Friday, July 9, 2010

it's so pretty out there...

A word that I can deeply relate to at this time in my life is inspiration. The world is full of it, and when the time is right you can't not see it.

I couldn't always see it. It's something I learned. Now I find myself walking around in my little blissful world, smiling to myself with my own little secret to happiness!

It's fair to say that I am not pre-disposed to being blissful. It took some hard work on my part. I have had many times of moodiness and negativity, aching at the thought of what others have, look like, do... I couldn't always appreciate what was before me. I went through a time where I felt like I was in the wrong place, relationship, career; the wrong life. I know what it feels like to be uninspired.

Somehow in the past year something changed. I shifted thinking. It could have been moving away from the city that I just could not relate to to a city that I can connect with on a deeper level (someday, I want to talk about what home means to me...someday). It could have also been spending a month in arguably one of the most beautiful, inspiring countries in the world. I can't exactly say. All I can say for sure is that most days are bliss, and it has nothing to do with anything other than letting go of expectations.

We don't have a lot. We have both opted for jobs that fit with our passions and values rather than pay us the big bucks. We rent a one bedroom apartment and share a compact car. Warren wears many of the same t-shirts that he has had since I first me him, and I often shop at value village. We're not thrifty, we're choosy! I often say that's it's better to have a rich life than a rich bank account (I am not yet convinced that you can have both).

We moved to a one bedroom apartment because we want to be together as much as we can! We used to live in a two bedroom townhouse, and we only ever used a quarter of it. The rest just collected dust. We just want to be together! Moving was one of the best decisions we ever made. 

Yes, we live in a city that most people gawk at, but honestly, it's beautiful! There is not a 'smart centre' in sight and everything we need is within walking distance. From our windows we see houses worth millions of dollars next to high density housing. The park across the street is filled with families, the sound of children playing, groups of frisbee throwers and amazing diversity, culturally and socio-economically. Compare our neighbourhood full of gardeners, lemonade stand entrepreneurs and cyclists to a sleepy suburban neighbourhood where the kids spend sunny days inside an arena, the parents are fighting crowds at Costco, and the SUV's in the driveway outnumber more practical vehicles. Which life is more rich? It's just my opinion, but I would say mine! Do people in big expensive houses look outside their living room window and say, ten times a day, "it's so pretty out there"? (the first month we lived in our apartment that was my mantra...)

I don't intend to put anybody down or judge people for their lifestyles. I just want to convey my passion for pursuing things in life that really lead to happiness. Which brings me back to the idea of inspiration. Life inspires me. And when I let go of what I think life is supposed to be like, and become open to possibilities, I have access to a level of peacefulness I didn't even know existed. I have learned that happiness is not about the world around me, but the world inside me. I can find inspiration in the most simple of things: a beautiful stone on the ground, the shadows in the leaves of a tree, hearing a belly-laugh from a stranger, the sensation of warm, bubbly dishwater. These things make me smile. It's all about perspective.

I take a lot of pictures of things that inspire me. I am no photographer. That's evident. But I like to think that the photos I take show some of the beauty in my world.

I have a new found love of 'nesting'. This has not been typical behaviour for me. I have always liked to surround myself with beautiful things, but always with the feeling of freedom to pack up and leave in an instant. I have always had really itchy feet. Since moving away from home to go to University at the age of 19 I have always felt the need to move around. Not commit to a home. I used to take inventory of all of my stuff and feel comfort in knowing that I could pack it all up and go on the road. Like a snail wears it's home on its back. I read Jack Kerouac and identified with the vagabond lifestyle. I dreamt of taking off for months, and always regretted that I could never really leave everything that I have worked for behind.

I read somewhere that the term 'hobo' comes from the words 'homeward bound' and this rings true for me. Traveling, trying out new cities, exploring other lives, all lead to where I am now. I find myself urning for roots; for a home base. A place to display my books, to nurture a garden, to represent us. This doesn't mean that my travel bug is gone, but it means that travel will always lead back to the same spot. Travel has inspired me to get to know my own home.

I am inspired by my home. Inspired to make the little place we have into a refuge. I love filling rooms with things that improve our quality of life. I love making things cosy. We have turned a slab of concrete and metal bars into an outdoor heaven for us and the cats to retreat to. The tiny, windowless, fan-less bathroom has elements of nature to make it warm. I am always inspired my our beautiful wooden chopping block, and the way veggies look sliced and diced atop it. Our mix and match napkins look so homey on the handmaid kitchen table that Warren ate cornflakes at as a child.

My home is no longer just a place for my things. It is the safest, cosiest, happiest place in the world!

Someday soon we want to buy a house in our neighbourhood. It will be nice to be able to paint and renovate and nest on another level. But for now, I love our little home with all it's cosyness!

As much as I love home, I am equally in love with travel! I haven't been everywhere. We don't get to travel half as much as we want to. Sometimes I feel sad about this. It's hard for me not to be jealous when I hear of my friend's travels. Most of my friends are globe-trotters.

Travel is something l value. I am not really referring to 'vacations' like Montego Bay or Varadero, although those are both great places! I am referring to the kind of travel that forces you to forget everything you thought you knew, and learn how to live in a new way.

Within the twenty-four hours of travel I am always reminded of this: travel has this way of simultaneously beating you down and lifting you up. If done right it's hard (where to eat? how to use the money? where to sleep? how to drive on the "wrong" side of the road or use the transit? how to communicate?) but also amazingly rewarding.

I don't always get to go to the places I want when I want to. But I try to consider what it is about travel that I love, and how I can incorporate that into my life as it is. What I love about travel inspires me to have a richer life right at home. Road trips into the nowhereness of the rural highways outside of the city... choosing different foods at the farmers market to try... having a soy latte with a book in a coffee shop... these things remind me of travel. There are so many adventures to be had in this life of ours, and we don't have to travel to southeast Asia to experience them if we don't have access to travel all the time.

There are thousands of things that inspire me, and I have only just scratched the surface! 

Life is good!

Love Always,
Joan Blondina