Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Burning the Security Blanket

Today was supposed to be my last shift at this job. Instead I am home with a splint on my right hand, protecting a strained thumb and wrist. Evidence that my body is saying enough, even when my spirit had already done so with a letter a few weeks ago. Truly it is just time to let go.
I remember not even a year ago saying that at some point I would have to let go of this security blanket - this [temporary] job that is paying my bills - in order to truly move forward with my career goals; with my life goals. I just figured it would be at least another 2 years before I could... before I would.
Because generally speaking I like my life of these past few years. I can afford a certain comfort on my own. Sure there are things I have and do sacrifice, like the dentist and a trip to Iceland, or Italy, or Hawaii... But I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, electronic devices to entertain and keep in touch, four-wheels to transport me places, and enough left over for the occasional night out with friends. I'm usually able to sleep in and have a leisurely morning when I know I will be less productive anyway; and stay up late connecting with others, Netflix, or even just myself.
There has been little fire under me to push harder for [financial] improvement or success. Even with the few glimpses of fulfillment and purpose during business building tasks and meetings, I still had not enough fire.
Until something changed a short time ago. I don't know how much of it was external, how much of it was internal. Though I do know both played a part. Things usually happen for a reason and at the right time. I'd had enough of so many things. And the fire was lit. I may have a comfortable life [financially], but it is not enough. I want more.
No, I want different.
And the only way I'll actually get it is to let go of the security blanket that is holding me back. I am ready now. So I quit. 
I have learned many valuable lessons in that job that will serve me well in life and career. I have made friendships and contacts that will stick with me, some if only in memory. For that I will always be grateful for the opportunity.
And I'm facing this new phase of fire-light with mixed feelings. There is always some fear in letting go of the familiar, the safe, the [somewhat] secure. There is some sadness is the change, perhaps even loss, of relationships built in that space. But there is also relief in cutting loose that which is in the way. There is excitment in opening up space for and moving towards possibility! 
In truth, I am feeding the fire and letting go in steps and stages. I left space to return to this job if necessary in a few months time. And in some ways I actually traded that security blanket for another one that looks a little different and more like what I truly want to be doing; for one that offers different space to motivate, inspire, and focus on new business goals. To focus on new life goals. In that way it is a step in the right direction for where I want to go.
[I just haven't decided where that will be first: the dentist, Iceland, Italy or Hawaii... ;)]

Monday, 22 December 2014

Why am I here?

I have had a few moments over the past year of guilt-ridden “Why am I here?” questioning. My roots in this city are not yet deep. I am living in my 3rd apartment in 2 years. My business is still young and fragile, needing much more attention than I have been able or motivated to give it. My (temporary) pay-the-bills jobs are, well, intended to be temporary. Truth is I do not have the job nor family responsibilities that my siblings have, tying me to one place. The contacts I have made, friendships I have developed, and relationship I have started are important, for sure.

But my family are facing challenges 250kms away.

I hear the voice in my head arguing that my life is less settled and therefore easier to pick-up and move; that I would have more time and energy than my siblings and extended family to pitch in since I don’t have my own child(ren) to take care of.

Yet I am also a strong advocate for giving equal value to life choices that do not include marriage and children.

No one from my family has given weight to my musings of a transient life with fewer responsibilities. In fact when I have voiced these thoughts aloud I am rebutted with support to remain where I am. There is no expectation that I would do more or different. It is my own internal struggle, to drown out the guilt and replace it with confidence and conviction. To name and, perhaps more importantly, accept the value of my own goals and dreams the way my family seem to have already done.   

And then, perhaps when I was open to the message, I read the words: 
You are exactly where you need to be.

I am here because this is where my apartment is, where my stuff is. I am here because this is where some of my important friendships are; because this is where my relationship is. I am here because this is where my job is, where my private office is. I am here because it gives me the space to use my time and energy to chase my own dreams. I am here because this is where I need to be, where I want to be, where I chose to be… where I choose to be.

I am here because this is where MY life is. And that is enough.

I am fortunate to have flexible hours at my job so I can enjoy MY life, even when that includes spending time with and helping out my family. I am fortunate to be able to travel so I can enjoy MY life, even when that includes going to see my family. I am fortunate to be able to keep in touch with and stay connected to the people important in My life, even when that includes supporting and being supported by my family from a distance. I am fortunate because I am here.

I write down all these things, knowing the list is likely incomplete, as a reminder to myself. Because I know I will forget again. There may be many Why questions to ask in these challenging situations, but “Why am I here?” does not need to be one of them.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Things I'm still learning about friendship

 I’ve fallen out with friends before. Probably the most significant were all the way back in elementary and high school. When girls are just learning how to be in relationship with each other amidst the competition placed in our way. Competition to be pretty and popular, to make the teams, to achieve good grades, to win the boys’ attention. How were we supposed to learn to be loving with each other when our very social survival depended on others failing?
That’s when I first learned to not fully trust my girlfriends.
I still remember the day in the gym at lunch. We were standing on the wall watching the boys play basketball or volleyball. The giggled whispers of my on/off friends beside me and their not-so-inconspicuous shifting away. Not knowing what I had done to deserve being left behind; broken trust which left scars far deeper then I realized or could name until 20 years later.
Since then I have found friendships that brought a specific lesson into my life; friendships that lasted through a certain experience – people who came in and out of my life with an ease that increased with each good bye. And friendships that are surviving time and distance, gaining depth and maturity as the years go by. But many of these have been fraught with an underlying suspicion, a lack of complete trust for genuineness and equal reciprocation. I have learned to quiet the doubts, or at least to soften their pain with resilience, independence, and by being my own best friend.
I give of myself to support others because it is in my being to do so. But I have learned that not everyone does the same. I have learned that people may come to me not because we have the kind of relationship filled with mutual support, but because they know I am the kind of person you can go to for support. I have learned that not everyone is capable of being there the way that I am often there. I have learned that expecting equal reciprocation often leaves me feeling frustrated and alone, with (false) evidence that yet again I am left to fend for myself.

I have learned that my expectations in friendship have often been misplaced and/or too high.

I have learned that this does not mean we cannot be friends!

I have learned that just because I chose not to lean on someone one time, does not mean they won’t be there for me in a time of need. I have learned that when I open myself up and allow someone, anyone to be there for me in a time of need, I may be surprised who steps up. I have learned that when I reciprocate to those who have already been there for me, I just might find the type of friendship I’ve been longing for.
I have learned that this does not mean we will be life-long friends.
You cannot change others, you can only change yourself. And I needed to change my perceptions and understanding of friendship. I needed to adjust my expectations to allow for differences in personality, in strengths, in character. I needed to accept the people around me for who they are and what they bring to my life. I needed to accept those that are not able to be there in the way I want them to be; as equally as I need to accept those that are trying to be there for me in the way I need them to be. The later has possibly been the harder of these two tasks.
I have learned that some of my friendships will survive this shift in perception and expectation; and some are just not worth the drama. I have learned that some will strengthen, and some will distance, and some will stay exactly the same. I have begun to learn how to trust my girlfriends, cautiously at first. Perhaps even fully, someday.
I have learned that I still have much to learn about being in relationship with others.
But that is to be expected.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

(II) Past… Future

“Happy is the person who knows what to remember of the past; 
what to enjoy of the present; 
and what to plan for the future”
~ Arnold H. Glasgow


Who you were, 
who you are, 
and who you will be 
are three different people”
~ Robert Tew

Earlier this fall I found myself face to face with part of my past. While standing next to my present. And I introduced them.

Walking into this situation I had little idea of what to expect or how the interaction would unfold. I found myself wondering how much to explain and prepare ahead of time. Was anything really necessary? What would add to the potential awkwardness? What would aid in increasing comfort? I found myself wondering how much to explain and debrief afterwards. Was anything really necessary? What would take away from the ease and comfort found after the initial awkwardness? What would enhance the lingering positive feelings of having moved on well?

In the weeks that followed pieces of the past began to surface. For both of us. Tidbits that naturally came up in conversations. Longer explanations given to specific curious questions. Lingering experiences, thoughts, fears that were reflections of the past yet tumbled out in conversations about the present. Not so much in a “let-me-tell-you-a-story-of-who-I-am” kind of way. Rather in a seemingly natural “I-want-to-know-who-you-are” kind of way.

I have wondered before about my reasons for telling certain stories of my past. About releasing the judgment I had placed on myself, living in the here and now, and creating space for new stories to begin.

I have wondered if it is truly necessary to tell all the stories of the past. Is the “ex-talk” a vital part of any new relationship? Do new friends need to know about old friends? Are previous struggles and pains –or even successes and gains- important pieces to share when learning to know one another here and now?

I don’t have concrete answers for those questions. Except that I find myself adding to the list. Questions linking past to future:
Can you truly know someone, without knowing where they came from?
Is it wise to begin to think about a future with someone, without knowing their past?
How much and what of someone's past is helpful to know in order to build a future with them?
And when is an appropriate time to share those pieces of the story?

I sometimes notice my mind wandering to questions that I do not ask aloud. Because I'm not yet ready to know the answer. Because I don't know if they are answers I am entitled to… yet. Or ever. Because I don't know if I am ready to respond to similar questions. And so I question the questions.

Exploring others’ thoughts on the topic, there seems to be no real consensus. Some believe the past is very important; others’ not so much. Others feel it depends – on the current relationship; on the parties involved, their expectations and ability to accept and/or forgive; on the relevance of the past stories and the impact they may have on the present and potential future. I think I tend to lean towards the later. I lean towards ~

~ because I suppose in some ways it shouldn’t matter so much whether it matters. If I can trust the seemingly natural “I-want-to-know-who-you-are” process that has proven itself thus far, then the relevant pieces from the past may continue to tumble out in conversations about the present; about the future that will eventually take care of itself anyway. Perhaps they are important questions to question every now and then. And perhaps in between the answers, it is more important to simply be present.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

When the world feels different

The first snowfall of winter can be a memorable event...
as well as a most painful one.
It brings back bittersweet memories year after year.
~ Doodle Max

It snowed the other night. One of the first real storms of the winter. I like those kinds of nights... though not usually so early in the season!

I like those kinds of nights, because the world feels different. Peaceful, clean, fresh, sparkly, beautiful... almost magical even!

It started snowing a year ago around this same time, give a day or two. I know because a year ago on Saturday I made the 3-hour long trip towards my home town. Towards a world that was beginning to feel different, but for an entirely different reason.

This weekend marks a year since Mom went into the hospital the first time. An anniversary, of sorts I suppose.

What do you do with an anniversary that you would really rather not acknowledge?
An anniversary that isn't really cause for celebration?

I made that trip again last week, in part to help put away the fall decorations and bring out the Christmas season. I decorated the family Christmas tree while Mom directed from the couch, frustrated with the weariness that chemo leaves on the body. In one moment of clenched teeth hiding “If you don't like how I'm doing it, then do it yourself”, I was mixed-emotion glad for one moment where the world felt the same.

It is difficult to know how exactly to look forward at an uncertain future. In a world that feels so different today then it did a year ago, it is difficult to look back. I have moments of impatience with this waiting game we started a year ago. A game that does not seem to be nearing an end. So no, I do not feel like celebrating nor even acknowledging this anniversary.

Instead I remember one of the first real snow-falls of last season, days after that first hospital visit. The simple, innocent brillance of freshly fallen snow had offered a patch of blue among the clouds that darkened our weekend. And once again I will allow myself – if only for a second – to get lost in the almost magical beauty of a night when the world feels different...

Sunday, 9 November 2014

It's SO not about Jian

It's SO not about Jian. It's about all of us working towards a society where it's *not this hard* to be believed; to give testimony in court; to move on; to feel safe; to see a level of justice that's commensurate with the violation you've experienced. And, it's about making it *not this normal* for women to live and work in environments where sexual harassment and violence is tolerated, enabled, and/or promoted.
~ Pemma Muzumdar

  * 1 in 4 North American women will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime 

* Of every 100 incidents of sexual assault, only 6 are reported to the police

* I found different numbers published on different sites for statistics on sexual assault. 
The truth is, because these crimes are less likely to be reported, statistics are never fully representational...

When I started thinking about this post I wanted to include an apology or disclaimer about how, in exploring my contents and writing about how the Jian Ghomeshi scandel has infiltrated and challenged my own thoughts, I didn't want to take away from the direct key players and turn this situation into something that's all about me. Because I do realize that directly speaking, it's not about me

But then a friend posted a link on Facebook to a story about how difficult it can be for women too report sexual assault/violence. She commented on this link with the above quote, saying: It's SO not about Jian... and I realized, she's right!

It's SO not about Jian.

It's not even (just) about the women involved in this particular story.

It's about all of us.

Last week I read a blog entitled Do you know about Jian? – which talked about entire social communities that knew on some level about Jian. Saw the discomfort of women he approached; joked about the pick-up lines he used; heard whispers about how he treated women; passed along the question and knowing nods.

As I read I couldn't help but think: Why didn't anyone say something?

Part-way through the writer responded to that question, and I felt a little chastised. Because she is unfortunately right to counter-ask: 
Would you?

I realized I haven't.

Not that I have had an abundance of overt need or opportunity to. Perhaps I am fortunate in that regard. Or unaware of the people around me that are not saying something. Naive even, since the statistics suggest that harassment and abuse of any kind is much more prevalent than we like to think.

But I have worked in an industry that is somewhat known for the flirty banter, sexual innuendos, dirty jokes, and (border-line harassment) teasing. I've engaged in much of this at one point or another, either with my own words or by laughing at co-workers' comments. And while I would argue that it is important to consider the setting and audience, and that it is possible to be too sensitive about such interactions... I also have to pause and wonder if some of those interactions made someone uncomfortable? If a setting or audience was judged incorrectly? If boundaries were pushed and lines crossed? If someone felt unsafe to talk, and instead forced a laugh so as not to be laughed at?

Just because this industry is known for such interactions does not make it right or ok. And I know that there is a risk for line-crossing, because I have danced along that line both willingly and not so willingly.

Yet I have rarely said something.

The frustration and chastised feelings from reading that article shifted in me then, towards challenge and inspiration – to say something. To speak up for those who are not yet able to. To be an ally by sending a message of support; by helping to create safer spaces to say something. In a different work environment, I do.

Yet in some moments I still struggle. Because I enjoy the flirty banter, sexual innuendos, and dirty jokes. Some days those interactions among co-workers are what make that job tolerable and enjoyable. I don't want them to stop.

Nor do I want to contribute to feelings of discomfort or harassment.

I realize the flirty banter of consenting parties can be a far cry from sexual harassment or violence. And I know there is a line somewhere in the space between the two that has been crossed far too many times. But how do we truly know where to draw that line when it may well be in a different place for everyone?

Is the issue consent, as some have argued?
Is the issue victim blaming, as others have defended?
Is the issue ensuring we as allies, victims, potential victims, and everyone standing on the side-lines begin/continue to have these conversations – to raise awareness; to create safer spaces; to stand up and say This is Not ok! – so that in the midst of drawing and dancing along the line more people feel comfortable and safe to say something? Without the fear of victim blaming. With peace of mind that consent – or lack thereof – will be respected.

I want those feelings of challenge and inspiration to grow within me. I want to pay more attention to the setting and audience when I engage in flirty banter and innuendos. I want to be aware of and clear about my boundaries, particularly when dancing on the line; to speak up when I fear they may be crossed or, perhaps more importantly, when I sense someone else's discomfort.

I want to be part of these conversations because once I/you/we start to say something it will hopefully eventually become less risky to do so. We need to pay attention to the uncomfortable silences. We need to listen. We need to watch for the interactions and pick up on the cues that something just isn't right. And then we need to say something. And we need to do it together.

Because this is SO not about Jian. It's not even (just) about the women involved in this particular story. It's about all of us.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Finding Equal Space

You know what music is? 
God's little reminder that there's something else besides us in the universe; 
harmonic connection between all living beings, everywhere, even in the stars.
~ Robin Williams (August Rush, 2007)


I remember one of my first karaoke experiences about 15 years ago: I was a cast member in an amateur community theater production with a tradition of celebrating the Friday night of performance week in a karaoke bar. A practice that typically made the direction team a little nervous since they needed us to be voice-ready for 2 performances the following day. This particular amateur cast contained a few... not so amateur voices. Meaning they were uber-talented. Trying not to be discouraged, I climbed on stage as they stepped down and offered my own version of... I don't even remember which song. Another cast member commended me afterwards for getting up on stage after the uber-talented, saying she didn't think she could have done it. Her comments meant to lift me up actually confirmed what I'd already been feeling – slightly less.

For a long time after, I limited most of my solo performances to groups of people who's vocal talents were, in my mind, less likely to exceed my own training. That's not to say I didn't come across some amazing, uber-talent in those groups. But in a safer and smaller way that didn't make me feel slightly less.

A few months ago my feelings about all that changed a little when I wrote a blog about practicing less & performing more. Since then I have had some opportunities to do just that – metaphorically in other areas of my life of course, but literally and musically as well. Like this past Monday when I participated in a line-up of musical talent unlike many I've been a part of before.

A talent show of sorts, or Un-Concert, displaying the abilities from within the choir I joined last year and presented as a fundraiser for the upcoming concert season. Solo and small group acts braved the stage to show off their own hidden gems. Not surprisingly there is some uber-talent within this group!

Finding myself closer to the bottom of the line-up, I sat in the audience increasingly regretting my decision to take a step further in this vulnerable space by sharing an original composition with my them. Knees shaking under my guitar, I reminded myself of the practice less ~ perform more blog and how much I had been able to relax and enjoy the performance that inspired it's words because the pressure to be perfect was lifted. I told myself that in this space of talented peers who know the nerves of performance, the pressure to be perfect – or even better – could be lifted. Deep breath, smile, enjoy!

After the last of the music faded the encouraging, praising, “I didn't know you did that” chatter began. From audience members of course, and between participants. I know my confidence has grown; my voice trained and matured since that karaoke experience 15 years ago. But that was affirmed once again on Monday evening when I felt like I found a space for myself among those talented musicians. A space that – no matter our varying degrees of talent, training, or experience – felt comfortable, accepting, supportive, and best of all: equal!

Saturday, 18 October 2014

The Writing Hasn't Stopped

"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you."
~ Maya Angelou

"For your born writer, nothing is so healing as the realization 
that he has come upon the right word."
~ Catherine Drinker Bowen

So it's Saturday afternoon, and once again I find myself quickly putting words on a screen to get a blog posted before the end of the week. Frustrated with myself for yet again leaving it until the last minute. Knowing that writing is not only something I enjoy doing, but that it helps me cope and thrive in life. It gives me a space to process my thoughts and feelings; to figure out what I want to do next. Whether there is some big personal growth piece I'm trying to work out; a work/career/business step I'm trying to take; or a passing social commentary-type thought that caught my attention.

So why the procrastination over the past few weeks? Why the frantic Friday night or Saturday morning writing sessions?

It's true that the past few weeks have been busier in different ways. It's true that my focus has been divided between business plans put in action, a new relationship, on-going family health struggles, and typical every-day life. Exciting adventures, worrisome situations, and regular routines that take time and energy – both physical and emotional – and sometimes means there is less to give to processing and writing.

But what is also true is that sometimes processing and writing brings up thoughts and feelings that I may not be ready to face. Or at least may not be ready to share openly. In part because sharing openly becomes slightly more difficult when the personal growth pieces more closely involve other people. In part because sharing openly sometimes brings a certain accountability to follow those thoughts and feelings through with action.

Yet when I look through my writings I find at least three pieces that have been started over the last month or so. None of which feel complete enough to share openly today. All of which tell me that the writing hasn't stopped.

The struggle to complete them and to share them means they are not finished. I am still in the middle of processing, and therefore writing. Which means I am still in the middle of coping and thriving in my life.

The writing hasn't stopped. Procrastination isn't taking over. The process is just shifting a little. And as long as I keep coming back to the words on the screen – whether on a Tuesday leaving time to edit, or on a Saturday in a rush to publish – I will eventually process my way through this piece and open up space to move on to the next one.

Saturday, 11 October 2014


One day you will wake up and there won't be anymore time to do the things you've always wanted... Do it now!
~ Paulo Coelho

I have this bulletin board that I'm pretty sure I bought years ago when I was in University; that for quite sometime now I have been meaning to use to create a vision board for myself. Pictures of the life I dream of, goals I want to achieve, activities I want to do, places I want to see... a reminder on the good and tough days to keep going!

Yet even now that bulletin board is mostly empty. Thoughts of someday I will do it, when I have time, when I have money, when I have space. And sometimes I wonder, what does that say about my vision for myself?

A few weeks ago I was invited to participate in a virtual conference for entrepreneurs and small business owners. The timing was quite perfect in many ways, as I was feeling lost for motivation, inspiration, and knowledge about what to do to move my business another step forward. I learned a lot, sitting at my kitchen table and listening to various webinars about marketing, time-management, commitment. And focus.

What has lingered, even as the initial excitement of such events begins to fade? One marketing strategy already put in place and other ideas percolating in my mind. A time-management formula I try to stick to, with a “tomorrow I'll do it better” loop in my plans. And focus.

If there is one thing that truly resonated with me and stuck with me from this virtual conference, it is the need to focus. To name it. To envision clearly what I truly want my business -my practice- to be.

I have thrown my name in the ring, saying that someday I want to narrow down my scope of practice. Someday I will take more courses in the counselling approaches and strategies I believe in; someday I will narrow down the kind of clients I accept; someday I will do what I really want to do. For now I will take on whatever comes my way. And someday – when I have gained more experience and started making some money – I will focus.

And sometimes I wonder, what does that say about my vision for myself?

What if someday was today? What if I created my vision and named my focus today? And what if I worked towards it everyday? What if someday was everyday?

Would I find the motivation, inspiration, and knowledge of what to do next? And what would it say about my vision for myself? I suppose it can't hurt to try.

I've tried starting a business without naming the focus of what I truly want to work towards – now. And here I sit... not in the place I thought I would be in; not in the place I wanted to be in. So instead of continuing to push forward in the space I'm in, I'm going to try something different. I'm going to take a step backwards. I'm going to try a new path; with that will hopefully provide more direction, and I'm going to see where that takes me. Maybe, just maybe I will find that someday is today and everyday!

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Who do I show my weakness to?

To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.”
~ Criss Jami

A few months ago I was going through a bit of a low period when a friend commented, “I wish you would write a blog so I could know what you're thinking about.”
A voice inside me whispered, “Then ask me.”

What I wanted in that moment was someone to talk to; someone to really and truly open up and share all of my innermost thoughts and deepest fears with as they were occurring. But I often have difficulty being the first to open up. Once I get talking (especially after a glass or 2 of wine!), or after some time to process and diminish the intensity, it mostly comes tumbling out. But sometimes I need a little patient push to get started. And even then, to share the innermost and deepest in the moment, it usually has to be the right person(s)...

Which has begged the question for me, who do I show my weakness to?

Because I have often been referred to as strong, capable, brave. I am the one others come to; the one others share their innermost and deepest with; the one who offers support in many ways. So much so that I sometimes feel as though I cannot let my weakness show, because I have to be strong for the others.

I remember the first time that question truly formed in my mind. I was sitting in a workshop about supporting people who struggle with mental illness. The facilitator was talking about naming and affirming the strength we see in those individuals; something they may have difficulty seeing in themselves. And while I wholeheartedly agree with that approach, I found myself asking “But who do I show my weakness to?”

Because for those of us who wear that strong mask, for those of us who can wear it often and well; sometimes we long to take it off. If only for a moment. Sometimes we need to take it off, if only for a moment. And sometimes – often times – it is difficult to know who will be strong enough to pick it up and carry it until we are ready to put it back on.

Especially if we have misjudged someone's ability to do so before and found the mask lying cracked at our feet.

I remember hiking one spring over trails that still had the occasional patch of ice. I felt the grip tighten around my hand every time we came across such a spot, and I was reassured. In that moment, if only for a moment, I knew that if I stumbled someone would catch me; if I fell someone would pick me up; if I let go someone would hold on. That moment passed before I ever got to the point of fully taking off my mask. But the experience left me with a sense that I wanted to find that feeling again; I wanted to learn to trust it; and to be able to drop my mask when I needed to.

Learning to trust someone to take care of the mask? Though the past year in particular has pushed me in new ways to open up in the moment, I still have difficulty with that. Who do I show my weakness to? There are a few I can count on in the most intense innermost and deepest moments ~ when I let myself do so, which can sometimes be as difficult as finding someone worthy of that trust.

And then, after time to process and diminish the intensity, it mostly comes tumbling out in a blog!

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Downsizing to More

Imagine how much richer life would be if we moved the junk out and made room for new opportunities ...”

Voluntary simplicity, in its widest context, refers to living an examined life; 
in other words, one in which you have determined what is important for you and your immediate family 
discarding the rest.

I missed posting a blog last week – and then I had only today to get the last one out for this month. I missed it in large part because I was working hard on some projects to turn this:

into something more like this:

In part because my parents were coming to visit for a night. Mostly because it was time to get things settled into place; to get myself settled into place. And though there are still a few details left to add, I do feel much more settled into my cute little bachelor apartment with all it's character and charm!

It was interesting to me, the reaction I got from some people when I was apartment hunting. The landlord tried to sell me on the 1-bedroom unit she had available in the same house. A few friends raised eyebrows or offered cautious smiles and warnings about such a small place. But I was looking for space enough for just me (and my cat!) To which one friend replied, “Yeah but it may not always be just you...”

Thing is I wasn't signing a lease at this place as a (sad) reflection of my then single status. I did it because I didn't want to spend excess money furnishing a full apartment. Because I didn't want parts of a unit I was paying for to go mostly unused. Because I know I get stressed and scattered when my living space feels cluttered and full of items I don't use. Because I knew I wanted to downsize to a manageable space; a space I could fill literally and metaphorically with only the things I needed; a space that felt – safe!

Just think with me for a minute – about the space, room, piece of furniture, or whatever it might be that you gravitate to first when you come home. A space where you are able to let everything go, to rejuvenate yourself, to figure out your next plan of action. Even if that plan of action is to go to a different space or room in your home. In short, your safe space.

For me, it is my bedroom.

During my travels around Australia, I mostly stayed in 4-6 bed dorm-room style hostels. One traveling companion noticed and commented on how I would crawl onto my bed every time I returned to the room; no matter the time of day nor how long I'd been away. I realize now that it was my safe space. The space that I could claim as my own, where I could let everything go, rejuvenate, and figure out my next plan of action. In other shared living arrangements – University dorm rooms, houses shared with friends, even as far back as as my childhood home growing up with 3 brothers – the only space I was ever able to call completely and solely my own was where I slept.

A bachelor apartment made sense and was exciting to me because the entire living space could be arranged to be my safe space! I will admit there have been times in the last two months when an extra storage closet would have been nice; or a few extra square feet to fit in that drawer unit that holds my office type materials; or room for a table/desk to set my look-at-later mail and paperwork pile on.

But I am learning to function with a “if you don't need it or have a space to store it, get rid of it” mentality. My living space is becoming more manageable. My life, as a reflection, is becoming more manageable. And perhaps that has been the best part of downsizing. Not only have I been able to expand my safe space to include more of my living space; I am also learning how to live more with less!