Happiness Challenge, Day 1.

For my first day of this, I took a look at “28 Questions for a Happy Life” The Tiny Buddha. In answering these questions, I hope to find a good starting point for myself to at least begin to feel I am at inner peace.

1. We learn from our mistakes, yet we’re always so afraid to make one. Where is this true for you? I think this is true for me at work and it was certainly true for me in my past dating life. At work I constantly avoid trying new things in case I fail at them. And in my dating life I overthought and planned every move so carefully so as not to look over-eager, and so I would look like the kind of person someone would want to date. 

2. What risk would you take if you knew you could not fail? The one thing that comes to mind is writing. I have abandoned my writing life because it seems impossible and impractical and I just don’t have the time for it anymore. But really, those are excuses I make for myself because I’m afraid of failing at writing. I gave up so I wouldn’t have to face rejection and reality. If I knew I wouldn’t fail, I would beat down doors; I would enter plays in Fringe festivals; I would submit pieces to every lit magazine in the country.  

3. What is your greatest strength? Have any of your recent actions demonstrated this strength? My greatest strength is writing. It’s my best way of communicating and has helped me find my words in so many situations. It has made me realize that, at least for one moment in my life, I was special and did have talent. 

4. What are the top five things you cherish in your life? 1) Love – familial and romantic love, first and foremost; 2) My career – every day, even bad days, are still amazing on some level; 3) My vinyl collection – the one material thing that is so much more than just an object; records are stories, teleporters, time machines; 4) Memories and relics of my life in Vancouver – friendships and fondnesses and places I’ll never forget, restaurants I would fly in just to eat at; 5) my cat – he’s been there for me for eight years now and it’s unimaginable to think of a life without him.

5. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are? I like this question a lot.I think I would answer with 24 – my 24th year was the year I discovered so much about myself and really became myself. Things kept getting clearer from there but despite that, there is youthfulness and confusion that I still embrace and never let go of. Sometimes I forget and can’t believe I turn 30 this year.

6. When do you stop calculating risk and rewards, and just do it? When I am either on the verge of failure or self-redemption, or there is no other option but to be successful. 

7. At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive? Today. Today was one of those days in teaching where things felt smooth and right and good, where I was able to express my passion and feel it in my day. It’s rare that I feel that actually, so bogged down am I by everything else that’s going on in my life with students. 

8. What do you most connect with? Why? Music. Music has a unique way of understanding you without offering anything but empathy, in a way that nothing or nobody else can do.

9. What one piece of advice would you offer a newborn child? To learn to speak your mind and ask for help when you need it, and ask for what you want when you want it. 

10. Which is worse—failing or never trying? My first instinct is failure. Failure is my biggest fear. It scares me more than anything. My fear of failure makes me more self-critical and self-destructive than anything in my life. But logically I know that never trying is so much worse, especially with the knowledge that we only get and have one life.

11. Why do we do things we dislike and like the things we never seem to do? Because we’re scared. Because in this life the world is expensive and complicated and fragmented, and we only have so much time, and sadly it is often spent on priorities and not dreams. As adults, we stop dreaming at a certain point and instead, we look at adult decisions as things we ‘should’ be doing.

12. What are you avoiding? I don’t know. My life is mostly structured to face things head-on.

13. What is the one job/cause/activity that could get you out of bed happily for the rest of your life? Are you doing it now? I am sort of doing it now. I am quite literally living my dream. But there are still some issues with that — I’m new and lack confidence, first of all. And second of all, I am not where I would love to be geographically which takes its toll on me and makes me somewhat unhappy and wistful.

14. When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done? I hope not.

15. What are you most grateful for? My partner.

16. What would you say is one thing you’d like to change in the world? I would like to eliminate global warming problems and instability in the environment.

17. Do you find yourself influencing your world, or it influencing you? The world influences me, but I hope that my the career I’ve chosen, I will have some small part in influencing the world someday.

18. Are you doing what you believe in or settling for what you’re doing? I am definitely doing what I believe in.

19. What are you committed to? My career, my partner, and my lifestyle.

20. Which worries you more – doing things right or doing the right things? In my job these two things are intertwined, but definitely the latter worries me more.

21. If joy became the national currency, what kind of work would make you wealthy? Either teaching or music journalism.

22. Have you been the kind of friend you’d want as one? YES. Although I can think of three people who would disagree with this, one of the only things I have strived for is to be present for people I love.

23. Do any of the things that used to upset you a few years ago matter at all today? What’s changed? Yes, a couple of things. But otherwise I have made big changes and achieved several dreams and this has given me perspective that things I was upset about happened in exactly the way they should have. 

24. Would you rather have less work to do or more work you enjoy doing? I don’t want to live to work, but I don’t want to work to live either. I want to find the balance between enjoying so much what I do but finding other things on the side that make me just as happy, and that I still have time for.

25. What permission do you need/want to move forward? The permission to stay where I am if I choose to.

26. Really, what do you have to lose if you go for it? I am going for it. I plan to not stop going for it. 

27. How different would your life be if there weren’t any criticism in the world? My life would be the best. Every door would open. Everything would be illuminated. I wouldn’t have lost friends over criticism of one kind or another.

28. We’re always making choices. Are you choosing for your story or for someone else’s? I hope I’m choosing for mine. Even in my relationship I have still done what’s best for me and prioritized things in the best way I could for me. I’m used to being alone and calling my own shots so that’s something that comes naturally to me.



Fifteen Things I’m Glad I Did This Year.

This was a big year for me in many ways. Sometimes I felt like I was backing up into a corner and other times I felt like I was bursting through double doors. Here are the best things I did, the best decisions I made, and the best memories I’ll keep from 2015.

  1. Going to Sasquatch again was one of the best decisions I made this year; with my new career life, that American May long weekend isn’t the best time for me to go away anymore, if I’m even able to. So sadly, this may have been the last time I might be able to head to Sasquatch, or any festival for the matter. There’s something that happens at festivals – we get to be young gain and we get to experience a life of what I refer to as ‘peaceful anarchy’ – the idea that everyone gets to collate and join metaphorial (and sometimes literal) hands but outside the confines of society. It’s a magical place full of amazing music. I’ll really miss festival life, especially in the Gorge. But this year’s festival was wonderful and to go back again and live those experiences again was something extraordinarily well worth it for me heading into the final year of my twenties.
  2. I was incredibly grateful to move back to Alberta this year as well, for reasons that were right for me, and incredibly practical, and also incredibly fortunate. What I found in terms of a passion for the love of my life and the career I’ve been waiting for was back here; and to stay in a city I loved without those things felt at the time, like a foolish sacrifice to make for what was best for my life in the long run. I made a difficult choice. Time will tell if this will all pay off, but it was the best thing I could have done and I’m so  much happier now with the certainties of what brought me back here in the first place.
  3. I lost a few really important people in my life this year who felt like belittling me for whatever reasons they had. Who ousted who is a question I ask myself too. But despite how said-ousted people argue the situation, I made the decisions to walk away from these people in the end. Hanging on and hanging on with the hope that the people you used to know who have changed into ugly, selfish and mean versions of the people you knew once, to revert back to who they were, is a pointless and frustrating endeavor. I’m not going to pretend it was easy for me to let go of any of this. I’m not going to pretend either that I was happy and felt nothing doing it. But again…. sometimes what we don’t necessarily want is actually what is for the best. So with that said, FUCK those people. FUCK THEM. What I’m doing for me now and the people I’m doing it with are better for me than the people I thought I knew. And fuck me too, for not knowing better sooner.
  4. Following a positivity movement right here on this blog over the month of July 2014, I reached out to the ex. My first love. And what I got in return was the assumption that I was doing so to rekindle some sort of flame (I wasn’t. I was actually just trying to make peace with former ‘enemies’). Following the move on the part of my partner and I to become “Facebook official” I noticed through a mutual friend that First Love had blocked me. Sigh. Facebook is interesting. It is a series of sophisticated communication that allows us to present ourselves how we want, to who we want. It allows us to be dialed into our friends, family and acquaintances any time we want. It allows us access to pertinent and crucial, and frankly, useless information, from our phone and our workplace and our PCs whenever. I hear people talk about its frivolity but really, blocking is a statement. And it’s quite a very large one at that. But having said that, what I am grateful for is to see something very important about First Love: that he is a sad, petulant, egotistical little child. I will never understand any of the bullshit he put me through in the past, and I don’t care to understand any of the stupid bullshit he’s trying to put me through in the present.
  5. While this is not one thing, it is a million little things but since my shot at my current career, I have found it important to note that I have really worked hard at becoming more assertive in 2015. I showed solid assertiveness in standing up for my prick of a landlord after a really unpleasant standoff I had with him just before I moved out. I show something resembling assertiveness that I have in my job every single day. It’s something that, when I first started this whole career I never, ever thought I could do and I do surprisingly decently mot days. I’m not some masterful guru of assertiveness but I do my best and my best now is better than my best two years ago and beyond, so that’s something I’m incredibly grateful for.
  6. I’m so glad that I saw Wilco again this year. Despite that it’s no secret how much I LOVE Wilco, I’ve only seen them in concert four times, including this one in 2015. It was like a nice break from everything that was garbage about the few months prior to my move. I was able to stand front row-centre for the show and watch my favourite band melt my face off and remember how good it feels to be young and unencumbered and independent living in a world-class city and hanging out with awesome people doing what I love to do.
  7. I’m not an athlete by any means, but this year I put those insecurities aside and tried rowing in an eight-man rowing class. I was HORRIBLE at it. HORRIBLE. But the scenery was beautiful, I made minute connections with friendly people, and I learned a little tiny bit of a new skill. With more practice I might have been a lot better than I was, but the environment and timing were not right for me in the end. But still, I’m glad to have tried.
  8. This year, I spent a great deal of time (and money) consistently travelling to and from the city I lived in and the city where my long distance partner lives. Being apart was painful and getting such little time was even more painful; furthermore, the suffering of not knowing when or how we would be closer again prior to me taking a job closer to him was incredibly stressful and frustrating. The world was topsy turvy and difficult and pricey for the first half-year of our long distance relationship. And what I learned from that is, just how important it is to be around the people you’re insanely in love with as much as possible. Home really is a person and not a place.
  9. I’m so glad I never quit searching for what I thought might make me the happiest and most secure. As I move forward in my career I find that sometimes I feel like crying on a daily basis, or tearing my hair out, or walking away and never coming back. I am overwhelmed and tired and burnt out and often incredibly frustrated. But — never bored. And never checked out. And never with the urge to quit. After searching for the better part of a year, I DID find what I was looking for. I don’t know if it’s all I dreamed of but I never quit. And that’s what’s important.
  10. I’m glad that this year I didn’t succumb to the negative feelings I have about myself. I learned that when you have love and a purpose, your looks and the shallow views of an ugly and misogynistic society are second to everything else that’s important. I’m not where I would like to be in terms of body image and physical health. But what would have been a spear to my heart and self-esteem in the past, is now a mere inconvenience.
  11. I live in an incredibly small and concentrated right-wing conservative riding in my town. And I never really saw the purpose in voting, as for these reasons I didn’t think the party I vote for would win in my riding, so what’s the point? Having said that, I’m so glad I voted in the federal election; as a Canadian citizen, I have a right to vote for the party of my choice regardless of the riding and what kind of educator would I be if I forewent the civic duty of voting? In addition this election is HISTORIC and I was pleased to be a part of seeing a generational and image turnaround of my country.
  12. Ever since I left my advising career, I’ve always wondered how life would be if I went back into that line of work. I did, briefly, in Vancouver; in a different capacity, with slightly different duties, and in a very different working environment. I hated it. I was bored and under-appreciated and I felt like all the work I’d put into doing something more was wasted going back to Square One. I was glad I had this opportunity so I had a clear vision of what I wanted, and what I didn’t want.

  13. Only recently did I come to the conclusion that I didn’t want to live as an empty shell of a human being in this black hole of a complete lack of confidence. After years of suffering through crippling self-criticism and low self-esteem, I have learned that I can’t do it alone. I have started getting real help for that,  and I look forward to seeing where it takes me.
  14. After learning more about “self regulation”, I have come to find that I have happy places I venture to as well when I feel lost and lonely. I have been baking more and now that I have people to bake for, it’s been a great way for me to make people happy and clear my head.
  15. The world can be a rotten place. But when you can shield yourself by loving the shit out of someone else and have them love you back the same way you can get through the tough times – yours and the world’s – through the constant reminder that no, it’s not all bad. I’m glad I allowed my walls to come down with the person I love the most and allow them to help me through the darker and drearier parts of this year. My partner and I both saw a lot of strife and personal tragedies this year and towards the end of the year things became smoother and clearer. I’m glad I had the support and love of him to help me be the best I could be this year.

To anyone reading this: I hope you too, can take the time to articulate fifteen wonderful things that happened to you in 2015 and that you have an enjoyable end of the year.

Why I’m Doing This. “This” meaning ALL of this…

I’m having a week of total loneliness, frustration and misery. I’m feeling discouraged about my career; I’m feeling discouraged about being away from my partner constantly; I’m feeling frustrated with living without all the amenities I used to have in the big glamorous winter-less city I called home. The days are getting achingly short. The mornings are dark. Everything feels like it’s coming to a nerve-wracking head, and I’m nervous and stressed and unhappy and crabby this week. I want to bite everyone’s head off. I want to crawl into a hole and just say, “fuck this. Fuck everything” and let it all go. But then I look up, and I see all of this:

I see a partner who appreciates every single thing that I do and say, whether it has to do with him or not. I see someone who is so kind and giving and sweet and loving and caring, and someone I aspire to be like, and be with, all at the same time. I see a hero in the man I love and I see the missing puzzle piece in all the small and large ways he inspires me to be a better human being, a better teacher, and a better girlfriend. I see him in my dreams and whenever I have a great, or bad day. I see myself running to him not out of desperation, but out of excitement and romance and happiness just to be in love and be alive and be adopted by a loving second family. To be with him is to be home. To be with him tears down my walls and makes me realize just how much love is alive, unlike what I thought about love lifetimes and lifetimes and lifetimes ago.

I see a career I strived for and died for and lost sleep and gave up so much of what I love for. I see every single kid I’ve ever taught and the ways they made me proud and frustrated me and aggravated me and challenged me and made me feel inadequate and adequate and mature and immature and funny, all at the same time. I see something that I’m losing the will to fight for one day, and then am willing to fight for it full force the next day. I see a career that has never made me feel bored or useless, but is constantly either making me feel like a goddess on top of the world, or like a meek, incapable failure. Both of those things are oddly, good. Because they show me that I’m at a point where I continuously care, and challenge myself. A few years ago, I’d never, ever have the fucking guts to challenge myself like this.

I see a place that I never thought I’d embody in space or time, ever, but that has given me the chance to be at least a little closer to the man I’m head over heels in love with, and has given me this chance to challenge myself, even when it makes me want to spill over the edge. I see the world spinning non-stop, bringing me highs and lows and loneliness and vigour and joy and pain and heartaches and frustration and sleepless nights and days when I can’t force myself awake to save my life.

This is why I’m doing this. Maybe that makes me a glutton for punishment, but the point is: the hardest things in life are things worth fighting for and both of these things that are bringing me down this week are more than worth fighting for. I want them and I loved them and I’ve worked so hard to make them work and make them streamlined and make them as smooth and good as they possibly can be for my life at this time. Things that are worth fighting for, are worth fighting for. It’s as simple as that. And I will not stop fighting. I will not.


First Year Teacher Prayer.

It does get better. It will get better. I can’t let my confidence waver when I feel like in my mind and even sometimes in my heart, it’s almost there and it’s almost coming together. I could cry every night, I could have no idea what I’m doing or missing or needing, but I will. I will. I promise myself and the people I work with, and most importantly, the kids I work for, that I will.