Here’s to 2017

I woke up this morning with many thoughts about the new year  upon us. After my post yesterday I didn’t feel that I had anything left to say for the year 2016. I was wrong!

If I asked people what they thought of 2016 you know what I think they’d all say? “2016 was a hard year. With huge ups and downs, loss and struggles.” Or… “I’ve never been more ready for a new year. This last year was unreal.” 

For me, 2016 broke me down, shook me up, gave me the highest highs, and the lowest lows. I’m going to say something a little unpopular here though….. I’m thankful for it. 

It was a hell of a year, full of loss but I gained my most authentic self. I know myself better then I ever have. And I found so much love and passion for life and this world. Romantic love?  Sure. I had it, it was beautiful and a challenge but not one that stayed with me. I’m talking about the love for life. For friends. For family. For music. For adventure. For travel. For expanding views. For the people, connections and relationships I found this year. They have shaped me, touched me and helped me become what I am now. 

2016 you cracked me wide open. You let me break and build back up stronger. You took away some of the most loved in my life, and showed me pain and emotions I hadn’t felt before. You let my heart break and shatter. You taught me even when I didn’t want to learn. At times I really hated you and never understood what the fuck it was all for. But here I am saying thank you, something that surprised even myself when I woke up today. Things happen for a reason? Maybe 2016 you happened so that I can be grateful for new beginnings in 2017. 

This is the first year I’m celebrating New Years single since I was 16 or 17. I’m not upset by that. I woke up thankful for that. I think it’s just opening me up for a chance to really do it right this new year. I haven’t enjoyed my last few New Years Eve’s. They’ve included hurt feelings, fights and disappointment. That’s no way to start a new year! So I’m doing it different this year. Because I want a different year. I’m turning a new leaf. I’m leaving behind what wasn’t meant for me. I’m leaving behind what no longer serves me. I’m leaving behind a last name that isn’t mine, and changing it to who I am and who I identify with. I am leaving behind what isn’t needed anymore because I trust and know what’s meant for me will never pass me by.

I’m going into 2017 feeling unstoppable. I’m going in vulnerable, open, with gratitude and full of love and anticipation for what is coming next. I don’t have it all together, but I’m thankful for that too. 

  I needed you 2016 to show me that I am fully supported by the universe, and when I trust I am connected with all that I need. I’ve realized I’m the one holding myself back and I won’t do it anymore. My goals, my dreams. They’re going to happen for me in 2017, I’m going to make sure of it. Thank you 2016 for not allowing me to be comfortable. Thanks for not allowing me to stay put or content with what I have. Nothing grows in a comfort zone, so thank you for the expansion and the need for more. 

Here’s to travel, love, writing, photography and doing it all in 2017. Here’s to being the most authentic and open I’ve ever been.  Here’s to chasing my dreams, finding happiness and knowing what I want. Here’s to knowing I can have it, and that I deserve it.

I bet if you took the time to decipher this hard year that is coming to a close you’d find some brilliance in how it challenged you.  Learn and grow from it and be open to new and better tomorrows. Say farewell to 2016, and welcome 2017 with open arms, gratitude and knowing it’s going to be a year for you. Find yourself, follow your goals and manifest your desires. Get out of your own way. I think when they said that you can’t have it all… they didn’t see 2017 coming. Cheers. 

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Grief and saying goodbye

I’ve been quiet for more then half of this year and haven’t kept up with blogging or following my goals and dreams.  I haven’t had my voice in far to long. 2016 for a lot of people has been a tough year. For me it was a year of EXTREMES. Success and failures, highs and lows. Through this year and this life I have never experienced a loss like I did in June.

For those that know me, or have been following my blog for awhile you know how important my dogs are to me. They are my family. I’ve survived a failed marriage, lost people I’ve loved that weren’t meant to stay, made it through unhealthy relationships, and had some other struggles along they way. I’ve also been blessed with incredible friendships, support of loved ones,  and gotten through challenges that have allowed growth. I’ve experienced great adventures, travelled amazing places, and am filled with gratitude for all the good that is in my life. Until I lost Roxy I hadn’t truly experienced mourning of this kind.

Roxy passed away June of 2016. She was supposed to go in for surgery to remove a large suspicious mass. Things deteriorated quickly and she wasn’t able to have the surgery. The mass had grown internally. It was cancer. It had changed so quickly that my warrior of a dog was suffering. That day has changed me forever. 

My close friend Krista gave me love and support by being at my side with my other dog Presley as we said goodbye to her. We gave her the best last day anyone could ask for. She was spoiled with burgers, ice cream and so many hugs. My friend had experienced the loss of a dog before, and I think going through it with me was really hard on her, but also offered her some healing as she didn’t have the chance to say goodbye to her dog. The support she gave me got me through that day.

 When Roxy left her body, she was in my arms, and her sister Presley by her side. For me, knowing she wasn’t present anymore but her body still physically in the room was such a hard puzzle to work around. I couldn’t believe she wasn’t coming home with me where she belonged. I’ve never experienced a harder day and I haven’t completely thawed from it.

After Roxy’s passing I had many low days. Presley and I had to get reacquainted with one another. We didn’t know how to be a family of two when for so long it had been a family of three. I stopped writing, doing photography, yoga and running. Hobbies that had normally included Roxy by my side. 

During this process I had a man in my life as a close friend. He came to me days before Roxy passed away as a gift to help me grieve, talk and cry through the pain. He disappeared the day I got her ashes back. Funny how the universe works through people in such a touching way. It hurt when he left, but at same time I had been so numb, so full of loss that losing him just felt like an extension of the pain I already had. 

Presley took her time adjusting as well. She cried, and mourned in her own way. She too felt a heavy grief. We had our days of cuddles and bonding, and other days where we didn’t know what to do with each other. I questioned if she even liked me. One thing I know, she made my house less empty, a little more like home, and a reason to fight through the grief. I felt like a stranger had invaded my body and I didn’t know what life was like before Roxy.

Roxy was my dream come true. She was the dog I always wanted but hadn’t been allowed. Then one day a co-worker was giving up her dog. The breed I had only dreamt about. Again the universe had my back, and gave me what I needed. I picked her up at 4 years old and we were inseparable. She went everywhere with me. She was with me when I bought my house, though my marriage, and convinced me that she needed a friend (Presley). They saw me through my divorce and then moved with me across the country to Calgary. She was my shadow, my mirror, and my best friend. She knew when I was happy, and celebrated. She knew when I was sad, and was happy to cuddle up with me through any tears that I needed to shed. I couldn’t walk anywhere in my house without her following. So when she left me, it was felt immeasurably. 

People can say it was just a dog. To me she was family. Those that don’t understand,haven’t been blessed by the loyalty and love a dog can give. If you’ve had the chance to see the beautiful tribute short movie called “Denali ”  by Ben Moon, then you’ll know just what I’m talking about. Please take the time to watch it.  I’ve included the link. He quotes at the end “People can learn a lot from dogs. When someone you love walks through the door you should go totally insane with joy” I think the world would be fuller, better and kinder place if we all lived that way. Just think about that for a moment. How often does your significant other come home and you don’t even step away from the television to welcome them back? 

The best part of my day has always been coming home to the sound of eight paws scurrying to the door with toys in their mouth to say “Welcome Home Mom! We’ve missed you so much!!!” I still take so much pleasure in having Presley welcome me at the door, and will never for a minute take that for granted.

I met a beautiful human awhile after I lost my girl, someone who shaped nearly the last half of this year. He is a dog lover and had experienced the loss of one before. He gave me a gift in Roxy’s memory, artwork in the form of her name. The greater gift I received that night was that he knew how much it would touch me, and he let me break down in his arms. I will never forget that night. He understood, and he didn’t shy away from my emotions. Him and I didn’t get to finish this year together. The months we shared were complicated but deep. Even such, the brief time we had touched my heart in such a way. I’ll always cherish this man and his kind gesture. His absence hasn’t been easy, nor one I could let go of without feeling it deeply, but his presence helped me find myself through it all.

Six months have passed since Roxy’s left and I’m still not the same girl. I guess I’m m not meant to be. It’s taken me this long to be able to speak about it without breaking down completely. I stopped blogging because I couldn’t find my breath. A lot had happened, but I felt too numb to share it. Life comes in ebbs and tides, and we learn and grow. I think that was what 2016 was for me. It was a year of gains, loss and growth. The loss seems to have a bigger percentage then the gains, but I haven’t forgotten all the beauty that also happened this year. In loss we sometimes we find ourselves a little more. To the people that supported me this year through the ups and downs of life, I’m incredibly grateful. 

I wish everyday that Roxy was by my side, and we could go for a run, play at the park, and adventure in the mountains together. Presley and I have been going to  the mountain for fresh air in her honor. We’ve found our balance again and even though we can’t see her, I know she is by my side watching over me. I don’t think the loss will ever feel lighter. It doesn’t have to. I don’t have to feel thankful for losing her. I was the luckiest to have her for as long as I did. I’m thankful for her spending the last six years of her life with me. I’m a better person due to her presence. I hope everyone has the chance to experience life with a dog. It’s a gift that shouldn’t be denied. 

Not a day goes by that I’m not thinking of my girl. I still hear her pitter patter around my condo, and it brings warmth to my heart. Run free sweet girl. Say hi to all the dogs up there, and I hope you found a giant water bowl to quench your thirst. We miss you daily.

 

Lifestyle Blog: It’s time to speak up about Abuse.

It’s been a week.I don’t think I’ve ever needed a hug so much. I had a month off work to travel a country that I’ve only dreamed about, so I’m incredibly lucky. The truth is it was a trip I couldn’t afford, but equally couldn’t afford not to take. Since arriving home,  I feel unsettled.  I’ve been a hermit and haven’t wanted to talk or see much of anyone because I’ve had things on my mind. I was feeling more like the authentic me while in Vietnam. I’m more comfortable in my own skin then I’ve ever been. I feel like some of my world is upside down, or I’m upside down in my own world. Since I’m feeling all of these things, the Universe is making me face my past head on. I’ve grown in the last month, and feel that its time for me to talk. A few things happened recently that has left me no choice but to speak out. A friend is dealing with a rape trial, another who just broke up with her boyfriend, an acquaintance who was dragged across her carpet by her now ex, a music video that is heart breaking, and me starting to speak about my  past relationships in previous blog posts. It’s time to speak out. Abuse, domestic violence, rape, it’s all around us, and it’s everybody’s dirty little secret. It was mine too for a long time. I’ve spoken out to a limited friend base about it, since I’ve been away from it, but I wont be silent anymore. Because if one person hears what I’m saying and thinks twice about going back home to abuse, or if someone asks their friend if they are really okay and starts these important conversations that need to happen, then I’ve done the right thing. It’s time we start talking.

I was afraid to speak for way to long. I didn’t want to be labelled a victim. I didn’t want to appear weak. I felt shame and most of all, I didn’t want my family to know. I didn’t want to admit what I’d been through. You see when you experience abuse, it’s not only on an emotional or physical level. It affects every part of your being. It affects your friendships, how you view yourself, how you view others, and how you interact. It affects your confidence, your future, and it affects your psyche.  Shame, regret, pain, anger, sadness, weakness,guilt and desperation to name a few of the emotions you feel when you deal with abuse. This is about the relationship I’ve discussed briefly in previous blogs that left me devastated and shattered, until I came undone and had to rebuild myself. It’s also about my past. The abuse started way before that time in my life.

In high school I was hit by a boy who I liked. He wanted me to perform sexual acts on him that I didn’t want to do. He made me feel guilty for not doing it, as we had before. He told me he really liked me, and I was beautiful, but I found out he was seeing another girl while over at his house. So I refused to. And I was slapped for it. I remember being shocked. Where the hell did that come from? I thought this boy liked me. I thought I was beautiful to him. I never told my parents, I never told my school. I told a few friends but he had a different story and it was easier to let it go, than suffer the embarrassment. So I shut up.

I married my “high school sweetheart”. We were together for years. He wasn’t emotionally supportive. He let me drown, and he made me feel shitty about myself, until the day I stood tall enough to walk away… But before that I became a small version of myself. To him, my clothing was too colorful, my dogs too expensive, my body shape a constant topic of conversation, my yoga practice was expensive stretching, I was too sensitive, my/our debt solely my responsibility, my job not well-paying enough, my friends weren’t suitable for him.  Everything that was said put me down, and broke my spirit. So I shut down.

I fell head over heels in love with the next man I dated. He had anger issues. But I could handle it. He said he’d hit another women before. But, I knew he wouldn’t do it to me. Until he did. I blamed myself. I pushed him too far. I knew he was upset. I begged him to stay.  He had family pressures. They didn’t like me. They didn’t understand me. The color of my skin was wrong, my body was wrong, my culture was wrong. None of that matters. It wasn’t about me. It was about them. And him? I promised him if he was seeking help I’d always be there. I wouldn’t leave him. I wouldn’t betray him. I promised to love him to the moon and back, and I had intended too. But that was a hurt and broken girl who made those promises. Yes. I enabled him. I came by it honestly. I thought we could work through it. That love would be enough. I didn’t understand how deep the troubles of this man ran. I didn’t understand that I was repeating my same patterns again. How did I find another abuser? What was I doing wrong? Why wasn’t I enough? Why couldn’t I fix this? We went to therapy. He went to therapy. I was proud of him. Things would get better. We’d be happy for a while. And then he pushed me. This cycle continued. The unbelievable highs and then the bottom of the world kind of lows. I spoke up to him about it. I said I wouldn’t allow it. I said it would never happen again, because he knew better. And when you know better you do better. But I didn’t leave. So I enabled him.  I became unhealthy. My anxiety was high. Every text or conversation had the possibility of becoming a war depending on his mood. I was walking on egg shells, and they were stabbing me. But I held on for dear life, and I begged him to work it out . How could I walk away from this when this man needs me? He’s working on it, getting the help that he needs, were both working on it. And then he kicked me. That’s when it ended. We both broke down. How did we fall so far down this hole. We loved each other. How could we have violence in this relationship? He said it, and I knew then we were over .”Your somebody’s daughter, your somebody’s sister, and your somebody’s friend.” He left me. He couldnt’ stay. He knew it would happen again, and he wasn’t balanced. He left because he wanted to fix what was going on in him, and deal with the abuse he himself had suffered. He left because he finally saw that I was afraid. Because he and his family had broken me down so low, and made me so ashamed, and his family taught me that I wasn’t enough. I stayed and he left. And it was a low that I hope most people never have to feel. I had begged silently at times that our relationship would just be over when we’d have a fight , quietly the voice inside my head would say this isn’t right, get out of this abusive cycle.  But I had always said I wouldn’t be the one to leave. And looking back that was the worst thing I could have promised him or myself. But I believed in the best version of him, that he could get through it and we could somehow make things work. I stayed because the love I felt for him, I didn’t think I would feel for anyone else. I believed my own delusion. So my heart broke.  But when he left I knew that we couldn’t come back from this. So I decided to break this pattern, I chose me.

I always thought that people who stayed in abusive relationships were weak. I judged it. How dare they put themselves in danger. How dare they stay when someone who really loved you wouldn’t do that. How don’t they understand it’s not love. And than I became that women. It’s so easy to judge when you’re not in it. I truly believe that every human is capable of anything. It just depends how far they are pushed. For me, I was capable of seeing all the good in a man. The thing was, it wasn’t all bad in the relationship. We had an incredible connection, and it was easy to stay when things were good. And it wasn’t always abusive. But that’s how it goes, and why I chose to stay in an abusive relationship. I would excuse it, and say I’m strong enough.  The truth is nobody is strong enough for that, and NOBODY should ever think it’s worth it for the good parts of  a relationship. “We accept the love we think we deserve” Quoted from the book The Perks of being a Wallflower. If your taught that you don’t deserve the whole world you will accept less. Why did I accept that love? It’s what I knew. Most male relationships that I’ve experienced had some form of abuse. All abuse looks different. Constant put downs, it’s abuse. Pushing or bullying. It’s abuse. Being beaten, or hit once. It’s all abuse. I’ve changed my thought process on it, released my judgment from it, and I recognize an abusive personality from a mile away now. I won’t for a second engage with it. Abusers sometimes don’t know they are abusive. And others know it but don’t try to change. And there are the ones that don’t want to be defined by it. The ones that seek help. And I hope that they all get the help they need, but it’s not for us to stand by and wait. There is no helping an abuser, in my experience it caused more harm then good.

Why do people stay in abusive relationships? They stay the same reason people stay in stagnant relationships. Sometimes it’s easier than leaving, the good parts are comfortable. Maybe they are afraid to be alone. They think there is nothing better for them. On top of that… there’s manipulation. Your lead to believe that everyone else leaves, so you fight to stay. To prove that you wont let them down. You stay because you don’t want them to suffer. I stayed because I forgot my worth. I stayed because I was told I was a bitch, a slut, made to feel worthless and that I wasn’t enough. I started to believe it. I also stayed because I believed I could handle it. Looking back, the first time I was hit by him, I was shocked. I walked out his door and walked for half an hour. I was NOT going to be a women that gets hit by a man. I didn’t have enough money to get a taxi home, and while walking and crying and in shock I wanted to talk it out. I didn’t want him to be angry with me, and I didn’t want him to be angry at himself. I was a fucking mess and believed that it would get better. And this is why I’m writing this. Yes in abusive relationships you will have some amazing days. Amazing trips, amazing experiences, amazing memories. Then that amazing cycle hits a low. All of a sudden it’s so much worse than you thought it could be. But you cry together and say you’ll do better together. And then things get amazing again. But the next time they don’t just get bad. THEY GET WORSE.  Progressively we were on a downhill spiral, and I was fighting with all I had to save us. Why? Because I thought I could make a difference in his life. Because I loved him, faults and all. But the heartbreaking truth in life, love isn’t always enough. And there is no happy ending in abuse. There’s no healthy love in abuse.

Please talk to someone. If you think you know someone in an unhealthy relationship talk to them. If you are in an abusive relationship. Talk to someone. I promise you any day without abuse is better than the best day you could have with that person that is breaking your heart and your spirit. You leaving doesn’t mean you gave up on them. It just means you respect yourself enough to know you deserve so much more. YOU ARE ENOUGH. You do not need to stand by for one moment longer. Don’t be ashamed. Don’t feel guilty. Don’t blame yourself. You didn’t cause this.

I’ve been out of this abusive relationship for a long while now. I’m nowhere the same person that I was. I am calm. I am strong. I am enough. I will never let a man have that power over me, or make me feel ashamed again. I dated again, and it didn’t work. But I didn’t find abuse this time. I broke that cycle when I was shattered and devastated, embarrassed that I was abused, and that he left me. When I realized how manipulated, and low I was made to feel I told him that I couldn’t accept him in my life as a friend anymore.  I chose to let go of the anger and the hurt so that I could heal, and forgive for the bad that happened, but I couldn’t accept any longer a relationship with him.

I chose me. I gave myself some love. I reminded myself who I really was. A girl who loves to sing and dance, hang out with friends, travel, walk her dogs, and be in  nature. A girl who loves love. A girl who would never let a man treat her poorly. So I decided to be that girl again. I let her flourish. I let her grow. I let her get strong. I let her travel a country alone for a month, and feel love for the world, to be reminded of kindness and compassion, to find herself. I’m back to me. The me before I was hit by the first boy. The me before I was married. The me that grew into a warrior who loved herself fiercely. The me that knows that being ‘alone’ isn’t the same as being lonely. I have so much love for life that I feel unstoppable. I’m grateful for all that I have, and for finding my voice. I’m grateful for what I’ve learned, and the help I’ve received to be in this better place.

So to my friends that I know, and friends that I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting.  If you are in an abusive relationship, Emotionally, Spiritually, Physically. You deserve better. You are enough. Don’t stay because you think you should. Don’t stay because your afraid. Seek Help. Don’t stay because they say the can’t live without you.  Simply, Don’t stay. I STAND WITH YOU. A THOUSAND OTHERS STAND WITH YOU. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  LET SOMEONE HELP YOU.

To my friend I haven’t seen in a long time who gained the courage to stand up and admit you were raped, go to trial and now are reliving all of the trauma.This cannot be easy. It is important what you are doing. I BELIEVE YOU. I STAND WITH YOU. I LOVE YOU. YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE.

To my coworker that committed to leaving abuse after being dragged across the carpet by your hair. I STAND WITH YOU. YOU ARE STRONG. REALIZE YOU DESERVE SO MUCH MORE.

To the ones who don’t understand, or who have never felt the pain and shame of abuse.  To those who judge me, and others that have been in abuse. I STAND WITH YOU, AND I LOVE YOU TOO. We all have different battles that we face everyday. I am here for you.

Because of support from friends, and family… Even though they didn’t know what was happening. I am out of abuse. I won’t tolerate it in my life, as I have no more room for it. I AM ENOUGH. Please note that me being away from home didn’t make this happen. It started years ago. It was a process I went through and it changed me to the women I am today. You don’t need to worry. I am healthy. I am happy. I am enough.

I’ll leave you with a music video from Hosier done to help raise awareness and break the silence on domestic violence or any sort of abuse. Also, I’ve included below this phrase that I saw today that brought me to tears. It reminded me that I promised I would speak up and speak out. My intention is that this blog post helps and serves those that need it. There is no shame in what happened to me. There is no shame if your going through it. This subject is no longer taboo. Lets talk about it. Lets stop it. Lets go with love and kindness. Lets change the world.

XO-Vanessa

 

 

War and Human Connections

After a month in Vietnam, and meeting hundreds of wonderful people I have had countless interactions, connections and stories to share. On my last full day I went to the War Remnants museum. I was moved to tears and filled with pain knowing our history as humans, and even now today that the world is still at war. In Vietnam the war isn’t the Vietnam war. It’s commonly referred to as the American War.

I was moved to tears for a few reasons, and wasn’t sure if I’d share my opinions but I will say this. Have we as humans learned anything? My biggest fear when it comes to war is that we’re not doing better today. Nobody wins in war. Vietnam, America, and the world, they all lost in this war that lasted over 19 years. Crimes that were committed have just come to light in the last 15 years. I have two stories to mention here that stuck with me when we talk about war.

  1. I met two men who fought in the war while I was in Ha Long bay. We had a moving conversation over lunch. One was discharged from the war after a land mine explosion, and the other that served in the army over 20 years. He has come back to Vietnam the last 3 years in hopes of healing, but mostly he’s looking for a few Vietnamese men that fought in the war that were his allies. He hasn’t seen them since the war, has no idea where they live and if they’re still alive. He has been travelling to small remote villages in hopes of reconnecting with these men. He also came back because as he said during the war, they saw what a beautiful country it was. Now they can safely appreciate the beauty. He had tears in his eyes, and gave everyone at the lunch table goosebumps as he told his stories. Both these men lost a lot in the war. Friends, a brother, they saw things that will change a man. It’s moving to see them back in Vietnam with a love for the country, as well as hoping to reconnect with some of the Vietnamese from the war. I would like to think, maybe this trip or the one he has planned to come back next year that he will find who he’s looking for. The universe works in incredible ways. This man still has traumas from the war and he spoke about how he’ll never visit certain areas such as the tunnels in Vietnam, but he also has love and hope in this country. I think he’ll find what he’s seeking.
  2. In Da Lat on the news at every restaurant and bar was the attack on Brussels. I choose to not watch the news. Not because I am naive about what’s happening. I don’t like the glorification of war or of breaking headlines. The news creates fear, and they sell fear. I sat at the bar one evening with a man from Brussels and his friend. He’s now living in Vietnam and has been for several years. He hadn’t slept in days watching what’s going on in in his home on the media. He spoke about his views and how these attacks are happening around the world and it’s causing fear. But when do we learn as humans? He had the same concerns as me. We focused our conversation on the kindness that we’ve seen while travelling, and the people that help you along the way. We talked about how a simple kind gesture from a stranger can renew your faith in humanity. We talked about the beauty in nature, and in likeminded humans. This in my mind is what humans should focus on. The good. The kind. The love that still exists in our world. We hugged as we all parted ways and they thanked me for listening and for still seeing the beauty that exists around us. There are no words to explain how moving these conversations were.

These two experiences will stay with me. Even in war, there are human connections and stories of love. How do we change and do better? I’d like to think when we talk about war, or terrorism, or any of the major news headlines that we speak about the humans that have made a difference, or the stories of sticking together and being positive. Choosing kindness and love not fear. It might not be possible everyday or in all things. But when we share some light with another human, the world does shine brighter.

Kindness is contagious. Go forward with it, and you’ll receive it back. People were nervous or afraid of me travelling solo. I wasn’t fearful one bit. Because I chose to believe in the kindness of others. And everyday I was shown it. I had no negative experiences. I was sick at times, but people helped me. I was lost at times. People helped me. One time I was charged extra in a taxi and for a moment felt devastated. And then you know what happened? Someone helped me. I told the guesthouse what had happened, and they made my one night stay free. Solo travel is popular because it teaches love, kindness and tolerance of oneself and others. It restores faith in the goodness of others.

 My whole trip went smoothly and my experiences were unbelievable. Many cannot be put into words.  So I’ll leave it at this. 

The world is still kind.

💜💜❤️❤️

Thank you for NOT loving me 

To the men in my past, I today am filled with gratitude, nostalgia and sentimental thoughts. I’m thankful that you all didn’t love me enough. Or didn’t want me, or couldn’t stay, whatever the reason.. Thanks.
However these relationships came to end… It gave me courage, taught me kindness, broke me down and built me back up, and most of all showed me just how resilient I really am. I’m not suggesting I’m glad you all hurt me, or that we hurt each other. I’m thankful for how I made it through it gracefully and full of love for my life. So don’t take this as a compliment or that you men should all hurt others. We are all responsible for our actions, and need to be accountable for who we are.  I’m acknowledging the fact that I came through it okay because of who I am, and I’m thankful to be where I am today.

I had a conversation last night with a Man that spent many years together with me. After such an amazing day in Hoi An I agreed to it. I had previously told him due to how heartbreaking our ending had been, and some unfortunate damage done that I didn’t want to communicate or be friends anymore. However I reached out when I was travelling near his hometown. Just to say I’m alive and well and loving Vietnam. He contacted me back and we talked about the hurt we both suffered from such a traumatic ending to a relationship. It was an intense love we shared, but sometimes with that kind of love, the ups and downs are so extreme that it’s a wonder we both made it out… Regardless, we were able to show some kindness and compassion to one another and put some perspective as to why it went wrong. We talked about where we are now in our lives and how we got here, as well as offering some much needed closure and understanding of previous misconceptions. It was a healing conversation. It didn’t take away the things that cut so deep… But it’s helped put a bandage on those wounds left on me. 

“I am a part of all that I have met” 

That quote has been echoing though my head today. Every human interaction has changed me, filled me with joy, made me fall apart,taught me a lesson, or been a beacon of light in my life. Interactions that have made me laugh, cry, afraid, happy or angry. I am thankful for them all.

Because of these moments in my life I am filled with an overwhelming understanding that brings me to tears.

I AM EXACTLY WHERE I AM MEANT TO BE.  

How profound is that? I just want to sit with this thought for a few minutes. We as humans get so accustomed to being busy, distracted, lazy, stressed or simply waiting for the next best thing that we forget to focus on the now. On the moment we currently are in. We take these moments for granted. 

 Because of past interactions, and past relationships, ones that were good, ones that were bad, ones with friends, family, and romantic, they have all shaped me. They have allowed me to be just adventurous and fearless enough to be here in Vietnam experiencing a whole new world. I am exactly where I am meant to be. I’m following my path, and thankful for every moment I’m experiencing.

The days of being lost, of wandering aimlessly, of being afraid or excited. I appreciate them all. These are the moments on this trip that have pushed me, and made me damn proud of myself. They are all blessings. 

There are many ups and downs to travelling solo. But this is an experience I wish more people would allow themselves.  

We are all capable of amazing things. The challenge is to be willing to take the risk. 

So thanks guys, and even thanks for failed friendships and past jobs and “missed” opportunities, for the times I felt regret for not taking the chance on things.  It puts things into perspective. I needed to go through these things, so that today I could stand where I am and think “holy shit! I am meant for this.”

Thank you for these moments, experiences and challenges. It’s brought me here to where I stand today.

I am feeling overwhelmed, blessed, fearless and surrounded with love and protection from the universe and my friends that support me. Today I feel it. 

Love life. Because it’s a beautiful thing.

– Vanessa 

Heart wide fucking open

Hi. Here we go . I said I’d be open and vulnerable…. But can I do it? The words are exploding in my mind and it’s time to start talking.

It’s my blog and I’m going to say things, and laugh, and swear and probably cry. And maybe even make you uncomfortable being so honest. But I’m pretty open, so it shouldn’t surprise you because anyone that knows me… knows that’s who I am.

There will be two posts shared today. I wrote a post over 2 weeks ago, but between blogging issues and deciding to be ok with being so open it didn’t get posted.

It deals with a lot of the same that’s posted below. Some of the words will be similar. Maybe you didn’t read my last one. I posted it just before I posted this one…  About me, my dogs, and a boy. But two weeks have passed, and I still had troubles letting go… So it continued until again I had to understand when it was to be let go, that yes indeed it was time for me to listen. So today I begin actually posting topics that belong in my lifestyle blog. Life lessons I don’t even always want to learn. So here it is…

I’ve said it before. I’m not awesome at letting go. Even if there’s nothing left to hold onto.

There you were. The perfect blend of I shouldn’t go there and I’m captivated by you. 

But lets start further back in 2013 and 2015….

I  had a heartbreak in 2013 that surprised many. I announced my separation that became my divorce.  It had been a long time coming, even if the marriage wasn’t long. It was years of slowly feeling my heart-break piece by piece. I had become a shell of who I was, and I didn’t feel right. It was time for me to become healthier and love myself again.  I found help from therapists, and admitted I was in over my head. Friends and professionals helped me make a tough decision. But in that I had to fully recognize that a relationship, a marriage was over, and gained the strength to say I wouldn’t stay any longer for someone who wasn’t willing to contribute. I won’t get into all the ins and outs on why my marriage failed. I’ll just say this. It wasn’t a quick decision but it was one that allowed me what I needed. It was the right decision.

So then the year 2015 came. A year I feel for a lot of people was full of trials and hard times.  I went through a heartbreak in 2015 that shook me and broke me and left me wondering how the hell that all happened. My heart was completely devastated and shattered. A different heartbreak then I had felt before. I hadn’t quite accepted just how wounded this relationship had left me, and was in denial of it ending.  I again, gave too much of myself, and put in all the effort and never wanted to walk away when I should have. Realizing I’ve given more than I’d gotten and ended up depleted. I stayed in a cycle of extreme highs and lows. Unhealthy moments that should never have been allowed…. When it was over and I was in the middle of this heartache, I woke up and came alive. Somewhere in that unhealthy space when things were ending, I found strength and beauty within myself. My heart shattered open. I realized the strength I have and that I was done with unhealthy relationships that left me wondering who I am.

I became balanced. Happy. And ready for more in life. More love. More gratitude. More living. And when I allowed myself to be so open you arrived. And I was ready for you, which surprised the hell out of me. I was enjoying my own company and wasn’t looking for someone to fill a void, because I didn’t feel empty. But I surprised myself when I wanted to get to know you. I was intrigued.  And you were the one that showed me kindness, and reminded me what a relationship should be.  It woke me the hell up to how badly I allowed myself to be treated previously. That’s a blog post for another day.

You filled me with joy and made me want to dance. But there were problems. You weren’t open to the things I was. And you said it. You told me that you weren’t good at this… But I didn’t listen to just your words… I listen to your actions, how you treated me, how you acted around me….. Your actions were into what we started. You wanted to be around. You said one thing but you left the door open. A part of you wanted us… And as I so eloquently put it to my friend… You hulk-smashed my heart. But I allowed it. I knew it was coming again and again when you’d speak your words, and back away. You were meant in my life to teach me kindness and after that we needed to walk away. But I stayed. And you let me. We both have fault in that. It should have ended romantically after a few weeks when I got the cliché lines from you…. I should have known my worth and laughed it off and just been your friend… Because it was just the beginning of us hanging out and it was still good.

People are meant to be in your life. Just not always forever. So we need to learn to let go when we’re told too. I can’t blame just you… I listened only to my heart that felt love. And I followed that against your warnings. But you left that door open. And that hurt.

I’m leaving for a month and it’s the truth; we weren’t meant at this time or maybe at all.  And it needed to end now. You were right about that. So I can go away centered and balanced and loving myself, and being brave. Brave enough to take this risk travelling alone. Brave enough to know I need it. And to be brave enough to know I’m meant for so much more. It takes two to be capable in a relationship. I am. You aren’t. And this… Whatever it was, wasn’t so profound for you, and that’s ok. You weren’t at my level, because you didn’t want to be. You weren’t willing to be. You were more closed down than anyone I have ever met. And I told you. I’m not there to fix you.

You are  beautiful in your ways. In ways you are deserving of more than you allow yourself, I hope one day you’ll see it. But my dear friend in other ways, this wasn’t all roses lets just put it that way. And you do have some responsibility in this situation we found ourselves in. Even if you say you were always honest with your words.  We both stayed too long in this suto-relationship. And in doing that, there was the stuff that hurt me. The parts that were real, that you wouldn’t acknowledge. You had to let me go based on our differences, and you didn’t want to hold me back, you also just didn’t want to be apart of what I had to offer… And I had to finally listen…

The difference this time  between what you and I had and those other relationships?? I stayed who I was. I didn’t change for you. I was goofy. I was me. I sang too loud in the car, and danced around feeling joy all around me. I learned  to not lose myself in you. I’m proud of myself, because I understand that this is growth. I didn’t allow you to shatter me. Yes my heart was smashed, and I feel this heartache, but I wasn’t completely undone. Not because it wasn’t real, but through it all, I saw what I want and what I need… and in truth, you can’t give me all of that. You don’t want too.  And at some point I could no longer deny that. My heart and my brain were not in agreement when it came to you.

So.. Letting go. I’m learning. And my heart broke but it also broke open even more. I didn’t close down and get bitter, which in all of these trials I’ve been through I never have. I learned. About me. About my worth. About letting go. About being so fucking grateful for all that I do have. About what I crave in a relationship and what I need… And what I won’t allow in the future. So there were many gifts in what we had.  And I showed myself I came along way from where I’ve been.

I spoke to friends and sought out advice on how to let go. And I’m so thankful to you all. Some knew about all of these heartaches and spoke your mind even when I wasn’t ready. But I heard you. I just had to get there in my own time. Even if the words were straight to the point. I heard you. And I loved you all for it. But I find my way in my own time. Between potential and caring to much I held on to tight, every time.

But you, the one that many never knew about, I have to let you go. As you have let me go. The timing is right. The universe again has said its time to allow for the healing and releasing what this was, and what it wasn’t. And it feels good to be authentic to myself again. I wouldn’t consider myself unlucky in love. I’ve felt and had great love. I’ve also had great loss. I’ve also had some lessons that hurt, and made me think twice about what I would ever allow.  But in that I’ve found myself. There will be days I hear a song and feel something that hurts, and reminds me of you…  but I’m going to save those moments for a rainy day, as Kenny Chesney put it.

(Side note: those who didn’t know about this most recent relationship… It’s not because you aren’t important in my life, and it certainly wasn’t because he was not important to me. He was.. He and I from the beginning were pretty much over… I wanted more. He wasn’t ready . And then it was over. And then it was over again….).

I’ve got so much coming my way.. I’ll be okay. Actually I am okay. I’m learning and that feels so damn good. There’s a reason people write songs about heartbreak. It’s excruciating and devastating. A pain I’ve become familiar with. But somewhere in there it’s life changing and beautiful to be so vulnerable to feel it all. I’m not afraid of my feelings. I was unapologetically all in, and willing to be open to love and see where it went.  The heartache has it’s purpose. It’s brought my creativity back. It’s reminded me of exactly what I want. It’ll be another blog post. What VANESSA Wants… I’ll write it all down, because it’s going to come true for me, and how cool will it be to see it all unfold. Believe it. I know my worth. Because I’m fucking awesome. And so are every one of you reading this.

I have to thank my friend Anita. She helps me to open my heart and feel gratitude and love even amongst the pain. She helps me to stay grounded and be authentic and know my truth. Through her work in body talk she’s gotten me through some dark days. She helps me when it’s time to let go. My tears are accepted and they flow freely. But she’d say I’ve done the work, she’s just the messenger. I’m able to feel creative and open and spiritual and blessed by the work we’ve done together. If you don’t know about body talk it’s time to seek it out. Message me for more information. If you’re in Calgary, and your ready to find your balance, or if your feeling stuck I highly recommend her.  Our bodies are incredible and when we actually tune in and listen… We realize we know our own truth all along. Ask me about her gift, and her passion. I will get you in touch with her.

So away I go. Full of love and life and passion. I’m learning to find my passions and live them. My dreams are coming true. What an incredible statement. I’m trusting that I’m on the right path. And being open to feeling all of what I’m going through as it help shapes me. I’m allowing myself to be in the moment and I’m able to move forward without fear. And I’m beyond excited for what’s to come.
Be kind. Be kind and gentle to yourself. Because although life is beautiful, it isn’t always easy.

Be full of passion for this life. Love life. All the moments. Because each moment has beauty in it. And… Let go when it no longer serves you. Be brave enough to do that.

Xo Vanessa

A prick, quills and my dog 

This post was originally written just after valentines. Things are better now but it should have been posted earlier. I was trying to get my blog to post under “travel” and “lifestyle” but haven’t quite figured it out yet..  It keep me from updating the blog on this subject so I’m posting it now. Like I said its a travel and life blog.. So if you only want to follow the travelling skip this and next post 🙂

I was on my flight today listening to Florence and the machines ” what kind of man” and it hit me really hard. It’s a great song and the lyrics rang true to quite a few of my past relationships.. Not being all in, but leaving the door open. 

Anyways.. The post is below:

So it’s no secret that my two dogs (or my girls as I often call them) were my valentines this year. And really.. They give unconditional love, and are always happy to see me… So I’d say I’m a pretty lucky girl.❤️
But I had kind of been seeing a guy for awhile,…. Yeah and didn’t tell most people as I knew it wasn’t going to last… Not my choice I thought he was pretty great… But anyways… it ended awhile ago and I didn’t walk away as soon as I should have… Could have saved me stress, heartache and all that… Well… What can I say… I’m a sucker for punishment and am still learning. When someone says they’re not good in relationships.. THEY MEAN IT. Okay okay. He was honest about it… But we both have to own up where we went wrong. He shouldn’t have been open to dating me if he was going to shut right down, and I should have walked away the second he said that he doesn’t “do relationships”

Life lesson: people come into your life at exactly the right time, for exactly the right reason. This guy healed parts of me that were broken and after I’d done so much work on fixing myself and the hurt I had… He came along and helped me further.  I had worked on myself enough that I was willing and ready for something more. He offered kindness which had been missing in previous relationships. However…. Just because someone comes along at the right time and helps you grow…. Doesn’t mean they’re meant to stay.  It was meant to be over soon after it started… I’m not good at letting go. I’ll get into that in another post at another time.. This post is about my dog, and I’m getting there…

I’ve been stressed, between this guy and me being over (had been awhile but we still were hanging) and he offended me the last time I saw him. I thought he was better than that… But I think he had his back up. Afraid.. Yeah I think so, but not here to diagnose what he has going on…

Lol. … You see what I did with the title of this post? Funny right?   But,  I wouldn’t call him that really. It’s just catchy. And I appreciate him for what he is, and probably all he ever should have been… A friend.. Oh well. My heart wanted more.. 😪

So between this guy and my upcoming trip with so much to still do… I was feeling emotional and stressed.

I met one of my closest friends for a walk. We did over 5 km and were  enjoying our day completely. She allowed me to vent about my stresses, and she talked about hers. It was incredibly windy but a warm day for what is supposed to be winter in Alberta. On our way back to the vehicle…. Things went wrong. My girls caught scent of something and before I could control them they were pulling me down an icy hill. I tried to get my balance and hold them on leash better and somehow one got away. Oh Roxy. My girl who stays by my side always…. Was gone after who knows what… Turns out she met a porcupine that wasn’t so happy to meet her.

My heart was hurting for her. She got away pretty lucky all considering. Too me it was awful and horrible… And she certainly wasn’t happy, but they weren’t all over her body and down her throat. It could have been worse. She seemed to only have quills in her nose. But still there was enough. Off to the vet we went.

Side note. Find a friend who loves you unconditionally like I have because I’m beyond grateful for her. Her support is solid, and her kindness is contagious. When shit goes wrong she has my back… I hit the jackpot with the friends I have in my life, and she is no exception.

My girls are my life and my loves and my family. Seeing one or both in pain is not ok. It hurts me. But man did it put things in perspective. Who cares that this guy I liked hadn’t texted in days, didn’t apologize for hurting my feelings. It doesn’t matter one bit when my girl Roxy was needing surgery to get the quills out.  The best part is the tiny reply I did get back  from him… 5 words… None of which were taking responsibility for what upset me, or apologizing… Just went to show me… Not everyone is willing to own their own shit... All that stress for no good reason. I was warned about boys like that. Emotional roller coaster I was allowing myself to be on… For someone who’s not capable of being accountable, or at least meeting somewhere in the middle. I’ll talk about that another time. But in times of stress, you realize quickly that anxiety and stressing over someone …. Well what can I say. Life happens and things get put into perspective…

So now I can just focus my stress on financial woes from my vet bill and planning my trip.

And Roxy ? She’s no worse for wear now. That girls got spirit. And hopefully has learnt that you don’t make friends with porcupines….  And I shouldn’t have tried so hard with someone who has their quills out too…

2015