“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.

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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.

no room for jealousy.

July 27, 2013

He spent the day with her today–going to buy shrimp at the market, making dinner, then going to an outdoor movie together. It sounds like a romantic date–one that we would’ve had, if I was there.

That’s what I was trying to remind myself–that if I was there, it would be me. Anyway, she’s his best friend. I tried not to think too much about it, but it’s hard to avoid the little pinch sometimes when I recognize that she gets what I want, especially as we haven’t been able to spend time together in the last three weeks.

Fortunately, just like he always does, he settles my insecurities before I even process them too deeply, and definitely before I voice them. Without me even expressing any form of uneasiness or discomfort with their date-like day together, he messaged to tell me (during their movie), that he wishes it was me beside him instead, not her.

When I reply with “yeah, I would be happy even if it was me *and* her…”, he quite simply responds: “well I prefer you.”.

Just what I needed to hear. It is amazing how he knew.

And just like that, there became no room for jealousy.

Could it be?

October 7, 2012

I’m sitting on a couch at the Kensington Starbucks, reading my Personality Theories textbook, and it’s exceptionally sunny and warm outside on this October evening. There are so many other students around me, plugged in, reading, and sipping on their coffees. I had a conversation with EB on the telephone just an hour ago, and I told her this: I’m in such a good mood.

I feel light. I feel hopeful. I feel purposeful. I feel capable. I feel beautiful. I feel – happy.

I may have not done as well as I could have on the midterm a couple days ago. And it’s true that my plans for grad school were suddenly altered over night and deadlines pushed forward by a year. The pressure is on. My work is cut out; I have a lot to do by the end of the year. And much of it requires me to take chances, be bold, and really leap out of  my comfort zone–and leap far.  This is it; this is what my academic and professional accomplishments thus far will all come down to–whether or not I get into the Counselling Psych masters program I want.

Of course I’m anxious. But even more so, I am unexpectedly excited. by the challenge. and by the prospect of finally moving forward.

And to my great great surprise, I am actually very grateful that I have no entanglements to distract me right now.  The Universe is conspiring in my favor. It is! Somehow in the nick of time it not only gave me a big romantic rush to fuel me through the quieter study nights, but it took away that unnecessary piece of time consumption immediately afterwards, too. I truly believe RD served his purpose in my life, and right away, was taken away before I became too attached. On the Pont des Arts the morning of August 3 after RD broke up with me, I cried wondering why the Universe was being so cruel…why it would fly me to the City of Love only to slip Love away from underneath my nose. But 2 months later today, I truly believe this was not an act of Cruelty, but a kind, kind blessing. It was not a coincidence; the timing was too particular and spot on. It had to have been a sign from the Universe–that my journey was taking a turn for the better, and I didn’t need RD nor our dead-end relationship any longer.

The heart-wrenching pain I felt on that 9 hour flight back to Vancouver has been replaced with a sense of peace, awe, and gratitude. Everything has turned out for the better.

I know this now: I am going to be amazing these next few years!  No Man nor Relationship necessary.

I have a lot of support from my close friends and a lot of confidence and respect from my colleagues and bosses. I am surrounded by love, after all.

Who needs the world.

November 11, 2011

I stare at your face, into your eyes
Outside, there’s so much passing us by
All of the sounds, all of the sights
Over the earth, and under the sky
Too much cold, and too much rain
Too much heartache to explain

I walk on the street, talk in the dark
I see people, strangers, falling apart
I open my arms, try to be true
Seems like my only truth is you
Am I wrong or am I right?
All I want is you tonight

I don’t know how far this can go. I don’t know where ‘we’ will be down the road.  There are no promises. But these last two nights after a week apart, he slept with his arms tightly wrapped around me and kissed me good morning. It’s hard not to worry about heartache to come, but I have to remind myself: tonight, I am happy. And he’s been great. And sometimes there’s nothing else to do but trust and hope for the best.

Flames to dust.

November 3, 2011

When M and I almost went on a ‘break’ two weeks ago, he told me that his favorite part about our bittersweet ‘goodbye’ was that I had spontaneously offered to be his friend if in the end we didn’t work out. He said it meant a lot to him to know that even if we couldn’t be romantically involved, I still liked him as a person enough to stay in touch. He said it would seem wasteful to throw similar interests, good conversation, and shared memories away. I couldn’t agree more.

It’s funny, because I remember that the ex-bf always had an issue with my insisting that we stay friends if we ever broke up. It was so important to me, and such a point of contention for him. I guess we’ve always been quite different types of people at our core. That’s probably an understatement. I wouldn’t have ever even contemplated shutting him out completely, even if life had gone on for the both of us. As much as I can try to understand it now that it’s happened, I don’t think it will ever cease to surprise me that he did it.

I guess I believed in our friendship the way he believed in our love. I guess we were both wrong, least that’s fair.

I know it’s been months since it’s happened. I know it’s been even longer than that since it started to happen–the drifting away. But so often is the case that I can’t help but think about it. It’s still kinda sad.

I am lucky that M understands. And that we can talk about it. I like that we can talk about each of our exes–the lessons, the disappointments, the issues, the breakdown, and even some of the positive moments– as often, as openly, and as freely as we do. Many would probably tell us it’s unhealthy, but I think it’s a bonding experience for us. And I think we both value it.  Despite all the complicated details between us, this is one of the things I appreciate.

Oh how time flies.

August 20, 2011

One year ago tonight I met the man I keep referring to as my Angel on this blog, while in Vegas with four of my best girl friends–a night that will probably go down as one of the best and most memorable nights of my life. Late night Video chats, romantic vacations in each other’s hometown, and many long-distance text messages later, today I messaged him for dating advice about another Boy. I never would have thought after the flirting, bantering, dancing, and then hurting, that he would be around today, that we would be… friends.  “I’m glad I met you”, he said, in reference to having known me a year now. Oh how time flies. How things change. How I grow.

“Imagine a future moment in your life where all your dreams come true. You know it’s the greatest moment of your life and you get to experience it with one person. Who’s standing next to you?”  – One Tree Hill

This week has been amazing in so many ways. And the timing of it all….something about it makes this feel as if it was all planned, or meant to be somehow; it just happened so perfectly that one night I wrapped up a huge chapter of my life with a sense of peace and contentment in my heart and immediately the day after, it felt as if a new and beautiful story was right in the works.

And I am so happy and excited to see where this goes. I wish I could share this with him. I don’t know about the “greatest moment of [my] life”, but I do know that when really good things happen to me, I want to tell him about them. Not because I need his support or approval or because I want to brag, but because he knew my struggles and I don’t think anyone has cared about me more; I think now he would be happy for me, more than anyone. Who knows, maybe it’s all in my head. And maybe I give him too much credit.

As for the new beginning, aside from the last post, I think this is a story I won’t divulge despite my best efforts to track my dating life on this blog. It’s been intense, unpredictable, and scary. But at the same time, it’s been so easy. So, with luck, you won’t be hearing from me for awhile.

Jump!

He thinks I’m pretty without any makeup on. He thinks I’m funny when I tell the punch line wrong.

He’s been, in many instances, an angel. I don’t say that about people. I never have. But in his own effortless ways he has helped me through so many of my issues without even knowing it. Somehow, he enters my life now and then, always serving as a reminder that I deserve more than what I settle for and meanwhile assuring me that all the things I want are within my reach; I just need to be patient.

It never ceases to surprise me how coincidentally he came into my life and how unknowingly our relationship came to be. I followed instincts, I took risks, I neglected stereotypes, and I replaced fear with faith. Now when I think back, every memory I have with him feels like an absolute miracle. Or is it magic? I just cant believe any of it. I cant believe I experienced it. I can’t believe I’m experiencing it still.

This picture does not do the actual sight justice, but I felt a complete sense of wonder, perfection, and yes, magic, come over me when we drove across this bridge together. This may be the closest thing I can use to depict the feelings our moments together inspire.

Count my blessings.

April 17, 2011

We’re all afraid of getting hurt. I know that. But somewhere deep down and when I am feeling positive, I also know that I can be brave and ask for things I want, know that I deserve them, and put my heart on the line for them. Because at the end of the day, if things go astray, I know that I have friends and family whose bed I can cry in at 4 in the morning, who will silently hold my hand for as long as I want, who will analyze the situation through and through with me until even I am tired of talking about it, who will respond to my emails/text-cries for comfort almost immediately, who will bring me chocolate to mope with me, and even come to my door to give me a hug. So I tell myself to make bold courageous decisions because if by chance things fall apart, there are people who will help me pick up the pieces.