2017 – year of the recluse

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With only a few days left in 2017 – I find myself reflecting on the last 360 or so days.  In 2017 I became a bit of a recluse. While everyone I knew was planning a wedding, a family or a vacation, I put my head down and went through the motions of my days. I worked, ate, Netflixed, read, wrote, slept and repeated. I stopped sharing as much as I used to, I took a good hard look at my relationships, my work, and an even longer stare in the mirror. I didn’t like a lot of what I saw so I pulled back as much as I could and tried to figure out what would make me a happier, better person.

I deleted Instagram (more on that here) and then got it back but with an entirely new perspective. I finally understood the importance of using my time wisely and how a filtered collection of photos doesn’t show the whole truth. I looked at photos for what they were and stopped looking for a deeping meaning. I also stopped comparing my life to what I see on Instagram – which was HUGE for me.

I tried to navigate my first year of marriage and all of the speed bumps that came along with it (I wrote about it for SDTC, hopefully it’s published soon). My marriage requires compromise, especially since my husband and I are very different. For 2018 I plan on being less of a nag, being more open to compromise, and letting go of things that don’t matter in the long run.  If there is one thing I learned about marriage it’s that no one will truly understand someone else’s relationship so you’re better off minding your business and worrying about your own.

Amanda and I started a writing group and every month for the last year we’ve met to discuss out work. We recently added a new member to the group which is exciting and scary. She’s still a stranger to me and so talented that sometimes I get shy showing her my work but this group has been an entirely new kind of support system. They’ve pushed me to take chances with my writing and its paid off. I wrote a lot of personal essays and dug as deep as I possibly could, learning that I’m not a bad person but I can also be an asshole. Learning that the best writing is that which people can relate to and if you’re not being real, there’s no point in writing. FOUR of my life stories have been published on SDTC and something else I wrote will be in the 4th issue of Feels Zine. I am beyond thankful for this writing group and the new friendships its yielding.

Speaking of friendships, I realized that just like people, those change too. And that’s okay. There’s no need to beat yourself up about friendships that fade. Embrace the new people who come into your life and be thankful for the friendships that made you who you are today. I spent 24 hours in Blue Mountain with a friend that I’ve known since the tenth grade. We talked continuously for those 24 hours. We are honest and always open to constructive criticism. We’re supportive and can be ourselved with one another. I might see her once every six months but we can always pick up where we left off. It’s those kinds of friendships I will continue to hold on to.

2017 felt immensely draining. I spent a lot of the year in my own head and I still feel a bit lost. As people make plans for the new year and jot down their goals for the future, I’m having a hard time putting mine into words. Sure, I’d love to travel a bit (Boston is on my radar this in the Fall), get more writing published, eat better, work out more, and read more, but there’s something missing…

In a few months I’ll turn 29 and the number 30 is already looming above me. It’s such a huge number and I not sure I’ve lived up to it. What have I really accomplised? Have I used my time wisely? My boss is constantly encouraging me to do things in my spare time that nourish my soul and I haven’t – this could account for feeling lost, inadequate, and bored.

So for 2018 I have one goal to do more things that nourish my soul that make me feel full on life.

Yours,

Vanessa xo

Being a Badass

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We are 14 days into the new year and I am 100% focussed on making 2017 work for me. In 2018 I’ll have a mortgage, I will be out of my parents’ basement, and I will finally begin a life with my husband – just the two of us. So 2017 is seemingly one of the last years I will be able to take risks without having to worry so much about monetary obligations.

For the sake of being proactive I purchased a copy of Jen Sincero’s You are a Badass – how to stop doubting your greatness and start living an awesome life. I’ve never purchased a self-help book but I had a feeling it’s just what I needed to push me over the edge toward change and a more meaningful life.

So far I’ve learned that change cannot manifest itself without a positive attitude, gratitude, and hard work. Change begins with your own thoughts. I don’t know about you but my head is a messy place. Contrary to my OCD tendencies, my mind is an unorganized, cluttered, dusty, spiderweb-filled lair full of insecurities and self-doubt. To combat this I’ve started writing down affirmations, dreams, lists, goals, and desires. Whenever I sense a bad thought forming I think of my I want to list.

I want:

  • to travel this year with my husband
  • to write more and join a writing workshop (STARTWRITING.CA)
  • to attend events about books, culture, and art
  • to exude confidence
  • to have more experiences in the city (and get over my fear of driving down there. WHY IS EVERYONE SO MEAN AND CRAZY ON THE ROADS?)
  • to inspire people with my words

I also mumble a little pep talk to really get myself pumped. It’s something like that line from The Help: “You is kind. You is smart. You is important”. This way of thinking is contagious. Suddenly your thoughts become more positive than they’ve ever been. You can’t stop thinking about good stuff. Positivity breeds positivity and before you know it, you have an eerie kind of control over your mind. You let in the light and you nearly forget how stifling it was in the dark.

Let me get something clear here: I’m not sitting back and hoping for miracles. I am getting myself more in tune with what I want and what I know I can achieve. I’m throwing positivity out there in the hope that it will build steam and allow me to do something different. I’m asking the universe for help.

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” The Alchemist

Positively yours,

Vanessa xo

Hope for a New Year

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2016 was not a bad year; I got married, I became slightly more aware of who I am and who I don’t want to be, I witnessed moments where people exposed their true colours and even exposed some of my own. 2016 was a good year and yet, I am insecure, incomplete, and slightly nauseated.

2016 was exhausting. 

I was busy, so incredibly busy doing nothing. Work was insane (which is good because when they’re busy that means my position is secure), every weekend was a different family or friendly function, and anxiety loomed around every corner. After 365 days of living I don’t feel particularly different one way or another. I have become more vocal, especially about things I don’t care about, but 2016 was rather consistent.

I hope to put 2016 failures out of my mind and look to new people, places, and websites (like Be the Next Her) for inspiration. My hope for 2017 is that 365 days from now I will feel different. I will have made changes, taken risks, inspired someone, or accomplished something.

A good friend of mine told me that the universe is always listening all I have to do is ask for what I want and work hard in the meantime. 

Let’s do this universe. 

Hopefully yours,

Vanessa xo

Yo-yoing into the New Year

Last week I decided to try out my new year’s resolution a bit early; I logged out of Twitter and Instagram (I don’t have Snapchat or Facebook) and deleted the apps from my phone. I’m not sure what I thought would happen but I surely wasn’t expecting to feel so…bored. Yes, bored. I didn’t feel left out or anxious, I felt bored.

Hour after hour I looked at my phone and thought what is the point of this thing if I can’t log into Twitter or Instagram? Other than social media, banking, and music I very rarely use my phone. Yes, there’s the random iMessage or group chat and a few phone calls from my mother or husband but that’s it. My phone is a social media hub, without those apps I didn’t feel the need to keep my phone on me.

There were moments before bed or while lounging on the couch when I read. I sat there by the fire and while my dad flipped through channels I simply read (I just finished reading Sweetbitter and LOVED it). I didn’t look at my phone because there was nothing to look at. I read without interruption, with a delicious sense of calm. It was magical.

When it comes to family, work, and my husband, whenever I say I’m going to do something I do it. There is no yo-yoing or second guessing. I tend it get all bent out of shape over these menial things that don’t matter. These decisions I rush to make because I feel like I have to just do SOMETHING. It is always these decisions that give me instant regret.

There were moments during my social media detox where I truly missed my phone (#millenialprobs), where I wanted to see what was going on or share a thought or a photo. So I texted a friend to ask if I was completely horrible for not going through with my resolution even before the new year started. Could I take it back? Would I look stupid? What is this yo-yoing I’m doing?  I only lasted 19 hours without it!!!  What if I apply for jobs that require social media?  etc. etc. etc.

For over an hour my lovely friend, Alanna dazzled me with advice and honesty. She answered my every question, stunted my every concern, and helped me look at this (and many other) situations in a new light.

Oh don’t have regrets. They’re a waste of fucking time! You do what you think will work in the moment; you try new things. That’s great! You’re not a quitter. You’re an experimenter. You tried something. It doesn’t work for you – AND THAT’S OKAY.

So instead of making myself crazy or sulking into 2017 like an lost puppy; I’m going to own the fact that I decided not to pursue a resolution even before the new year started. Maybe this is the year where I don’t pretend to have a resolution that I won’t keep. Maybe 2017 is the year of real, raw, and not giving too many fucks about things that don’t matter.

Regretlessly yours,

Vanessa xo