i’m a writer…?

In my new job, I’m surrounded by young visual artists, many of whom are working on their writing. At a staff meeting last week, we were asked to consider the concept of ’the writer’. What does a writer look like? Where are they, and who is around them? Next, we were asked to recall the last time we wrote, and visualize that scene – where we were, who we were with, the sounds around us, etc.

The exercise was telling; for most of us, the scenes of ‘a writer’ and ‘ourselves writing’ were quite different. One woman pictured a Stephen King-type character, drafting a bestseller on a typewriter in an old study filled with mahogany furniture and leather-bound books.

My concept of the writer was more bohemian; philosophers in Parisian cafes recording their observations on human nature, art, and politics. Though this image morphed into a modern-day version of me, it still didn’t match where I actually last wrote: my previous job, a place I was unhappy in, drafting a blog post on my work email between meetings and daily duties.

Writing got me through the day.

a collage

As I shared in my last post, I left that job a few weeks ago, largely because I had little creative juice left at the end of the day to pursue my other loves – those endeavours known and unknown, longing to be explored.

My new position doesn’t require much writing, but I’m surrounded by creative colleagues who are eager to learn more about my personal practice. And every time they express interest in my writing, I hesitate. I’m fascinated by this continual reluctance to see myself as one of these talented, artistic people!

Our meeting activity really illuminated how pervasive and insidious certain labels can be. But it also helped me realize that, when I’m composing a blog post, I am a writer. I’m choosing to write because I love to write. It doesn’t matter where I am, who I’m with, what I’m wearing. It doesn’t matter if I do it daily or how many words I type or who’s writing more or less. In that moment, I am a writer.

I could go further, but I discovered a post from my early blogging days that totally captures what I want to say. It’s a timeless reminder from 5-years-ago me to my present self (I love it when that happens!):

We are all creative.

No labels required.

goodbye city, hello island

Just two days after returning from London, I moved to a smaller city on an island a few hours away from my hometown. A day after that, I started work at a local university – the same university I attended fifteen years ago. The past couple of weeks have been a surreal trip back in time. I’m remembering places and streets I’d forgotten, and discovering new ones.

August was a complete whirlwind: wrapping up one job and starting another, packing up my old apartment, temporarily staying with friends in my new city, and of course the transformative journey in London. I’ve now found a place of my own to live in October…so I’m going to relax and enjoy the rest of September in a beautiful beachside property owned by a family friend, assimilating all that’s occurred.

morning sunrise

morning sunrise

This move happened very quickly. One day I had the thought of changing cities, and a week later I had a job offer and various places to stay. I had no time to ‘think things over’; all I knew was a screaming yes! from within.

I can’t say for certain why I’m here. Merely weeks before my UK trip, I’d moved into a new apartment in my hometown. For the first time in a very long time, I felt like I’d found somewhere I could breathe, relax, put down some roots – or at least hang some art on the walls! I’d finally found the sanctuary I’d long yearned for.

And yet, something wasn’t quite right.

I was done with the city. I was tired of the noise, stimulation, sirens, the daily grind. I told myself the outer noise was reflecting my inner noise. But I couldn’t get ahead of it to quiet it down.

I believe that wherever you go, there you are – no matter how far we travel, we can’t escape ourselves – but sometimes a change of scenery is exactly what’s needed for a reset. To cultivate new habits. To shake up the system and connect more easily with one’s inner truth.

Here, on the Island that’s my home for an unbeknownst period of time, things aren’t quite so convenient as in the big city. I haven’t had immediate access to all I ‘need’. (What?? You don’t have wifi here?!) It’s been an adjustment, and annoying at times, but I have to laugh. It’s exactly what I asked for.

my new commute

my new commute

I enjoy being in motion. Whether I’m on a long walk or a ferry, plane, or train, I love travelling to new places. It’s often where I feel most connected to Source – where I receive my insights and downloads. Being in new neighbourhoods, discovering new terrain, excites me.

Nevertheless, as I lay in bed last week, I doubted this very fast turn of events. Was I running away? Did I give up a good gig in my old city? Did I make the wrong decision? I woke up to a voice asking me: What would make this decision worth it? And I realized that wherever I am is the perfect place to be. Because, ultimately, I’m not looking for the ‘right’ job or city or house – even if I think I am.

I’m looking to strengthen my relationship with spirit, with myself – to go within, to find the love within and without, to meditate, to practice yoga, to be more in nature and discover the peace that is my true nature. Those things aren’t necessarily contingent upon external circumstances. But I’m grateful for the Island air reverberating in my cells. And its gorgeous trees, water, and slower pace of life. The elements are supporting new habits and ways of being.

I’ve heard, and I sense, that September is a very potent month. What we do with all the delicious, available energy is up to us. I’m choosing to not squander it on fear.

my ancestors made me quit

The last few weeks have been full of activity and last weekend’s super full moon was the pinnacle of intensity!

For starters, I had my amazing international family in town and for nearly three weeks, we ate, drank, laughed, cried, and learned family stories (and secrets!) that spanned lifetimes in India, Africa, Europe, and North America.

Bird Family of Inner Light (Mark Anthony Jacobson)

Bird Family of Inner Light (Mark Anthony Jacobson)

The amount of information I was given about my ancestors was extremely powerful and emotional…illuminating my own existence in the here and now. I can more clearly see my life as a product and continuation of those who came before me. And I have no doubt that these revelations had something to do with me quitting my job a few days ago.

Holy sh#t. I quit my job.

I’m still in a bit of a daze over that one. It’s no secret to some blogger friends that I haven’t exactly been happy in my current employment. In fact, I’d given my notice way back in 2013, but changed my mind at the last minute. I did the same thing this year! Instead of quitting outright, I asked for some tweaks to my position, hoping that would quell my dissatisfaction.

But last weekend, something happened. I knew without a doubt that it was time to leave my job for good. And the following Monday morning, I gave my notice.

I truly feel that learning so much about my ancestors somehow crystallized this decision. I felt so much of their pain, trauma, success, abundance, loss, and sacrifice in hearing their stories…and it made me realize how vital it is for me to create what I want in this lifetime. To know that ‘anything can happen’, yet not be passive and let life just happen to me. To not allow 3, 5, 15 years fly by in a job that’s been ‘comfortable’, but has dimmed my fire.

Family Reflections (Mark Anthony Jacobson)

Family Reflections (Mark Anthony Jacobson)

In the months before my family’s visit, I’d been feeling a real curiousity about my ancestors. A deeper interest to know who they actually were, and what their lives were like.

Being the first generation born in the West, my ancestry was always something to be hidden or avoided in favour of Western culture – of white people. Only now am I really starting to feel my ancestors as people with real lives and feelings and hobbies and passions. People I’m still affected by.

To be honest, I’ve wondered mostly about the women. Who were they? What did they desire? Did they even allow themselves to desire, and did they know what that desire was?

But, as is often the case, it is the men’s stories I’ve heard – and they have something to teach me too. I’ve learned that these men were powerful creators who started several successful companies and businesses, ultimately losing everything when they were expelled from their home country in the 70s. (There’s a lot more to it than that…but it would require a whole book!)

I can’t help but feel my ancestors’ presence reminding me: All this strength is in YOU. This is your lineage…and we’re looking at YOU now! Where are you going to take us…what are you going to do on Planet Earth this time around?

Inner Strength Through Perseverence (Mark Anthony Jacobson)

Inner Strength Through Perseverence (Mark Anthony Jacobson)

Well…I seemed to have quit my job.

And nope, I don’t have another one lined up. I certainly don’t have six months of savings to live off of. I do have some ideas on what I’d like to pursue, but these seedlings may take some time to grow.

A foolish decision? Or a life-affirming one? Either way, there is no turning back now.

I must trust my intuition, and the universe at large. Now more than ever. There is nothing wrong with ‘playing it safe’, especially when you have others relying on you. But right now it is just me that I am responsible for. And I don’t want to spend one more minute doing things that don’t inspire or energize me, for fear that there is nothing better out there.

What is life going to look like at the end of summer? I don’t know. But I do know I’m getting ideas and this delicious feeling of ‘what if?’. What if I did that, and that turned into that, and that turned into that? I know things will be challenging – no illusions there – but I also know that listening to my body and intuition is my priority.

I’m ready for a new direction. And now it looks like I have no choice but to create one!

my lucky urban rabbit

A couple days ago I saw a rabbit in the most unlikely of places. I was walking my usual route to work, when I spied something scurry into the bushes at the foot of the bridge I always cross. I only saw its ears, but they were unmistakable. How could this be? As I got closer, there it was. A black rabbit.

It was so random.

my morning surprise

After my powerful women’s circle last weekend, I met up with my dear friend L, who is an amazing life coach. (Actually, life coach doesn’t begin to capture what she does.) We talked about life being a dance with the universe. About not trying to force and control things – actions which seem so natural to most of us, when we really want something.

I’ve always thought – how will the universe know what I want, if I don’t act in ways to show it? I’m beginning to feel – it doesn’t always work like that. I’m getting more comfortable trusting that the universe’s plans, intelligence, and love for me are beyond my mind’s capacity to understand.

Ok, I’ve known this for a while – I’ve been studying it forever – but something is softening inside. It’s subtly moving from a mental concept to a bodily knowing.

Sometimes there’s a sense that if we don’t ‘do’, we are vulnerable to the whims of the universe, where anything (unwanted) can happen. We feel the need to control, but it comes from a limited place. And this rigidity becomes habitual.

I haven’t been working with the universe, not really. I’ve been giving it lots of information…but assuming it will forget, or think I don’t want certain things, if I don’t keep reminding it. This isn’t total trust.

L also reminded me that the universe has a great sense of humour, and this is often how new and unexpected opportunities enter our life.

Perhaps this is why I currently find myself planning my high school reunion – something that originally started as a joke, but I’m now having fun with. Those who know me are surprised to see me in this role…but I can totally see a new career as an event planner! (Not weddings though.)

***

So, what does my random black rabbit mean? I started some Internet searching into Rabbit medicine, but then it dawned on me. Expect the unexpected. Watch for synchronicity. Keep letting go of the reins, unclenching your fists so that magic can flow to you, finding you in strange places.

Actually, when I woke up that very morning, I decided that it was going to be a lucky day. I even chose to wear a pair of lucky underwear. (TMI?) I didn’t know what that luck would look like, but I think my rabbit was its representation. An affirmation from the universe: Yes, I hear you. I’m going to show you want you want, but it might look a little different. Maybe you’ll even laugh at my ingenuity!

I like the idea of the universe always trying to tickle my funny bone. Surprising me. Being creative with me.

Thanks, Rabbit.

 

stoking my heart’s fire

Fire has been on my mind a lot lately. It’s partly the talk of April’s cosmic intensity, but it’s also the desire to feel my own inner fire. To have it burn so strong and steady that I don’t question myself about anything anymore.

I want my life to be fuelled by that glowing, beautiful fire within. The fire that can be trusted to stir, ignite, heat up…but never harm or burn.

My inner fire is my inner voice. My inner voice is my heart.

'harmony', by the amazing toni carmine salerno.

‘harmony’, by the amazing toni carmine salerno.

For many years, I didn’t trust my heart. Somewhere in childhood, I began to rely quite heavily on my mind, my brain. I was always the smartest in school, and this became my ‘thing’. My brain was consistent. It was my trusty friend, and it wouldn’t let me down. It delivered.

My heart, on the other hand, was not so safe and predictable. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment it shut down, but I recall many incidences where it became increasingly weighed down and stifled. I think many of us can relate to this. It’s not always just one thing that closes the heart; it’s more like it gives up after a string of defeats.

When we don’t feel our heart, how can we possibly trust it?

Throughout my teens and twenties, I saw myself as someone with a weak heart. Lots of physical ‘facts’ backed this up: a slight heart murmur, my Ayurvedic constitution, a lack of vitality, weak chi. I often felt awkward around people; I was an introvert, and small talk was painful. (That last part is still true.) I was envious of friends who could so easily connect with others.

When I was told I was ‘reserved’ or ‘angry’ and advised to ‘open my heart’, this lent to my sense of inherent wrongness, that my heart was somehow deficient. I felt transparent, like everyone could see right through me.

But – awareness is a wonderful thing, and I’m now questioning all that bullshit.

Of course I have a heart, and of course it’s strong, and of course it’s giving me guidance all the freakin’ time, and of course I can hear it. It may seem to speak softly…but it’s actually roaring.

The fire I’m feeling is my heart coming alive, my inner voice and authority becoming louder and clearer.

It’s time to let my heart take the reins. To trust that it’s been there all along. It’s the one thing that can provide true solace and guidance in these times of flux and change. My brain has been in control for so long, serving and protecting me well in many ways. But I must release some of that control, on the faith that something far more vast and powerful is available to me.

My heart was never really closed or hardened, because the heart cannot be those things. It can only be obscured – ignored, forgotten – to the point where it seems inaccessible. Its fire can become dimmer and dimmer, but that original spark, no matter how small, will never completely extinguish.

I’ve been intent on leveraging April’s potent energies to create what I really want. But it’s not just about lists and goals and external manifestations. The most meaningful creation must emanate from the heart-space. And this is about how I want to feel in life, more than anything: peaceful, steady, centered, trusting, vibrant, alive, passionate – and yes, oh-so-fiery.

my awakening journey – authentically me

It is 2:59 am as I write this.  I am incredibly tired but unable to sleep.  It’s been a busy couple weeks of moving, working full-time, and taking three classes.  I am mentally wired and fantasize about laying on the ground in a forest, allowing Gaia to rejuvenate every cell of my body, not one electronic device in sight.

But I check my email anyway, and find a lovely message from Barbara inviting me to join her Awakening Challenge on http://www.memymagnificentself.wordpress.com. Given my schedule, my first impulse is to resist, but I am already intrigued.  It’s the second time this week I’ve been told about this challenge, so I’m paying bleary-eyed attention.

For now I will attempt sleep yet again…

Saeed Ahktar, title unknown

Saeed Ahktar, title unknown

Earlier that evening, I’d attended my Creative Writing class.  It was only our third group session, but I felt compelled to share a very personal, short piece I’d written on the subject of trust.  I think the class was surprised – and maybe a little uncomfortable – to hear a virtual stranger speaking so openly about something relatively intimate.

As I walked home afterwards, I felt a little over-exposed.  Why did I do that?, I wondered.  Why not choose a less personal piece?  Why put myself out there like that?  Do I lack boundaries?  Do I want attention?

Vulnerability can be very uncomfortable sometimes.

Saeed Ahktar, title unknown

Saeed Ahktar, title unknown

I grew up with my feet in two different worlds.  Born in Canada just two years after my parents arrived as refugees, life required straddling two cultures that often seemed at great odds with each other.  I think now of my small-child self, and I feel her immense free spirit…and her sense of confinement.  Her tribe was her whole world, and she loved them mightily, yet she felt somewhat alone and longed for something more.  She didn’t know how much she wanted to break free.

I remember family members visiting our home one evening, when I was about six years old.  During a group prayer, I recalled something funny that had happened at school that day.  I couldn’t wait for the prayer to be over, so I could tell everyone about it.  When I shared my story, I was chastised.  I remember the shame I felt in that moment. I’m a bad girl for thinking funny things during prayer. God is mad at me.

It wasn’t just that incident.  I couldn’t connect with many aspects of my religion.  I felt somewhat deficient; that I was missing some reverence or knowledge that everyone else seemed to have.  There was heavy guilt surrounding this.  But guilt couldn’t force the connection.

Saeed Ahktar, title unknown

Saeed Ahktar, title unknown

What I did have was an obsession with the metaphysical, particularly reincarnation.  I remember telling my mother, at four years old: “In my next life I want you to be my mommy again. Only this time I want green eyes.”  And for the longest time, my plan was to write my name on a piece of paper before I died; this way, when I ‘woke up’ in my next life, I’d know that I was ‘Aleya’ the last time.

Throughout my teen years my fascination with the supernatural deepened.  I couldn’t get enough Astrology.  I surrounded myself with Egyptian ankhs. I analyzed my dreams and studied the Rider Waite tarot deck.  These realms were so esoteric, mysterious, and enticing. I was hooked.

I loved contemplating all things spiritual, and yet, the niggling guilt was constant.  Why be born into a religion I felt no connection to?  I figured the day would probably come where I would put away all my silly New Age books, and finally embrace my religion – I would ‘come back to my roots’ instead of rejecting them.

This is how I viewed myself for a long time – that I was wrong for not adapting to what never felt right.

Saeed Ahktar, title unknown

Saeed Ahktar, title unknown

In my twenties, the rage showed up.  I had moved to a different city with my best friend, and something broke loose within.  We would go to the bars every weekend.  I would drink a lot and subsequently turn into the meanest person alive, my poor best friend taking the brunt of my unprovoked fury. My eyes opened: I was one angry woman. Why was I so angry?

It took years to understand that I was angry because I felt fundamentally separated.  I felt different (disconnected) from my family, and different (disconnected) from the society I so desperately wanted to fit into.  I was fragmented, my identity pieced together by various roles and voices, with no core sense of who ‘I’ was, and what ‘I’ wanted.  I felt I had to impress God, but was terrified that winning God’s favour meant living a life I really didn’t want to live.  I felt too big for my tribe but too small for society.  I felt guilt at the thought of leaving my tribe, because what if something really bad happened if I did?

I look back on those years and feel the fighting, the resistance.  I also feel the deep desire for healing, for relief…and the strength and determination to find that peace.  The ego’s story is one of pain and separation, and eventually it became too damn hard to play that game anymore.  I threw in the towel.

Saeed Akhtar, title unknown

Saeed Akhtar, title unknown

At this stage in my journey, I am allowing the possibility of something more. New life is breathing itself into me.  Joy is peeking in.

I am now able to see what a rich blessing it is, to have my unique history pulsing in my blood.  My worlds are coalescing nicely.  I am now willing to expose my heart.  And I am seeing wonderful things.  There is acceptance.  Forgiveness. Authenticity. Love. Connection.

I am learning that I am not defined by anyone or anything; I choose who I want to be, how I want to feel, and what I want to create.  And in doing so, I allow others those same things.  There is support.

I am learning to honour my own needs, while knowing I am connected to All, and that my piece affects the whole.  For a long time, life was about negotiating my identity through living in two worlds, neither of which felt fully ‘me’.   Now I am sensing that life is actually far more complex, beautiful, and mysterious than I could have imagined.  There are infinite words and dimensions, within and without.  And I am not so different from anyone after all.

Sometimes my journey means doing ‘the work’.  Other times it means simply Allowing and Being.

Saeed Akhtar, title unknown

To share my personal feelings and experiences in this blog, and in my Creative Writing class just a few nights ago – to go there, to hear my words being spoken in front of a group, to feel people’s reactions, to see their eyes looking directly at me (as well as averting) – means I am building deep self-trust and love.  My belly wavers, but I am okay.  This is me.

Going to my depths unlocks something that needs to be expressed, so that I can experience life in a new way. This is who I am and I trust myself enough to share it with you.  And I trust you enough to receive it.  Trust in myself – and in God – is growing with each breath.

I am very appreciative for Barbara, for this invitation to share my awakening journey.  I love that blogging has connected so many of us through our unique life experiences.  I am super grateful for the dear friends I have made in this WordPress world, and I sense that our journeys will continue to get a lot more fun, deep, and connected through 2014 and beyond.

Namaste,

Aleya

time to jump ship

Years ago I worked in an aromatherapy store and, one night at closing, my manager’s friend, J, stopped by to wait for her.  I was counting the money in the till when J began channelling messages to me.  She told me she and I had a ‘contract’ to meet at this point in time, for her to deliver guidance that I might need to hear.  I remember glancing at my manager in surprise and total bewilderment.  She just wore a knowing little smile on her face.

So began a series of sessions where J would transmit messages to me from my etheric guides.  I had not personally experienced such a phenomenon before; though I’d always been into the metaphysical, I never thought something so ‘out there’ would happen to me.

childheart

The messages I received were very healing. I felt a connection to the spirit world I’d never felt before.  Though the rational, logical part of me wanted to doubt the validity of what was taking place – to convince myself it was a scam – this was in no way a money-making or ego-boosting venture for J.  Of this I was sure.

In one of our last sessions together, J advised that I would soon be ‘jumping ship’.  She asked me to look out into the harbour, of which there are several in my city, as one boat’s name would call out to me.  Well, in the 10+ years since our meeting, I’ve scanned many a harbour, searching for that one special boat that would deliver the magical answer I’ve been searching for!  (To what question, I don’t know.  Only now do I realize that hundreds of boats have been communicating with me – most recently, ‘Synchronicity’ and ‘Shakti’.)

I have never forgotten J’s message of jumping ship.  In the early days of hearing these words, I took them to mean physical escape. That I would soon leave my city, my family, my work, my community…all those things I felt bound me to an existence that wasn’t truly ‘me’.  I would start life anew, happier and freer than ever before.

And, in some ways, I did escape. I moved to different locations and tried different jobs.  But I soon found out – Wherever I go, there I am.  I couldn’t escape my head, my thoughts, my fears, my heart.

It took a while for me to figure out that ‘jumping ship’ did not mean ‘running away’.

***

Last week was an emotional wringer.  Two separate incidences triggered a mass of deep pain – and anger – within me.  Stuff I thought I’d dealt with, which had seemed under ‘control’, roared back with a vengeance. I searched for the best feelings I could, tried to think the best thoughts I could…but nothing could pull me out of the deep funk.  I just had to sit with those feelings and, painful as they were, surrender into them.  They clearly weren’t going anywhere.

I was actually experiencing a feeling of terror that I would never be able to let go of my self-limiting thoughts and beliefs – it felt as though they were energetically choking me.  Like my demons were writhing within.  And in this place of intense discomfort I realized that my only hope and recourse – my only way out – was to hold on for dear life to the idea, as fragile a thread as it was, as foreign a concept as it’d been in the past, that Am Love.

theharbour

For some months now I’ve been deriving great comfort from Abraham-Hicks’ assertion that I have the power to create any life that I want.  But last week was a major reality check.  I was forced to really look at myself: am I full of shit?  Do I really, deep down, believe what I say?  Are my words just words?  Is there really an energetic place (the vortex) where all my desires are just waiting for me to claim them?  Am I worthy of them?  Do I believe or do I doubt?

I’m still feeling a little raw, but as the days go by, there is more and more lightness and relief.  I’m realizing on a deep and profound level that jumping ship is an internal process.  Jumping ship means finally letting go of the self-doubt, resentment, and guilt I’ve been carrying for years. It means truly having enough of the pain and frustration I’ve been so accustomed to.

It means knowing there are no more excuses to avoid the necessity – and inevitability – of holding myself to a higher standard; of accepting that I Really Am Love, and allowing that love to flow in, out, and through me.  Even (especially?) when that love feels elusive.  It means I can’t view life in terms of struggle.  It means keeping up with the joyous expansion that is my true nature.

There’s no other option.  If I want to truly evolve and grow in this life, I can’t hold on to what’s anchored me for years – familiar as it may be.

My channelling friend did also say that I would be moving on to the ‘Good Ship Lollipop’. (She/they liked to speak in riddles).  At the time I had no idea what that meant, and only recently Googled the lyrics for the tune. Reading them made me laugh.

Oh yes, the time’s about right.  I’m ready to dive in.