Car Thoughts

The only thing I can do right now is think about all the events and moments that led me to sitting in my car writing this. The past number of days have been filled with feelings of being happy, sad, guilty, joyful, excited, plus a little anxious thrown in for good measure. These feelings are sometimes separated by hours. Sometimes a couple happen together, or on the days when things seem a bit too much, all of them happen at the same time.

As much as I try to stay positive, I feel like there is a path of destruction that I leave behind.  Rationally I know this isn’t the case.  Everyone is responsible for their own emotions or reactions, I get it. In the past maybe I never clearly explained my reasons for doing something and that caused turmoil in relationships. Perhaps I didn’t speak up because I felt what I was going through wasn’t important. I do know for sure I never asked for help in the past or allowed myself to be vulnerable. Throw trust into the mix, there wasn’t any, I only trusted myself and even that was only on a good day.

Somewhere in the mix I lost the real me or maybe never fully discovered the real me. Parts of me I hid away because I didn’t want people to think I was weird. I kept quiet because it felt like no one understood what I talked about. I adapted to what I thought I had to be for others.

Fast forward to the present, me sitting in my car and thinking about how I have changed.

Can I be vulnerable? Yes. Most people close to me may only see a tiny slice of that vulnerability, maybe bit more if they are really close. Only one person has seen me at my most vulnerable and continues to see my vulnerability. I have learned to push through barriers and open myself up, because I want to share myself this way.

Have I learned to trust others? Some people definitely. Trust fully? That is a struggle. Between old abandonment issues and being hurt, the scars add up. That is definitely an issue I own, as there are people in my life that I know can trust. It is difficult still. There is one person I trust fully and that is a huge step for me.

Do I ask for help now? Yes. The past couple of years have taught me that I have people that are there for me. I am able to reach out when I am struggling.

Do I know the real me now? Yes and I continue to learn about myself all the time. I caught glimpses of the real me in the past, but now I know. The hardest part about learning this is relationships can crumble. Friendships, romantic relationships, both can end. Sometimes people can’t handle when you aren’t being the person they want you to be or thought you were. On the other hand, people enter your life and they see the real you and love you for it. It is an indescribable feeling.

So a mix of emotions all at once is happening at this point in my life. I will take the good with the bad, because I have a pretty good idea of where my future is headed and it is worth this journey. I never wanted to hurt anyone, but sometimes in learning about yourself, the hurt happens. This is all part of my journey.

Right Now

Being present in the moment is so important.  At times it is easy to become caught up in the moments of the past or the possibilities of the future.  Becoming caught up in these moments of time can bring anxieties or worries that do not need to play on your mind.  True, sometimes these thoughts cannot be controlled nor should they be, they need to play out so we can learn what triggers them.  The question is – What is distracting you from this moment?  What is happening in your environment at this very moment – the rain falling on the roof, the smell of sage, the silent energy of night or the fact that you are here in this moment?  Alive.   There are so many pieces that make up a single moment.  Hold space for yourself and just be.

Adapting to Change, Again

Every so often, there seems to be periods of change that occur in my life.  Change is normal and constant.  It is funny, I used to think I was really good at adapting to change in my life.  There has been so much of it – moves, new jobs, friendships, and changes in myself.  The thought that has been on my mind is which situations do I fair better in when it comes to change and which situations do I have a harder time with the change.

Let’s talk work.  Work is a funny one.  Over the course of my career I have worked for larger companies that seemed to merge and separate departments on a regular basis.  When I move to different areas, I look at it as an opportunity to learn new things.  The one thing that always bothers me about changes in a work environment is when I am a part of a team and some of my team members aren’t being treated fairly due to change.  To deal with workplace change over the years (and also partly due to my need to be in control), I move jobs or companies as it allows me to be in control of the change and feel as thought I have a say it what happens to me.

Now come the moves.  Moves are interesting for me.  I love to see new places, even if it is moving to a different part of the same town.  I love to travel and if I could I would spend time traveling all over living from place to place. Moves are a huge change, leaving behind family and friends.  My first big move was moving from one country to another and I wouldn’t change anything about it.  The first year was really difficult between making friends and realizing family was not close.  Would I do it again if I had to do it over? Yes.  I wouldn’t change a single thing about my choice to move from one country to another and then all the mini moves within the country.  I love the experience of a new place.  Learning about a new city, becoming familiar with the local events and scene.  Moves are one change that I actually enjoy, well minus moving the material stuff, although with each move the material stuff becomes less and less.

Changes in myself, these have been difficult but necessary.  The person I was ten years ago is so different than the person I am now.  Ten years ago I couldn’t deal with emotions in a healthy way.  I compartmentalized them for the majority of my life, but ten years ago a change was required so that I could continue to move forward on my journey.  It took lots of work, but I learned to overcome and find healthy ways to accept that my emotions help make me who I am.  Recently there has been more changes in myself, realizing that there were things that needed to be done in order to become more of myself.  It hurts some days and some days it is amazing.  This type of change is absolutely necessary in my life so I do embrace it.  It has brought so many wonderful experiences.

Now on to the most difficult, because it involves other people and their reactions are out of your hands – relationships, be it friends or romantic partners.  Being involved in any type of relationship always causes some sort of change.  Whether it be positive or negative.  There have been so many positive changes in my life due to new relationships, even though positive there still have been roadblocks to maneuver around.  On the negative side of things, I have had friendships dissolve due to jealousy or due to a perceived lack of support.  Those changes are losses and there is grief involved.  This type of change is difficult for me to deal with most of the time.  I like to analyze, so I spend so much time trying to figure out where things went wrong or what I did wrong, when really sometimes friendships just fall apart.  People have lives and people move on with their lives, it is the way things work.  It is something I can’t control.  All I can control in these situations is my reaction to the situation as well as how much effort I am willing to put into a friendship before enough is enough.

There are definitely situations where adapting to change is easier for me.  What I have taken away from the change I have experienced and am experiencing in life, is that it is okay to feel anxious and stressed sometimes.  It is okay to let go of control or the perception of being in control.  Anger sometimes happens and that is alright as well.  All these things are part of change.  Change can also bring feelings of joy, happiness, freedom, love, and so much more.  True, sometimes change is a bad thing, but overall I try to embrace change.  If I didn’t accept change as part of my life and tried to resist it, then I would not be where I am today.  Where I am today is a pretty good place.

What Fuels my Spirit

While doing some research yesterday, I found a question that needed an answer.  What fuels my spirit? There are so many answers to this question, as there are many things in life that add fuel to my spirit.  The top ones on my list – energy work, meaningful conversations, knowledge seeking, and travel.

The similarities among all these are the desire to find connections with others and learn.  Lifelong learning is an extremely important part of who I am.  The best kind of lifelong learning is through experiences.  Experiences occur whether I am doing energy work with others, having discussions about life with those closest to me, travelling around the world, or living my life day-to-day.

As with most life experiences, there have been ups and downs.  Some of the downs were rock bottom, while the ups brought some of the most unexpected connections and emotions that I didn’t believe were possible.

Each step taken is made up of choices, some of the choices made resulted in experiences that could have destroyed me, but I pressed forward.  Those experiences made me stronger and I embrace them, because without them I would not be here in this moment.  There would have been no growth, there would only be stagnation.

Other steps taken and choices made that resulted in deep meaningful connections and joyful experiences.  I am grateful for those outcomes.  These experiences have opened my eyes to things I have never thought possible.  They have taught me that with the right mindset and desire to move forward, there are so many possibilities out there.

What fuels my spirit?  It really comes down to one word – experiences.  Living this life and all exploring all the possibilities laid out before me.

So Long Edmonton

This post is about four months late, but it has been on my mind for awhile.  In February of this year I left the city that I spent almost the last 20 years of my life in.

Edmonton will always hold a special place in my heart, for so many reasons.  It is the place where I had some of my most amazing experiences and painful experiences. It is the place where I truly began living my life as it is meant to be lived. Without Edmonton I would not be where I am today and I would not have learned how to love.

For me it is about experiences, places I don’t necessarily miss. The people I met in Edmonton saved me in so many ways. Some of them I no longer keep in touch with and that is okay because life happens, people change. Others have always been there for me, from those who took me in during the holidays when I was living alone, to those who who held me up when I lost one of my close friends. There are those who helped me discover who I am and those who have been my biggest supporters.  To the latest round of friends who took me into their homes when I was living on my own during the last few months and feeling very isolated, they may not realize it but they helped keep me sane.  I am so grateful for all of you.

In the end, it isn’t so much the city that I miss, it is the people. It is the experiences I had with each and every person during my time there. So many memories. Leaving Edmonton I left behind the places where those memories were created and the people that helped me create those memories. All those memories are precious to me, the good and the bad.

So, thank you Edmonton for being the magical place that brought so many beautiful people into my life, some who traveled through and some who stayed. I will never forget you and you will always be in my heart.

Time for a new chapter

My best friend growing up could probably tell you that I often said that I was going to move out west to live near the mountains.  It was one of those childhood dreams for me.  A little over 19 years ago I made a move west and the mountains are only three hours away.  For a time that was the closest that I thought I would be to the Rockies.

It may not seem like much, moving closer to the mountains.  To me it means so much. Nature is where I feel at home and mountains mean so much to me.  Upon first seeing the mountains in Jasper, Alberta, my breath was taken away.  It was truly awe inspiring.  They reminded me how powerful the Earth is and helped me to realized that my problems were small.  In a way they healed me and continue to do so whenever I get a chance to visit them.

Growing older it isn’t only the mountains that pull me to them, it is now the ocean as well. There is something freeing and a little terrifying about being on the open water.  It is beautiful in its power. The life held within the ocean is something to be treasured.  It holds mystery and myths below its surface, influencing creativity.

Next up are the forests, true peace.  Growing up there was always a chance to wander through the forest by myself.  Forests have always been a place of reflection for me ever since I can remember.  Sitting by trees or in trees makes me feel secure and safe.  The wind rustling leaves is my favorite song, when I was a child I was positive this was how trees talked to one another.

Previously having all three things near the place I lived seemed like a dream.  It was one of those things that was always “when I retire” or “when I have enough money” then I will move.  That isn’t the case now, my husband and I have decided that we needed to move sooner. Within a short period of time, around two months, we decided that our physical and mental health were worth the move.

It only makes sense doesn’t it, moving from the place that is draining energy from you, to the place that you know will heal you.  It seems like a natural step to take.  Some may view it as a small thing, a move of this type.  To me it is a dream come true.  Being able to walk through old growth forests, seeing seals pop their head above water as you drive by on a boat, seeing otters play and watching the whale migrations – those are just a few things, besides my peace of mind, that make it worth it.

 

Japan Solo Trip – Wrap-up

After years planning to go back to Japan, finally doing it turned out much better than expected. Japan was the way I remembered it and so much more. Going solo gave me the chance to fully immerse myself in what was going on around me. It was a chance to do what called to me without having to work around the wants and needs of anyone else.

Every experience was worth the wait. Once again Japan did not feel foreign to me, it felt like a second home. It felt as though I was away for years on a journey and came back home.

Leaving Japan filled me with sadness, even though I missed my life back in Canada, especially my husband. I now know that Japan will be a place I visit more frequently, waiting another eight years to visit is not an option.

Tokyo – Yanaka and Ikebukuro

Wow, guess I fell a bit behind keeping my entries up regarding my time in Tokyo.

Where to begin, I was going to divide my time in Tokyo up by going to Takayama, but either my age or all the walking caught up with me and I decided to stay in Tokyo for seven nights. Never really thought I would want to stay in Tokyo that long, but it is such a diverse city.

For the first half of my time in Tokyo I stayed at Ryokan Sawanoya in Yanaka. Yanaka was very enjoyable. It had more of an old Tokyo type feel. During my time in Yanaka I went on two tours. One tour ended up being free for guests of the ryokan, because it was the first offering of the tour. The first part of the tour was really good. There was a tea ceremony and then we attempted to make tea ourselves. It was quite funny, I am pretty sure people felt sorry for me, at one point I had five members of the team running the event all helping me out. In addition to the tea ceremony, there was also a rakugo performance in English. That definitely was my favorite part of the event. In a rakugo performance there is only one actor on stage and they do all the voices in the story. There are only two props used, a fan and a small cloth. It sounds as though this type of performance is getting popular in other countries, I recommend finding a performance in your area. After the rakugo performance, it was craft time. We made a small byobu, which is a Japanese folding screen. We only had time to do one side of it, but it was definitely fun to make. I will finish it when I return home. The end of the first half of the tour was listening and participating in a song used for sumo. After the first half of the tour was done, the second half was rushed and focused mainly on sumo. It was a bit disorganized, which was understandable as it was the first time they ran the tour.

My next tour was a walking tour of Yanaka. There were two interesting parts of that tour. The first was the cherry blossoms blooming in the cemetery. It was very pretty. The second interesting and fun thing was getting dressed in a kimono, which wasn’t part of the tour but it was a free offering by a photo studio that just opened. Definitely not complaining about getting it free, as I know some of the tours where you dress up in a kimono can be quite pricey.

Lots of time was spent relaxing in the ryokan as they had two Japanese style baths, so nice. The windows in the bathing area opened up to a small garden.

One of the days I took a day trip with another person I met from Canada. We went to Niigata. While there we went to a fish market, which was quite interesting to see. I also got a cafe mocha at a cafe and the barista made the cutest design. After the market we went for sushi. Best sushi ever. So fresh, as the city is right on the sea. Went on a tour bus around the city. Definitely has a nice river area and parks. Dinner was at an izakaya. The food was so good, I had tempura and the shrimp tempura was the biggest I have ever seen. I also tried pickled firefly squid, which was tasty.

Yesterday my body was done I stayed in all day as all my adventures caught up with me.

Today I switched to my third hotel in Tokyo located Ikebukuro. My room is on the 36th floor and the view is amazing. It was another quiet day, did some shopping and booked the airport bus for tomorrow morning. May venture out tonight to take in all the lights.

There will be another post about this trip as there are lots of things I have realized about solo travel. This has been a life changing experience. I also will miss the food.

Thanks for reading.

Miyajima – Day 2

A bit of a delay in posting about my last day in Miyajima. More than likely it was because I spent a fair amount of time in nature and not so much time sightseeing. I left Miyajima on the 27th.

Miyajima is probably one of the most spiritual places I have been to in a long time. It is amazing considering there are so many people elsewhere on the island, it makes seeing the forest void of people a welcome change.

I attempted taking one of the paths up the mountain, not doing any research prior, it ended up being the longest path and with lots of stairs. Leave it to me to do things the hard way. To give you some sort of idea of the amount of stairs, I probably walked around 2 kilometers round trip up and I would say at least half of or a bit more were stairs. Stairs normally are my biggest enemy, make me do lunges or squats any day, anything but stairs. That being said, I did lots of them. There was one point where stopping seemed like a good idea. There were excuses running through my head, but I continued to climb. Eventually I did have to stop, but the climbing made me realize that I can push myself more and I am not as out of shape as I thought. The climbing was meditative, it really helped to live in the moment. The moment my mind strayed to something else, my balance started going. There was no other choice but to focus on the moment. It was a walking meditation.

As an added bonus, the morning I left it was high tide, which is what I wanted to see. It was just by chance that I caught it as I was leaving.

Miyajima – Day 1

The titles of these entries really need to be more creative, but at least they state a fact.

The morning consisted of an early commute to Miyajima. I was hoping that the train wouldn’t be busy at 7:00 AM, but it was slightly busy. The trip didn’t take long and I arrived at the inn by 8:00 AM and was able to drop off my luggage.

Most of the people seem to congest around Itsukushima Shrine. Since this is my second time here I want to spend it doing things that I missed the first time around. So the morning was spent hiking on trails and happily they were pretty empty. At one point while I was sitting on a bench on a hiking trail I got into a staring contest with a deer, not sure who won but I have a feeling it was the deer. After that I went to two parks and they were empty, like the hiking trails. The early afternoon was spent in Omoto Park reading and watching the deer. Plus the cherry trees have begun to bloom so I spent some time admiring the them.

Food on the island consisted of a squid skewer for lunch, which I couldn’t eat gracefully and ended up getting some of the sauce in my eye. It stung a bit. Dinner was a bit more of a challenge as lots of the restaurants and shops close around 6:00 PM. Luckily I found a pub. Dinner consisted of fried oysters, steamed eel and beer, can’t beat that.

Tomorrow I plan on doing some more hiking and who knows what else. We will see what tomorrow brings.

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