Finding the beauty in the breakdown

In the grand scheme of life’s available disasters, losing my job this past November is really not that big of a deal.

Really.

It was just a job.

Just a job at a very terribly run company.

Just a job with my department being managed by the type of woman I loathe. The kind of woman that feeds the reputation that generalizes how terrible women are to each other.

It was just a job.

Then why did I completley lose my shit?

I let a terrible employer take advantage of my work ethic and then make me doubt myself on a personal level. Why had I been such a pushover, and why hadn’t I walked away?

A friend of mine pointed out that it could be like a bad relationship – you loved it at one point and it stopped serving you long ago, but you don’t want to be a quitter – you want to fix it, make it better, get the joy back. Sometimes the work pays off and you find it. But then sometimes you end up sacrificing a bit of who you are and the things you need to actually live, the real important things, like moments with family and friends, and missing your workouts that keep you sane and then you STILL lose.

Cheryl Strayed

Cheryl Strayed

I think it was the fact that it didn’t matter what I did, the outcome that came would have been delivered whether I wanted it to or not, or whether I worked harder or not.

I hated that I couldn’t control it.

I crumbled.

The months following were very dark for me. I had built a certain ideal of what my life should look like by now and I struggled with the very real reality that not only had I followed the wrong path, I was completely fucking lost, with no sense of direction and not a thread of hope in sight for understanding why.

I had chosen a career path that I thought I wanted.

I took time between high school and college and worked to get a better understanding of what I was good at and what I liked.

I went to school for three years at Conestoga College, hustled my ass off, got grades I had never dreamed of, accolades from my professors that enjoyed me being in their classes, got bumped into the co-op and advanced diploma program and landed a job all before graduating year.

I was set.

I worked in my field through from entry level to management and back down to events. For 9 years I put my everything into working in a marketing department at a Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 job that always meant 9 to 7, 8, 9, and sometimes (read: usually) even later nights and weekends. I took pride in what I did and what I had the training and skill set in. Safe to say I loved it at one point.

This is what I had been told my whole life success looked like: sitting all day in a stuffy office with some people that I really loved and some I would never dream of spending my energy on if I wasn’t literally paid to.

Please don’t get me wrong, I met some very important people in those offices – people who still mean the world to me, even if we’re not as close as we once were. People who taught me valuable lessons in life about love and following your heart and not letting anyone stand in your way when you want something. As with all tales of hurt, it’s only a waste if you don’t take the lessons and hold onto the blessings that were provided while in the struggle. It’s only a waste if you let your heart become bitter from it all.

So this was the path I was on, with the stuffy offices and the life revolving career that I thought I loved.

And then I was let go.

Three times…in a row.

Each for a different reason. Each with a different feeling of relief, grief or shock. Each being delivered in a different way, facing a different person doing the letting go.

Each horrible in their own way.

I had never been fired before.

What was wrong with me? Why did I keep picking these companies with failing positions and horrible management? Was it me? Was I not good enough at what I did?

Then I asked myself why I was letting it define me as a person? Why was what I did so attached to my identity?

It’s the first thing a person will ask you when first getting to know you – what do you do? As though that is the most important aspect of who you are to determine if you’re a person of value to know. What happened to care of community, interest in heart and soul, work-life balance? When did what I do become so important to me and whose values was I adopting? When did the bottom line become so much more than the people who helped you get there? When did a pay cheque determine who I was inside, and what I could do for my community?

No wonder I was so lost.

It’s just a job!

It didn’t mean I wasn’t still a kick-ass employee, an awesome co-worker and team member and it sure as hell did not mean I as a person was worth any less.

It was just a job.

Personally when I’m lost I take council.

So off I went, having lunches with mentors and coffee with friends. Getting to know me from their eyes again, having them ask me just the right questions to get me to think in the right way, to seek the answers I so desperately needed.

It helped a little for sure. Having one mentor ask me in particular to close my eyes and think about what a perfect day off would be to me definitely kickstarted the journey. I sat, at first feeling rather silly closing my eyes for such an extended period of time in a crowded sushi restaurant, but then I let go and saw getting up early while it’s still dark out and taking off for a sunrise hike in the Escarpment, catching the top before the sun really peaks onto the horizon, while sitting and drinking my coffee. “Now, in that feeling you feel doing that, lies your answer,” he responded like my very own inspirational bumper sticker.

Great. How the hell does one make a living on a feeling?

And then on a whim I returned to Moksha Yoga Cambridge for a Friday night Karma class.

I’d attended before and always liked them, but this time I felt a deeper connection. Chantal, the amazing soul who lead us in practice, had began the class by reading the following perspective-snapping verse:

IMG_0451

It hit me then: why was I wallowing over a job that had literally been stealing my life from me? Working 60, sometimes 80 hour work weeks, feeling empty inside…that was not a loss. I had gained.

By the end of class I had finally settled into a place of peace, where my brain was quiet, my mind was present, there was not a worry on my shoulders. My whole body humming from the release.

I had let it go.

I decided to sign up for their introductory month and attend as many classes as I could to get a real taste.

About two weeks in, I practiced with Wendy, co-owner and teacher at Moksha Cambridge. It was a particularly rough day where I hadn’t exactly felt the desire to leave the house, but knew I needed it. I sat in the parking lot right before practice and swallowed back tears, self-talking my way into calming down and getting my butt into the studio.

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of practicing at MYC you will know the second you step in that door that it is an impossible place to have a heavy heart. The smiles from the front desk, and warm welcomes from the regulars that were starting to recognize me helped me to shake a bit of the worry off my shoulders.

Throughout class, I connected to my practice in ways that I had only aspired to before. I experienced two breakthroughs in positions where I really had to trust in order to open up and by the end had tears of relief streaming into the sweat that dripped off me and onto my mat. I had experienced my first “Aha!” moment.

It was incredible.

I didn’t know how or why or what just yet, but I want to help people live their lives like this. To remove stress from their lives, the weight off their shoulders, to find balance, harness the power of peace and acceptance and to live in the moment – this moment – because it’s the only one that really matters, that we really have, ever. You can plan and predict and decide how you want your life to be as much as you want – but at the end of the day, if you’re ignoring your heart and ignoring who you really are, God and the Universre will find ways to re-direct you when you’re lost until you ‘get it’. If you’re open to it. If not, you will just keep hitting the same challenges over and over again until you are.

IMG_0454

I still don’t know how, or why, or what just yet, but I know that yoga, specifically Moksha, is going to play a huge part in it and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.

~ Toni

Advertisements

The final lap

I realized yesterday that in a few short weeks, I will be entering into the very last year of my 20s.

I was sitting on Julia’s couch, gabbing about the accomplishment of partially teaching Isaac to say my name, my goal before my birthday, when it dawned on me that my deadline was now in terms of weeks, and much sooner than I thought. Julia was quick to point out that it was the last of the 20s, with a big grin.

The end of an era.

A milestone I have long looked forward to, truthfully.

People say that your thirties are totally different. But good different.

I’m pretty pumped about the whole thing. I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I kinda do feel a bit like a fine wine, slowly getting better over time.

I feel like this back half of my 20s have felt very…vivid, is the only word I can come up with in attempt to describe it.

The highs and the lows have all felt very vivid.

The balance of life, if you will, but with the good majorly out weighing the bad, thank God.

Michael proposed and we faced some of the tougher challenges of life together in these years – I’m so grateful for our friendship, love and passion for one another because it meant we faced them together and grew even stronger as a team. Go us! Some of those challenges would have been so much harder to face alone, almost unbearable for me.

I’ve been able to take some very negative more recent experiences in my career life, and cling desperately to the feeling I have in my soul that it’s all for a very specific reason. When you’re not listening to the tiny whisper in your soul, life has this funny way of redirecting until we ‘get it’.

I got it.

Well, I haven’t yet. But I know I’m well on my way, and leaps and bounds closer than I was a month ago.

I’m getting it.

I said to a long lost friend the other day that I am not who I was a few years ago because something amazing has a chance of happening when you hit rock bottom and are severely wounded in the process by some of the people that you cared for the most.

I was lucky enough to look around when I hit that proverbial bottom and in doing so realized that I came out clean with the people who truly matter sticking by me through it all.

Now that is a blessing of a bounce if you ask me. To know who is on your team no matter what kind of shitty day you’ll have to face is pretty fabulous.

The part about getting older that I love the most though, is the odd realization of how precious time is.

This will help you make time for the people that are important, that you care about, and give you the reasoning for saying “no” to the ones who just aren’t. The double edge sword of this is coming to the slow realization of who made exactly that decision about us, and determined we just weren’t worth the spending of precious time.

But it’s part of life, of growth, of growing up.

Letting people go is something most people, myself included, have had to face by this stage of life – whether by choice, or even harder, death. It’s the ache of what’s left behind, what almost happened, the words you wish you’d said sooner, the forgiveness you wish you’d given faster, the moments you wished you would have paid more attention to. Some, you never quite get over.

As I stride towards 30, I’m fighting for that balance between a heart that loves as wildly as my beautiful nieces and nephews, as cautiously as my jaded nature needs me to and a soul that always stays a little bit tender with some hope, no matter what.

I’m hoping that my ever increasing love of yoga will help to keep me more mindful, present and most importantly help me to remember to keep breathing – something I’ve been known to have trouble with. I feel like part of my rebuilding process from this latest bump in the road has to largely be attributed to my involvement with my practice.

My favourite breakthrough I’ve had with yoga so far is that my intense desire to be still should be fed.

IMG_0441

Psalm 46:10

Being still allows you to see and hear things that God wants you to know, but are too busy rushing around with daily responsibilities to hear.

It connects you back to your heart, forces you to take a listen. Can often help you to see.

Recently it helped me confront a situation that has been giving me all sorts of heartache without the fear of not being in control of the outcome – my usually crippling downfall.

How completely liberating.

To be totally honest, brazen if you will, with someone and then let go enough to accept whatever may come, doesn’t come naturally to me by any means. But over the past 5 years, I have realized this practice is so important for survival.

Couple that with the understanding that everyone in your life has only a certain amount of love to give you – for some people that means heaps and heaps of love, and for some that means it may leave you struggling to understand why they treat you the way they do. The kicker here is figuring out that you have the opportunity to either accept that love, or walk away from it. You get to truly choose if the way someone shows you love, and how much they are capable of giving, is acceptable to you. I find peace in the knowing it doesn’t reflect on your heart by any means and that often times it has nothing to do with you at all.

Hardest. Lesson. Ever.

I’m feeling better and better about this old soul of mine as I prepare to take this next lap around the sun, the final of my 20s. I feel like I am so much closer to where I want to be spiritually, physically and mentally, as a person – the truly important milestones.

I really can’t wait to learn what’s next.

~ Toni

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