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I leave London tomorrow.
And like I've felt about a lot of things this year, I have very mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I'm so excited and ready to hit the ground running with PYC Muskoka. On the other hand, I'm actually surprised at how sad I feel to be leaving here. I guess I should clarify, I'm not at all surprised by the fact that I'm sad to leave Mike, that's a given. But I'm sad to leave our little home. I'm not sure when it happened but somewhere along the way this year, I actually settled in. It took longer than I thought it would and there were moments that I wasn't sold on this whole London life but now I'm already excited to head back here in the fall.
I'm a big believer in pausing to reflect on big life experiences and how they've helped me grow. I can thank the overanalyzing, deeply emotional side of me for that. It feels like I blinked and this year abroad is over, but looking back, there are several key things I'm taking away that can be applied to anyone's life, whether you're living on the same street you've been in since you were born or are about to embark on a big life adventure.
1. Let go of Expectation
This is something all the yogi's out there know - expectation is at the root of our suffering. Actually dropping expectation is definitely easier said than done. If we believe the Sri Chimney quote that says 'peace begins when expectation ends' then getting a grip on the expectations we have of our life and other people is a key component to living with more ease and joy. Who doesn't want life to be a little more bright and easy?
This pretty much tops the list of what this year taught me. When Mike and I discussed and eventually decided that he would take this job opportunity in London, I had all of these big dreams for what our life abroad would look like. We'd be exploring a city that neither of us had been to before let alone lived in. We'd be jetting off on weekends to destinations all over Europe. We'd be strolling hand in hand checking out new neighbourhoods and eating our way through the many restaurants, bars and pubs this city has to offer.
It took one week here for those dreams to come to a screeching halt.
In reality, life over here has been Mike at the office and me on my own. We can't complain - we've had our fair share of trips this year but I can count on one hand the number of week night dinners Mike and I have had together since September. At first this was tough but once my expectations adjusted to match our new life over here, things magically got easier.
Where in your life is expectation robbing you of the ability to enjoy yourself. It could be your relationship with other people, it could be your life at work, it could very well be your expectations of what YOU need to do and be to finally be happy. This year has made me realize that yes, you need to try your best to build a life you love, but you also need to know when it's time to adjust your expectations so you can be content with what you have. Life very rarely plays out perfectly the way you've visualized it in your head so how can you accept and appreciate your reality?
2. You're Stronger Than You Know
When I found a mouse in my chia seeds, I thought I was going to die. It was a close call but I didn't. When I discovered one that had met his demise in our living room, I again, thought I was going to die. But I didn't - somehow I'm still here, heart beating, typing out these horrifying words.
I guess it's important to mention that yes, we've had the 'mouse men' come to mouse proof the apartment. And yes, we have the little machines that let off the high frequency. And yes, I keep things ridiculously clean - even the mouse man said so. But I guess having them pop in every once in a while is one of the prices you pay for living in a cute little flat in an old British building - it seems to be the norm amongst a lot of people I've met over here.
The point is - I'm still here. I sleep in our flat. I eat in our flat. If you had told me just one year ago that this would be the case, I'd say no way I'm moving back to Canada. My little mouse house is a very light-hearted but perfect example of resilience. We're designed to adapt and can handle things that we never thought we'd be able to. Remember that the next time you're faced with something tough (or gross like a mouse). You're so much stronger than you know and so much more powerful than you give yourself credit for.
3. Expect the Ups and Downs
Life is full of them and the more we accept that, the easier life becomes. The highs are that much better because we know to appreciate them to the fullest. The lows become just a little less overwhelming because we know that this too shall pass.
I feel like when you're living far from home, especially when you first touch down, the highs and lows are a plenty. On the one hand, it was so exciting to be in a completely new place, experiencing new things, meeting new people. On the other hand, there were times where I had no idea what I was doing, where I was going and I just wanted the comfort of being around the people I know and love. I would have days where I felt like everything was coming together and I felt so sure of my purpose over here. Then the next day I'd be wondering what the hell I was doing with my life in this new country and feeling lonely as anything without my sisters, my friends and my family close by.
The important lesson here is that the highs and lows are temporary. No matter how intense, how overwhelming or how long lasting they seem - nothing lasts forever. Remembering this allows you to find comfort during the not so great times and allows you to feel a deeper sense of gratitude when life is smooth and you're feeling really good.
4. Home is the people, not the place
The past year of my life has shown me that home isn't one singular place, it's the people that you're with and the way you spend your time. When I'm with Mike I'm at home. When I'm at the cottage I'm at home. When I'm with my family I'm at home. When I'm on a yoga mat I'm at home. Muskoka, Toronto, London - they're all home to me at the moment. Years ago, if you had told me I'd be okay jumping around throughout the year to different places - I wouldn't have believed you. I was convinced that I needed certain comforts around me, certain places in my community and certain people around at all times for me to be okay and anxiety free.
The truth is as long as you know what makes you happy and the most at peace, you can feel at home anywhere in the world. And while I'm sad to be saying goodbye to the home that Mike and I have created in London, I'm bubbling with excitement at the thought of returning to my Muskoka home. To all of you reading this in Canada, I'm so happy to say that I'll be seeing you soon.