ON LOVING THE ORDINARY

When winter takes a toll, and our routines feel repetitive, why do we feel a little bit dead inside?

It’s usually mid-winter for me when I really start feeling like I have to drag myself out of the house and that daily deja-vu sets in.

For the first time, I took a vacation in late January, which I thought was supposed to prevent that feeling????? In my case, I came back during the coldest snap of our entire winter and promptly got sick and went right back to business as usual — watching Grey’s Anatomy in my bed.

In case you missed the memo, I live in Winnipeg, Manitoba where it’s winter (aka brutally cold) at least half the year, making it feel like an eternity.

Winter exasperates that rinse and repeat routine feeling. But I’d also argue that no matter what time of the year it is, slipping into a predictable day-to-day routine makes me feel a certain way, and I know I can’t be the only one who feels this way.

*Before I go any further, I think it’s important to recognize that it’s a privilege to experience the kind of routine I’m talking about. I acknowledge that a lot of people without stable income or consistent shelter/food want this predictability. Privilege plays a big part in someone’s level of comfort in society and I never want to lose sight of that fact.

Even though my baseline of happiness is a lot better than it used to be ever since I took some steps to manage my burnout, I still found myself feeling REALLY emotionally flat and generally withdrawn the past few weeks. A little “dead behind the eyes,” as my friend Amie would say.

But why?

Winter has a shopping list of effects on our bodies and brains — so that’s important to keep in mind. Also, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is very very real. Don’t even get me started on Valentine’s Day.

Those are all valid answers, but there’s one more thing that occurred to me recently:

We unconsciously expect extraordinary, always, so when life is everything but that, we get bummed out.

As usual, I will credit Brené Brown for enlightening me on this idea.

The idea that we live in a culture of scarcity shouldn’t be a surprise — feeling like we don’t have enough, or aren’t enough, is practically background noise to us at this point. Especially when, for the most part, we are exposed to extraordinary day-in and day-out on social media and the other media we consume.

So when you combine that background noise of NOT ENOUGH with the disheartening effects of winter, it’s…not good.

Seeing vacation pictures in the dead of winter is the perfect example of this (in my humble opinion).

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The weird, and the wonderful. This trip makes me think back to the first time I was alone in Halifax for a few days and I didn’t know what to do with myself. I remember circling a block three times trying to get the courage to walk into a busy cocktail bar I wanted to try but I couldn’t make myself go in and sit by myself for fear of being judged. I remember in Switzerland being too scared to ride a bike for fear of getting hit or lost and here I’ve biked almost everywhere. That fear is completely and utterly gone. I guess you could say I got better at travelling too, but I really believe it’s the confidence to do it on my own that’s changed completely. Truth is, people question you less when you’re not questioning yourself. #solotravel #nola #neworleans

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I remember exactly how I felt when I was sitting at my desk last February with an electric heater pointed at my feet seeing tropical vacation pics on social media. But I think the problem isn’t necessarily the photos themselves, it’s how they make us feel.

Maybe it’s a little bit of classic jealousy, but I believe it goes a looOooOooT deeper…it’s a micro-dose of resentment and anger toward our own wintery boredom and ordinary-ness. At least, looking back, that’s how I felt.

And in my opinion, our habits and patterns during winter can get kinda boring and blah if we don’t put the effort in (laying around, eating comfort food, not having as much sex, not being as social…the list goes on), so we are especially vulnerable to feel this way.

It’s easy to lust and look forward to spring and that feeling of renewal. Looking forward to things is healthy, but doesn’t how you feel along the way matter? I would argue it does, especially since I have a feeling it’s going to be a while till we see grass.

I didn’t like the book The Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson, but the chapter titled ‘You are not Special‘ is interesting. I agree with him when he says, “being ‘average’ has become the new standard of failure.” He also says “the vast majority of your life will be boring and not noteworthy, and that’s ok,” and I think that applies here.

“Once you accept the premise that a life is worthwhile only if it is truly notable and great, then you basically accept the fact that most of the human population (including yourself) sucks and is worthless. And this mindset can quickly turn dangerous…” – The Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson (paperback, page 61).

Brown and Manson essentially say the same thing in two very difference ways: it comes back to gratitude for the ordinary, and self-acceptance. We need to believe that what we have right now is enough, and acknowledge and appreciate it in all it’s ordinary glory. It’s also believing that WE are enough, unconditionally.

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The idea for this blog post came to me when I was cleaning up and purging my apartment using the KonMari method a few days ago.

I was doing some long-overdue work on my laptop when I spilled tea on the trackpad and it started glitching. So, I booked an appointment at the Apple store, but the soonest they could fit me in was a few days from then. I was already feeling crappy because I feel like I haven’t been very productive lately (this is the first blog post I’ve put out in…a while) and the fact that I couldn’t use my laptop to work just made my productivity-related guilt even worse. So I logically decided to make the most of the time. I had been watching Marie Kondo’s show on Netflix, and deep cleaning is something you’d never catch me doing if it was warm outside.

So after I thanked my clothes for their time in my closet, I got around to doing books and papers which is the next stage of cleaning according to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. After reading my old journals, which was just a recipe for a casserole of tears (spoiler: they are not happy), I decided to put on Oprah’s Supersoul podcast episodes with Brené Brown. 

I was sorting through old pictures and tossing old paper documents when Brown said: “in a culture of scarcity, we are always chasing extraordinary.” I stopped and wrote what she said down.

I was in the middle of looking at the evidence of the very ordinary life I have lived, on a very normal Tuesday morning in the dead of winter, and I felt joyful! Marie Kondo’s method is all about expressing a shit ton of GRATITUDE and wow, does it work.

It was an ‘aha’ moment I guess you could say.

It made me realize I was feeling a little dead inside in the dead of winter because I was swimming in the feeling of inadequacy around my ordinary routine instead of cultivating gratitude for it. Why? Well, the easy answer is that NOT being grateful is the path of least resistance. I’ve also been a little aimless, and the “you are not enough” monsters were looming over me. The perfect storm.

Life doesn’t need to be extraordinary to be meaningful, but we do have to make effort to find the joy in the ordinary.

I don’t know about you, but when I think about the best moments from the last month it’s nothing flashy or wild. I think part of what made them so good is that I was fully present and open to appreciating what was happening: laughing with my friends, eating Thai food with my mom, bouncing around in boxing class, making a scrapbook of my memories…the list goes on.

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Me and my friend Sarah at boxing.

Make a list of your favourite moments from the last month. Let’s learn to embrace ourselves and our ordinary, especially when we want to hibernate.

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I RESOLVED TO STOP DATING IN 2018 – HERE’S WHAT I REALIZED

Even though I did a really solid clean up and assessment of my life in 2018, there was still something under the porch of my soul, rotting.

Read my blog post about this resolution here.

I wondered many times what it would feel like to write this, and let me tell you, it’s nothing like I thought it would be.

One of my many resolutions for 2018 was to avoid dating. I envisioned staying single, by choice, for a whole year. I even went on a podcast called Now or Never and talked about it.

For context, I had gone through a breakup in early Oct. 2017 so I was not in a place where I wanted to date.

As much as the resolution was to avoid going on dates, the underlying goals were to check some things off my bucket list, create a life I love, learn to love & accept myself without validation from a partner and do some soul-searching.

I genuinely feel that I had the biggest year of my life so far and achieved these goals on my own terms. I did things I didn’t think I was capable of doing. I made decisions to build a life I love on my own instead of waiting for someone to come along and do it with me.

Here’s the truth: I did end up going on some dates toward the end of 2018. I had some flings. None of them progressed anywhere, and that’s ok. So I guess you could say I “failed” at face value.

I’m still single, but I do not feel like the same person I was when I made this resolution. I learned so much about myself from each of those interactions. As much as I didn’t keep the resolution to not go on dates, I don’t give a shit. Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing.

I know I also said I wouldn’t download dating apps, but I ended up using Bumble (which is MUCH MORE than a dating app — it encompasses friend-finding, networking and dating).

I also ended up working for Bumble Canada starting in August 2018 as a community marketing manager in Winnipeg. Getting a job with a company with such strong values that I believe in so much was a total dream come true, so I feel really good about using the app.

Besides, that’s some Big Dick Energy if you ask me.

I also use it from time to time because I’m human, and when you have the perfect combo boredom and loneliness it’s easy to reach for your phone and swipe through the deck while you’re watching Ru Paul’s Drag Race. Not the worst thing I could be doing on a Friday night.

In the summer someone I knew saw me out with a guy and made a comment to me about breaking my resolution, and the shame kicked in. Hard. I felt called out. I felt like a failure.

The shame hit me hard that I didn’t plan to recap this resolution. I was so afraid of opening myself up and giving people the opportunity to hit me where it hurts. I thought I couldn’t handle it.

Where does it hurt you might ask? I’m getting to that.

The fact that I didn’t perfectly follow through on my resolution bothered me for a while because when I say I’m going to do something, like go sober for 60 days, I usually follow through. But I quickly found out these feelings of failure and fear were rooted in something more significant.

Even though I did a really solid clean up and assessment of my life there was still something under the porch of my soul, rotting. I knew it, but I wasn’t able to put my finger on it until Dec. 2018 when I started reading I Thought It Was Just Me by Brené Brown.

It was the main reason I decided to not date in 2018.

I was trying to avoid the shame I had internalized from being labelled a slut and ‘the girl with the f*cked up love life’ my whole life. 

I figured if I could avoid dating for an entire year then I couldn’t be shamed further. I could finally grow apart from these labels in the eyes of others. If I could be perfect and avoid dating altogether, then nobody else could call me out or belittle me for my choices. I was trying to protect myself.

Shame is the fear of being perceived as unworthy of acceptance or belonging. The more we internalize shame, the more we feel we deserve it and believe we are inherently flawed.

The sad part is that the only person who was still making me wear that label, was myself.

Previous to this realization about shame, people who met me were always surprised when I called myself trashy. I joked about it, but it came from a place of pain. I stopped fighting it after a while and continued to wear the labels, stitched inside my blazer, even though they didn’t fit with my outfit anymore.

But that’s what happens when you internalize shame. It becomes a part of you, undetectable.

My shame didn’t come from thin air — I’ve internalized it from a decade of comments, remarks, judgment, societal pressure and events out of my control.

I’ve talked about this before on my blog but it’s been a long process building back up my self-worth from nothing and learning to fight for myself.

I am ready to do the work to stop forcing myself to wear these labels going into 2019. I am ready to let go of the judgment directed at me, intentionally or unintentionally. I will no longer joke that I am trash. The resilience that I have built up from this whole experience has made me so much f*cking stronger.

Building strength to combat against shame is a skill, and I truly believe we can learn to not let the shame others throw our way absorb into our being — like water off a duck’s back. But it’s not easy, and it requires support.

The truth is that you can’t put yourself out in the world and be vulnerable without some level of exposure. But is that going to stop you? Or are you going to have the courage to continue regardless? Do you have the strength to know that what they say about you, isn’t who you are?

Here’s what I want to leave you with: the antidote to the poison of shame is genuine compassion and empathy.

Without that kind of non-judgemental support throughout this journey, I don’t know if I would have been able to come out whole on the other end of this. I feel grateful.

This resolution I created around not dating was a surface solution to a much deeper problem, and I’d encourage you to examine your 2019 resolutions and look for signs of shame. Take a peek under the front porch of your soul and see if anything is rotting down there.

Thank you for following my journey in 2018, and hopefully beyond.

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WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU FELT JOY?

Joy breaks through the unimportant bullshit in our heads, through the concerns and preoccupations and finds its way straight into our hearts.

I honestly don’t know why there’s so much profanity in this blog post. Maybe it’s because I’ve been watching too much Netflix and Youtube. You’ve been warned. 

I hate this question and I love it. Because if you can answer it with “yesterday” then that’s great! If you can’t remember, the realization can be a little sombre.

I’m not gonna bore you with some long spiel about feeling joy as a child and how we all need to revisit that childlike wonder because, quite frankly, 1) wow what a boring metaphor 2) fuck that. It’s not realistic to revisit childlike wonder because I have rent to pay, meals to prep and should probably call my mom back.

As adults, I believe we experience joy very differently than when we were tiny humans. I, for one, don’t take that shit for granted like I did when I was a little kid.

Life is constantly trying to deflate us, cut us down to size, check us, humble us, remind us of where we are at, throw us for a loop, and screw us over to teach us lessons – so if I see a butterfly land on a goddam leaf right in front me you bet your ass I’m going to stop scrolling through Instagram and appreciate the beauty and magnificence of life for 10-15 seconds. I went YEARS without letting myself feel joy fully, so now when I do let those moments unfold I usually cry like a disturbed infant that has seen a clown and I appreciate it that much more. Sometimes it’s in public while I’m wearing my shirt that says PRETTY COOL BUT I CRY A LOT and then I start laugh-crying.

Joy is a fleeting opportunity.

I’m freelancing right now so I’m struggling with having ZERO sense of routine and I woke up at the beginning of this week just feeling…kinda flat? Turns out it was basically a sign the check engine light went on, but I digress.

I felt “fine,” but I don’t settle for fine.

Instead of ruminating on WHY I was feeling this way (me? overthinking my feelings? WOW shocking I know), I decided I needed an injection of joy.

I read a couple of articles (on Success.com and Time.com) about high-level ways to cultivate joy and I found them to be a little abstract.

Then I found this article that hit it right on the head:

“Looking back, it was on that day that I decided that even if I was fine, fine was not enough.  

Fine is not thriving.

Fine is not complete.

Fine is not what I came here to experience, and I couldn’t face another day of pretending to be here and whole.

My sense of wonder and magic, my awe, my creative spirit, and my light had been calling out to me all this time. Only I couldn’t hear it until then.” (full article here)

It’s easy to get so caught in life, rushing from place to place and checking things off our to-do lists that we can be bad at taking in those moments and end up missing them entirely.

Or alternatively, it can be hard to let yourself feel happiness or joy. I know it sounds silly, when you state it like that, but it makes sense because it’s fleeting and hard to trust. Like cheap food court sushi until it makes you sick.

Joy is the ultimate pattern interrupt. 

Joy breaks through the unimportant bullshit in our heads, through the concerns and preoccupations and finds its way straight into our hearts.

Joy brings us into the present moment.

Joy and gratitude are two concentric circles if you ask me. Feeling the warm wash of gratitude over you is like stepping into a sunbeam. But the thing is, you gotta be willing to move your feet in order to feel it.

“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”
Rumi

So I want you, right now, to take a deep breath that you feel in your ribs and stomach. Drop your shoulders and unclench your jaw. Read this then close your eyes: replay the last time you laughed until you couldn’t anymore in your head, then think about the last time you smiled because you couldn’t help it and the last person you embraced.

DOESN’T IT FEEL GOOD?! We do so many things expecting joy out of them, but the truth is we have to be mentally, physically and emotionally there to experience it. We have to let it hotwire it’s way to our hearts.

I’ll drive that getaway car any day.

Here are 21 small suggestions on small ways you can seek out joy:
  1. Hold the door for someone and make eye contact. Eye contact is such an underused, amazing form of human connection.
  2. Write down on whatever paper you have near you three good things that have happened in the last 24hrs.
  3. Give your mittens to someone who looks like they need them and wish them well.
  4. Find some swings. Go on them.
  5. Go outside on a sunny day and take some big, deep breaths. Even if it’s only for five minutes and the air hurts your face.
  6. Read two pages of a book you know you love (I can’t help but laugh at this book).
  7. Watch a YouTube video that always makes you laugh (here’s my go to).
  8. Watch five minutes of your favourite comedian on Netflix (I’m a big fan of Ali Wong and/or Iliza Shlesinger).
  9. Ask someone for a hug.
  10. Put on a banger and dance f*cking HARD until you are out of breath (here you go).
  11. Hang out with a dog/cat. Don’t have pets? Find a dog to hang out with.
  12. Write someone you appreciate a note and leave it somewhere for them to find.
  13. Have an orgasm.
  14. Cook a new recipe and enjoy it (I made this for dinner this week and it was great).
  15. Dig something out of your closet that always makes you feel amazing when you wear it and put it on even if it makes no sense for the context you’re wearing it in.
  16. Text your funniest friend asking them to cheer you up. I’m sure they won’t disappoint.
  17. Live music. Self explanatory.
  18. Take a nap. Hell ya. SLEEP!
  19. Go to the library. Even being around a bunch of books is therapy.
  20. Book something in the near future that you can get excited about (it can be big or small) then set a countdown in your phone so you can get warm fuzzies leading up to it. Remember: don’t wait for other people to be free – if you really want to do something, just go do it, dammit.
  21. Ride a rollercoaster or do something equally scary and adrenaline based. Better than drugs! Yay.

If you are NOT in a place, emotionally, where you can access joy, or maybe just can’t GET there for any number of reasons, that’s ok friend. Even the idea that it’s out there waiting for you, and that you deserve it, can be comforting. Don’t beat yourself up.

Side note: I own this book and it makes for a great gift or little micro-dose of joy. Highly recommend.

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ON CELEBRATING THE FACT THAT YOU ARE NOT FOR EVERYONE

I believe people make decisions about other people based on this super rough formula I totally made up:

It’s whatever information they have in front of them, plus the trust factor (what you are willing to share with them and the likelihood they will get more information in the future) and physical proximity, plus shared tendencies and hobbies, multiplied by their individual life experience (shared life experience can make you much more likely to get along), divided by differentiating characteristics and values. What makes people different? If you are someone who puts themselves out in the world, has a vocal opinion, acts differently than the majority of society (for example, if you don’t drink),  dresses differently, has taken an unconventional life path, experienced a specific type of trauma etc. etc. You’re going to be different and therefore less likely to be able to connect with just anyone.

Obviously this is not very scientific, but the reality is that we are constantly processing some variation of this formula when we come across new people.

My name is Raegan and I am in rehab from being an over the top people pleaser. I come by it honestly — I get it from my mother (she works in sales and it made her exceptionally good at her job).

It’s a characteristic that I’m working very hard to overcome and I know I’m not the only one who a) deals with this and b) finds it hard to swallow, especially when I look at the ways it’s done more harm than good over the years.

I find the formula above freeing. It reminds me that there’s just no way, based on all these factors, that we are going to emotionally connect with a good chunk of the people we meet — it’s just a fact of life. It also reminds me to take off the tophat (this isn’t an audition, Raegan) so people can see the real me. Because the formula doesn’t work when you change to fit the mould of what you think the other person wants.

Some people don’t struggle with this. If you are one of those people please SHOW YOURSELF IN THE COMMENTS.

EASIER SAID THAN DONE

So how did I (collectively: we) get to this place where I (we) care so much? Based on research, it looks like fear, anxiety and pressure play a big role, which isn’t very surprising.

Pressure….

  1. To be likeable and nice.
  2. To appear as though you have a squad* or a lot of friends.
  3. To feel accepted (which is why being different can be so damn hard).

We’ve all heard the phrase “nobody likes a people pleaser.” So why are there so many of us?

Short answer: we are hardwired to belong, so don’t feel too bad.

“The need to belong, also often referred to as belongingness, refers to a human emotional need to affiliate with and be accepted by members of a group.

The need to belong involves more than simply being acquainted with other people. It is instead centered on gaining acceptance, attention, and support from members of the group as well as providing the same attention to other members.” (Full article here)

If there’s something I’ve learned from reading ‘Braving the Wilderness,’ by Brené Brown, it’s that belonging begins with ourselves. It really starts and ends there.

“Stop walking through the world looking for confirmation that you don’t belong. You will always find it because you’ve made that your mission. Stop scouring people’s faces for evidence that you’re not enough. You will always find it because you’ve made that your goal. True belonging and self-worth are not goods; we don’t negotiate their value with the world. The truth about who we are lives in our hearts. Our call to courage is to protect our wild heart against constant evaluation, especially our own. No one belongs here more than you.”
Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone

You are not for everyone, and you will not belong everywhere but that’s a good thing. You deeply deserve to be appreciated for who you are, and celebrating the fact that you are not for everyone is an extension of that.

REJECTION SENSITIVITY

This is hard to admit, but I know the pain of what happens when your opinion of yourself is based on other people’s opinions of you. Essentially, it means your self-esteem is as fragile as a sandcastle and some mean kid can come and kick it over at any time. I spent all my teen years bending over backward to be liked. I gave everything to everyone and as a result I got dumped, treated like a doormat (you don’t exactly command respect when you are like this) and had one person flat out say they didn’t want to be my friend anymore. I definitely developed rejection sensitivity as a result.

Taking baby steps to get to know myself and show my true self to people, knowing full well that I could be rejected, is one of the scariest things I’ve ever done in my adult life. For me, part of working through my rejection sensitivity is celebrating the fact that I’m not for everyone in a healthy, glass half full kind of way that honours and shows love & gratitude to my true self. 

It doesn’t mean I suddenly don’t give a shit about how I make people feel. It means I can say no and not feel an overwhelming sense of guilt. It means not chasing people down who don’t want me. It means not going over the top when it comes to simple apologies. It means taking the power back and not letting other people dictate how I feel about myself. It means I’m no longer apologizing for who I am as a person.

There’s always room to grow and I know I’m not perfect, but if you don’t like the real me, you can pretty much kick rocks.

“Taking ownership of your own fears and anxieties is the first step toward improving your relationships. Rather than expecting others to heal you, start by healing yourself.

This requires you to take a good look at the anxiety that fuels your neediness and longing for approval. The more you can deal directly with that anxiety within yourself, rather than trying to work it out through relationships, the more you will begin to heal those old wounds.” (Full article here)

Every day I accept more and more that I am a serious, opinionated, life-loving, risk-taking, aggressive, acquired taste and I don’t need to change who I am to make people like me. I am healing. I am going where I am wanted.

If you feel you are not in a place where you “belong to yourself” yet, as Brené would say, that’s ok. Don’t blame yourself. It’s pretty damn human.

When you aren’t sure if you are people pleasing, ask yourself:

  1. Am I being genuine?
  2. Am I working for approval?
  3. Am I being agreeable to avoid conflict?
  4. Am I reacting genuinely, or am I objectively crafting responses?
  5. Am I caretaking, or am I responding truthfully?
SHARING YOURSELF IS SCARY

Here’s my question: does the way you are interacting with others honour your sense of self-worth? How committed are you to rebuilding, healing and sharing yourself authentically even when it’s scary? Even if you make a commitment to yourself, then stumble or break it, it just means that you are willing to fall, f*ck up, get back up, honour that commitment to yourself and KEEP TRUCKING. Struggling doesn’t make you any less strong.

Here’s one more Brené quote before I send you on your way:

“True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.”
Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone

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HOW I LEANED INTO LIVING MY BEST LIFE

Richelle Ready redefined what thriving looked like on her own terms

GUEST WRITER INFO

Richelle Ready is a 200 hour registered yoga teacher trained in yin, restorative, vinyasa, hatha, and Bhatki yoga. She is the creator of Bloom Yoga, a community-oriented company striving to offer yoga that is accessible for all. Richelle has a Bachelor of Social Work and offers Vinyasa, Restorative and Yin Yoga from a trauma-informed and healing-centered perspective.

As of late, I have found myself waking up in the morning excited for what my day brings. I feel joy more often than I feel sorrow. When I am feeling frustrated or overwhelmed, this does not define me and follow me throughout the entire day. I find myself sitting with hard emotions and then releasing them to continue on. I say yes to things that bring me happiness, and say no to requests that do not serve me. I feel genuinely happy and content with how I am spending my time.

When people ask how I am, or what I’ve been up to, “living my best life,” has been my go-to answer. 

There are still bad days and stresses. I still worry about money, relationships and the state of the world. But in terms of the things that are in my control — I am living my best life right now.

This was not the case at the beginning of 2018. I was working as an assessment worker in the realm of child welfare. This means that I was assessing the safety of children within their families during times of crisis and hardships, as well as planning to ensure the safety and well-being of these children. It also meant that I was working from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm and going in on weekends to complete paperwork, in a position that was scheduled to be from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday. I felt overwhelmed by the stress and magnitude of the work I was doing, as well as the vicarious and experiential trauma I was absorbing daily. I lacked the time and energy to process and cope. I was also trying to start my business, teach yoga classes, stay on top of my additional casual positions, practice yoga, go to bootcamp, eat healthy, read books for book club, sleep and maintain relationships with those closest to me. Needless to say, there was not enough time in a day or a week to accomplish everything that I put on my to-do list.

One Friday evening, I came home from work four hours late. My partner and I were supposed to go to a friend’s wedding social. He came home to find me curled up in the doorway of our bedroom sobbing on my yoga mat. I couldn’t form a sentence or even begin to explain what was wrong. I had not eaten throughout the day so I had no energy, and all I wanted to do was sleep. I didn’t go out that night. It was a social event we had been looking forward to for months.

I felt low and out of control.

Every day it seemed that my to-do list grew because I struggle with saying no and  perfectionism. I had ideas about how I wanted my life to look, and those ideas were shaped by expectations shared with me by my parents, co-workers and friends, books, television, social media and my own inner critic. The weight of the expectations I was placing on myself was causing a downward spiral, so I kept adding to my to-do list.

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Busyness. Something that I have used as an excuse for not prioritizing those things that are challenging or outside of my comfort zone. I find that when things are tough, I find other tasks to complete before making my way to the one that challenges me. Busyness is also something that I have used as an excuse for not prioritizing my own personal well-being, self care practices, and the people I love. I find that when things are emotional, I find other events to attend or chores to complete before making time to sit with my shit and experience intimacy. This being said, this holiday long weekend is an excellent reminder to slow down, spend time with family and friends, and make time for myself. Do you find yourself returning to busyness as a pattern when things get challenging? Or when your body is sending you reminders to slow down? I invite you to take busyness off of the table this upcoming week and plan your time with intention. . . . . #thisisyoga #bloominginwinter #bloomyogabyrichelle #yogaeverydamnday #winnipegyoga

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There was a month where I insisted on pre-making all of my meals from scratch. It was as if my inner critic believed that making soup (like my mother lovingly does oh so often) defined my ability to be a good partner and roommate. So I spent several of my Sunday evenings in tears over the stove (not because of the onions). I was placing my worth as a person in the number of things I could accomplish daily and weekly because I didn’t feel good about my job in child welfare. It was out of alignment with how I wanted to live my life, and I didn’t feel like I was positively impacting people the way I wanted to. I want to help — my moon is in Cancer, it’s in my nature.

With a lot of pep talks and encouragement from those who love me, I made a decision to apply for a position outside of my academic education doing something I was passionate about: teaching yoga in a studio. I was scared. I was embarrassed that I had spent so much time and money on my education only to pursue something that did not require any academic involvement. 

I was ashamed that I did not have what it took to work as a social worker. I was terrified to be without the level of income provided by government pay cheques. I was disappointed in myself. My inner critic had a field day with all of the things she had to say about me — failure, sap, suck, loser.

I had only lasted a year working in the realm of child welfare and this was where I was “supposed to” work until I was fifty-five and could retire successfully. I felt physically sick to my stomach when I shared my decision with my parents. But I also knew that I could not continue to live the way I was. When I received the position, I was excited and relieved. I had my out and began planning my new life.

But then I found out the new position fell through. Suddenly, I was headed for unemployment and into a place of uncertainty, a place I do not think I have experienced since I applied for my first job at fifteen.

It seemed like the easy option to turn around and ask for them to take me back in my old position.

Back to “Monday to Friday.” Back to misery. Back to stability.

Going back was the option many of the ‘adultiest’ adults in my life encouraged me to take. My heart knew and I knew — I couldn’t go back. Especially because some of my personal values are living in alignment and living my truth. I was tired of compromising. I was tired of spiraling into despair and drowning in lists of expectations. I was ready to stand up for myself and believe in myself. I was scared shitless but I was ready to move forward.

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It’s gonna be okay. ✨ Maybe not right now. Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not even the day after tomorrow. ✨ But eventually. It is going to be okay. ✨ The only constant in life is change. This moment is not permanent. Moments pass. Things change. Healing happens. ✨ Maybe not right now. Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not even the day after tomorrow. ✨ But eventually. ✨ Bloom Yoga believes in healing. ✨ If you are interested in exploring healing, Bloom Yoga invites you to connect through email for an upcoming offering delving into our personal shadows. . . . . . #thisisyoga #bloomyogabyrichelle #yogaeverydamnday #winnipegyoga #manitobayoga #hopeandhealing #yinyoga #accessibleyoga #healing #roottorise

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So I decided to go all in on Bloom Yoga and create a life I love. No longer sacrificing Saturdays to paperwork. No longer working for twelve hours in one day on something I did not wholeheartedly believe in. No longer witnessing the traumas of others day in and day out. I made a big change and a choice to honour myself and what I believe in.  

Now, I am teaching yoga and providing access to yoga to those who may not typically have access to yoga. I have had the privilege to teach at residential treatment facilities for women who are experiencing challenges with addictions, poverty, trauma, mental health and the justice system. I have shared yoga with youth who live within the child welfare system. I share yoga with individuals who work within the world of social work and are exposed to experiential and vicarious trauma daily. I am travelling because it makes me feel alive and joyful, but also to learn about techniques and strategies for teaching yoga. I had the privilege in October to travel to St. Pete’s Beach, Florida with my mother and my nana to learn about accommodating for the needs of survivors of domestic violence during yoga practices. I co-created a yoga teacher training program to share my knowledge and experiences with others.

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Photograph of Richelle with her nana and mother in St. Pete’s Beach, Florida in October 2018.

I am practicing yoga for myself. I am reading for enjoyment and interest. I am sleeping. I am eating in a manner that best suits the needs of my body. I am interacting with my loved ones in positive and meaningful ways. I am not saying this out of grandeur or bragging. These words come from a place of appreciation.

At the beginning of the year, I could have not pictured myself being where I am now, living the way that I am living. I am so grateful to be living my best life.

WHAT COMES NEXT FOR RICHELLE

Richelle is continuing to travel, learn, teach yoga and partner with organizations that fit her style of teaching and values. She recently launched Inner Light, a trauma-informed yoga teacher training, created in collaboration with Wild Path and Ash Bourgeois.

You can see what workshops and events she has coming up on her website here.

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When we put our pen to paper, we have the ability to make a difference. ✨ When we speak with thoughtful words and phrases, we have the ability to make a difference. ✨ When we share space with others, we have the ability to make a difference. ✨ Introducing Inner Light, a Trauma Informed teacher training created in collaboration with @wldpath and @ash.bourgeois ✨ Inner Light is an educational platform designed to hold space for all those in need of reconnecting back in with their own light. ✨ If you are a yoga teacher, healer, or work in a field where you hold space for your fellow humans, we invite you to please join us to share in learning in a way that is non harming, non judgmental, and compassionate. ✨ When we come together to learn, we have the ability to make a difference. ✨ When we share what we learn with others, we have the ability to make a difference. ✨ Bloom Yoga believes in the ripple effect. ✨ We invite you to be part of the ripple and create a difference. ✨ For more information, please see the link in my bio. . . . . . #thisisyoga #bloominginwinter #bloomyogabyrichelle #yogaeverydamnday #winnipegyoga #yogawinnipeg #thisisyogatoo #yogateachertraining #winnipegteacher #innerlight #traumainformedyoga #traumainformedpractice Photograph by the woman making a difference through creativity @owlsatdawnphotography

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