“She understood that the hardest times in life to go through were when you were transitioning from one version of yourself to another”
I still remember all the feelings I was experiencing when I stepped onto that plane. I was overcome with so many emotions after having said goodbye to all my friends. I was just so thankful. With no family in Toronto, my friends really became my chosen family. Human connection is so incredibly important to me, and saying goodbye to some of the people in my life whom I had built genuine, authentic, raw connections with was so heartbreaking. The last few months in Toronto were probably some of the BEST months of my entire life. Saying goodbye to a life that I built for myself and had grown to truly love was so much harder than I thought it would be.
I had first moved to Toronto in 2013 with my boyfriend at the time, and if you recall from my initial blog post, this relationship ended poorly in 2015; thus serving as the catalyst to the initial steps of this incredible journey to myself. By the beginning of 2016, however, I found myself in a new relationship that ended less than a year later. Similarly, this new experience forced an even deeper dive into my own soul. This second breakup gave me even more gifts than my first, and it was through this most recent heartbreak that I was forced to face different parts of myself that I didn’t even know existed. Remnants of past experiences that lay dormant within me until it was brought to the surface. Wounds are created in relationships, but they are also healed in relationships; there is such beauty in this paradox. Kelsey Grant once taught me, “Relationships aren’t about making us happy, they are about making us conscious which leads us to come into a deeper more profound understanding of happiness and love filled expression”. – GEEZ! How much truth is there in that?
Anyway… back to my original story.. so for the first time since 2010, I found myself completely and 100% on my own and although scary at first, what followed thereafter was absolutely life changing. Facing ourselves, and getting real and honest with who we are is probably one of the hardest and scariest things we could do. But I promise, once we get intimate with the depths of our own souls, we become our safest place. Our own heart becomes our place of refuge, and nothing in this world will be able to take that away from us. There’s so much power in that, just think about it. We are everything we need, and the love we are seeking is within each and every one of us. All we have to do is look and feel.
So with that being said, I forced myself to dive even further into the concept of self-love. In my mind, I knew what self-love LOOKED like, but in actual reality, I didn’t know what it FELT like. Those are two very DIFFERENT things, as I came to understand through the journey back to myself in the last few months that I spent in Toronto.
“you don’t learn to unlove them, you learn to love yourself more”
This new chapter in my life began with increasing the number of times I started my day off with yoga and meditation. Initially, I was only engaging in this self-care practice once or twice a week depending on my work schedule, but I forced myself to increase this frequency to three or four times a week no mater how “busy” my days were. This subtle change made all the difference in the world. Over time, I eventually started to notice how different my days would pan out when I didn’t start them off with this self-care ritual. Further, I also started journaling way more often than I used to. In fact, it almost became a daily occurrence. The style of my journaling also changed as I wrote with more mindfulness, intention, gratitude and self-compassion. A sample excerpt from April 03, 2017 reads,
“Today I am thankful for the experience of unconditional love. My intention today is to live with more kindness, most especially to myself. I am healing, and that is okay. Be thankful for this time in your life. Do not judge your emotions today Loubelle, watch them as they come and go..”
One of the biggest self-care practices I adopted was learning to fall in love with movement again. I actually hold so much gratitude for my most recent relationship as my ex-partner was my number one inspiration for me to start dancing again. He introduced me to the world of hustle at a time when I hadn’t danced in almost two years. After this breakup, I decided that I was going to continue dancing, this time solely for myself, and for no other reason than for the love of movement itself. So after a two-year hiatus, I strapped on my heels for the first time in November 2016. I joined Kaela Faloon’s Sensual Heeling Beginner Workshop for six weeks, and later joined the Army of Sass Toronto. Both experiences gave me a newfound sense of freedom: the freedom of being a woman, the freedom of sensuality, the freedom of expression, and ultimately the freedom of being alive. In March 2017, I had the opportunity to perform in the Army of Sass Toronto’s version of Snow White. The feelings of being on that stage is something I will never forget.
In addition, I also decided to step into the paradox of fear & courage and pushed myself to learn how to freestyle, particularly in the style of waacking. This was another game-changer for me, and with only a few months left in Toronto, I did everything I could to learn as much as possible. Freestyling was something I always didn’t think I was ever capable of doing, and by entering a few dance battles before my departure, I was reminded that we are only hindered by our own self-limiting beliefs.
Strapped on my heels for the first time – November 2016
Performing on stage for the Army of Sass Toronto “Snow White” production
Freestyle battle – Trinity Sessions, July 2017
My workplace also became another place of refuge, not only because I felt “smart” as I was “saving lives” and contributing to something greater than myself, but also because of the meaningful and deep connections I had created with the people I worked with. Work no longer felt like work, most especially if my friends and I were working the same shifts. Nursing became an even greater part of my identity as I fell more and more in love with my job.
I also sought out a Reiki Healer before my departure, and this short experience changed the course of my life. I was introduced to the world of energy healing and the power of our chakras and this has now become the foundation on which I base all my meditation on. Furthermore, I enrolled in a 12 week self-love mastermind course with my coach, Kelsey Grant, which created a new sisterhood for me filled with nothing but love, positivity and vulnerability with no judgement.
And so, with that being said, yes, I was ABSOLUTELY IN LOVE with my life in Toronto. 10 months. It took me 10 months to build a life of my own.
A life that felt so incredibly good to live.
And then I left.
It almost felt like my time was too short, but still, I remain as thankful as ever for a wonderful last few months in Toronto.
Don’t get me wrong, I am EXTREMELY GRATEFUL that I am now living in Europe but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t hard to say goodbye to Toronto. For the first time in my life, Toronto actually became a place I could call home and perhaps that’s why I grew so attached to it. The concept of home has always been an elusive topic for me, but that’s definitely a story for another blog post. By December 2016, I already knew I was headed to Europe so perhaps knowing that I was leaving the city played a role in me going full force into creating a life I loved to live.
So you can imagine, in the span of 24hours, I went from the fullest life I could possibly live in Toronto to a city where I had to start from the beginning all over again. No routines, no friends, no heels, no hustle, no waacking, no nursing, and finally, my 12 week self-love course was also coming to an end. Everything that made me feel good about myself was no longer available. I remember texting one of my best friends in the Philippines about how I felt and her words completely shifted my perspective,
“.. and things over there will never be like your life in Toronto. But that’s just part of the adventure and the thrill. To try and live a different life than the one you had in Toronto. It’s hard but it doesn’t even have to be a comparison? Try to imagine what life you “want to live” over there as you have limited time and then just keep doing those things? Try to separate what you know or used to do and just picture yourself over there starting brand new..”
WOW! My best friend was SO RIGHT. This experience is the perfect opportunity for me to get to know myself in an even deeper and intimate way. The biggest lesson I have to come learn is that although it’s so important to engage in self-care practices such as yoga, meditation, dancing, enjoying work etc., at the end of the day, those practices still don’t “define” you. When all is stripped away, all you’re left with is with your raw, authentic self. Self-care practices are not meant to act as a distraction from yourself but rather as a means to get to know your own soul. And there you will ALWAYS FIND LOVE. Therefore, self-care practices can and will probably always be changing as we shift from one version of ourselves to another.
“Self-love begins the moment we realize that there is no self, only love”
As such, many of my self-care practices have evolved since I’ve arrived. My yoga, meditation, and journaling ritual has now become a daily occurrence. I have also joined a salsa group as this is really the only form of dance that I have available to me (apart from the occasional freestyle in my own room. LOL!). I also adopted this new self-care practice inspired by a video shared on Facebook wherein I take a 15 minute gratitude walk outdoors (when it’s not raining in Maastricht…), and say out loud what I am grateful for that day. Further, I have put up sticky notes in my room with quotes surrounding the concept of self-love, to constantly remind myself of the power within each and every one of us. I have also become way more mindful of my self-talk, and I always greet and end the day with a short gratitude prayer.
Just last week, I also sought out a massage therapist as I was experiencing excruciating neck pain on the left side of my body. Interestingly enough, this massage therapist also turned out to be an energy healer. After my massage she told me that she actually didn’t find any difference in the tension between the left and right sides of my body and that the pain I was experiencing was probably due to an energy imbalance. She then went on to tell me that she restored my energy and that I needed to stop being so hard on myself. She told me to focus my meditation on compassion and kindness towards myself and in two days, I would feel so much better; sure enough, two days later my neck was as good as new. I think I’m definitely going to be paying her a visit more often now. LOL!
Weekly Salsa Classes
Gratitude Walk 🙂
Short video of my freestyle sessions in my room.. LOL!!
I’m not going to sit here and pretend that every day is a “perfect” day. Sometimes I know I’m being hard on myself for the emotions that I experience, but my self-awareness has taught me that these are all just emotions. They come and they go and they ARE ALL A PART OF THIS BEAUTIFUL HUMAN EXPERIENCE. How amazing it is that we get to FEEL all these parts of ourselves? Our 100% will vary from day to day and that is TOTALLY and COMPLETELY okay. Some days, our 100% might be going to work, checking things off a to-do list, going to the gym, and eating healthy, while other days, our 100% might simply just be getting out of bed and going for a walk outside. Whatever your 100% is for the day, give yourself permission to just be.
And remember, LOVE will always bring you back home.
So from my heart to yours,
Love & Light,
– The Phoenix