My goal is to publish a self-development non-fiction book in 2016. The working title is Love Lost, Life Found and is a journey of how I left a toxic relationship, learned to love myself again and find a life that I love. The book is party story & part actionable steps I took to start healing my life. I want to start sharing parts of chapters so I can get your honest feedback. Leave me a comment or send me an email through the contact form (found in the top menu). Tell me what you think about the topic and how it can be improved or what should be added. It will be hard to know how it fits into the overall picture but thank you for joining me in the editing process.
Painful memories from a past relationship with a significant other can ebb and flow through the mind. The good and the bad can come in waves. When dark moments were stuck inside my brain I was lost in a web of insomnia and grief. Pinterest quotes and therapy only helped so much. I would go to work, call my girlfriends, call my mother, go to therapy sessions and just try to keep my head above water. For me, to start living again, I needed to get back and discover anew all that I loved from before the relationship began. I already had my self-care habits that kept me afloat during the relationship so I wasn’t overhauling my life completely. I just needed to get back to what lit me up inside before I met my ex. I also wanted to learn new things about myself as I emerged a different person on the other side of grief.
I recognized that I gave up truly living an amazing life while I was in my toxic relationship. I can look back and see the things I gave up to try and make another person happy. I stopped going to the gym so I could be home to make him happy. I stopped eating healthy so I could cook his meals to ensure he was eating nutritiously. I was also emotionally eating my weight in worry and frustration. I thought that if I did everything in my power to make someone else happy then they would be happy. I had no understanding of the personal concept of happiness until after. I had no concept that we choose our own happiness. I didn’t understand that no matter what I did I couldn’t make another person happy. Especially someone who was so deeply unhappy with themselves. I forgot about the airplane oxygen mask theory. If the oxygen mask drops in an airplane we are told we must put the mask on ourselves first before helping another person. I had no concept that I needed to fill my cup before I could pour it into his.
So after the relationship ended I focused on myself again and started small. I went back to my habit of creating short term and long term goals. I started with my health first. I got excited about creating weekly meal plans and grocery shopping lists again. I knew I had to feel healthy again to help my brain in its healing process. So one week I set a goal to get back to eating 5-6 healthy meals a day. The next week I ensured that I was consuming 2-3L of water a day. The next week I got into the gym 3 times that week. Then the next week I went to the gym 4 times a week and then the next week 5 times. My routine gave me structure, purpose and kept my brain busy on the task at hand. Just feeling healthy again. I had gained several unhealthy pounds from emotional eating and lack of exercise and since I knew I needed to feel like myself again I focused on my nutrition, exercise and water consumption.
Once the happy hormones from health & fitness were running through me I started dating again. The man (mentioned in my Happiness Journey chapter) that was placed in my life taught me what I needed at that moment in time. I discovered that I love adventure, fun and creating moments in my life that truly make me feel alive. On top of introducing me to obstacle course races, he was an adrenaline junkie, a traveler and a bucket list completer. I saw something in him that I yearned for in my life. I am thankful for my time spent with him and know why he was placed in my path. I adopted new physical challenges into my life so I could push myself further than I had in the past. From 2009 – 2011 I was defining myself as a fitness competitor. I trained hard in the gym, got dolled up and pranced around on stage in a bikini. I had completed a physical challenge and become stronger by training but I hadn’t shown the world how strong I was at this point. I also wasn’t challenging myself to see how strong I could really become. On my goal spreadsheet that I complete every January I started dreaming big in my goals for the upcoming 2013 year. In 2012, I ran the Warrior Dash and knew I could complete an obstacle course but could I run three races in one year? I was introduced to the world of Tough Mudder so I planned to run my first Mudder in May of 2013. I planned on running Warrior Dash, Tough Mudder and Mud Hero that year so that I could see what my body could do. Little did I know that in 2014 I would complete 6 obstacle course races and then in 2015 complete 20 races.
I found a new physical challenge for my fitness goals for the year. I was back on track with my nutrition and feeling healthy again. My job and advertising career were keeping me busy during the day but I wanted to live life again and discover things that would make me happy. I found inspiration in the reality show star Lauren Conrad and a fitness duo I admire, the Tone It Up girls. They were posting on their websites about Summer Bucket Lists. I hadn’t really thought about seasonal bucket lists to make the most out of Canada’s four short but sweet seasons. So I created my first Summer Bucket List and lived an epic summer with friends by my side. I started by listing things that I thought would be fun. I copied some of the ideas from Lauren and the TIU girls. I wrote down that I wanted to have a healthy picnic, make kebabs on a BBQ, run Warrior Dash again, create a garden on my balcony, have a cottage weekend, run a Mud Hero race, go on a canoe trip like when I was summer camp kid, learn how to stand up paddleboard, do the Color Run, run the Night Race in Sunnybrook Park, do a fitness competition again and run my first half marathon. I completed all of these and my heart was filling with joy. There were a couple of things that I wrote down but didn’t end up completing. Which just means I would have stuff to start my list the following summer. I saved a random road trip, golfing and going to the drive in for the next summer. When winter started looming on the horizon and gloomy weather was around the corner I created a Winter Bucket List. All of a sudden the winter started to look exciting. I created my lists thinking of who I could do each item with but I also put things on the list that I could check off all on my own. Alot of the items that find themselves on my bucket lists are things I’ve never tried or things that I love. I truly believe trying something for the first time and accomplishing it is an addictive happy high that I know is an amazing way to live.
Just think about the smile that spreads over your face after you accomplish something for the first time. That moment and feeling is priceless and almost indescribable. For me creating moments in my life that are firsts or worthy of a movie camera following me around make me feel like I’m truly living my life to the fullest extent. I call them firsts & movie moments.
When you were a kid do you remember how proud you were when you stood up for the first time and took your first steps? Probably not, but I bet you your parents can remember the grin that spread across your face. Think back to the first time you tied your shoes, saw an animal at the zoo, rode a bike, hit a baseball ball. Let the feeling of accomplishment wash over you for a second and picture that feeling. For some it’s an amazing feeling for others they don’t put a second thought to it. For me as I started to do new things for the first time in my adult life so that I was able to recreate those feelings and I’m full fledged addicted to those warm fuzzy feelings.
As I started dating again, and as an Alpha Female I killed two birds with one stone by dating & trying new things at the same time. I don’t like the standard coffee or dinner date. It felt too much like an interview and to be honest it’s tiring going on a ton of first dates and talking about oneself over and over again no matter how much you love yourself. So I would create fun lists of things I’d like to do on dates and give potential first date options to choose from. It’s one of the reasons why I found myself doing the CN Tower edge walk, going snowmobiling, going bouldering at a rock climbing gym or snowshoeing through a vineyard on first dates. Although the men didn’t work out I have amazing memories of the event and didn’t view dating as a waste of time or a time suck.
I may have watched too many romantic comedies because I do actually try and create those movie-worthy moments in my life. I really try not to force them but just set the scene for awesome memories to be made. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve drunk tea in the back of a jeep backed up over an amazing Toronto outlook. It’s why I’ve sat on a lifeguard chair at the Scarborough bluffs listening to music and then swimming in the rain. It’s why I’ve stargazed on a dock talking for hours. It’s why I’ve had a campfire and lit sparklers at midnight. The movie moment doesn’t have to be romantic. They’ve actually been amazing starting points for the growth of great friendships and my friends can always count on me for ideas to make the day a little bit more epic. They can thank my love of romantic comedy for simply inspiring the ability to make memories that are just awesome with all types of relationships in my life.