What’s really behind failure and is it really what we think it is?

whatisfailure

I’ll be real and raw for one hot minute – I still sometimes think of the year 2019 as the year of failure.  I’m ashamed of admitting this because I lived on Greek islands for more than half the year. Doesn’t sound like a bad life now, does it?

While my Canadian homies were deep in snow, I was taking a boat to work in 25 degree weather.

Sadly, I still fight the bitterness of my year abroad and what I could say was my complete loss of touch with myself and reality.

Within three weeks of my work contract ending, I left a city I had lived in for 19 years of my life, I left my family and my friends and, I left my home country of Canada.

I got lost, I got really lonely and depressed and I made a lot of dumb decisions that I still beat myself up for.

Cue Brenee Brown’s Netflix doc “A Call To Courage”.  

Brown’s years of research on the intertwined topics of courage, vulnerability and gratefulness are truly remarkable and life changing.

In my books, this year, I have failed (even though I didn’t! It was a year of enormous growth and many lessons!) Perhaps in a couple of years, I will see how much I needed this year to happen to me and how grateful I am that it did. But, I am not there yet.

Today for example, I see some light. It was my first day in the position of production intern at an up and coming media agency in my dream city of Amsterdam, where I now live.

“So this past year wasn’t all for nothing after all!” “These so-called ‘mistakes’ led to where I am today.”

On previous days,  I have sat at home anxiously with a heavy and vulnerable heart.

“Why am I here?” “My home is Canada. I should be there, not here”.

I feel confused,  because I dared. I dared to be seen outside of my element, my comfort zone and in my vulnerable state.  And like Brown says, not a lot of people will risk losing, will risk being exposed , will risk being seen completely naked,  and yet, this is what happened:

I was stripped to my bare bones. I didn’t hold back with people. I told them how I felt, good and bad, I let it all out. I felt my heart break free of its chains. I felt my heart shrink and break into millions of little pieces.  I danced like nobody was watching, rode my bike drunk too many times. I held a job I didn’t like. I met a lot of people I didn’t like.  I overstayed. I got lost. I got bored. I wrote and then I didn’t. I climbed mountains and then I stayed still for five months. I met some amazing people though, people I will always remember no matter what.

That being said, the only reason why I feel confused is because I have yet to completely accept that I dared and the consequences, positive and negative, that came with it.

Accept yourself wherever you are on this journey with the good and the bad. Your perceived failure means you put yourself out there, and that should be seen as a win. And with a little bit of patience, you will be grateful that you have dared. Good things are on their way.

 

 

Cheer up instantly with these three habits

threehabits

I don’t know about you, but I can get lethargically caught up in the comfort of my bed, watch Netflix (The Crown and Anne with an “E” anyone?)  and feel unmotivated to accomplish anything else for the rest of the day.

To get me going in the morning or after a long period of “non-activity” or rumination, I started implementing these three simple habits that boost my mood instantly:

1.dance it out 

Yes – dancing! When I feel “stuck” or moody, I put on a dance ‘tune and literally dance like nobody’s watching. In the kitchen, while I’m fixing breakfast, in the shower, while I get dressed…you get the idea. :)  And every time, without fail, I break into a huge smile. Try it sometime. Especially great as a morning ritual!

2. use humour

Yup. I’m someone who looks like I’m about to kill someone when I don’t smile and caught up in a bad mood. I can be so serious that every ounce of good vibe around me can be squashed in seconds. But, with humour, I have found that life can become so much lighter and fun. It turns the what we had originally thought to be the “big problems” into small nothings, especially if you’re able to laugh at yourself , when you trip over your own feet or run into a pole, for example. The trick though is to try and implement humour even in the toughest of situations. What a difference it can make when humour is used more in your day to day adventures!

3. write everything down 

The number one reason I experienced writer’s block is because I use to not let myself write down the shitty stuff. I wanted to only write the “good” memories. In the end, I procrastinated on many writing projects only because I thought not writing the bad memories would help me forget them. What happened was naturally quite the opposite – I started becoming more and more resentful and couldn’t identify what I was truly resentful about.  It turns out that when you write down the hard stuff,  you are able to process feelings like that of anger, sadness and jealousy better,  and release these difficult emotions with more ease and understanding.

Self-Pity into Self-Love

This morning, I listened to a podcast from Rachel Brathen on how to transform self-pity into self-love and I felt those words very deeply.

I’m someone who really hates when I’m in a mood of self-pity, but here I am, lying in bed feeling like shit.

I don’t like when I feel like this because I’m usually stronger than this. I thought I had overcome these patterns of negativity. But no, they come back because I am human, just like everybody else.

The podcast focused on someone who had broken their neck and couldn’t practice yoga anymore.

I felt that.

The person decided to shift perspective and was inspired by Rachel’s “still” practice done on her yoga mat.

I felt that too.

We have so many possibilities to shift perspectives and combat numbness, low-energy, self-pity and sometimes we get stuck. And that’s ok.

But the lesson here for me is I can choose to stay low for the rest of the working season or I can choose to embrace these lows and make the best of it.

How amazing is it that a paralyzed person found a new way to practice yoga through stillness? How amazing is that?

We can have shitty days. But, we choose how we react and show up in our shit.

Today, I choose to show up a little bit more positive, a little bit more grateful, a little bit more humbled because I deserve some calm and peace. We all do.

Five months ago, I was cutting mangoes at the back of a restaurant

In April 2019, I was working at a beach bar restaurant in Perissa, Santorini, located on the other side of the mountain from where I live and work now.

My daily duties were to dice mangoes and pineapples for cocktail garnish. I would do so outside at the back of the kitchen while listening to podcasts about traveling and yoga. I wouldn’t often make my way to the front of the restaurant during working hours but one time I did to pick up a better knife from the bartender.

There was a group of men sitting in the corner between the inside of the restaurant and outside of the restaurant. Tranquilo being the only bar I knew on the island that didn’t permit inside smoking, the men were blowing the smoke from their cigarettes strategically to the outside of the bar.

I caught the eyes of a dark brown eyed guy there. It was a very quick and temporarily gaze but it was enough for me to like him. It was something about his eyes that possessed a sensitivity and an intensity at the same time.

It turns out he was one of the bartenders at The Beach Bar from a few doors down. He had served shots to my friend Barbara and a couple from Calgary, Canada named Ted and Sasha and I a couple of days before. I hadn’t realized it was the same guy until much later.

We now live together in this gritty little basement, in a windowless room that is the size of our two little twin beds. We have a bathroom with good water pressure. We have a mini fridge but no kitchenette. We have a fan that blows air in our faces in the middle of the night. We have one blanket that we share and most often than not, I end up stealing all of it.

I consider ourselves lucky because we get to share our room with each other and be physically close to each other after work. Most season workers have to share their rooms with two, sometimes three other strangers. The rooms are usually windowless. Our neighbours sleep with their door open. You’re considered lucky if you get a balcony and some A/C.

It’s been the toughest year of my life and the past few working months have been emotionally draining. I ache for some stability and some freedom. Working everyday for five months straight was one of the dumbest decision I’ve taken in my life for my already fragile mental health.

Santorini, you witch, you’ve been a roller coaster.

However, I don’t regret it. Even the worst moments in my life I choose to never regret. And, well, I stayed believing something good was to come out of living on this island.

In the name of fear

I stopped writing a couple months ago out of fear of not being good enough, out of fear of using the wrong words and out of complete lack of motivation and direction.

Frankly, this is where I went wrong. I chose not to push through with my writing. I gave up on expressing myself in my most raw state. I got caught up with the mundane and the irrelevant. I got lost.

It has been almost a year since I left from my home in Canada.One year already ? Really?

The stories I have gathered on paper and in my memory are jumbled like badly written poetry. I wish more order existed in my brain but it’s teenager room-messy in there.

Although I am excited to leave the island in about a month, I am also aware of the many lessons the island has given me.

It also brought me friendship, adventures and most dear to my heart, love.

It’s truly been an “Eat Pray Love” year for me. It’s completely changed me for the best and sometimes for the worst.

I cannot wait to share more.

I was a peg-legged villain

I was a peg-legged villain,

Lips the colour of Purple Rain,

Rocks wedged into my summer heels,

Heavy as Tin Man without a heart.

 

I would never steal another – no.

I could never get in the way.

You never had to worry girl,

I could never be that way.

 

It was impossible to place one foot after the other,

To make my descent onto the concrete tether –

The eminent ending of a decade of our youth.

 

I may be caught in traffic, yes, 

But I was more trapped in my darkness,

My perfectly nostalgic and passionate madness.

My hands were sweating profusely. 

Under the grip of my wheel, I ached anxiously.

 

I knew I was late,

But I wanted the past to linger, just a little longer.

I wanted the moment to progress, just a little slower.

 

I would never steal another – no.

I could never get in the way.

You never had to worry girl,

I could never be that way.

 

Never will I be bitter.

It’s a personal battle more than a heartache.

The heart alway knew,

But the mind rejected the truth;

For so long, I rejected my reality

Towards you.

 

I could never steal another – no. 

I would never get in the way.

You never had to worry girl,

I could never be that way.

 

Forgive me for my tardiness, my friend,

On your special day. 

I forgot how to drive,

The year was grim, my hair was grey.

 

Know that it’s a love that will never be

Because it cannot be so. 

The heart knew, but the mind said no.

The heart grew heavy – yes.

But the mind was stubborn so. 

 

I cry here tonight

Because I never lost you.

No. I never had you.

Because…

 

I could never steal another – no.

I would never get in the way.

You never had to worry girl,

I could never betray. 

 

I sit in wonder tonight

Because I never lost you.

The heart knew,

But it refused to acknowledge you.

Because…

 

I could never steal another,

I would never get in the way.

You never had to worry boy,

No – I refuse to love you that way.  

In his words: Jean d’Ormesson

“Do not let yourself get abused. Remember to be cautious. Even when there’s proof: it constantly changes.

Do not put too high neither people nor things. Neither should you put them too low. Yes, do not put them too low.

Rise above. Give up hate: it hurts the people who carry it more than those who are subject to it.

Do not try to be wise at all costs. Madness is also a form of wisdom. And wisdom, a madness.

Run away from precepts and excessive preachiness. Throw this book away. Do whatever you want. And what you can. Cry when you need to. Laugh.

I laughed a lot. I laughed at the world and at others and at myself. Nothing is really important. Everything is tragic. Everything that we love will die. And I will die too. Life is beautiful. ”

-Jean d’Ormesson | French novelist

translated from French as best I could 

Setting boundaries and the power of the self

I have a hard time standing my ground, more than I realize. My throat chakra has been blocked for quite some time. I have lost my voice, or perhaps, never manifested it in its fullest expression.

Am I subconsciously wanting to please so much to the point of losing all my intellect when it comes to matters of my emotional and physical safety?

Do I care about my life? Am I oblivious to my surroundings?

Do I not believe I am deserving of the love that I deserve?

Do I not respect myself?

Am I a dormant doormat?

I feel like I am none of these and somehow, I still fall asleep at the wheel.

I become too trusting again and forget to be more alert.

And I truly believe the cycle will continue until I learn to fully devote my attention to my gut.

I am learning that my time is precious.

I am tired of wasting my time on people that bring me no joy, no exchange of the minds, no laughs.

The more I spend time with myself, the more I LIKE myself and the more I want to say “hasta la vista, y’all!” and hang out with my fun and inspiring self instead.

I am amazed at the things I can accomplish with a few books, a notebook, a yoga mat and a good imagination (could sound dirty but that’s not my point).

I don’t know why we spend our lives trying to please others.

Please yourself. It’s OK to be selectively social. There’s nothing wrong with being a loner. Loner doesn’t equal “loser” or “depressed”.

Conserve your energy. Take walks on the beach and read that book you’ve been dying to read. Turn off  your phone and forget about the external world and enjoy the internal bliss.

And most importantly,  forgive yourself. You’re never regressing – just growing, always.

 

 

 

 

Birthmarks

Words of long ago

Burn to the God of War,

And return as the King of Hell,

To imprint scars,

Shaped like birthmarks.

 

The newborn cries,

Not from fresh air bursting its lungs,

But from the birthmarks,

Soaked in black.

 

“The scars of the past,

Become the scars of the future,”

Says the Devil.

 

“Unless we break the cycle,”

Whispers the Angel.