choked by the pink collar

Emotional Labour. A friend introduced this term to me a while back, during a time I was employed in a job I wasn’t happy in. Well, some days I was happy. Other days – most days – I was miserable, drained, and frustrated. The constant back-and-forth in my experience – the love/hate relationship with my work and what I felt it demanded of me every day – resulted in what could aptly be described as ’emotional labor’.

I’d been performing the same type of job for years, albeit in different environments, and I was finding it increasingly hard to continue the same routine. Every day my head would battle my heart in a ‘should I stay or should I go’ debate.

I left that job a few weeks ago. I was passionate about the vision of the organization, but that wasn’t enough.

It’s not the first time I’ve quit my job; and in previous instances, I’ve eventually returned to the same type of environment. And I understand why.

Through conversations with friends and loved ones, I know that so many of us have incredibly wonderful interests and desires, innovative business ideas that we know would fill our spirits and benefit the world around us. We want to feel that our work has meaning, and brings our particular vision of beauty to this planet.

We know the old structures are crumbling. We are aware of the early conditioning and mass programming that keeps us repeating the same patterns, and we work to shift that. But transformation doesn’t happen overnight. And in the meantime, there are bills to pay.

Things have changed so much in one generation, and the world today is very different from that of our parents. What is true security, in these times?

After the novelty of each new workspace wore off, I realized how bored I was. I also found myself straining to be nice all the time. Being ‘nice’ wasn’t in my job description, of course; but given the roles I was in, it was the underlying expectation.

Women often find themselves doing ‘pink collar’ work – jobs that are service-oriented and call for a perpetually pleasant and accommodating demeanour. For a long time I prided myself on being these things. Now I realize how unnatural this is. Sitting in front of a computer screen, indoors, under fluorescent lights, supporting people doing the work they are passionate about…it had taken an energetic and physical toll.

So many of us sense there must be something more. There is a heightened sense of urgency.

For the unfulfilled among us – it is our responsibility to step out of our secure, familiar ways and create the new. We already know this. It requires courage, entering discomfort zones, finding those whose vision aligns with ours, and trusting the universe. Easier said than done, maybe. But imperative, definitely.

It’s not frivolous to want joyful work. If consciousness is evolving and a new paradigm is emerging in all this chaos, it makes sense that all our creations, including our work, would align with this energy. In most of my conversations, a meaningful career has far less to do with individual wants and desires, and more about making the human experience better for all.

The un-learning and deconstructing of the past is important. So is patience and self-compassion. I don’t have any how-to’s or solid next steps. I only know that every minute is precious, and I must get these words out.

this blog’s about me…but aren’t i you?

I’ve written numerous times that one of my favourite things about blogging is connecting with kindred spirits across the globe. Through sharing in each other’s journeys, I’ve learned much about myself and others.

For the most part, comments on my posts are supportive and uplifting. But there is the odd time an observation rubs me the wrong way. In those instances, I have to step back and contemplate why I feel triggered. Usually, when a nerve is struck, that nerve was sensitive to begin with.

In my most recent post, I refer to my blog’s tagline, ‘wearing her heart on her blog’. This is a personal blog…recording my spiritual journey and my innermost thoughts. I don’t share it with friends, nor do I post (much) on social media. But I have many moments where I question the need to share myself so openly on the world wide web. Am I seeking external approval and validation? What is the root of my desire to self-express? To be liked? To channel my soul’s essence, for some larger purpose my conscious mind may not be aware of?

A recent comment prompted me to ask myself these questions yet again. It was pointed out that my blog, and whatever else gives me online attention, is feeding my ego and stimulating unnatural dopamine production. This wasn’t written in a particularly nasty way, but I admit, I got my back up. My mind immediately came up with some defensive replies, but I knew this was the lizard brain’s habitual reaction…so I waited it out. Any strong emotional response on my part was likely due to fear that the commenter’s suggestions were true.

And you know what I felt, underneath it all? Shame. My deepest insecurities about sharing myself openly – that I would be attacked, that people would think I was narcissistic and self-centered, that I was an imposter – came to the surface. Ancient wounds activated. I felt exposed. Deeply embarrassed. How many people feel this way about me? 

This blog is about me…but my main impetus is to create and foster connection. I struggle with many things as a sensitive being on planet earth, and I sense many others do too. In writing my words, I am helping others feel less alone, and in their responses to me, I feel less alone. It’s a creative endeavor that brings some hope and relief to a psyche that often feels quite heavy. It’s a joint venture.

Does ego come into it? Of course. And this too is something I’ve addressed several times. It would be foolish to state that my sharing can be completely ego-free. I’m a human being. Ego comes with the territory. I like ‘likes’. I take things personally. I get attached. I’m working on it, but I’m also trying to be easier on myself. Ego’s a beast I wrestle every single day, and I often fight myself much too hard.

I’m glad I was prompted to write this post. I feel clearer on my own motivations, and the charge I felt has dissipated. (Writing is so cathartic!) Like it or not – and I mostly like it – technology is here, and with social media comes a level of human interaction we haven’t yet experienced. It takes adjustment. It takes responsibility and mindfulness. And it takes supreme kindness, towards ourselves and others.

In Lak’ech. I am another you.

pleasure and paradox in paris

At the Musée d’Orsay, pressing my face close to a Monet painting, practically inhaling the brushstrokes, I felt a mixture of profound gratitude and nostalgia. The pale pinks, lavenders, and yellows were indescribably soothing. I wanted to merge with the work. Escape into it.

I was mesmerized by the art of Paris to a degree that surprised even me. I’d studied Art History many moons ago at university, but standing in front of certain works – I could easily touch them, were it not for the ever-present security – left me deeply affected.

Until that point, I’d felt somewhat ambivalent about my impromptu trip to Paris. Though I had the time off work, cash saved in the bank, and a great deal from Air France, I questioned my decision to travel to the City of Lights. Surely there were more responsible things to do with my money.

In my hotel room that first night, I tossed and turned as the jet lag (and in-flight wine, no doubt) sank in. Habitual thoughts about work, relationships, and family pounded in my head. Paris, I thought. Why am I here? What can I learn from you?

Pleasure. Presence. Enjoy life, she answered. Be in your body, not your head. You already know this…but I can help you. In fact, you need me to. That’s why you’re here.

You think you’ve lost your intuition, she continued, but you haven’t. Don’t focus on my image or the tourists or the incessant honking and police sirens, or the camouflaged men with machine guns standing on the corner. There is an essence of me that is much deeper than all these things. Be with it.

I didn't make it to the top, but I had to get the Eiffel shot!

I didn’t make it to the top, but I had to get the Eiffel shot!

I spent a week exploring various neighbourhoods in the city. I walked along the Champs-Élysées and the Seine. Apart from food (and chocolate presents!), my only purchase was a 4-day Museum Pass, which I’d picked up at Charles de Gaulle airport upon my arrival.

Viewing the paintings of Monet, Degas, Manet, Cassatt, Morisot, Seurat, and Renoir (and so many more), I felt deep nostalgia. Nostalgia for the time in my life when I initially studied these works. Nostalgia for historical periods of great art, music, and beauty. Most of all, nostalgia for an era where artists truly sat with their inspirations. Focused and present, devoting hours, days, even years to the execution of their visions.

What must it be like to have that kind of patience? It is hard to imagine. My attention span is much shorter than it used to be, a deterioration I blame on technology. All around me, people flitted about with iPhones, snapping photos and selfies. I tried to take some pics, but they never did the moment justice. And trying to capture that moment would just take me out of it.

Jardin des Tuileries - I couldn't resist including this

Jardin des Tuileries – I couldn’t resist

I wondered what these artists would think of this modern world. Would they be disturbed, fascinated, inspired? Life cannot be as it was in nineteenth-century Paris, of course. And even then, things probably weren’t as idyllic as the dreamy vistas suggest. Still, I long to sit in front of a landscape or sunset, or at a cafe, for hours, just absorbing my surroundings. Not thinking about work or emails or how I should be doing something.

Paris reminded me of India, in that it’s a paradox. The Divine Feminine presence, which surely exists and spoke to me that first night, was accompanied by a rough, almost aggressive energy throughout the city. It was an interesting, and often unsettling, experience.

But visiting Paris was very, very good for my soul. In recent months I’d been feeling some grief for so many lost years where I didn’t trust myself as my own authority, where I sold myself short. This last decade in particular – I don’t know where it went. Paris reminded me to be gentle with myself and look ahead. Not everything in life has to happen at once, and my process won’t look like anyone else’s. Nothing is lost. There is still time.

The art, the red wine, the Autumn sunshine, the walks along the Seine…that’s who I am. Sitting in front of a canvas and feeling where the colours take me…that’s who I am. Doing my best to heal resentments, forgive, and live in divine love…that’s who I am. Willing to learn, be humbled over and over again, and create grand adventures for myself…that’s who I am.

Thank you, Paris, for reminding me who I am.


(spiritual) information overload

Back in March, a dear friend invited me to a new moon/birthday celebration where we were treated to a heavenly meditation in a salt cave, divine live music, and a beautiful despacho ceremony.

As part of the evening, we also chose angel cards and shared them as a group. I picked Archangel Metatron, whose message for me was ‘Prioritize’. Ugh, how boring, I thought. I would’ve preferred something much sexier, like ‘Cosmic Power’ or ‘Twin Flame’…but looking back on the past few months, I see just how apt this card was. I’ve lived in three different places since then, and life has been an ongoing process of clearing out, paring down, and de-cluttering.

It hasn’t just been about physical ‘stuff’. Over the summer I began to feel overloaded with commitments that my heart wasn’t into anymore. Thinking about all I ‘had’ to do left me feeling drained, with little drive to pursue any of it. So bit by bit, I let certain responsibilities go. It wasn’t easy. I felt guilt that I was letting down people whom I’d committed to. I felt like a flake.

But now, settling into my current living space, with minimal possessions around me, clarity is sinking in. I can see that I’ve been whittling away the outer noise in response to my soul’s desire to be heard.  I’ve chosen to bring with me the things I find most beautiful…the colours and books and art I truly love, that harmonize with me.

One of my favourite images, from my trip to India

One of my favourite images, from my 2010 trip to India

There’s a lot of information out there about a new earth – a 5D paradigm we are collectively awakening to.  Sitting here in my temporarily Internet-less apartment, I know I’ve been on information overload. I need to digest rather than consume these spiritual concepts. I’m understanding that this new world can only be created from within me. I need to feel that world in my body rather than compute it in my head.

I’m also seeing themes of sloppiness versus integrity in my life. Where have I been cutting corners and settling for ‘good enough’ when I know more is possible? Where can I take greater personal responsibility and create a higher standard in the way I interact with others, myself, and the planet?

And when does taking personal responsibility morph (in my own mind) into being ‘too hard’ on myself? Am I really being too hard, or am I being brutally and lovingly honest, sensing my divine potential to live more compassionately, joyfully, powerfully, simply?

Since registering for my Kundalini Yoga teacher training program, I’m feeling all this more intensely. I’m nervous, which could be a good sign. I sense I will be confronted with things I won’t be able to ignore, numb, or justify. I know the training will take me deeper into myself and enable me to stand more firmly in my own truth, as it is being revealed. For this I am grateful, excited, and hopeful that the world(s) I discover within will manifest without.

Now to find some wifi…

the lady in the painting

In honour of Mercury Retrograde, I’m re-blogging a post from my early WordPress days. An extra fun twist is that I now work at the university I mention in the post. I’m loving this trip back in time.

Happy equinox-full moon-lunar eclipse!


Years ago I bought an art print from a poster fair that would visit my university a couple of times a year.  I was so drawn to this painting, which featured a woman sitting at what looked to be a Parisian cafe, a pensive expression on her face, quill and half-glass of wine on her table.  I loved everything about this piece: the setting, the colours, the subject matter, the painter’s technique.  I didn’t even look up the artist for some time, or explore the historical context of the work (which is strange, considering I was an Art History major).  It spoke to me, and that was enough.

The Cafe, Tsuguharu Foujita (1949) The Cafe, Tsuguharu Foujita (1949)

I felt an affinity with this woman, and I wanted to be her, but her world and life were so far away from mine.  This painting created a tension within me.  Of admiring, of relating…but also feeling…

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working for joy

I was very inspired and moved by the supportive comments from my last post on quitting my job. It seems there are many of us who are disconnected from our work, and we are longing for something more.

I was also happy to discover those readers and friends who’ve jumped the employment ship and never looked back! I’ve heard stories of challenge and uncertainty, yes…but not one of regret.

One thing’s for sure – quitting my job has definitely brought up my up core beliefs surrounding money.

I often hear things like ‘Money is energy’ and ‘We live in an abundant universe’, where ‘There is more than enough to go around’ and ‘It’s our birthright’ to have everything we desire. Being a big Abraham Hicks fan, I’ve found myself thinking and speaking these same thoughts. And I have felt the freedom, joy, and expansion in them.

But in many moments I don’t feel this way and I wonder…on a deeper level, do I really believe these concepts? I mean really, truly believe them?

I’m being very aware of my money stories – those deep beliefs I’ve carried my whole life – because I’m so vulnerable to their powerful influence right now. Beliefs like ‘There’s only so much to go around’ or ‘You can’t get paid for doing what you love’ or ‘To have a lot of money isn’t spiritual’. And ‘How can I ask for more, when most others have so much less?’

It’s as if there are two Aleya’s battling it out inside me. The one with the limiting thoughts, and the other who sees those thoughts as reflections of old consciousness. The latter me would like to believe that as we evolve and transform, so do our views and experiences of abundance – not just individually, but for humanity at large.

When we live in scarcity consciousness, it permeates everything. But scarcity is not just about money. It is also about love, trust, and security. ‘Not enough’ becomes our dominant paradigm when something fundamental – beyond the material – is missing in our lives.

Noticing and appreciating all my abundance, in its many different forms, is essential. For example, last week I received a ‘random’ email from an acquaintance offering me a complimentary invitation to an event featuring women discussing shakti (divine feminine energy, power) and ahimsa (non-injury).

I brought my notebook and took notes as each woman spoke. I felt inspired and in awe to be in their presence. I would love to do more of this, I thought. To find similar events and interview such women, sharing their wisdom and insights.

As soon as my mind turned to how I could ‘get paid’ for this, I tensed up. And I realized that in doing more of the things I love – enjoying them for the actual experiences and not the result – I probably wouldn’t focus so much on money per se. And this, in turn, would allow more of these experiences to flow into my life. Money can never substitute for the deep meaning and satisfaction that comes from feeding our soul.

It’s good to examine our core beliefs. But there comes a point where we’ve exhausted our analyses, and we know that nothing new or revolutionary is going to come from repeating our old stories.

I don’t know that my core beliefs can disappear overnight, but I’m hoping that shining a spotlight on them releases their hold on me.

feel it all

I love these words. So often we put pressure on ourselves to be positive and think happy thoughts when we really don’t feel that way. Being a human being on this planet means feeling the full spectrum of emotions available to us. This is what makes us multi-dimensional, authentic, complex, wise, compassionate, and oh yes – soooo much more interesting.