the third floor

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When I was younger and imagined myself at 30, the image was so defined, so clearly planned out. Marriage, children, the white picket fence, the dog running around. This was the image of being a grown up. But as the years stretched out, became closer and closer to the apparent bench mark that I had set myself…what exactly does being a grown up mean? What exactly does being a fully fledged adult entail? At thirty one and five days I have none of the above but does this make me less happier than the picture I had painted in my head all those years ago? Does not having those things make me any less of an adult? I pay my weekly rent, I pay my bills, I buy expensive clothes if I want to, I go on holidays more than twice a year, I can afford to feed myself rather well in face, perhaps if I am determined I have actual substantial savings in the bank. I read an article earlier today by Sarah Wilson in which she muses that there are no grown ups. She says that we suspect this when we are young, but we can only confirm it once we have reached a point where we have responsibilities. Everyone is just winging it, just some do it more confidently. I resonated with this sentiment. I felt like I have known it for years but was always still waiting in the wings to be handed the baton to adulthood when the time was right. To be given the secret password or the secret key which opened this world of adulthood I was not privy to.

It was a pretty nice delight to wake up on my thirty first birthday and not feel the rush of disappointment within myself that I had not ticked all the boxes I had set out for myself all those years before. Yes I had a year to settle into this new 30 year skin but the angst is still there no matter how balanced & grounded you think you are. The voices still badger you in those dark moments when you least expect it. Not that I like taking from other people but I met an incredible inspiring woman, who turned 31 the day before me and she referred to this this time in our lives as reaching the third floor. I loved the simple sentiment of the phrase. I have reached the third floor and I am making my way to the fourth floor but which each passing year I will continue to conquer, dominate and defeat the demons that stop me from being the exceptional woman I have moulded myself into to get to this point, to reach this level in my life. This is a time to celebrate the achievements in my life no matter how small, no matter how insignificant. I do not have the husband or the back seat full of children or the beautiful home but what I have in return is no less significant. No less worthy of patting myself on the back for a job well done in getting myself to this point in my life. So to anyone freaking out that the third floor is looming or that the third floor has arrived and it still makes them feel like they should have one foot on the second floor. I say to hell with that, embrace this time in our lives. The third floor is the new black. To the women who are my kindred spirits and are still waiting for the mirage on the horizon that seems to never get closer to how life should be, I say let’s change the landscape that sits on the horizon into one that defines the women who we have become not the ones we think we should be. This past year has been one of challenges but with that comes the bountiful rewards,  the experiences I have opened myself up to, the homecoming to my friends and family for whom I cannot thank enough for their belief in me. I cannot wait to see what 31 has in stall for me and the new adventures that are just around the corner.

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single white female

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Sometimes you come across a thought or a quote or a line from a book that speaks volumes to you. Just when you need it most. This next sentence & its timely introduction into my thought process was just what the doctor ordered.

“Some steps needs to be taken alone. It’s the only way to really figure out where you need to go & who you need to be.” Mandy Hale, Single Woman

Sage advice indeed.

a lesson in openness

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There is an intense vulnerability that I experience when I do Ushtrasana (camel pose) when practicing Bikram yoga. You are on your knees, kneeling, your hands are placed palm down, thumbs out on the small of your back for only a breath or so until you then move them down to grab onto your ankles.You drop your head back, all the way back until you see the wall behind you, your upper body arches up, your hips push up creating a stretch throughout your whole body but lastly pushing up through your chest, your heart area completely exposed. The aim is to keep pushing, keep arching, continue to struggle to get your body to defy giving up, giving in. There is something about being in this move that makes me frequently want to burst out crying. Sometimes I succumb quietly a gentle tear amongst the sweat, other times I suppress it, squashing down the need to just sob & let it all out. Instead I focus on my breathing. In through my nose, out through my nose until my brain & my heart are back in sync, concentrating on the mirror, on my body & the strength that I can harness from my vulnerabilities.

As we grow from children to adults we forget what it is like to be vulnerable in life. We become closed & constricted. We get hurt by the world, by people who we once loved, we grow a thick skin in order to protect ourselves. Subconsciously we rotate our shoulders forward, we push out our chin & round our upper body in order to protect our heart. Doing this creates an imbalance in our heart chakras. Ushtrasana is one of the best poses for your heart chakra. Your heart chakra is connected to your energies allowing them to achieve balance. Camel pose opens up your chest area, exposing you, making you vulnerable & more open to giving & receiving love.

So it is here in this exposed state that I found myself yesterday evening, after 11 days of not doing any form of exercise, all of those vulnerabilities came flooding back. Never mind that I had flown in from India that morning, not slept in 24 hours & I decided it was a good idea that I put myself in a room heated to 40 degrees. But that pose, brings out emotions in me, without me realising that they are in my fore mind to begin with. It opens me up. I need opening up. I need the shell, the armour I have created around me to be cracked open. I have been closed off for far too long. I locked myself away from being open to love, the act of giving myself over to the idea of welcoming love back into my life for far too long.

In the last 6 months I have had encounters that have taught me lessons in the art of openness, of which at the time I was unsure exactly why these men had been brought into my life. The first & probably the most significant was somewhat of a rush of blood to my head, a chance meeting with a man. An actual man, not a boy, but a man whose presence has a magnetic energy that pulled me into his orbit. He is a gentle soul, charismatic, humble, fragile yet strong & confident, a somewhat contradiction of terms, slightly geeky yet oozes nonchalance & style.  I was so blinded by the shield I had spent years constructing for myself that at the time of meeting him I did not see the connection. It was only later that I even allowed myself to think that someone like him could be interested in a girl like me. It seemed for a time, albeit only briefly that he felt the same way. That we had not met someone like each other in a long time, I for one had never met someone like him. It was here that my undoing began. I let my guard down, I opened up unequivocally. It was like once I had let all the shackles come off from my heart that a flood gate opened. I rushed, I pushed, I drove him away.

It takes a huge leap of faith to open up to someone new & even more so after nearly 7 years of being closed off from the thought that my battered heart could actually feel anything again but I do not regret one moment of our encounters. Meeting him, allowing myself to feel vulnerable, showing him how much capacity my heart has to give to someone I care about is the biggest lesson I learnt. By opening myself up to the possibilities that I have been so scared of, in turn taught me that with openness comes courage, grace & self worth. And whilst I may have closed myself off out of habit & fear from the hurt, the doorway is most definitely cracked & there is most certainly light where there used only be darkness.