The Final Lessons: A Story of Becoming

Nothing is ever final though, is it? These lessons are far reaching, all encompassing, and continuous. We are always learning, always growing, and I find a lot of comfort in that.

Two years ago, I started the journey of my becoming. I wrote on my Instagram, “currently experiencing a revolution.” And, wow, was I ever. I had no idea of the experiences coming my way. I had just purchased a one-way ticket to Ireland for that coming summer. I was riding an existential high that I have yet to recreate. But, it will come.

During that trip to Ireland, this list of 25 Lessons came to fruition. My ideas and the courage to start this blog came to fruition. The desire to continue the creative life I had left long ago, returned. I was becoming.

Becoming what? You may ask. Becoming who I was meant to be. Becoming my most authentic self. Becoming a witch. Becoming me.

The Final Five

I had a much different idea planned for this “final” portion of the 25 Lessons series. I had some arbitrary, relatable ideas drafted. But, I decided instead to use the five lessons I wrote down surrounding that solo trip across the ocean. They are just as true as they were two years ago. And, they will always be a reminder of the growth experienced through the fearless abandon I had in my twenty-fifth year.

However, because of the challenges I also experienced during that summer, I disconnected the important lessons I learned in that time. (Summer can be rough for some of us, remember?) But, I have finally accepted that even though they happened at the same time, they are two separate experiences. And, these lessons stand on their own. Just as I do.

21. Take the Road Not Taken

As Robert Frost famously wrote, 

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

The Road Not Taken: A Selection of Robert Frost’s Poems

As an English Lit major, I’ve heard this quote many times in my life. I love a good cliché. But, it wasn’t until I decided to leave my tour bus & hike the side of the Cliffs of Moher, solo, just me & the mist from the ocean, that it really resonated with me. Always take the road less traveled by. Sure, it takes courage to walk your own path. But, the courage grants you the sights that others won’t get the chance to witness.

On the other side, or at the end of the path, you will find solace & direction. Direction into yourself. Far away from the voices of the mass crowds. You will see things that others don’t; flocks of birds diving from the side of a 700 foot cliff, or puffins quietly nesting on the edge of an island, or an ice cream shop on a hot, sunny day with no queue.

Maybe you will meet someone on this path. Someone that will change your life.

Maybe that person will be you.

22. Smile!

A simple, genuine smile will go a long way. I have learned that people are inherently attracted to positivity. Good vibes bring good vibes, and all that. Good vibes also bring gifts. Gifts of abundance & gratitude, of magic, of shelter, of good food & good weed, and of new, lasting connections.

While travelling alone, I found that when others see you smiling, they are more inclined to smile too. They can’t help it, really. With that smile comes a helping hand in the form of directions to the next open hostel or an invite to the magical (and cost-free) music festival.

We can’t predict how someone is going to react to us. Especially when we are a stranger on the street in an unknown city. But, we can at least try to send positivity with a welcoming smile, in hopes they will send that positivity back to us. Couldn’t hurt, right?

Bonus: We become happier when we smile too!

23. Spend the money.

I should preface this lesson with the fact that I am not financially savvy by any means. Perhaps one day I will learn how to file my taxes, or find out what the benefits of an RRSP are, but, today is not that day.

What I am telling you with this lesson is that, sometimes, spending the extra money is worth it. I’m not rolling in cash because I live by the belief that money is meant to be spent. I’m currently doing the work to uncover where that belief stems from & what I can do about changing it, but that’s for a later blog post.

We are only here on this earth for a short time. So, why not live while we can? And, to me, that means a last-minute change of destination or, on a smaller scale, a side of chips with your beer at the pub.

If money is available to you, if you are bound to make more of it in the future, spend it with purpose, and without guilt!

24. Take the risk.

I write a lot about courage & bravery in these posts. The courage to be yourself, to live authentically, to say “no,” to buy the flight, to take the risk!

Amongst travelers, you hear the words, “I’m just going to find myself,” a lot. Even if you’re not going to “find yourself,” people will assume that’s what you’re doing out in the world anyway. What else would we be doing, buying a one-way ticket, or making a drastic move to a foreign country, if not to find out who we truly are?

We’ve created this assumption because on the other side of fear, we do find ourselves. Through being courageous & taking risks, we explore facets of our being that we would have never discovered if we hadn’t stepped out the door into the great unknown. And, yes, discovering those things is really scary! But, regardless of what happens after you take that step, you will have learned the lesson that risk was meant to teach you. And be that much better, and wiser, from it.

25. There are bigger things meant for you.

When we remain in our comfort zone, whether that be our hometown, a cushy job, or a toxic relationship (yes, those can be a space of comfort, too), we remain small. When we remain small, our energy remains stagnant. There is no space for us to move, and grow, and expand. Let me tell you; moving & growing & expanding feels so damn good. It feels like freedom. And power. And peace.

Travelers find this freedom with haste. Or, they do if they’re doing it right. Those wandering the world have the freedom to choose their next destination, “Valencia or Madrid?” and therefore, their next adventure. Freedom, and the feeling of “bigger,” quickly moves into other aspects of our lives as well. We return home and quit the soul-sucking desk job. Drop the deadbeat boyfriend. Let go of limiting beliefs. We do these things because we know now that there is a bigger world “out there” that has space for us & all of our dreams.

While I was checking in to my last hostel in Dublin, the man behind the counter tried to read my name out loud (a lot of people try this & fail). But, this guy knew his Polish pronunciation! He told me, in a very serious Irish accent, “With a name like that, you must be destined to do something grand. Something that’s going to change the world.” What a thing to say to a girl! I was at a loss for words as he handed my passport back to me. And I might have replied with a humble “thank you,” but I can’t be sure. However, I will always remember the feeling his words gave me. And I remind myself of them when I lose motivation to create, or the desire to love, or just to live.

Two years ago, under the full moon lunar eclipse, I wrote to myself, “I am so much more than I ever thought possible.”

Ah, Yes, the Conclusion

Well, my loves, I hope you’ve enjoyed this series of lessons from my, now twenty-seven, years of life on this wonderful earth. I’ve learned a lot through writing these posts as well, about myself, about the collective, about how hard it is to keep up with a blog! And, just like me, this space is becoming something I never thought it could be.

I would love to hear what you’ve thought after reading through these pages. What did you learn? What did you enjoy? What was a challenge to read?

To connect is one of my favourite activities. So, please let me know in the comments how it all has made you feel. Or, send me a little love note on the contact page.

There is so much more to come from The Wanderess Within! She is ready to become something bigger, too.

Like I told myself in the pages of my journal at the end of that summer, “Take a deep breath, the best is yet to come.”

With love ~ zz

Self-Care Sunday: A Lesson in Self-Care Culture

Cleanse yourself & your space with sage or Palo Santo.

Play your favourite album on repeat. (Willow’s “1st” is on deck today).

Light about fifteen candles of various scents & sizes. Set the mood.

Yoga flow in the warm light. Mostly stay in extended child’s pose for an extended amount of time.

Run a hot bath & pour in eco-friendly bubble bath & essential oils. Yum.

Spark up something special & slip gently into the water.

Pull a few tarot cards. Check in with the unconscious.

Read some sad poetry & remind yourself of how far you’ve come.

Dry yourself off, wash your face & cover yourself in coconut oil.

Wrap yourself up in warm, knit clothing & a fluffy blanket.

Play music from personalized playlists. (Spotify knows me better than I know myself).

Eat an entire Milka chocolate bar because you’re an adult & we can do things like that.

Write down three things you are grateful for. Let that chocolate bar be one of them.

Write down the reason you chose to take care of yourself today.

Write, write, write. And write some more.

more “Self-Care Sunday: A Lesson in Self-Care Culture”

25 Lessons I’ve Learned in 25 Years: Part I

Life lessons. Woo! Quite literally my favourite topic of conversation. I may sound like I have it all figured out. But, don’t be fooled, friends.

Why listen to me? I’m not really sure. I’m considered a millennial even though I don’t feel like one. Yes, I have a minor addiction to the blue light of my iPhone & I do love a good selfie. But, I would hope I’m a little less entitled & a little more self-reliant than the stereotypical 20-something in 2017. So, take this series of lessons, and subsequently this blog, with whatever grain of salt you like. This is the lens through which I see the world. These are the lessons I’ve learned that have made all the difference. Enjoy, lovelies!

1. Love yourself first. 

Easily the most important lesson I have taught myself. Five years ago, if you asked me what I loved about myself, I would have answered with a list of things I hated. Now, at twenty-five, I can tell you I love my sense of humour & quick wit. I love my strong desire for human connection. Plus, I love my big hips, big hair, big thighs, big laugh, and big smile. And I am so proud of how far I’ve come. Of course there are still things I wish to work on, like my indecisive nature, but I know that will come in time. There is no guide to self-love. They don’t teach this in school. It is a lesson you have to teach yourself.

2. Hug your mom as much as you can.mama

Like, right now. Go.

Your mama literally gave you life. You didn’t spend nine months in her womb to be an ungrateful little shit. Hug her. Because, she isn’t always going to be there. Because, maybe you’ll live half way across the world, have a really shit day, and not be able to feel the comfort of her love. Maybe your relationship with your mother isn’t the greatest. Maybe she isn’t around. For those souls, I hope there is another nurturing woman in your life that you can hug in her absence.

I love you, mama!

3. A few good friends is better than a lot of crappy friends.

It’s a matter of quality over quantity. I used to believe that I needed a million friends to be happy. Especially in a world where Facebook has us collecting friends like trading cards. I am now only interested in friendships that are of benefit. I have met so many amazingly genuine people in my travels & have kept in touch with them over the years because we truly care about each other.  The same cannot be said about people I spent years working beside or going to school with. Perhaps I sound like a real asshole. But, I want to surround myself with good people who make me laugh, who teach me things, who lift me up instead of bring me down, who ask how I’m doing, who actually CARE. And I want to be that kind of person, that kind of friend, for others too.

4. Express gratitude every day. 

This is one of my more recent lessons learned. I have since adapted it into my every day life. And I am a much better person for it. There are so many things in this life to be thankful for. Just waking up in the morning is a fucking gift! Be grateful that you have air in your lungs, a bed to sleep on, a creaky floor to walk across, a window to see the marvelous sun rise. I encourage you to take a mindful moment at the end of your day (Heck, do it right now!) & think of three things that you’re grateful for. It can be small things, like “I am grateful for hot coffee on the commute to work.” Or it can be the big things, like “I am grateful for my home, my cozy & safe space, and having enough money to pay for it.” Just three things. Right before you turn on that Netflix series to fall asleep to. This practice forces you to recognize the good things that have happened to you in your day-to-day. I promise (PROMISE) that you will be a better, happier, human being.

5. Be honest with yourself. 

Let’s get real deep for a second. We hear the saying all the time, “Honesty is the best policy.” Usually we hear it in response to white lies we tell our parents or our partners. What about when we are dealing with our ‘selves’ & matters of the heart? Nobody told me how important it would be to be real with myself and admit to the emotions I would feel.

I am someone who feels a lot of emotions. I blame that on being a writer. As such, it is necessary for me to feel emotions fully in order to move on. I wasn’t always a heart-on-my-sleeve type of woman. I would push negative emotions and feelings of vulnerability way down. Way, way down. However, I have since grown into a woman who acknowledges what she’s feeling whether it’s anger, depression or happiness. I let it flow in whichever way it decides to. Most importantly, I acknowledge the love I feel; for family, friends, lovers, you name it. Bottom line: allow yourself the courtesy of being honest in your emotions. Your heart will thank you.

Stay tuned for the next five lessons in this series.

With love ~ zz