When I came back to Calgary – it was all I could do to find signs and affirmations that this place was where I was supposed to be. In August, it all looked right on the outside. Amazing friends, a steady boyfriend and a new job.
And then, it started to crumble. The summer came and went, and so did the new boyfriend.
It’s autumn here, and I find myself almost in the same position as when I arrived to Canada: a feeling of unrest. And today, I am beginning to understand why.
I had forgotten that I still need to play an active role in my happiness. And to be brave enough to push further.
It’s the same in my yoga practice – last week while in wheel I yawned and scratched my head. Obviously I wasn’t going deep enough. I was just performing an asana for the hell of it. The next class, I pushed. And it was just me, the breathe, and my desire to go deeper into the pose.
Today I was talking with a dear friend, and he told me he believes that happiness is an active force. You can’t expect “happy” to come to you; hoping upon hope you will magically become the person you’re destined to be.
I had started to become passive in my own life. I know what bravery is – leaving my life in Canada to move to Botswana was courageous. But when I came back, changed, I had just been hoping happiness to come to me.
This autumn, I want to fight for that woman who wasn’t afraid to leave everything comfortable for the next adventure.
And once I begin that fight, that push to find what will allow me the freedom to be happy? There’s this essential piece: reveling in the moment.
Being present is allowing all of that active work to come into fruition. It’s the same glorious feeling as to be staring into the eyes of someone you fell for, being able to talk for hours and not noticing the time.
It’s reaching a new point in an asana and then settling into the new limit of your body. It’s the breath.
It’s been two months since I landed back in Canada.
I have the overwhelming feeling that this life isn’t as easy of a fit anymore.
I was walking through the suburbs of my childhood, getting lost in a place that was my home for years. And the incongruities between my two lives hit me: no fences or barbed wire allows me to see right into people’s homes as I pass. As I walk on the perfectly formed sidewalks, across the pedestrian crossings, I don’t get stared at or followed, and cars stop and wait for my leisurely crossing. Basically, walking through a neighborhood is easy: pedestrian crossings, perfectly formed sidewalks, dogs on a leash type of easy. I am not dodging mobs of dogs, or rubbish thrown on the side, rather I am consumed by the smell of freshly cut grass as it lingers in the air.
My brain hurts from the constant comparisons – honestly, walks here are far less interesting.
And so I start to wallow as I try to find healing and a sense of purpose. It’s that allusive glimmer of hope that I will eventually feel whole again. But I am taking baby steps in finding what is next. Each decision that I make, I first ask the question: will it make me happy?
And so, instead of pursuing a job in Oil and Gas or in another volunteering capacity, I took a job at Starbucks.
My new job as a barista continues to make me feel unsure of what I expect out of life. But there is something beautiful in providing a coffee and a smile. That’s it. That’s all I am responsible for. No newbie arriving from America and needing to be held through the process of orientation and cultural fit. No drunk mechanic requiring constant supervision and a development plan. It’s just coffee.
I needed this job. I am so burnt out from nearly four years of caring too much, and near the end feeling constantly unsafe and scared.
And so back in Canada my days are filled with learning the basics of a coffee shop, sun tanning, day drinking and learning how to be with a man who actually is decent and cares for me (something I have never allowed myself before).
I have decided my only mission this summer is to fall in love with life – here in Canada.
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.”
I came to the office not rejuvenated but drained.
Relationships and situations have been all consuming. Not my drama, but others. I take it on as a mantle. Battling through the days, heavy. But whose battles am I fighting?
My priorities have shifted. And I am totally drained. And angry. I forgot about me. And I had no space in my own subconscious for planning. It was too crowded caring deeply about other people’s drama.
I met with someone who put me into focus this morning. My goals. My dreams.
But they have to become more than that: I need action. Action – not sitting back and allowing others to put their shit on me, while I sit and wait for what’s next.
I feel like my chair in the corner covered in clothes. You know the one? It’s purpose is to actually be seating, but because it doesn’t do anything but be in the corner, it becomes the dumping ground for clothes, keys, make-up.
While right now, I am chucking the clothes off. Putting them back where they belong, and using the chair – metaphorically of course, I am looking at the useless chair as I write this while lying on my bed…
I can’t take it anymore.
And it makes me excited for what is to come.
i don’t know how to negotiate drama in friendship. this weekend i learned that i have let people down, said too much, or said not enough.
it makes me want to run away. or just hide my head in the sand.
i’ve tried more apologies. but end up just shaking my head at texts that read like notes passed in english class.
why does life still feel like high school?
and then i went out with two of my favourite people. not hours before we were discussing the issues of a very complex relationship. but as the night grew longer i watched as they put it all aside, and began to dance together, all because of love.
and i figured, as i sat there sipping my vodka and cranberry, if they can get through this, then i have nothing to worry about.
This week the weather changed in an instant. One evening it was cold; bundling in scarves and the next? Hot, hot, hot.
Summer has arrived. And the transformation was faster than I could keep up with.
Can transformation happen that quickly? I mean the kind of change that’s deep down; full on change.
I was about to move into a new place, with a new roommate. I had dropped things off already, and was sitting in a cafe with Joanne sobbing when I was supposed to be moving. Deep down I didn’t feel comfortable with my decision, and I knew the issue, but I told her – no, I have to move, I am homeless if I don’t. The decision is made, it’s over!
Through my tears I added – “it just pisses me off, my vision board has the word haven in it. And this won’t be that.”
Joanne looked at me – “Sheila, you know, you just made the decision by saying that.”
And so we made plans over our pizza and beer shandy. And in the space of an afternoon, I made a completely new decision, told my almost roommate the news, and hired a storage unit (complete with newly purchased padlock).
All because I had finally listened to myself.
So yeah, the transformation didn’t happen overnight, like our change into summer, it was progressive. And I was able to take control of life, to see my decision making in a new light.
I am in a new place, that has become a haven. I have a new vision board with the phrase “it’s never too late…”
Because it never is too late for change. Or to make a decision. Or to start loving and knowing yourself.
‘It took me Twenty-something years to learn how to love myself, I don’t have that kinda time to convince somebody else’ – Daniel Franzese via
At this exact moment, I so wished I had read this quote months ago. Time spent. Energy exhausted.
And I killed it.
Now back to loving myself and remembering – if I have to convince someone, is it worth it?
And so life is like that.
A signed document to get paid out on a totaled car. Actual physio (that hurts so bad I want to punch her face). Awkward moments with my neighbor downstairs. Worry over days on my visa. Drinks with friends. Hilarious moments in the office. The constant worry over money. A man who I wish liked me more. Watching and being happy for friends who are winning, even when I am not. The intense heat, that makes me want to cry and sit in an air conditioned corner.
And with that, I continue to stay. Some moments questioning my sanity. Some thinking Plan B sounds like a good option. But I stay. And that decision is enough to get me through.
I’m just two weeks shy of being in Botswana for a full two years, and I look back…
I knew that being a missionary wouldn’t be easy. I was almost certain of it.
For me “missionary” conjures up images of well, every cliché I can think of (non-trendy clothes and bad hair cuts spring to mind…). And no matter how often they are hitting you up for money the slide show always seemed to end with a sunset.
I am not a pastor. Nor am I an evangelist, in the strict sense of the word. But I was good at what I did – and I loved serving in a ‘non-conventional’ way. I tend to not agree with conservative Christian worldviews (for instance, I think women should be pastors if they are called to be.) I like cool hair cuts, lattes, and pretty shoes. Basically, I am everything that a missionary isn’t. Right?
But then something happened. God told me to “go” and now coincidentally “stay” albeit in a different way than I even thought possible.
I now realise that missionary is not some hideous cliché, but full of people who have given up everything to follow Christ. And yeah, giving up everything sometimes means non-trendy clothes and less than stellar haircuts.
Honestly, I am so sick of clichés and supposed tos. I crave freedom to live the way that God has called me. It might look different from how God has called you. But at the end of the day, I am so thankful that God couldn’t care less about clichés. He cares so much for us. And calls us differently.
And you know what? He even allowed me to serve in a place where I can get a latte, and I have a friend who cuts my hair pretty. Sometimes He cares for us even in the ways we didn’t think it was even possible. I was not forsaken; God is here and present every step of the way.
And He continues to guide me, and altogether shows me that I can serve Him in a way that fits who I am.