“Cannon baaaalllllll!” I watch from the opposite end of the pool as my son bravely careens into the water. The other adults in the pool (who are all trying not to get their hair wet) scoff at the massive wave of water they just got hit with.
They see a “little kid.” Young and naive.
I see my son. Who, at one point in his life, hated water so much, he protested baths for a week.
Kids are allowed to change. They’re allowed to grow up. In fact, we expect them to.
But for some reason, we decide that….at some point…..they’re done. They reach 18….or 21…or “married-with-kids,” and they’re “all grown up.” They are who they are.
Sure, we may not continue to mark their height on the wall. They’re done shooting up like a beanstalk.
But that doesn’t mean they’re done growing.
It’s just….that growth….is no longer physical. It’s no longer measurable in pencil marks.
But here’s the thing. Humans love SAME. CERTAIN. And PREDICTABLE.
We cling to KNOWN QUANTITIES. And we resist change.
Once we decide so-and-so is such-and-such, we leave it at that.
Box that shit up, and tie it with a bow.
Why? Well, if I had to guess….I’d say it’s a serial case of disappointing-ice-cream-itus.
What the hell is that?
It’s the experience of going to Dairy Queen, and ordering the same Smartie Blizzard. Every. Damn. Time.
I do this.
And I do it, because I know it made me happy in the past. And guess what? I want to feel happy again. Therefore, I order it. For the thousandth time.
Because, heaven forbid, I order something new, and it’s a disappointment….and I’m sitting there, stuffing my face full of disappointing ice cream…..wishing I had ordered the thing I KNEW I would love. For sure.
It’s a combination of hedging my bets on the surest outcome, not wanting to experience regret…..and pure motha-fucking LAZINESS.
The trusted brand of happiness
OK. But am I the only one? And does it stop at ice-cream?
We all do this kind of thing. And disappointing ice-cream? Can take many forms.
My parents, for instance.
They live in a house that could be the set of a 1980s movie. The bar in the basement literally has beer on the shelves, from 1983.
Their lives could be defined as a struggle for homeostasis.
Anything that throws them off of “same old same old” is like a real-life Pac-Man invader. They try so hard to outrun change. Clinging to the same brand of happiness that they’ve trusted their whole entire lives.
In fact, my mom was wearing an outfit the other day, that I can remember her wearing when I was in Kindergarten…..30 years ago. White turtle neck underneath a red Northern Reflections sweatshirt. Again. 80s.
So for them, it’s the physical STUFF in their lives. Artifacts that remind them of how they defined happiness in the past…..and therefore…..how they define it now.
Not that they’re materialistic. Not at all. They just....don’t see the need for change. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?
The pain of loss
But the ironic thing is….we only ever lose what we cling to.
Mind blowing. Right?
That’s Buddha’s wisdom. Not mine.
But it is SO true. We try SO desperately to make things…people….places…experiences…OURS. And yet, the more we OWN them, the more we are disappointed when they inevitably change, evolve or die.
We actually experience MORE pain when we hold something close (then lose it)….than when we simply allow things to drift in and out of our lives.
And trust me. I don’t think that means we should never experience things deeply. I think it just means….we shouldn’t ATTACH ourselves to the things we feel deeply about.
Easier said than done. I know.
The temptation to turn NOW into FOREVER
Take relationships, for example.
Some of them? Amazing. Others? Become familiar security blankets.
I mean, tell me it isn’t true that A TON of people are staying in their current relationship because, well…..disappointing ice-cream.
They don’t want to get out of their shitty relationship, because their next relationship could be even shittier. And they’d rather bathe in shit, because they know what to expect from it….rather than chance the unknown.
I am convinced it is one of the reasons marriage even exists at all. The very human desire to turn NOW into FOREVER. No questions asked.
Marriage is a declaration. You are mine and I am yours.
And trust me. There is something sooooo romantic about that. I know. It feels so fucking good to be “chosen.”
But when it ends in divorce….like my relationship did….the pain is immeasurable. Because there is a sense of betrayal.
“What do you mean I’m losing you?! You PROMISED I wouldn’t lose you.”
I think good....healthy....relationships are out there. And they are the kind that encourage growth and change....despite the fear of growing apart.....but I don't think saying "I do" (or not) is what makes them great.
The freedom of allowing happiness to change form
To me, the art of living does not consist of clinging to a familiar kind of happiness….just for familiarities sake. The art of living is in allowing happiness to change form, without being disappointed by that change.
Happiness, like a child, must be allowed to grow up.
This is one of the reasons why I live in an apartment. It is one of the reasons I plan to lease my next vehicle. And it is also one of the reasons why my Tinder profile is set to “casual.”
There is so much pressure in society to OWN. To possess.
But I actually really like the idea of being able to ride the wave. Then to catch the next one.
There is beauty in release. And sometimes we don’t even realize how hard we are gripping onto something. Until we let go, that is. At which point, we notice how weird it is NOT to hold onto that thing anymore.
But truly, it is the moment when we have nothing to lose….that we become the most courageous. We are only timid when there is something we can cling to.
And it is my mission to jump off as many cliffs as I can. Not out of reckless abandon, or a refusal to commit. But rather, to allow my own happiness the opportunity to CONTINUALLY grow.
There are certain foundational elements to my life that will always be there. Love, for instance. Particularly, the love for my kiddos. But I am open to experiencing that love in ever-changing ways. And not just getting into a rut of....this is how I love you.
Cultivate your own happiness
Because I am a happiness junky. And I realize that in order to cultivate that happiness to its truest potential, I’m gonna have to push myself to keep growing.
So here’s my promise to you (and I’d love for you to do the same). The next time I go to DQ? I’m gonna order a flavour I’ve never had before.
And yes. We’ll all be chancing the experience of disappointing ice-cream. BUT! It may just be the best decision of your life.
Cinderella is a badass. And you wanna know why?
Cinderella? Made. Shit. Happen. She Drake-ed it. She started from the bottom….and Toosie slid right into the life she wanted.
Now, you may be tempted to argue here. After all. There was magic involved.
But just wait. Let me bat your scepticism outta the park.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve become a hardcore believer in manifestation.
WTF is manifestation?
A kind of…..co-creation between the universe, and your own mind….in order to invent the life that you truly want.
Which is less bibbity-bobbity-boo than you think.
I am more fulfilled than ever. Full of love. Driven. At peace. And living my purpose.
I’m no longer “getting through” my days. No longer working for the weekend. And no longer fighting deep-seeded, bone-chilling unhappiness. In fact, I was on a date, just the other day, and one of the first things the guy said to me was…. “you’re really happy aren’t you? I can tell….you’re really happy.”
Fuck yes I’m happy! And thank you for noticing!
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not “done.” There are SO many things in my life that I want to create. Baaaddd. But knowing what I know….about how I got to even….THIS point?! I know it’s just a matter of time.
Cocky? Maybe. But that’s the first rule of manifestation.
1. Believe that you CAN manifest AT ALL.
The universe will match whatever vibration you put out. And in order to raise your vibration, you’ve got to believe that everything is available to you.
Now, Cinderella was in a baaaad place, man. She mopped floors for a living. And aside from ridiculously adorable mice….her only friend was her OWN REFLECTION in the bubbles from (yep!) dirty mop water.
But IMO, Cinderella got the keys to the kingdom (literally), because she NEVER PLAYED THE VICTIM. And this? Is the second rule of manifestation.
2. Believe that you are EMPOWERED.
Not once does Cinderella ever say….. “Oh for fucks sake. What did I ever do to deserve this?! My life is ruined. I’m done for.”
She was victimized. But she was never a victim. And she never let her circumstances define her.
She never mopes. She never pouts. And she never writes herself off.
She never lets the fact that she’s a servant, get in the way of her dreams.
I can remember getting this exact wake-up call from one of my best friends. In the midst of my divorce, I would spill my guts out in chapter-long texts, and anytime I would dip into…. “woe is me,” she would remind me that I was empowered to choose my perspective. And that I was empowered to choose my future.
Which brings me to the next rule of manifestation. Know what the fuck you want in the first place.
3. Define what you want (and be prepared to get it)
Oftentimes, people have only a vague idea of what they want out of life. I wanna travel. I wanna be a good mom. I wanna be happy.
All good things.
But Jesus. Those goals? Are the equivalent of asking someone to go to the grocery store and get you…. “food.”
That person may well come home with a single head of broccoli. Or 17 cartons of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
I write in a journal every single morning. What do I write about? Things I want in life. And let me tell you. When you’re sitting on the balcony of your own 2 BR apartment, and you flip back to page 1, and see that one of the things you wanted, was a….. 2 BR apartment with a balcony. It kind of blows your mind.
Get specific, girlfriend. Otherwise the universe ain’t gonna know what to serve up.
Did Cinderella know what she wanted? You bet your ass she did. The very second she heard about the ball, she started thinking…..what the hell am I gonna wear?! (like ANY woman naturally would). And she drew up the blue-print.
She started making her own dress. And only when the time clock was running out, did her animal friends step in and finish it for her.
If you want something in life, you have to let your imagination run wild. It is the preview…the “coming attractions” of your future life. And the more specific you get, the better.
But wait a minute. You can have rules one, two AND three nailed….and still not get what you want….if you don’t take ACTUAL steps in the right direction.
Rule number four?
4. Take inspired action
Remember when I said your reality is a co-creation? Ya. It’s a cooperative project. And let me tell you. I have come up with some WILD dreams….only to fail in taking ANY steps whatsoever to make them happen.
They stay in incubation mode.
And they never seem to get off the ground.
Because, while intent is the seed of manifestation, action is the water that makes it grow. Your actions must reflect your dreams in order for success to happen.
Sometimes? Taking action looks like writing a blog post every Sunday, because you know you want to be a NY Times Bestselling author.
Other times? Success simply looks like SEEING THE OPPORTUNITIES AROUND YOU. And jumping on them.
Cinderella nearly pulls it off. The mice have done a half-ass job of stitching the last bow in place. And then, what do you know? Her ugly step-sisters rip the dress to shreds.
THIS? Is no accident.
THIS? Is what the universe often does, in the midst of our goal-chasing endeavours. She throws a wrench into things….just to see how bad you want it.
Do you back down? Or do you get back out there and make shit happen?!
Cue the Fairy Godmother.
At this point? Cinderella could have very well concluded that she must have just done mushrooms. And gone home to bed. Or! She could have decided that all these hurdles were a sign…she shouldn’t go to the ball, no matter what this kooky wand-wielding Granny had to say.
But no. She accepts help (one of the hardest things any of us will ever do on the path to success)…and she hops in that fucking carriage.
She sees the opportunity that is placed before her. And she takes action.
How many times have we been blind to the opportunities right in front of us?! How many times have we NOT hopped in the carriage that is waiting for us?!
Awareness is part of the formula. Action is part of the formula. But so too, is intention. Which is the last ingredient in this manifestation recipe.
5. Show up with LOVE
If ever you’re acting out of spite, greed, or malice? Your chances of success drop dramatically.
Not once does Cinderella get all “Imma show those bitches who the hottest damn chick in the club is! Das right!”
She shows up with love.
She stays focused on her own goals. And she doesn’t let the opinions of other people influence her agenda.
I can’t even begin to tell you the difference it makes to show up to my dreams with a servant’s heart. Wanting to impact. To inspire. To share. Rather than trying to bamboozle people out of money.
You bring a different energy to the table when you’re acting out of desperation or self-centredness. And the universe doesn’t vibe with negativity. Ever.
Which brings me back to my date.
It went well! There was definitely a happy ending!
And I am 100% convinced it went so well? Because I showed up, already happy. I showed up with love.
And so? I rest my case. Cinderella is a badass. And so are you. Start manifesting what you want in life. And high-five the universe, all the way to bank.
It is 9:30 pm, and I’m nearly asleep. Except, I can hear the sound of marker on paper. A rainbow. A heart. A monster. My daughter is drawing something. And she is entirely focused on making it “just so.”
I’ve told her she can sit at the desk, and colour, if she’s having trouble falling asleep. And like a mini workaholic who can’t shut down at the end of the day, she sits. The desk light playing with her tiny shadow, making her seem way bigger than she is.
This is a girl who knows exactly what she wants. And she’ll fight anyone who gets in her way.
If she ain't tired, she ain’t sleeping. End of story.
Currently? She is in the midst of a kitchen chair protest. She stands at the table for every meal. Why? Who knows why. But she’s decided she’s taking a stand. Literally.
Feisty, this one. And as much as she invites all-out-rage in me, sometimes? I have to applaud her “I want THIS and ONLY THIS attitude.”
She doesn’t settle. And she stands up to anyone and anything that tries to bend her. Including the wind.
I am desperate for her to hold onto this sense of SURENESS. To live by her own rules.
And I want to teach her, more than anything, that doing things a little differently is 100% ok. Different is not wrong. And following your gut…your heart….that whisper in your ear…..it is more important than blindly following the fold, and letting the noise of the world drown out your own voice.
“Rules were made to be broken,” I say. “Just try not to hurt yourself. Or other people.”
Odd advice from your own mother, perhaps.
But what it comes down to? Is self-love.
What is self-love, anyways?
Self-love is about getting quiet enough to hear your own truth. It is about getting still enough to know your own thoughts.
And this? Is what living alone….for the first time EVER…..has made me realize.
When I first told my parents I was getting a divorce, one of the first things they said was…. “but, what if you’re lonely?”
They had my best interests at heart. But honestly?
Being alone has been the most peaceful thing I have ever experienced.
Never in my life have I been so in tune with who I am. And who I am? Is entirely comfortable with being alone.
It’s a kind of peace that perpetuates itself.
And it’s weird, because there’s a part of me that feels guilty for being so happy. Shouldn’t I want a “partner in crime?” A yin to my yang? A Ross to my Rachel?
Must like dogs
Sure. I’m not gonna lie. I’m all about the online dating scene. Partly to get my flirt on, and live out my “20s” in my “30s” on a Friday night. No promise rings please. But also? Partly for the hilarity of the whole shimozzle.
It is entertaining as fuck.
One guy’s profile stated that he “likes his coffee, how he likes his women. Without other men’s dicks in them.”
Wasn’t super attracted to him. But I gave him a right hook anyways, just to commend his blatant honesty and humour. He’s obviously been through some shit.
Another guy? Wanted a girl “who is willing to kill her own spiders.” An immediate leftie. Good luck, man. That is a rare breed. And definitely not me.
Also? It is a fascinating process to try and write your own dating profile. Who the fuck am I? In 2-3 sentences.
Even if you’re not single. I dare you to do it. It’s very telling.
Are you hi-jacking your own alone time?
Living alone….being single….it forces you to get comfortable with your own company. And for some, that aloneness is a red flag…..a shot to the ego that screams…. “you’re not good enough!”
But it’s all about perspective. And in my opinion, there isn’t enough alone-ness going on in society.
People are obsessed with partnering up, as if life is one giant game of rock-paper-scissors, and it’s impossible to play by yourself.
But even if you’re reading this, and you have THE BEST rock-paper-scissors partner EVER, I beg of you to consider what it would be like to spend more time by yourself.
I’m not a divorce pusher. Trust me, I’m not.
Each to their own, I say!
But truly……when was the last time you spent some quality time….ALONE?
I’m gonna guess it was when you were driving to work. Folding laundry. Chopping vegetables.
Or in the shower. This morning. For eight minutes.
And during those eight minutes, you likely:
(b) replayed a conversation (“why did I say that?!”)
(c) ran through your to-do list
(d) practiced an argument you might have (“if he says that, I’m gonna let loose on his ass”)
(e) criticized yourself for a mistake you made
(f) got yourself off
What do all of those things have in common? With the exception of the last one….they are all things that took place in the past, or may take place in the imagined future. And none of them allow you to just BE.
(Side note….I’m also not an orgasm pusher. But please, if you’re gonna do any of those things in the shower, make it f. F all the way).
So if the limited alone time you DO get is hijacked by past-you and future-you…..where does that leave present you? Where does that leave you time to hear your own voice? Where does that leave space for self-love?
The secret to self-love
My opinion? The self-love for dummies version?
You likely don’t have enough boring in your life. Enough “huh….what now?”
Spend time by yourself. And more than just the time it takes for you to snap a selfie.
Because for me, it is in those moments, that I have learned a little more about myself.
I have been able to set down expectations. Demands. And compromise. And I have listened to what I want.
And maybe coffee guy and I have more in common than I think. Because one of the things I’ve realized? Is I don’t like dicks in my coffee either.
I love indie folk (oh ya! I forgot about that genre).
Painted nails make me feel 22% sexier.
I want to learn how to surf.
The smell of cinnamon raison bread baking…..is the best smell on earth.
Discover who you are and what you want
And the more time I spend with myself, the more I realize…..I am a woman who knows what she wants. And I won’t let anyone, or anything bend me. Not even the wind.
Find stillness. Find quiet. Find peace.
Find more than 8 minutes to hang out with yourself. And see what kind of things bubble up to the surface. Who you are. What you want. And how you like your coffee.