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