One Year Later…

7am Aug 27, 2013

7am
Aug 27, 2013

One year ago, at approximately 7am, I began an epic journey of self discovery.  As I walked out the door of my refuge in St. Jean Pied de Port on August 27, 2013, I was overcome by feelings of fear, excitement, dread and mystery for I could never have comprehended the magic, heartbreak, love, joy, connection I would find whilst walking towards Santiago.

At that moment, I was burned out, malnourished, and lost.  I was searching for the key to my life, answers I had been incapable of attaining.  I was taking a leap of faith, hoping that this pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago would be my solution.  I was hoping that everything would become clear to me in the 800km to my end destination.

In the end, after fighting my way across Spain; winning some battles, losing others, I realized that I would not find all the answers to my questions in one 33 day journey.  That being said, the Camino was everything I had hoped for and more.

That mysterious entity that calls herself Camino, showed me exactly what I needed to know at that moment.  She did not provide me with a detailed point form research paper that would spell out my much needed solutions in plain english, like I was secretly hoping for.  Yet, she presented me everything I needed in her mysterious examples, people, places, smells, gusts of winds, flowers, syncronicities, pain and food.  It was up to me to comprehend and interpret.  And interpret I did…over the course of a year.

I still have tiny moments where I long to be back there, simply walking.  The thing is, I have never left the Camino and the Camino has never left me!  I am still walking it everyday.  The Camino is life, a journey.  Everyday, I get to wake up and begin my journey of this moment.  Yes, there are long term goals but like was the case in Spain, I have learned that it is not about the destination, it’s all about how you get there.  One step at a time, over and over again, just keep walking.

Today I can say that I finally see the continuation of my journey.  No, it has not all been easy and perfect but I am finally able to trust in the mystery because I have seen it play out in my everyday life.  The Camino was not the be-all-end-all of answers but it did show me a glimpse of simplicity, love, light, darkness, ego and pride.  I think to myself now, “how can I go back to those patterns and situations that don’t serve me if I have seen what does?”  And thus begins the theme for the past year; letting go of all that doesn’t serve me.

It hasn’t been easy because some of those ideas and events have been with me since I was a child.  I have build whole careers around them, friendships and relationships.  I have poured my heart and soul into many of them, how can I just up and walk away?

The answer is: I don’t have a choice.  I have seen my light and I simply cannot allow myself to be put back in circumstances that don’t bring me light.  The only thing holding me there now is my ego.  And didn’t I learn a huge lesson about that in Spain, probably my biggest lesson.  So, if it’s just my ego holding me down than I have no choice but to move on and move forward.  The ego is a big mountain to climb, I am still climbing.  I will let you know when I get there.

For now, I am continuously moving forward, taking that one step, day by day.  I have faith that I am going the right direction because I finally am able to trust myself, love myself and be myself.  Something I would have never been able to do a year ago.  The Camino gave me the courage and opportunity to make the changes I needed to make.  I look forward to the adventure that lies ahead and take with me all the lessons I have learnt so far.

Thank you to everyone who came with me along the way, whether in spirit, in writing or physical presence.  Thank you to the Camino for calling me over and showing me everything all at once.

Buen Camino.

The Hardest Part Of Traveling No One Talks About

michellechristasmith:

My thoughts exactly. I have been experiencing something like this every since I returned from the Camino.

Originally posted on Thought Catalog:

You see the world, try new things, meet new people, fall in love, visit amazing places, learn about other cultures – then it’s all over. People always talk about leaving, but what about coming home?

We talk about the hard parts while we’re away – finding jobs, making real friends, staying safe, learning social norms, misreading people you think you can trust – but these are all parts you get through. All of these lows are erased by the complete highs you experience. The goodbyes are difficult but you know they are coming, especially when you take the final step of purchasing your plane ticket home. All of these sad goodbyes are bolstered by the reunion with your family and friends you have pictured in your head since leaving in the first place.

Then you return home, have your reunions, spend your first…

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9 Ways Women Can Become Better Women

Originally posted on Thought Catalog:

1. Stop the shit-talking.

Is it really necessary to bash other women? Don’t we have it hard enough as females on this earth? It is so easy to say mean, spiteful things about other women who have done us wrong, who have hurt us, or are even just walking down the street. Why do we do this? I know you have done it. I have done it too. We see a woman running down the street and we find something terrible to say about her form, her body, her anything. In reality, we should be saying, “Damn girl. Keep running.” As women, we must begin to empower the other women around us. We really are in this together and we have fought long and hard for our place in this world. Let’s make our foremothers proud. We don’t need to be holding picket signs protesting for our rights to be…

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Gifts and Giving

Well now, it’s feels like years since my last post.  Ok, I exadurate, it’s only been a few months.  Still…

I have been thinking about posting for a while now but I couldn’t seem to muster up anything to right about.  A lame excuse, I know because there are limitless topics I could explore.  Truth is, I have been making up excuses.

I am still in a transition or building phase of the next stage of my life.  A lot of progress has been made but at the same time, I still seem to be repeating the same dark patterns that take me away from a centred, balanced life.  Really, I would just be repeating myself.  I am trapped in a loop.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, I hear.

The next stage in my journey involves me moving back into Vancouver from Steveston, where I have been living for the last 8 months.  I have been living as far away from the centre of the city as humanly possible yet still relatively accessible by transit.  I moved out there because I found that the frequency of the city was a little to intense for me when I returned form Spain.  I knew I had changes to make but I couldn’t do that if I were so close to my normal patterns.  So, out I went to Steveston, intent on starting over;  a reset.  The interesting thing was that even in my reboot, I still encountered many of the same plaguing issues that I have been experiencing for the last years.  Even though I have gained a new perspective and space to encounter my true self, I am still repeating these patterns.  There must be something deeper I am not addressing, I thought to myself.  And the digging began.

Changing my life is not some thing that can be done over night, it takes time and patience.  I would be lying if I said that I didn’t need a little assistance.  While I am in the building stages, certain things like finances and work are not easy to come by.  Especially in this entertainment industry where even when you are well established, work can be far and few between.  I gave up everything to start over in my own way.  I sold 90% of my stuff and put the rest in a storage locker, I walked away from half my income all because it wasn’t what I needed anymore.  So, here I am in my beginning stage of a new chapter and I literally have nothing.  I have purged myself of all my material possessions and unhealthy lifestyle.  I am completely vulnerable.  (Eek!)

Which brings me to the topic I really want to write about gifts and giving.

I don’t know why asking for or accepting help is so difficult.  It must be an issue of control and ego, two things I definitely struggle with.  There have been many times this last year where I have had to call up a friends and ask for a couch to sleep on, a car to drive or simply, emotional support.  The interesting piece to this is the fact that there is always someone there to take me in and I think they even do so happily.  Even at the mere mention that I might need a place to sleep, I have multiple offers of couches, spare rooms or floors.  It baffles me that I usually have more than one offer.  How can this be?  Why would anyone want to help me?

There have been bigger gifts as well, things that I still have a hard time wrapping my head around.  My friend, Mandy, offering her advice, knowledge, time and contacts to help me certify as an acro teacher and book workshops.  She didnt have to do all of the for me, but she still did it.  Or how about my dear friend, Jonel, paying my tuition for a seminar that aimed to identify and heal dark patterns because she knows I needed it.  Shelene, Joel, Kent and Jonel all offering me places to stay in there homes while they are away and I have a 2 week gap between moving places.  Or all the friends who have a hook up, connection or availably on workshops or gigs.  The list is endless, I really could go on for days.  Why am I being offered these gifts?  Do I deserve this?

My last months have been filled with all of these wonderful gifts of all forms.  I am overwhelmed with gratitude.  It also makes me uncomfortable because my first instinct is that they must want something in return.  How will I pay them back?  What if I don’t have anything to give?  I don’t want to seem dependant and incompetent.  What am I doing with my life?  I am usually the one who has my shit together.  AHHHH.  And so on and so forth.  But here is the lesson, when someone gives you a gift it is not a business transaction.  The greatest way I can reciprocate these gifts is to simply receive them with grace.  That is my gift back to them.  There will come a time for me to give back but for now, this is my time to receive.  Plain and simple.

So why me?  I can only guess that in my last year of searching, I have opened myself up to vulnerability and humility.  I don’t pretend to have my shit together anymore. I will straight up tell you I am struggling sometimes because it is the truth.  Much like my witting, people respond to heartfelt honesty.  True, sometimes I am sure they are a little irritated but hey, we are all human.  And let’s not forget karma, everything will come back to you in the end.  It also seems that when you are receptive to the gifts your are receiving, it makes it much easier to give.  It’s all circular.  I see all these wonderful gifts and suddenly, I am more than willing to donate my time and energy to some one else who my needs help.  Where as before, I may have made up some lame excuse of why I can’t help you… “I have to brush my cat” or something like that.

So here I am, smack dab in the middle of self analysis, truth and receiving.  Graciously humbled by my reality, I am finally learning how to truth share this life with the people I love.

Thank you to all of you who have been a part of my journey in whatever role you played.  Merci.  Danke.  Thanks.  Gracias.

Until next time…

 

Michelle’s Guide to Turning 30

Michelle’s Guide to Turning 30

 

Congratulations, I made it to 30!

 

Turning 30 has elicited a whirlwind of emotions for me.  First of all, I am in complete disbelief that time passes so quickly.  I’ve heard rumours about this time warping phenomenon the older folk speak of however, until now they have been just that: rumours.  Now here I am, a certified adult…30.

How did this happen? I am still a child who knows nothing about life, how can I be turning thirty?  Where did all that time go?  Shouldn’t I have a better grasp on things by now?

When I look back on the past 30 years, I guess I could say I have put my time to good use.  The proof being in the multiple lifetimes I have lived.  I was once a creative, tom-boyish child, a champion baton twirler, a professional dancer, a teacher, a writer.  I’ve pursued my dreams and built myself a career in a cut throat industry.  I travelled the world, I worked in the movies, I worked for the circus. I once got paid to put on a purple unitard, slap on a mask and pretend to be a seahorse…in a forest.  There was even a time I was chased by feral monkeys in Hong Kong.  This past year not with standing, I guess you could say, I have lived my life and especially my 20’s to the fullest!

My last year and a half has been a well documented exploration into my truth and soul.  A process that would have never happened if it weren’t for all of these past experiences.  I have had many victories but I have also had many failures and it has only been through a commitment to complete self honesty that I have discovered what I else I can include.

 

And the conclusion that I have come to:  I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT’S GOING ON AND THAT’S OK BECAUSE NO ONE ELSE HAS ANY IDEA EITHER!

 

Here is what I do know, purely through trial and error:

1. Pay your taxes.

This is an important and unfortunate truth.  You’ll have to find a way to “Stick it to the man” some other way.

2. Get a hair cut.

It’s a new decade and it deserves a new do!

 

3. Take Inventory.

An honest evaluation of what is and isn’t working is always a good road map, no matter how hard or uncomfortable it makes you.

 

4. Think about your health.

Let’s face it, you aren’t on warranty anymore.  You require a little more maintenance.

 

5. Tell people how you feel.

People can’t read your mind and many challenging situations could be avoided if you would just say what’s on your mind rather than burying it.

 

6. Stop worrying so much about things you cannot change.

You can’t go back in time and we have yet to discover how to bend the space/time continuum to go forwards.  Let it go!

 

7. Stop worrying so much about things you apparently won’t change.

Chances are if you aren’t willing to do the work to change bad habits than it’s going to stick around for a while.  Stop stressing about it until you are ready to make that change.

 

8. If you are willing to make a change, stop talking about it, DO IT!

So you are willing to do the work? Great, now get to work!

 

9. Stop caring what people think.

Seriously, they’re just thinking about themselves anyway.  Aren’t you?

 

10. Commit to living in the moment.

Because it’s got to be clear to you by now that that is all you have.

 

11. Go to bed at a decent hour.

Sleeping is good for you and you are so much more productive when you are well rested.

 

12. Get up early.

There is a whole day of life for you to live!

 

13. Make you bed.

Just do it, it takes 30 seconds and it looks nice when you get home.

 

14. Be bold.

That thing you have always wanted to do but hesitated because of any number of reasons?  Just do it and be proud that you are trying something new!

 

15. Face your self.

Funny, we have lost touch with who we truly are and are afraid of who is actually underneath.

 

16. Face you fears.

Fear is there for a reason, it’s actually a good thing.  Explore it, challenge it and conquer it!  You may just surprise yourself.

 

17. Listen!

To yourself, your intuition, to your friends, family, that guy on the bus, to the wind.  Just listen.

 

18. Being willing to admit you have no idea what’s going on.

Apparently nobody does.  Just go with it.

 

19. Being willing to admit when you are wrong.

Goes along with facing yourself but admitting you are wrong when you actually are, is a strength.

 

20. Go for walks.

Long ones if you need too.

 

21. Put your phone/computer/TV away.

For at least an hour everyday.  This may be hard to believe but you don’t need it.

 

22. Meditate.

It has been proven that people who meditate have less injuries, stress and health problems than those who do not.  Food for thought.

 

23. Travel more.

There is nothing more worthwhile to spend your money on.

 

24. Open your heart.

All you need is love.

 

25. Say thank you.

For everything.

 

Bottom line:

The wonderful thing about 30 is, I may not have everything figured out but I do have some experience under my belt now!  I know it will not always be smooth sailing but I endeavour to use each and every experience as an opportunity to grow.  Each day is a new chance to invite more wisdom, light, peace and love into my life.

 

Here’s to a new decade of adventures through life!