THE ART OF SELF AWARENESS

My first steps as a solo woman were messy. After the pathetic pity parties (yes there were more than one), were over I decided to branch out and keep myself distracted.

I figured the best thing to do was to just meet someone new and enjoy another persons company because being alone sucked and I didn’t want to deal with my own sad emotions anymore.

Who would have thought that SO MUCH could change in 6 years? What happened to meeting people in person, and why are there so many dating apps available with all the same people on each?

In less than a week I learnt that chivalry was indeed dead and I was so over it.

Since I was now in the mind set that all current single men were disgusting I needed a new plan and It was starting to look like I was going to be my own company for a while.

Having to learn to be completely alone with myself is one of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn. Just when I think I’m finally getting the hang of it, I fall back into feeling completely awkward sitting alone at the coffee shop avoiding eye contact with anyone around me and staring deep into my computer screen… Seems to be one of those on-going lessons at this point. 

I figured that I needed to start fresh and rediscover who I was from scratch. I’ve changed so much since I last actually thought about what makes me tick and I wanted to learn it all again. What foods I liked (not having to compromise on food is amazing by the way!), movie & show genres, hobbies, etc. It was a whole journey full of experiments and to do lists.

You know what I’ve learnt so far? I’m a freaking catch.

I’m funny, an incredibly horrible chef, a major foodie, and a pretty good salsa dancer with enough tequila in me.

I let go of the wall I built, always needing someone else around and I’m learning to just have fun. Anxiety can’t hold me back no more! Taking that first step at falling in love with myself wasn’t easy. It took some time to let myself even believe that I was worth loving. That I was interesting enough, or fun enough. But at the end the day, nobody will love you if you can’t love yourself first – so start working on it.

Here are the Top Five Actions I took while learning to have more fun and getting to know who I was.

GO OUT & EXPLORE

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I was never much of a city girl. Going out and partying wasn’t my scene, and commuting the half hour drive downtown just didn’t feel worth it. I never learnt to use our very pathetic Toronto Subway Line and driving wasn’t always an option so me and downtown never really got to have that great love affair everyone deserves to go through at least once.

Living in the suburbs there wen’t to many places to go, and this turned me into a total home body. Don’t get me wrong – staying home is great, but it wasn’t what I needed right now. Going out more and more not only gave me the opportunity to meet new people, try new foods and activities, it also helped me with my fears and anxieties of being there in general.

In my mission to start fresh – my minor anxiety was the first thing that just had to go. I no longer had time or effort to deal with it, and I was determined to change my life for the better. For many people, moving anxiety to the back of their minds is an incredibly hard task to accomplish and it is something that must be worked on every singly day.

With this in mind, I forced myself to go out a little more each week, try out new places I’ve never been, and force myself to remember that I was safe and okay until I was no longer scared of it.

Now, go out, explore the city, be a tourist in your own home and let yourself have fun without any questions or concerns. Try that hole in the wall restaurant, get lost and explore new areas. You’ll never learn what you like and don’t like if you don’t at least try.

LEAVING TOWN

121516_best_road_trip_ideas_slide_0_fs.max-784x410As bad as it may sound – there is no better temporary cure for a broken heart than running as far away from the problem as possible. Leaving town at every chance I got saved me from myself. It was my way of literally running away from my own thoughts.

From road trips to the cottage, to road trips all the way to New York City – I took every opportunity I could get to leave, and it worked. Windows down, music blasting, screaming the lyrics to Bitch by Meredith Brooks on constant repeat.

Running away from your problems isn’t always the answer. But I did whatever I could to protect my own mental health and I highly recommend others do the same.

On these short and long trips I was able to just let lose. Pull over whenever I wanted to explore my surroundings, sing until my voice gave out, and just let my thoughts run wild. It was the only time I wasn’t thinking about the past but focusing on the future and what I was going to do when I arrived at my destination.

Open your windows, stick your arm out and let the wind blow through your fingers… That’s what I imagine flying would feel like – complete freedom.

I learnt that it’s in those moments when your mind is completely free that you see things so much more clearly. Maybe the breakup was a smart move after all. That new super last minute, walked into the shop and sat down without thinking tattoo actually looks great! Hooking up with a stranger – well 50/50 on that one still…

Leave town – take a mental holiday and just focus on what makes you smile again.

SHAKE YOUR BOOTY

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Dancing and music were always my safe haven. It is how I let myself go, stopped thinking, and just completely focused on the beat I was hearing in the moment. No matter the song – angry, sad, happy, or completely crazy – there was always a way to express my emotions by flailing my arms and jumping around.

Being shy, most of my sick dance moves were saved for dancing around the house in my underwear – until recent.

If you would have told me a year ago that I’d be going to clubs, or dancing on the beach with people watching all around I’d probably laugh in your face. But here I am – making changes and shaking my ass barefoot to the sunset.

Change isn’t always a bad thing. Stepping out of your shell can be terrifying, but also life altering. If you aren’t willing to risk your pride, you won’t ever have the chance to learn what makes you smile. Plus the memories at the end of the day are totally worth it – especially if you make a complete fool of yourself.

YOGA & MEDITATION 

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Unfortunately I am not someone who enjoys working out. I hate it. I’ve tried to stick to it – I get gym passes yearly, and cancel them just the same. I’ve done Pole Dancing and Pilates which are both incredible and highly recommend – but even with those I would take a break and never go back.

I always talked about taking up Yoga and with just the same motivation that plagued my life, I never did. I guess it was the lazy ass in me that didn’t wanted to try something new, but I’ve forced myself to change (typing this while perfecting my swan pose) and I love it.

For a few months kept searching for ways to clear my mind that didn’t involve going out every single night or pretending to be sick so I could take off work and drive as far away from home as I could… Then someone suggested Yoga and since I’ve been trying to get myself to start for so long I figured now was the perfect opportunity.

I found an event to do Yoga in the Park close to home and after a very wine filled evening with friends the night before, I decided we had to do Yoga outside in 40 degree weather. Though it was hot, and I was hungover, I never felt better. In that hour outside stretching, I was so focused on staying centred and listening to the sound of birds that I forgot about everything else going on in my head. Giggling with my also hungover best friend because we kept falling out of our poses really helped too.

Learning to clear your thoughts and just be present is tough. It is a practice and it takes a lot of work – but it is worth it. And until I perfect it – I’m okay giggling through my stretches. Yoga is the perfect way to stretch the stress out of my life and just enjoy the moment.

PHOTOGRAPHY

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For as long as I can remember I have adored taking pictures. Being on my phone, or a digital camera, it was how I saved every good moment I was having.

I would also always take it one step further and go print every digital copy of a picture I had so I could store the real versions in one of the hundred albums I currently have sitting on my self.

Last year my incredible sister blessed me with the most beautiful Rolleiflex Twin Lens Camera I have ever seen. She was the start to my film camera collection, growing a hobby I didn’t even know I’d love so much. I am now never seen without a camera near by clicking away at it all. I am no longer willing to lose sight of my life and will always focus on the good around me.

Next step – learning to develop the film on my own!

Finding what makes you happy is a process. You have to be willing to try new things and open yourself up to new possibilities which can be really scary for a lot of people. But take it from me – it is worth it. You can learn so much about yourself and what makes you  happy if you just stop and listen.

 

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