ON TRANSITIONAL PERIODS, CHANGE AND GETTING SICK OF YOUR OWN BULLSHIT

I’ve thrown myself into an ocean and I’m trying to forgo what I’d normally reach for as a life raft, so I’m learning to tread water as a result.

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I think it’s probably safe to say that we’ve all experienced a period of uncertainty and/or change at one point or another in our lives. Depending on your situation, the transitional period might be by choice, or forced upon you. But either way, I honestly don’t believe one is easier than the other.

There is no time limit. It can be a month, a year or your whole damn life. Some people have learned to deal with this and they thrive here and don’t sweat it (which is admirable). Others, like me, seek comfort and consistency because that’s what I grew up with.

I’ve been in one hell of a transition period, y’all. I’ve thrown myself into an ocean and I’m trying to forgo the habits I’d normally reach for as a life raft. As a result, I’m learning to tread water.

I haven’t been able to bring myself to write a blog post for a while. A lot has happened. I feel like I’ve been hit with more truth bombs than ever before and I’ve had to show up for myself and own up to my own bullshit in so many ways. I’ve been trying to protect myself as I heal and change in isolation as much as possible, but I know I can’t do it forever. I don’t thrive when I hide from the world. This morning I reminded myself that there’s nothing to be ashamed about.

So that’s where I’ve been. I’ve also been writing a book, but that’s beside the point.

All this uncertainty has changed me in ways I couldn’t have anticipated. You might be thinking “well….fucking DUH” but I had no idea about all the ways it would force me to evolve. The Big Snooze (a term coined by Jen Sincero that you’ll read more about below) has really really really tested me and something tells me I’m not through the thick of it yet.

“It’s like when you quit smoking or doing drugs and go into withdrawal. Finally, you’ve taken a leap and done something that’s going to massively improve your life, and for days, sometimes weeks, you feel worse than you did when you were a wild child. You’re hacking up all this nasty crap, ridding your body of toxins, shaking, sweating, puking, wondering why on Earth you thought this was a good idea. It’s really fun.

Same goes for when we rid ourselves of limiting subconscious beliefs that have been holding us back and take a giant leap outside our comfort zone. It’s a detox of such staggering proportions that sometimes it can feel like The Universe is conspiring against us — trees fall on our cars, our computers crash, we find our significant others in bed with our best friends, we get our identities stolen, we get the flu, our roofs cave in, we sit in gum — when in reality, The Big Snooze [ego, fear, the devil, whatever you call it] is creating chaos in an attempt to self-sabotage and keep everything as is, instead of moving forward into unknown, yet desperately wanted, new territory. Every successful person knows this and has been through this.

When taking great leaps forward, life often turns to shit before it turns to Shinola.”

– Jen Sincero, You Are A Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life

I didn’t realize how hard it would be to leave parts of my old self behind in order to move forward. That it would feel a lot like grieving in some instances. 

My workaholism. My drinking habits. My dating habits. Basically all the things that kept me comfortable but stopped me from feelings things fully or growing.

Hell, there are habits I’ve tried to walk away from 100 times and failed 100 times. It’s embarrassing, but it’s incredibly human. I thought I’d have put certain tendencies in the past by 25, but the truth is that there’s no good time (or age) to let go. 

In some cases I’d do just about anything to let myself off the hook of taking change into my own hands and owning it. Asking “universe! send me a sign that something needs to change! I don’t know what to do!!!!” and the truth is that the universe had already slapped me in the face with the consequences of my action like a million times, and it was getting tired of my bullshit just like I was. So it gifted me a mental breakdown complete with snot bubbles, then proceeded to club me with a frozen trout while shouting, “WAKE UP YA SMART SLUT YOU’VE KNOWN ALL ALONG.” I came to in a different goddam dimension with so much clarity it hurt.

But that’s just me.

Hard truth: there’s no way to make leaving something behind that no longer serves you any easier. No short cut. No way to hand off the work. It’s all you, boo.

There’s no simple way to stop taking the escapism hatch and start opening yourself up to the pain of reality. Sometimes we wait to bottom out before we are forced to change, but what kind of way is that to honour the one life you’ve been granted? Don’t make me go through the trash to find that frozen trout the universe hit me with.

I truly believe we kept getting sent the same lesson over and over again until we learn it.

I can certainly say I’ve been sick of my own bullshit many times, but I know firsthand that doesn’t mean change will follow. Beating the odds and making change stick can’t come from a place of shame, wanting to prove people wrong or being utterly frustrated with yourself and your failures. It comes from an entirely different place in your soul.

You love yourself enough to know that you deserve to know what’s on the other side.

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To some extent, I’m also trying valiantly to accept the fact that change and growth has no end point. So finding “comfort” forever ain’t realistic.

Real, sustainable, healthy change can only come from self-love. And I know firsthand, learning to love yourself isn’t a goddam picnic.

When I started on a self-love journey in 2015, I didn’t know what I was in for. All I knew is that I needed to change, but at the time, I wasn’t using the right fuel to make it happen.

These are what my moments of self-love look like these days. I feel myself changing as I move through making new habits and it turns out that what’s on the other side of it is…clarity. Which can be great but overwhelming. Sometimes it’s practically so blinding it stings. 

So how am I coping with this newfound clarity? Well. It’s not glamorous.

It’s coping, after all 🤷‍♀️

I’m slowing the hell down in pretty much every way.

I’m staring out the window at midnight listening to music I loved as a teenager on repeat.

I’m reaching out when I’m flailing before I disappear into the quicksand of fleeting feelings. 

I’m staying sober and drinking so much f*cking La Croix. 

I’m prioritizing sleep.

I’m holding space for people I love who are in pain.

I’m thinking about getting another tattoo, but waiting on a day where I feel great to go through with it.

I’m addressing shame and its vines that have grown around my heart and mind.

I’m crying. Because sometimes when you become clear on your own bullshit it’s A LOT. 

I’m watching Eat Pray Love and Silver Linings Playbook like my life depends on it.

I’m playing with other peoples’ dogs.

I’m remembering that I make mistakes, but my mistakes don’t make me (yes, that’s a Mac Miller lyric).

I’m checking myself (gently) when necessary.

I’m making peace in the war against the eczema on my face.

I’m journaling pages full of questions for myself.

I’m repeating “you are enough” every time I leave the house, walk into a new place, go to sleep and wake up. 

I’m spending a lot of time on my own.

I’m meditating every damn day so the squirrel that lives in my brain doesn’t overrun things. 

I’m going to counselling like clockwork. 

I’m having more difficult conversations than ever before.

I’m sharing my energy very very purposefully.

I’m standing strong on my boundaries.

I’m laying on my carpet at 4:42PM when I can’t look at my laptop anymore.

This is when / where the work is done. This is not a process that can be distilled down into a 30-second montage in a movie or cleanly cut into a vlog. 

I’ve come close to stalling out in this transition period and getting stuck here. You can find a way to get too comfortable in the uncertainty in order to dodge further change.

2019 – you aren’t f*cking around. Damn.

I see you. I’m no longer being dishonest with myself about my self-limiting bullshit. I’m no longer avoiding change because I deserve better. And I’m paying for it in extreme discomfort. But it’s coming from the right place and I find comfort in the fact that I know deep down I’m doing the right thing.

I’m grateful. I’m terrified. I’m respecting my one life.

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GUEST POST: HOW I LOST MY JOB AND FOUND MYSELF

Emma Sherren of Blonde’s Eye View on when you do everything “right” but it still goes wrong.

GUEST WRITER INFO

Emma Sherren is a 25-year-old wine & cheese enthusiast, blogger, and self-proclaimed comedian. She has a degree in Rhetoric and Communications from the University of Winnipeg and has a career in events and marketing.

I always thought I was taking the right steps in order to set myself up for a safe and comfortable future.

I graduated high school, went to University directly after, backpacked through Europe during the summer, graduated from University and got a job. While I was in university I worked a full -time and part-time job in order to make money and also make sure I had some experience in my field once I graduated.

Every step I took seemed to be exactly what I thought I needed to be doing because that’s what everyone else was doing or had done before me. Although I felt generally happy, my day to day life had fallen into a robotic routine. Wake up, go to work, come home, sleep, start again. Of course, friends, family, and outings factored in, but I found myself going through the motions to get to the weekend instead of turning on my brain and getting creative.

Upon graduating, I had a couple of great positions that I ended up leaving for other jobs because of factors unrelated to me. In the past, when I would start looking for a new position I never had a problem finding another job. Finally, a couple of years and jobs after graduating, I thought I had finally found a job that I saw a future in. I was excited to settle into my position for the long haul.

Turns out, I was wrong.

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I was let go from the position about three months in. I was called into the boss’s office at the end of the day, was told I would no longer be continuing in my position, and effective immediately was being dismissed.

I was sent to my office with a box to pack, and as quickly as I had started, I was finished. I was in a complete state of shock as I walked to my car and immediately started sobbing out all of the tears I’d been holding in until that point while on the phone with my mom. All I could think was, “did that really just happen?” I had never felt this kind of rejection in my career. I was angry, confused, embarrassed, hurt, and mainly I felt as though I had completely failed.

The situation felt a bit like a break up that ended suddenly with so many unanswered questions. I was not given any feedback, and because of that I felt like I didn’t receive any closure and had nothing to take away moving forward. My mind immediately started racing through my entire time there picking apart every piece of work I’d done or email I’d sent. All I wanted to know was, “why did this happen?”

I thought I had taken all the right steps to get a job I deserved. I was in disbelief. While I should have been gearing up for the excitement of the holiday season, I found myself drowning in anxiety, scotch, and ego-crushing emotions.

How would I find a job right away?

What would my parents, boyfriend, and friends think?

Why wasn’t I good enough?

I started to dread going to family dinners or seeing people fearing they would ask me about work or what I had been doing. Listening to other people talk about their careers or days at the office felt awful because I had nothing to contribute. I had never felt so lost in my entire life.

I decided I had to allow myself the time and self-care I needed to navigate this scary, confusing, and transitional time. This time included a lot of crying, carbs, wine, and feeling extremely sad and negative about myself. But during that process, I was also able to really think about what had happened, what I was feeling, and start looking for a solution.

Why did I keep thinking I wasn’t good enough? Why did I keep worrying about what everyone else thought of me?

When I had accepted this job, I had two other offers on the table but went with the one I thought would provide the most stability (ironic hey?). It took reminding myself daily that I was capable, hirable, and deserving of finding a job that I love.

I started looking at jobs but decided to not just apply for every single one I knew I was qualified for. I started to really think about what I wanted to do, and what I really enjoyed doing, opposed to throwing my hat in the ring for anything and everything. I began reaching out to companies, blogs, and other local entrepreneurs who I resonated with, looked up to, or thought I would enjoy working for. This time also gave me the opportunity to think about all of the things I did not want to do or habits I did not want to fall back into.

I enjoy a schedule and routine, but a few days after I was terminated, I found myself thinking about what had been happening in my life the last couple of years. I was losing my creative side, and feeling really drained at the end of the week. I would wake up in the middle of the night several times a week worried about work-related matters and was constantly anxious. I had stopped really getting to know myself, and I realized now was the time to become reacquainted. When I started to do things I was excited about or apply for jobs I thought I could actually be passionate about, I felt more in control about where my life was going to go, and although I felt unsure about where exactly that was I felt happier then I had in months.

This is what I’ve learned during my time being unemployed:

Don’t be too hard on yourself

It’s hard not to instantly fill your mind with negative thoughts after something like this happens, but beating yourself up isn’t going to help you find another job.

I understand, easier said than done. You aren’t going to feel amazing every day, and that’s okay! But the more you remind yourself that you’re a kick-ass modern woman (or man) with a ton to offer, the faster you’re going to be on the right track towards a job you’re going to love.

Remember all the reasons that the company wanted and fought for you in the first place.

Remember that a lot of times these things happen not as a reflection of your own performance, but because of matters out of your control.

Lean on your friends, family, and loved ones

These are the moments that your family, friends, and loved ones are the most important. As much as I was embarrassed and worried about what these people would think and ask, no one was casting blame or judgment. These people in my life rallied around me with advice, support, and were all understanding when I needed to step away and take time for myself.

Don’t let your own ego be the reason you don’t have a support system.

Take a breath (if you can afford to)

Of course, the first thing you think of when you lose your job is “how am I going to make money?”

I was terrified of what my income situation was going to look like, and initially, I thought I’d try to get whatever job I could as quickly as possible.

Then I realized that was the worst possible thing I could do for my long-term well-being.

I decided to take this situation as an opportunity to take a breather. I dipped into my savings and booked an impromptu holiday to Mexico with my boyfriend before Christmas, made new connections, began looking into jobs that really interested me and finally started writing again.

Things happen for a reason, and while you may not always know what that reason is, allow yourself the time to figure it out if you have the financial privilege.

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Hellooooo Pre Christmas Vaycay🎄✨❤️🥑

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What Comes Next for Emma

Emma took some time off from her job search during the holidays and started 2019 in style.

You can read her blog here: https://www.blondeseyeview.com/

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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