writing

What 2016 Taught Me

Travelling alone is essential. 

Get to know who you are when surrounded by strangers. What do you like to eat, do, see when you are alone? A new place is experienced in such a raw way when you are alone. Each street name, the state of the weather, all there is to see is deeper somehow when there isn’t someone else you know to act as a buffer. Out of necessity, you become more open to holding eye contact with perfect strangers, smiling at them when they almost miss their subway stop. Your experience of a place is so pure when you are alone.

Do what you would do if you weren’t afraid.

This is so much more than a cliche. The older I get the more I realize that I have subconsciously labelled some things as out of reach for myself. It takes a certain amount of silence and introspection to access these things. If there was no fear, nothing holding you back, who would you want to be? What steps can you take today to work toward becoming that person. Just because for the last 20 years you haven’t taken action on it doesn’t mean you can’t today. Learn the keyboard, learn to DJ, intern, write, snowboard, learn a language, whatever it is. We get so used to nipping those dreams in the bud. Dwell in the possibility that anything is possible.

Give back whenever you have the chance.

This holiday season I had the privilege of helping serve the holiday meal for underserved and low income women at Sistering Toronto. That day I felt more a part of something than I had all year. I felt truly useful, I felt that I was contributing something to people who really appreciated it. On Christmas day, commuting long distances to be with family to open gifts and exchange money, I had this nagging feeling. I felt that next year, I might like to spread my visits out over the holidays and spend Christmas day serving those who could truly use it. There are people out there that need you, in ways big and small you make all the difference.

You are allowed to change.

I changed a lot this year, as I’m sure most of us did. I changed in ways that felt very necessary to me. I did a lot of looking back. What I saw was myself over the years, in stages, learning, growing, failing. What I realized is that we are meant to change drastically over the course of our lives. These changes will effect changes all around us. Who we choose to spend our time with, how we choose to spend it, where. These decisions make up a life and as you evolve, they will too. This can feel scary, but like all transitions, it is necessary to get to where you’re going.

Family is everything.

I really didn’t believe this growing up. I thought it so cliche and outdated. I guess it’s growing up that’s made me recognize what my family has overcome and worked hard to achieve. Each new stage of my life gives me more compassion for their experiences and a deeper love for who they are. Family isn’t perfect, but it’s so important, so vital.

What other people think of you is none of your business.

Another one of those lines I had heard but didn’t comprehend. It’s part of growing up to turn down the opinions of those around you. The fact is, feedback is crucial. It shows you things from a new perspective, can awaken you to things about yourself. Every move you make, everything you say will come with opinions from other people. At the end of the day though, you are not here to please other people. If you live your life in a way that is well with you and do your best to be kind you should rest easy. In order to avoid criticism, as Aristotle said, “say nothing, do nothing and be nothing.” Often people's negative opinions are projections of their own mental state, take what you need and leave the rest.

A hot bath, that leaves your face flushed can solve many ills.

I’m convinced there’s something about submerging yourself in hot water that resets your health and wellbeing. With a cool drink beside you, a candle flickering. You don’t get out the same person you got in.

A good meal and an album from front to back is a form of therapy.

It’s a way of getting lost. To listen to an artist’s body of work from beginning to end, the way they intended. It’s like reading a book from cover to cover, getting a glimpse into that period of their progression. 

Writing keeps me sane.

Often it’s not until I put pen to paper that my thoughts and experiences make sense. I love being able to look back at my writing over the years. To remember the things that brought me joy and pain. It keeps me close to myself and reminds me how far I’ve come.

Seek out the knowledge of those who have come before you.

Once you start you’ll realize it’s all there for you. Books, podcasts, interviews on youtube. Soak it up.

It's okay to learn the hard way.

So many times I come to the culmination of an experience to conclude that all of the well meaning advice given to me was indeed correct. The fact remains that for whatever reason, I needed to personally make the mistake, to see for myself. I realize that’s okay. Sometimes the mistakes are so necessary. 

Space is good and so is letting go.

How else will you make room for all that’s waiting for you?

I hope 2017 is filled with peace, beauty and freedom for you and yours!