In this moment, as the snow blankets the world with its pristine whiteness, I crave curling up with a good book, a hot chocolate and a roaring fire. I crave simplicity. I crave comfort. I can clearly see that a busy life is a wasted life because we miss the moments that really count.
I’ve just started editing a new manuscript and it’s going to be a beautiful book, one I think I will order multiple copies of and send out to every woman I love. It’s a sweet mix of self-care, Ayurveda and our strength as women. It’s like magic for my soul right now. Allowing me to sink in and uncover the love for myself that can get hidden in the mess of appointments, difficult children, volunteer tasks and grocery shopping, along with the many many other things that have me running around fairly frantically on a day to day basis.
And this mess, it clouds my mind so easily. It hides the truth of self-love and soul-contentment that I desperately wish to be led by each day. But that is life. At least for me. It is a constant shifting from hustle to peace. From external to internal. There is no perfection available on this path. I need to keep bringing myself back to internal focus and strength – to a place of pure self-love. Whether it’s a particularly powerful yoga class or a reiki session with the amazing woman that I’m blessed to have in my town, or a beautiful book, or a good long talk with a girlfriend, I always need something to bring me back. Again and again. To remind me that I don’t need to get stuck in the busy, in the mindlessness.
And maybe the snow does that too. It requires us to slow down, to cuddle up and look inward. Yes, we can fight it and our modern culture often requires that of us, but when we don’t… when we see it as an opportunity to step away from the hustle and make soup while drinking tea with rosy cheeks after building a snowman… that is the gift it gives us.
We’re all about to go down the road of holiday craziness… and my dear American friends, you kick it off hardcore with Thanksgiving (and that very weird phenomenon called Black Friday). But no matter which country we call home, the next six weeks will be filled with parties, shopping, baking, decorating. Families will come to stay. Friends will stop by. Children will eat too many cookies and stay up too late. And it’s beautiful. I adore the holiday season, especially this year back in my hometown with hopes that it will be white. My town plays Christmas carols out of the town hall, filling the downtown streets with music. The street lights are decorated with wreaths and shop windows are decked. It’s true Canadian Christmas magic and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
It’s just the extra glass of wine…
Or the 3rd late night in a row…
Or one more party with a dessert spread to make every sugar addict sink to their knees and thank the universe/lord/Allah/Jesus for the blessing.
Those get me. They throw me off. They push me away from this centre that I feel so good about when I’m in it. And so I need another reminder, another pull back to conscious soul-contentment: the right book, yoga class, a sweaty afternoon snowshoe. An experience. Because inspirational quotes flying past my eyes on Instagram just don’t make the cut. I need more, a stronger touch point.
So I’m starting the season with a proactive approach: I booked myself in for 3 yoga classes this week and aim to attend at least 2 each week through the season. I messaged a friend about a lunch date. I’ve got a plan for a women’s snowshoeing afternoon brewing in my head. And a lovely little Secret Santa potluck with some of my oldest besties. One of my holiday rituals, Molly Mahar’s Holiday Council, is on my calendar for 3 hours of serious me time to reflect and dream. I’ve signed up for a restorative yoga + vision boarding workshop just before New Year. I’ve told my sweetie that at least once a week I want to spend the evening just hanging out with him, talking or playing a board game. All that’s left is to decide which evening I cuddle up on the couch (solo) and watch Love Actually.
Amidst the to-do list, I’m choosing me. I’m choosing to honour this time. To treat myself well. To claim the space for my soul amidst the hustle and bustle because you know what? Inner peace/soul-contentment/self-love…. whatever you call it, it doesn’t just happen by itself. Nor is it something that happens once and then sticks around. It needs to be nourished. It needs to be cultivated.
That also means that when we lose it, when the hustle and bustle takes over, we can get it back. We can trust that it will be there waiting for us if we create the space and welcome it in. This holiday season, put your soul on the agenda too. Claim the space for it.
If you follow me, you know that my family and I recently left Vancouver BC, and moved back to my hometown in rural Ontario. If you’re new around here, that’s all the background you need to know to understand this post. With that said…
Here I am, living in my hometown.
I was gone for nine years – fell in love, had two children, changed careers and started my own business, suffered through and healed from an incredibly devastating physical injury, and also found my way through years of perinatal and post-partum depression. To say that they were formative years is a bit of an understatement.
I am not the woman I was when I last lived in this town.
It’s a powerful thing to live away from the place where everybody knows who you are. Away from the people who know your stories, who know the wins and losses that shaped you. There’s a sense of freedom that comes with it, an opportunity to leave behind the parts of you that no longer fit so that you may unearth the parts of you that will take you forward.
Because the roles you grew up playing, the boxes you did or did not fit in – they can hold you back. Keep you stuck, stagnant. Your opportunity for expansion, for growth, can be limited by the patterns and habits you associate with home, by the expectations of those who have known you forever.
I think this is why so many people feel the pull to leave their hometowns, particularly when they are small towns. There is a need to discover what life is like without everyone you’ve grown up with – without the teachers that watched you grow, the friends who you made all your dumbest decisions with. We need space to be ourselves in a more pure form, without falling back into a default self.
This is what I know to be true about my time in Vancouver: I lived a big life, full of joy and sorrow, and I managed each moment on my own, figuring out, day by day, exactly who I am. Living in a big city on the other side of the country I got to be whoever the fuck I wanted to be. I got to reinvent, to rediscover, to CHOOSE how I’m going to live in the world and do it without anyone asking why I’m so different or what happened.
And then I moved home… and the expectations of others, the old habits, the boxes I fit in or didn’t… they were all here waiting for me. With a thousand visual cues too… biking through the same streets, seeing the same buildings, even the same faces… I have moments these days when I feel like those nine years didn’t even happen.
Which causes me to freak out a little, because I don’t want to lose what I gained. I don’t want to go backwards. I don’t want to shrink.
But in your little hometown, it’s hard to not fall back into everything that you were before.
I think that’s why so many people never move back home. They’ve finally connected to a sense of self that feels true to them, a sense of self that they never want to lose and they fear that going back, to the same place, to the same people, will erase all the change. Because it’s hard to be different than you were in a small town. And if the you that you’ve become doesn’t fit in, it may feel impossible to return. I can think of one wonderful friend who now lives on the other side of the world, rocking a beautiful mix of city and beach culture… living in bikinis by day and heels by night…. How would she ever return here? To a town where tractors drive down the main street and you’ve got to jump on a plane if you want to catch some surf.
Sometimes “home” just doesn’t fit anymore. I get that. And that was my biggest worry before we moved.
And now, 5 months into living here, with the care-free days of summer behind us, I find myself pulled to re-navigate… to take time to assess Who am I here? These past few months I have easily sunk back into this life, telling people regularly that it feels like I never left. That it feels normal. But I’m realizing now, that I’m not OK with that. I can’t let my past become my present just because the streets and faces look the same.
I know I can live a life with more peace, with more compassion, with more nurturing than I used to offer myself a decade ago. I have worked so hard to develop a truer connection to self, a more conscious existence in the world. I can’t give that up. I have shed so many tears for that growth. I have written so many words to uncover my desires, my dreams, my wisdom. Deep breaths, meditations, beach walks and mountain summits – each a moment for reflection and growth. Each one making me more me.
We gain so much self-knowledge when we find ourselves somewhere no one knows us. We are gifted with the precious opportunity to start fresh. And when we choose to move home, because we so dearly miss our people, we must choose everyday to keep all those experiences in our heart, to maintain and continue our expansion. To show ourselves that all that we learned about ourselves when we were away, is true.
And then perhaps we will arrive at a true peace, one in which we integrate all of it. We accept and respect our past while continuing on our new path. We acknowledge that we are a sum of all our experiences and that our truest self, our purest wisdom, comes when we feel whole.
Moving home…. To a SMALL town. My hometown.
There’s nothing like it. Everywhere I go, there are people I know.
I walk out my back door and see straight across the fence to the deck where my Grade 9 homeroom teacher enjoys the weather with his lovely wife.
Or I walk out my front door and see the house owned by a guy I went to high school with, where a group of them gather every Friday to play poker.
Or just next door – a wonderfully complicated family connection because that’s the way my family rolls. Family through and through.
Small town. Hometown.
The same grocery store.
The same bank.
The same pharmacy.
The park, the farmer’s market, the festivals.
Every little bit of it is the same.
Driving the roads from here to there, I realize my kids will know the same roads.
Talking with family friends out and about, I realize my kids will call them family friends too.
This year my son will go to the same little school I did, taught by the same woman who taught me.
This is home.
The home I didn’t even know I wanted.
Where I thought life was too simple and opportunities too sparse.
And where, truth be told, I thought it was stupid to stay, judging those who did.
Where I thought minds were closed and culture was absent
The home I had walked away from, in search of something bigger, better. In search of more.
And yet here we are, in my little hometown.
With our lives bursting with play, connection and joy.
Surrounded by love.
And now I know, this small town is everything we need.
Because of where I live I drive through the “seedy” side of town on my way to and from downtown. And in Vancouver, it’s a pretty intense area. Driving through you will see lines of people awaiting food or shelter. You will see women on street corners. You will see sadness. Deep sadness.
On my way to meet friends, attend networking events, connect with clients I am literally driving through sadness to make my biggest dreams come true.
And yes, it impacts me.
Especially the women on the street corners.
I drive by in my nice car, sitting on leather seats with the AC flowing. And even though my necklace might have been bought at the grocery story, I feel beautiful. I feel confident.
I see these women and think of everything I have that they don’t. Again and again, this train of thought takes me beyond nice clothes and a reliable vehicle, a warm house and healthy food. All those things are great and I’m sure the women would LOVE to have them in their life but there’s something bigger and much more important that I have that they lack.
And that is everything.
In my life, I have endless opportunities to experience joy, peace, security and love. I get to live in a good, safe neighbourhood. I get to send my kids to French Immersion AND be able to help them with their homework. I get to travel with my family and explore other countries. I get to nourish my body with exercise, health practitioners and rest.
But perhaps the biggest opportunity that comes to mind as I drive by these women is my opportunity to follow my dreams, to go after what I want and do what I know I am meant to do in this world.
I get to live my purpose.
And likely, if you’re reading this, you have the opportunity to live your purpose too.
This opportunity, I realize as I see the pain on these women’s faces, is matched by responsibility.
The responsibility to never let an opportunity pass me by.
The responsibility to follow my dreams.
It’s not a responsibility to scoff at. It’s not something to take lightly. If you are in the position to follow your dreams, even if it means starting small or working late or taking a risk, you MUST do this.
Why? Because your actions will make the world a better place.
More women bringing light and purpose into their everyday makes waves. More women living with their heart leading the way makes an impact. More goodness, more service, more joy, peace, stability and love.
And if there’s more of that in this world I believe some of it will find it’s way to the seedy parts of town, to the long lines waiting, to the women on the corners.
Through our greatness we bring light to many, even those we never know.
Share your brilliance with the world.