Thursday, 28 August 2014

what has this year been?

One year ago, I decided to go on this journey of change and space and exploration and discovery. I left my job at UOttawa for a year, and decided to see how things would unfold. One year has passed, and I have decided to sit down and process it all. I won't share all that with you, because it would be so long, and much of the learning and understanding that came from this year needs to sit inside me for a little longer:) But I think i'll write a little of it for those of you who wonder what this year was like!

So. I left my job, and I left my city for 4 months. I spent last September and October in Pennsylvania at the Himalayan Institute, a yoga and meditation centre. Many of you followed my blog during that time. It was a very different experience than I ever expected. a time of growth and healing and being challenged internally in ways I'd never even imagined. It was a beautiful place to be, and I loved being at a place where people were consciously thinking about health, wellness, healing, self-realization, and the inner life. I found my meditation teacher and learned a beautiful technique for meditation that now is such a vital part of my life. It was an important, life-altering time for me.

Then I spent 2 months living with my family, between my parents and my sister's homes. They were generous and kind, but it was a time of adjustment and discomfort for me as I left this idyllic yoga world and came back to my family of origin:) suffice it to say, buttons were pushed on both sides, but with communication and love, we all survived it. I had worried when I left the HI that all the growing and learning and sweetness of a spiritual journey would end when I left there. But I need not have worried - the work continues:)

In January I moved back to Ottawa. I spent the next few months teaching yoga and working at a fair-trade organic hippy kind of coffee shop. I had serendipitous meetings with old friends. I reunited and reconnected with my Ottawa people. It was an odd adjustment, because I was no longer living the 9-5 lifestyle, while most of my friends do. I wrestled with going back to live in Pennsylvania for a longer time, and finally decided that I would stay in Ottawa and see what life in Ottawa was like when I did not have a 9-5 lifestyle. That for right now, this is where I wanted to be.

I discovered that teaching yoga and working in a coffee shop meant a dramatic pay decrease from what I had become accustomed to, and that living alone would be a bit of a stretch. I also came home from my months in an ashram and my time with family, realizing I was ready to live with people again - I was tired of living alone. That perhaps when I worked in a job that was very stressful for me, I needed a place to run away and hide in, but that if I chose a life that had less stress, I might not need to hide - I might enjoy living with someone.

So in April, I moved out of my place. I lived with a friend and her two kids for one month, and then moved into a house with an older woman May 1st.

During this month, I felt a lot of uncertainty. Hell, during this whole year I've felt a lot of uncertainty!! But I'd just left an apartment I'd loved, I wasn't really sure what to do, work-wise, things were definitely in upheaval. It turns out that this friend I lived with for a month was doing her certificate in Executive Coaching, and needed some people to do some pro bono coaching on for her training. well, yes, thank you very much, I'd love some coaching!!! the timing couldn't have been better. She was wonderful, and never told me what I should or shouldn't do, but instead asked very poignant questions to help me uncover what I really wanted and hoped to do and have unfold in my life. It was such a gift, so timely. I did come to a deeper level of clarity about many things, and also, it was just so lovely to have some support, to be able to talk through things, to quiet some of the spinning in my mind.  Also, it was really fun to live in a vibrant loving playful family home with this friend and her teenage daughter and preteen son. It was a fun month.

In May I moved in to a house with this woman. I began to take on more and more yoga classes. It was really wonderful to discover that every time I was a little worried about finances, people would contact me about subbing their classes for a week or two. I was never without work or teaching! So grateful for that. Living with this woman was another kind of adjustment. I think mostly because I and my two furry cats were living in her home, with her furnishings and her kitchenware and her stuff. Most of my stuff was in storage. I was aware most of the time of having a level of anxiety, where I just could not feel like this was my home. It certainly helped financially, and she and I had many lovely and deep talks about life and some shared experiences and the struggles of life at times. I am grateful that she is gracious, and wise, and open to communication and discussions. But over a few months, I realized that I was really not happy living there. And began to consider moving out.

During this time, I also had a very interesting experience. A good friend of mine lives here in the city but is an immigrant. He was refused refugee status, and was told he'd be sent home to his country where violence is increasing every week and his life will be in danger when he goes home. Before this happened, I was very ignorant of our governments' policies and procedures and laws about immigrants and refugees. But being alongside my friend through this journey, I am so saddened and sickened by how it is handled, so often so poorly. I won't go into too many details, but it came to the point where his lawyers told him the only way to stay in the country would be to marry a Canadian. And guess what this "rescuer" and "saviour-complex" crazy girl wrestled with and struggled with and mulled over and over and over in her mind? Yeah. It was not a happy time. To see someone you care about go through something scary, to consider that if he goes back he may be killed, is such an intense thing. But after weeks of wrestling and discussing and processing for myself, I came to the decision that I could not go there. It is obvious that it is not my problem to solve, not my place to rescue or fix. But it was a deep hook inside me.

So within a week, I told my housemate that I would be leaving, and I told this friend that I could not help him in the way he'd like. Both of those things were so very hard for me! Here's what I know about me, and learned even more - I hate disappointing people. I hate doing things that I think will impact others in a negative way. I hate doing things that I think will  make people dislike me. and I'm very very afraid of other people's reactions, primarily their anger. I build up stories of how others will react to my decisions. most often I presume they will react with anger and disappointment and want to never speak to me again. that's an interesting place I go to immediately. during that week, I kept reading messages about having to make decisions that are true for us, regardless of how it affects others. Like, can you be true to yourself, even if it disappoints others? can you be "faithless" to others to remain faithful to yourself? certainly a concept I wrestled with. being raised in a judeo-Christian home, that was not the value that was taught. so this was a big one for me to wrestle with. is it selfish? is it wrong? should we stay in situations or do things for others even if they feel very wrong for us, so we don't hurt them, so we don't disappoint them, so we give them what we thing they want and need? I certainly see people doing that very thing all the time!

I think I'm learning the answer is no. but it took a couple pretty intense situations to explore this. and I'm grateful for wonderful friends and a special counsellor who supported and listened and offered guidance in situations where I could not find clarity or peace in a decision.

This is turning into a little novella:) sorry folks, leave whenever you need to:)

Through this summer, I have done a lot of teaching and worked a couple days a week at the coffee shop. I love the teaching. Through the summer, I taught 7 classes at a studio and had one private client. I've loved getting to know my regular students. loved the discussions about yoga and life and health and learning. I've loved moving my body, sharing the teachings, feeling strong and healthy and balanced. I've loved that I've had space in some of my days to sit in parks, and read, and meditate, and be. but I've known there would need to be another shift, because my full teaching schedule would come to an end as the teacher I was replacing would come back from her maternity leave. again, that feeling of uncertainty settled in. and it's always accompanied by great fear and dread in my belly. fear of the unknown, fear of not having financial stability, big shaky fear. Happily, yoga reminds me to breathe and be present and show compassion to myself in the midst of all the fear and have faith that it will work out.

So I'd decided to move to a new home. I began that (dreadful) process of looking for places. I saw a whole bunch, some of which were ok, some of which were horrid. but I felt very strongly that I would find the perfect place in the neighborhood that I wanted to live in, and I wouldn't sign anything till I found it. AND I DID:) I found a beautiful place in the neighborhood that I wanted, bright, open, spacious, lovely, a place I could  make my home.

And all through this time my mind was trying to figure out what I'm going to do, workwise, once my teaching schedule became less and less. I'd spent a little time this summer really focusing on what it was I desired, what I wanted, what was important for me to have in my life. Then one day, about 2 weeks before I was no longer considered an internal employee at UOttawa, a past employee contacted me and told me that a position I'd previously held (and very much enjoyed) had opened up and would I consider applying for it? Immediately my heart and mind said yes!!! this is good!!! I called my old boss, to see what she thought about me applying. She told me she'd come to my coffee shop several times to ask me to apply for it. That I was the one she wanted. oh how my heart sang:) and all of this just two short weeks before I would no longer have been able to apply. If it had happened two weeks later, I could NOT HAVE APPLIED!!! ah serendipity. I do love you. So I applied, I interviewed, and I was offered the job:)

So after one year, I will return to UOttawa. I did not anticipate this! I will return to a job I enjoy. I will return to having resources to live the life I want to live. I now live in an apartment I love, a place I've made my home. I'm aware of and grateful for the beauty and wonderfulness and courage of the dear friends in my life. I'm grateful for my loving supportive family, and delighted with my two beautiful nieces my sister has brought into our lives, the newest just two months ago!! slowly I feel my nervous system settling down. slowly I feel a quietness settling in my psyche. slowly I feel joy and stillness and peace settling into my bones and consciousness.

What has this year been?

A year of growing. of being stretched
A year of loving. of having great pleasure
A year of spaces to think and feel and know and watch
A year of uncertainty and unknowns
A year of such beauty and exquisite moments
A year of being broken open
A year of vulnerability and humility
A year of exploring and playing
A year of discovery
A year of facing my deepest fears, watching them rise up with their monstrous heads
A year of developing courage and strength
A year of discovering softnesses and weaknesses
A year of making friends with the darkness and light
A year of life
Brutal and beautiful

and now, perhaps, a rest. ease. a season of stillness. a break from upheaval:) perhaps. I guess we'll see!!
thanks to all of you for reading along and sharing this journey with me.
wishing you all peace and strength as you continue on your own journeys!
much love