“On the way to myself, I’ve been so many different versions of me”
2017. I don’t even know where to begin.
To say this year has been one hell of an adventure would be a total understatement. Such a cliché I know. But for real, I don’t think I’ve transformed as many times in a year as I have this one. Without a doubt, 2017 has been THE greatest year of my life so far. Life has been extremely kind to me. There are just no words to express my utmost gratitude for all the gifts the universe has given me: gifts through my heartbreak, gifts through my pain, and ultimately, gifts through my healing.
Yes, that’s exactly what the year of 2017 was for me: healing.
To be honest, it feels really foreign to reflect back on my experience at the beginning of the year; I am such a different version of myself today than I was back in January. But anyway, the only reason why my broken heart is the starting point for this blog post is because it was only through the experience of accepting and confronting my pain did I learn how to come home.. and by coming home, I mean coming home to MYSELF. One of the greatest lessons I learned this year is that at the end of the day, your own soul will always be your safest place of refuge. No one else in this world knows exactly what you need the way you do, and that is why it is SO EXTREMELY important to take the time to get to know yourself.
no one else can heal you,
the way you heal yourself,
and that is your own special magic
Everything we are looking for is already found within ourselves. Often times, we seek validation, love, comfort, and safety in other people, not realizing that it is actually our own sacred responsibility and highest self-empowerment to provide our own light. But please don’t get me wrong; by no means am I saying that we are not allowed to turn to other people or ask for help when we need to. It is a completely natural and human thing to seek safety and comfort in others when needed and that is completely okay. All I’m saying is that when it comes to your healing, all the answers will be found within you and nowhere else.
This brings me to my next lesson on healing,
healing isn’t linear
in fact, it’s a downright rollercoaster! Filled with highs, lows, more highs and then more lows. Yes, healing isn’t linear because pain isn’t linear either. In the first few months of 2017, I would go through a stretch of days feeling “completely okay” only to wake up two weeks later, feeling like complete shit, and unable to get out of bed. Sometimes, I’d even experience a whole wave of emotions in the same day: wake up happy but then cry myself to sleep at night. But the learning I took away from these experiences was that every time I felt sad, it wasn’t necessarily a step backwards, but in fact, always a step forward. I used to be so hard on myself and say, “Ugh, I was doing so well! Why am I feeling this way again?” not realizing that I was judging my own emotions and rejecting my sadness, which also meant that I was rejecting myself. The sadness that I experienced months later that was probably deeper than any other sadness I had experienced before that was just a part of the healing process.
you can be healed and still healing
you can be open and still hurting
you can be brave and still frightened
In a recent interview with my journalist friend, Mikee Mutuc, I said to her, “People have this misconception that once you’re happy, that’s it. You don’t express any other feelings like jealousy or frustration or loneliness or pain. But that is the paradox and the beauty of human emotion. That it’s okay to know that you’ve healed but that there are still days where you feel like you’re still healing”.
“The concept of this quote suggests that a person’s standard of one hundred percent will not always look the same every day, and that settling into this reality is the mindset one should have. It breaks the misconception that happiness is something that stays consistent once a bar has been reached. In other words, perfection should not be the goal, but being your unadulterated self should be”– Mikee Mutuc
Pain just doesn’t “disappear” overnight. Through my healing, I learned that I needed to feel things as they came. That everything in my life was unfolding as they should be. To hurt is to love, and when I finally understood this, I realized that crying and sadness could feel both amazing and painful.
Pain then became my guru. It was only through sitting in the space WITH my pain that I was able to make the transition into a new space: a space of compassion, empathy, courage, and eventually self-love.
“Often it’s the deepest pain which empowers you to grow into your highest self”
In the words of Trevor Boehm, “One day, pain came, stood over me and said – I don’t want to break you but if you run from me, I will. Surrender to me, and I will break you wide open. Soften to me, and let me mold you. Let me show you all the places in your life where there is still more room for gratitude, compassion, and curiosity. Sit in the alchemizing fire of whatever you are going through and learn to STAY PRESENT – “
I am so in love with these words. Learning to stay present has also been a major theme for 2017. This year, I consciously put so much effort into developing self-care practices, with meditation being one of them. Meditation changed my life, and served as the window into my soul. It was through meditation that I also learned to have compassion for myself. And to be completely honest, this is something that I am STILL learning on a day-to-day basis.
When I moved to Europe at the end of August, I went through a bit of a rough time and experienced a wide range of fluctuating emotions. Leaving behind a life that I absolutely loved in Toronto, and with no friends, family or routines in place, I had a bit of a difficult time adjusting during my first month in Maastricht. BUT it was through this experience that I learned how to be kinder to myself, and have compassion for my emotions. It was here in Europe that I solidified my lessons in the paradox of the human experience: learning that it’s okay, and perfectly normal to feel both “happy” and “sad”, and that it is also completely okay to live in that space of both “fear” and “courage”.
Speaking of courage, this year, I also learned that life truly unfolds directly in proportion to your courage.
The universe only knows how scary it was to uproot my life in Toronto where I had absolutely everything going for me: a well paying job, a circle of high quality friends, dance, and of course my family. However, I really believe that once you make a decision to go after something in your life, the universe conspires WITH you to make everything work in your favour. Sure there may be hiccups along the way, but in reality, those “hiccups” are actually preparing you for what’s to come. From passing my GRE literally a week after my breakup, to getting accepted into Maastricht University, and finally, to being awarded the UM Holland High Potential Scholarship (a full scholarship that covers international tuition, visa fees, health insurance and a monthly stipend) – these were all gifts from the universe paving the way for me to end up here in Maastricht.
And wow, has my time here in Maastricht been absolutely amazing! Not that I had any expectations when moving here, but if I did, then my experience so far has BY FAR exceeded all of them. I’m so in love with my life here! Since I’ve arrived, my healing process has reached a whole new level now: the level of continuous curiosity of what self-love looks and feels like. My heart has expanded and has entered a totally new space, and it feels pretty damn incredible. And now, self-love has become the root of everything I do. I could write a completely separate blog post on what self-love means to me, but for now I’ll just leave you with one of my favourite quotes,
“self-love begins the moment we realize there is no self, but only love”
And finally, I think the BEST part about this year has been all the AMAZING people I’ve gotten to know and connect with – not just in Toronto and around the globe – but also with people I’ve gotten to know over the past four months. For real, it feels like I’ve known some of my friends here in Maastricht for so much longer. And further, being here has also somehow strengthened the connections with my friends from all over the world. Waking up to whatsapp text and voice messages, and scheduling facetime and skype calls have now become a regular thing and I couldn’t be happier!
And so that brings me to my last and final lesson for 2017:
the beauty and importance of HUMAN CONNECTION. And I mean genuine, raw, authentic connection and not just some superficial shit. Lol!
This year was FILLED with just THE most amazing connections, conversations, experiences, and adventures. I’ve been able to travel far and wide: UAE (Al-Ain, Abu-Dhabi, Dubai), Frankfurt, Boston, Houston, Punta Cana, Calgary, Vancouver, Detroit, Montreal, Darien Lake, New York, and not to mention all the adventures in and around Ontario itself (skiing in Blue Mountain, skating/skiing/tubing in Muskoka, white water rafting in Ottawa, cottaging in Haliburton). Plus all the other things I got to do such as dance my heart away, learn how to freestyle in waacking and enter a few battles, perform on stage with my Army of Sass Toronto family, and finish a Super Spartan Race! And all that happened before I moved to Europe! LOL! Since I’ve been in Maastricht, I’ve also had some incredible experiences and have been able to travel to Brussels, Aachen, Liege, Cologne, Paris, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Hague. And I’m definitely adding a few more cities to that list before the year is over! But honestly, through all these experiences I’ve met some amazing people, and created some of the best memories! Life is really what you make out of it, and I think it’s so important to take the time to invest in HIGH QUALITY relationships and friendships!
At the end of the day, those are the only things that really matter – not money, not status, but love & your relationships. The places you travel to, the people you meet, and the conversations you have WILL change you and broaden your perspective. Make time for the things and people you love because life is too damn short. So create a life that feels good to live FOR YOU, and LIVE YOUR FUCKING BEST LIFE!
So with that being said, here’s a highlight reel of my 2017!
Highlights in February: skiing/cottaging at Blue Mountain
Highlights in February: tubing at Arrowhead Provincial Park with #teamunggoy! (Arvin & Camille)
Highlights in February/March: my trip to the UAE and an amazing reunion with all my childhood friends!
Highlights in February/March: eating a legit shawarma from the UAE after 9 years. LOL!
Highlights in March: receiving my Scholarship Award Letter!
Highlights in March: visiting my childhood best friend, Reem, in Houston!
Highlights in April: performing in the Army of Sass Show, making some amazing new friends, and having my brother surprise me in the audience!
Highlights in April: Performing with the Army of Sass Toronto!
Highlights in April: going to my first waacking session at Ryerson University!
Highlights in May: my trip to Calgary & Vancouver where I got to spend time with my family & friends!
Highlights in May: Punta Cana for Rizzi’s bachelorette, and a reunion with all my Western girlfriends 🙂
Highlights in May: travelling to Detroit with these cool cats for the Lantern Festival
Highlights in May: white water rafting in Ottawa and a trip to Montreal with my Western friends
Highlights in May: Rizzi & Jules’ Wedding, and an amazing reunion/party with all the Western peeps
Highlights in May: travelling to Darien Lake Amusement Park and feeling like a kid again. LOL!
Highlights in June: stepping out of my comfort zone, and entering the world of waacking
Highlights in June: New York City with my childhood friends, Reem & Rand!
Highlights in June: taking this YGTG (You Got This Girl) Workshop with Melanie Mah!
Highlights in June: becoming a Spartan Super Finisher on my 26th Birthday!
Highlights in June: celebrating my 26th birthday after the Spartan Race, with all my friends! 🙂
Highlights in July: cottaging in Haliburton and celebrating my birthday (again, haha!)
Highlights in July: taking this class at UDC! Choreography: Kaela Faloon
Highlights in July: entering my first battle, and making it to the finals!
Highlights in July: hanging out with my girl Mikee, drinking and talking about life until 6am, while recording stupid videos like this. LOL!
Highlights in July: filming this solo video for the end of the Sensual Heeling Workshop Series with Kaela Faloon
Highlights in August: hiking in Hamilton with Cyrus & Camille!
Highlights in August: working my last shift in the ICU with my friends
Highlights in August: seeing all my friends and family before saying goodbye to Toronto!
Highlights in August: filming this video with Mikee for her “That’s What She Said” project
Highlights in August: filming this video for my girl, Samantha Gokool! 🙂
Highlights in August: one last hiking adventure at Scarborough Bluffs!
Highlights in August: saying goodbye to Toronto! Last dinner, and my friends dropping me off at the airport
Highlights in August: arriving in Maastricht and making new friends! 🙂
Highlights in September: when my girl, Joan, came to visit me in Maastricht and then we travelled to Rotterdam together!
Highlights in September: getting to connect with some pretty cool people 🙂
Highlights in September: travelling to Aachen and connecting with my childhood friend, Jillian!
Highlights in October: PARIS, and reconnecting with Patrick (childhood friend from the UAE!) What an amazing trip!! 🙂
Highlights in November: travelling to Den Haag
Highlights in November: being a part of the Global Entrepreneurship Week Team!
Highlights in November: visiting our first Christmas market in Europe! (Valkenburg!)
Highlights in November: a trip to Amsterdam and a reunion with old family friends! 🙂
Highlights in December (so far!): traveling to Cologne to visit the Christmas Markets! 🙂
Highlights in December (so far!): Scholarship Ceremony at Maastricht University
Highlights in December (so far!): the Christmas Market here in Maastricht! 🙂
YUP, 2017: QUITE THE ADVENTURE!!
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE VIBES, 2017!!
and thank you to each and every person that made 2017 so special to me! (you know who you are!!)
Looking forward to what 2018 has in store for me!! 🙂
Oh and just case you were wondering, my theme for 2018: EXPANSION. but that’s a post for another time!
So here’s to constant growth, healing, transformation & above all, love. 🙂
I hope everyone is enjoying the holidays!
Sending you all so much love, and so much light for the New Year!
From my heart to yours,