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.

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Daniel Baptista Quality Management Consulting said...
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