So I’m my late twenties… now what?

Halfway through 2019, and here I am: blogging/e-journalling with a creeping migraine. Some days I feel great about where I’m headed, the progress I’ve made. Other days I feel like I’m so far behind everyone else, why even bother trying?

I’m 27, turning 28 in a few months. Eek. Did I think I’d be here when I was eighteen? Definitely not.

When I was teenager, I thought I’d have everything together by 28. Maybe engaged, or married. Career thriving. Travelling the world. Making and saving comfortably. I thought I’d be the fittest I’d ever be, and basically just have all my shit together.

Now that I’m sitting here, reflecting on the past 10 years, one thing I know to be true is no matter what age you are, it never really feels or looks the way you think it’s going to. I have a pretty unoriginal theory that our physical bodies age at a much faster rate than our minds and souls, leaving us feeling like time has flown by before we’ve had the chance to really live.

I mean, yes, I have a lot more experience and am a completely different person than who I was ten years ago. At the same time, it feels like high school graduation was just yesterday.

Needless to say, 2019/Year 27 has been a year of renewal and realignment. It’s been a year of questioning old beliefs, digging up and healing old wounds, rediscovering who I am NOW today (not who I wanted to be 5-6 years ago), and updating my list of goals and dreams accordingly.

It’s been a year of learning how to set boundaries (still learning), and stepping into my flow whilst relinquishing control at the same time… I know, it hurts my brain too.

Where I think these next 10 years are headed is focusing on becoming the most raw, authentic version of myself possible. The most raw, authentic, creative, go-getting, stock-investing, TFSA/RRSP-maxing, take-no-bullshit, happy, conscious version of myself.

Yayyyyyy. I’m not gonna lie, I’m kinda scared. But then I remember life is extremely, extremely short. All of this life is just going to pass me in the blink of an eye, and none of this small stuff (overthinking, over-worrying, being scared) will really matter.

Then I just breathe, take it all in, and enjoy this beautiful fragile human life for what it is: a tiny blip in the grand history of time. So important and consequential, yet so meaningless and inconsequential. Everything we do matters, and nothing we do matters. Ultimately, therefore, life is what you make it.

What I wish for in my life is to have made a difference in the world for the better, to have loved and been loved, to tell great stories, to create, to laugh, to cry, to give generously; to stand up for what I believe in; to not waste a single second of my precious time and attention; to appreciate every moment, even the bad; to pass on, free of burden and regret.

What do you wish to accomplish in your lifetime?

🌻 #WhereHappinessBegins
IG: @WhereHappinessBegins_

Featured Image by Wolf Zimmermann on Unsplash

Having Total Control vs Having a Life

@WhereHappinessBegins_ @RubyEtc_ When You're Controlling

🙄🙋🏻‍♀️ I’m a control freak y’all.
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Yep. I like to control things. Which is GREAT for detail-oriented work. It makes me very scrupulous and meticulous. Not so great for everyday life though.
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I’m a controlling free spirit. Contradictory, right?

Basically, I’m “spontaneous” until something seriously screws with my plans/vision. I’m adventurous until something unpredictable blindsides me —> What??? 😂🤔
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Up until my early-mid twenties, I wanted to control and contain the unpredictable; my emotions/reactions, my thoughts, relationships, events, other people’s emotions/reactions/actions.
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I would do this through subtle manipulation via domination, people pleasing, mirroring, lying, being passive aggressive, playing games, and “pushing” the right buttons so that things would turn out the way I want.
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Why? Because if I get to say what’s what and who’s what, my ego is safe – I’m safe. If I get to call the shots, control, and predict what’s going to happen, I minimize the risk of getting hurt or left behind. It means not having to deal with as many “difficult”, “annoying”, unwanted, and painful situations.
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My saving grace was my empathy and emotional flexibility. I never INTENTIONALLY wanted to behave that way, nor was it an everyday occurrence. But it was the result of operating from a place of ego, scarcity, and fear.
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In those oft fight or flight moments, I didn’t know how else to be. In a world of “winners” and “losers”, I didn’t think there was any other way to protect myself, or get what I want. And I chose to turn a blind eye to how it was impacting my life and the people in it.
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If you want total control, that’s fine. But understand that total control is an illusion. It doesn’t exist.
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In trying to never fail, never get hurt, and always get “what I want”, I also got an inflated ego, frustration, cynicism, resentment, judgement, and broken relationships.
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So I choose having a life. I choose imperfection. I choose laughter. I choose friendship. I choose kindness. I choose happiness, and I choose sanity.

🌻 #WhereHappinessBegins
@WhereHappinessBegins_
Illustration via @rubyetc_

Becoming the local traveller – bringing wonderment and curiosity to your hometown

✈️🌁🏙🌉🌃✈️
Location: Basel, Switzerland
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I love to travel. Don’t we all? All the new sights, smells, places to explore, foods to try, cultures to observe. Every city/town with its unique hums and beats.
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Even more-so, is this profound sense of PRESENCE many of us experience whilst travelling. Because so many things are NEW and different from our usual routine, everything grabs our attention.
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🤔 We NOTICE more. We are more aware of our surroundings, how others act and behave, and in turn, how we act and behave. In other words, for many of us, we become much more mindful.
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😍 We find inspiration in the shops, and the architecture of the city. We find an electric aliveness in its hustle and bustle, and bask in the peaceful and quiet tranquility of a small town. We are more willing to try new things.
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🙌🏼 In this new place, we are away and free from all the expectations, and the “us” – the version of ourselves we’ve become accustomed to – that only exists at our lives back home.
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🙋🏻‍♀️ In this new environment, we are freed up to move and speak and choose a little differently. We are not so confined and constrained to the “we” we think we ought to be, or the “us” our friends and family have gotten to know.
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What if we could be our curious, open-minded, free, adaptable, and happy traveller selves back home too?
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And I get that there are many people who travel and are just as stressed out, rude, and uptight as they are at home. But in my experience, even the grouchiest of Ebenezer Scrooges are more willing to try something new.
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What if we took this long Easter weekend to really look and SEE our lives, the places we live, and our friends and family through the eyes of a curious and wandering tourist?
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What would it be like to approach everything and everyone – including ourselves – with a sense of renewal everyday?
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A clean slate, every day.
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The wonderment and joy of exploration and discovery, every day.
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I think life would look pretty awe-some, wherever we are in the world.

🌻 #WhereHappinessBegins
#CraveGoodTravel
@WhereHappinessBegins_

Make a choice to stand for something.

@WhereHappinessBegins_ Know Your Worth Illustration by @AshleyMurrayCo🌻🤔💭
“If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for everything.” – Alexander Hamilton
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This is a popular quote I heard a lot growing up. While I got it theoretically, I don’t think I ever understood what it meant.
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I’ve always been able to see multiple sides of an equation. This has been both useful and detrimental in my life.
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My Pros:
• I’m a great mediator in disagreements; between two opposing views
• Mostly open-minded to different opinions, experiences, and ideas
• I would do well on any side of a debate at school 😝
• When I DO decide on something i.e. an opinion or belief, I get REALLY excited; feel peaceful, grounded, and unstoppable from the sense of assuredness
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My Cons:
• Easily swayed/lacking solid ground to stand on because I can see merits to all sides/opinions
• Feeling a weakness in my identity and a sense of being lost/not knowing myself
• Prone to overthinking and rumination because there are SO many sides and factors to consider
• Prone to indecisiveness as a result
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As I continue to grow, experience, and develop, what I’m discovering is the balance between open-mindedness and making a CHOICE, i.e. choosing where I stand on an issue. They are not and do not have to be mutually exclusive.
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Making a choice doesn’t mean I’m necessarily saying the opposition is “wrong” or invalid.
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Making a choice doesn’t mean closing myself off to other possibilities or being rigid. NOR does being open-minded mean I’m forced to take on ALL other possibilities and opinions.
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A choice is simply a statement that while both A and B may be true and valid in different contexts, when held up against my own goals and values, I am more committed to B than I am to A. Or vice versa.
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A choice is nothing more than a stronger commitment and alignment with one option, over another. And for some people, it is much MUCH stronger.
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Regardless, in order to move the conversation along, I think we could all do with a little more willingness to acknowledge opinions and experiences that are different to our own.

🌻 #WhereHappinessBegins
@WhereHappinessBegins_
Illustration via @ashleymurray.co

Don’t be afraid of doing things and going places by yourself!

@WhereHappinessBegins_ People Watching in Singapore

Does anybody else enjoy being by themselves over a quiet meal or coffee, and just people watch, or be with their thoughts?
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I love eating, drinking (coffee/tea), shopping, running errands by myself. I love going to Chapters Indigo and spending the afternoon tucked away in a corner, or sitting at a communal table.
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In my life, people have often expressed how they could never do that, or prefer to be with others, or that being out alone makes them feel weird or self-conscious.
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While having welcomed company is wonderful, there is such benefit to learning to become comfortable with your self and your own thoughts, and learning to put your happiness over what you THINK people are thinking about you.
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Trust me, no one’s looking. And if they are, they are either genuinely curious, or judgemental. Either way, what other people think of you, is none of your business – in this context, anyway!
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🤔 I love observing others.
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☕️🍜 I love being able to savour a meal or beverage fully.
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🙋🏻‍♀️ I love being able to say where I want to go, and how long I choose to be there for.
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💭💫 What a wonderful opportunity it is for ideas and questions to spark and grow.
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🧘🏻‍♀️ I love practicing being present, in my body, and noticing my thoughts.
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🌞 I love being able to bask in the luxury of “nowhere to be but here and now”, and in the spaciousness of time that is 100% mine.
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Spending these moments alone makes me have to be CLEAR on, “What IS it that I want right now?? What do I want to do, now that I have ALL the say?”
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This weekend, carve some time out to be by yourself. You know all those places you’ve been wanting to go to, or things you’ve been wanting to do/see that no one else seems to be interested in, or interested in ENOUGH to go? Take yourself!
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To that restaurant or coffee shop. To that “Instagram-worthy” place. To that movie, concert, event, exhibition, class, workshop, seminar! To the store. To the beach. Go on a long walk. Life is too short to have our actions dictated by what others are willing or not willing to accompany us for.

🌻 #WhereHappinessBegins
@WhereHappinessBegins_

Healthy Boundaries: Saying YES or NO to Making Plans This Weekend

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As an introvert, this could very well be my motto. Don’t get me wrong, I love going out and doing things. My social calendar was especially jam-packed from age thirteen to my early twenties. These days, not so much.

When I turned 22 or 23, I went from being a busy bee social butterfly – from always needing to be in the social “loop” – to pretty much being a hermit homebody. Maybe it was all those years of non-stop social stimulation catching up to me. Maybe my true introvert self had finally had enough.

Whatever the reason, I have a tendency to operate in extremes.

So when I initially stumbled across this graphic (via @thehavenly) earlier this week, I thought, “YES! Exactly! Say no to plans this weekend! Self-care! Woohoo!”

NATURALLY as a result, I now have four separate plans this weekend, and at least three confirmed plans for next week. Say what?!

My inner introvert is quaking.

While I will likely need to decompress with a good amount of downtime afterward, one thing that really surprised me this week was the realization that I’ve actually missed having regular and authentic human connection. Yes. What a shock.

The key to regular and authentic human connection means saying yes to the things that genuinely bring me fulfillment and joy. That begins with knowing what I value, my boundaries, the kind of person I want to be, and the kind of life I want to live.

A few years ago, a trending message in the self-help world was saying “yes”! Saying yes to new opportunities, invitations, experiences, etc. These days, a lot of the conversation I see and hear is focused on saying “no”. In a society that seems to go back and forth on the subject, YOUR ability to discern when to say “yes” or “no” will be your key to happiness.

Depending on the day and context, it may serve your happiness and wellbeing to say yes to some things; other days, it may be prudent to your wellbeing and self-care to say no. This includes learning how to assert boundaries with “yes, and/but” or “no, and/but”.

When you accept an invitation, remember you get to say when, where and for how long. Only you know what it is you truly need, others may have different needs and can’t read your mind, so don’t be afraid to express those needs.

For example, on Monday, I will be going to a rock show with a new friend. The show goes from 7pm to midnight at a popular venue downtown. With my growing hours of unpaid sleep debt, and an already jam-packed weekend, my inner introvert doth protest. But here’s the thing:

  1. I want to get to know my new friend better
  2. I love music and haven’t been out to a show in a long time
  3. I have the opportunity to go to this show for free
  4. I want to let my hair loose and have some fun!

I weighed the pros and cons, and the rewards I would receive (social connection, inspiration, enjoying great music) were well worth the cost (a few extra hours of sleep and downtime). AND I know the cost is not something to be taken lightly. How I’m taking responsibility for this is by:

  • Getting clear on what I need to feel healthy, happy and well next week
  • Asserting my “Yes, and/but” boundaries
  • Scheduling in time for very intentional downtime and regeneration between plans over the weekend, prior to going out on Monday, AND on Tuesday

My “Yes, and/but” to my friend was this… Yes! I will come, AND/BUT I will probably leave around 9 or 930 because I need to catch up on sleep. Does that work for you?

Admittedly, the response I got surprised even me. Not only was my friend okay with the boundary I was setting, he was so relaxed and nice about it! Needless to say, I think our friendship is going to develop just fine.

Are you grounded in what your mind and body needs? What are you saying yes or no to this weekend?

#WhereHappinessBegins
Instagram @WhereHappinessBegins_

None of us are entitled to our dreams, and we ALL have the right to pursue them.

I regularly find myself laying in bed, scrolling through Instagram, being flooded with thoughts of, “What is the point of blogging, or sharing anything online? Why do I even bother? I don’t stand a chance!”

Whatever your “thing” is, whether it’s photography, poetry, self-development, fitness, cooking/food, travel, beauty, music, business, female empowerment, dogs, cats – or any of the hundreds of other categories and specific niches under said categories – there are likely already hundreds of thousands of other people sharing and passionate about the exact same thing.

With that mindset, it can be pretty disheartening to attempt, well… anything in life.

*distant cries of all the projects I’ve started and stopped in my adult life*

But wait a minute. Why am I even trying to “keep up” with the rest of the internet?? And what is it that I don’t think I stand a chance in exactly? Being Instagram famous? Blogger famous? I mean, Seriously? Is this really what I’ve come to?

Here’s the thing. Pre-social media, in the days of the internet dial-up, I’ve been creative writing since I was 7-years-old, and journalling/blogging since I was 10 or 11. I read, wrote, drew, performed, doodled, documented, photographed. From a young age, I’ve been awestruck and inspired by art & artists, innovation & problem-solving, design, philosophy, and the many intricate details of human life and behaviour. I’ve always found different ways to express my inner world and tell stories.

My point is, when you are clear on the things you’re authentically passionate about and why, none of that other stuff matters. It doesn’t matter how many likes or followers you get. It doesn’t matter whether your passion turns into a full-fledged career, or remains as a hobby. Although, I’ll admit that being seen and acknowledged is way more fun than not at all. And how fun would it be to get to “play” and create for a living?

(Pssst. As someone who is a full-time creative freelancer who gets to work from home every day, be careful what you wish for!)

 

I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer. – Jim Carrey

I believe the act of creating alone should be enough to bring you fulfillment, with or without recognition. So here are a few questions I’ve asked myself:

If the internet did not exist, would I still be doing this, or its relevant equivalent? If the internet did not exist, would I still want to do this for a living, would it be a hobby, or would I be interested in something different?

What is it that I truly want, and think I’m going to achieve by pursuing this?

For example, in my teens and early twenties, I was certain I had to be an actor, or writer/author. What I realize now in my mid-late twenties is what I truly wanted and want is a platform where I’m free to express my thoughts and be creative; to provoke deeper feeling and thought in myself and others; to open conversations; to help others alleviate pain and suffering.

That desire isn’t attached to any specific thing, vocation, or “dream” I have for myself. Nor is it attached to a specific platform.

It is ESPECIALLY not attached to any number of likes, views, or followers.

We are all blessed to be living in an era where making an income through our hobbies and passions is more viable than ever. On the flip side, many of us forget that it is actually a privilege to be able to do so – especially for the younger generations for whom this way of life is all they’ve ever known.

None of us are entitled to our dreams, and we ALL have the right to pursue them.

What you have to share, create, do, or say does matter, and can make a difference.

My only interjection is that whatever you pursue, do it because you truly believe in what you’re doing and why. Not because you desire fame or recognition, or because everyone else is doing it and you’re scared of missing out.

#WhereHappinessBegins
Instagram @WhereHappinessBegins_

Why you should tell the truth and assert your boundaries, no matter what.

As I’m writing these blogs, it’s becoming clear to me just how paralyzed I have been in so many areas of life. Not only do I get stuck in ‘analysis paralysis’, but I’ve been paralyzed in communication from such a young age.

Ever since I can remember, it’s been difficult for me to assert my needs and boundaries. The interesting thing is I’ve never had a problem with being confrontational, or sharing my opinions and beliefs. So what gives? What is the key differentiator that separates the occasions when I’m outspoken vs. unable to verbalize my needs?

Avoiding things that risk my self-esteem, or ego.

As I speculate, one thing that comes to mind is Risk. It’s easy to share my thoughts and feelings on subjects I feel particularly passionate or knowledgeable about, i.e. I feel confident I’m not going to appear foolish. It’s also easy for me to share in social situations in which I feel safe, unthreatened, or socially dominant.

However, when it comes to scenarios where there may be a risk to my esteem and ego, or risks a relationship I care about (professional or personal), suddenly I’m mousey, and revert to a childlike version of myself. As a result of not asserting my beliefs and needs, I develop resentment, frustration, and diminished sense of worth.

Other repercussions include the breakdown of many relationships/friendships, staying in certain relationships for far too long, dissatisfaction in my work/career, feeling like I “never” get what I want, feeling like I’m GIVING too much, and just a general feeling of unease.

By not asserting my boundaries, which I see as the healthy walls we must put up to keep happiness IN, I end up building a different kind of boundary – the kind that keeps happiness OUT.

For ease of distinction, let’s label the latter as “Borders”; the primary definition of which according to Oxford Dictionary is, “A line separating two countries, administrative divisions, or other areas.” Keyword: separating.

Borders, boundaries, walls, the elephant in the room, whatever you choose to call it, the results are the same: they build a barrier between you and other people. Between you and love. Between you and what really matters. They get in the way of you getting what you truly want. Build a border high enough, and eventually you’ll block out any sunlight from getting in; light that is essential to your growth.

It becomes easy to be cynical and resentful of others.

 

That doesn’t mean walking around being a total A-hole with disregard for other people’s feelings. But it does mean cutting the bullshit that WILL eventually break the relationship down, anyway.

To tell you from personal experience, it feels so much better to finally air out your truth. Truly. The liberation and lightness you feel after unloading a truth will have you dancing down the street—EVEN if it costs you the relationship.

Is it easy? Nope. Is it risky? Yep. Nerve-wracking, exciting, scary, makes you feel alive? Yep, yep, yep, and yep. Does it put your relationships at risk? Yes! It absolutely may.

Here’s the thing: a relationship sustained on half-truths and resentment is no relationship at all. You are not doing anyone any favours by holding back. That doesn’t mean walking around being a total A-hole with disregard for other people’s feelings. But it does mean cutting the bullshit that WILL eventually break the relationship down, anyway. And if it’s not the relationship that breaks down, it will be your happiness, quality of life, and well-being that does.

Bullshit takes no prisoners, my friends. And for the most part, healthy relationships are able to withstand truthful and authentic communications.

What truthful and authentic communication includes:

  • Care/empathy
  • Open listening without internal dialogue
  • Vulnerability
  • Responsibility
  • Self-awareness
  • Genuine curiosity
  • Respect for myself and others

What truthful and authentic communication DOESN’T include:

  • Blame/accusation
  • A fixed point of view
  • Defensiveness
  • Assumption – including any unconfirmed “intuitions”
  • Expectation or setting the other person up to fail
  • Labelling the other person, or their actions
  • A fixed agenda

8 times out of 10, when I’m communicating from a place that is truthful and authentic, I am able to come to a new understanding with the other person or people, and resolve any issues/concerns at hand. Even when things don’t work out, expressing your truth—your needs, wants, boundaries, feelings and concerns—is completely rewarding on its own.

People aren’t mind-readers!

Expressing your truth also makes it SO much easier for the people in your life to actually contribute to your happiness! Instead of making them the reason for your unhappiness.

Can YOU read minds with 100% accuracy? If not, you should probably stop expecting others to read yours.

#WhereHappinessBegins
Instagram @WhereHappinessBegins_