Lessons from Cali

July 6, 2018
Lessons from Cali

It was supposed to be vacation time. Except I told you, I’m not good at time off. I did relax a bunch, walked almost as much if not even more, saw a ton of beautiful things and mostly spent my days by the ocean. I just couldn’t stop myself from thinking about life, where I’m at and how I feel. It was the perfect timing for July’s rebirth, as Lindsay Mack translated it so beautifully in her last podcast episode. So here we go with some lessons learned, as even on vaca I can’t resist a good dive into my soul. Some are light, others have a bit more depth. In bit-size pieces, you get to enjoy them like your favorite chips, one at a time, preferably with your sparkling drink of choice (beer, Spritz or Kombucha will do). Cheers!

Lesson 1 : I can be flexible

I was surprised at how flexible I have been able to do. I had to deal with my fair share of change of plans, and it all went pretty smoothly. I learned to listen to my as well as other people’s needs, and act accordingly. That also made me realized how privileged I am. When money is no object, of course it’s easier to go with the flow. Even though I am very anxious about money (for no reason really), I knew deep down it wasn’t a problem, and I could afford getting an appartment, eating at a more expensive restaurant or getting a cab if I needed to. Whenever something came up that wasn’t what I expected or wanted, I used that magical sentence : what’s this perfect for? Feeling a bit lonely in a far-away city? Having to find a room at the last minute? Neighbors on party mode when you have to wake up at 4? My sentence made wonders whatever situation showed up, always helping me find something positive without having to force it. It has become my new go-to.

Lesson 2 : …but I’d rather be the boss

Even though I could easily adapt to the ebb and flow, I still did not always liked it. What I despite is not being in control. I don’t like being told what to do. On vacation or in my personal life, I don’t really mind it, but when it comes to work, I can see how that would make me very unhappy. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to work for someone else’s vision. My actual job suits me because government is so big and so impersonal. I just couldn’t work under some visionary and help her achieve her dream. The vision needs to be mine. I need to be the one in charge, the one who gets to call the shots.


Lesson 3 : I love the way I move on a daily basis

Talking about flexibility. As I was travelling, I had given myself no agenda when it came to training. I was ready to not workout for the whole week if that was what I felt called to. However, the very next day I landed in LA, my body was craving some yoga. So I rolled out my mat and practiced in the morning. Then again, after a few days of gentle movement, I felt like moving in a more powerful way, so I switch up to strength training. This trip was the occasion to confirm that I really like where I’m at right now in my fitness journey. After years of trial, I found the perfect mix of strength and flexibility, with short workouts in the morning and some soothing yoga in late afternoon. I feel strong, embodied and at peace with my physical practice.

Lesson 4 :…but you can only walk so much.

Vacation for me is all about exploration. Without my bike, I relied on my two feet to do the work. I’m already a big walker when I’m at home, and I did not deprive myself on vacation. I walked and walked and walked, until I was done with it and did not feel the urge to anymore. At some point, it gets pointless. I’d rather spend my time doing something more powerful with my krya, a lesson I learned in a magnificient Kundalini yoga class I got to take on the last day of my trip.


Lesson 5 : People are your home

One of those powerful things I’d like to focus more my energy on is my relationships. Away from home all by myself for the first time, I got a good grasp at what truly is home. As they say, home is where your heart is, and my heart is with my people. Having friends picking me up at the airport and at the train station, getting to spend my evenings with a brilliant boss lady I can’t believe I get to call my friend and FaceTiming with my parents and my grandparents were some precious highlights of my trip. Whenever I was missing home, I was never thinking about my physical space, only about the people that I get to share my life with. I guess sometimes you do need to get thousands of miles away to appreciate what you already have.

Lesson 6 : …yet you can make friends everywhere, so basically the world is your home

I guess it’s part of travelling by yourself : you are sending those good vibes and showing how happy you are as soon as someone comes over to say hi. Without the shyness of being in my home town, I was a much more welcoming person and people seemed to be reacting well to my happy-go-lucky attitude. I made friends on the train, at the grocery store, in my Airbnbs, at yoga, even on the streets. It’s reassuring to see how much we can all connect if we simply put on a smile and open ourselves a bit more.


Lesson 7 : Things are getting way better with Ed

I did not think about it that much before leaving, but looking back, after ten days away from the security of my routine, I’m very proud of myself. I’m so proud of all the progress I’ve made regarding my eating disorder without forcing it. There are still issues of control and fear around food, but I did not let that stop me from enjoying my trip. I did not plan my meals ahead, I ate whatever was available and ate out multiple days in a row without feeling too anxious about it. I also travelled for long hours on planes, cars and trains without freaking out too much. Recognizing it is already something, since I tend to focus way more on what’s not perfect yet, and how I am still not a « normal » person. I struggle with the idea of not being totally healed, but with so many people around me also having had or still dealing with issues around food, what does it even mean anymore to be « normal »? I think my awareness and my honesty around it are helping untangled my relationship with food and shed the last layers of whatever uneasiness still going on.

Lesson 8 : …but my anxiety is a big issue

Food aside, I got to realize how much the root issue is anxiety. Without any reason to feel anguish, I can start panicking inside, as if someone was constraining my chest. It often happens in transportation, or in closed rooms. I just want to get out of wherever I am ASAP. I don’t want to feel my body anymore, I need to breathe deeply but I can’t. The only things I’ve found to calm me down in those moments are downward-facing dog and going for a walk. I don’t know what it is about downward dog, it just feels like creating a sacred triangle where breath can flow while I am fully anchored through all four foundations. The walking is more like an escape where I am able to find breath outside. Either are still exits from the suffering, and at this point I am debating whether drugs are the solution or if I will ever be able to get over the discomfort the more I expose myself to it. Will be working on that.


Lesson 9 : My thoughts need more breathing room

One way to deal with this anxiety on a daily basis is to allow myself more spare time without any diversion. In order to properly discover the city, I let my Beats down for a while and just walked by myself, without any other device to distract me. I felt so in touch, so much more aware of my surroundings. I usually cannot spend a few hours without getting fed of my podcasts, it has become my IV. I used to walk so much without listening to anything, and now I happily welcome my LA podcaster friends on my walks day’n’night. Except my mind need space and time to unload, process and let go of all the thoughts I accumulated in any given day. I don’t need to hold on to any of them or think my way through, I just need to let them be. I guess you can call that a walking meditation. This is something I have been more conscious of since coming back, and I make sure now that my mind is completely clear and clean before adding noise into my ears.

Lesson 10 :…and my heart more space

Once thoughts I’ve been processed, I get to move down into my heart. I’m a double Scorpio (Sun and rising). As a fixed water sign, I never realized how much I am deeply connected to my emotions and intuition. I got so used to living my life leading from the head, getting very energized by creative thoughts and excited about new projects. Nevertheless, as soon as I get close to the ocean, I can feel how much I subconsciously yearn for it. The ocean soothes me in a way nothing else does. I am called by it. It’s as if the waves could wash over any mental clutter, leaving only clear sights. I just know my path when I stand close by this old friend. Those are often times when anxiety leaves and when I feel so connected. I don’t doubt myself so much anymore, I am not looking for the next big thing, my dharma and what I can do not to waste any moment of this precious life. I just know that now is perfect just the way it is, that there is no where to go, that I don’t need to do. When I stand by the sea, I get to be.


Lesson 11 : God I love coffee and chocolate

Getting back to me and finding comfort and joy spending days by myself feels like finding back your BFF. Life is much more fun. I get to play games with myself, like how creative can I be to make it ‘til the end of the trip with this limited budget? This makes a change of perspective in the way I see things and look for them. I practiced manifesting many free meals and treats, and enjoy everything that is being gifted to me. Therefore the frugal part of me was very pleased to enjoy every morning coffee offered on the plane, in Airbnbs and on the streets. The same economic part of me did not want to spend more on sweets since they were not a necessity to my survival. My heart was sad, so I asked the Universe to send me some goodies. She happily responded and I got to enjoy all through the end of my trip free chocolates and desserts. I love them. I will never give up sugar.

Lesson 12 :… but I’m not a foodie

When I did pay for my meals, I was not deceived. LA is the place to be if you are vegan, gluten- or dairy-free and want to eat organic and local. It’s the best. I usually don’t have much choice when eating out, but this time I was almost overwhelmed by the multiple appetizing options on the menu. I splurge without a second thought, and did not regret spending that money on great food. I can’t wait to try some of the restaurants when I get home that I have neglected in recent years. I never realized that many of the top restaurants Roanoke has across the city are full of options for vegans. However, although I do enjoy beautiful plates full of colors and fresh vegetables, I don’t get head-over-heels eating a delicious meal. It’s crazy how I am realizing that after all these years obsessing over food, I am not indeed that much into it. I want to eat something healthy and balanced for sure, but I don’t mind having a slice of pizza for lunch or some leftover pasta for dinner. The food was good, nonetheless I’d rather spend my money on good yoga classes or books.


Lesson 13 : Trying new stuff is amazing

What was fun though about eating out is how you get to follow your intuition as well as try new things all the time. For more than 10 days, I explored. Not only did I get to taste well-seasoned meals, I also got to discover new cities and try out new activities I would never do at home (hello, San Diego Zoo!). My days were so filled with the unknown they felt like weeks, and weeks felt like months. So much I now found myself craving the same kind of excitment about my regular schedule. I don’t know yet what form it will take, but I definitely want to incorporate more novelty into my life at home.

Lesson 14 : …yet the routine is quite comforting

At the same time, what made me able to appreciate these unfamiliar experiences were the fact that I kept some of my foundations in place. I practice some sort of movement almost every morning, stretched whenever I felt the need to and walked a lot. This procured me to find enough security and stability to allow me to deeply enjoy whatever new was coming my way. I moved every two to three days, which kept me always on my tippy toes, otherwise I’m quite convinced I would have sooner than later got back into some sort of routine. Already after a couple of days I was finding myself walking back on the same streets, shopping at the same stores and repeating a similar schedule. I guess we really are creatures of habits.


Lesson 15 : Light is life

I am always drawn to the light, and I often feel like a plant : give me water, sun and love and I’m a happy buddy. The Californian sun is magnificient. The light makes you feel like you’re always under some sort of Instagram filter. The weather is perfect. The ocean is a blast. It’s so comfortable out you almost forget there was ever a threat, forget that there are things like work and family matters and poverty. Homelessness is very present in certain areas of LA, but once you get closer to the beach, especially in privileged towns like Venice and Santa Monica, it’s easy to Iose sight of those issues. It felt very peaceful, sleek and seamless. I could def see myself living there.

Lesson 16 : …yet I still love Montreal

It’s almost too good to be true. Under this perfect light, I found myself desiring for some shadow. After years of complaining about the winter, I guess that deep down I appreciate the contrast, the change of seasons. When it’s too sunny, it’s almost too good to be true. You feel like you are living in a dream. I love Montreal. I love the diversity, the richness of it, the multiple layers, the history and all her distinctive neighborhoods. I love the mountain, the streets, the river and the people. I love her parks and her bagels, her bikepaths and her potholes. It’s not perfect, and for this very reason it is. Wabi sabi and all the beauty it offers.

Still on vacation mode, I now get to enjoy all my home town has to offer. Feel free to join me for the ride.

Peace, love and Cali xo

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