now embrace waves, depths, undersea mountains

Everyday is busy as I spend my final few weeks in Botswana – selling things, trying to wrap up work while fitting yoga among drinks with friends. During all of this I am overwhelmed with nostalgia.

This isn’t some greatest hits album though – some of it has been absolute hell: full of politics and pain.

I love this place even more because of those moments. And I don’t want the hard bits to overwhelm some of the greatest experiences of my life.

Lately during Savasana I have cried. It’s the one time where I am totally still. I let my body fall into the mat. And I cry. For the loss of a life, coincidentally, that I am happy to leave.

Basically, I am stressed – the fingernail biting not sleeping thing has got to end soon.

I read this just now (via Radiant Body Yoga) as a meditation during Savasana, and it rang true to the very core of my being:

Consider all the pain and all the pleasure
You have ever experienced,
As waves on a very deep ocean which you are.
From the depths, witness those waves,
Rolling along so bravely, always changing,
Beautiful in their self-sustaining power.
Marvel that once, you identified with
Only the surface of this ocean.
Now embrace waves, depths, undersea mountains,
Out to the farthest shore.

On leaving

It is official. The tickets are booked, and my Botswana end date draws near.

Why back to Canada? Well, it’s basically this: I need to sort my life out which includes a way not to be poor.

But I am not totally ready to close the door on Botswana. Why? Well, there is no plan beyond the 15th May when I land in Canada – I will be flat out broke, living in my parent’s basement, searching for the next thing. Funny? On the outside not much has changed since September 2009.

The mixture of emotions right now is starting to make me crazy. Sure, I am happy – hell, I finally made a decision about the next steps, one that I have been waffling about for months. But this isn’t the kind of happy that makes me want to jump around in glee.

I am realising how hard it is to shut down a life.

And the woman that goes home to Canada is so different to the one who stepped foot off that plane more than 3 and a half years ago.

Leaving isn’t something I take lightly.

But today, right now, I choose gratitude with a hint of mourning, and a dash of excitement for what surely will be an even greater chapter in life.

577889_10200608561158592_67486425_n

because right now, in this second, it’s perfect.

there’s an inexplicable shift when you finally make decisions. it’s a freedom i couldn’t even fathom a few months ago.

i am living in the moment.

no pressure, no expectations. just being present, because right now, in this second, it’s perfect.

there’s something so innately wonderful feeling drawn into just being. and so i fill my days with the smallest of victories; where I am experiencing pleasure.

a yoga class. coffee and a health muffin. a man telling me I am beautiful. underlining in a book. twinkle lights in a garden. wearing a bright pink skirt that blows in the wind. beautiful ruminations that allow me the courage to act on dreams. and girlfriends who surround me with swapping clothes, kind words and wine.

so today. this moment. and Rumi:

“let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. it will not lead you astray.”

craving change

I just saw Taco Seasoning mix on a foodie blog’s recipe post, and cringed. Seriously? You just can’t put some cumin in your burrito?

I love knowing exactly what I have put in my food (and being able to pronounce it). Botswana forced me into it though… no taco mixes here… and so my cooking has changed into health foodie style – despite myself. Just in that – not finding what I saw as normal, forced me to change. And the more processed foods I couldn’t find – the more I longed for good that was healthy and unprocessed.

I changed.

And now I want to change again: to be thrown into something I can barely hold my head up in. Maybe that’s why I loved this place so much. Because seemingly everyday something else was thrown at me that I couldn’t handle. Hell, I couldn’t even find taco seasoning.

I was telling a friend that I was needing something to distract me, during a time of me trying to sort out what this change might look like. He said, “So find something else that can motivate you, push beyond the job, do something for yourself”

And I am. I am plotting the next. And I am getting excited. This year? There will be change – lots of it.

Be you, bravely

Two weeks ago I would have left Botswana. Forty degree heat without air con, sorting out my feelings over a man, and wondering why I think being far from family during festive season is such a brilliant idea…

My life is so circumstantial sometimes – my decisions feel so based on weather, or relationships, or whether I can get a decent cup of coffee.

So life feels negative, and I can’t seem to get over that energy. I start beating myself up over decisions, bringing up the past. It takes courage to work through, to get beyond the negative. Courage I don’t think I have the strength to muster.

I went to my mat. I needed to surrender. To take deep breaths.

I went to a place where I was forced to meditate and pray. Forced to stretch myself beyond what I ever thought possible.

I read this and it felt so true:

“Often it’s a struggle just to get on our yoga mats. And there are moments we struggle once we get there. Some days it is a wrestling match of the mind. Other times it is a wrestling match of the body. And the only way to liberate this so-called struggle is to soften and surrender. Savasana is taking all of that work and just letting it be. Allowing it to reabsorb into us. It is the taking and acceptance of the final fruit of our efforts. (The Girl Who Hated Savasana)”

Today, when I was doing a back bend, resting only on the crown of my head and the tips of my toes. I crossed my arms and smiled, releasing all of the negative emotions.

My yoga practice has allowed me the privilege to see that  I am strong, I can do the impossible, and even when I struggle or it doesn’t feel right: I will get it, trusting my body and my mind.

Isn’t that it? Finding the courage inside of myself, to surrender to that.

Bravery isn’t only for the superheroes…

dwell in possibility

It’s been a rough year, full of setbacks.

A car accident that hurt. An armed robbery that enveloped me in fear.

I look back on so many experiences where its been hard. My life became a cycle of crying, therapy sessions and moving homes. I took no vacation, and allowed myself to be dragged into some pretty painful relationships which were like poison.

How do you recover from this kind of year?

Well, right now my answer is this: by dwelling in possibility.

 

is it time yet?

I am done. I need a vacation.

 

You know that point? Where it feels like you’ve hit a brick wall?

 

Yep, I am there.

 

And so I am here at the office. Counting down.

 

But not in a fun advent calendar full of sweets kind of way… more like dragging.

Slogging through the work that so desperately needs to be completed. Fun, right?

hot surfer Jesus

Every little thought, or noise, ensures that even if I have time to practice the important spiritual discipline of meditation, I get distracted. And then I get angry at myself for getting distracted.

So when I was expressing my concern over struggling with meditation, my yoga teacher said something that made more sense of the practice:

“Don’t chase the distracting or negative thoughts away, but rather, acknowledge them, and then send them off in love…”

Huh. So me being angry when I get distracted by the noise around me, only distracts me more? Wise words. Okay, maybe it was obvious? Still meditation doesn’t come easy.

And she continued, “Focus on a lovely picture – a flower, your daughter’s face…a picture of Jesus…”

I bit my lip from laughing – a picture of Jesus? Ahhh, yes, that picture of Jesus with long flowing locks, blue piercing eyes, hands stretched out… I knew that would come in handy.

So what if hot surfer Jesus makes for rather odd meditation times? My yoga teacher said it help…

my turn to rant: the glaring differences

Okay, deep breaths.

 

An acquaintance died of TB. The more probable underlying cause of his too soon death? Having AIDS, where his body couldn’t handle the attack on an already weakened immune system. I mourn for his wife and children. He was a good man.

And a friend, whose stories read more like a Jerry Springer episode. Where every week, some other tragedy occurs. It’s inevitably an issue I can’t relate to, where I realise more and more, our cultures are so different. Maybe too different?

Or when a colleague says a racist comment, and I laugh. Because this place I live in feels so racially aware. Every day I am talked to, looked at, because I am the token white girl. But no excuses, I still laughed.

I tweeted the other week that someone should just send me home to Canada. It would be easier right?

And then my sister wrote a message jokingly, “see this is why it’s bad that we don’t live closer…..” I start crying, because all of the emotions of this place – the queues, the heat, the inconveniences, HIV, illogical bureaucracy, laziness, bad driving, slow internet, THE HEAT – are starting to add up. And I forget why the fuck I am here anymore.

I open Facebook, madly trying to remember life back in Canada, trying to find that perfect place that I can go to, does it exist there? Yet status updates read like white middle class rantings of the conservative Christians – we love Jesus, sure, but we don’t want to be inconvenienced by well, anything. Perfect lives are disrupted by the few insidious things or beings. Judging, more judging. We’ve lost the bench mark for spewing our opinions.

I close it down in disgust. Sometimes the differences in my life feel so enormous. Where do I fit anymore?

I still eat, drink, commute grudgingly to the office, practice yoga in my studio flat… things are surprisingly the same as what life would be in Canada.

But I have moments, where I can’t get free of being different. And my values, culture and colour are glaringly opposite to the place I now call home.

What scares me the most? That despite it all – I still want to stay.

This has become my place in the world, as crazy as it seems. I am trying so hard to want to go back to Canada, but I know that Canada won’t make me happy. I need to be happy within myself.

I read this quote, even retweeted it, and have been mulling it over ever since:

“Anyone can hide. Facing up to things, working through them, that’s what makes you strong.” -Sarah Dessen

Still trying to sort out how it all adds up, to how these rantings become a life principle, how they change something in me.

be more

A two-hour conversation, full of disconnecting and call backs, led me to this: my parents, are well, brilliant.

I shared with them my heart and new directions. And their response?

“Sheila, we love you. Whatever you do, wherever you live, if it makes you happy, we will support you.”

And I then proceeded to over-share with my mother. Those were thoughts that have been ruminating for months.

It was in direct contrast to another conversation I had with a friend last week… I was spilling,  using her as a sounding board for my present musings and frustrations.

She yelled at me in exasperation, “SHEILA! What is it that you want?”

And I said, “I want a job that matters, where at the end of the day, I can say: it was more than.”

Her response, “Why do you think you can have it all?”

Looking back the only right answer would be “my parents.”

I can blame them for a lot of things, and this is added to the list –

I blame my parents for allowing me the freedom to believe that I can do more. Be more.

And so, yet again, its with mixed reviews, as I forge my plan again.