On July 6, 2016 I turned 25. It happened at a fancy French bistro in Edinburgh, Scotland with my mom, sitting at a very sticky table. When we politely asked the server to wipe the table down, he insisted the table was clean, however he said it had just been varnished and that was why it was so sticky. My mom and I accepted this and continued our meal, occasionally struggling to remove our utensils and wine glasses from the table’s persistent grip, but nonetheless enjoying our dinner and each other’s company.
There has to be some significance to this anecdote. I’ll try this: 24 was about realizing the things that seemed like issues had value and purpose. It was about the desire to rid myself of varnish: that smooth, protective finish that keeps the rawness and roughness at bay. It was about fighting through the stickiness and holdbackiness and letting myself live deliciously and authentically. Maybe it was about holding myself back too, but in a healthy, sustainable way. It was about indulging. Lots of indulging. Great wine, food and company.
I had a lot of fun this year. Things slowed down but also they didn’t. I slowed down. I cared less and it was the most liberating thing ever. I cared less and more things got done. I moved in not moving. I stopped fighting and trusted the direction I was being pulled in. I got way too in to my Snap stories and consistently found solace in well-curated Pinterest boards.
Here is a rundown of highlights from this past year. Take what you will from it:
Home is where the dumplings are
I’ve moved every year since moving to Toronto – which was three years ago – and I know this isn’t even half as bad as some people – but still. For a bonafide homebody it’s a lot. Last July, a friend and I made the decision to leave an apartment that was far too small for our obnoxiously loud singing voices and big dinner party hosting dreams. The hunt for our new home lasted two and a half months. I temporarily moved in with my cool and successful aunt and spilled a variety of hot fluids on her designer carpets. My roommate and I saw the best (exposed brick loft apartment!) and the worst (cat pee and potentially ghosts!) of what this city had to offer. Zach, my roommate, god love him, had high and very specific standards. I was willing to live anywhere with a roof and a decent bath tub. One day after deciding I had had it with the Craiglist and the creepy landlords and the lengthy rental applications and the disclosing of the underwhelming credit scores, I called Zach sobbing and essentially said I was giving up. I was exhausted and needed him to take over. Zach, with the help of our great-life-advice-giving real estate agent Sylvia, happened upon the perfect home for us that very day. Just when I had given up we found it. Perhaps it found us.
Flash forward to 9 months later.
Just north of Chinatown lies a charming, architecturally dated building that, on its first floor, houses an electric bike shop, a wholesale clothing store with a decent selection of significantly sunkissed kimonos, and a restaurant with delicious free dumpling samples every Saturday. On the second floor, behind the door at the end of the hall, is a bright and spacious two bedroom apartment with a large living/dining area and parquet flooring that I’m convinced is making a comeback. The walls are adorned with an eclectic mix of DIY projects, kijiji-found mirrors and cheap antique art. From the TV, reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Legend of Korra are frequently premiered. This is where Zach and I live now and where we plan to live for years and years to come. We love this apartment, and judging by the lack of noise complaints about our nightly Sia singalongs and occasionally rowdy house guests, we’re fairly certain it loves us back.
This was the year I gave in to Snapchat. God I love Snapchat!! It takes me back to my early filmmaker days when I would steal my parents’ video camera, and follow my neighbours’ dogs around, narrating what I assumed they were thinking. People usually wait until they have kids to make home movies, I’m so already there. I think my Snap stories have possibly included some of my finest creative work to date. Their ephemeral quality is so beautiful and annoying and probably for the best all at the same time. Some say my stories are too much. I think they’re just enough. I’ve been a documenter for as long as I can remember (exhibit A: this blog) and the Snapchat Story, with its curated rawness and unruly filters that turn your face into a piece of bread, is the perfect platform for my weird little home movies and impromptu interviews with my wacky and wonderful work colleagues.
When I first started Snapping, I was visited by my good old pal guilt. Guilt usually pays a visit the second I start getting really in to something that isn’t traditionally productive or well paying. I felt vain and indulgent. I still feel that way because it is that way. Snapchat lets me take up space in a way I haven’t in a while and it’s uncomfortable. But I’m giving in. 10-year-old me with a video camera and a craving for the spotlight is taking over and I’m letting her. This is for her and she likes it. So I like it too.
Follow the fairies
24 was definitely the year I became a bit of a mystic. Whether through reading my tarot cards, stuffing a variety of crystals under my pillow to encourage “astral travel,” or honing/owning my psychic abilities in a course on psychometry, now more than ever, I want to believe. Though I’ve always been a bit of a believer, this was definitely the year I fully committed to building myself a spiritual toolbox and opening myself up to the intangible nature of life – however I came to interpret that. The best part about opening yourself up to any magical activity surrounding you is that it usually opens itself up to you in return. My trip to Scotland – with my mother, who is similarly a believer – was the epitome of that law of the universe I just touched upon in that sentence prior to this one. Vaguely familiar with Celtic spirituality and deeply in love with all things fairy-related, we went in to this trip with wide open minds and the intention to “tap into ‘the frequency’” and see what came our way. The magic did not disappoint. Our trip was full of bizarre synchronicities, strange dreams, fairy references, reappearance of the number 3, relevant animal symbolism and the undeniable presence of my Scottish great grandma Greig. The stories themselves are too sacred to share here, but ask me sometime and I’ll tell you about them.
Fangirl for life
If we’re FB friends, Insta friends, and/or Twitter friends, you’ll know that I was lucky enough to recently get a blog post published in the Huffington Post. And okay, yeah, I whored myself on a variety of social platforms to ensure it got the most eyes…it was a big deal for me! The post was on Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s impact on me and where I’m at right now with all the personal development stuff. It was the outcome of an incredible life coaching workshop I had just finished and also a submission to some of the most intense binge watching I’ve ever done. I have gotten so into Buffy lately that it sometimes scares me. Like into it as in reading critical essays in the Buffy studies academic journal Slayage (it’s a real thing!), listening to the Art of Slaying podcast, considering cosplay, and frequently populating a Buffy Pinterest board with screencaps of my favourite episodes. I’m totally hooked – or sucked, to awkwardly use a vampire metaphor. But it just feels so damn good to be a crazed fangirl of something! I highly recommend it. And it feels really right for me, right now as I begin to grasp the nature of life-slaying and feel this need to share it with others in a way that can be powerful for them too. When I let myself get pulled in to Buffy as a tool, and it actually compliments my other projects in a way that is useful. But first and foremost, it’s a way to relax and escape and I need that. We all do.
I realize this probably isn’t all making sense with the sticky table metaphor I opened with (which I just spitballed anyways… could you tell?). I’ll wrap it up quickly: there’s this thing my mom refers to as pull energy. Essentially, sometimes you push in life for something and sometimes life just pulls you in the direction you need to go. Things “stick” to you, pull you in and you can either fight them or accept them. In all of these instances: finding an apartment the minute I thought I was done looking, submitting myself creatively to the Snapworld and not caring about it, opening myself up to magic and letting myself get bitten by the geek vampire, there was big return in tapping in to pull energy. I still had to push this year, but I pushed only with intention. I pushed with less effort. I pushed where I was already being pulled. And when I pushed too hard in any direction, I either took a nap or let myself get wild with my friends as a reward. Good things came of it!
I also pulled away my external, polished layer who was the poster child for pushing. I gave space to the one below who did starfish floats in the lake, got a spontaneous tattoo because the universe told her to, had her palm read by a stranger on the Spadina streetcar and spent long hangover days on the couch with no plans. At ease with life and all of its offerings. I pulled myself in and was kinder and softer with non-pushing me. Held myself tight and let myself breathe.
And it felt really good.