gofasterrabbit

witching hour polls and random musings

OffToTheBall-670H

another self portrait – gofasterrabbit

I woke this morning to the news that Gordon Downie had passed away after a long, hard-fought battle against cancer. My heart stopped beating and my lungs froze. Time stood still as my cells adjusted to this horrible new reality. Shifting themselves into a new constellation … one that (out of necessity) would try to accommodate the brutal fact that Gordon Downie would not be providing me with new wisdom, music, words, inspiration … ever again.

Once my cells had completed the quick and dirty remapping exercise, my heart and lungs convulsed, paused, and began sending life through my body once more. Sending blood and oxygen to detour around the space in my body that is now permanently reserved for Gord … a dark space that is still raw but that will eventually have walls of scar tissue and denial … a space that will be visited periodically when I hear his voice or am reminded of his words.

I feel like my body is starting to fill with spaces that have been walled off and protected. Sanctuaries. Catacombs. Dark and sacred. Housing past experiences and people that I don’t want to let go but don’t want to regularly encounter … experiences and people that I honour because they made me who I am. Spaces that house past fears, shames, and doubts that I haven’t been willing to fully explore. Spaces that house past loves and lovers. Some of these spaces have been given more real estate in my body than they perhaps deserve. Others have consciously been buried so deep that they will never be unearthed. Their sweet or awful presence continuing to influence and shape the person I continue to be.

Who do I continue to be?

I continue to be one who refuses to learn lessons that are right in front of me. Today’s lesson comes from Gord himself. His life and his death. His not to be denied mantra. “With illusions of someday casting a golden light. No dress rehearsal. This is our life.” He’s right. And he lived right to his very last breath trying to show us all what he meant. Every single moment is a gift. We have this one life and it is not to be squandered.

And yet we do. Squander it. I squander it.

Why?

Because I haven’t felt any real sense of urgency.

I have been working lately within the field of change management … supporting my organization to bring new processes, new ways of thinking, new ways of being into reality. What I know is that without awareness (of what needs to change and why) and without desire (for the proposed future state), change will not happen. Without a sense of urgency, change will not happen.

As for me? I have a pretty good awareness of what I want. I want a life that has balance. A life in which I am busy and productive and creative and contributing without completely compromising my own health and overall well-being. A life that includes BEING as well as DOING. I have a sincere desire to live my life in a way that allows the people, places, and things I love to get the best of me rather than the left-overs.

So I have awareness and desire. What is still missing is that sense of urgency.

I was sure my sense of urgency would be solidified when one of my very best friends in the entire world was diagnosed with breast cancer and another was diagnosed with stomach cancer. They are both my age. Both a lot like me … always wanting to do more … always making sure that everyone else’s wants / needs are met before considering their own. They were both diagnosed in 2016 and began fighting for their lives. I vowed to learn from them and made a promise to myself as 2017 began that I would slow down. I was determined to create space in my life so that I could just breathe and enjoy each and every moment. I promised to take better care of myself. I vowed to rise above the chaos of those environments in which mean people make unrealistic demands that lead to outcomes that have no impact.

And yet. Here I am. On a 2-week doctor-mandated leave from work because I had let myself get so worn down that I literally couldn’t go on. At the beginning of October, I could barely eat. I had lost tonnes of weight. I was on my fifth round of antibiotics since March. My body was so depleted that as soon as I made my way home in the evening, I would collapse.

And yet I kept going. Until I really couldn’t. Until Jay stopped me. Until I casually said to him “I feel like the life is leaving my body … I feel like I am dying”. A weird sort of peace come over me when I said those words. The peace you feel when you land on the answer to a problem that you didn’t know you had been trying to solve. I didn’t mean to scare him. I didn’t mean to be profound. I was just doing what I often do … letting words fall out of my mouth without considering their impact on the person I’m with. (Let me tell you … there’s a deep narcissism and self-centredness that comes along with being as depleted as I was. More on that another time.) It wasn’t until I noticed him staring at me that I realized what I had said. We were driving somewhere and he had to pull over because he was so rattled. It took a few moments for me to realize what I had done. When I did, I tried to soften my words and back pedal but it was too late. When we got home, he insisted that I call my doctor and make an emergency appointment for the next day. He drove me to her office the next morning and waited while I met with her. He threatened to tell her what I had said to him if I didn’t talk to her about it myself. He said “you have to tell her those exact words or I will”. He wouldn’t leave her waiting room until I confirmed that I had told her. She was not surprised. She has been wanting me to take some time out for a long time and … more importantly … make a change that will allow me to live in a space of vitality.

So for real. What the fuck? Why is my personal sense of urgency to make necessary change so extreme? Why did I have to let it get so bad before I took a break. And let’s be clear. I’m taking a 2-week break. Because I had no choice. 2 weeks is nothing. Yes I feel better. I have more energy with each day that goes by. I feel more myself than I have in ages. I finally felt that necessary sense of urgency, but it basically took my own version of a near death experience to get me to that place.

But what am I going to do next Monday?!?

I’m genuinely terrified. Terrified that the ease I’ve felt in my body and soul over the past week will be obliterated within days (maybe hours or minutes) of returning to my normal routines. Terrified that this will become just one more of those dark spaces in my body. A dark space that gets walled off. Containing wisdom and experience that I actively ignore.

Am I going to finally learn? From Susan. From Laura. From Jay. From my family and friends who have been encouraging me to take better care of myself for a long time now. From my doctor. From Gord Downie? Or … am I going to immediately drift back to my old habits. Carrying on with this “illusion of someday casting a golden light”. Thinking I’m invincible. Thinking I can indefinitely withstand the physical, emotional, spiritual onslaught that I’ve faced over the past couple of years. Thinking that someday I will slow down. Someday I will walk away from the tyranny that has had me in a strangle hold. Someday I will do things for myself just because they make me feel good. Someday I will bring balance to my life. Someday.

What will it take for me to realize that this is not a dress rehearsal? This is my life. It is sacred and precious and not to be squandered.

Advertisements
IMG_0602

she is my spirit animal

Day 8 of of my 2-week doctor-ordered leave from work and here’s what I’ve noticed so far.

I need more blank spaces in my day. In my life. Having room to breathe and think has been the biggest miracle of the last 7 days. I have started to realize just how much I typically try to cram into my days and the toll that takes on my overall well-being / sanity. It’s not like I sat on my ass last week. I was still busy. The days still went by quickly. It’s just that all of the stuff I did last week is usually wedged into a long work day that includes B2B meetings and double bookings. For the first time in ages, I submitted an invoice for my yoga teaching that had no errors in it. Why? Because I actually sat at my desk at home without distractions and prepared it carefully instead of remembering at the last second that it was due and slamming it together during the 2 minutes I managed to carve out between meetings and project deadlines. SOMEHOW … even it if takes a crowbar and dynamite … I need to find a way to create some of that space in my days when I return to my usual schedule.

I forgot how much I love walking.

Qualifier. I hate (absolutely loathe) “going for walks”. Walk?!? I don’t get it? Why wouldn’t we run / bike / rollerskate / hike instead? Pick up the pace for crissakes! Walking for the sake of walking? Meh. No thanks. But walking to get somewhere? Walking as a method of commuting and getting shit done? I love it. I can spend entire days on my feet if I have a purpose. Because I had more time to get places last week than I usually do, I walked LOTS. Walked to yoga, walked to shops, walked to cafes, walked to appointments. It felt amazing! I’ve gone back to parking near my old apartment when I’m practicing / teaching @ yyoga W 4th because the 10-block walk to / from the studio was one of my favourite parts of that whole experience. It helped me stretch out my body and notice the thoughts in my head. I always arrived at the studio and home smiling. So … that’s something that I’m going to try to keep going. #fitbitforthewin

Another qualifier. I specifically love walking BY MYSELF … not with others. I walk FAST. Like really fast. I’m constantly slowing down to match the pace of others and it drives me crazy. I get super frustrated and often end up doing zigzags on the sidewalk or loops around the person I’m walking with just to be moving fast enough to avoid get bored. Walking on my own feels great.

I’m happiest when I don’t have to wear shoes or pants (aka “leg prisons”). #tanktopcuteunderwearbarefeetforthewin

If I have to wear shoes … it should be my runners. I have fallen in love with my black and pink nike barefoot ride 4.0s. They make me feel light, quick, agile.

If I have to wear pants … it should be my new boy jeans. Boy jeans are the best. I’m so tired of girl jeans. Yes my new boy jeans make me look a little like Myles / Dez … or Garth (as in “Wayne and Garth”) … but they make me happy.

Glory juice #3 (apple, lemon, kale, cucumber, celery, ginger) saves lives. Literally.

So does peanut butter toast. Not that organic (scraped from a hippie’s armpit) stuff either. I’m talking about old school kraft crunchy on toasted sourdough bread. It’s been a real struggle over the past few months trying to find things that I can stand to eat so I’m fully embracing the 70s vibe. #pbtoastforthewin

My RMT (Nicole Evans @ teamworks) is magic. I’m seeing her tomorrow and I can’t wait for her to erase the weirdness of last week’s bizarre spa massage / mean lecture experience.

Being a yoga student and yoga teacher is an amazing experience that I sometimes take that for granted. I’m often running (literally running) to get to a class or teach a class after work … arriving just in time with a brain that’s still busy with the demands of my workday, the chaos of my commute, and the things I need to get done as soon as I leave the studio. Having the opportunity to go to class last week with a clear head was such a different experience. The classes I taught were super fun because I had time to prep (new sequences, new playlists, new inspiration). The classes I took were delicious. I was able to be truly present and enjoy every single movement and every single breath. A bonus was having the chance to take classes with some of my fave teachers who I normally don’t get to see because they teach when I’m working.

I’m getting my glow back. Slowly. I’m starting to recognize the person who stares back at me when I bother to look in the mirror. The dark circles under my eyes are fading. The colour is returning to my skin. I know things are different because I’m starting to get called “miss” again instead of “ma’am” when I pay for things at restaurants and stores. I’ve been in a “ma’am” stretch for the past 4-5 months. Totally indicative of how old and faded I was looking. I feel that I’m starting to recover. #gratefulformiss #dontcallmemaam

I have 7 more days to go and I’m interested to see what else there is to discover during this little experiment of mine.

48320e2a370395d7beb38698cacfded2

actual photo of me relaxing

I’m part of the way through day 2 of a leave from work that my doctor has ordered me to take so that I can allow my body to heal and recover and rejuvenate … find some of the vitality I’ve lost … repair my shattered immune system and give my little adrenals a bit of a break.

Day 1 went … well … exactly as you would have guessed.

“Slept in” until 7:15 AM and made myself a giant pot of coffee. Drank 3 cups by 7:53 AM.

Made bed. Unmade bed. Theory – if it’s not made maybe I will be more likely to crawl back under the covers at some point. People have told me naps are good. Naps are good right?

Checked work email to see if … A) I’ve been fired for requesting time off … B) anyone is missing me … C) people have made any decisions or taken on any cool projects while I’ve been gone (yes this was prior to the workday officially beginning).

Deleted Facebook app from my phone after making a grand announcement about needing a break and needing to move my focus inwards for a while. Immediately forgot about grand announcement and decision. Spent 37 minutes scrolling my feed and making comments on baby animal videos and friends’ beach vacation photos. Got irritated with my brother for making a smart ass comment about the break “obviously being over”. Switched to instagram because he’s hardly ever on there.

Tidied apartment. Made MORE COFFEE. Searched craigslist for cool affordable 2-bedroom apartments in hip neighbourhoods. Ranted via text to my friend about how stupid the vancouver rental market has become. Harassed Jay one more time in an effort to persuade him that kits is WAY BETTER than east van. Succeeded at irritating us both. Sent cute meme. (That should do the trick.)

Spent 45 minutes making / finding / saving cute memes to have in my (electronic) back pocket for when I need to harass Jay again about moving to kits. This battle is not over.

Scrambled and ate one egg. That killed 5 minutes.

Obsessively checked work email again. Still nothing from my boss. STRESS level completely off the charts. Realized it was only 10:30 AM. Wondered what people do with their time off. Debated starting a social media poll to get some ideas. Chose to hold off and see what I could come up with on my own. How hard could it be.

HARD as it turns out.

Decided to counter stress by going to a noon spin class. SPIN IT OUT!!!!! That helped. Totally restful.

Back to my apartment. Obsessively checked work email again. Still nothing from my boss. STRESSED OUT AGAIN. Seriously wondering if I am fired.

Checked my fitbit stats only to learn that my friend who is 8 and 1/2 months pregnant is beating me and to discover that fitbit only counted my 45-minute spin class as 10 minutes of exercise! Did sprints in my 480-square-foot apartment for about 10 minutes to get my step count up. Contacted fitbit to demand they acknowledge my spin efforts and … while we were at it … chose to inform them that they obviously know NOTHING about yoga. Yoga is not just lying on the ground breathing. I told them they should come to a power class and then try to tell me that it’s only equivalent to 60 steps. (You’re welcome fitbit.)

Looked at unmade bed. Crawled under covers with blinds open. Sun shining in. Distracted by sunbeams. Closed blinds. Lay there staring at the ceiling. Checked fitbit. Pregnant friend took 1500 steps in the last hour!!!!!!! WTF?!?!

Tried on all of Jay’s shirts that he’s donating to see if any fit me. Figured I could pull off the one that says “death preacher”. Practiced handstands in the front hall.

Walked to grocery store. Went up and down every aisle to maximize step count. Bought 1 apple, 3 sticks of celery, and a bag of cookies (6 tiny cookies for $12 dollars … totally good deal!).

Home again. Obsessively checked work email again. Still nothing from boss. Wrote article that proves how wise I am about astrological things and about how taking this break is something that I know will be good for me. Sent article to all friends / family members. Debated cheating on my faceBREAK to post article there. Resisted the temptation.

Got back into bed for 3 minutes and 27 seconds. Got up. Did a few more sprints in my apartment. Damn you Chelsea!!! Sit still already!! You’re about to have a baby for crissakes!

Drank green juice. Played wordbrain2. Cheated by looking up clues.

Checked work email. Nothing from boss.

Made new playlists.

5:00. Antsy AF.

Walked SUPER FAST (basically jogged) to yoga studio that is 3 km from my place. Arrived for a gentle yin class with my heart racing … totally ready to relax. 75 minutes of deep stretching … mellow music, dim lighting, warm air, essential oils to soothe the body and mind. Felt legit chill. (Acknowledged to self that finally being 107 steps ahead of Chelsea was at least partly contributing to my sense of ease.)

Home. One more walk to the grocery store (basically to solidify my step victory for the day). Bought squishy sourdough buns.

Back to the apartment. Made peanut butter toast on recently acquired squishy sourdough buns (because after all … I’m in convalescence mode and peanut butter toast is the definition of comfort food). Watched 3 episodes of “House of Cards” (trying to get Jay caught up so I can watch the latest season). Subtly / stealthily kicked his leg whenever he started to nod off. (Baby.)

Made it to midnight. Silently / stubbornly declared day 1 a total success (despite the vibiness I felt as I lay in bed).

Lay awake for another 90 minutes wondering what I was going to do with day 2 (and 3 and 4 and so on … 2 whole weeks????) Man! I am going to be so relaxed at the end of this that nobody will recognize me!

moonrise2.jpgThe harvest moon. The full moon that occurs closest to the fall equinox. Typically occurring in September. Rising earlier than other moons so that sunset and moonrise blend together. Traditionally used by farmers to extend the work day. It’s a moon that catches our attention. Because it rises earlier than most, it has the appearance of hanging low in the sky and often glows intensely orange. This pretty illusion is created because the moonlight is filtered through the heavy atmosphere that clings to earth’s surface. Essentially a trippy blend of light from the warming sun and cooling moon. The energies of day and night collide and swirl. As the evening progresses, the moon rises higher and breaks free of the earth’s atmosphere and we see it unfiltered and white.

This year’s harvest moon was later than usual … drifting into October which seems fitting given summer’s lazy start and stubborn end here in Vancouver. Full moons are metaphorically notorious for revealing what lies just beneath the surface of our awareness … out of sight but within perceptive reach. This month’s offering is a tricky one with the moon in Aries throwing pure fire into the universe. Individually, we will be driven to action that serves our own purposes. All the things we have been contemplating will suddenly seem worth trying. We will become very crystallized in our thinking and self-centred in our logic. We will be pushed to cut out those people, places, and things that haven’t been serving us well and to impulsively dive into new territory that has captured our interest. Our October mantra? “Fuck it. Let’s do this.” (Very Leeroy Jenkins TBH.)

While this clarity and unfettering will feel undeniably delicious, we need to keep in mind that others are being driven in the same way. We could easily find ourselves coming up against people who are equally determined to move forward with their own planned courses of action, ways of thinking, and venting of built up frustrations. We need to be aware that the reckless abandon of this month’s Aries moon is being unleashed at a time when global conflict and emotion are at an all-time high which means there is a very real risk of extreme polarization. Our flight or flight responses will naturally be triggered because we will feel as though we are fighting for our own survival. It will be important for us to take at least one extra breath, one gentle pause, one empathic look around before we launch ourselves forward with whatever it is we have in mind. The quote that keeps bouncing around inside my head is one by Viktor Frankl. “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

This is where we come full circle … back to the beginning of this post. The harvest moon. The moon of gratitude. The moon that specifically invites us to shine some extra light on all the earth has provided. I spent the summer months traipsing through sunbeams … drawn to the people, places, and things of light. Beaches, bicycles, mini roadtrips, coastal adventures, nature, music, hiking, and lots of my favourite people. For that I am completely grateful. It helped me finally break free of the depression that had housed itself deep within my bones last winter. I felt more myself than I had in months. However, the full moon also invites us to look at the shadow side of what we see on the surface. For me, that has meant acknowledging just how depleted I allowed my personal reserves to become. I was so desperate for energy and movement and fun … so desperate to feel normal again … that I said yes to everything. I basically overdosed on summer which means I am entering the fall season completely worn down. That wisdom has come to me during this time of Aries energy and I find myself standing on ground that feels firm beneath my feet. I have resolved to do what I need to do to get healthy. That has meant making decisions that I’ve been sitting with for months (scaling back on teaching, following my doctor’s advice to take a short leave from work, etc.) … taking actions that I know are necessary for my own preservation. However, I am feeling a bit haunted by it all. It feels a bit lonely here. I feel myself putting barriers between myself and others who aren’t getting what I’m trying to do. I don’t have the patience or inclination to explain myself. I feel myself getting ready for that fight or flight I mentioned above. So I’m going to try and take my own advice. Take that one extra breath, that one gentle pause, that one empathic look around to make sure I’m not doing damage as I move forward with my plans.

Somewhere between anxiety and angst … somewhere between paralysis and frenzy … somewhere between stimulus and response … there is a space where I can make a choice. A choice that leads to growth and freedom. A choice that I am confident will lead to improved health and a recovery of myself.

IMG_0096August is winding down. You’re preparing to head to that dusty little festival in the Nevada desert that happens at the last gasp each and every summer. Preparing to make your pilgrimage to that community of approximately 50K sparkly souls that will be erected and disappear in a single, sticky, larger than life, throbbing heartbeat that will last seven golden days and seven glittery nights. Black Rock City.

Some of us who’ve been there before call it HOME. If you’re going back, your cells have already started to twitch and vibrate. There’s a restlessness building in your body and you can barely concentrate. You know the second your feet hit the cement-hard playa that the frequency of your inner soul will line up with the frequency of your outer world for the first time in almost a year. You already know the blissy peace you will feel … the blissy peace that only comes when you find your way home. You can barely wait another second. But that anticipation? That build up? That hunger? It’s part of the fun.

If you’ve never been, you’re excited and a bit nervous. You’re wondering why (the fuck) nobody can really tell you what to expect … why everyone gives it a half-assed attempt and then just fades off telling you that you’ll just have to just wait and see … wait and experience it for yourself. You’re lining mountains of costumes up on your bed and wondering if you have enough. Maybe just one more furry vest. Maybe just one more light strand. Maybe just one more tutu. You’re wondering if this is all a colossal mistake. You’re wondering if you’re going to be able to get into the very elaborate and expensive corset that you bought specifically for the festival. Maybe you shouldn’t go? Maybe you should watch one more documentary. One more youtube video. Why (the fuck) can nobody tell you what to expect? People say it changes you. Do you even want to be changed?

To add to the confusion … what I can tell you is that you will be changed or you won’t. Just like luke entering the cave on dagobah … you will find only what you take with you and only that which you are willing to see. There will be light and dark in equal measure that will vie for your attention. Both will ooze from your pores and sit on your skin waiting to be noticed. You can illuminate either (or both) in more ways than you can possibly imagine – sitting in the eerily spacious powerful temple, standing in the presence of the all-seeing “man”, through conversation with a random stranger who has offered to braid your hair, on a solo ride through a white-out sandstorm in the deep playa, while crying in your tent wondering if the wind and the dust will ever stop, between the 3:47 AM beats of sound and light as you dance trance at robot heart. For example. Or not.

Some come and go. Having snapped some amazing photos that will litter instagram for the next 51 weeks. Hair and make-up so perfect. Just the tiniest smear of dust across a suntanned cheekbone. Some will come and be irritated by the noise, the heat, the people, the constant stimulation. Some will never come back. Some will come and be amazed at every turn by the conversations, the art, the beauty in its many shapes and forms, the sun, the dust, the space, the claustrophobia of it all. Some will get trapped in the vortex and resist the transition back to the “default world” constantly hungering to recreate what they experienced for that magical seven days in the desert and feeling frustrated for 51 weeks of the year. Some will come and instantly feel as though they have arrived HOME. Some will easily settle into the fluid pace of life and feel as though they are encountering mirrors at every turn. Some slide in and out of the festival having experienced the peace that comes with a resetting of the soul. Some burn quietly. Some extinguish the sparks as soon as they become apparent. Some burn with an absolutism that is loud and wild and frenzied. Some are violent and aggressive and actively destructive. Some simmer and emerge intact.

All of this is possible.

And all of this is good. Is true. Is fine. Is perfect. Is exactly as expected.

So burn bright sparkle pony (or don’t). Either way you will find your burn.

gofasterrabbit xoxoxo

PS … in true sparklepony form … I started writing this 3 weeks ago and got distracted … finally managed to finish it 1-week post-burn