The Weekly Coastal

IMG_1313.JPGSo many things have happened this week.

Found a roommate, who will be moving in at the beginning of August. Got some exciting work-related news that I’ll be sharing soon. Met with some great community builders out here on the coast, and getting to learn the lay of the land a bit more. And I got through my first week of #30seadays. A few days were challenging, especially the overcast ones, but it has actually been so incredibly nice to make it a priority to go in the ocean. I love it. It’s also been a great excuse to get pals together at the sea most days. “Have you done your dip yet?” When pals know that you’re going to the ocean every day, they start to come with you.

I posted about this on my insta, but my true goal in this challenge is not just to get into the ocean, but to build up the bravery to REALLY spend time in the sea. I love the water. I love floating. I love swimming. But the sad truth is that when I get out into deeper waters, I’m still pretty overcome with fear that something in the water is going to “get me”. What if an orca attacks me? What if a seal sneaks up on me and bites my leg? What if there’s an octopus? What if there’s a sea monster? What if?

My dream self is a woman who wakes up early, runs to the sea, and then does solo lengths when everything is still quiet and peaceful. Preferably, these solo lengths will not be accompanied by near-crippling panic that something from deep in the ocean will attack me, amiright?!

I’m hoping that this habit of going into the ocean every day will slowly eat away at that irrational sense of panic, and that I’ll be one step closer to being that woman.

Friday night, Jenn McRae and I tried to “go out” and learned some lessons about going out past 8pm on the Coast. All the brewery food trucks are closed by this time, so we went “downtown” to grab sushi and take it to Gibsons Tapworks with us. It might not be the norm, but this Friday night Gibsons Tapworks was the place to be for 20 year olds. We ended the quiet-ish “night out” getting nachos at the Black Fish, and were home probably by 10:30. NEXT TIME – go out earlier, ladies! Persephone seems to generally be the place to be if you want to hit up somewhere lively. Though we’re told that when there’s an event on at the Roberts Creek Legion, that that’s a good choice too. And I’ve also since been told that Smitty’s stays open later on Friday nights as well.

I wish that I’d taken a photo of my makeup/outfit for the evening but didn’t get around to it. Getting dressed was also a serious battle of city vibes vs coast vibes. I had to take my outfit down a notch a few times before heading out the door, and it was still sooooooooo city. I couldn’t help myself! I haven’t yet built up my collection of casual linen tunics, so city vibes it is!

Some pals were visiting Clayton and J’s this weekend, so there was another big pal dinner, and some v good friend dips Saturday night.

Finished off the week having some beers with Ryan Griffiths at Persephone and getting advice on buying old cars. There’s a chance that an old Mercedes wagon might be in my future, but we’ll see what the mechanic says. It’s just so pretttyyyyyyyyyy.

Other things:

I need to add some structure to my physical activity. A new crossfit gym opened in Gibsons that I’m going to check out this week, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I love it.

Adding more run partners into the mix, because I need all the motivation that I can get. If I want to make this 100k a reality next year, it’s time to get on it.

I have to say, as much as I am loving life on the coast, freelance hustle has been getting to me HARD this week. While I love the freedom and flexibility, and so many things, sometimes it would be so nice to just have a job that I go to and get a paycheque from regularly. Freelancing is exciting, and exhilarating and challenging and wonderful, but let’s be real, sometimes it is also so anxiety-inducing and exhausting. Just thought that I should throw that out there along with all of my “OMGGGGG BEST LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIFE” posts about long table dinners and ocean swims.

That’s all for now, friends. More updates next week on The Weekly Coastal.

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Bravery takes time

About a month ago, I wrote a blog post about the lessons that I’ve learned from my negative relationship experiences. It took me a while to share this post on social media, partly because I was worried about coming across as damaged and bitter in some way, and partly because I was worried about how the people who I was friends with at the time of said relationships would judge me for sharing the information that I shared publicly. Then with a push from my friend, and fellow writer, Naben Ruthnum, I stopped worrying.

I tried to write a really honest account of some of my most painful mishaps and pitfalls, and how they helped me to learn and grow as a human. I was not prepared for the response that it elicited.  It didn’t GO VIRAL or anything, but it did receive over 500 more page views than any other thing that I had ever written, and I also received so many kind messages, or distressed messages, or thoughtful messages from different friends and acquaintances thanking me for writing it and telling me how much some of the things that I wrote had resonated with them.

One of the other things that people said to me was that I was brave for having written and shared this, which is such a nice thing to hear. Who doesn’t want to hear that they are brave and courageous? While I agree that it was a little bit brave – just like sharing anything personal and creative is brave – what I want to say about this is that all of the bravery in the world would not have mattered, if I hadn’t also done an incredible amount of work on myself over the past few years. This has involved therapy, yoga, meditation, forcing myself to do things that challenge me even if they are terrifying, and taking a really serious look at the behaviours and habits that have manifested unhealthy relationships in my life. And I’m still putting in more work all the time.

I grew up in an extremely unhealthy environment (which I’ll leave for a whole other series of blog posts, and likely one day a book), and it took so many years to even admit to myself how deeply this had impacted my ability to have real healthy intimate relationships with other humans. But more importantly, it has taken me even longer to recognize my own value in relationships with other humans. All of these steps and lessons learned from my marriage, and other relationships that followed, were actually steps along the path to believing that I was worth it. I sought out emotionally draining relationships with people who weren’t present or available, because I just did no believe that I deserved anything better. I threw myself into one-sided relationships in which my feelings were regularly undermined, because deep down I believed that if I could win the affections of someone who was largely uncaring, that this meant that I was finally enough. I didn’t have “daddy issues”, but I did (do…) have “family issues”. And these issues meant that the more I had to work to win over and woo someone who was emotionally distant, the more inherent value I had. I simply did not believe that an already whole, healthy, kind, creative, smart, attractive, ambitious person who I was really impressed by and swoony over would ever be able to show even a tiny glimmer of interest in me. So in order to find love, I would have to go through the back door; I’d have to wade through drama and damaging behaviour; I’d have to put in my time as non-girlfriend therapist. Only then, when I had paid my dues in some wreck of a relationship, would I finally have earned my keep. Because if I proved myself to that person at their worst, then I would have earned the value to be with them when they became their best. Only what if that person never became their best? Or what if they never would have been the best for you in the first place? Of what if they DID become their best, only I’d taught them for so long that I was not worth the time and respect to treat well, so that the closer they were to their best, the more likely they were to leave me behind?

Anyways… I guess what I am trying to say is thank-you, but also that bravery takes time to build. There were a million sappy sad sac blog posts before this one, and a million journal entries exploring my feelings, and a million lonely moments where I wished that there was someone out there who could tell me what was wrong with me. And so as a writer, I can’t not share. And if the response to my original blog post made one thing clear, it’s that we need more sharing like this happening all the time. Because it is too easy to feel so alone. And there’s no reason why we can’t feel and work through that aloneness together.

Taking a leap

bravery-versus-regret

Super scientific representation of competing fears

I’ve taken a few giant leaps in my life. I don’t think of myself as a particularly brave person, but I understand how others might categorize some of my actions under the banner of bravery.

Some of these brave/potentially a little crazy things include:

  1. Moving to Paris at 20, with no plan whatsoever. I didn’t even book a hostel in advance for the night I arrived. I just went, and knew that things would be fine, and so they were. Why I chose to do this in November is beyond me.
  2. Leaving a job, via booking my first trip to New York for three weeks. Again with no plan. Two days before my trip, I still didn’t know where I was staying, but kept saying “I am pretty sure that things will just work out.” And so they did.
  3. Moving to Toronto for a job, without ever having set foot in Toronto. “What if you hate it?” “Well, if I hate it, I can just come home.” So far, it’s been a pretty amazing experience.
  4. Always speaking my mind, and speaking up. This one is a double edged sword. Sometimes it’s great. Sometimes it gets me in trouble. I am not a great bullshitter, and I have no desire to be. Sometimes it would just be easier to be able to keep my mouth shut, and to have the ability to be super easy going about things. But at the same time, I like being known as a person who is very “real” about things.
  5. Getting married at 24, and then separating a year later when I realized what a horrible mistake I had made. For me, this one is brave because I know so many people who have stayed in a terrible relationship far far too long, because of some weird sense of duty. This is not to say that you shouldn’t stick by your life partner when things are tough. The key here is knowing the difference between ‘a bad year’, and ‘a bad match’ – this difference is not always obvious when you’re in it.

The most recent of these leaps was quitting a very terrible job, with no solid plan in place for what to do next. When talking to friends/colleagues about this leap, the most common word used to describe this decision was “brave”. And I get it, making a big change and going out into the unknown is brave. Sure. But for me, more than bravery, it is just that my fear of mediocrity is so much greater than my fear of uncertainty.When I moved to Paris at age 20, the main motivator was hearing my mom talk over and over again about how she wanted to go to Italy, and never going despite having had both the means and the time. So when I applied for my work visa, and booked my ticket, my main motivator was, “Even if I never travel again for the rest of my life, at least I can say that I once took a leap of faith, and moved to Paris.” My motivator was the fear of regret. And that same fear applies to leaving my job. The idea of waking up in another two years, and thinking, “What the hell have I been doing with my life?”, and the fear of continuing to be that person who says things like, “God, I hate my job.” for even one more day, made me want to fucking crawl out my own skin.

Over the past few months, I have had so many people say to me, “That’s so amazing that you’re leaving your job; I wish that I could do that.” And my answer is always, “You can”. Listen. I know that it’s scary. I know that. Not having a plan is scary. Not having an income is scary. But what is infinitely scarier is waking up one day and realizing that you have spent most of your life forcing yourself into misery for the sake of stability. Noone. NOT ONE PERSON finds themselves on their death bed saying, “Damn. I really wish that I’d just stayed in that uninspiring/miserable job for a few more years.”, or “I’m so glad that I just kept all of those short stories that I wrote buried in a box for noone else to read.” NOONE SAYS THIS. What they do say is, “I wish that I’d listened to my gut.”; “I wish that I’d left that job sooner.”; “I wish that I’d been brave enough to move to Italy for a year, like I’d always dreamed.” Life is short, people. And I know that saying this is a cliche. But seriously, if you were diagnosed with cancer today, what immediate things in your life would you deeply regret not changing?

This is not to say that you should just live every moment like it’s your last. Because give me a break, that is just not realistic, and your life would end up being terrible in a completely different way. But if you use a compass in your heart gently guiding you away from regret, this can be an incredibly useful tool in helping you lean your life a little bit more heavily towards the side of bravery.

Aside – Yes, I am writing this from the perspective of a single lady, with no kids and no mortgage. And I know that having a partner, and children, and mortgage, can make these decisions more complicated. But you’re stronger and more creative than you think, and I guarantee that if you are really honest with yourself, that you can figure out teeny tiny ways to guide yourself towards bravery and away from regret.

Even if you’re not quite ready now, plant the seed today. Start dreaming about what your life could be if you were a little less afraid. You can do this.