Here’s To Words.

November 4, 2017

It has been awhile since I have felt so inspired.  Few days ago when I heard this poem on a friend’s sister’s blog, I was reminded of how much I have always enjoyed Shane Koyczan’s work–since way back in 2010 when I first heard his performance of “Apology”.

I wish I could use words as meaningfully.

Almost too coincidently, upon discovering his new piece (“How To Be A Person”) I also found out Shane was performing at our local theatre last night.  Of course, having no plans and no company, I went.

As I sat in the audience, I could not help but notice the age range of his fans.  There were kids, teenagers in their early 20s, seniors in their 70s, and every age group in between. Eyes were lit up, tears were held back, and laughter soared every few beats.

He talked with a knowing sensitivity, a light wit, and a dark humour as he introduced each piece of his writing.  His works journeyed back to his many years of being bullied as a child, took us through highs and lows of living with his grandpa, to his current difficulties supporting his grandmother’s declining abilities as he lives with her in Penticton, B.C.  Poems about young love, political chaos, and his random frustrations like how the U2 album appeared “for free” on all of our iPhones 5-6 years ago.

Joy.

I felt so much joy listening to him speak.  My spirit felt ignited and, at times, my eyes felt wet.  He spoke with such depth of emotion regardless of the weight of the topic (even the light ones about toilet paper!).   I am so grateful to have witnessed it.  Here’s to words.  Here’s to the magic of words–their ability to pierce through walls to the hardened heart and transform a tired soul.  And here’s to a man, Shane Koyczan, who never fails to remind me of both life’s challenges and life’s beauties—and precisely, the importance of taking the former, crafting it into the latter.

 

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I used to write so much.

Why did I stop?  And why, despite intentions I list every year in my NY resolutions, have I been reluctant to begin again?

I guess I have made some attempts – scribbled in various new notebooks hoping the smell of the clean crisp pages and the idea of a fresh start would inspire me.  It has not.

I write, and stop.  I try, and fail.

There is so much clutter and confusion in my head. There are thoughts I don’t want to confront and feelings I deny.  There is a scream I silence.  But sometimes it gets so loud and I hear it so clearly, and I’m so afraid that soon others will, too.

I am not living my preferred life.  It is not a story I feel proud to write, much less center, in.  It is not a story that I think reflects my heart or my values.

But I have spent little time reflecting on my heart and my values.  Come to think of it now, I am not so sure what I mean except that I think both have been neglected for too long.

I value independence and autonomy, team work and partnership.

I value friendship.

I value love. compassion. and honesty.  I value purity.

My heart was once full of care, hopes, and dreams.

But I feel so hushed.  I feel so small. I feel like a child whose wonder and innocence was stripped away.  What is left?  Feelings of incompetence, powerlessness, helplessness, and loneliness.

Will I ever shine again?

It’s the first weekend of the year and although I am feeling sluggish, pessimistic, and anxious today, I can’t say the year has not started off well.

Yesterday I managed to fly into Vancouver for dinner with my closest friends and luckily enough also spent quality time with V in the morning  and at night before bedtime.  It was the best of both of my worlds.

During my 5 hours in Vancouver, E and I stole a few minutes of alone time here and there.  Our conversations, however brief, always underscore for me the very powerful connection we share–even if we sometimes go many days or weeks without checking in and long months without face to face time.  Even when we don’t agree, I leave conversations with her feeling emotionally validated, understood, and incredibly cared for.  Yesterday, above all, I was reminded of how fulfilling our friendship can be when I am fully present and open to our experience together.  So often, with many people including E, I find myself entering interactions with my guard up and both mentally and emotionally distracted.  Yesterday was different and I am so grateful.  I hope to strengthen these connections with my loved ones and intentionally have more of these meaningful experiences with them in the upcoming year.

I also want to remind myself of the beauty of having started and ended the day with V …my husband…not just yesterday but many days.  I am not sure I’ve ever referred to him as my husband on this blog, now that I think about it.  Even though I have been relishing my alone time this year since getting married, I know very well that our time together is so precious and can be taken away at any moment.  Some of life’s most precious moments are when I get to crawl into bed into his embrace, or when I get to wrap my legs around him as he continues to snooze into the later morning.   I love our hugs and kisses, mostly early in the morning and just before I sleep.  And I so appreciate the rituals we’ve developed–exchanging gratitude lists every night, him tucking me in nice and tight, and things like grocery shopping trips together on the weekends.  As much as I accustom to feeling lonely so much so that it feels comfortable many days, the mundane feels less dreary with him by my side.  I know it is easy to lose sight of the love between us when we’re caught in routines and schedules and trying to keep life together each day; I hope I can remember every day this year that there is no relationship more important in my life than this one and continue to learn how to treat it as such.

I suppose I could comment on my goals for my career development and other aspects of my socioemotional and personal growth this new year.  But it may need to wait for another time.  I have a list of 25+ new years resolutions around all of this, but in truth, the most important ones do concern my attention and appreciation for my friends and my family, both of which I have spoken to in some way tonight.  I will expand another night.

“Stronger Everyday”

September 29, 2016

One of the blogs I read before taking off on the West Coast Trail warned hikers about the sheer grit and mental stamina required to successfully complete the trail.  This was perhaps the best piece of preparatory advice I could have read–more useful and helpful during my experience than the blogs I read detailing how to pack the lightest backpack, what food and clothes to bring, how to hang food away from bears, what best gear to buy, and how to train for the trek.

In my experience, regardless of how well prepared I was in some aspects and how terribly ill prepared I was in other aspects, completing the trail came down to merely grit and stamina–the will to persevere physically and mentally in the face of unpredictable challenges of varying degrees (whether that was impassable headlands, hazardous river crossings, knee-deep mud, or one of many many sets of slippery as fuck 30 feet ladders); one foot in front of the other, or in some cases one foot above the other, on and on and on.

In trying to access whatever grit and stamina I had in me while I was hiking, I found myself rehearsing in my head what Robin often repeats during class: “stronger everyday”.  I had to convince myself that, contrary to feeling increasingly exhausted and weak, I was actually getting stronger  with every step and every day; I told myself I was stronger than I was yesterday, stronger than I was in the first 10 kilometers, stronger than I was when I climbed the first ladder….the second ladder…and so on.

Step by step, I witnessed the true power of “mind over matter”.   We can do more than we physically feel we can if only we believe in our minds that we can.

Secondly, I also learned during this hike–in addition to the above–that having a hand to hold along the way helps to reduce the size of a scary situation.  I keep thinking of the moment M offered me his hand to help me cross the 6 feet gap between two cliffs about 20 feet above water.  I remember thinking I would fall, that there was no way I could balance myself and my 40 pound pack well enough to walk across this 6 inch wide wooden plank to get to the other side.  I froze.  I just stood there.  If M hadn’t offered me his hand to hold as I walked across, I am quite convinced I would still be there or back at the start line.  Thank the Universe for Friends.  Thank the Universe that I have such True Friends.  I have friends who will hold my hiking poles as I clumsily climb up ladders, descend ladders, and cross various suspended bridges and boardwalks; friends who will offer me a kleenex when my nose is runny and my eyes are teary without judgement; friends who will help me boil water from the stream as I sit and watch; friends who will not only offer to share their tent with me, but whom I can count on to set up and take down said tent when I was clueless how to do either.  I have friends who even packed me a Lindt Lava Cake chocolate bar to celebrate my birthday because hey, there are no dehydrated hike-appropriate cakes and after all, Lindt is my favourite chocolate brand.  So while maybe these friends did not wait for me every step of the way, and while maybe they got my sleeping pad wet and sandy some nights, and while maybe they would ask for me to help with random tasks when my hands were full–at the very end of the day, I knew I was safe with them, I knew I could depend on them, and I knew they were lifetime friends.

I am a lucky lady to find lifetime friends.  I realized through the challenges of the West Coast Trail that as much as I like being alone and take pride in being able to do things on my own, “two is better than one”, if only for company and support.

We finished our half of the trail in almost exactly 3 days.  We could’ve likely completed 33km in less time than that.  My friends certainly could have, I know that for sure.  But one final key learning for me is that slow and steady is a-okay.  The hike, much like life with its uncertainties, challenges, and rewards, is not a race.  Each of our experiences along the same walk will differ; our strengths will differ along with our weaknesses.  I personally would rather enjoy the trek as much as possible, attend to my steps and the sights along the way, and limit my bumps and bruises.

Hiking the West Coast Trail was the worst of times and the best of times.  Only when I could fully accept the worst–the unyielding mud at every turn, the slippery riverbeds, the plethora of wet and slimy ladders (I keep talking about ladders….), and all the broken boardwalks, for example–could I then embrace the best: the friends who talked me through my fears, the magical view of the milky way, and all the unique sights we traversed through, across, and atop.

Inspire me.

December 18, 2015

I’ve been looking for inspiration lately.  It’s not on Pinterest.  It’s missing something on Instagram.  And I know Facebook is empty.

I googled the Union Gospel Mission this morning.
And Covenant House.
And the Salvation Army.

But I was afraid, a bit nervous maybe, to dig deep into their websites.

I’ve been hesitant to dig deep into anything, for that matter.

I want to do.  I want to give.  I want to learn.  But I am held back.

Am I running on the spot?

Wisdom

September 5, 2015

You have seen your own strength.

You have seen your own beauty.

You have seen your golden wings.

Why do you worry?

– Rumi

This crazy thing.

June 24, 2014

I came across two James Baldwin quotes yesterday.  They led me to wonder if this was why I’ve been feeling so uncomfortable and uneasy in love, especially as of late.  I suppose, if Baldwin is correct, both growing up and uncovering what’s behind the mask are never easy.  I guess that’s the challenge.

Still I have to say, some days the idea sounds to me like complete and utter insanity.  And my awareness that I must not be the only one in the history of this world to feel this way only adds to my curiosity: how have so many people traversed pass their own rationality and every defense mechanism to partake in this?

“…Love is growing up”

Love-2

“Love takes off masks…”

 

It’s a crazy, crazy thing.  That’s all I know.

I return to you.

June 13, 2014

Pont des Arts, Paris, France

Pont des Arts, Paris, France

When I get anxious as I often do.  When I feel afraid of what’s to come.  When the world outside feels dark and cold and I am alone. When every cell in my body wants to retreat and hide–flee for safety.

In my heart, I return to you – beautiful, unforgettable, wondrous Paris.

You fill me with peace and joy, and renew my faith in the Universe.  You remind me of limitless opportunities and a world of possibilities.  Like an unrequited love in my childhood years, you inspire me. I think of you and I know, I can do anything.  I will be okay.

I don’t remember the last time I have felt so deeply in love and so overcome with so much sadness all at once.  These feelings have been reminding me of this video I watched back in Nov 2013, which captures the idea of both ecstasy and tragedy coexisting as they have appeared to be these last couple days.

(beautiful beautiful video, I love his passionate and animated style of speech)

“Perhaps that’s why when we’re in love we’re also kind of sad. There’s a sadness to the ecstasy. Beautiful things can sometimes make us a little sad, because what they hint at is the exception–a vision of something more, a vision of a hidden door, a rabbit hole to fall through, but a temporary one. I think ultimately that is kind of the tragedy; that is why love simultaneously fills us with melancholy. That’s why sometimes I feel nostalgic over something I haven’t lost yet because I see its transience. And so how does one respond to this? Do we love harder? Do we squeeze tighter? Or do we embrace the Buddhist creed of no attachment? Do we pretend not to care, that everything and everyone is going to be taken away from us? I don’t know if I can accept that. I think I more side with the Dylan Thomas quote that says ‘I will not go quietly into that good night but instead rage against the dying of the light’. I think that we defy entropy and impermanence with our films and our poems. I think we hold onto each other a little harder and say I will not let go. I do not accept the ephemeral nature of this moment. I’m going to extend it forever. Or at least I am going to try. “

So much internal chaos and conflicting feelings have occurred for me since he got accepted.  Almost immediately when he told me, I became so highly aware that everything we’ve built could all be rapidly fleeting, that these could possibly be some of our last days together.  In fact, the first night I found out, almost instantaneously my less-than conscious mind began to mourn the relationship, as if it was over the moment the email was received and I could do nothing about it.  But over time through conversations with people around me, both close at heart and those hardly close at all, my defense mechanisms are calming and my nervous system is slowly easing out of ‘high alert’ to, fortunately, give way to some hope and faith again.

Of course, this hope and faith still fights with my fears and anxieties. But when the former trump the latter, there are moments I feel strong and steady enough to see this through and, at  my very best, even a little excited.  I am excited when I recognize that this may be the kind of love that actually withstands the storms and comes out shining–that, possibly, this could be the kind of love that gives and believes and continues to trust.  That, through it all, this love could be extraordinary. After all, isn’t that what I’ve always wanted? A love powerful enough to change the world? It must sound naive and foolish, but beneath my defenses, I do believe it exists and maybe this is the opportunity to embrace that.

Coat by Vicki Feaver

May 31, 2014

Coat

Sometimes I have wanted
to throw you off
like a heavy coat.

Sometimes I have said
you would not let me
breathe or move.

But now that I am free
to choose light clothes
or none at all

I feel the cold
and all the time I think
how warm it used to be.

I still love this poem. I must have first read it over three years ago but every line still holds so much weight in my heart. Sometimes my hands and my toes are so cold, even under my covers with an oversized sweater on. Sometimes I reach for a heavy coat only to realize that I don’t own one. I feel the cold. And I was never so grateful for the warmth. Suffocate me, will you?