I LEARNED HOW TO STOP SELF-ISOLATING DURING THE PANDEMIC

I was keeping people at a distance well before the pandemic started and all it was doing was making me depressed.

Since I have your attention, here is a LinkTree of Black Lives Matter information, places to donate and resources, here is a link where Canadians can take action toward defunding the police in their city and here is a list of petitions you can sign to demand Justice for Breonna Taylor.


I lived by myself in a bachelor apartment for almost three years. For two of those years, I was single. For a year an a half of those years, I worked from home. At the time, when I would stay home without any intentions of seeing anyone I called it relaxing alone time or a weekend to myself, but then the pandemic gave it a name: self-isolation.

Here was a typical weekend in my life when I lived alone:

FRIDAY NIGHTArrive home from work to an empty apartment. Take off bra. Cook dinner and eat it in front of the glow of my computer. Abandon my intentions of going to bed early because I’m talking to someone half interesting on a dating app. Make my horizontal arrangement look cute for the gram and upload a story. Consider meditating and deflect that idea immediately because it involves silence. Instead end up eating popcorn straight out of the bag then masturbating to put myself into a coma.

SATURDAY MORNING – Wake up and regret not sleeping with my retainer in. Go to a workout class (wow! some social interaction?) and grab brunch with some friends after. Crawl into bed will a full belly as soon as I get home and watch Netflix or nap. Consider stretching or showering.

SATURDAY NIGHT – Wake up from two hour accidental nap OR rouse myself after two hours of scrolling on Instagram. Avoid making plans if I don’t already have plans. Pick up Indian food dressed like a coked out Lindsay Lohan from the restaurant around the corner. Binge eat so much goddam butter chicken. Maybe cry. Watch a documentary and cry some more. Text my best friend Sarah to see what she’s up to. Delete dating app after seeing and almost accidentally swiping on someone I know. Throw phone across room and fall asleep with the lights on.

SUNDAY MORNING Go for a run or walk to get a coffee. Do some productive shit like groceries or laundry.

SUNDAY NIGHT Make an excuse why I can’t go for dinner at my parents house (don’t lie we’ve all done this). Subtweet about a boy I feel salty about. Watch 25 YouTube videos about productive morning routines to make myself feel productive. Fall into Sunday depression and question all my life decisions and wonder why I’m such a loser. Do a face mask because skin care is the only thing I can do right in that moment. Deal with the mountain of dirty dishes that I’ve left in my sink. #sundayscaries

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I had what I was supposed to have as a independent single person: the bachelorette pad downtown to myself. It was the perfect location, size and decorated the way I liked it. So why, amongst this space that was just mine (that I thought would make me feel like an adult), did I feel so empty? Don’t get me wrong – I loved certain parts of my alone time: making myself pancakes on Sundays. Being able to walk around naked. Living in my own mess and nobody telling me to clean it. Being loud or quiet. Looking back I thought I was living the dream being on my own, but whose dream was it? It’s hard to say, but maybe it was Sex and the City that first put the idea in my head that a successful independent women has a space of her own even in one of the most expensive cities in the world. I never questioned if it was MY dream. I don’t need to be on my own to be strong. I know that now more than ever because I’m stronger than I ever have been. This lesson extends to many parts of my life, but the most obvious thing to me is that I’m so much happier not eating alone every night. Right now I’m feeling extra grateful that I’m in a hostel living and working with a group of great people (socially distanced from the rest of the town) instead of being isolated by myself. Because I’ve been there. And I know what it feels like. Living alone didn’t make me feel the way I thought it would and that’s ok. I’ve grown so much more not because I’m alone, but because I’m surrounded by good people, and that’s ok to admit. Letting go of living alone as part of my idea of “making it” is ok. Craving connection after being alone too much is ok. We’re gonna be ok. #sololife #solotravel #solotraveler #covid19 #independentwoman #loveyourself #thepowerofnow #liveyourtruth #growthroughwhatyougothrough #vulnerabilityisstrength

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Based on what you read above I think I have an idea of what that was like for people who had to lock themselves away all on their own. It didn’t take a virus to make me keep people at a distance – it was feelings of unworthiness and ideas about what self-reliance was supposed to look like that made me stay away.

The neuroscience researcher John Cacioppo of the University of Chicago has been studying loneliness for over 20 years. He defines loneliness as perceived social isolation. We experience loneliness when we feel disconnected. Maybe we’ve been pushed to the outside of a group that we value, or maybe we’re lacking a sense of true belonging. At the heart of loneliness is the absence of meaningful social interaction—an intimate relationship, friendships, family gatherings, or even community or work group connections.

BRENE BROWN

The funny thing is, the more time I spent alone when I lived alone, the less I felt like I belonged in my social groups, and the more I thought I should be alone. It was a fucked up cycle, and I often turned to Instagram and dating apps instead of showing any sort of vulnerability and turning to my friends and family for connection. Talk about the path of least resistance.

Hindsight is honest, and I didn’t realize the extent of how this habit was impacting my emotional wellbeing until I ended up locked down during the height pandemic in a hostel with 10 other people in the middle of Queensland, Australia. We got to know each other, lived together, grocery shopped together, worked in an apple packing shed, ate together and basically spent every waking moment together. I opened up to them and showed up even when I felt unworthy (where’s my medal?) and allowed myself to feel loved and accepted. I recognized that the way I was spending my time before wasn’t relaxing or restorative.

I thought I would be going nuts being around other people so much, turns out that being alone and scrolling as much as I was before was making me a little nuts.

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So during the height of the pandemic I was locked down in a hostel and working in an apple shed with a group of people I would come to connect with deeply. This experience made me realize, after living alone for three years, that eating dinner is more fun with other people (especially when it involves dancing to help with digestion 🤣) and spending too much time on my own isn’t good for my mental health. Today was the first day we split apart fully. Many I’ve already said goodbye to, but this group (in the photo) went off to keep adventuring down the coast and I’ll now be staying in Cairns for who knows how long (lol) to work on some creative projects I’ve been slowly chipping away at since coming to Australia. They’ve taught me to embrace silliness, the importance of stretching and speaking clearly, how to cook all sorts of stuff, new ways of seeing the world, what confidence can look like and made me realize that there is nothing more important than connection. I’ve always traveled alone and been a independent person, but I am a million times more open and joyful because of what I have shared with them: my food, my soul, my toiletries, my weird humour, my secrets, my memories, my dreams, my doubts, my fears and my hopes for the future. I said this in the last boxing class I ever taught and I’ll say it again: we’re not meant to do it all on our own. They reminded me of that ❤️ #loveyours #travelaustralia #backpackerlife #vulnerabilityisstrength #courageovercomfort #peopleneedpeople #bravingthewilderness

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Obviously I still adore pockets of time to myself here and there, especially when I need to check in on if I’m living my values, but this experience of living with other people also made me realize how much what I was doing before wasn’t working. Turns out, the story I had always told myself about what independence was supposed to look like was basically just forced social starvation which ain’t it. I know that now.

There’s a reason Carrie Bradshaw hardly ever ate dinner in her apartment by herself and there are so many sitcoms based around groups of room mates.

We’re not meant to go without authentic connection. It makes us human.

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COVID-19 MADE ME REALIZE I’M NOT BAD AT MAKING DECISIONS AFTER ALL

Should I bail on my working holiday visa and fly home to Canada while I still could, or should I stay in Australia?

I was unaware of how long I had been laying on the park bench until I realized the sun was setting. I was hungry too, but I made a deal with myself I couldn’t get off the bench until I knew what I was going to do. Did I look like an unhinged, depressed millennial who dropped their Airpods down a sewer grate? Probably, yes.

That’s the beautiful thing about living in a small town in a different country: you feel way more anonymous and give far fewer fucks.

It felt like Australia was weeks behind everywhere else when it came to COVID-19. I knew it was only a matter of time before the fear, closures and restrictions landed here. People had already begun hoarding; there was one box of overpriced pasta left on the shelf at the grocery store. I had heard murmurings that in Brisbane (the nearest city to the small town I was in) many of the hostels were either closing or not accepting new backpackers.

Things were about to get a whole lot more complicated for working holiday visa holders. I thought my only problem was finding another farm job when the planting season finished. Turns out I had to contemplate a much bigger decision:

Should I fly home to Canada while I still could, or should I stay in Australia?

I had entered into a state akin to when Cameron realizes he ran up the milage on his father’s prized car in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and goes totally catatonic. I know the reference is dated (sue me I fucking love that movie), but it felt like everything in my life froze for three days and wouldn’t resume until I chose to stay or go.

Which is how I found myself laying on a bench for four hours trying to think my way out of it. I felt an enormous amount of pressure to decide so I could start moving forward in some sort of direction.

I’m bad at making decisions, or at least that’s what I’ve always believed to be true.

It’s like my reverse superpower. I do whatever I can to avoid making a choice based on my own opinions, or I put it off until I’m backed into a corner. I also try to please as many people as I can in the process, or at least minimize collateral disappointment.

From the moment my brother called to talk about the Coronavirus situation (that I had been trying my best to avoid thinking about) I knew I was being faced with a decision opportunity to change.

So I started out by going to my default: trying to choose to stay or go based on other people’s opinions, emotions and experiences. I messaged friends living abroad to see what they were going to do and listened to my friends back home in self-isolation. I called my parents every day and they begged me to make a decision and to come home. I asked other people in my hostel what their plans were. I listened to my brother, who is a doctor and is way more rational then I’ll ever be.

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A truth bomb my friend Alex sent me.

For the most part, none of it helped.

Talking to my fellow travelers didn’t help at all because I realized everyone had such different situations impacting their choice to stay or go. Talking to my friends and family didn’t help because they were mostly mega anxious.

Of course, it goes without saying there were also a bunch of details to do with money, healthcare and housing that impacted my decision that I won’t bore you with. I’ll just say that at the time of making the decision to stay or go I wasn’t in an ideal situation. I also understood that COVID-19 is serious AF and keeping others safe was top of mind for me too.

Before I went and dramatically laid on a bench for several hours, I told my parents I was going to buy a plane ticket and come home.

It felt good to see the relief on their faces on FaceTime, but it also felt like resignation. Instead of buying the plane ticket and waving the white flag, I found myself horizontal in a public place staring at a bunch of white parrots in a tree. I wasn’t sold on the decision I had already expressed my commitment to. I was so annoyed with myself for telling them I was coming home before I had *actually* decided that I practically was hoping a bird would shit on me to SEND ME A GODDAM SIGN AND HELP ME OUT.

I could feel my brain wrestling back and forth between believing in myself, and buying into the fear.

I had the balls to move across the world alone, and felt like I could tackle whatever came at me. Then a very loud, rude part of my brain chimed in with the following messages:

“Your friends and family are worried, don’t be selfish. Besides, what are you trying to prove? Who do you think you are trying to make your own decisions? What if someone I care about gets sick? What if I GET SICK? What if you stay and you end up having to come home anyway NOT ON YOUR OWN TERMS? You’re stupid to stay in Australia during a global pandemic. This has never happened before! What if!!!!!!!”

I eventually got off the bench due to needing to pee.

I went back to the hostel and bought the plane ticket that night. Even once it seemed final and I had backed myself into a corner there was the nagging truth I couldn’t avoid: everything in my body and soul wanted to stay.

Even if it blew up in my face later, I was so tired and frustrated I didn’t care about making the right decision anymore.

I wanted to listen to my gut and make the brave decision.

With some hindsight, I realize now that there were two personal beliefs I was challenging:

  1. I am bad at making decisions
  2. I do not believe in myself

I canceled the plane ticket and proved myself wrong to the power of two. I wanted to puke from the uncertainty. I knew I’d be disappointing people I cared about. I didn’t know if I was going to be ok. But I wasn’t just changing my mind about coming home – I felt like I was growing and changing.

Now I wake up and pack apples, grateful to have a job. I have a place to live and I’m grateful to the hostel manager who kept things open and stopped accepted new backpackers to keep me and the others who stayed, safe. I pay a monthly premium for health cover I’d get for free in Canada, and I’m grateful. I even got dumped during the pandemic, and I came out on the other side swinging and still grateful to be here!!!!!!! I miss home, but I’m grateful to have people I love. I acknowledge my privilege in being in a position to make a decision and I am super grateful to have the choice.

Change starts with challenging what you believe to be true about yourself. The behaviour follows those beliefs. Sometimes you have to go backwards in order to move forward, but it’s never too late to be brave (or to cancel a plane ticket and eat some of the cost).

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OK I KNOW I NEED TO LIGHTEN UP – BUT HOW?

I thought I had to word vomit, exercise, or numb out all the darkness out in order to lighten up. I’ve learned that the best thing I can do is accept it, and light a match.

I know the moment I truly started on my self-improvement journey. I Googled ‘How to stop hating yourself’ in 2016, which led me to a book called Unworthy: How to Stop Hating Yourself  that changed my life. You probably know the rest if you’ve read the post.

Recently, after a difficult but loving conversation with a dear friend about how our relationship was feeling heavy, I Googled ‘how to lighten up’ and found nothing useful. Not one single article or listicle I could relate to.

What the shit!!! It had worked once when I needed a solution. But this time I had a feeling it wasn’t going to be the same.

If you’ve ever read my Instagram captions or my blog – it’s not a stretch to say I’m a heavy person. I’m introspective and tend to get myself elbow deep into the piles of shit most people want to avoid at all costs. It’s the reason this blog exists after all…but it also means I can also come off as intense and a little dark at times.

We all have dominant traits that make us who we are, but when they get out of control they can mess things up in all areas of our lives. We all find ways to manage the internal see-saw. 

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The part of me that hates myself screams “who the do you think you are trying to write a book? Trying to become boxing instructor? Who gives a shit. And moreover, what do you know about any of this?” The part of me that hates myself believes that my urges to numb out every emotion with a grocery list of unhelpful techniques will never change for good. The part of me that hates myself tells me that I am a burden to my friends and family. That I have too many thoughts and feelings. The part of me that hates myself uses shame and fear to motivate me. The part of me that hates myself uses “why even bother” as an excuse to avoid vulnerability. This isn’t about proving other people wrong. It’s never been about proving other people wrong. Besides, I learned a long time ago people’s conclusions about you are less about you, and more about them. I’m trying to prove that part of myself wrong. I am, in fact, becoming the person I also hoped, dreamed and fought to be. Sometimes that part of me just needs a little proof and a lot of love. Sometimes I need to force that part of me to stop yelling and start listening. This isn’t some Bell Let’s Talk shit that exists only one day a year. As much as I can write this caption, I can’t write a clean beginning middle and end to this. This is just what goes on in my head and my work is fighting back against it. Sometimes I have the strength to win that fight, and sometimes I don’t have it in me. And that’s when I reach out for help. 💭🤝 #wholeheartedliving

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I used alcohol to manage as an adult. This isn’t exactly groundbreaking. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I wasn’t an alcoholic before I stopped drinking almost 8 months ago. However, I showed signs of being a problem or grey area drinker. I would deal with negative feelings by drinking or eating them down so I could continue being the life of the party. I was still bitter and aggressive but at least after booze it was in a softened, silly half-cut kind of way. With alcohol, I could take myself from being in a mood where I wanted to cry from stress, to slurring sassy comments and texting people I shouldn’t be texting to generate some fun in the moment.

Alcohol was the easy lever I could pull anytime I needed to lighten up. 

When I first got sober, I lightened up immediately. I felt like I had found the ultimate life hack. All of the ease with none of booze-adjacent struggles. I was saving money! I was making better decisions! I didn’t have the booze blues anymore!!!

Then, inevitably, I dug into the work of recovery and shit got REAL. Sobriety and recovery are not the same, which is a fun fact that hit me like a brick to the face about three months in.

Believe me, I know I was a bummer to be around. I was groping around in the dark in an attempt to figure out how everyone else dealt with bad days on top of having, what felt like, a complete shit show of an existential crisis. I was doing my best, but I truly felt like I couldn’t lighten up.

So I tried all the normal stuff: yoga, meditation, therapy (the counsellor I had when I was in early recovery wasn’t a good fit for me unfortunately), journaling, and mostly texting and talking to my friends when I was feeling shitty. Which was a lot. I also revisited eating and Netflix as coping mechanisms.

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I’ve been doing a lot of reading, writing, reflecting and questioning lately. I guess when I think about it, the other three all feed into my writing. I’ve changed a lot and done a lot since finishing my degree and getting an “adult” job. My opinions are different, my hair is different, my mindset is different. I am older. I am more educated on the ways of the world. I now need special cream for my face (goddam eczema). But there is one thing that steadfastly has not changed, and I hope never will: I love writing. It is a warm blanket after being out in the cold for too long. It is a way of making sense of the world. It is a way of bearing witness. It is a messy mud puddle that you can’t wait to jump in. It is an unruly teenager that sneaks out in the middle of the night but makes you proud at the end of the day. It is trying to herd a bunch of hyenas on acid. Here’s a pic of my writing happy place with a new backdrop. I definitely wrote this while feeling a writer’s running high. Let’s be realistic: It’s not always sunshine and rainbows and sometimes I gotta rip the words right out of me, but it’s meant to be. It’s still love even when it’s hard. #instarealtalk #truth #vulnerabilityisstrength #mentalhealth #bravingthewilderness #writersofinstagram #selfcare #selfacceptance #calledtocreate #winnipeg #everydaygratitude #liveoutloud #parentsupport #findyourself #shameless #gratitude #desksetup #deskdecor

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Nothing seemed to help. I felt like a black cloud all the time, which was one of my biggest fears about giving up alcohol: I wouldn’t be fun anymore. And as it turned out, it sort of came true, but it taught me something really important.

I got into the toxic habit of treating a lot of close people in my life like my personal therapists. It’s healthy to ask for support and to talk things out, but there’s limits and boundaries to how much your loved ones can really help. Besides, now that I have a good therapist I’m trying to see regularly I can safely say that those are much more productive conversations and it means I don’t have to put the people in my life through unpaid emotional labour. Which isn’t cool.

Fortunately, my friends and family were willing to talk to me about what they were feeling instead of just running in the other direction.

So after my failed Google search, I started thinking about a new way forward in my recovery.

I thought I had to word vomit, exercise, or numb out all the darkness out in order to lighten up.

I’ve learned that the best thing I can do is accept the darkness and all that comes with it, and light a match.

I couldn’t find lightness in numbing because it obliterates everything — both good and bad. Denying negative or heavy emotions also isn’t realistic because it denies a part of you that exists for a very good reason. So now, I’m trying to stop grappling around for a lever or light switch and meet my internal struggles with unconditional acceptance instead of intolerance. I want to be empowered to make my own light.

Part of the journey has been figuring out the people, activities, and places that create light in my life. Especially my newly sober life.

So far, I’ve figured out that reliving ridiculous moments is a great way to light that match. My go-to memory involves a public park bathroom in New Orleans with a broken lock and yeast infection medication. Nothing reminds me how absurd life is quite like that moment.

Also on the list of things that seem to light a metaphorical match in the darkness: Being outside. Riding a good spin class. Looking at old vacation pictures. Writing. Laughing.

I’m looking to add to the list, but I’m still figuring it out. If all else fails, I just lay on the floor and listen to Magic by Coldplay. Can’t lose with Coldplay.


I recognize that seeking professional help isn’t always accessible or financially feasible. Here’s an article about different types of therapy options for different price points.

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ON REALIZING THERE’S ONLY ONE WAY: FORWARD

I’ve finally figured out how to describe what it feels like to go from who you were before to the vivid, sparkling present. It kinda feels like a form of…grieving?

I couldn’t find a photo I liked for the header so please enjoy this photo of me from Grade 7 when I still had a unibrow but didn’t really know *how* to pluck it and only wore black t-shirts because I always had sweat stains. Simpler times.

I’ve always had a habit of talking about who I used to be. Especially when I would go on  dates, which, as my counsellor has pointed out to me, isn’t really relevant to who I am now.

It’s no secret. I have a lot of regrets and pain in my past which is why it’s such a *subject* for me. I mean, I’m writing a book about some of the stories FFS.

I’ve spent WAY too long ruminating it and letting things that happened years ago dictate how I would feel about myself on a day to day basis. I’ve allowed regret to make me feel like a Bad Person. I don’t know when, but at a certain point I have accepted and fundamentally acknowledged that my past is a part of me, but it isn’t *me* anymore.

So I asked myself the other day, at what point does the past intersect with the present?

When does the ‘before’ become the ‘who I am now’?

And how do you know when you’re internally shifting from one to the other? How do you know when it’s over?

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I only have a handful of photos from when I was a teenager because I didn’t have Facebook until I graduated high school. I almost completely erased them all or lost them over the years. This one is from 2008. In most of the pictures of myself from this time I am drunk, and if I recall correctly, this photo is no exception. I couldn’t bear for many years to look back and reflect on this time I spent struggling, feeling misunderstood and trying to fit in. It would always bring back a flood of memories about eating disorder recovery, depression, therapy, pain, binge eating, drinking till I blacked out, heartbreak and academics. Even typing this I still remember sitting in a bathroom stall scratching the skin off my knuckles till they bled. I remember shutting my parents out. I remember having my first panic attack. I remember believing that I was only in university classes in high school because I knew how to work hard, not because I was smart. But I also remember wearing a hoodie with a tall collar to cover up hickies, winning an award for having the highest grades, setting the carpet on fire in the drama room, making out with boys in forests and under bridges, fighting with my one of my best friend’s and making up in a food court (thank god @jocelynhummelt ), getting an underage drinking ticket, writing a 30-page screenplay, giving people who tried to cheat off me the wrong answers and being an unpaid production assistant on sets 😂 I haven’t always been able to look at photos like this one and remember both sides of the same period of my life. The parts that make me laugh and the parts that hurt my heart. I know it’s the magic of hindsight, but also I’ve learned that you can’t have one without the other. I still have both sides in me and that’s ok. I was messy, deep, loud, raunchy, creative, all over the map and over the top then, and I still am now. I wouldn’t change any of it.✨☺️✌️#10yearchallenge #throwbackthursday #tbt #teenagerposts

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Grief is associated with death. Which totally makes sense. But I think it also can be a way to describe the natural response loss or perceived loss, not just of someone or something you loved, but of anything. I’ll give credit where credit is due – I started thinking about grief differently when I read chapter seven of Rising Strong by Brené Brown.

I think this is the best way I’ve found so far to describe the internal shift between the before to the vivid, sparkling present. It kinda feels like a form of grieving.

Now, I won’t say that what I’ve felt is anything like losing a loved one who was close to me. I wouldn’t ever make that comparison. But I do find it interesting that the emotional process of moving through grief has been similar.

By the way, if you aren’t familiar with the stages of grief and loss below is a briefing:

  1. Denial and isolation;
  2. Anger;
  3. Bargaining;
  4. Depression;
  5. Acceptance.

People who are grieving do not necessarily go through the stages in the same order or experience all of them.

I think it clicked when Brené explained in Rising Strong that change that is perceived as loss can spark grief.

I guess 2019 has been sort of a weird grieving process for me. A confusing, emotional, slow, weird sobering process letting my past go. A movement between the ‘before’ to the ‘who I am now.’ I’ve written about on my blog while I was in the early stages of it, but I’ve always struggled on how to express what this whole thing has felt like now that I can get my head around it.

It’s a confusing process to release your past self and way of life. It’s that moment where you deeply realize everything is different and there’s absolutely no way to go backward. It’s only forward from here on out.

For some people this might feel more like one chapter ending and another beginning, or a subtle slow shift until one day you realize you deal with things so differently you barely recognize yourself.

But once I read Rising Strong, I realized it’s felt a lot like grief. Which is kind of upsetting in itself, because who am I to compare losing someone to leaving behind a part of myself? But it’s a loss. I held onto it so goddam tight. But now that I’ve forgiven myself and come to terms with almost every part of it, it’s feeling like getting out of bed in the morning and not knowing what to do with yourself. It’s having nostalgia about the past, while knowing you can never go back. 

It’s saying goodbye to the story I’ve always believed to be true about myself.

I can say “I’m different,” all I want, but it really appears in the smallest of moments.

Walking home through downtown late at night totally sober and passing groups of people on the street searching for where to go next. Hearing slurred voices cheering and yelling and conversing while I’m on my balcony. Feeling the twinge of desire to participate but knowing that’s not my path anymore. Finding my way in this new way of life. Smiling to myself and sleeping soundly. 

Being so fully present that I can’t ignore things anymore. Learning how to tell people when I’m hurt and tackling conflict head on. Accepting that my “cut and run” mentality has kept me emotionally protected but not connected for far too long, and knowing it isn’t brave. Coming face to face with my people pleasing tendencies. Looking around and realizing the people I love most are imperfect and worthy of love, and so am I.

Having those dates where you return home and walk in the door and either a) smile to yourself as you hang your keys up and brush your teeth because it felt GREAT b) come home and yell WHAT THE FUCK MAN to yourself in your apartment and go straight for the carbs because you are seriously questioning your own judgement or c) come home, let out a big sigh and text your friends asking “why do I do this shit again?” Trying very hard to not overthink shit, but also not ignoring the obvious. Yenno?

Laughing. Laughing so much. For me, laughing at when shit goes wrong and knowing it’s not the end of the world and it doesn’t mean I’m a Bad Person. It just means shit happens. Being able (for the first time in my life maybe) to not take everything so seriously!!!!!

Sitting with the moments where it occurs to me I’m not living my values and feeling the bodily sensations come over me. Feeling the shame story cloud my brain. Sensing the alarm bells go off in my head to drown the feelings – peanut butter, Netflix, anything – because they are seriously uncomfortable. Resisting the screaming urge to turn away from myself in that moment. Sometimes I’m successful, sometimes I’m not. Finding the courage to get curious. Exploring ways forward that are within my integrity.

Realizing my tendency to worry endlessly. Realizing my tendency to overload myself even though time and time again it sucks the life out of me. Realizing my codependent tendencies. Owning my tendencies and accepting it all. In some cases, admitting that if I can’t find a solution on my own, maybe a therapist can help. 

Being truly, truly happy in a way that I don’t think I could really feel before.

Catching myself hustling for the approval of people who will never understand me, love me or respect me. Finding out that connection really has to begin with how you feel about yourself. Knowing, deeply, that you cannot plant a flower in concrete and expect it to grow. 

Letting go of the sense of certainty about my future I clung to so tightly. Deciding to uproot myself for a while (fall 2019) because it feels right. No clue what I’ll come home to or how I’ll feel on the other end of the extended trip I’m planning. Dealing with the fear related to that.

Crying so fucking much. Because there have been many times where I can’t keep it together during these confusing times where my past tendencies push up against who I want to be now. Releasing because my body can’t keep things packed down anymore after years of doing that.

Forgiving myself for what I cannot change and allowing it to make me better. Because as I’ve figured out the hard way, there are no other options or shortcuts past this part.

“…When I talk of forgiveness, I mean the belief that you can come out the other side a better person. A better person than the one being consumed by anger and hatred.”

The Book of Forgiving

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As I write this, I’m sitting on my balcony listening to Beyoncé’s Homecoming album drinking a non-alcoholic beer thinking about every summer before this one. I’ve never felt this different. Maybe it’s because for the first time ever, summer doesn’t really represent what it once did for me. It doesn’t hold the same kind of reckless promise, but I’m realizing that’s for the best. Summer doesn’t mean I start worrying about wearing shorts or preoccupying myself with the grand question if this is the summer I will *finally* grow a thigh gap. The answer is no. It will always be no, and that’s a-fucking-ok with me. Hotter weather just means I continue to wear what’s comfortable and makes me feel like…me. The idea of an open afternoon conjures bigger plans then sitting outside getting sunburnt while drinking pitcher of sangria followed by a nap to sleep it off (only to wake up in the evening hungover). It might mean I get up early to go for a hike or read a chapter of a book on some good grass somewhere. It definitely means no hangovers. Summer doesn’t mean I feel heightened expectations or weird irresponsible urges to have a fling. Be impulsive because of the heat and beer. Avoid tough conversations because they aren’t “good vibes only.” Summer just means I’m gonna keep doing me, loving the absolutely shit out of the people in my life and being honest with myself and others about what’s working and what isn’t. I don’t need to go wild to feel alive anymore. The start of this summer feels wayyyy different than every single previous one, and I’m just gonna tip my head back, feel the sun on my face and take it all in 🌞 P.s. The day after a breakup I was trying to distract myself so I ended up spending like $200 on decor in Marshall’s and bought this stone squirrel. Her name is Spinelli 🐿 #sobercurious #summer #livingoutloud #wholehearted

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It’s quite simple: I was always worthy of love and belonging but I never believed it, so I never acted in ways that aligned with those beliefs. Even now I struggle to believe it half the time but half the time is better than no time. I am still in it, this process. Progress over perfection and what not.

I suppose I am grieving the part of my life where I did not love myself. Where everything was a sign I was a Bad Person. Where there was very little questioning and a whole lot of self-destruction. Where I only directed criticism at myself and not kindness. Where I so badly and deeply wanted connection but was too scared to show up authentically in order to really let it happen.

It’s weird…because I thought at many points in my life I did this work already.

I thought I had done it. But I know better now. Even as I write this I’m still not done, but I know there’s a difference between this process and maturing.

Maybe there were some token moments of accepting that I couldn’t change the past, but they weren’t coupled with a healthy dose of compassion and forgiveness. There was an attempt to own my story and who it has made me into, but no execution. I wasn’t ready to accept my story.

I know it’s different now because there’s only one way forward.

Which is what my favourite movie scene is all about and I will endlessly repeat this quote because it’s too perfect:

I was a slut. There will always be a part of me that is dirty and sloppy, but I like that, just like all the other parts of myself. I can forgive. Can you say the same for yourself, fucker? Can you forgive? Are you any good at that?

Silver Linings Playbook

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ALL MY FAVOURITE SELF HELP/INSPIRATIONAL STUFF

Books, Instagram accounts, articles, podcasts, docs, TED Talks and more! Let’s get growing and glowing with self-love.

I believe we’re all on a journey of personal growth. Whether it’s mindful and positive, or not, that’s up to us. Some of the materials I’m suggesting here are specific to my life experiences and the types of things I’m working through, so keep that in mind. It’s about finding whatever works for you and serves as a beacon of light when you’re struggling.

If you’re ready to show up, get mindful, learn from your mistakes, laugh a little bit and make some changes — you’ve come to the right place. I’ve compiled a list of both recent and older materials that I love for your consideration. I hope you get something from them just like I did.

ARTICLES

As with all articles: don’t judge them based on the headlines. I’d recommend actually reading them before you get your knickers in a bunch.

DOCS (NETFLIX)

Liberated: The New Sexual Revolution
Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things
Gaga: Five Foot Two
Happy
Homecoming: A Film By Beyoncé

BOOKS

These are my all time non-fiction faves (my favourite fiction book of all time is here). I always have a stack I’m working on. Based on what you’re seeing here, if you have book recommendations for me please go ahead and slide them on into my Instagram DM’s. 

TED TALKS

INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS

These are gonna be ALL over the map. Follow these accounts if you want to be more socially aware, lean into antiracism work, get that daily dose of encouragement, want to love yourself more, love a good laugh and/or want to confront your BS.

@CreateTheLove
@bymariandrew
@theslumflower
@whatswrongwithmyvagina

https://www.instagram.com/p/BtgYf-TBiCT/

@BodyPosiPanda
@ihartericka

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Traveling while Black part 3,000: “…..white feminists tended to romanticize the black female experience rather than discussing the negative impacts of that oppression. When feminist acknowledge in one breath that Black women are victimized and in the same breath emphasize their strength, they imply that though black women are oppressed they manage to circumvent the damaging impact of oppression by being strong – and this is simply not the case. Usually when people talk about the strength of Black women they are referring to the way in which they perceive Black women coping with oppression. – bell hooks, "Aint' I a Woman" • • Yesterday, I was standing waiting for my bags in the TSA  pre check line (I make this distinction because white people get very uncomfortable when you come into spaces that are made accessible to them via class). "Yellow.. its the color of the season. Did you know that?" I was wearing a yellow turtle neck and had to move away when this presumable white woman was going to reach to touch it. As I was walking away, another white cis woman looked at me as if she was seeing Jesus and said, "wow you look amazing!" Y'all its a yellow turtle neck and khakis! But Ericka, its just a compliment, nah its their discomfort on loud speaker. White people do not compliment each other to this extent, I know they ain't shifting their way of being when they see me. • • I used to get dressed for these compliments. I would wait to wow white folks as my internalized anti-Blackness said that Black people weren't here for my weirdness. This fetishizing didn't end when I was married to a white person either, she did it too. When we divorced, I wasn't able to grieve. "You are so strong, Ericka! You will be fine!". When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, same thing. This rhetoric is what kills black parents in labor. Medical institutions think that we are only strong too. Like (@kolbybrianne) said this absolutely plays a role in desirability, and Eb said yesterday, if Black femmes are godlike, who wants to fuck god? • • bell hooks goes on to say that Black women are strong so white women can remain victims. • • Black folks only: Have you had this experience?

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@Rachel.Cargle

Rachel also offers a free 30-day antiracism course (targeted at WW) that encourages you to dig in and #DoTheWork. You can sign up for that here.

@recipesforselflove
@thefinancialdiet
@thefashionfitnessfoodie
@AwardsforGoodBoys

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HI BEAUTIFUL

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@florencegiven

PODCASTS

Girls Gotta Eat

Fave episode: What Turns You On? with Nikki Glaser AND/OR Money Talks with Ramit Sethi

How I Built This

Fave episodes: The episode with Daymond John who created FUBU and my ALL TIME favourite & most life changing podcast episode of all time — the episode with Whitney Wolfe, the creator of Bumble.

Stuff Mom Never Told You (aka SMNTY)

Fave episode: Any episode from their 2017 series of episodes on Role Overload (single ladies, working mothers and working daughters).

The Art of Charm

Fave episodes: 748. 7 Signs of a Toxic Relationship AND 749. How to Handle Toxic Relationships

Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations

Fave episodes: Her episodes with Eckhart Tolle or Brené Brown (she has multiple episodes with each of them).

Guys we F*cked

I would actually recommend starting at the beginning and listening from the first episode onward. I think this podcast kinda broke the internet when it started and set a precedent for a whole new generation of female-hosted sex and dating podcasts.

TWITTER ACCOUNTS

Tbh we all need a good laugh or some insight once in a while, and here are a couple accounts I can always count on for that.

@SheRatesDogs

@TinderDistrict

@EWDatsGROSS

@LegendsLeague

@ChrissyTeigen

@Scaachi


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