When love is no longer served

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as a soul sister of mine is not having the greatest time in her life. In fact it’s down right shitty for her right now.

With a tendency to absorb the hurt of the hearts I love, my heart is truly aching for her. It aches because I see so many of my own battles faced in her present circumstance and my empathy over flows for her. Her experiences have triggered some reflection of my own path and the relationships I have experienced, outgrown and moved on from. It is a bit easier from the place I am in currently to reflect honestly about each one and the person I was when involved in them. It is easier for me to see now what the root of the pain might be.

Without being too personal or airing details of their life that are not mine to share, the just of it is, needing to learn to get up from the table when love is no longer being served.

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This is a bitter, hard, transforming lesson. It is a lesson that can leave your heart hard if you’re not careful and create barriers around yourself that were not there before. Or, it can soften you through finding the strength to demand the people and energies in your life be good for you, good to you and feed your soul. If you let it, can catapult you into the wisdom of some of the most evolved souls where you won’t settle for less than you really deserve.

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Removing yourself from said proverbial table might need to happen anywhere in your life.

This could mean your job when your joy has been sucked from you and you no longer recognize why you do what you do. This could mean from a family member who refuses to work on the parts of your relationship that are weak and leaves you feeling abandoned more often than not, using words as weapons to lash out on you. This could be the emotionally draining friendship you’ve outgrown completely, yet continue to partake in only because of how long you’ve known each other. Or, it could be the partner who does not wish to look at their own demons in order to play kindly with yours and uses you as a verbal punching bag.

Whatever the case, you have to learn to get up from the table when love is no longer being served. Or if it never really was and you’re finally waking up to the reality and dynamic of the relationship.

Sadly, no amount of love, effort, compliance, or attention can ever get these people to love you the way you deserve. Some people are just not meant to be in our lives. Some people will never know or learn how to love us and understand us. You could kill yourself going to the ends of the earth trying to show them how incredible you are and how deserving of love you are, and it still won’t change a damn thing. Not one fucking thing. That is the hard, awful, real truth.

You do not have to make excuses for removing these people from your life either. There should be no guilt in cutting ties to those that do more harm than good. Yes, one thousand times yes it is easier said than done. But when you start to pay attention to your energy and who it increases and decreases around, and who leaves you feeling lifted, or drained, you become a little more protective of it. Especially, well hopefully, as you age. When it is apparent that time is fleeting and passing faster and faster, it becomes more precious and you become more selective with who is given the most valuable thing you have to spend.

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Some of these ties you will feel need to be cut with an explanation that is usually more self serving than for the party you are outgrowing. You have things you need to say to them, need them to hear, need them to feel because you do. The cold truth though is that if they really cared, the behaviour or issue would have been addressable. If they cared when you told them that they were causing you harm, they would have loved you enough to work on it with you, or walked away from you recognizing that they did not serve you. The walking away part is usually reserved for a relationship with a base of respect though and you don’t always get that lucky. It is because the biggest act of love is always the truth. The act of showing someone exactly who you are and being aligned with your words in your actions enough that allows the person you love to either accept you fully or choose to walk away. We’re not always this lucky. In fact, it is becoming more and more rare.

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On the other hand, some of these ties need not a single word explanation and you just need to rip off the band aid by shutting the door in silence. This is the most powerful message that you can send, yet is not guaranteed to be received at all. They may not even notice you’re not there anymore. Which, while sad, should also be the loudest response to confirm you were right in your stand.

I think I’ve come to the realization that not everyone deserves to be witness to my life. Not everyone deserves my love and attention. In fact, as I get older I realize that very few really have the right intent in seeking it.

I still battle with this of course. Cutting people out seems heartless and cruel, but vitally necessary. I struggle too in doing so with people I want to believe love me or care about me, the ones I want to believe have my best interest at heart and means me no harm. Mostly people I want to believe are good for me because of how I feel about them. People I absolutely need to learn to get up from and walk away from because love is no longer being served.

But just as I will, she will get there in this lesson too. I have faith in hearts like ours. The ones that learn the hardest way possible, just to make sure the resulting wisdom is good and ingrained into our being so we change a little more each time, being challenged not to shut off our hearts for good.

Soul sister, I innately know that these storms are just here to wash you clean. Have faith in what is to come, keep hope in your heart and stay open, the way you’ve always been.

And most importantly know your soul’s growth depends on this act of getting up from the table when love is no longer being served.

~ Toni

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Welcome, new Yogi

I watch you cautiously enter the studio – a place that at first glance can seem so intimidating, I know. You’re not sure what to expect or if you wore the right thing, or if you’ll even be able to make it through the hour you’ve set aside for you. I can see you are nervous, almost timid.

You’re greeted with warm smiles from the volunteers and instructors gathered hospitably around the front desk, waiting to help you sign up for a class, answer your questions, show you where the facilities and different tempered rooms are. These friendly faces put some of your fears to rest, at least for the moment. You can feel the shift of energy in the air as more students flow into the studio.

I  keep observing you from across the airy, open, sunny front room. I see your shoulders relax down your back slightly, ease entering your eyes and recognition of something almost home-like about this place  flashes in them. We catch each other’s gaze and share a small, but sincere smile.

You wander down the hall into the change room, where I am sure you’re talking yourself into class. Not sure what to expect, not sure if you’ll like it, not sure if it’s for you. Scared of the heat, the poses, the unknown.

I know this feeling all too well. I think every new yogi does.

What I want to tell you is that what you will find in the heated yoga studio upstairs is going to surprise you, maybe even scare you a little.

I want to tell you of the life-altering feeling you are about experience, the wash of emotion, the shift in perspective, the gains in confidence, compassion and strength you will feel.

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I want to burst at you with stories and antidotes of feeling yourself truly shut your brain off for the first time and the exhilarating calm that comes with that freedom.

I want to tell you, that if you just let it, this practice, those poses, this studio, will change your whole life and lift up your soul in ways you didn’t think were possible.

I want to tell you that it will only take a moment for you to fall so deeply in love with your practice and you’ll know exactly when it happens.

I want to tell you that it is okay to let go, especially here, and sometimes that very act might even come out as laughter or tears in class – and that’s okay.

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I want to share with you that the people that live, work and love here will become a second family to you, this studio a second home, if you let it, if you welcome it with open arms.

I want to calm your fears with tales of the incredible lives that have been changed by this bit of magic you’ve found, allowed into your life.

I want to warn you that you are about to challenge your ego, but it will be the best thing you ever do for your soul.

I want to tell you that you’re going to find out things about yourself that you didn’t know existed, had forgotten once were, and feel more you than you ever have in that 60, or 75 minutes of pure bliss.

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I want to tell you about the calm in your soul that will come when you become more aware and more present, at first in class, and then soon every area of your life.

I want to tell you that you will feel more in control and out of your mind in the most calming way, at the same time, in that room.

I want to tell you that when you adopt the true practice of yoga in areas of your life outside of the studio will be when you will truly understand what you’ve found.

I want to tell you to breathe your way through class and that you’ll soon realize that it’s necessary to breathe through life in the same way.

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I want to tell you so many things about what you’ve started by stepping onto your mat for the very first time.

But I don’t.

Instead I share one more silent smile with you as we both enter the room. I watch you find your place on your mat, sprawl out on the floor, fidgeting a bit as you start to relax. As I settle onto my mat myself, I say a little prayer for your practice and mine today, sending a little love, light and energy your way.

I can’t wait for the journey that lies ahead of you, the breakthroughs and breakdowns, the freedom from what is resting on your shoulders. I am so excited for you and your practice to unfold and the blessings it will so abundantly bring.

Welcome, new Yogi.

~ Toni

Now we wait

Well, I did it. I submitted my writing for the CBC Short Story Prize. It was a process that involved taking a 7,500-word excerpt and simmering it down to a 1,487-word short story. It is a brick in the path to achieving my dream of being a published novelist. It is wholly exhilarating and terrifying to have my work out there in front of readers and judges and I’m torn between wanting it to get lost on the way to someone’s desk and winning.

What am I saying? I REALLY want to win! 😉

It’s also November, the month of NaNoWriMo, otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month, which is actually an international movement of aspiring writers who scribble furiously for the month of November in an attempt to complete a 50,000-word novel.

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

It’s extreme writing, where content doesn’t matter as much as word count, and completion trumps coherence, but at the end of the crazy period you have a novel where before there was none.

Last year alone 310,095 participants in 595 regions in 6 continents wrote furiously, trying to attain the elusive and grinding goal of completing their book.

Is this particular writing process useful or effective?

Some could argue that it’s not, that it doesn’t allow you to think, edit, ruminate, let characters evolve ‘naturally’ and it’s a lot of time spent on writing crap versus spending that time crafting actual art.

Others argue it’s a brilliant exercise, used to strengthen the writing habit by getting you to write every day, by forcing you to jump in with both feet whether or not you’re ready, instead of sliding your idea into the back of the filing cabinet for when you ‘have time,’ and it’s exciting when at the end you’ve finished something. As someone who’s never finished writing a novel and is currently on her fourth year of writing this one, finishing a book sounds divine.

And some NaNoWriMo books actually get published the traditional way, like the bestseller Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen, and one of my favourite and oft-recommended books, The Night Circus by Erin Moregenstern. According to the NaNoWriMo website, there are over 250 books that were written in the dismal month of November under the word-count stress that have been published. That number alone is enough to give hope to anyone willing to put their fingers to the ink-stained grindstone for 30 days (and then countless days revising afterwards).

So will I be NaNoWriMo-ing? Probably not. Because I legitimately don’t have a lot of time and I’m already torn in three bagillion (a real and accurate number, I tell ya!) directions. Because I’m working steadily and at a pace that doesn’t drive my anxiety through the roof. And because I’ve given myself a more realistic goal that has nothing to do with November and everything to do with the end of 2014. My goal is to finish my book, the first, rough, horrible, not-rushed draft of it, by December 31. 

I feel like this will give me time to rework it and massage it and get it ready to be submitted into the big bad world of publishing (it’s only big and bad to me because it’s unknown and terrifying…I’m sure it’s actually lovely and everyone is super friendly and there’s no pressure whatsoever) (YEAH, RIGHT) by the fall of 2015 when I have more babies in school than at home and more time (HA!) than I have right now chasing a preschooler and a toddler during the day. I’m full of hope. And delusions.

But to everyone who is writing away right this second, who is watching their word count climb, but never fast enough, and who are going to question their sanity multiple times over the next few weeks, especially if they take part in the overnighter where, you guessed it, you write through the night into the next day with other like-minded (read: CRAZY) NaNoWriMo-ers: good luck! I wish you high volume and a solid first draft by December 1.

To those who also submitted their short story for the CBC Short Story Prize, also good luck! I hope I win, but I also hope that the right story wins.

Now, to get back to tinkering with my tome of nonsense. Who knows? Maybe four years won’t have been a waste of time.

~ Julia

P.S. Kim asked for an excerpt of my short story and I really wanted to oblige! I was going to publish the whole story here as my post today, but then I reread the contest rules and that would count as my story being published and therefore automatically disqualified. You’ll just have to wait until next year. If I get shortlisted, my story will be published online and I’ll post the link! If I’m not, I’ll send the story to people still interested. Until then…fingers crossed!