It’s so cliché, but the past three months slipped by so quickly. We are nearly one quater through 2020! Winter in Amsterdam was mild, but wet and windy. I always joke with friends that I’m like a cat in this city – I’ve lived nine lives in nearly two years.
I spent February living in East Amsterdam. After experiencing life in the West, Centre and North, the East is by far the most ethnically diverse neighbourhood in Amsterdam. Fewer obvious indications of gentrification. My appreciation for good friends continues to grow. It’s when you find yourself in a bit of a pickle, people’s true colours show.
February was incredibly therapeutic and transformative – I really turned a corner in SO many aspects of my life. Sleeping on a friend’s couch and continuing the hustle of life allowed me to step back and detach myself from the labels we often find solace with. Allowing the unknown become known, without expectations finally paid dividends. Although I wasn’t actually ‘homeless’, on paper I was homeless. Interestingly, leaning into that idea of having nothing created a new sense of freedom. I have lived abroad for so many consecutive years now that the idea of ‘home’ confuses me. We attach so much of our identity to the idea of home being a physical place. However, home is truly starting to become a feeling rather than a place. Ugh, another cliché! During my time in Amsterdam, I’ve met so many others experiencing the same dilemma for alternative reasons – expatriates, refugees and those simply escaping a personal turmoil in their own countries.
What does ‘home’ mean to you?
Rejuvenating my joy. Finally the dark clouds disappeared and the sun began to shine again. I had so many mixed emotions tangled up within – anger, hurt, deception, disappointment, happiness, exhaustion, excitement, and fear. An absolute juxtaposition! After living out of one suitcase since January 2020, I took all my belongings out of my best friends’ basement and moved into my new place. A new neighbourhood to add to my list. A sacred space – warm, safe and calm. I love to burn candles to create a warm environment. My Shamanic teacher always starts our meditation circle by lighting a small tea-candle. It’s a symbol of spirit, allowing us to always find our way home. Furthermore adding to the concept that home exists within rather than a geographical location.
As International Women’s Day approached on March 8th, I experienced a profound moment that rejuvenated my joy and restored my confidence. Empowerment is a term that means something different to everyone – politically, sexually, environmentally, economically, etc., Professionally, I found myself in a situation whereby I explicitly communicated my worth. Prior to this I would always become overwhelmed with imposter syndrome – “Am I good enough?” or “Am I worth being paid that figure?” Then one day it clicked. ABSOLUTELY, I am good enough and I’m worth more than what’s on offer. Self doubt flew out the window and I followed my intuition, which felt incredibly exhilarating!
I believe you restore joy when you stop self sabotaging and strive towards alignment. Finally, I listened to this internal advice. Walking away from someone or a job that doesn’t see or appreciate your worth is the greatest act of self love you can demonstrate. Confrontation was the card that appeared at my mediation circle. Then my Shamanic teacher said something I had never thought of before. “If you dislike confrontation, then you aren’t able to confront yourself.” Something immediately clicked in that very moment! I always viewed bad blood as a byproduct of all confrontation – the worst possible outcome to me. But, I’m beginning to change my perspective on this concept. Living in The Netherlands, you begin to see that honesty is highly respected because it is the foundation of all trust. Open communication deserves a lot of respect because it ignites vulnerability. If you can approach confrontation with respect and open communication, the end result doesn’t have to negatively implicate the situation. In my situation, I walked away with pride and a level of self respect.
Yesterday I went on a 70 kilometre cycle with a group of friends. It’s becoming an annual outing as we tackle the open roads, high winds, scattered showers and a celebratory lunch. Coronavirus is creating an overwhelming sense of panic, so escaping into nature seemed like the best option to stay occupied. Time flew by on the bike because I was having the most interesting chat with a French friend. The self transformation she described perfectly reflected my own experience. We spend so much time – physically, mentally and emotionally on self renovations – internally and externally. However, sometimes a sledgehammer to undertake a full demolition is the best way to move forward. A fresh canvas to start something new and exciting.
Acceptance over resistance has been the biggest lesson in the past three months. The need for control, to know the outcome – it takes up more energy than anything! At times I find myself overwhelmed by certain situations. But in those moments I step back and become aware of my thoughts – If I focus on everything that could go wrong, will it prevent me from accomplishing my end goal? Of course, the answer is always, yes. The dilemma of this new approach to life has resulted in cutting out certain people during these challenging times to stay focused on what could go right. As we have seen during this Coronavirus pandemic – fear breeds fear. False Evidence Appearing Real. Fear throws you off balance and takes up more space in your being that could be allocated to joy. Difficult moments require legitimate positivity and encouragement. Worry, caution and anxiety are inevitable emotions felt by loved ones, but they are also extremely distracting and often, unnecessary.
Rejuvenating your joy starts within – trusting yourself, your abilities and what’s best for you in the long run.