anxiety in pictures

I missed over a week of writing, because my anxiety had other ideas. Don't ask me what I'm anxious about. I don't have an answer; and yet I have a million. Anxiety doesn't want me to make up my mind, or form an answer with confidence. Anxiety has its own ideas. Far too many to keep up with, and so many places to put them.

When I get anxious, I make a habit of drawing it out in front of me. It comes out in the form of a monkey. My feelings toward monkeys are similar to how most people react toward spiders. I really don't want one in my house, near, or touching me. (To be honest, I personally don't mind spiders.)

Anxiety likes to create a presence. It wants you to feel like someone is waiting for you. It could be one person, or it could be the entire universe. Likely, it's the universe. Imagine the heartache when you let them all down. It's almost as bad as Alderaan.

Anxiety doesn't make decisions, yet it makes them all at once. Just as it wants to fixate on what is already behind, it wants to anticipate everything that lies ahead. It will pick, poke, and scratch at all of the things it can to distract itself from moving forward. Anxiety doesn't like forward. 

And yet, anxiety is in such a hurry to get there. It will run in every direction, in hopes it will get there safely, and on time. Not knowing where "there" even is, it is on a mission to find it. It anticipates so much at once, it takes effort to slow it down even for a moment. Anxiety doesn't like to rest. 

One thing you should know about anxiety is that it isn't a fan of the moment. There's not so much to see or do, when you look at what is presently in front of you. Nowhere to run. Not back, not forth, not forward, or behind. It's why meditation helps when anxiety is high. Meditation is a practice of being in the moment. You breathe and become present with now. Anxiety doesn't like that, and that's totally fine. No one asked for its opinion.

Even when things are going good, anxiety will want to come in and sort out what doesn't need sorting. Truth is, change of any kind (good or bad) takes time to adjust to, and you just need to be fair. It doesn't have to happen in a certain way, at a certain time, all at once, in the air, in the sky, in a parade, or in the grocery store; no matter how hard you try to chase it, push it, pull it, understand it, accept it, dismiss it, to see it for yourself. STOP. Breathe. Be fair. All that you can control is this very moment. And when you realize that.... 

No monkey. 


this truth of mine

I like to write about my emotions, because it puts things out in front of me to see. I feel I've done a lot of reflecting lately, because it gives me a certain confidence in realizing that change is possible when you firmly believe that what you deserve in life is better than what you're allowing yourself to see. Happiness is a funny thing, and it feels incredibly possessive.. but the truth is that it is entirely yours to make. And you don't have to be scared or defensive about sharing it.

I feel I've become so different in the past year, because I learned how to offer myself exactly what I needed. I write about this so often because it's really a massive discovery that I didn't even know existed until I got up and tried it. It makes me laugh, and sometimes it makes me cry. I mourn often, the sad truth, that I didn't allow myself to see my actual value for a very long time. I didn't believe in it because I chose to let my outside sources dictate it for me. There's this weird blur between confidence and arrogance, and the key is to not care what others think of it. It's all about choices. You can't control the choices others make, but you can control your own. 

I've had my fair share of name calling along the way, and those things hurt the most. Even to see someone label me as "holier than thou" was a super laughable situation, because I realize that people choose to see you the way they want to see you. It has nothing to do with you at all. Especially when the internet is used so loosely as an emotional dumping ground for approval and acceptance. I no longer express my emotions on social media platforms, when it's something that could lead to misunderstanding or question. People are going to read your emotions, and make them their own. It's partially why I struggle with writing this blog. Truth is, this is about me.. and that's why I'm here. It's your own choice to read it, and take what you want from it. Just maybe, for a minute, realize that it's not always about you. I take my own advice with this, as I accept the multiple losses around me. Everyone and everything is susceptible to change. 

I'm still learning how to maintain my confidence without feeling it's something I have to hold back, because someone might have a problem with it or twist it into something ugly. The truth is, someone is always going to have a problem with your successes; especially if you make it look easy. There's something weird about the expression of happiness and how it is received in society.. especially on the internet. The amount of people that I've seen/heard grumbling about someone posting something happy, with an "okay I get it" or "I'm so sick of hearing about it!" It's why trolls exist. Happiness puts us at a distance from those who don't know how to join it. It's why it can often be seen as a threat, because there's a sensation of leaving something behind. The sad reality in that is you're likely leaving behind what you didn't need in the first place 

Part of embracing my own happiness involved letting go of some of my deepest, darkest struggles and my most cynical beliefs; which to be honest, were not very kind at all. I felt guilty for being alive, and for being a woman, because of my examples. Because of those examples, I also believed that it was impossible for any man to love anyone past themselves.. unless of course you have something they want; which likely involves your body and not so much your mind or your own voice. I present to you, my daddy issues! Really, this is the only example I grew into believing, and it was often supported by other people who chose to hurt me along the way. Two father figures that treated me like an absolute waste of breathing space. I was never human to either of them, and they took control by abusing and abandoning me. This is not at all being read in a voice of pity. This actually presented me with the challenge of discovering my own personal strength and beauty. I heavily value my experiences for their lessons. Even if they're not the happiest ones to put out there. 

I chose to keep this pattern of doubting my value (with men) through my own actions, because it was easier to prove myself right than it was to prove myself wrong. I could get super deep into how much this affected my relationships with men, and how I often treated them far better than I treated myself. I gravitated to distance, rejection, arrogance, deceit, and full out neglect. I recall some of the things that were even said to my face, and I laugh out loud at how absurd it was to even allow it... or in most cases, defend it. I was always proving myself right from my experiences; that I was worth nothing. One man told me he didn't love me anymore, on my own birthday. Another said he liked my face better when it had makeup on because my natural face was "weird" to look at. I even had one man flatly say to me, that he was using me for sex, and couldn't put his feelings toward me into words.. because there were no feelings at all. I allowed it. I smiled. It was cute. I took it as the best I could get. The best I could allow myself to receive. It really is absolutely profound to me, to prove to myself that all of the pain I didn't want to keep feeling, was actually in my control. 

Habits and beliefs are tricky to break, but I'm happy to say that I'm seeing love in a very new light. I reach out to the men who offer me the right love and support; and they continuously prove me wrong.. or I should say right.. for knowing that love is something that does exist in this world, and that I'm an important part of it. It's why my journey to the island will always be treasured, because it was a time when I learned how to get out, rid myself of what was only holding me back, break those patterns and beliefs, and to gain closure with myself through love and support toward no one else but me. I let go of so much heartache, and came back with even more to give ...and receive... and believe that I'm absolutely worthy of it. It feels really amazing to see it in such a different shape. It's so honest and simple.. and eeeek, it scares me in the best way. I can only hold it tight and be thankful that I did the work to see things for what they are. Confidence in my own value is a constant effort to maintain; because change takes time. Patience is a virtue, and I'm learning that I can only go at my own pace. Some will follow, others won't. It's okay to push forward and into a happier place, so long as you're not leaving yourself behind.

I smile at my experiences, despite the sadness that sprinkles some of those memories, and I let them go, one by one. I have held on to so much that wasn't mine, and I handed it back to the source by leaving it where it belongs. It isn't always easy to accept it, because it involves severing ties to relationships that I really wish I could maintain and share as I find my happier place. My father, and even some of the people I once loved and shared my life with; I wish each one of them well, and I smile warmly at the sensation of being free from ever losing sight of who I really am. Men are capable of love, and in such a remarkably strong yet gentle fashion. The key to finding this sort of love is to lead by example, by giving exactly what you desire for yourself, to yourself, before anyone else. That's what happiness is. If you don't like it, you can stay where you are. 


promised return

A promise I made to myself, for this month, was that I was going to write (and post!) every week, because I haven't done much at all since August(!) Writing has always been my escape. My personal release. I'll admit that I've been writing a lot outside of technology, because there is no audience. I've become so conscious of the world that exists out there.. and I find a lot of it to be so confusing. From open ended Facebook statuses seeking questions and comfort, and in some cases argument or debate; to passive-aggressive Tweets that maybe say we're not expressing our needs in the proper place or fashion. Sometimes, I don't even know how to express anymore. And so, I do so elsewhere.

I didn't really notice it until I came back to the city, just how disconnected the world is from.. the world, and from ourselves. When I lived on the island, I had to learn how to connect with my new and unfamiliar surroundings by being present; without the internet as a safety net for introductions. I didn't think I was capable of approaching strangers, without feeling somewhat awkward or shy in my usual fashion; because I'd listened to the opinions of others so heavily. "Closed off", reserved, snobbish, aloof, and my favourite "self involved". I believed in these labels so heavily, until I actually got to see myself for who I really am, by being myself, by myself. The more I allowed it, and trusted it, and listened fully to who I am as a person; the more I saw strangers approaching me, sitting with me, talking, sharing, and leaving me with incredible words about how comforting, real, honest, and open I am. This IS me. Real, true, amazing, and profound connections; which taught me to see myself for who I am, and not for how others choose to see me. I didn't realize that when I left the island and returned to my familiar surroundings, that it was going to appear entirely different than when I left it. I'd come back more self aware and confident in my own skin, and yet, so insecure about who was going to accept it. The harsh labels I'd been given as guidance to change, from people who I had once assumed were my friends; were only an expression of their own expectations. I can't be more than anything but myself.

I spent a lot of this summer entirely on my own, because I felt it was necessary to understand how I was going to maintain confidence in myself; by evaluating my choices, and providing my energy to the right things. I noticed a really sad habit in my relationships, including some within my own family, that I was often giving to those who didn't see or value it for what it was. It was like I was working for a certain approval that was never even acknowledged. The instant I shut it off, the more I gained for myself. When you stop offering love to the wrong places, the more you can provide to yourself and to others who will actually return it willingly. It was the first year I picked up the phone to wish my step dad a happy birthday. It felt so much better than sending an empty emailed message to my real father, who hasn't remembered my birthday in over 6 years. It isn't an easy process, to accept that your love isn't valued by everyone you want to present it to. I mourned many losses this summer, when yet, I gained so much from learning how to give and actually receive the treatment I'm so prone to providing. Equality is very new to me. It shouldn't be a trying effort.

I could go on and on about this personal discovery for hours, but the truth is that it took me so much to get to this point in sharing all that I've just written. To sum it up, I'm learning a whole lot about what I'm capable of being, and who I really am, and what I have to give to the world. The internet is a totally different universe that I am learning how to approach just the same as I am coming back to the real world, as myself. Without boundaries, it can be difficult to put it out there without the fears or assumption that someone is going to read things incorrectly or turn my words inside out and into something that they want to argue or feel for themselves. Truth is, I can't control how others choose to see me, but I can control my boundaries and who I know I am. I turn off my phone more often, I look at what is plainly in front of me. Life is precious, and so are you, and your time, and your energy. I have an endless amount of love to give. And here I am, reminding myself what is mine and how to hang onto it.

Thank goodness I made it this far. Writing is so good for my soul.


creative confidence 101

I realize I've been putting a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself to do more than I'm capable of, for no apparent reason. I've been denying myself of my natural process, and have also lost touch with my confidence in execution. I don't know where I fell off so hard with my thoughts, but it has been months since I've written a post without editing things down a million times. Something is off. Something is missing. Something is standing in my way of focus. I figure this is the perfect time to get started on some personal projects, to help pull myself out of it. I'm good at that. I'm encouraging myself to find my strengths. I didn't think I had any until I went looking for them. I feel I have many yet still to discover. That's why I'm here.

When I help people sort out their creative puzzles, whether it be finding the inspiration to be more creative, to nailing down the proper skills, or understanding their creative passions; I always start with the same piece of advice. Well, I have a few pieces, but number one is to do what I call Peter Pan-ing yourself. I've written about it before, so I don't need to go too far into detail. Basically, I'm asking you to get back in touch with your inner child, the person you were from the start, the person you still are; the person you need to nurture and allow to shine through. It's who you are to the core. You are far more valuable than you allow yourself to realize.

I often keep pictures of myself on my desk, as influence to embrace my creative confidence. I could trash myself so easily, and yet, when I put that kid out in front of me, my view changes entirely. I care about that kid, big time. She has a big heart, and a mind so deep you could get lost in it. I'm a busy dreamer; almost as intense as Walter Mitty. Ask that kid to fill a book with stories in a day, and she would. She did. I'm just sorting out where some of those pieces got lost along the way. I'm looking to that kid to help me find the answers. They're there, and she knows how to find them. I just have to stop trying to be a magnificent adult, and listen.

It might sound strange to hear it from me, but creative confidence has always been a struggle. I'm also terribly insecure about being labelled as an artist. Not only does it sound -to me- to be incredibly eccentric (as we can't go without our turtlenecks, judgemental sneers, and tilted berets) I also grew up with a weird societal concept that creative thought lacked real and useful intelligence. I'm not even kidding when I say that I felt like Forrest Gump through most of my school years, because I didn't know how to retain information if it wasn't delivered creatively. I wish I'd known then that it was just how my mind worked. Not a weakness. Not stupid at all. Stupid is as stupid does. 

Confidence, in general, is a tough one to trust and embrace fully, because those who don't have it will attempt to make it difficult for you... including yourself. There's this weird sensation that comes with confidence, because as we gain it, we change. And as we change, so do those around us. It becomes a certain process of dealing with loss at the same time as celebrating the gain. Confidence is tough! As I learn to accept my own; I notice that I care far less about what others think of me, and I spend little to no time trying to earn anyone's acceptance or approval. Like me for who I am, because I'm only trying to do the same. It's a tricky balance that gets easier with time, as you learn to trust it. Just like your creative confidence. Love what you're made of, and don't be scared to let it out.

I like to ask people, what was your favourite project in school(?) because it often stirs up a storm of excitement that is reminiscent to how we express as children. We get jacked up, we jump in, and we deliver with joy. For me, my favourite memory was when one of my teachers brought in a typewriter (the olden days laptop) typed out the classroom's creative stories and coil bound the pages into individual books. Each page had room for illustrations, and inside each construction paper cover/title page, was a -very real- library card to stamp and sign out. For a kid who loved nothing more than reading and writing, this was a dream come true! I will always remember how much I valued that project, and how it made me feel. I don't hang onto much, and yet I still have those books, and the ones I made later on in my own free time. Part of building creative confidence is searching for the root of your interests. If it makes you shine, it's your passion. Grab hold of it, and make something of it. I now know mine. 

In school, I always excelled at anything creative; especially writing. I took to poetry, silly rhymes, and short stories that delivered an emotional or even nonsensical message. I was naturally good at it; so much, that my teachers brought attention to it and made it known to others. I suppose this is why I struggle with positive attention; because it made me a target for ridicule and trolling. It's that threat of confidence that I was talking about earlier. Don't be afraid of it. Let the lumps pout it out on their own, until they learn to do it for themselves. You don't owe anyone explanation for what you believe in. Let it out, and be proud of it.

When Creative Writing transformed into English class, I know that is where I lost interest in writing the way I used to. Rather than write what I felt, or what I dreamed of, I was asked to write with reason, for an answer. After endless (boring) group discussions, analyzing the pages of Brave New World, for months on end; someone in my Advanced English group project wrote my review as "I don't think she read the book." This really let me down. It really made me resent my natural abilities, because suddenly I was told I was wrong. I believe this is how most of us lose touch with our passions. It doesn't take much to build a roadblock, but it can take years to knock it down.

I'm still trusting my strengths, and figuring out how to share them with others. Hey, it's why we're here, reading this lengthy blog post that seems to feel all over the map in information. I'm not deleting it. I want it out of my system. It's just like the advice I give to those who want to explore their creative side again. Just try. Try! Don't think too hard, and definitely don't rob the fun out of it. As grownups we know how to make every single thing become so lame through question, complaint, comparison, and reason. Or at least that's how I have often viewed grownups; and why I cried about ever being one when I was little. I was smart enough to know that I was going to lose touch with something I was naturally good at, because growing up involves taking everything so damn seriously. Ask a kid to draw a monster, and I doubt you'll be seeing them asking for reference on how to draw an actual monster. They just do it. They look into their minds and make it happen. This is why I say that reaching back toward your inner child will save you. They just want you to have fun again. Real fun. Not like the fun you have by paying your bills on time. Ugh.

As an even more enjoyable representation of who I am as a person, I like look at the personality of my dog. People often say that our pets reflect who we are, and if that's the case I'm both honoured and a little bit scared (totally kidding). Breakfast's greatest strength is that he's young at heart. Often, most people think he's a puppy, because of how he reacts to greetings and invitations to engage in play. He can make a game out of just about anything, and get anyone to join him. Every day, I look at him and think, "hey, you're pretty great." My four legged fountain of youth. I'm so glad he reminds me to laugh and play, every single day. Without fail. What a gift he has.

And while I'd say that I'm great at being creative most days, not every day is successful. Like today. I spent hours trying to write this -stupid- post out to sound right, and only now am I writing and telling myself not to delete it. Why? Because that's also the advice I give to people who want to experiment with their creative side. Let it out and let it be. Get a book, some pens (there aren't any secret magic materials that artists use), find what makes you happy, and just fucking do it. Really, sorry to be french about it, but I'm just feeling a bit frustrated with myself.. and it suits this post entirely. Don't stand in your own way of doing what matters to you. If you have expectations to be at a certain skill level, or what your concept of "good" is, or what makes it worth it to you; then that's an entirely different post. If you want more of yourself, practice. If you want to start somewhere, be easy on yourself, or else it's going to end quickly. Stop being a grownup about it, lame-o.

My last bit of advice as you chip away at finding your creative spirit, is to just shut up. I might sound rude here, but really. Shut up with the excuses, shut up about how you don't have time, shut up about how you "suck" at art, shut up about how dumb your drawings might look, shut up about comparison to others, shut up about how you're going to fail, shut up about every little thing that makes YOU stand in your own way. I'm great at this game too, and I've been drawing all of my life. What makes me nuts though is when I encourage people to play, and they flop over with the excuse that I'm somehow going to judge them for trying. Guess what. You're putting words in your own mouth, to stop before you begin. Stop making me out to be the master of judgement. My arms are open to you to get out there and try. Shut up and play. I just want you to express what's hiding in there. The beauty isn't in the skill level, it's in trusting your natural voice. Your creativity, is your voice. Please speak up!

For real though, go out and get yourself a book. Sit down with it for even just a minute a day, and don't pay any attention to how you might want to talk yourself out of it. No one is putting a single bit of pressure on you, but you. There's no invisible audience waiting to laugh at you. There's no one standing behind you waiting to ask for your rationale. No one has to "get" what you're up to. Hell, you don't even have to know what you're up to. Draw something that comes to mind, or just mindlessly doodle. Write down a word, the lyrics to your favourite song, write a poem, a sonnet, a haiku. Research something interesting that you want to learn, jot it down, draw a picture of it. No one is going to see it but you. If you want to share it, share it. Creativity is something all for yourself, and that's the beauty behind it. When you gain confidence, you can share it.. and guess what, others will surely follow. That's the beauty of learning how to play. Just be. Seriously, Peter Pan yourself hard. Let that kid inside of you do what it has always been good at. I have yet to even address the things I'm looking to explore for myself. Funny, it involves writing... and here we are. I made it. I got this out of my system.

Go find that kid inside of you and let it out. I'm sure it has a lot of fun things to show you.


good grief

When I feel stuck, I write. It's my therapy, my process of understanding. I don't even know where to begin, yet I already have. I'm sick of loss, I'm sick of sadness, and I'm sick with frustration that I can't fix it all. "Grief is a solo journey," my best friend reminded me. This is true. I suppose this is why I feel so distanced from everyone. Grief puts us in such an empty place in the world. I feel I'm lost in my own thoughts, because we all process things differently. I can't even talk about myself. It feels selfish, and yet, I need to. I need to understand.

I'm a feeler. When I grieve, often it is more for those who are grieving. I always want to know what they're thinking, how their hearts are aching, how they feel about knowing that life will be different from that moment on. Life is profound. We learn through experience, and the impact of loss can alter and shape us forever. I'm no pro at dealing, but I know I've experienced plenty. Grandparents, cousins, friends, coworkers, neighbours, pets. It's a lot to take in, but it has taught me so much. I know that my reaction of acceptance can sometimes be taken as if I don't care, because it is different than what is expected. That's where it hurts the most. Grief comes in all shapes and sizes. With and without tears of sadness.

My first loss was my grandma. She practically raised me, as my second mom, my source of understanding, my example, my cheering team, my supporter. I was 15 when I last saw her, and for years, I felt it was impossible that she was gone forever. It felt like a cruel magic trick, a weird sort of disappearing act. For years, my dreams deceived me into believing she was on vacation and bound to return, or that I'd need some sort of potion to bring her back to life again. I'd call her home phone number, to hear it ring, to wait for that voice to be there and say it was just fine. I deceived myself for years. I didn't know how to let go. I didn't know how to accept it that death is permanent, and life isn't. It shook me hard.

I was angry, I was sad, I was depressed for years. I went through a million emotions, until I finally followed the advice of my mom. She said to shine. She said to celebrate. She said to laugh and remember the good times. From my perspective, at the time when it was fresh, I thought this wishful approach seemed damn selfish... and kind of annoying. I thought, how dare you take away my sadness and tell me I should be smiling? It definitely wasn't for her to say, but I now appreciate the courage it takes to do what she suggested. Shining in the face of loss is a method of survival. It really has helped me through the years of so much at once. Thank you, mom.

I was lucky I didn't see my grandparents age. They were only in their 60s/70s when they passed; so I never saw them whither or experience anything with their health that altered who they were and how I remember them. Their deaths were quite sudden, and so I never had that chance to say goodbye. I've come to accept that I don't like goodbyes. I don't think getting to say it changes anything in regards to closure. I know that for years after their absence, I at least wanted to say thank you. To let them know how much they provided to me while they were here. I can't change that. But I can take what I've learned, and I can treat the ones who are present, with love, honour, respect, and devotion; so that when they go, I can say there are no regrets. It has altered many of my relationships, as I appreciate every single day that we are all given.

I mended a lot of my relationships with my family. We experienced some really horrible things together, and for a while it broke us apart, as we healed at our own pace. I feel that the beauty behind loss and heartache is that it makes you stronger. My mom always focused on this fact, and it helped me embrace the tough times, for what they'd show me later on. I feel I can face a lot of tough things that most people don't know how to process. I feel like this, sadly, keeps me at a distance from those who expect differently. I can't get them to see what I want them to see. It can only be done on their own time. I can only listen, be that shoulder, and offer help when needed, and remind them... I'm there. My heart is heavy with love, and it wants to be shared. Grief is a closed process before it can open up to the world again. I wait.

I'm learning just to keep quiet and be patient. Like my mom, who sat at the foot of my bed, after my grandma died, hoping just for a minute that I'd return; to see me smile, to hear me laugh, to watch the colour come back to my tear stained cheeks, to watch me run outside with my arms open again. It was never easy for her to sit back and wait for it. I get that, but it takes time to rejoice in the face of loss. One of the toughest things about feeling joy again is that there's a sensation of leaving the lost behind. I'm glad that I see joy as part of the process of life and death. I know my grandparents would never want me to spend a lifetime grieving over their passing. I choose to celebrate what I ever had, thanks to them.

My mom taught me such a valuable lesson, I feel that when I am faced with a world where she is no longer there; I'll know how to take her with me. This gift is tremendous. I really feel it is the most valuable lesson that has helped me deal with the realness of life. Meditation also taught me a lot about life and death, as I used to fear death to the point of panic. I didn't like the idea that it is inevitable that I'll one day be gone. People will be left behind. I'll be spoken about, remembered in a way I'll never know. It makes me think about how I live out my days, how I treat the people around me, how I focus my energy. What do I want to leave behind? What would I want to do with my precious time on this earth? I suppose loss has helped me reflect on what I need from myself, while I'm here. I can't control anything but right now... so here I am. I'm okay with knowing one day I'll be gone. Life is beauty. Live it fully with the time you're given. Now is all we have.

In my neighbourhood, there are poppies blooming everywhere. I see them as a massive symbol of remembrance. They remind me to stop, take time, and remember all that has been lost; and all that has been gained in the process of experience. I used to see my grandma in the shape of a tree, because she said it was what she wished to return as. That's lovely, and that image keeps her close to me no matter where I go. To my grandpa, who showed me the night sky; the stars will always remind me of the twinkle in his eye as he shared his glorious knowledge and imagination. So many things in this world keep the losses in a place that can never be taken. I'm grateful for memories, I'm grateful to remember the people who have made up my life. Everyone comes and goes. Love is what never dies.

Tomorrow would be my grandma's birthday.
I will celebrate.


in circles

I'm trying my best to keep my writing simple. The trouble I have is that I get a thought, and then I get excited about a number of things at once; then I write a bunch of stuff I can't keep up with, losing the thought entirely in the end. I don't see any of it as a bad thing, because writing is a certain therapy for me; but I see that my mind gets caught in a loop, and goes for a ride.. sometimes leading to places where I get a little lost. I'm happy to have such an active mind, but I'm also learning to take time for it, to stop, entirely. I catch myself running on empty a little too often not to do something about it.

I like to understand how my mind works, and really listen to what I need in order to feel more positively about the things around me. I'm the happiest I've felt in years, and yet, my anxiety is at such a steady high. I realize that this sort of thing happens when I'm not considering my needs. My mind and body need time to turn off. Sometimes I go to bed and things keep going. It's no wonder I've been so lethargic. I can't afford to fall behind, and funny enough, catching up involves taking it slow.

I put so much of myself in what I do, as a profession, that it's really not a surprise that I can run myself down into a state of depression, and self inflicted (coffee) anxiety. For a very long time, I felt like I was a hamster on a wheel; rushing to make sure my work was done for the next person, and the next, and the next, and the next; I hardly gave myself notice. This went on for a really long time, until I realized that my own happiness really needed to be included in this cycle of giving.

I recently heard someone say that 'we are no longer our 10 year old selves, and yet we are still our 10 year old selves." I loved this quote because it is exactly where I am right now with self acceptance and who I have always been, and what is actually mine. I've come to accept some really big responsibilities, and also embrace some of my greatest strengths. I care hard, I'm sensitive, I can cry at the thought of someone being hurt. I'm built to love. It takes time to learn how to let those vulnerabilities out, and see them as your strengths. My need to cry when I'm upset or hurt by something isn't going to change. When I get mad, I spout and pout, until I work it out. If someone doesn't like it, it's not mine to fix. Trust yourself, and value your worth. When you change how you care for yourself, it alters what care you receive from others. Not even kidding. My life has changed so much because of it.

I realize that my posts might be a bit redundant when it comes to self love, time, and finding happiness. The truth is that I just want to share how it has worked for me, because happiness is a constant effort that you can only get from yourself. I may be the happiest I've been in years, but I'm also in the biggest state of transition. I'm letting go of some really tough shit that I've dealt with through the years, and when I reflect on those things; I see that I spent a really long time not providing myself with much love or respect. Especially in my relationships. Not to get too personal, but a solid example:

I was once in a relationship where I was cheated on multiple times. The evidence was in writing, and sometimes left plainly in front of me to discover; yet I chose not to acknowledge it for what it was. Instead, I put this weird pressure on myself to prove that person wrong, to show them that I was good enough to be loved; because I have always known my true value. For a long time, I took this treatment as my own responsibility. I even felt that maybe I deserved it, because I'd made my own mistakes that I didn't know how to face. Once I took that time and forgave myself, I stopped allowing myself to be treated poorly by anyone. That's why I say that self love acts as a filter for people who don't belong. Self love doesn't allow you for a second to be treated like the bag of shit I once thought I was. It's sad, and yet I laugh out loud, to think I was ever in such a place. You should never ever have to run in circles, to show someone your worth. Offer yourself love, and others will follow. Truly.

I've been giving myself some new challenges, to embrace change, encourage more of the positive, and to remind myself that change takes time, effort, and absolute maintenance. I have a number of projects on the go, including a 100 day challenge, called The Great Discontent, where I decided to call mine The Great Disconnect. This 100 day project (doing something creative for 100 days) goes with my incentive to limit my time with technology, because of how social media actually affects my social habits. It's tough to describe, but as an introvert, I have an absolute limit when it comes to how much social interaction is 'enough' for me in one day. When I noticed myself lose touch with some of my relationships and even my own art/passions; I decided to do something about it. I'm enjoying the freedom of turning things off and being present. 100 days, one photo only, and one thought to go with it. To see what I've been up to, check out @kendylitis on Instagram. I'll be there.

Now that I've come to acknowledge my limits, and my needs, I am only just branching out into a healthier environment of what, to me, is real. I have a lot on my plate when it comes to self discovery, which is why I find personal projects, and daily challenges, to be so helpful. Creative expression is a healer, and I feel that we can get to know ourselves so well when we take that time to let it out in front of us. I've learned so much in just 41 days, and it doesn't stop. And while most of my posts about happiness may seem a little repetitive for how often I express it, I'm just stating the truth. I'm happy because I worked for it. If you want something to change in your life, do something. Simple as that.. yet not simple at all. Be there for yourself, and you'll see. 

You're amazing.  You deserve to be treated that way, by others, and yourself.


from me to me: 35

As part of a tradition, I like to write about what each year of my life looks like; for the sake of projecting and maintaining a focus on the progress within myself. 35 was a hefty year, and I've been struggling for days to put it into words what it taught me, because there's just so much. All I can say is that it was the year that I figured out who I am, who I've always been; and who I will remain... without fear. 

It has been a really interesting time of trusting my own voice, and hearing it out. When you listen to your needs, you find so much more to love in the world around you. They're always there, you just have to look for them, and listen. It took me months to decide to leave a city that I'd labelled as home, for one I didn't know at all. I'd say I didn't realize what was in front of me, until I left it. I feel this is a huge message that comes with life itself. I knew I didn't need to say goodbye, and yet I did. I needed space, time, solitude, perspective. I needed to put myself in the centre of my own universe in order to see what to allow back in. I suppose this is how Space Oddity became the anthem of my 35th year of life. What an adventure!

35 was the year I made some decisions that were incredibly lofty and even a bit irresponsible. I quit my office job, started to work as a professional artist, and learned how to take that title seriously. I still struggle with it, as my confidence is new and still quite reluctant to accept that this is actually my true calling. An office job felt like the smart thing to do, yet a pay check could never define my time and/or my worth; nor did it ever offer me any form of benefit, relief, or room to grow. I had to stand pretty firm on my own dreams and beliefs, to prove to myself that it's okay to try, even if the struggle is real. I need spontaneity and challenges in my life, or else I grow bored and robotic. In an office job, I was miserable, restricted, and repressed from my actual capabilities. Quitting my job is still hands down the best thing I could have done for myself.. next to asking my dog to pick between staying where we were, OR going on an adventure. Perhaps that decision making process was a little careless in some regard; but damn, I'm glad we did it.

I learned that happiness is something you create for yourself, and one of the toughest truths behind it is that not everyone is going to like it... especially if you make it look easy. The more I've shared how happy I choose to be, the more I see myself losing 'friends'. It's a tough truth to accept, but it lightens the load on its own. I remember someone messaging me, while I was in BC, to point out how happy I seemed on my own; like it was a bad thing. Loving life isn't about being selfish, it's about being appreciative of what you have in front of you. I left town with very little in tow, and made the most of it. I feel happy to know that I'm capable of making so much out of so little; as very few of us take the time to realize how lucky we are to even be alive for another day. In the face of a year with so much loss, I was presented with so much gain. It all came from within. Magic.

Not everyone is going to believe or accept that I've changed for the better, and I'm okay with that. I learned from a very soft hearted and selfless woman, who happens to be my mom, that not everyone is going to like you at your best. I realize that I've struggled through the years, in our relationship, because I saw a lot of her strengths as weaknesses; because they are similar to my own. I haven't given myself much cred through the years, for how strong I actually am; because like her, I always want to do more. My mom has been there through thick and thin, and when it comes to loss, I experienced far too much heartache at an early age. We lost our home, our family, our privacy, our stability, our pets, our belongings, our loved ones, and a good portion of our lives that we'll never get back. We grew up quickly, and lost so much at once, that it caused me to rebel for a very long while. My mom is incredibly forgiving, loving, and patient. I appreciate that she stepped back and let me grow, and come back to myself, at my own pace.

It makes sense that I chose to gravitate to people who didn't really deserve the love I had to offer, for so long, because I hadn't realized my own worth. For years, I felt that I was messing everything up as I went; when the truth was that I was giving so much for nothing in return. You give and give, and they only ask for more. I cut off ties with those who only took from me, and their reactions were almost similar to a tantrum. I realize that they expected something of me that was too valuable for them to receive. I gave up trying to argue for what they chose not to see, and I spared my energy for better things. Much like my mom, I forget that I have feelings that are both delicate as they are strong. I forget to offer the same love I give so willingly to others, to myself. Self love is necessary. Anyone who calls it selfish, is just mad you're not providing to their own selfish needs. They can only sort it out for themselves. I've done my time, being ignored for my actual worth. Being loved for your true strengths (and weaknesses) is a very humbling thing.

I realize, in this ever changing world, that I'm lucky to be alive. Lately, I've noticed both of my parents talk about their own mortality, and this makes the process of life seem more real; that it's only here for a limited time. I'm 36, and I see it in my physical body that I'm actually a woman. I'm someone who has lived a decent life, filled with a number of ups and downs, which have shaped me into something unique and even beautiful. I decided to document pieces of my life that I know I'll look back at and be proud of, through a personal project that changed my perspective entirely. It was a project that made me think about why we can't look forward to what we have now, with the same energy we feel about the things we no longer have. Always be proud of yourself. Be proud of the life you have, and the shape you have become through experience. Appreciate that you're given another day to breathe. You are valuable to this world, and you have so much power to make the best of it in your own way. It's pretty incredible, and I am still reluctant to share my -revealing- personal project fully because I literally stripped down to all that I am and expressed what I was feeling. It makes me really nervous to share it, but I also learned that being vulnerable is what makes us stronger.

35 was a lot about discovering what family means to me. I realize that I distanced myself almost literally, for the sake of seeing what I needed in order to understand, trust, and believe in it fully. I've spent years, moving around, pressing restart, letting people in, letting people go, saying goodbye, keeping a safe distance from the unpredictable and familiar sensation of abandonment. I have some scars that are still present, but I learned that I create my own pain for myself to keep safe from the surprise. When I was surrounded by the things that made me feel insignificant, I realized how significant I am to myself. We can get caught up in forgetting that we're not the universe, nor do we own it. We are just a very small part of it, and we can lose it just as quickly as we have already gained. We feel deeply, we protect ourselves, we grieve, we mourn, we cry, we scream, we shout at the top of our lungs. It's easy to feel super alone until you realize who is listening. At 35 I learned that just because I can do it all alone, doesn't mean I have to.

The more I learned to ask for help, the more I learned how to receive it. 35 showed me a tremendous amount of love, from so many angles. From the people I've known all my life, the people I met in the past year, to the ones I'm still getting to know; my life is entirely different based off of who I choose to accept into it. Realizing my worth from within this circle of people is how I found home for the first time in years, in an image that I'll never forget. It was the night I decided -on impulse- to go back where I had come from. I was leaving the island, with certainty of where I needed to be, and right above the highway, as large as I'd ever seen it, was Ursa Major (the big dipper). Ursa has been an incredibly representational symbol for me; of family, of trust, of a bond that doesn't require blood (or relation) to be true. Ursa Major is an asterism, made up of stars that are totally unrelated, creating something that is viewed as a whole from afar. That night, I trusted what made me whole and I followed it. No wonder it was so hard for me to leave in the first place! What a profound moment, to realize the definition of home, and make it real. I'm so happy to be back where I belong.

I suppose you could say that at 35, I broke down and built myself up, simultaneously. I found what love means from both inside and out, and that adoration doesn't waver in the ones who truly believe in your purpose. Love is a pretty incredible thing, and comes in many shapes and sizes. When people see you for who you actually are, and embrace you for what you are capable of giving to this world, and encourage it; those are the ones you should hang on to. I buried a lot of unwanted love, and negative pieces of myself in the woods of BC. It was a cleanse that I absolutely needed in order to push forward, and welcome in new love, with confidence. I've never felt so weightless and free of uncertainty. 35 was a year where I realized that I deserve true and honest love. To the guy who asked me daily, how my day was, and how he could help before he'd wish me goodnight, thank you. You're a big deal in a very big year for me.

At 35, I started to see more of my mom in my appearance, and that's part of what this post is about. When I see features that look more like her face, and expressions that are far too close to home, I smile when I realize I'm becoming my maker. I burst into tears one day, when I realized that they're pieces of her I will always carry, even when she's no longer there. I remember when I was at a park, in Victoria, feeling totally scared and alone in a new and unfamiliar place. Just as I was about to go to my car, to leave, I heard the song "Wonderful World" coming from an orchestra close by. I stopped and listened, and let the tears roll. It reminded me so much of my mom and her valuable lessons to see all that we have in front of us, and smile in the face of fear and sadness. It's the part of her I will always carry, and for that, I will never feel alone. Thanks, mom.

And then there's this guy, who was literally with me every step of the way. To the tiniest friend I have, who impacts my life every single day that we grow together. He has taught me to find the fun in every single day, and I could not have made it through my time alone on that island, if it wasn't for him. He got me out of the house, exploring places I'd only ever dreamed of. If he could understand the words that I say, or could listen for more than a few seconds, I'd thank him profusely for giving me courage I didn't know I had. I'll never forget that loaded car, Tetris'd so tight with our personal belongings, with a little face smiling at me the entire way. He chose this adventure for me, and I couldn't be more grateful. What a chance we took together, and I'm so proud to call you one of my best friends, without fail. Breakfast Jones, you smelly, loveable, and wonderful soul. I'm so glad you're a part of my universe.

What I wish to take with me into my 36th year, is more trust in my power to feel and express. I'm still learning out my voice, and what it sounds like to speak up and be heard. I have a lot to give, and I'm figuring out how to trust and embrace it; and continue to value it as something that fits my own needs. Self love really is such an essential part of life, and it should never be held against you as something negative or wrong. We go through life knowing no one better than our true selves, so why not treasure it by letting it grow and explore? I have so much yet to learn, and yet, I've come out of such an incredible year of experience. I can only take what I learned and make something more of it. 36, I think we're going to have fun. 

Finally, one last memorable moment to share before I end this lengthy post. There was a time, before I left for BC, when I had a very vivid dream about my own going away party. I was approached by my dear friend Spencer, who said to me frankly, "you're going to die when you leave." It totally freaked me out, because I'd been warned about the various dangers and risks involved with driving the unpredictable mountain roads. Once I saw it for myself (and that's the only way you learn is by taking risks) I enjoyed the countdown for Major Tom, and took it as a statement that I wasn't going to return the same person I was when I'd left. It's true. I left on an adventure, without a single thing to lose, and so much to gain. I took the biggest leap into the unknown, and it resulted in a life altering year that has changed me entirely. Despite all that I just wrote, I still feel like I can't put it into words just how good 35 was for me. What an incredible time!

This adventure hasn't ended. It has only just begun.