Reasons I Love Him.

A friend once told me that she believes “most couples” are just settling because they don’t want to be alone. Personally, I think that’s a load of bollocks. I’m sure people do that. In fact, I know people who do that and have known them to wake up one day and realize they’re been with the wrong person for too long and they need to get out of their situation.

I’m fortunate to have found someone that I love. I just love him. I don’t have to think about it, or overthink

it. I don’t have to worry I’ll never hear from him again. I don’t have to stress about the future so much (even though I do sometimes if only because I am eager to see what my future looks like). I am with someone who supports me and who I support, who isn’t physically here but is always in my thoughts and vice versa. Who I can tease relentlessly and who will tease me relentlessly but who at the end of the day always has my back and loves everything about me.

If someone were to ask me exactly what I see in him, I would tell them about the many many great qualities he has that I see and feel and that no one at this moment or perhaps ever again, could replace.

His friends and family love him and they’re happy to see him happy.
A mark of a good person is how much the people around them love and cherish them. And to see that brings me so much palpable joy. I love seeing my boyfriend’s friends and family happy to see him, sad to miss him, and supportive of his pursuits. I’m fortunate to be with someone whose social circles love him so much they accepted and wanted to get to know me right away just because I’m important to them.

He’s brave.
He is always trying things and facing the music and being a leader – he’s outgoing and fearless and even when I know he’s nervous he stands his ground and just goes for it anyway. I’m not as brave as I could be or should be and having someone brave around me makes me braver. I admire his bravery. I admire his courage all the time.

He works hard.
He doesn’t care what he needs to do, he sees everything as a means to an end. Everything he has or doesn’t have is hard-won and he’s worked hard for the life he has and the choices he’s made. Having someone around you who works so hard is inspirational and wonderful.

He’s emotionally open and available.
I wouldn’t say he’s seen me at my worst but he’s certainly seen the less-than-perfect sides of me. He’s nursed me for day-long hangovers and seen me throw up and say things that were stupid or vulnerable or crazy or maybe not the most appropriate to say to your boyfriend. And he loves me more for these things. He’s someone who says how he’s feeling and tends not to shy away from difficult conversations. He’ll ask questions that are straight-up but that he is legitimately curious about knowing. He comes from a place of emotional openness. He is sensitive and empathetic.

He’s wicked-smart.
He knows a little bit about almost everything. He has strong, well-formed opinions on the state of the world and the state of art and the state of foodie culture. When we first started dating, I was a little daunted by his intelligence but luckily, he’s emotionally intelligent as well and he makes me feel validated and smart and important too.

He’s romantic. 
I never saw myself with a ‘romantic’ guy because I thought ‘romance’ was kind of dead and most of the guys I’ve dated were man-children who didn’t ever go that extra mile. Romance is a guy who texts you goodnight every night when you’re apart. Romance is a guy who will always hold doors open for you, carry your bags, tell you how beautiful and amazing you are. Romance is  a guy who will surprise you with a nice hotel room and a bottle of Prosecco on some idle Friday night when you’re not expecting it. Romance is a guy who feels badly he can’t afford to take you to a 5-star restaurant for Valentine’s Day and tells you that you deserve the best – but you feel the best because you’re on the arm of this super sweet, daring, romantic guy.

He has a lovely family.
Before now, I had never met a boyfriend’s family. Due to the circumstances we’re in now in our relationship, I have become very well-acquainted with my boyfriend’s family and they are lovely. They’re hilarious and kind and accepting of me and welcoming and warm and it’s so nice to be around people like that. Especially when they’re extensions of your person.

Bukowski And The Greatest Thing He Ever Said

M:

I believe in this philosophy whole-heartedly but could never quite find the right words. So thank you Bukowski, and thank you Katya Polo!

Originally posted on Thought Catalog:

13135429114_a7646a4d3e_oFlickr/Barney Moss

Anyone who knows me knows I have a thing for Charles Bukowski. His passion. His vulgarity. His cool way of stringing together words and creating masterpieces you almost have to read through quickly for fear of the poetry reaching the darkest, untouched corners of your soul.

It’s safe to say his work touches me in ways most work won’t. So it’s to no one’s surprise that I live by something he said. Two little, simple words:

DON’T TRY.

Bukowski is known for great work, all rugged, raw and real; appropriately reflective of the man. But I find that the more of his work I read, the more his words take turns dusting off this philosophy, bringing clarity to the simple, seven letter tenet he threw into an old letter:

“Somebody asked me: ‘What do you do? How do you write, create?’ You don’t, I told them. You don’t…

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What I Learned from Falling-Outs and Breakups.

When I say “relationships” I am speaking not just about romantic relationships but friendships as well.

Some of us are blessed to not have too many falling-outs with people or breakups or fights. Some of us seem to attract volatile people and through (only some) fault of our own, tend to face the brunt of anger, fights, passive-aggressiveness and bitterness. We are then left to pick up the pieces, recuperate and then try again. Some of us are blessed (though I don’t know how much of a ‘blessing’ it is) to never have been actually heartbroken. We carry on, thinking that we have only to find ‘the one’, live happily ever after, and never know that kind of devastation or the kind of perspective change it brings about in time.

I have experienced friends doing awful things to me and I’ve been heartbroken. And the lessons learned about yourself and human nature from those experiences is sad yes, but invaluable in carrying on with your life as an adult. Among the most important are the following:

  • It’s not (entirely) anyone’s fault.

    The reality is that sometimes relationships are wrong for you because you bring out the worst in each other. You are jealous of each other and compete with one another so you are incapable of being happy for each other’s success. You tend to influence each other to make poor choices; you influence each other to be snide and snarky and rude. If someone brings out the worst side of you, a side you prefer not to let out of the bag, and if you don’t like who someone is when they’re around you and you don’t like how they treat you, it is what it is, but it shouldn’t last.

  • True friends will NEVER, ever, ever ruin the sanctity of your dignity, or the dignity of your relationships with others.

    They will never belittle you or make you feel stupid for being in love with that loser; they will never use times you have been vulnerable around them to their advantage or to prove a point; they will never downplay or use your relationships with other friends, boyfriends, family members, etc. for personal gain. They won’t flirt with your ex, they won’t usurp someone you saw first, they won’t legitimately make you feel guilty for the time you spend with other people, and they won’t make fun of you for deeply personal aspects of your life, history and mental wellness.

  • In retrospect, you can see bad friends coming a mile away.

    The falling-outs I’ve had with friends started the day I met the person I’d eventually fall out with. A boyfriend who loves you as much as you love them won’t make you wait for them, won’t make you feel insane and crazy and needy because you don’t see them as often as you need to. Similarly, a good friend won’t make you feel small or belittled even in the early ‘honeymoon stage’ of your friendship. You may have forgiven them for all these little grating things in the past that made you question loyalties, or you may let feelings trump logic. But at the end of the day, it was bad from the start.

  • If something seems too good, too strong, too intense, too passionate to be grounded, adult and realistic… it probably is.

    How obsessed do you need to be with people? How often do you need to see and talk to them? How often do you need to proclaim your love for someone in public? If it gets to a point where everyone else around you is so tired of your constant communication and your constant grandiose proclamations about how so-and-so is “the most important, amazing, beautiful/handsome, incredible person in the whole entire world”… maybe they have a reason to be. This kind of passion is fun and fills us with this joy and validation that we may seek – but it’s not sustainable. And we probably don’t need to express it publically every minute of every day. Some things are meant just for you and your person.

  • Friendship breakups are harder than relationship breakups.

    I can’t quite articulate why this is, but it’s simply the truth; a friend breakup isn’t something where you sit down with someone and can tell them you ‘don’t see this progressing anymore and we should see other people’. The reality is that we have more than one friend and various friends will come and go in and out of our lives. We don’t need to break up with someone or end things in a formal way because usually, friendships run their course for one reason or another (usually time and distance and being not-so-amazing at keeping in touch regularly). Sometimes though, a friendship meets its catastrophic, colossal, end-all-and-be-all finale. And then it is over.

    Describing the pain of this scenario and why it hurts so much is difficult,but let me try: It is like every memory you have is over and done with, and soured by this ending. It is like every time you were ever vulnerable and open and expressed these scary girly truths was based on this huge disingenuous lie; you feel this loss not because you lost the intimacy of love, but you lost the intimacy and faith in a constant companion that you could even tell more to than your own significant other; you feel like you lost a sister; you feel like you are mourning the death of something that you honestly put hours, days, years, and countless amounts of effort into not because you had to, but because it made you happier than anything. Those pie dates on snowy Sunday afternoons, those late night martini girl talks, shopping excursions, birthday girls’ trips… it’s gone. It’s all gone. And everyone hates you for feeling this way. At least a breakup is only really between the two of you.

  • You should un-plug.

    Nowadays we live in a world where you can constantly check in on someone without their knowledge. When friendships end or relationships end for whatever reason, we want to look at people and see who they’re dating now, what they look like, and what’s happened to them since things ended.

    Why do we do this? What are we hoping to find? Everyone knows that for the most part, we broadcast and focus on representing our best selves online, especially if we’ve recently broken up with someone. So all you’re going to see is the best of someone. So then, what’s the point?

    I’ve done this and I’m guilty of it and it’s never made me feel good. In fact, it’s made me feel vengeful and frustrated and lost. So, I’m done. I’m done with playing this stupid passive-aggressive game of “who’s winning” on social media. I’m done and I’m over it. And I’m unplugging. I hope I can expect the same from others.

  • Lastly… who you’ve broken it off with doesn’t say anything about you as a person.

    We all get involved with people we can’t handle. But conversely, we all (well, most of us anyway…) have others that we have wonderful, healthy, productive and valuable relationships with and who we share mutual love and memories for… they may not last, but they’re there for now. And that’s enough. Just because you’re out with one person doesn’t mean you’re an unfriendly, undateable, awful person. The reality is that sometimes we’re right for each other and sometimes we’re wrong for each other. It’s the courage to be vulnerable, keep trying, keep loving, and keep making connections that matters.

An Open Letter to My Past.

Dear Past:

I am quite fortunate to be able to speak about all of the things I’ve done. I am quite fortunate to have made mistakes and learned from them at the right times – not too early so I was jaded forever, and not too late so that I lacked the life experience and wisdom to move forward in a way that was “age-appropriate”. I am fortunate to have loved and lost, but still strong enough to love and maybe lose, again. I am a well-rounded person for the most part, because you shaped me. I am who I am because of you. This goes for both the good and the bad that you have presented to me.

I do find though, that I am at a loss. I am at times unable to forgive and that difficulty to forgive myself for some of the more unsavoury moments I shared with you manifest themselves in ugly ways – that are self-destructive, or just destructive in general, that I am not proud of. And what I need to remember is that this has little to do with you and more to do with me. It is my abilities (and my inabilities) that at times, make me feel imprisoned within you. I want to let go, but I can’t let go. And I question why I can’t just let things go. I will frequently ask myself, “what good is this?” and “how is this helping?” without a clear answer. And yet, sometimes I just keep doing what I’m doing.

The good news for both of us though, is that we’re both always changing. The more I move forward, the more you move forward. The more I change, the more you change. The more good memories I create, the more good memories you hold onto. Until one day, there will be so much good that I won’t focus so much on the bad. Again, that’s more to do with me and less to do with you. But – there’s hope. There’s hope I can forgive. There’s hope that I can move on. There’s hope that I can look at you and see things differently: that there is sometimes no point in holding onto good things when they’re replaced with bad things; and, there is no point in holding onto bad things when they’re replaced with good things.

We’ll both get there. I need to get there, and I need your help to do that. And someday we’ll figure it out.

Regards,

28 Tidbits of Advice I learned in 28 Years.

So inspired was I by this Thought Catalog article, I decided to dispense some advice of my own based on some key things I learned in 28 years.

1. When it rains, it pours. 

Good, bad… it all happens at once. When you’re in a sea of bad, be assured that it will always be followed by a sea of good.

2. Not every friendship lasts ‘forever’… and that’s okay.

I was once a fervent believer in the concept of a ‘forever friend’ and then that illusion was shattered. I was devestated by it, but I’ve since made peace with the idea that some friendships are finite and as long as you had some good times and learned something about yourself and others and relationships in the process, that’s still valuable.

3. You don’t know what you’re looking for until you find it.

We are all on this quest for the perfect man, the right career, Mr. Right… but we honestly can’t seek those things out. We find what’s right for us, and it may be (probably) that all of our own qualifications are shattered in that moment by what’s actually perfect.

4. You’ll feel sexy when it’s right for you to feel sexy.

True confidence comes from within. No matter how much we diet and exercise and watch what we eat, we may not feel confident until we are in the right place to feel confident. Be patient and kind to yourself.

5. Never under-estimate your mom (or mom figure).

You’ll need her/him at some point. They have wisdom and experience beyond your years and they know you better than pretty much anyone.

6. Open-mindedness is the key to everything.

Try new things. Always. New food, new experiences, new people. It’s always worth it.

7. Don’t wait for the text/call that never comes.

Guys/girls will lose interest and they will treat you like crap, and you’ll let them. Don’t let them. You’re worth more than someone who’s sitting on the fence and needs a plan B.

8. Learn how to bake.

You’ll be amazed on how accomplished, cathartic, comforting and friend-wining it is to bake cookies.

9. Ask for help when you need it.

I almost failed something that was crucially important to me only because I was working in isolation and too shy/afraid/nervous to ask for help and receive feedback.

10. Move out of your parents’ house.

Honestly… please do that.

11. Keep a journal.

Make it a habit to somehow document your past. Sometimes you’ll need your past to cultivate a better future. Sometimes you’ll need it for a good laugh. Sometimes you’ll need to remember your first date with your fiancee or the moment you experienced heartbreak. For these reasons, it’s so important to keep a record of everything important in your life.

12. Move to a new place.

There is so much wonder in a place you don’t know.

13. Fail.

Go far enough with something – a career search, an artistic pursuit, a relationship, learning a new skill – that there is huge potential to fail. You always learn from failure but there is also a chance – even a slim one – that you’ll succeed.

14. Make a bucket list.

Even if you never cross anything off it, once you have the opportunity to do something you’ve always wanted to do, you have a list to refer to.

15. Accept that some things can’t be changed.

Waits in a long lineup, your financial situation, the state of global affairs, the awful result of an election gone wrong… some things cannot be changed. And doing our best with what we have is the best thing there is to do.

16. Tell people you love and appreciate them.

One day, you might have a falling out with someone, or they may dissipate from your life, or God forbid, they may be gone forever. It is never ever a bad thing to tell someone how much you appreciate them and how much you care. Even if one day, you don’t.

17. Be vulnerable.

People who refuse to be vulnerable or show that they can hurt, and cry, and be open to love and rejection, are people who will make the same mistakes over and over again.

18. Remember that formal education is not the end-all and be-all of everything.

We cross all these milestones in our high school, post-secondary, and post-grad education. But at the end of the day, what we’ll remember about those times in our lives are our personal and social-emotional achievements, and the good times we shared with the people around us. Learning – good learning – can take place outside the classroom too.

19. Accept that one day, you’ll hurt someone.

We are all going to have to tell someone something one day that they don’t want to hear. And they might shoot the messenger and get really angry and upset. And that’s as valuable as learning how to cope with our own rejection and our own heartbreak.

20. Survive a breakup in a way that you’re proud of.

Gilmore Girls taught us that wallowing is a part of the breakup process. But  I think once there’s been some wallowing, the best way to get over a breakup is by doing something for ourselves. Getting out of bed, making breakfast, going for a run, getting a new job, a new haircut, a new social circle, a driver’s licence, and a path in life can help us feel like we’re survivors. And we can do it on our own without a white knight to rescue us.

21. Don’t do things you don’t want to do.

We have this pressure to be a certain way – work on our abs, watch certain TV shows, go for runs, be a part of certain social media movements, hop aboard the latest fashion trends – but if you don’t like them, don’t do it. Only do what you like, what you see as valuable, or what is 100% necessary. This is the key to being happy.

22. Realize that where you are is less important than who you’re with.

I live in one of the most beautiful amazing cities in this country if not on the entire planet. And my boyfriend is gone and my best friends live in other places. And, I’m often quite lonely.

23. It always works out in the end.

We get stressed and nervous and afraid of what’s to come. But the reality is, it will ALWAYS be okay. Someone once said to me, “If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” These are words I’ve lived by since I was 14 and I’ve never been steered wrong.

24. We can’t have everything.

This seems pretty obvious – but sometimes we still want everything. And sometimes we still need to remind ourselves that’s not possible, and that’s okay.

25. Nothing in life feels better than having focus.

A career focus, relationship focus, academic focus, or a personal goal… once you have focus, there is clarity and there are blinders, and thus, the ability to truly feel accomplished begins.

26. Never treat people as if they are not equals.

Being blunt or rude to servers or store clerks, talking down to others, patronizing, judging… remember that nobody is better or worse than you are. We all need to do jobs, we all start off as beginners or children and grow up and get older, we all have different abilities.. but that’s okay.

27. Know the difference between sympathy and empathy…

And practice empathy. Always, always be empathetic.

28. Accept yourself.

Don’t compare yourself to others, don’t wish for more than you have, don’t try to be someone else, and don’t be inauthentic, dishonest, or a version of yourself that you can’t live up to. You’re you. You don’t need to be anyone else.

“Life-Changing” Experiences.

I have been on quite a few little trips (nothing ‘big’ or culturally shocking… yet); I’ve seen concerts that made me feel alive and intense and more present than I ever knew I could feel. But… once these experiences are over, they become a part of your memory bank – they may momentarily take you out of your homeostasis, and they may make you appreciate what you have, where you have stepped and walked and breathed, and who your real friends are. You may be able, for years, to speak to these experiences and how amazing they were. But I’m of the opinion that they are not ‘life-changing’ – at least, not the extent as we think they might be in the moment.

To me, only YOU can change your life. And it doesn’t come from getting on a plane or meeting ‘the right person’ or being what you think you want to be. To me, a true “life-changing” experience is when you can look back on that moment for your own self, and realize that before and after a moment, a time, a period, and suddenly have an a-ha moment when you realize you are NOT the same person at all from before that moment, to now.

I used to think my weight loss journey changed my life; it didn’t. I lacked confidence and the ability to go after what I wanted when I was overweight, and I felt unpretty and unloveable and unwanted. But 60lb lost and I still feel this way sometimes. It’s a mindset that stayed, despite the changing of my physical shell. I am healthier on the outside now, and I certainly notice the ways in which people look at me and treat me based on my physical appearance. But, at the end of the day, my consciousness was more or less the same.

I used to think meeting my idol would change my life. And even that didn’t change my life; rather, I felt a sense of wholeness in that moment and in retrospect, a sense of sheer disbelief that I was fortunate enough to have that moment at all. But, it certainly didn’t permanently change me in any way.

If I had to choose actual ‘life-changing’ moments, I would argue that either my journey to becoming a teacher changed my life, and my first heartbreak changed my life. Both of these periods of time re-shaped and re-framed my existence, my ways of thinking about the world, my opinions about life. Both of these occurrences involved very high highs and also profoundly low lows that helps me to re-evaluate my place in the world, my interactions with men, my responsibility to youth as I attempt to step forward into this profession.

Heartbreak taught me that sometimes there isn’t a “Happily ever after” and we’ll never ever know exactly why that’s the case, but eventually we must reach a place where we’re okay with that fact. Heartbreak taught me that you must grieve for as long as it takes; even if you’re ashamed of your grief, even if it makes you jealous and messes with your head and it hurts like a physical stabbing pain. Heartbreak taught me that other people should not be responsible at all for your happiness, your confidence, your feelings. YOU are. Only you. And if you do enough to distract yourself, empower yourself, instill confidence in yourself and make yourself happy and whole and healthy, then you will realize you never needed anyone – especially the person that you thought you needed.

Teaching taught me that in life, assertiveness is one of the most important qualities you can have. And although I’ve by no means mastered the ability to be consistently assertive and ask for what I want and need out of life, I have stepped towards that in a way I didn’t think was possible. Teaching taught me that I don’t believe in things I thought were important – I didn’t believe in feedback if a grade was good (or bad) because the end justified, or pulverized, the means; I believed that teachers didn’t work as hard as everyone proclaimed they did; I believed that teaching meant working in isolation, and not really ‘asking for help'; and I believed that myself as a professional could be, and should be, the same as myself as just me. And all of these beliefs were completely shattered once I stood up in front of a class. Teaching taught me that despite being overworked and stressed and devoting 16-17 hours a day to my vocation, when that hard work pays off, it makes you feel like all is right in the world, and that was a kind of day-to-day accomplishment that I had never experienced before. I was for the first time, a leader, facilitator, mentor, creative mind behind all of my daily tasks, and I had free reign to decide how things would be done and adapt my own practice to suit the needs of those around me. I was in charge. I had never, ever been in charge before. It was an incredible and empowering feeling, and it took me too long to get used to it. Teaching also taught me that looking back is more than just fondness or anger or regret; it is also a window into your future, the opportunity to not make the same mistakes again and if you use those opportunities wisely there is a lot of strength in that experience.

Do I believe that in life, there are really experiences that can “change” everything? Within reason, yes and no. But ultimately I believe that we are in charge of our destinies and being in the right place at the right time, is not going to change anything. Only we can change ourselves. So that we aren’t shaped by experiences, but experiences are shaped by us.