And you know what? It hasn’t let me down once.

The near future may be shaping up to be wildly different than I’d thought just eight or nine weeks ago, when the clock struck midnight that cold, bright New Year’s Eve. The path may be as unclear as the Marauder’s Map to a Muggle. But sometimes, I think you just have to take a leap, follow that star, and trust your instincts as your guide… knowing that whatever happens, you’ll end up at the right destination. I wish I could talk about it in more detail, but for fear of jinxing things, I’m going to have to wait until it’s real… but for now, I’ve decided to stop playing it safe, and take action. To stop wishing and start doing. To forge my own path, having faith that it truly will be the right one for me. Let Project: Rest of my Life commence… now. 🙂

Status Update

It’s been a couple of weeks since I got put in the Power Glove, and it’s been the biggest change of pace I’ve had in a long time. I’m still at work, and while I’m supposed to be avoiding using the rebellious buggers, my fingers still have to type from 7:30 – 4:00 – so I figured I could make a quick stop back in the blogosphere too. Because I miss you all an absolute TONNE.

My GOODNESS I miss electronic communication. I was told to stop texting (still not having caught up to the touch-screen generation, the keypad wasn’t doing me any favours), and I have subsequently lost all form of socialisation.  It makes you feel a bit rubbish when you have to stop contacting people the way you’re so used to, and then realise you’re the only one who usually initiates anything. 😦 I’ve run into the odd person on the bus, had one lovely dinner date, and a few phone calls from friends across the country, but other than that? I’m feeling a bit of a social castaway. What doesn’t help is not being able to blog or write – two of the things in life that bring me the most joy. Last week, I was over the moon when I saw Vista came with a fully installed speech recognition programme. I spent an hour training it and all seemed to be going well until I started trying to use it. Five mistakes per sentence soon became more trouble than it was worth, and the novelty wore off immediately. Does anyone have any experience with Dragon?

I’ve seen a hand physiotherapist twice in the last couple of weeks, and though the splints are helping me do things like, you know, actually dress myself and brush my own hair, without them there’s still a tonne of pain whenever I try to grip or hold onto anything at all. Why do we train ourselves to ignore our bodies when they’re trying to tell us something’s wrong? Why do we shut out the signals and hope it’ll go away, until it’s too late?

I recently read an interesting article about early 19th-century artist Henri Matisse, and feel somehow inspired:

Old age or illness are never comforting thoughts. For an artist especially, it can be a real horror. It rings up images of arthritis in which merely holding a brush can bring anguished pain. It threatens the artist’s lifeline to the outside work, his or her vision. It often entails frailty and fatigue where once there was strength and vigour. There can be sadness and despair, yet the creative urge never dies. Sometimes it is the one spark that keeps an artist alive and aware. It can be a harsh taskmaster, driving the aging artist, now with excruciating pain, and an uncertain, but nonetheless final, deadline to do that which in youth would have been quite easy. Where others might simply give up, the true artist adjusts. Claude Monet painted massive garden scenes seen through double cataracts with a brush bound to fingers which could no long grip it. Henri Matisse, in the last decade of his life, following repeated, debilitating surgeries, his eyesight also failing, and so weak he could no longer get out of bed, adjusted to his condition by moving to huge sheets of paper he could still see and large blocks of painted paper meticulously arrange by assistants according to the master’s directions. The work was necessarily abstract. No more could he create the intricate, flat, interior designs or two-dimensional painted figures that had long been the hallmark of his flamboyant style. His gouache on paper work entitled The Snail, created in 1953, just a year before he died, is an excellent example of the adjustments an old man made in continuing to do as best he could what best he loved. Much of his work is a testament to a man’s sheer stubbornness to persist in the face of years of daunting debilitation, giving new meaning to the phrase, “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.”

I hope desperately that this is only temporary. I hope with all my heart I’ll be able to, some day soon, fix this problem and once more be able to write whenever I want to instead of once or twice per month, to read your stories, email, engage in discussion, and to work on my creative stuff… it is my biggest dream and remains the sole thing that brings me most joy. But for now, I have to take this step back. A friend once told me, “if you have the urge to do something, and you feel like you have to do it, it means that’s what you should be doing“. I still feel I should be writing, but the Universe right now has other plans. I don’t know what those plans are, but, as with all the big things in life, I have faith that this is happening for a reason, and that somehow, that reason will become clear.

Okay. Enough whinging. I just wanted to check in to let you all know I miss you, and hopefully, if I can find some decent software, I’ll be able to rejoin the Internet soon. 

Have a wonderful weekend everyone 🙂

The Disease of Perfectionism

Recently, I had one of those “Message from the Universe” moments. You know, when you encounter the same message repeatedly in a plethora of different situations all within a relatively short time frame? I love it when this happens. This time around, I was at singing class, having just finished what must have been my 8th or 9th attempt at getting this one bar of music down. I don’t read music, and I don’t know what the different notes mean with regards to tempo, so I was struggling a little with this one bar. I’d got it right first time, but in every subsequent attempt, I found myself getting stuck at the same point. Overthinking it, overprocessing, frantically trying to figure it out, panicking as the melody caught up and overtook my internal efforts, resulting in messing it up each and every time. After a few goes, I think I got it, but my coach said something at the end that began the theme of the next few days:

“Perfection is never the goal. When you think about it too much, you stop learning – you should trust your instincts more, because they’re right!”

I went off into the night, that sentiment floating around my mind, and thought no more of it until the very next day, when an article forwarded to me by a friend sat in my inbox, entitled The Disease of PerfectionismHow aptly timed (and, if I may say, how very Borg!). I immediately opened it, and was intrigued by the first few lines: “It’s amazing that people admit to being perfectionists. To me, it’s a disorder, not unlike obsessive-compulsive disorder. And like obsessive-compulsive disorder, perfectionism messes you up.”

I’ve seen a lot of “Protesting Perfect” blog posts floating about lately, which I think originated at this wonderful one,  and it’s made me really happy to see so many people recognising that we don’t NEED to be perfect, and taking a stand against it. Not only acknowledging, but embracing our imperfections for what they are – part of who we are. One man’s flaw, after all, is another man’s perfection.  Take a look around. If a friend of yours said something silly, tripped over their shoelaces, or stated an incorrect fact, would you think less of them? Probably not. You’d both laugh about it in a few minutes, and it’d be something that’s evaporated into the past, barely even remembered by the same time tomorrow. So why are we so afraid to make mistakes?

“The huge problem with perfectionism is that people stop learning when they’re constantly afraid of being wrong. We learn by making mistakes. The only way we understand ourselves is to test our limits. If we don’t want anyone to know we make mistakes, which is how perfectionists tend to behave, we are actually hiding our true selves.”

When I read those words, I’m pretty sure my heart skipped a beat. How many posts have I written in the last few months about staying true to yourself? About being genuine, regardless of it costing readership, comment counts, or social acquaintances? I think the Universe tried to send me this message once more this week, when I was attending a Journal Therapy workshop put on by one of my best friends. The first exercise was the “5-Minute Sprint”, where we were given a question (a big one, like “Who Am I?”, “Why Am I Here?” etc. – something that would usually demand an awful lot of thought), and had five minutes to write the first thing that came to mind. At first, I panicked – in true introvert fashion, I like to take my time to construct my thoughts and write them well, paying strict attention to flow, grammar and language – but when it came to sharing, I realised I was having another Universe moment, and thought of the above excerpt, and my voice lesson experience. When I think about it too much and focus on being or creating something perfect, I lose the raw, natural essence of it all. By being forced to write instinctively, without giving the inner critic time to catch up, I was allowed to be my true self. So why do I devote so much energy to perfectionism?

The realisation that we only have a finite amount of mental energy has been somewhat of a theme as of late. I am guilty of having spent far too long allowing futile, unproductive, negative thoughts consume my mind. Setting goals is one thing, but beating yourself up every day for not having achieved them on the journey to accomplishment is entirely another. In my job, I make a point of encouraging others to learn at their own pace, offering support and telling them it’s okay if it takes a little while, it’s okay if they make mistakes, that they’ll learn from them, and that they’ll get there in the end. Yet I tell myself the opposite story. There’s no such thing as a learning curve. You need to be good at it now. If you screw up, you’ll look like a failure. You’ll wear your mistakes like a giant badge for all to see and judge.

The act of writing this out forces me to see this ridiculous mantra of hypocrisy and self-created falsehood. Nobody thinks this way, and by choosing to spend time giving power to thoughts like this, I’m robbing myself of authenticity as well as of time that could be spent infinitely more constructively.  I’m spinning my wheels in a frenzy and remaining absolutely stationary. And what’s the point of that?

As I believe everyone has the choice with how they spend their time externally, I always advocate for the fact that everyone also has the choice regarding how they spend their internal thoughts. Inner critics may have worked their way into our minds, entangled and entwined themselves around our every thought, masquerading as reality, but through the simple act of recognition and choice, we can cut the strings. Realise nobody cares if we’re perfect, and all anybody cares about is if we’re real. By focusing and ruminating on being perfect, we lose our true selves. So let’s put an end to it now. If we have imperfections, it’s okay. It makes us human. If we have ones we really dislike, we have the power to work at changing them. We can choose to work hard at being a good person instead of working hard at beating ourselves up for not being perfect. We can choose to spend our time and energy productively, or self destructively. We can learn to see ourselves through the eyes of others, and give ourselves a bit of a break.

Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone has the choice to learn from them. And at the end of the day, simply ask yourself the question: Does anybody really care if you’re not perfect, or if you make a mistake? Imperfections are the source of growth, of learning, of adventure. And most of all, I think, of sincerity.

Well played, Universe

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you’ll probably know there are a few things I’m rather passionate about. Music, great writing, history, education, science, compassion, travel… these all hold special places in my heart. Bigger things, challenges, growth, introspection, and the psychology behind so many things we experience along our paths also enthrall me. I’d love to be a fly on the wall of humanity, witnessing the ways in which we live, interact with each other, think of and define ourselves, react and relate to people and events, and why every one of us is so very different. To watch our minds’ internal hardwirings mesh with our hearts’ deepest emotions, combine with the global supporting cast, and see the endless dramatic possibilities play out on the stage that is our lifetime.

Gravitation is one of the fundamentals of nature (I did say ‘science’…), in which objects with mass attract one another. But I think the same philosophy can also be applied to our interpersonal relationships – applied to that global cast of characters that have starring roles at various stages in our life.  I like to think people come in and out of our lives being gravitationally pulled in and out of each other’s orbit, in an elaborate dance orchestrated by the Universe, only learning the steps as we go.  Sometimes we try and make it work – just because the person has arrived in our life, we automatically think we’re supposed to have some sort of relationship with them – but I think certain people are placed in our lives to teach us lessons, not just to befriend.

Interpersonal relationships and their subsequent timing, strengthening, weakening, death and resurrection absolutely fascinate me. I’m a firm believer that everything in life has its right time for happening, and a lot of personal frustration can stem from wanting to have control over when things happen in our life rather than having faith that they will, when they’re supposed to. This can happen with wanting the right job, the right house, the right friends, the right partner… we grow up with this notion that by a certain age, we should have certain things, and if they haven’t happened yet, we go into panic mode. We start believing there must be something wrong with ourselves, especially when surrounded by Things Happening for Everyone Else, and it’s natural to start comparing ourselves. We become frustrated and start delving into action plans, trying to take control over something the Universe will ultimately provide when the timing is right.  I believe there are lessons that need to be learned before certain things can happen. These lessons will only get more pronounced and more difficult if we don’t take the hint the first time around, and will ultimately end up being those Major Life Lessons we look back on sometimes as turning points – times when things started to turn around.I’ve had a couple of instances of this in my life, the biggest probably being the lesson of learning to have some sort of self-worth. Going through a string of awful boyfriends in my late teens/early twenties; people who lied, cheated, became emotionally and physically abusive, that I continued to stay with because I didn’t feel I was worth any better. I honestly thought I’d be better off taking what I could get, even it if put me at risk, because it’d be better than being alone. I want to take my younger self and give her a good shaking for allowing this to happen, but you know what? I had to go through it because it was a lesson I needed to learn. The Universe had hinted at it with the first Bad Boyfriend, hinted a little harder with the next, and slapped me in the face with it with the final one when I ended up questioned by the police about how I’d been treated, and spending a chunk of time in the hospital.  If that’s not a sign I needed to change things, I don’t know what is. But it was the wanting to have control that made it get to that point. Lesson learned, however, and once I’d learned that I had to start believing I was worth more, and set some standards for what’s acceptable, then I was delivered an incredible man who’s helped me grow, believe in myself, and I’ll be marrying in seven weeks’ time.

The other big lesson is one I still believe I’m learning. Do you ever have people in your life who keep showing up, when you wish you could close the door on them and never have to see or hear about them again? People from the past who’ve hurt you, old flames, former friends, people who define you by who you were when you knew them, refuse to see the person you’ve become, and just keep showing up? It’s frustrating. You see their face somewhere and you want to ask the Universe why – why are they still here when all I want to do is move on? The interwoven fabrics of our social networks, especially in the day and age of the Internet, can make this especially hard, and just because you’ve moved on from one relationship doesn’t mean everyone else in both parties’ networks feels the same way.  So what’s the lesson here? Lately, I’ve come to the realisation that the Universe is trying to teach me the lesson of acceptance. Allowing things to be, without reacting to them, without getting frustrated, defensive or annoyed. Accepting the situation that this person still exists and you may bump into them every once in a while, and that’s okay. Let go of frustration, because you know what?

Who cares. This was what a good friend told me a couple of weeks ago when I started fretting about something I couldn’t control. Who cares? Nobody. Nobody at all cares, and if you’ve moved on from a relationship with someone, it doesn’t matter if they still show their face every once in a while. Yes, it would be nice if once doors had been closed on bad relationships, you never had to be reminded of them again, but the reality proves otherwise. You have no control over it, so just accept that they’re here, without getting exasperated about it. Accept that you’ve become a better person since, and it doesn’t matter what the other party thinks, because they’re not in your life any more. There will always be people who’ll talk. People who’ll never move on from the chapter in which your lives intersected. People will be pulled in and out of your gravitational orbit for some reason or another, and you may not want them to. But that’s okay. As long as you make the choice to live the life you want, make the right choices, be the best person you can be, grow from experiences, let go of the past, and focus on making the present the best you can, that’s all you can control.  I think I’m learning this lesson as we speak – and I’m already feeling a whole lot better.

Hear that, Universe?

You can also find this post over at Aly’s blog, Breathe Gently, who I was lucky enough to meet in London this summer! If you don’t read her already, I’d highly recommend checking her blog out – she’s an absolute sweetheart, has an amazing story, and is currently travelling across the world 🙂

Of Pirates, Poetry and Prayers

I’m not going to lie, this week and last have been lots of things, but the victory prize goes to exhaustion! Not in a bad way – work has been packed with learning, meeting new people, and creating copious amounts of curriculum leaving little time for anything else. Except that what little time has been leftover, I’ve been filling to the brim with STUFF.  Theatre (the city’s enormous Fringe festival is in town. Read: 155 plays; sleep is on the backburner!); friends from far away staying with us for 2 weeks; weddings, new experiences, and family stuff. It’s left me running on adrenaline, excitement, nerves and of course, way too much coffee, so I think I may be taking a bit of a break from blogging until later next week when I have time to gather my thoughts.  So much stuff has been going on that today’s post is a tad disjointed, so please forgive me!

The Winnipeg Fringe is seriously my absolute favourite time of year. Huge theatre companies, solo shows, musicians, contortionists, comedians… you name it, if it can go on stage and entertain people, it will happen in Winnipeg in July.  Each year’s Fringe also has a theme – we’ve had the frightfest “Night of the Living Fringe”, James Bond, Vegas, a Fringe “Factory”, Cowboys, and this year – everything Science Fiction (I KNOW!).  The Exchange District is a BEAUTIFUL part of town, full of old buildings, ornate architecture, and little boutiques full of vintage clothing and music. But it’s also sadly one of the dodgier areas for most of the year, bridging downtown and the North End (think crime and poverty), and, for the most part, deserted.  Streets are empty and a slight feeling of danger lurks in the air (maybe because I’m a bit of a girl when I walk alone at night!). But in July, everything changes. Hundreds of artists take over the city; dance halls, upstairs book shops, pubs and even the streets become performance spaces, home to a thriving community of arts lovers. Colour and creativity radiate from every corner, and every conceivable surface is turned into prime advertising space for shows ranging from the hilarious to the moving, the haunting to the incredible, the brilliant to the downright bizarre. This week, I’ve seen a one man riot, a brilliant true story of one man’s joke gone wrong that shot him to international stardom, two actors playing one man as they deliver spitfire comedy in Freud vs. His Ego, Cirque du Soleil-esque 19th century pirates, a stunning romantic tale told through tin can radio, described as  “part fairytale, part vaudeville routine, part old-fashioned love story… the theatre show The Decemberists would create if Roald Dahl directed them.” This weekend we have one of the funniest men I’ve ever seen on top of a parody of everything Europop – it’s my favourite two weeks of the year, and this year I’m thrilled a good friend of mine (who visits every year doing shows) happens to be staying with us. All this culture is fantastic, but I’d be lying if I said my sleep pattern hasn’t been affected 🙂

In less than two weeks, I will be heading home to England with Sweet, for his first time to Europe. We’re chiefly going to visit family and friends that won’t be able to make it over for the wedding (it’s a long way, a lot of money, and December in Winnipeg pretty much qualifies for Arctic conditions) – so they get to meet him, and so he gets to see home! I have mixed feelings about the trip – I’m so excited to go home, see friends, see sights and castles and stock up on Angel Delight – but I’m also nervous. I had word earlier in the week that my Nan, who most of you know was in hospital from late 2009 – early summer, doesn’t remember being in there at all, neither does she remember my Dad’s visit from earlier this year. One of my biggest fears is a loved one losing memories of our time together, and worse, forgetting people – my Dad says she remembers we’re coming to visit, but I’m terrified one day she won’t remember me.  It breaks my heart to even think about, and this trip is going to be one of mixed emotions.  If you could spare a thought or prayer for her, I’d really appreciate it.

These past few weeks have also brought about big changes in terms of socialising. I’ve always been a big advocate for putting things out into the Universe, and an even stronger believer that the Universe is pretty amazing when it comes to delivering.  I don’t want to alienate anyone by talking about something that’s very personal to each and every individual, but let’s just say I’ve been very blessed on a number of occasions  over the last few months in which I’ve prayed… and my requests have been fulfilled. I believe more and more that there is a path that’s set for each of us, and sometimes we don’t understand why things happen… but there are certain things that are meant to be, certain people we were meant to meet and share experiences with, and certain people who we’re better off without. Recently I’ve experienced both.

Finding meaningful friendships and people who were genuine, who’d be around for the long haul, was something I’d wished for back in the Spring, and since then, people have arrived in my life who have welcomed me with open arms, talked and shared and listened like good friends, and have just felt 100% natural, fun and comfortable to be around.  I am so lucky to have crossed paths recently with so many awesome people.  On the other hand, people who had been around for previous chapters in my life, who, though still present, brought with them unnecessary disputes, stress, and a feeling of uncertainty, have recently had those doors closed. When we’re younger, I think we place such importance on popularity, sometimes at the expense of sincerity – we’re more content with lots of people who may turn their backs at the drop of a hat than we are with a small handful of amazing souls who’ll stand by through anything. I have a feeling I’m experiencing the tides turning, and I’m beyond excited to be able to start a brand new chapter.

Work! My first month is almost at an end, and it’s been full of training and learning and opportunities to create new and better ways to serve people, to empower them, and to contribute to the community. That’s not to say there haven’t been a few fits of tears worrying about not being good enough, or learning quickly enough, but I have to remember we’re all in the same boat, and we all have the same goal: to work to make people’s lives better. I’m so incredibly fortunate to have been given this opportunity, and though quite possibly the biggest challenge yet, I’m ready for launch come August. I can’t wait to see everything that happens over the course of the next year.

And lastly, there’s less than a week to go until the Weddingbells contest ENDS!! I have been in this competition for eleven months and words cannot come close to doing justice to how much I’ve appreciated everyone who’s stuck by me throughout this journey. Six days left, and trust me, after being in the semi finals I know how quickly a big lead can turn into a close call – I have so much love and appreciation for all your votes so far, and if you could keep spreading the word over the next few days, I promise I’ll never ask you to do anything again! 🙂  You have been absolute STARS!!

I’m off to spend the week soaking up the arts – see you all next week. Have a great one 🙂