So many feels

As the days began to darken earlier, so too had my mood, which took an unexpected turn earlier this week mirroring the recent change. I don’t know why, but I’m sure the unnecessary time change, the sugar crash from over-indulging on leftover Halloween candy, and the [my] moon cycle had something to do with it, but this week was blah. Everything was too hard, I was so sad, and I felt alone.

After a few days on this roller coaster of emotions, I decided to confide in a friend about this funk and how to turn my mood around. Her words helped but I still needed to find the inner strength to transform them into an action.

“Every day I have the choice on whether or not I want to be happy and I have to actively choose happiness over sadness. Yeah, there are days when that dark cloud follows me like a shadow, but I’ve learned to embrace that dark cloud and accept it. The difference is that I no longer hate myself on those days I can’t get out of bed, the days I just want to cry, and the days that I don’t want to talk to anyone. I know that those days will pass, eventually, and in a way, those dark cloudy days are my body’s way of telling me to slow down and reset.”

I never thought of it that way, as happiness being a decision we have to continuously choose, I naively assumed happiness just happens, and it probably does, but when it doesn’t happen, on those dark and gloomy days, what do I do?

This question also had me asking “what is happiness?” Is it having it all: house, luxury car, money? Maybe. But what if the house, the car, or the six-plus-digits in the bank account is non-existent, does the mean one is not happy / cannot be happy? What does it even mean to have it all? Maybe having it all isn’t tangible expensive possessions, maybe having it all is simply friends, family, and most importantly, breath, the ability to inhale and exhale every day.

I’m a recreational yogi, I attend a community class at a yoga studio in my neighbourhood once a week, and one thing all of those downward dogs and warriors poses have taught me is the importance of my body working in conjunction with my breath. Some of the poses are impossible for my rigid body, while others are doable, but uncomfortable, and some leave a feeling of sweet sensation on both my physical and mental state – hello, shavasana. The difficulty of each pose affects my breathing, and there are many times I catch myself holding my breath, but it is in that moment when breathing is integral to the pose, and I have to consciously choose to breathe to ease that discomfort.

That dark cloud, the discomfort, and blah-ness of all the feelings, too many feels, crashing down on me at once is invited, but I will hit that internal reset button, I will breathe, and I will choose happiness, be it laughing with friends, taking comfort in the warmth of love from family, and by remembering to inhale and exhale when things get difficult.

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Ring me your love

Let’s talk engagement rings. I don’t have one nor do I want one, but I do like to admire them. Who doesn’t like to look at pretty things? Half of the accounts I follow on Instagram are pretty people donning pretty things, and to me, a diamond engagement ring is a pretty thing I don’t need. Although, that has not always been the case: Not until recently has my diamond desire dwindled from wanting a big rock, nothing less than a karat because I deserve it, or so the jewelry ads led me to believe, to not wanting anything at all, except a simple yet elegant wedding band.

I mentioned this to a girlfriend over tea one evening, the horror and shock of what I said  was clearly expressed on her face; it was the look you would give your friend if they told you they robbed a bank. “What?! What do you mean you don’t want a ring? Of course you do!” Followed by the predictable, “You deserve one!” Here, I thanked her for nonchalantly saying I am a queen that deserves all of the jewels in this world, but the truth is I don’t deserve a ring – I don’t deserve something that my partner has to save three months of his salary to buy; I don’t deserve something I can’t reciprocate back. Reader, your response of, but you are giving him your love forever is valid, but then why isn’t my boyfriend’s love enough, why does he have to buy me a ring – a ring to prove our love with undertones of class, status and wealth. To me, it just doesn’t make sense.

A bit of diamond engagement ring history loosely cited from the Atlantic: In 1938 Harry Oppenheimer, the De Beers founder’s son, hired N.W. Ayer, an ad agency, to polish the image of diamonds as the price of diamonds was falling. N.W. Ayer set out to persuade young men that diamonds (and only diamonds) were synonymous with romance, and that the measure of a man’s love (and even his personal and professional success) was directly proportional to the size and quality of the diamond he purchased. There we have it folks, the genesis of diamond marketing – the bigger the rock the deeper your love.

ring

Dear reader, my intention is not to make you self-conscious as you read these words while glancing at your beautiful ring that was handpicked just for you by your SO, nor do I think the love my partner and I share defies commercialism (you should see all of our stuff!). The truth is, the older I get the more jaded I become, scratch that, the more practical I like to believe I’ve become. For example, let’s use that money to pay down some debt (boring!) or put it towards our dream honeymoon (better!).

I can’t say I know for certain what’s in store for my ring finger, but I am not putting that added pressure on my partner to propose with a diamond so big that even the Jones’ will be jealous. The big ring is just not for me, however I will still oooh and awww over other peoples’ engagement rings and I’ll honestly be happy for them, because diamond ring or not, the next step is the happiest of all!

Marriage & Motherhood

Part Two: Motherhood

I hear it all too often: Your clock is ticking; when are you going to start having children; don’t you want a baby? I know I’m not the only woman who hears these comments, and I’m not the only woman with motherhood anxieties, yet it feels like I am the only one not having a baby?

As someone who has recently entered her thirties, the baby talk, along with the marriage talk, is more imperative, then let’s say, everything else (career goals, community involvement, creative pursuits, etc.). These kinds of questions further add to my motherhood anxieties, let alone, the main culprit – the natural pressure my slowly aging body exudes on the ticking time bomb called my uterus. I know that I’m not the only thirty-year-old that is chasing time, a career, and an identity, but sometimes it feels like I am alone in this life race. Some of you may say that I am being over-dramatic and that children are the greatest blessing (I know, I know, I know) but so is the solace of a Saturday morning with nothing to do but the day’s crossword.

Maybe it’s all those perfectly curated baby announcements on Facebook; or the fact that everyone else IS having a baby but me; or simply, I’m afraid that I will lose my friends to mommy groups, but feelings of jealousy and resentment arise every time my cursor lingers over the ‘like, love, haha, wow, sad, angry’ feeling choices social media provides. OF COURSE I am ecstatic when friends announce that they are expecting (I’m not a heartless selfish b!), but a part of me falters – will that ever be me, and if so, when? Am I not allowed to feel these emotions because I’m not ready…If I’m feeling these emotions, then why not just have a baby? It’s not that easy! There are two things my partner and I need to agree on: Are we financially prepared and are we ready to adjust our lifestyle? Spin yes, fill you car with babies, if not, keep driving. Obviously, we talk about our future, and babies are in those dreams, but so is being debt-free, it will happen, but not yet.

I digress; motherhood is beautiful, terrifying, but beautiful. It is beautiful being able to witness my girlfriend be a mom to her little girls; it is inspiring seeing my sister-in-law and her husband lovingly adjust to their new life of parenthood; and, it is amazing seeing my partner interact with our niece, nephew, and friends’ kids. (Talk about ovaries on fire!) Yet, why is it that something so natural is so wildly judged? You didn’t birth naturally; you’re no longer breastfeeding; have you started thinking about your postpartum body; you hired a nanny; you want to go back to work over being a stay-at-home-mum? I cannot imagine the pressure mothers are under: The pressure to fit in to your pre-baby clothes asap; the pressure to be a perfect mother; the pressure to do it all on little to no sleep. It is scary! What if I need all the help; does that make me a failure? What if I don’t like it; does that me a bad person? What if I’m not good enough; does that make me a bad mum?

Last weekend, my partner and I had our precocious niece stay with us; it was busy, chaotic and fun, but after dropping her off, we both inhaled the quiet and exhaled a sigh of relief, and then my boyfriend turned to me and said, “that should cool your baby fever for the next little while.” That is, until the next baby shower invitation with all its cute miniature-ness lands in my mailbox.

Read Part One: Marriage

Marriage & Motherhood

Part One: Marriage

As a young girl, I would idly daydream of my future love life: At 13, I would have a boyfriend; at 16, I would experience my first “true-love” kiss; and, by 25, I would be married to a handsome man, we would have two adoring children and live in a white colonial style home with navy shutters and a matching white picket fence. Fast-forward to present day 30-year-old me, living in a stucco/grey-green siding home with my common-law partner, childless and broke. Does present me envy the past ideals I had for my future? Definitely not. But, would past me be embarrassed of my nontraditional life? Probably.

Being a late bloomer, I was nowhere near ready for those wedding bells at 25; I was still learning how to live on my own while balancing work and school along with a roller-coaster of emotions and different medications that came with all of those mixed feelings. Maybe if Mr. Right came into my life earlier I would have been ready, but he didn’t, and I’m glad of that because I wouldn’t have been ready for him. At 25, I was learning who I was and who I wanted to be, while learning what I wanted mentally, emotionally and physically in a life partner. However, and contrary to the teachings of my upbringing, by my twenties I knew I wanted to live with my partner before marriage, thereby equating my relationship status as common-law in the eyes of the government, and a heathen to others.

Are common-law relationships lesser because there is no paper professing their love; is a couple ‘bad’ because they haven’t institutionalized their “I dos”? To some, maybe, but to the common-law couple they may be, and probably are, blissfully content with their current relationship. There is something wildly romantic about a love that it doesn’t need a binding document proclaiming “I’m taken” to the rest of the world; a love that transcends the conventional “do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife” jargon. However, on the opposite spectrum, there is beauty in promising eternity to your partner in front of the ones you love. Togetherness, whether sanctioned by the Church, or promised to one another silently is beautiful and should not require explanation or reasoning for the actions a couple commits.

Don’t misinterpret my marriage / wedding views, as those are still tantamount to 10 year old me (I have a secret wedding Pinterest board, and get girlishly giddy discussing wedding plans with friends), but what I am arguing is that there is no ideal age to marry and have children. Marriage and children, or the latter before the former, should be an organic transition in a relationship, not something that is done because one is suppose to or because everyone else is doing it.

There may not be a ring, the last names may differ, but to that couple, they have promised each other their own form of “I dos” which may differ from the norm, but to that couple, their current relationship status is perfect, which is all that matters.

Stay tuned for Part Two, released on Friday, March 17.

Love lost & self-love found

When I was in my mid-twenties I got ‘dumped’ two days before Valentine’s Day. My heart broke, my happiness died, and my body became an alienated monster. I lost my appetite; my desire to be around people vanished; and, the world around me appeared bleak and dull. Getting out of bed was hard, but looking at my reflection in the mirror was even harder. Who was this woman that defined herself by her past love? This woman, who assimilated herself to someone else’s values and beliefs, then adopted them contrary to her own past philosophies. Who was this woman that now stood alone, exposed, empty and weak?

Like some, I allowed this unhealthy relationship define my identity. I endured emotional pain because I desired a destiny that was not mine to begin with. I destroyed my dreams to be a part of his. And just like that it was over. I was heartbroken. I didn’t think I could go on living, but I did, slowly. Day by day my brokenness began to heal. My own form of metamorphosing took place: I shed my weak and naïve skin, and grew into a confident and determined woman. I came to the realization that man does not define woman, but rather women and men are symbiotic in that they complement one another. This understanding led me to realize that love relationships continually encourage and motivate one another to be their best and truest self.

If you have recently gone through a breakup and are finding it hard to see the daylight, here are five not so easy steps that helped heal my broken heart and placed me on my own journey towards self-love:

  1. Cry: Cry until you feel like you cannot cry anymore, and then cry again.
  2. Live like a hermit (but not for too long): Binge-watch your favourite sitcoms, watch those cheesy RomCom movies (step one is allowed to creep in here), wear comfy clothes, and forget about the number of days that have lapsed since you last washed your hair.
  3. Call your girlfriends: These gals are your lifeline, your support, and they are on your side. (“He’s a d-bag, we hate him!”)
  4. Dance: Get glammed up, go out and dance the night away with your girlfriends, and only your girlfriends. You own the dance floor so boogie it up!
  5. Make a list of goals: Think of this as a reawakening – a new year of ‘you’ so set some goals and write down your dreams. It’s time to conquer them!

Keep in mind that these five steps helped me and that they may not fully heal your broken heart, but time slowly will.

Lots of love goes out to E&N who helped me through this breakup nightmare. You girls are my rock!