wearing her heart on her blog

Last week I received a ‘Happy Anniversary’ notification from WordPress. In December 2012 I created my account, though I didn’t actually post till the following month. Blogging still feels like a recent endeavor; certainly not something I started five years ago! I continue to meet new bloggers and friends, and learn more about myself as I write my own process.

An anniversary is always a particularly good time to reflect. There’s no question that blogging’s opened up my life in many ways, and for that I am truly grateful. But at several points along the way I’ve thought about taking an extending break, or even quitting entirely. I’ve often felt over-exposed and vulnerable. Or, I’ve put so much pressure on myself for posts to be perfect, that I’m exhausted before I even start writing!

So for 2018, I’m asking myself: can I re-make blogging a joyful priority?

Back in my early WordPress days, I would read articles with advice on blogging. These were instrumental in helping me understand the platform, and I did learn some useful tips. But I soon realized that I needed to form my own blogging conventions, appropriate to my life and the nature of my writing.

sonia picard’s ‘technicolor durga’

For example, I’d read that to gain readers and followers, it’s important to post frequently. This doesn’t work for me. Given that I mostly write about personal topics, it would be too emotionally taxing to continually write about my inner process. To post for the sake of posting wouldn’t be authentic, especially if I was motivated by the sense that I ‘should’, or the desire to have more followers. (‘Should’ automatically invokes resistance anyway.)

In social media, it’s generally accepted that more followers = better. Maybe I’m overthinking it, but I quite often ask myself: why? What is the deeper need there…why does it matter? Will it mean something when I’ve hit a certain number? Will I feel more validated? (Actually, I’m not overthinking it. Without mindfulness, ego runs amok.)

I try to view all this with self-compassion and understanding. Of course it feels good to receive likes and follows! It’s hard to not make it about other people. We don’t live in isolation; we’re in a relational, hyper-connected world. I am choosing to share my thoughts on the Internet, after all; others are participating.

And for many of us, blogging is perhaps the only arena we feel most understood. Connecting to kindred spirits across the planet is amazing, and one of my favourite things about this medium. The likes, comments, and follows do mean something, when they’re authentically given and received.

But as soon as I’ve made it solely about other people, blogging loses its spark. When it involves comparison and perfectionism, it becomes heavy. A blogigation.

Writing the perfect post isn’t possible. There will forever be tweaks and adjustments to improve it. Someone else will have better photos, more likes, be making money off their blog, etc. Whenever I find myself questioning whether I should continue, I remember that in the actual writing process, time stands still, or flies by. That in itself is the purpose, the goal. That is creativity. There aren’t many activities where I can lose myself in this way, and it’s something to hold on to.

For 2018, I’m going to ditch the pursuit of perfectionism – not just with blogging, but with life in general. Priorities can be re-invented and reinvigorated with a new perspective. My tagline here is ‘wearing her heart on her blog’, and I’m going to re-commit to my heart being the guiding principle in all matters.

Happy Anniversary, new moon, solstice, and new year! And thank you for reading. ❤

kundalini + mantra = miracles

Shortly after my first Kundalini Yoga class over ten years ago, I passed a woman on the street just outside our local studio. She was about my age, clad all in white, her face glowing as she chanted a mantra to herself. She looked completely blissed out and in her own world. Wow, I thought. I want some of that. But not too much. It’s a little weird.

That memory hit me a few days ago, when I found myself walking down the street, chanting a mantra, completely blissed out and in my own world. Wow, I thought, a little giggly this time. Thank you, Universe.You really don’t forget.

Blue Saraswati, by the amazing Sonja Picard

Blue Saraswati, by the amazing Sonja Picard

It’s been almost a month since I began my Kundalini Yoga teacher training program. I’ve skyrocketed from infrequent, intermittent meditation pre-training to a 45-minute (minimum) daily practice. My red wine consumption has decreased dramatically, and I’m now tackling my sugar addiction.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that my life is scheduled around my homework, and probably will be for the next few months. I wouldn’t say it’s been easy…but it does feel right.

I’ve discovered the joy of mantra meditation. Kundalini Yoga centres on chanting in sacred languages (Gurmukhi and Sanskrit), and my monkey mind is loving it. I’ve generally found it hard to meditate in silence; the thoughts come barrelling in, much too fast to control, and I can’t seem to get ahead of them. (Can anyone relate?) Focusing on a word like ‘love’ or ‘peace’ is sometimes even more difficult; if I’m not in a peaceful or loving state, my mind vehemently resists. Who are you kidding? You don’t feel that way! This is pointless and excruciating, let’s check email instead!

The uncontrolled mind is a tricky, sly beast. It knows all the little crevices to slip in and transport us somewhere far, far away – nowhere close to the present moment.

What I love about chanting in a language other than English is that the words bypass my mind and download straight into my cells. My DNA recognizes the ancient truths embedded in the unfamiliar sounds. My mind cannot object or protest because it doesn’t know what it’s protesting.

Chanting taps me into my multi-dimensional self – the ‘me’ beyond form, language, and conditioning. I can’t get enough; it’s like I’m being fed after years and years of starvation, and my system is lapping up every last bit.

I’ve been chanting for purposes beyond homework too. There are so many fear tapes playing on repeat in the collective consciousness right now, and I want to be vigilant in overriding this mass programming. I feel humanity can transcend this dark cycle, provided we don’t buy into the untruths we are being sold by those who have a vested interest in keeping us feeling deflated and powerless.


I was hesitant to start my teacher training program; I didn’t want Kundalini Yoga to take over my life. I very much wanted to retain my ‘Aleya’ personality, her likes and preferences, her idiosyncrasies. I feared that committing to a spiritual path would strip away my individuality.

And of course, it is doing just that. Our earthly identities are just a finite fragment of our infinite selves. But Kundalini Yoga is not really stripping Aleya away; it’s helping her access her limitlessness, while flooding her finite self with more love, compassion, and kindness than she’s ever known.

What’s not to love?

meditating on bali

Bali has been on my mind for months. I find myself fantasizing about lush green landscapes, tropical flowers and fruits, Hindu deities everywhere, yoga classes galore. Sitting lotus-style in rice paddy fields, communing with the divine, a calm, serene expression on my face…


My reverie was somewhat disrupted a few days ago when my dear friend Alexandra, a gifted empath and psychic, randomly asked me: “Aleya, why do you hate meditation?” This question had come to her from my spirit guides, during one of our many powerful conversations on life, consciousness, and the Divine Feminine. Alexandra is tuned in like no other, and I laughed and laughed at my guides’ bluntness. Busted!

Do I hate meditation? I know it’s something I generally avoid doing. My monkey mind seems completely untameable and, living right in the city, I feel constantly on edge. Neighbour noise, sirens wailing, cars honking…I’m always waiting for the next sound. Tension feels normal to me.

All the more reason to meditate. I get that. It’s not about waiting for external conditions to be perfect, but finding the inner quiet in any situation.

Isn’t it funny how we shun what we most need? The thing that’s right in front of us, so simple and obvious? The thing that would change our life?

Bali represents peace, quiet, tranquility…a state I’m longing for within. I know I don’t need to travel across the globe to discover that state; I could catch a glimpse of it right where I am, spending even just five minutes a day in stillness. And, as I often remind myself, wherever you go, there you are. Bali may soothe my churning mind for a while, but it’s not a panacea.

That said…what’s stopping me from taking a month away and recharging my batteries in a completely different environment? I don’t have a family or 9-5 job depending on me. Okay, I don’t have any money either, but I could probably figure something out. Sublet my apartment. Get a couple more contract gigs so I can work remotely if needed. Sell a bunch of stuff I’m ready to get rid of.


How do we distinguish running away from running towards? When are we escaping, and when are we being called to a new experience? Alexandra says it’s a both/and. We can be fully aware that we’re resisting our current circumstances (our experience of which is determined by our inner state), and create something new at the same time. The two are not mutually exclusive. Wherever we are, self-awareness is key. Creating consciously, not through default programming and expired beliefs.

Bali also represents healing for me. I want to lay upon her earth and absorb her Divine Mother energy into every one of my cells. Recent health issues have served as a wakeup call for me, compelling me to examine how some of my darker beliefs may be playing out in my physical body. None of it is wrong. I’ve done this work before, but it’s being taken to a deeper level. The answers, I know, cannot be found solely on the material plane.

Which circles me back to meditation. Running towards myself. Whether or not I will be on Bali anytime soon remains to be seen. But I am feeling her. I am breathing her in.

neuroses of a north american diner

I recently found the following in my WordPress drafts folder; I wrote it during my first week in Italy last summer, but for some reason didn’t publish it.

With all the activity and transition of late, I’ve been really missing Italy…but reading this post makes me look forward to the day I will visit again. And I remember what I had promised myself back then: instead of focusing on the ‘negatives’ of my own city, I would bring home those aspects of Italy that I loved most.

Fortunately, I still know how to linger over a good glass of wine. 😉

breakfast of champions!

breakfast of champions!

[August 2013]

I’ve only been here a few days and already I can tell that dining solo in Italy is going to be one eye-opening experience. I knew this before I arrived; in fact it was one of the things I was most nervous about. Am I going to be the only single gal amongst tables full of amorous couples? How do I order food in Italy? How much do I tip? Do they even serve dinner at 6pm?

In Eat Pray Love, Liz Gilbert writes of a leisurely lunch during one of her many long walks in Rome: “I eat my lunch in a quiet trattoria here, and I linger over my food and wine for many hours because nobody in Trastevere [Rome] is ever going to stop you from lingering over your meal if that’s what you would like to do” (chapter 25).

I’m so glad I’m re-reading this book as I travel, as many of Liz’s insights resonate with my own experience. Back home, when I dine solo (or even with people), I’m usually aware that others might be waiting for my table. Though I’m a slow eater, I often feel I’m on a time limit. Lingering is generally not encouraged in North American establishments!

This morning, my ‘do not dawdle’ conditioning revealed itself. I was at my favourite cafe in Villasimius [Sardinia], having just finished my now-standard breakfast of a cornetto di chocolat and cappuccino. As I ordered some water, tables began to quickly fill around me. One man stood at the cafe entrance, looking for a free spot. I felt a mild sense of anxiety that I must hurry up and leave, as I was clearly finished.

Another man then asked if he could take one of my extra seats. He seemed extremely apologetic for interrupting me, which I thought was sweet. I then saw the first guy’s grandchildren (I presume) rush up to him, and they all walked away together. Turns out he had just been chilling, waiting for his famiglia.

It was then that I started to relax. Maybe no one was impatient and waiting. Maybe it didn’t even cross their minds to rush someone while they were still dining. Maybe the servers take a while in asking me what I want next, or bringing me my bill, because I’m supposed to savour every minute of the experience.

I’m not in ‘hurry-up’ culture anymore.

snacks in sardinia

snacks in sardinia

Later, at a bar having a glass of wine (or two) as I wait to catch a bus back to my villa, the server brings me dishes of peanuts, pretzels, courgettes, and yummy potato crisps. I look at all the food in front of me and again a mild neurosis arises: all this, for just me? I didn’t ask for it. Should I eat it all, or is that inelegant? If I don’t eat enough, is that rude?

Fortunately, it doesn’t take me long to realize that it doesn’t matter to them what I do with it.

I relax (again), put my book away, and stare off into space for a while. Because you know, that’s what they do here.

I love this place.

am i a runner?

A few years ago a friend said to me in conversation, “You really are a runner, aren’t you?”  She wasn’t referring to running in the physical exercise sense of the word, but emotional running.

I was living in Australia at the time, having made the decision to travel there after a horrible past year in my hometown.  I don’t remember the details of our conversation, but it’s irrelevant.  The point was, not only did she think I was a ‘runner’ in that moment, it was clearly something she had considered before.

me and the rock

me and the rock

When I first arrived in Australia, the newness of everything distracted me from the pain I felt inside.  The dry earth, the overwhelming yellowness (as compared to the cool, damp green of Vancouver), the heat, the accents…it was all raw, wonderful, and a little confronting. But as the weeks wore on, the realization gradually settled in…wherever you go, there you are.

All those painful feelings I’d left behind hadn’t really gone anywhere, and they wouldn’t for a while.  They were in me, and no matter where I went in the world, there they would remain.  Moving to a new geographic location wasn’t going to heal what only time could.

My friend’s words have left an imprint on me.  It’s five years later, and I find myself wanting to start anew yet again.  Something has always felt missing in my life.  I’ve blamed my city, the weather, its people.  I’ve long thought my ‘real’ home was somewhere else.

I recently made the decision to leave my job this summer, and travel abroad for a couple of months.  I have fantasies of starting a brand new life in another country, meeting new people, doing something completely different.  Isn’t that what life is all about, especially in this age of awakening?  Following your heart, dreaming big, taking a leap of faith?  Saying YES?

Or am I motivated by something else entirely?  Running away…escape…an inability to be present…boredom?

I know that I can’t evade whatever is inside me. If there was one thing Australia taught me, it’s that.  Wherever I go, there I am. 

So I ask myself: am I at peace within?

My inner voice (gently): No.

Why not?

You don’t meditate.

[Sigh. Again with the meditation.] What does that mean?

You can’t sit in silence for 10 minutes without getting antsy or finding a distraction.  How can you know what is within, if you don’t let yourself experience it?  How can you have peace with that which you don’t acknowledge?


It’s clear why my friend’s words struck a chord (or nerve).   I have had a strong urge to flee situations that I find uncomfortable.  Not only physical places, but interactions and relationships.  Perhaps even my own emotions and inner being, which I thought I was in touch with.

I think I’m running towards something better ‘out there’, but the trajectory is usually more like a circle.  There’s a part of me that still firmly believes that when I find the right job, city, partner, etc., things will finally fall into place. I put so much pressure on myself to create this, to search for this, to make it happen.

I’m still valuing the ‘doing’ over the ‘being’.

I know better than this. I’m chasing the ever elusive.

And as crazy as it sounds, a part of me also fears that by going within – by finding peace – I won’t be motivated to change my outer world.  That I will accept things the way they are, and become passive about my life.

But does acceptance necessarily result in inaction?  And is it possible that inner peace would transform my life in a way that no amount of world travelling could? Maybe I would look at my present life with new eyes.  Maybe I’d even fall in love with it.  Maybe I’ve never felt a connection to my city, because I’ve never felt it to myself.

Attempting to mentally determine the difference between ‘running away’ and ‘advancing towards’ is somewhat pointless. There are too many competing voices vying for my attention, and they all say the same old things.

I do know there is a genuine wanderlust and love of freedom within me, and it will likely yearn to express itself throughout my life. But I am beginning to understand that only when I’m intimately familiar with my inner landscape will I be able to fully appreciate what’s on the outside.

It may be that the ultimate adventure lies in stillness.