In Retrospect: 2017
Years come and go, faster and faster it seems. This year, I am spending my time in South Florida at the turn of the new 2018 year. And like with every end, comes reflection. I feel like it's so easy to forget everything I've done, accomplished and experienced in a year, so I'm going to use this opportunity for just that: review what happened in 2017.
Here it goes.
January marked the end of a cross-USA road trip with my beloved, Andrew. After so much movement, it felt grounding to be in one place, close to the sea. This also marked the time of my commitment to a spiritual and traditional rite of passage ceremony called Vision Quest that would take place later in the year (August), which would change my life forever... more on that later!
Towards the end of the month, Andrew and I returned to Montreal, where we visited Quebec City, tried to "enjoy" the blistering cold (which was especially difficult after the warm weather of Florida!) and deepened our intentions for the year.
FEBRUARY - MARCH - APRIL
These weren't the easiest of months for me. Actually, they were the most difficult of my entire year. Andrew left back for Seattle in February and I "settled" back into Montreal living. I started working for UberEATS photographing food in restaurants around the city, which of course kept me REALLY busy, all the while dealing with many intense internal struggles; a deep loneliness from being apart from my love, and general feelings of sadness, depression and anxiety related to the fulfillment (or rather, feeling a lack thereof) of my life purpose.
This 3 + month period was deeply intense, and the most isolated I have felt in many, many years. I didn't speak much at all, unless absolutely necessary. I stayed indoors by myself unless I had a photo gig in the city. I would work a full day, get home, edit photos on my laptop, then completely zone out for the rest of the night ~ watching mindless movies, videos... anything to distract myself from the impending loneliness I felt deep in my bones, and in every way, distracting myself from my own truth: that I had something important to share with the world, that the more I distanced myself from my spiritual practices, the more I distanced myself from, well... me, and the things that mattered most.
What kept me hopeful was knowing that it would pass, as all things do. Even though it was extremely difficult, I still had a very strong feeling that there was a reason for it; that it would teach me something about myself that was vital to my spiritual life and growth.
A sweet sigh of relief when May came around ~ my birth month! Springtime has always been my favourite season. I love seeing the flowers bloom after the harshness and coldness of winter. I love hearing the birds sing again and the earth blanketed in green.
This was also the month I was selected as one of the finalists for the Sherpa Adventure Gear competition (to win a trip to hike Kathmandu in Nepal). Although I didn't win, it was such an honour to have landed second place out of the all of worldwide submissions!!!! I still have such a hard time believing I was actually selected out of everyone who submitted. I got some pretty awesome gear to top it all off, including a sleeping tent, pad, cooking gear, and a tent!
On my 25th birthday - May 15 - I hopped on a plane to the Seattle. After almost 3 months of being apart, my fiancé and I were finally reunited. For anyone else in a long-distance relationship, you know exactly how it is: the anticipation of seeing each other again tears at your insides, but when you're finally in each others' arms again, you are in a pure state of bliss!
For the rest of the month of May, I settled into myself and the Seattle environment, soaking up as many possibilities as possible.
JUNE - JULY
Thriving. Flourishing. Expanding. Boundless adventures. Sunshine. The abundance of the Pacific Northwest's nature is unlike any other. June and July were months of fruition. I created, painted, wrote lots and lots of poetry. I spent time outside gazing at the mesmerizing beauty around me, explored the city, road tripped to Portland , camped by the Hoh River... Thinking back to these moments, my heart is filled with such deep gratitude, love and appreciation for this life I have been blessed to call mine ~ blessed to have created it, living it.
Probably my absolute favourite place of all in the Pacific Northwest: the Hoh Rainforest, a pristine, untouched, ancient old-growth temperate rainforest - the only one of its kind in North America. This is also where I spent a day in deep, spiritual fasting prayer in preparation for Vision Quest. I watched the sun rise, the fog dissipate, a lone dandelion bloom before my eyes, and a curious mama deer and her baby come out from behind the bushes watching me, me watching them in complete and utter awe and amazement at the profound beauty of the Universe and all of its creatures.
I marked the end of the amazing past months with a half-sleeve tattoo, dedicated to all the plant allies who they themselves have either represented people or straight-up been my guides in life : olive branch, peony, scotch-broom, forget-me-not, willow.
Then, like a gust of great wind, came Vision Quest.
I've linked an extremely thorough (75-page) book explaining what it is exactly, so for anyone called to it, please go ahead and download it. In simplistic terms it is rite of passage and spiritual fast. But it is so SO SOOO much more than that. It is something profound within you. An ancient stirring inside your soul. I had the incredible opportunity to participate in what's called a Traditional Vision Quest, of the Algonquin tradition, guided by a strong and powerful woman elder and two other equally incredible women facilitators. I won't go into too much detail, out of respect for the sacredness of its container for this rite of passage and initiation (if you want to know what it's like, experience it for yourself!), but I will say this: it changed my life. It opened up the portals within me I had kept clamped shut, hidden away, forgotten. 4 days and 4 nights of fasting (no food, just water) out in the wilderness completely alone. A tarp to shelter from the rain or sun, and that's it. Just me, Mother Nature, Great Creator, and prayer.
Vision Quest isn't the answer, it is the question. It is the seed being planted. The beginning. The resurrection.
Since that gateway has swung itself opened, I can say that my Vision Quest has literally just begun. That life is the Quest itself. There is no cure-all, no escape from the shadow. THIS IS IT. Embrace it. Face it. Heal it.
Thrust back into work like no other time in my life. Weddings. Food photography. Personal development. Balancing work and play. Seeing my hometown in a new light. Integrating.
OCTOBER - NOVEMBER
Soaring on metal wings back to Seattle for about 2 months. These were months of going in and being with myself. There were times of great expansion, but also solitude. I mostly stayed indoors stoking a fire and drinking my daily raw cacao drink, studying Herbalism, and working on beginning stages of building another business.
And of course, lots and lots of hiking and nature-basking. It even snowed while I was there ~ such a rarity to witness! A fairy-tale to behold. To feel the little snowflakes flutter on my eyelashes felt like magic.
And finally, the last month of 2017. A pivotal and time, to say the least. More delving into the pits of my soul ~ soul purpose questions, creative drought, a yearning to be alone juxtaposed yet again with the paradoxical feeling loneliness. Some old patterns coming up of staying small when all I want to do is fill my birthright space, to boldly speak my truth and share it.
Amongst all this, I was contacted to create content for Matter Prints, where you can find my article up on their website; the top places I love to go in and around Seattle!
New things began brewing, and old things faded away... old paradigm ways.
Grief filled my heart for all the ending things in my life, for the person I used to be as I bloom into the woman I am, for the sacrifices I need to make in order to manifest my dreams. The thing about grief is that it isn't something you can make go away by pushing it aside or ignoring it. It isn't tangible or linear. It is an integral part of the human experience to feel loss and grief, even for old parts of yourself. Mostly shunned by society, especially when it isn't a concrete thing that having lost a family member physically, and even so, we are expected to "get over it" within a certain amount of time. According to whom?
I know how truly isolating it can feel like when no one understands your sadness, grief or depression, making it seem wrong of you to experience your truth... which is a large portion of my why in having chosen to make my life a living expression of sharing all that I am; in my joy, my grief, my anger, my fear, my anxiety.
final thoughts on 2017...
Now, the year has officially come to an end. I'm sitting in a café close enough to the beach I can taste the salty air. My final days of 2017 have been spent with my toes in the sand by the sea.
Don't get me wrong ~ my life isn't a fantasy (in case you couldn't tell by this point already). I would be lying if I said 2017 hasn't been extremely stressful and difficult on my soul. It's been rough, but also beautiful. That's how life always is, amiright?
So, looking back in retrospect, 2017 was the year of BIG TIME medicine ~ penetrating through every layer of my being and exposing everything that needed some serious light, self love and healing.
It's the most I've even shown up for myself in my 25 years of life on all levels - physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. With my tears, anger, anxiety, depression, enthusiasm, creativity, wild.
I've travelled across the North American continent several times (something I never really thoughts would be my reality)
Love has truly solidified in my life with my beloved, Andrew, my life partner. Just saying that to myself sends electric pulses of expansive love shuddering from my heart and outward throughout my body. A grounded, rooted and thriving kind of love; mutual and sacred. Without condition. With utmost respect and integrity. Everything I could have ever imagined... more on conscious relationship to be shared in the upcoming weeks/month!
send me deeper
show me the way
guide me to become all that I am
may I be reminded of my power, forged from stars and space
the path of the compassionate warrior
the path of creativity
may I be guided to redefine the parameters of living a life within the framework of society
inviting in more of what ignites the passion-fires of my soul
co-creating and envisioning my dreamed reality
being financially free and abundant
relinquishing control and expectation of what is not
inviting in tribe and community
honouring my YES, which may mean saying NO to the things and people who don't
remind me to love myself and those around me with acceptance and understanding
freeing my mind of limiting beliefs I have been conditioned to hold on to as my identity
may humility be my compass
and authenticity my arrow
may I be fearless and bold in action
and may my words
Keep it real, keep it raw.
Let's go, 2018.
I'm ready for ya.