2017: Embrace

One Little Word 2017: Embrace >> Life In LimboOne of the ways that I try to bring more magic into my life is to choose a word or theme for each new year. It’s an idea I picked up from Elise Cripe via Ali Edwards, and 2017 will be my fifth time choosing a word. So far I’ve had reach in 2013, abundance in 2014, grace in 2015, and light in 2016. It makes me so happy to look back on each of them and think about the ways they did (or didn’t) come up for me throughout each of their respective years. I find this exercise so fun and interesting because there’s really no downside. Worst case: you forget you have a word (cough, 2015), and best case: you get a kick out of noticing your word everywhere you look and potentially have a new lens through which to see the world or help you to make decisions.

Like I said in my year in review post, light was my favourite word so far, right up there with abundance for me. It was fun that light is an actual physical phenomenon, so I could literally look for it out in the world, but I also noticed it in quotes, songs, and situations.

One Little Word 2017: Embrace >> Life In Limbo

This year, my word is embrace. Let me tell you what it means to me, and what I hope I’ll do more of this year:

  • Embrace others: As in, hug. As in, spend lots of time with the people that I love and cherish so much. Prioritize people! Say yes to quality time, and any chance to see my people. Hug them when I see them! Love them. I want to cultivate a sense of community this year in ways big and small, and spend my time and energy deepening my dearest connections.
  • Embrace the situation: Even in the few short weeks since choosing this word, I’ve been shocked at how many of my thoughts in any given situation are some iteration of “things would be better right now if they were like this…” or “I wish that person would be a little more like this…” or “maybe we should do this thing right now”. Basically, wishing things were different from how they actually are. I don’t think that striving to accept people or situations means becoming complacent, I think it means valuing acceptance over criticism; honouring people as they are over how I wish they might be acting; and sitting with it instead of forcing things to look, be, or play out a certain way. Just let it be the way it’s meant to be.
  • Embrace my everyday: Ooh this one makes me feel calmer and happier just saying it out loud. Because to embrace my everyday means I want to celebrate it, document it, love it exactly as it is. It means not devaluing my everyday just because it looks less pretty than someone’s Instagram account. It probably means checking other people’s Instagram accounts way less often. It means taking more photos and practicing gratitude for what I have. And most of all it means working to make my everyday as lovely, happy, cozy and special as I possibly can.
  • Embrace the season: I mean this one both literally and figuratively, as I am not much for winter. But I’m also talking about the season of life that I’m in: I’m single, in a new city, trying to make friends and make a life and make a career all at the same time. It’s a lot! It’s easy to want to skip ahead to some mythical time when “things will be more settled” and “things are more figured out” (spoiler alert: that time is never), so for me, embracing the season means being okay with the weird, awkward parts and the incredibly awesome parts all at the same time. I want to remember to get out there and find my tribe, settle into my community, and make the most out of this season because before I know it, it will be over. I mean this literally: when I lived in Korea and then Ecuador, I always felt like that season would last forever, but of course it didn’t, and now those times are behind me. You only get one shot to make it amazing! I want to make it amazing.
  • Embrace myself: I want to do the things that I really love and that make me happiest. I want to stop trying to be different or “better” than I am. Acceptance. I want to trust my gut (I’m sorry for all the times I haven’t listened to you, gut!) and let awesome things flow to me.

 

I think it’s going to be a pretty amazing year. My new hashtag, if you want to follow along, is going to be #embracethedayproject.

Happy 2017, everyone!

 

Looking for the Light Today

Looking for the Light Today >> Life In Limbo

Today I walked down to the lake near my house and sat on a rock by the water. I needed to get away from my computer, from the endless articles I was reading, from Facebook, from the noise. There were hardly any people around and the lake was more still than I’ve seen it be since I moved in a month ago. It’s really cold today, and I wasn’t dressed for it, so sitting wasn’t a very attractive option. But I knew my soul needed to listen to the water, so I sat.

Like many of my incredible friends in the States and around the world, I am shaken by the results of the election. I keep reaching out to my friends, sending love, not knowing what to say.

It’s so stressful and startling to hear the things that we’ve been hearing. That the markets at one point last night dropped to lower than they were after 9/11. That my friends who are teachers are posting that their students are crying and afraid, worried for the safety of their family. That there was so much voter suppression during this election, and who knows how much that affected the results. That a Trump presidency may have horrific outcomes for civil rights. That people are joking about the fact that the Canadian immigration website crashed last night, which of course is not a joke at all for the thousands of rightly terrified people whom Trump threatened countless times during his campaign: immigrants, people of colour, women, trans people, people with disabilities, the list goes on.

As I sat by the water, I noticed that my hands were warm. My face was warm. The sun was so strong that the entire front side of me was completely cozy and warm, even as I still had – literally – shivers down my spine. A little ways behind me rushed the sound of cars speeding across (count em’!) more than 10 lanes of traffic. In front of me, quiet water with barely any ripples and endless blue sky without many clouds. Behind me noise, in front of me, peace. In front of me, light and warmth, behind me shadows and cold.

That kind of sums up how I have felt today as the day has carried on. I am turning my face towards the light, even as I feel chilled to the bone.

And there is light here. If you need some, let me share what I have with you.

Most importantly, there is this: Hillary won the popular vote. Not by the landslide we were hoping or even by a very large margin, but in this one small way, I feel calmer.

There is this map, that shows what the election results were for voters under 25. It gives me hope that slowly, surely, as a whole, we are moving towards the light.

I am heartened by my teacher friends like Katie and Nancy Sue, who are telling their students, in the wake of the fear and chaos, that they are safe and loved.

I am heartened by people like my friend Parker, who is using his (white, male) voice and platform to specifically share strong, true, unapologetic perspectives about what this result will mean for the huge groups of people who are oppressed in countless ways in modern-day America.

I am heartened by my bosses and dear friends the Red Tent Sisters who cried this morning over the results but were so galvanized and committed in knowing that their work for women’s health and empowerment is more essential than ever.

I am heartened by these words from Elizabeth Gilbert, offering us an invitation to step away from all the noise and ask ourselves “who do I want to be in this moment?”

I am heartened by this post from the MEHRIT Centre re-framing the stress, pain, and fear from a scientific perspective, and trying to use soft eyes of compassion and understanding when things feel confusing and upsetting.

I am heartened by the words of my acquaintance and State Senator of Nebraska Adam Morfeld, and to know that he, like undoubtedly countless other politicians in America are deciding to use this result as fuel and motivation to create the change they want to see in the world.

I am heartened that amidst the madness, beautiful things occurred, like that Nevada elected Catherine Cortez, the first Latina Senator in U.S. history, and that in Portland, Maine, Pious Ali was the first African-born Muslim ever elected to city council.

I am heartened that as the day wears on, I am seeing more of my friends sharing messages of compassion, love, understanding, and the strong conviction that most Americans are inherently good people, no matter how they voted. To repeat: people are emphasizing, again and again, that feeling hateful towards entire demographics is (while easy, automatic and may feel natural) ultimately unhelpful and inaccurate. People are almost always doing the best that they can in their given circumstances.

I am heartened by all of these things even as I am nervous about what the future holds for us. I am heartened even as I know there are millions of Americans who are not. I know I am so privileged because of my race, and the country I was born in, to feel heartened in any way. I know it is so much harder, if not impossible, for oppressed groups that feel afraid and targeted and are facing the kind of injustice that I have never experienced to be hopeful at all.

Today, I hope that you are taking care of yourself and your loved ones as best as you possibly can. I hope you try to turn your faces towards the light and let it carry you forward, because we have such a long road ahead.

Lots of light & love,

Steph

PS. PLEASE – if you have light of your own to share, write to me and send it my way. All shreds of hope, love and joy are welcome here. I’ll keep updating this post as I find more.

More Light

 

My Next Big Adventure

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The last few months have been a whirlwind for me. Even the last week alone has been a blur as I, yet again, choose to make over my life.

Ever since I graduated from university I’ve been finding my way, one little piece at a time. There have been so many moments over the last few years when I didn’t know what life would look like even three months down the line. Times when I didn’t know where I’d be living, how I’d be making money, or where in the world – literally – I’d be.

My trajectory has bounced across several countries and time zones and I’ve had so many adventures that seem surreal when I look back on them now. I’ve been so unbelievably lucky, and I’ve also made my own luck. I’ve taken risks and gained friendship and love and more confidence in myself than I knew I was capable of.

There’s a Steve Jobs quote I love that I feel applies here (and to all of us, always):

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.”

And one from Cheryl Strayed, which is tattooed on my heart:

“Let whatever mysterious starlight that guided you this far, guide you onward into whatever crazy beauty awaits.”

I wrote a post that included that second quote on the day I finished university. I had no idea how much crazy beauty awaited me then, and truthfully I still don’t now. All I know is that Steve & Cheryl are absolutely, 100% right. I can only connect the dots looking backwards, and some mysterious starlight is absolutely guiding me onward.

Next Big Adventure >> Life In Limbo

Last week, I chose to end my relationship and move to Toronto. These were two big, scary decisions that I agonized over for weeks beforehand, for lots of personal, complicated reasons. But they were beautiful decisions too, made with love and care and a sense of abundance.

The last time I lived on my own in Canada, it was in a sweet, colourful apartment in Montreal that I filled with projects and good food and friends and plenty of love and cake. That apartment was magic, and I still miss it sometimes. At the time though, I got restless and I wanted to see the world, so I packed it all away and started my adventures.

Three years later, and I’m ready for another kind of adventure – building a life and a home for myself near all my loved ones. I’m happy to say that I now know where I’ll be living three months from now and beyond, and that feels really good. I keep getting excited about tiny little things like coming home for the weekend, or exploring bulk grocery stores in my neighbourhood, or how far of a walk it’ll be to the beach (15 minutes! Hallelujah!).

All this to say: I’m trying to trust. I’m trying to let go. I’m trying to let things feel easy. I’m trying to have an open mind and an open heart. I’m trying to enjoy each moment as it comes and be grateful. If I have learned anything over the past few years, it is this.

PS. Somehow over the past few months I had forgotten that my word of the year was light. I love that I could remember it here, now, and that it came back to me in such a beautiful way.

Looking For the Light: April

Looking For the Light April >> Life In Limbo

This month it was pretty easy to find the light.

On my birthday I got treated to a beautiful lunch at a much-too-fancy restaurant, received kind and heartfelt messages from loved ones, and in the evening went over to my boyfriend’s parents’ house for a small family get-together. We were all sitting in the living room when all of a sudden, a four-piece mariachi band marched in, playing in all their glory. It was such a surprise and so thoughtful and sweet that I cried, and just felt so supported and loved by my Ecuadorian family.

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