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Just Breathe

When life gives you Monday…

Today did NOT go like this. There was no sparkling to be had, no glitter left lying around.

Anxiety comes and goes in waves. Sometimes they’re just creeping up on the sand enough to touch your feet, making sure you know the ocean of fear is still right there. Other times it’s a bigger wave that catches you at the knee and pushes you over. And sometime it’s a massive wave, one that pulls you under tumbling around, unsure which way is up.

Today is a massive wave.

Even when I’m feeling so anxious that I can’t talk on the phone, I still resist taking calming medication, and I resist changing anything for or because of the anxiety. This isn’t always healthy though, and today I had to push my competitive instincts and pride aside to not only take that extra help from medication but also to call in sick to work.

I had a really great day on Saturday with some people I am so thankful to call best friends, and some others that I’m really excited and happy to call new friends. If anyone had met me for the first time on Saturday, they would have no idea anything else is going on inside that brain of mine, aside from a normal, fun, 26 year old’s thoughts.

But then Sunday rolled around and I was hungover in the morning. Whenever I’m sick, hungover, injured – anything that makes my body vulnerable – anxiety creeps in. As if vulnerability is a crack in the ceiling, allowing water to seep in, allowing waves to form and knock me over.

On Sunday I couldn’t talk to anyone. My own mother called me and I rejected the call, texting her instead to say “I’m ok but I’m super anxious, I’ll probably call you back tomorrow.” – luckily I have an amazing mother who completely understands. Or at least really tries to.

One of the hardest things is that “completely understanding” would mean having the same diagnosis with similar triggers and reacting in the same ways. Unfortunately to find someone like this is near impossible. I understand it’s a foreign world to many, but I’m always so appreciative when people try. Ask me questions, try to understand my thought process, lack thereof, or intense fear and worry.

Today though. Today is Monday. When I went to bed anxious last night I decided that tomorrow would be a new day and I would be productive at work. Well, I ended up going to babysit before work, forced some cereal down my throat and realized that I am 100% not okay. When my favourite little kid can’t make me laugh, I know I’m not okay. I dropped him off for a day of fun with friends and he gave me such a long, warm, loving hug which made me truly smile for the first time all morning.

Anyone who knows me well knows that one of my favourite things on this planet is hugs. You can say so much in a hug. Language doesn’t matter. You just close your eyes and connect with another person in an intimate, vulnerable way. You can tell a lot about a person from their hug, and you can create a lot of smiles giving them. My little friend who still counts his age in single digits knows this without me telling him anything, and boy oh boy his hugs are the best!

I decided I wasn’t in a state of mind where I could accomplish anything at work today, never mind answering a phone, or even driving there, so I emailed my bosses and told them I wasn’t going to make it in. But what do you say? I’m not physically sick, I don’t have anything that I can get a doctor’s note for – in fact going to a doctor may trigger everything further. It’s my first time ever staying home from work solely due to anxiety but I’ve certainly left work because of it, countless times. I’m starting to get better at knowing when to push my pride aside and giving in to not being mentally okay every single day.

It’s hard not to hate Generalized Anxiety Disorder with every part of my being, and in other posts I’ve mentioned some great positives that I’m fortunate enough to have received, learned, or realized due to my diagnosis and struggles. However today I write honestly in my present (frustrated) feelings.

It’s exhausting being anxious all the time – physically exhausting because your emotions and sometimes your physical body have gone into overdrive. I imagine most people with anxiety are the same in the sense that even though I might go to bed smiling tonight, it doesn’t mean I’ll wake up smiling tomorrow. I will likely be anxious again tomorrow but the waves will be smaller than today. Each day this will progress until they’re just touching my toes. And that’s where it will stay until the next wave breaks.

Today a wave knocked me down and pulled me under. I couldn’t just get up, and swim away – I was caught underneath, spinning around, helpless. I needed helping hands, understanding hands, loving hands, to help pull me out of the water. And for all those hands, I am absolutely grateful.

Let me tell you a story

I usually live an extremely busy life. I love it and I know it will never change. It’s part of my personality; who I am. I get restless quickly and keeping busy is fun to me. However, it’s only natural that every once in a while I need to take some time for myself and just be. I don’t usually realize how busy I am until someone points it out to me. I also don’t do it on purpose – I just love using all of my non-working time to do things that I love. This to me is living life to the fullest. But it’s not always so easy.

When I take time for myself it gives a chance for some weird emotions to surface. It’s also when I’m even more hard on myself than normal. I’m sitting here writing this in what feels like a super weird emotional state – almost ready to cry, a little inspired, angry at myself, laughing at myself, but also relaxed and a little anxious.
When I have “lazy” days, evenings, afternoons, or mornings, I get really anxious even if there are no apparent triggers. Aside from being a very energetic person, this is a huge reason why I stay busy – as much as I want to, I won’t pretend it isn’t. But it also makes sense, think about it: when you go through something traumatic like a break up, or death, advice that’s almost always given is to stay busy and it will help you get through. This is true. It works. But only temporarily. It only works until you need that few hours of chilling on the couch – and then your brain has the opportunity to go nuts!
I’m sure we all know by now that anxiety is a daily struggle for me. It’s part of who I am, and I accepted that a long, long time ago. But this doesn’t make it any easier to deal with or handle. Much of what makes me anxious is a mystery, but a major trigger for me is relationships. Because boys are dumb.

Ha! I wish that was why. The real reason is that I’m terrified. I’m terrified all the time about a lot of things. Like relationships – mainly with potential boyfriends, but also with friends and family members.

Let me tell you a story. About three years ago, I was talking with this guy online (from one of those many apps we all know of). We talked for a while and I avoided meeting up with him twice. My anxiety was so bad that when I even thought about meeting him I couldn’t eat, and I felt like I was going to throw up. I gave in on the third ask to go out, and my thoughts going into it were this: “This guy seems like someone I would like. He’s athletic, smart, seems potentially funny, and he’s cute too! I’m going to make myself go on this date with him so I can prove my anxiety wrong, and win.” I’m not sure trying to beat my anxiety like it was a game was such a great approach, but to this day I’m proud of myself for following through.

On the day of, we were to meet at a restaurant at 2pm and I was great with this time knowing full well that I wouldn’t be able to eat, so I could say I already had lunch and wasn’t hungry. Already planning and worrying ahead. I stayed in bed all morning because my anxiety levels had shot through the roof. The date was fine, nothing amazing and nothing awful – and it turns out I wasn’t really attracted to him after all. However, mid-date he asked if I wanted to walk around… I said “Sure” – no emotion because moving sounded like an awful idea to me since I had JUST shaken my nausea. Not for long though! We proceeded onto the escalator and along came a huge wave of nausea. As if it were in slow motion I had this full vision in my head of me throwing up right on him, in front of tons of other people and being completely mortified. I stepped into the escalator, stepped off, and when he asked if I was ok, I stepped back on and said “yeah!”. We both (I’m sure) knew I wasn’t exactly ok. I immediately asked where the washroom was and beelined to it as soon as I stepped off the escalator.

Well, it was a good thing I didn’t have an appetite earlier because I threw up the contents of my stomach and then some, and came out pretending to be freshly powdered, if that’s a thing. To this day I have no idea if he thinks I was running away from him, if he knows I threw up, or if he thinks I took a poop.

I couldn’t handle any more of this and after another 10 minutes I (more bluntly than it sounded in my head) asked where he parked. And thus ended the first date I ever puked on.

Maybe you relate. Maybe you’ve been through this exact thing. Maybe you think this is hilarious.

I’ve told this story plenty of times before and every time without fail it comes out like I’m a comedian standing on stage telling a funny story to the crowd. That’s how I want it to sound. Might as well make it funny, right? I truly do believe that laughter is the best medicine, but this digs a little deeper than that. So this version is more matter-of-fact than funny.

I joke all the time that I’ll just be a crazy dog lady and travel the world whenever I can, and eventually build a life with adopted kids. In all truthfulness, this is the worst case scenario of my future that runs through my head to make myself feel better when I’m feeling down or off or out of sorts. It rolls off my tongue like a well-oiled joke when I say it out loud, but in reality I’ve thought this through and come up with the idea that this wouldn’t be such an awful life so I need to chill out and stop worrying that I’ll puke on every potential suitor. Easier said than done.

I share this because I was just sitting here thinking pretty negatively about myself and then the angel on my other shoulder chimed in and said “Hey! There’s NO WAY you’re the only one who is a) going through what you’re going through, and b) struggling in the same areas of life.” And I think the angel has a point here. So rather than sitting here dwelling on things that I wish I could be courageous enough to do, I choose to share my thoughts, feelings, and struggles with the hope that someone reading this will relate. And whether you relate with a grin and a nod as you exit this webpage, or whether you relate with a message to me, it is a relation nonetheless – and that is two thirds of ‘relationships’.

At the least, enjoy the things you may find easy or stress free. These are the things we take for granted and it may not be so easy for others.

But The Sun Will Dance

The sun dances around the Earth

Brightening the world,

Giving life with a silent smile.

 

Over and over again

The sun will dance around the Earth.

 

I’m strong and I’m weak,

And I’m driven and I work hard,

And I appreciate and I love,

And I listen. I always listen.

 

Over and over again

I find myself listening.

 

And the words are always just as loving,

Just as positive, just as hopeful as the last time.

 

And then again; it always happens again.

 

Over and over again.

Nothing.

 

Disappointment.

 

A beautiful turquoise ocean,

Filled with salt water tears.

 

Flowers count on the sun

As people count on each other

To stand tall and grow, unwilted.

 

I am strong but I am weak.

I care but I care too much.

I feel but I feel too much.

It must be a hard time.

It must be me.

It must be.

But it isn’t me. It’s never me.

It’s always just another promise.

 

There must be a world

Where broken promises go to rest.

Every wilted flower, every lie.

And to think, these promises could be mended,

If the clouds would only clear,

If the flowers could feel warmth once again.

 

But that is just a dream.

 

 

There will always be broken promises,

Just like there will always be wilted flowers.

 

As oceans fill with salt water tears,

As flowers wilt under clouds,

As disappointment flows through my veins,

I can always count on the sun to dance.

 

 

What the actual fuck

What the actual fuck is going on in this world. I’m just over here in Canada sitting on my couch with my favourite blanket missing my cat – and the world of social media is exploding.

Of all the beautiful and awful articles I’ve read about the election, the thing that has been repeated many times and has stuck in my mind is “hate won”. Hate can only win if you let it win. Sure, things went awry, not the way a lot of people wanted it to. It’s truly sad, and emotions and feelings are more than allowed. But hate will not win unless hate is given the chance to prosper.

Between the U.S. election, the first 80 pages of Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, this cold I can’t shake, missing my little fluffy companion of 17 years, and other pieces of life’s haunting bullshit, I sit here and think “What the actual fuck”. No period, no exclamation point, no semi colon to finish the thought.

I don’t know. I just don’t know.

That is probably the universe’s biggest fear of all – the unknown. You can only say that knowing is worse than not knowing if you know. But if you don’t know, the unknown is worse. There are no facts, no one to blame, no one to champion, nothing. Everything is in question. There are only possibilities, ideas, thoughts. Nothing is set in stone.

I sat here on this same couch a few nights ago with mint tea in hand and thought about my life and my future. It’s not an easy thing to think about – I think a lot of us (myself included) are guilty of keeping ourselves busy to avoid these ‘big questions’. Because after about 3 minutes of contemplating my choices, thoughts, state of mind, finances, job, friends, family – I thought “What the actual fuck”.

Then today happened. Which actually started yesterday because yesterday I woke up with a cold. It progressed throughout the day to the point that I taught an evening yoga class through a haze of Tylenol cold and too much tea, and hit the couch as soon as I got home. Today I stayed home from work because I felt awful and needed the day to mend. I forced myself to rest, forced myself to stop thinking about work, forced myself to consume all of the vitamin c, ginger, juice, tea, water, and soup.

Earlier today, I was laying on this same couch about to take a much needed nap when my phone dingled with a new text. This is what it said: “Hey babe, just wanted to tell you that I miss your face. It’s been a horrible two weeks here for me. Out of all the people I know you would understand most. Been having daily panic attacks, feeling so beaten down. I just wanted to let you know that thinking of you and your strength with your own anxiety is literally what has gotten me out of bed every morning.”

This text that dingled my attention away from napping, really got to me. Again, I found myself thinking “What the actual fuck”. How could someone so amazing, someone who everyone loves and wants be around, someone who is so strong and happy all the time be a) so down on herself and going through such a rough time, b) inspired by MY strength, and c) so oblivious to her absolute beauty through and through! I was so shocked. I mean, DUH we’re all humans and we’re all way harder on ourselves than we should be. But seeing someone who is basically family to you go through a rough time is just as hard if not harder than going through a rough time yourself.

There were many loving things shared, as this is one of my dearest best friends, but this last bit that I said to her is what I need to share with all of you:

“You’re the definition of a beautiful human, an amazing friend, selfless, hilarious, sensitive. Never doubt your own amazingness – it may seem (to you) to falter at times but it’s still there. It’s just hiding behind the fear, anxiety, uncontrollable awful that some of us, like you and I, have to deal with on the regular. As long as you believe your strength can pull your amazing self back through that veil, you can and you will. Every single time. Don’t forget that.”

Don’t Forget that! You’re beautiful because you’re YOU. You’re beautiful because you fight, because you’re strong, and you’re funny. You’re so much more beautiful than you think you are.

I know in my soul that that this beautiful human I speak of is being brought down by some sort of negativity around her. The same as this Western world right now since the election (perhaps it’s just my friend groups who are angered and sad and depressed by the results, but this is what I see). The same as women trying to live their every day lives in the “fair and equal” place we call home. The same as my cat’s passing after 17 years of companionship broke my heart and left me lonely. The same as society’s beauty standards (for males and females) existing. How can I help this negativity disintegrate?!

A few nights ago when I was sitting on this couch and thinking “What the actual fuck”, I proceeded to take a sip of tea, stare at the wall and think “I don’t know what this feeling is but I know I don’t like it and I need to fix it. I need to work on myself as a person so I can grow and accomplish and feel sure. So that is what I will do. I will work on myself. Starting now.” – Period. End point. Decision made.

And then today I receive a simple text message in the middle of my day that inspired me to be BIG. To think big. To do big. To want big. To make big things happen, to not settle. Because in that moment I received that text, I had accomplished a huge ongoing life goal of mine. I want people to feel genuinely loved. I want people to feel inspired. When found in a bad situation or experience, I want people to find the positive side of things. I want people to believe in themselves and their strengths. I want the definition of beauty to be about the whole person, not how much that person looks like a model from a (photoshopped) magazine.

Ultimately, I want to spread love, strength, and light.

And that happened. This person who I see as such a beauty – such a genuine, beautiful, intelligent, hard-working, funny, caring person – she believed in herself because she was inspired by me. She felt loved and never judged by me, and she felt the magnitude of her own strength.

And then I knew. I thought “What the actual fuck?! I did it!” Somehow I helped someone see their light. I couldn’t be more happy that she is coming out of this dark time and that I had something to do with helping her through it. I’m humbled and honoured, and still in shock but mostly just so happy I had a positive impact on someone who so completely deserves it.

I wouldn’t even know it if she hadn’t taken the time to tell me. I’ve always been a communicator. I write, I’ll talk your ear off, I’ll text you, e-mail you, always update you – and I know, oh boy do I know, that not everyone is like this. But if we could all take a little moment to share with someone our positive thoughts about them, I truly believe we can all benefit. In small ways, in big ways, it could save people’s lives in ways that we can’t begin to fathom.

By working on myself as a person – which I think is a never ending journey – I believe I’ll be able to inspire more, spread kindness further, help people believe in themselves more. I vow to reject hate.

This world needs a whole lot of things, but as humans, as a species we all need love to survive.

So let’s not let hate prosper but instead be beautiful, share your positive thoughts, always search for the brighter side of things, and let your light shine which in turn will help light up others.

In the meantime I’ll continue sitting here on this couch thinking “What the actual fuck” at life, at people, at this world. But most importantly, I’ll take a sip of tea, read a book and try to believe in my beauty as much as I want people to believe in theirs. And I will work on myself…whatever that means.

#freeyourflaws

Body image.

Society’s standards.

Body.

Image.

It’s all stupid.

It’s so stupid and completely unnatural but it’s incredible how much power it all has over us.

As a 25 yr old female with an hour-glass shaped body, well…. I have never truly loved my body. Since I wear bikinis at the beach and workout at LEAST 3 times a week, the only people who know how I really feel are my absolute closest friends. My hips always look like love handles, my big shoulders make me look huge, my stomach is never nice, I look chubby, etc.

I know for a fact that I am not alone in this. I know that so many women and men out there look in the mirror getting out of the shower or look at a picture of themselves and automatically see the flaws in their bodies before seeing any beauty. Bodies that you and I would look at and say “Wow, they’re gorgeous.” – because on the outside they seem confident, they have great personalities, and because nobody notices your flaws like you do.

In my opinion, society’s standards are completely and unapologetically DUMB. But that doesn’t mean I love my body, it just means I WISH I loved my body.

I don’t WANT to hate my body. I don’t WANT to look at myself in the mirror and say “Ew”. I don’t WANT to ask someone I know will be honest if I look ok. I don’t WANT to change 10 times before I meet up with friends because that’s how many outfits it takes to make sure I look up to my own standards.

But growing up all I’ve learned is that too skinny is bad and too fat is bad and just-right-skinny is perfect. So we have to just be lucky and whoever is born with certain genes is supposedly the most beautiful. And I’ve realized over my years that genes are genes and rather than trying to change them we should love them!

I’m not just here to rant about society’s imperfections or to explain all the little things I hate about my body. We get it, society sucks and that’s nothing new. Men and women all over the world are trying to change their bodies to look a certain way and not accepting their natural bodies because society tells them that’s not what beautiful is – unfortunately, nothing new.

Instead, I’m here to rally the troops. The gorgeous bodies that are YOU! Let’s conquer this together. Tonight I’m posting a video of myself doing yoga in a sports bra (on my personal Instagram account @emiliecree). Something I wouldn’t even do at yoga teacher training with the family of beautiful women I was surrounded by. Because let’s be real – the bends, folds, and twists of yoga certainly contort your body into some “unattractive” angles. In fact, in a few minutes I’ll have to close my eyes and click “post” or else it will never surface. It’s a huge struggle and it makes me cringe just thinking about it.

BUT THAT’S OK!!! That is A-O-K. So today I post a video of myself doing some yoga on my back deck that absolutely makes me cringe. I could have posted a picture of myself at a great angle that show the upper abs peaking through but that’s not what this is about. I’m not looking for compliments or pity or sympathy or any of that because this is not about me, it’s about all of us as individuals and as humans with bodies. I’m looking for change.

Whether you feel like joining me in posting a picture or video, in which YOU see your flaws, onto a large platform to let it free and let it be, or whether you feel the slightest bit empowered to be more kind to yourself and ignore the body shamers of the world – in either case I have been successful in bringing a freedom to you, even if that freedom is a simple smile or a bit of hope for yourself, for your children, and for your grandchildren. #freeyourflaws #loveyourbody

Love to all of you beautiful bodies.

Spoken, Written, Heard, & Said

 

Let it go, they say.

Ignore it, they say.

But it sits there

In the middle of your brain

In the middle of your thoughts

And you just can’t stop

Repeating –

Just can’t stop

Repeating it.

It plays like a film reel in slow motion,

Pausing at the awful parts,

Skipping the good parts,

Leaving the bad parts.

Colourless.

Ugly.

Missing words and words remembered hurt.

Words written hover like a moth.

Words said hurt like a disease.

Words forgotten stab like a knife. .

Because they never leave.

They stay.

And sit.

And look at you.

And repeat.

And repeat.

And repeat.

Because people don’t think.

They don’t put on your shoes.

Or look in your mirror.

Or see that beautiful smile

Or hear that angelic voice.

People don’t think.

They only see themselves.

They only hear themselves

They only feel themselves.

Never stepping outside.

And hearing the birds in the distance.

Never sitting under the willow tree

And watching the sun rise

And watching the sun set.

It just passes them by,

Like strangers on the street,

Like words said to them,

Like feelings shared with them.

The sun does rise in colour.

In beautiful pinks and yellows.

But only for those who see,

And only for those who share their self.

And experience other people,

And hear nature speaking to the universe,

And feel the words being said to other people.

They feel the words being said to other people

Coming out of their very own mouth.

And it repeats.

And it repeats.

But in a different way than before.

It makes them stronger.

It gives them strength.

Strength to paint the film reel.

To paint the ugly, colourless film reel.

And they paint with energy.

They paint with love.

They paint with fearlessness.

Energy. Love. Fearlessness.

For everyone.

Because they’re selfless.

They’re strong.

Words will let them down

But they will rise to the occasion.

They will stand tall.

Hold their paintbrush high.

And paint with recklessness until the world is a rainbow.

Until the passive aggressive hatred through words

STOPS.

It needs to STOP.

People need to stop. Just stop.

Stand up. Look up. Look around.

Around themselves

To break the orbit of the Earth around their head.

For just a moment.

To see the sun rise

With a pink and yellow sky.

And paint a picture of a rainbow in that sky.

Big enough and bright enough for everyone else to see.

Everyone.

Everyone because everyone has a story.

Everyone has a past. A present. Feelings.

So now. Right now. Stand tall.

Lift your paintbrush and spread illumination around the universe

Like a smile after a long day that warms a heart.

And paint a motherf*cking rainbow.

  • – With love and only kind words,
  • Emilie

 DSCF4326

Be a Pineapple

I wholeheartedly believe in sharing the sweetness within. Whenever I think of something kind I always share that thought with whomever it concerns. Everything from “love those shoes” to “new haircut, looks great” to “you’re beautiful” to “you’re an inspiration” spills out of my mouth on a daily basis. Don’t get me wrong – I never throw out false compliments because I don’t see the point in lying. In fact, lying is my biggest pet peeve. 
I don’t believe in keeping such positivity inside for only me to think about when amazing, beautiful, inspirational people completely deserve to hear how great they are. 
A few days ago, a very good friend of mine said to me “we are our own worst critics” just after I expressed being unhappy with myself once again. It wasn’t the first time I had heard that expression but for some reason, this time it stuck. 
We truly can’t judge a book my its cover. Individuals are unique beings and every person has their own story to tell. A story that one could never guess or assume unless it was shared with them. I’m lucky to say that I have many extremely inspirational people in my life. Many of whom have shared stories about themselves that were shocking discoveries. Whether it be a rough upbringing, personal triumphs, mental or physical obstacles to overcome or at least understand, they are all extremely personal, unique, and full of strength. Humans are so much stronger than they often give themselves credit for, the good ones at least, and I just wish that this world could be one of support and positivity. 
Nothing will ever be perfect, but why do we as humans pick on people in a way that is completely unnecessary. Why does it matter if she has greasy hair every day at school (maybe she doesn’t have access to a shower), or if he likes to do ballet (maybe it’s his escape), or if she always eats the same thing for lunch (maybe it’s all she knows how to make herself), or if she wants to be called a he, or if he loves to sing even though he’s tone deaf. The point is that it doesn’t matter. Not one bit. 
But there will always be people who judge. There will always be people who thrive on bringing awareness to the negativity, to the nasty, to the crude, the awful, thoughtless, muddy waters. 
In this world where there are certainly these hate-mongers trolling the streets, let’s make sure there are at least 3 more pineapples for each one. It’s as easy as thinking you like that stranger’s scarf and then just telling them so. You most likely just made that person’s day. When you think your friend is truly remarkable for one reason or another, don’t keep that to yourself. Communicate. Write them a letter, send them an email, shoot them a quick text. 
It’s been a personal goal of mine for a few years now to always share my positive thoughts. I have been following through with this goal, and you know what I’ve noticed? More smiles, more confidence being boosted, more laughter, and more heartfelt thank yous. More randomly beautiful conversations with strangers, and more respect thrown back and forth. 
Today’s society is so hard on everyone both physically and emotionally – so let’s make each other’s day. Let’s simply share those positive thoughts, and let’s make smiles spread across the universe like shooting stars. One fading away as another one lights up the sky a short distance away. Simply make someone’s day. Listen to their story. Appreciate the uniqueness of each individual on this earth. Be you. Your true self. And be a pineapple. 

Cat, Cow, Motherf****in’ Unicorn!

You’re a 5 year old kid and your world crashes down around you because your classmate broke your favourite coloured crayon. Then you go home, get in a fight with your brother because you didn’t want to share. So you find yourself alone in your room wondering if the world (your parents) has forgotten about you because this time out is lasting forever!

Ten years later you’re 15, half way through high school and struggling to figure out “who you are” even though this won’t happen for another 10 years. Who your friends are and who is or isn’t mad at you, how your rugby team is doing, and how you played at field hockey last night are all that’s on your mind while you sit through class. Between those thoughts and staring at the dreamy boy (or girl) on the other side of the room, you think about how stressful life is.

In another three years you’ve completed your first semester at university and in those first few months your entire world has turned upside down and around three times. Nothing you did up until the first day of university truly prepped you for it. But what could? Everything is uncertain – what am I even doing here? Is this person really my friend or do they just think I’m smart? Do I like my major? Should I change it? Will I get a job when I graduate? Will I ever drink again and NOT get hungover? Does he like me or does he just want to sleep with me? And everything is a first – first love, first apartment, first roommates, first bills to pay on your own, first jobs, first time struggling at a class that used to be your best, first time making your own decisions about life, first time realizing that if you don’t do groceries they won’t appear in your fridge, first time taking care of yourself when you get sick. The lists go on and on. But you got through, you figured it out, you graduated, and even have some great memories to prove it wasn’t all difficult.

After a couple years of loving the liberty of not being in school for the first time in your life; working many jobs, traveling, going on various adventures – you realize you need to get your crap together, move out of mom’s house and get a full time job. Well that’s harder than expected and takes a heck of a lot of work. Like when you spend hundreds of hours applying to over 80 jobs and don’t get one interview. Alas, yet another time in life where you’re figuring things out, making things work, and pretending you know what you’re doing until you start to convince yourself.

This is the toughest part so far. It’s the first time you haven’t had a path you’re ‘supposed to take’. Up until now you’ve always known what’s coming next. And along with the liberation comes fear.

In this day and age jobs are extremely hard to come by. It seems you need to know someone who happens to be hiring in your field or at least in a field that you are capable of working in… and that person has to want to hire you. The chance of these acquaintances hanging around are quite low, and therefore the majority of twenty-somethings are struggling. So we travel. We joke about how adulting is hard. We workout. And sometimes we just get drunk.

It’s that weird age where you have at least one friend who is engaged, one who is galavanting another country, one who is married and starting a family, one who is partying as often as possible, one who is still unemployed living with their parents, and one who landed an amazing job and is basically rich and famous. And then there’s you and you think – What the hell am I doing?! Do I be patient and wait it out to just see what happens? Or do I try to find a way to grab the bull by the horns?

Society is a really difficult thing these days for young adults because everything has very recently changed or is in the midst of changing. People used to live by certain standards – standards which essentially planned your life out for you. Today these standards have been trampled and we have to figure it out on our own. 99.9% of me loves this! I love that we get to be our unique selves and live the lives we want to live. This can only promote greater happiness in the westernized human population (which is definitely something I think is lacking, generally speaking). But that 0.01% of me wants someone to just tell me what to do!! Tell me what job to do, tell me where to live, tell me what to do with my life. This is the child coming out wishing my dear mother would just have all the answers for me. But it’s not truly what I want, it’s not a real wish – it’s my fear speaking.

Life is SCARY! Who knew?! Well – probably everyone past their twenties (give or take a few).

The unknown is a terrifying thought, no matter what it relates to. But it also allows us the one thing that keeps people going in the toughest of times – hope. The future will always be scary, and the past will always seem easy. But in the moment, your scary problem is always scary and it’s always your problem – even if you know that in a year (or 5) you will laugh at yourself for worrying about such an ‘insignifant’ thing. But the truth is that anything that carries your focus or worry for any amount of time is significant in some way. And that matters.

We always wish to be living like a kid again, but as a kid we always pretend to be our parents, we love when we get to do things by ourselves, and we are devastated when our favourite coloured crayon breaks. Perhaps we should just try to live in the moment, as cliché as that sounds, and take life a day or a week at a time. Set some realistic goals, accomplish them, and repeat. Appreciate the people around you and let yourself feel that fear that life so nonchalantly throws at us. If for anything, so that you can feel the amazing sense of hope that pulls you out of dark holes, lets you walk aross quicksand, and allows you to fly through the dark sky like a shooting star – a beacon of hope for anyone lucky enough to witness your fire. Because that’s what you are, what we all are. Small, similar, yet very different bright stars in this universe who each leave our own impression on the world as we know it.

Be a unicorn. Be you. Leave your own impression on this beautiful world.

catcowunicorn
I’ve been known to say “Be a unicorn!!”, and with this in mind and my love for yoga, a dear friend texted this picture to me this morning that I will most likely have framed soon. I’m not sure where it came from so if you do know, share the info and I will give credit where credit is due.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to the World, Just Breathe Yoga

ForOneMinute

I went to the University of Ottawa for 4 years after high school. I loved everything about Ottawa and still do – I love visiting those places that carry memories in a way that put a smile on your face before you even realize you look like a happy goof to the world around you. Those are the places I miss, but I suppose it’s really the memories from those places that I miss.

University is certainly no walk in the park – growing from a teenager to a young adult is not an easy feat, and though I’m now 25 and perhaps considered a “real” adult, I am still growing and always will be.

In my second year of university I couldn’t do a lot of things I wanted to. Nothing was physically holding me back, except that it was. I was diagnosed with Anxiety when I was 11 years old. Though it’s considered a mental illness, I don’t consider it as such. Anxiety is not an illness to me, but a part of of who I am. Having anxiety is technically something off kilter with chemicals in my brain, and let me tell you it is certainly a struggle to live with. But you do. You just do.

In my second year of university my anxiety was the most intense it had ever been up until that point. I had my first panic attack and I am forever grateful for my darling roommate at the time for spooning me that night until I stopped crying, fell asleep, and as my alarm went off the next morning.

But there is so much more than just the bad stuff. The personality traits that I love most about myself come from my anxiety – my outrageous sense of humour, my unbelievably realistic ability to stand in anyone else’s shoes and feel with my whole heart and soul what they’re feeling, my uncanny ability to observe and respond to people’s feelings without their saying anything at all, and my ability to feel and explore every feeling of my own, to live every moment, and to appreciate the simplest things – such as waking up in the morning and feeling normal rather than feeling as though I will vomit at any moment, or waking up and actually vomiting.

Yes, life is tough – and don’t we all know it! But we find ways to get through. And for me anxiety has been, and most likely always will be, my hardest battle.

 

MomandS
My beautiful, supportive mother with my fluffy sister.

So – in my second year of university my beautiful, supportive mother gifted me a yoga mat during the holidays that came with a miniature DVD which had an extremely basic 20 minute yoga practice on it. As cheesy and drastic as I know this will sound, this little DVD and yoga mat changed my life.

I used to squeeze the mat diagonally in the small space between my bed, door, and desk, and I would place my laptop on the end of my bed for optimal viewing. I went through the practice and felt more calm than I had in months. I decided in that moment that I would do this 20 minute yoga practice every night before I went to bed. I promised myself that even if it was too late to function anymore, I could certainly spare 20 more minutes of sleep to feel this sense of calm.

 

Grad
Graduating from the University of Ottawa – my favourite picture which happens to have been taken by my spooning roommate’s mother. 

A couple months later the panic attacks had subsided, I was less of a hermit and able to enjoy social gatherings again. As a bonus, as I resurfaced in my friend groups people were complementing my physical appearance left and right. I felt better than ever.

And thus began my yoga addiction.

Two years after graduating, and having caught the travel bug, I ventured off on the trip of a lifetime (though I didn’t know it until I came home) to Montezuma, Costa Rica where I lived for one month among the most amazing group of women, and the most knowledgeable, inspirational, energetic, determined yoga instructor and teacher I have ever had.

Every single one of those people left a beautiful mark on my life, and after gaining many friendships, a ton of knowledge, a certified yoga teacher certificate, and an appreciation for the talent monkeys have for stealing objects from humans, I was off galavanting the Pacific coast for a couple more weeks before I returned home.

FirstClass
The first yoga class I ever taught. It was such an amazing feeling to be able to teach these two beautiful humans, and I’m so lucky to have shared this accomplishment with them. They are in Savasana after a successful 2 hour yoga practice.  

Everyone said I would come back to Canada and be “all zen-ed out”. In fact I felt a little bit sick of yoga, having done it for at least 6 hours a day for 4 weeks straight. I went back home and went wholeheartedly back into the exercise routine I had left behind – CrossFit and boxing. After about a month I started going to yoga classes again and that’s when I realized how well yoga co-exists with life. Rather than returning home in a zen state, I came home changed. I had found an even deeper appreciation for the practice, and had such a full brain but I didn’t know where I wanted to go with everything just yet.

Another year and a half later, I am now living in a different city than the one I grew up in, I have new friends, a new community, a completely different job, there have been changes within my family, I have more experiences under my belt, and I am finally really excited to announce that I will be a regular, 3-days-a-week yoga teacher. As I continue to explore life as a 25 year-old woman with much behind me and even more in front of me, I look forward to sharing my story with strangers and friends, and strangers who become friends, in my own yoga classes.

Crow pose

My main goal in life is to help people in any way possible; to be part of the reason someone’s smile appears on their face. Through Just Breathe yoga I intend to do so as often as possible. And who knows, maybe even be an inspiration to someone out there!

I hope to see you in my classes soon! Just Breathe.

From my mat to yours – Namaste.

 

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