Moving Saga Part 3: Embracing Change

by Elisabeth

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On Wednesday I forced myself to go to the YMCA. My exercise schedule has degenerated in this past month. The move– and lack of having a gym for some days, then lack of having a personal trainer and program– left me with enough excuses to sufficiently lower my muscle-mass. Also, there has been an influx of social engagements, alcohol consumption, and gazing at the sparkly ocean, lush forest, and vast mountain skyline. Then, two weeks ago, I got a debilitating cold that knocked me flat on my back. I was mired in a sea of kleenex and mucous. The perfect excuse not to exercise. So yesterday, with guilt and fear in tow, I took the bus to my beloved YMCA for a Cardio Kick-box class.

It rocked me red-faced and tired. I never sleep so well as after expending so much energy.

With all these experiences under my belt in just over a month, I’m starting to realize the other effect of making a major change (like moving). Something akin to the domino effect, but perhaps better described as a rock dropping into the lake, and all the concentric circles that radiate from this one, dense plunge.

Moving to Vancouver has changed the food I eat, the people I talk to, the lifestyle I lead, and even my relationship to my job. Two months ago I would NEVER have a attended a Cardio Kick-box class just because it would have intimidated me. Now that I have left Montreal, I can see the limitations that I inadvertently placed on myself. I blamed my fears about how I would be accepted in the Montreal dating scene on linguistic and cultural differences. I started to bow out of public life, not so much out of fear, but by the mental walls that I built.

Moving was an uncomfortable, anxious leap of faith. Confucius said:

Wherever you go there you are.

It’s true. But with this one big move, I have eliminated my own excuses of “why I can’t.” I’m here now, with myself, but I have no one to blame. It wasn’t Montreal’s fault that I made these roadblocks in my mind. But they were there.

It’s the same with people who go through big breakups. Or huge career changes. Or suffer an unthinkable loss. Sometimes big changes (self-designed or not) uncover veils of illusion that you didn’t even know were there. Definitely out of comfort zone.

But then it’s not just that you made that move/ break-up/ career choice. Then you discover that the little organic store near your house always have good deals on tomatoes and avocados, and then all of sudden you are the Salad Queen. You go to your local wine store so you can chat with the handsome dude you’ve been eyeing, and then discover that he remembers you from working together 13 years ago. Despite your distaste for MMA culture, you kind of enjoyed some of the kickboxing moves at Cardio Kick-box. New directions, influences, and excitements. Just because you have a new area code.

Two weeks ago I felt dragged down and spit out by my own psyche. I had visited both parents and experienced all ranges of emotions that one feels in the presence of people whom you both love and feel the need to rebel from. I also felt daunted by my my new 6am start time for work. Working from home helped me realize how much stress I was carrying related to my job, and that awareness made me want to baulk. I wasn’t getting enough sleep, I was overwhelmed, and I was resisting the inevitable changes that change presents. Which is how I invoked my brutal cold.

Then on Canada Day, despite a full dance card of projects and initiatives, and not-completely-mended lungs, my friend invited me to Wreck Beach— a clothing-optional beach and huge bohemian hangout– to celebrate our day off. I packed a bag, my hula hoop, and set off down the long wooden staircase into through the forest with hundreds of other revellers. I arrived at our spot, parked against the log, and I scanned the looming pastel mountains in the distance. The lush foliage protected us from the gawking eyes of civilization. People in various states of undress and national pride played in the ocean. Picnics, drum circles, polo matches, and all-round good times populated the seascape. I was so happy. I snuck sips of Kim Crawford Sauv. B. from my water bottle and felt the sun like a warm hand, reminding me how lucky, happy, and excited I was.

I wrote a note to myself, so I wouldn’t forget.

It said:

Sitting quietly in my power.

A lot of my trepidation in coming to Vancouver was the fear of making an epic mistake. Or even worse, returning back to find that I was still the same black sheep that I was when I left. After ten years out East, I seem to have broken that spell. Every single thing that I dreamed of and set out to do seems to be falling into place like some magical puzzle that I don’t even have to touch to put together. But only since I stopped fighting it.