Tag Archives: dreaming

It’s Not Just Where I Go, It’s What I Leave Behind

This is a whopping 2,200 words. I’ve written it more for me than you, but I hope you too can enjoy it.

photo5When I leave on a jetplane to my unpredictable life abroad, I see myself doing a few things to officially close the door on my past.

Chief among them will be editing those who cast influence upon my life. I don’t want to ruffle feathers now, but I suspect many people who are loosely termed as “friends” of mine through social media will find themselves excised from my digital life, while I’ll choose others to be amplified and omnipresent.

I’ve made some big, long sacrifices to find myself on the road upon which I’m travelling. I’ve set goals, I’ve accomplished them. I’ve changed my worldview and fought through a lot of personal doubt. I’ve removed some excuses from my realm and have fought hard to overcome all kinds of odds. Some of those in my life are a large part of why and how I was able to beat those odds.

A Dream Takes Shape

Travel-dream-479x640

From flowliving.com.

If you’d asked me three years ago whether I thought I could do what I’m about to do — sell everything, travel for five years — I would’ve laughed at you. My health was bad, my debt was choking me, and I barely had faith I could hack it in Victoria, let alone in worldwide travelling.

But then I started demanding more of myself, convincing myself I had the power to change my situation from the unfulfilling, scary life it was, and instead fashioning something amazing from it. At the time, I was only hoping to pick a cheap country and move abroad as a desperate means to get some retirement savings in the bank.

But then it seemed like that wasn’t enough. It was a big world, how could I pick one country? Maybe I could see more of the world while still saving money.

Then some friends of mine were all out there travelling the globe. Duane was living as a digital nomad — short trips home, then back out around the world again. Jason was on a more-than-a-year trip, doing everything from looking for bats in Austin, Texas, to making the trek up to Everest Base Camp. Nadia was scuba diving her way through oceans all over the planet, creating magical marine photography.

These weren’t famous folks or celebrities, people with major Instagram accounts or book deals. They are simply friends who decided to go a different route than your average bear.

These are some of the people who inspired me to think I could do more than just escape for a while. I could drop everything, get the hell out, and cross off items one after another off my bucket list. Now on the horizon is the dream of not only travelling the world, but the possibility of doing so debt-free. What? That’s insane, but this week I’ll have finally paid off nearly 75% of the debt choking me when I moved here.

Recognizing Regret — And Ending It

Haruki-Murakami-Famous-QuotesMy birthday will fall in the week I leave the country, and this is for deeply personal reasons that I can sort of give voice to, but you’ll never understand it the way I feel it.

I’ll be 42 the week I leave. When my mother was that age, she had 15 years left to live. She had no idea of that, then. Nor did we. This weekend, two acquaintances in my age group are in hospitals battling cancers that could claim their lives. Now that’s a fight that takes everything you got. I know — I watched as the days ticked away to my mother’s cancer death.

Much of what led me to Victoria in the first place was reading the posthumous blog post by my friend Derek Miller. It went viral the world over, thanks to the simple, clear way he explained he was sorry he was dying, sad he would miss so much to come, but that, given his choices and his family, he had left this life with no regrets.8469916ee4caece12e76d122b77d8c32

I knew, reading his words, that my Vancouver life was clouded with regret. In the year that followed, I chose to end that regret by moving here. In my new Victoria life, that regret is lifting, but it’s because I’ve done the hard work to make it rise, and also only because I’m leaving on this trip soon. My travels will end a lot of the regrets I’ve had — because it will mark me becoming the person I’d dreamed I’d be, as far back as when I was 15.

How Our Friends Define Us

People tell you that success in life is often about “who you know,” and I suspect many people interpret this to mean that it’s about whether you’ve got an Elon Musk or Bill Gates in your phone as a contact, but I think it’s much more than that… while also being much simpler.

I think “who we know” translates to what we see as humanly possible, demonstrated by those in our lives. It’s those people we’re friends with who defy odds, challenge assumptions, or conquer obstacles. They’re folks who show us the realm of our possibility, our strength. If we allow them to inspire us, then we can change who we are simply because of who and what they project.

1e6063aa328c2793401ab2c5857007faAs my time here draws to a close, I’m trying to be patient with some of those in my digital world. They’re not really “friends” but they’re also not people I’m quite ready to kick out of my online life yet. Maybe some only because it’d complicate business/other friends. For some, it’s because I’m hoping they finally realize they can CHOOSE to change their life. Thing is, it means first getting over the sense of being powerless under adversity.

But come that day I’m leaving on a jetplane, the only folk I want left are the dreamers. Those who might not think everything is possible, but a hell of a lot of it is. I want people who aren’t defined by limits around them but instead are inspired by potential.

Feeling The Fear, Doing It Anyway

I can’t for a moment pretend I’m not completely terrified about my journey. I get mini-anxiety attacks even now, if I’m being honest. But then I get heart flutters of giddy excitement.

how-to-make-your-travel-dreams-come-true-by-Natasha-von-Geldern-world-travelerStill, I know there will be weepy nights when I feel a million miles from all I’ve loved, when I miss everything from the smell in the air and seasonal weather through to the cracks in familiar sidewalks. I know I’ll sometimes cower under covers, hugging the only comfort item I’m bringing with me –my Quatchi teddybear — as I fight back tears and rage with PMS in some unknown city in a foreign land.

But then I’ll wake and put on pants and steel myself to face another day, and something spellbinding but small will happen — maybe just an old man with a cart offering me a flower or a pastry as he waves off my money, or I stumble into a five-centuries-old church not “grand” enough for an admission price, or some quiet night as I’m perched on a rooftop in some city’s Old Town, staring out over rooftops that barely changed since the Renaissance, as the sun sets, as it has hundreds of thousands of times since.

And I’ll realize then what I know now: Everything in life is a push-pull. Sacrifice feeds accomplishment, and accomplishment requires sacrifice. I can’t have one without the other.

I can’t have the dream of seeing the world and philosophically transforming myself down to the core of who I am, unless I’m prepared to walk away from everything that has shaped me into who I am today. That, my friends, is the price of admission for the big show.

The Price Worth Paying

There is nothing I want more in life than to survive off writing what I want to write. Not client work, not web copy. But things like this filled with thoughtful pauses found in the myriad moments which comprise who we are.

Whether I do that through a monetized blog or it’s by way of writing a monster best-seller, it doesn’t matter. That’s what I want to do — survive solely off my writing.

ef13506c37c8141725f610c91cb8538eFor that, I cannot have the “But how will you do that” type folks who sort of believe it’s possible but doubt that they could know anyone first-hand who’s capable of eking that existence out, as if it’s some superhero-esque feat . I cannot have those folks around me, the ones I see constantly wondering why a Bad Thing has happened to them, when they could instead simply choose to accept it while they learn something about themselves in the process.

I need the dreamers. The believers. The inspirers.

For a long time, I was lost in the “why” of adversity and never understood how to learn and grow from it, that fires forging me would temper me in the future versus ever again being so badly burnt by misfortune.

Today, I’m blessed by the gift of adversity. Nothing but struggle for over a decade served to teach me that life is a constant fight but it’s the magic of the moments in between that make it so worth fighting for.

Lessons Are Gold

B782gkuIgAAIt39I’ll never be an optimist. I’ll never not fear or worry about life. I don’t believe that’s viable. Not for me. It sets people up for disappointments, I find. Instead, I favour pragmatic realism. I understand that both good and bad befall us. I know struggle often sucks. I accept bad moods and depression when they find me, because they’re valuable tools in the human condition.

But that crap’s on a clock, man. Tick-tock, start moving past it and fast. Like when I blew out my knee at the end of February. I allowed myself to be angry, depressed, and scared — for a couple days. But then I tempered that with determination and resolve. Somehow, I’d make it work out.

In the end, that injury has taught me two things that might become massively instrumental in preventing back and knee blow-outs when I’m travelling.

How much is a lesson like that worth? A month of inconvenience? More? Arguably, yes.

Who Am I? Who Are You?

In the end, there’s no way to clue other people into those epiphanies that transform us from naysayers to unbridled dreamers. There’s no surefire trick, no guaranteed route. Somehow, something unlocks that for you, and you figure it out.

45b04566ef8d638140f813c822e578dfFor me, it had to get darker and harder after my move to Victoria before I found a way to claw out of that. But I did that. I had the support of friends, but I was the one with the heavy lifting.

Years ago I heard a quote — “It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not.” It is the single most important quote I have ever, ever heard.

For a long time, I saw world travellers as being a specific kind of person. Luckily, I’ve learned there is no one kind of traveller. I have my friends to thank for that lesson.

When I watched my friends Jason, Duane, and Nadia circumnavigating the globe, I realized something important: None of them did it the same way. None of them did it the way I would, if I could. And none of them would travel the way I will.

I realized I didn’t have to follow their model. I didn’t have to be an adventurer of the Patagonia-wearing mountain-climbing ilk, or a big-city fan. I didn’t have to challenge nature, confront extremes, or embrace big fears.

I could eat, drink, meander my way around the planet. I could stop in strange places and simply be a part of them, if only for a day or a week. Take a piece of it with me, leave a piece of my soul behind for the next traveller. That, I could do. And I could share it with readers back home.

Look to the Little Stars

An ex-lover once told me his favourites were the little stars in the sky. The ones you squinted hardest to see, often outshone by the big ones nearby. I always liked them too.

These days, I have what I call “The Park Bench Theory” about life. In it, any day including a moment of pause (often found on a park bench or a seaside log or a museum step) is a fine day well-lived. I don’t need the big fancy days. I don’t need the black-tie events. For me, the best of life comes in the simplest moments.

david-glaser-quote-if-only-there-were-a-longer-time-between-epiphanyHere in Victoria, I’ve learned to understand what makes me tick. What I love. What I crave. Where I dream of. Knowing that, well, it’s not as easy as it sounds. It’s essentially the secret to life, after all.

Some people go their whole lives without ever finding th passion or want that makes them tick. I’m lucky. I not only know what my passion is, but I will have a five-year master class that will help transform me into the kind of writer I’ve only ever dreamt of being.

And I can hardly wait, even if it’s a road I’ll journey alone.*

*But no traveller is ever alone. It’s a voyage made possibly by endless strangers all conspiring to get us where we need to be. We are, indeed, shaped by who we know. Even strangers.

To Sleep, Perchance to Remember a Dream

For more than a decade, I’ve woken daily without remembering my dreams. There’s been a handful of dreams in that time that I remember. Literally, probably under 10 for 10 years.

Photomanipulation by @Chiaralily on Flickr.com, Creative Commons.

And then, this week, I remember flashes of dreams from no less than four nights now. Poof! Like that, suddenly my “dream memory” is coming back to me.

And they’re not significant dreams. Just flashes of odd snips of people on my life’s peripheries. Not like the times in ’00 and ’01 when I dreamed my dead mother came back for one last goodbye conversation — after which I’ve never since remembered a dream. Funny how that works.

I’d tell you I’ve done nothing different in my life, but there’s one thing that has changed recently: My bedroom.

I removed the distracting clutter, got rid of the ugly fucking window treatments, brought in plain, simple, beautiful flowing white sheers and a white “blackout” blind. That’s it. But, suddenly, poof. Dream memory, back.

When it comes to dreams, I’ve had some incredibly trippy ones in my life, and it’d be wild if I had that back. My drugs-before-drugs, as it were, those early strange dreams from 20 years ago, when life was simpler. If I could have filmed some of those dreams, it’d have made compelling abstract art.

I never did remember dreams often, and I’ve never been prone to nightmares,  so I’m unlikely to have either as a constant presence, but what if I could? I wonder what it’d do for my creative life, to have that odd mighty-fucked subconscious tap-in within reach, daily. Clearly dream memory is working for Tim Burton.

Someone like me, I’m constantly creative, but in a very only-slightly-left-of-centre kind of way, day-to-day, anyhow. I look at other people for whom outside-the-box is thinking small, the kind of people whose imaginations live in the clouds, and I wish I could be a little more detached from the straight and narrow sometimes. It must be… fun. I know it exists inside me, I’ve certainly had my moments. It’s something I wish I could more easily access.

Maybe there’s hope for that, yet. Maybe life can constrain that creativity out of us more than we know, like wearing a constantly too tight belt might do for one. Maybe it can be loosened. Maybe I’m loosening it now.

I mean, how is dream memory suddenly coming back to me now?

Is it merely because I changed my room from a distracting and cluttered place to a womb-like relaxation room? Did that help my subconscious take a chill-ride?

I don’t know.

What I do know is, I sure as hell will take every bit of insight my little brain can muster these days.

Cue the subconscious. I’m ready.

And The Hits Keep Coming

This is the kind of posting I would instinctively run carte-blanche on The Ditch, but I thought I’d say hi. Hi!

I’m having a horribly pseudo-Monday Tuesday that just keeps packing punch after punch. Waking up was all wrong. I woke up, And Something Felt Wrong.

But I, a true trouper, forged ahead. Sure, my jeans were worn a couple times already, but they would do. The laundry could wait. Breakfast, I decided, could not. I made myself ham, some supah-dupah² strong java, toasted me some baguette (bad, but so good!), and made a couple over-easy fried eggs.

One which I dropped immediately on the floor.

The floor I cleaned last night. Thus, egg was partially salvaged, and if you judge me, man, you’re gonna hafta walk a mile in my shoes of the day, I shit you not. You just don’t know, man. You just don’t know.

I got to the office and realized in total fear that I had forgotten to set the VCR (we don’t got no stinking TiVO yet, so keep that yap closed) to record the all-important, life-altering episode of Rockstar due to air this evening. MY GOD, I thought! I’ll have to do without lunch break, and no supper break, and rush over to job 2 ASAP apres job 1, I decided.

And then I worked like a demon. Sort of.

Work was a no-brainer until someone raised up the gates of hell about five hours into my shift, and whazzo, there it went: Hell in a handbasket. Suddenly, fires burned that needed putting out, rivers boiled, and phones rang. It was, I assure you, evil very incarnate. Oooh, evil.

But I coped. I coped and I coped and I coped and I got out of work two minutes late, hopped on the now-rain-soaked scoot and zipped across the downtown core to the plastic ‘hood of Yaletown. I scuttled my little hiney up to the TV monitoring station and threw myself onto the documentary with a vampiric intensity. Then, felled by the evils of a poorly written, badly edited script, I was forced to spend the next 105 minutes editing the mockery of a language called English, written by someone who’d clearly been a jester earlier in this life or last’s.

I rushed out, three hours to the minute, in the hopes of getting home just in time for Rockstar. And I did. It was 7:53. Then I learned it was on at 9, not 8. Doh. My bad. I still have 32 minutes left now.

A month or so ago, I couldn’t really get any work. WELL, that was then, this is now. My old job wants me, my new job wants me, my ESL students want me. (And presumably you people might even want me.) I can’t say no fast enough! I’m too tired for this shit — why can’t the money folk rear their ugly-ass heads next month, HUH? (And some will. This is something I’m anticipating, and I may make good on it.)

In between all that is this podcasting shit that needs to be taken to another level next week, now that I knows me how to record and all. And a website needs building. Blah, fucking blah! Oh, the chaos of it all! (See gear here.)

But next week will be more sane. I will cut back evening work to just tutoring, about four or so hours, and then I will work one weekend day. Presto, instant fascimile of that elusive thing called sanity.

Of course, I’m medicated, so what the hell do I know about sanity anyhow? Hi, I’m Steff, and this is my Fog.

(Heh.)

No, minions, I’m here to tell you that, despite Their Best Efforts, still I stand. Bitter and needing a stiff drink, but stand I do, and stand I shall. And, one day, I shall spend money I have earned on toys and things that I covet.

(I’m drooling over a 160gig external drive being advertised at Best Buy. Me wants. Me wants! Rowr. But I’m adding it to the list I have that keeps on growing a la Jack-&-the-Beanstalk. Magic!)

Oh, hey, and here’s a couple photos for you. Podcasting gear (shweet!) and the crazy centaur guy I saw at the Luminares festival this year (a celebration of light; which explains why he has a huge, glowing, red penis. I had asked him to pose for me, but he kept wiggling his glowing ember of a penis in my face, so it naturally looks motion-blurred. Yes, that’s one quick dick).

I Blame It All On George Michael

Creativity’s an organic process; I know what I want to write for y’all, but I can’t help it if something flicks the switch and something else comes out. This morning, I was sweeping the kitchen, dancing around, listening to cheesy ’80s music, when this posting occurred to me. Remembering some of this fodder made me laugh out loud, and I’ve still got a grin on my face. So, hopefully you find the diversion fun. I’ll deliver on the Vixen thing.

When I was in Grade 4/5, Wham! took the world by storm. As always, I was a latebloomer, and I fell for them in Grade 7. George Michael made me swoon. Those lips, those eyes, and oh, my god, that ass.

I would dance around my pink bedroom with Freedom playing on full blast. I dreamed of nothing more than somehow encountering my idol and having an affair. Surely he liked 13-year-old girls, I thought. I mean, eight more months and I, too, would be 13. We would kiss. Madly. Sex wasn’t something I’d be considering much for at least another four or five years, but kissing…

A year or two after that, I saw him walking down the street in Vancouver with this Asian woman on his arms. A few months down the road, she’d come to fame as his lover from the video I Want Your Sex, the famed torso upon which the pop star would write, in lipstick, “Explore monogamy.” I clued in pretty fast, guys like exotic chicks, not 13 year olds, and they liked sex, not kissing, and they liked flat little torsos, it seemed.

But that didn’t faze me. I still loved my George. When I discovered masturbation, George was there with me, that sexy bare chest in those little shorts he used to wear. I didn’t even have to imagine George doing anything to me. The fantasy was an album signing. He looked up. Our eyes locked. I creamed my pants. One glance from George, it seemed, was enough to do me in. Oh, George! (gush) Naturally, masturbation then consisted of dry-humping an interesting pile of teddy bears and pillows contoured in, frankly, very strange places, while holding a little teen magazine with the latest male hottie with a perfect smile on the cover. (Oh, GEORGE!)

Honestly, when I was young, I missed the bus to Hipville. It took me a while to grow out of dorkness. My mom was a bit of a hippy, and my clothes were often homemade and things like that, or just badly chosen. It wasn’t until I left private school (Catholic… think kilts and knee-highs, boys… ooh, tartan) and did public school that I finally found a clue.

George kept me company in those dark years. Corey Hart kinda helped, too, and Michael J. Fox. If it makes you feel any better, I’ve been a Johnny Depp girl since 1991.

The best thing I ever did for my sex life in my teens, though, was to buy a pair of Doc Martens. My first weekend in them, Josh. Oh, Joshie, Joshie, Joshie. German and Japanese. What a fucking studmuffin. (I always remember my friend having to explain what a studmuffin was to her confused father. “Why, Daddy, it’s a stud you can really sink your teeth into.”) Josh was built for lovin’ – he was 6’4, broad shoulders, and lips that made for smothering, baby.

Yep. One kiss from Josh and I figured, huh, these boots are something. See, he spots me at a party with all our mutual friends, me and my 13-hole docs, and beelines over, commenting that cherry was always the sexiest colour for him. “Oxblood,” I corrected him. Our lips locked shortly after that for the ultimate in gropefests on the back steps. It was the first time a boy ever grabbed my boobs and squeezed and groped, the first time I knew what it felt like for a boy to fumble as to tried to get under the bra and over the breast, and the first time I ever had the distinct feeling of being moist in public.

Naturally, Josh told the world that it had been us who was making the camper a-rockin’, and a classic teen “But I’m not a slut, that was SUZY!” drama unfolded. But I learned something important then. Image was everything, and George wasn’t doing me no favours. I started experimenting with music and quickly found U2 and Front 242, and learned that bad was good, and haven’t looked back since. These days, I’m a punk rock poser-girl some of the time, but usually just a nitty-gritty indie rock kinda gal. No, no Docs these days, but my Skechers are kinda cute.

Funny thing, though. A while back, I had this guy I was sorta wooin’ after dinner. We were interacting, on the cusp of sex, but the nerves were in the way, so instead we were standing too far apart, with that invisible awkwardness barrier repelling us. My iPOD developed a mind of its own and suddenly Wham! spun on.

“Wake me up, before you go-go
Don’t leave me hangin’ on like a yo-yo”

Next thing you know, the boy and I were bouncing around the kitchen, laughing and singing, washing dishes, cleaning up, and naturally, a spot of water on the floor yielded a well-placed slip, and we collided into each other, against the counter, collectively gasped, locked lips, fumbled about, and the rest unfolded exactly as it should, upon my bed.

I guess our liabilities aren’t always what they seem, and the past is never as far away as we’d like to think. But is that so bad? That night, it wasn’t.

PS: Incidentally, of all my teen idols, GM’s the only one I still find sexy. Not my type per se anymore, but still has “it”.