Welcome, 2015

Ah, 2015.

Welcome. I’ve been waiting for you.

First and foremost, waiting for you to watch my baby sister plan her wedding and become a wife.

Waiting on you to help determine my next steps in my career path and even make some surprising changes.

Waiting for you to give me opportunity to reflect on the mixed bag that was 2014, with some very intense highs and very dark, lingering lows.

But mostly, waiting for you to see what adventures you have prepared for us, unbeknownst to our planning and projecting human natures.

In the name of honesty, the end of 2014 wasn’t exactly my favourite. In fact, if I am being completely open with our readers, the last quarter of 2014 can SUCK IT.

Man. That felt good.

For 2015, I personally have begun to mull over some goals – resolutions, if you must.

Not so much things that I will resolve to change about myself such as kicking a bad habit, but a little more of an ideal of what I would like to focus on to get the most out of this beautiful New Year we have been gifted:

1. Setting clearer, more specific intentions. At the beginning of every yoga practice, we are asked to set an intention for that session. As opposed to setting long-term goals, these are supposed to be your short-term focus of what you most want from that session, the benefit you are personally seeking when you step onto your mat. They can be as simple as wanting to be quiet for an hour, more physically specific such focusing on mastering my breathing, or even seeking a deeper spiritual need to be met like letting go of something heavy on your heart. Sometimes I am very successful in setting and meeting my intentions at the mat. But sometimes, and lately more often than I would like to admit, I’ve been struggling with setting clear intentions while settling into savasana.

As my practice is still in its infancy, I’ve granted myself a lot of patience with my growth; however, I’ve come to the conclusion that adopting the same practice of setting my intentions at the beginning of class to the beginning of my day might be the key to me being more successful when I do reach the mat. And in turn, I’m sure it won’t harm me to have a clear intent for the day for which to boomerang myself back to when the world gets to be too much.

IMG_0406

2. Practice self-forgiveness…sooner. I have a hard time letting go of my own mistakes. I’m quick to accept an apology and hope for the best the next time around from those that I love when a wrongdoing is experienced, and even those that I don’t necessarily love receive it sooner than I tend to allow myself. I’m a bit of a martyr in this way and will torture myself relentlessly when I screw up with someone I care for. But it’s come to my attention that I have to cut myself a break too and realize that I am just as, if not more, human than anyone and the furthest from perfect you can imagine. Self-forgiveness is required for survival, but more importantly it’s required for growth and true fulfillment in life.

IMG_0407

3. Focus in faith. My relationship with God has, for the most part, been a good one. Even when man-made religious parameters and beliefs failed me, I have yet to lose complete faith in the love God has for me. As with any good human-tainted relationship, there of course have been times of doubt, times I’ve struggled with understanding and times I’ve wondered if he’s still with me at all. Human thoughts from my very human mind. This year, I hope to explore and experience more in my faith and my relationship with the Father. I hope to build in my trust and commitment to Him and grow more in the image He desires of me.

IMG_0408

4. Become and stay flexible. While both a lofty physical goal as well as an internal one, I desire to work on and improve upon my flexibility. Flexibility with my need to control what I can. Flexibility in my hand-stands, back bends and splits. Flexibility when things don’t go as planned. Flexibility all around. For my sanity, my self-improvement and for my body, heart and soul as they age. Flexibility in my ways, my opinions, and my beliefs. Flexibility in my needs, wants and desires. Flexibility in the way I stay active and fit. Flexibility.

IMG_0409

I hope whatever goals, dreams, desires or resolutions you have for this calendar year of 2015, you above all are kept safe, find joy, feel love and grow more than ever.

~ Toni

Reflecting: 27’s lessons

Last week, I did something I have been wanting to do and have been anxiously anticipating for a very, very long time.

I turned 28.

Celebrating at Dad's with my nephew

Celebrating at Dad’s with my nephew

The way I look at it, getting older (not old), aging (gracefully, of course), and taking another trip around the sun are the blessings of another year of opportunity for growth and nothing to be worried or stressed out about. I look forward to my birthdays more now than I did when I was younger and as cheesy as it sounds, I am truly finding that life – and myself in a way – keeps getting better with every kilometer in said yearly trip.

There are many things that I have learned, gained and experienced in my preceding years that I am thankful for, struggled through, fought hard for and am blessed to have. Some of the challenges brought by my 27th year in particular could safely categorize it as a hard one and definitely not one of my favourites, but there were SO many amazing highlights, people added, friendships improved, and forgiveness granted that I can’t bring myself to curse 27 for any of the bruises as a result of the hiccups.

I’m starting to get the sneaking suspicion that there is a direct correlation between the toughness of the year and the quality of the lessons to be learned when you’re looking for them. That being said, 27 abundantly blessed me with a few, very specific lessons, arming me with some pretty kick-ass knowledge for 28 and the next chapter of my life:

  • Come clean when you mess up. You’ll be surprised how much forgiveness the hearts that love you are capable of granting. Even more amazing, is that when someone overlooks your shortcomings, it teaches you a lesson in humility to apply when other people mess up with you.
  • Stay open. Stay open to new experiences, relationships, people that come into (and depart from) your life, career opportunities (no matter how they turn out…), lessons about God/the type of faith you are capable of, and the continuous exploration, play, and being in the ‘now’. Stay open to it all.
  • Be grateful. No matter what was experienced in this past year, if I took a step back to reflect, in every disappointment there absolutely was always something to be grateful for. Sometimes the gratefulness is harder to maintain if a few heartaches pile on all at once; however gratitude is necessary to keep perspective when it gets overwhelming. If anything has saved my ass and sanity, this lesson would be it.
  • Quality wins over quantity. Every time. This goes for the friendships/relationships you choose to have, to the food you eat and fuel your body with, the encounters and moments you have with the people that matter most to you, right down to your workouts, fitness and health. I have become hyper aware of this quality lately in one friendship in particular – it doesn’t matter if we see each other for 5 minutes, or 5 hours, if we see each other once a week, or once in 105 days – every hang out leaves my heart full and looking forward to the next time our crazy lives allow us time to get together. Regardless of whether we’re just going along for the drive to keep each other company, or laughing and talking about all of life’s adventures over drinks – it’s all about the quality and it leaves me wanting the same in every aspect of my life. This is one of my favourite lessons of 27.

I am so excited for 28 and 2014 as a whole. In our inner circle it has appropriately been coined ‘the year of love’ – totally fitting in so many ways. Babies, weddings, celebrations galore!

My man surprised me with suite tickets to the Toronto Raptors game!

My man surprised me with suite tickets to the Toronto Raptors game!

I had an incredible birthday this year and am looking forward to a killer 28! Cheers to the year of love!

~ Toni