Following Your Bliss

Standing by trees and sunset

New article up on Rebelle Society! I’ve been enamored of Rebelle for years, their writing always seems so honest and giving. My first article for them is about finding out who you are and taking steps to be where you want to be. Not an easy choice but always a worthy one.

Icon

We’ve all done it. We’ve all been sitting behind a desk, staring aimlessly at a computer screen, wishing we were somewhere else.

Walking to the office enmeshed in the rat race and wondering where your life went wrong. Leaving work at 5 o’clock, and in your mind you aren’t heading home, but running, sprinting, flying fervently in the direction of your dreams.

The thing is that pushing yourself to do something just so you can achieve the status quo, or so you can have a certain level of stability, is not a bad thing. A lot of people work unfulfilling day jobs, and satisfy themselves with other endeavors on the weekends and evenings.

I am decidedly not one of those people. And if you clicked on this article, then I have a sneaking suspicion that you aren’t one of those people either. Chances are, you are looking for a reason to get out from under your menial existence and live the life you’ve imagined.

Here’s five ways how you can do just that.

 

1. Spend time with yourself.

You know you want something else. You know you are destined for greatness. But you aren’t sure where to start. Truth be told, you aren’t even sure what you want out of life. The best and most profound way to figure that out is to spend inordinate amounts of time with yourself.

Take long walks, write in a journal, learn how to meditate. Take classes in things that interest you. Spend time looking at online blogs and sites that inspire you. Do whatever it takes to get to know yourself intimately. It may be hard at first, because we are all so used to socializing in our spare time.

But trust me when I tell you that it is in those quiet moments, when no one else is around, that you will find the true you. It will happen noiselessly and gracefully, and before you know it, you will be heading solidly in the direction of your dreams.

 

2. Be brave, be bold, be fearless.

Nothing great ever happened because someone chose to remain meek.

Do something daring and brave. Quit your job, move out on your own, make a short film, start an online magazine… do something that you’ve been dreaming about but never had the guts to do. Life rewards those who take chances.We see it time and time again in the media and in the lives of our heroes.

So, be fearless and step out into the unknown. It’s scary but necessary. And once your fear subsides, you’ll realize that the trick is to stop thinking about the things you want and start doing them.

 

3. Use your connections/community.

By the time you are in your mid-twenties, you’ve managed to build up a sizable community around you. Chances are, you have migrated towards the same kind of people that you one day want to be. In my case, it was a community of artists, visionaries, freethinkers and risk-takers.

When I took a look around, I noticed that I had a number of valuable resources right at my fingertips. Use these.

Reach out to everyone you know who can offer valuable insight or connections and tell them where you’re at. Social media is an amazing tool for this. Ask everyone for help. You will be surprised at the generosity of others. So many people will respond with advice and direction that your plate will be full.

 

4. Put your work out there.

The biggest fear of any budding artist, writer or would-be professional is to be rejected. Everyone has that fear. But a big part of getting out of your own way is to put yourself out there for everyone to see. Be brave and accept rejection as part of your career. It will happen, but it will also make you better.

Being thick-skinned is a very big part of working in your chosen profession. Putting your work out there shows that you are unafraid to do what needs to be done in order for you to get what you want. People respect courage. So be fearless and you will probably find that you will receive more praise than trolls.

 

5. Work hard, every day, all the time.

Hard work is a given. It’s one of those standard things that we hear all the time, starting from your teachers in middle school. While you can work hard every day, what no one teaches you is how to focus. In order to get what you want in life, you need to live, breathe and eat it.

If you want to write, write all the time and use every available situation in your life to inspire you. If you want to make art, take classes, pick up raw materials and experiment, spend time going to galleries and looking at other artists online.

The point is that whatever it is you want to do, make sure you are 100% dedicated to doing it. It may cut into your social time or your eating-cookie-dough-and-watching-Netflix time but in the end it will be worth it.

Following your bliss sounds simple, but it’s a challenging task. Life is geared towards so many distractions that it’s easy to get sidetracked from what you want. But if you could imagine it, what would your dream-life look like?

If you’re like me, than those daydreams were my life-blood for a good long time before I got out of my office chair and took the leap.

You could do it too. It may not be the most obvious choice, but it will ultimately be the right one.

Reasons I’m Not Dyeing My Grey Hair

Icon

Grey hair

While hipster twentysomethings are dyeing their hair “silver,” my unkempt mom hair has started to go grey in not so subtle or fashionable ways. My 4-year-old thinks it’s hilarious, my parents are appalled that I haven’t dyed it yet, and I’m pretty sure that my MILF status is actively waning. But I refuse to color it, and here are five reasons why.

1. I Am What I Am. I showed some old Popeye videos to my daughter recently and was pretty impressed by everyone’s favorite sailor. I was trying to convince her to eat her spinach instead of stuffing it into the couch cushions, but I ended up in total hero-worship. I realized that Popeye is so fantastic because he could not give two shakes about what others think of him. Including Olive Oyl, and she’s his gal.

Letting my hair go grey has made me commit to a similar way of being. I’m not trying to be anything I’m not. I’m acknowledging that I really don’t have control over my aging body, and best of all, I’m accepting who I am becoming with complete submission. It gives me a sense of pride, and permission to just be me

2. MILF jokes aside, I do seem to be attracting a different kind of person these days. Being a single mom means it’s slim pickings to begin with on the romance front, and most of us tend to prefer curling up on the couch with a movie to going on another bad date. But I have to say that lately I have been drawing very attractive, confident men into my life who are looking for similar qualities in a woman. By putting my grey out there, I think I’m spreading the message that I’m happy with who I am. And boy is it working.

3. Who has the time? I have one child and I barely have the time to shave my legs or tweeze my eyebrows. For those of you who have two or three kids, do any of us really have the time to dye our hair every 3-5 weeks as the grey demands? I tried dyeing it myself once, and my greys started popping out after two weeks. So the choice became either spend a red-wine and dirty Scrabble night with friends or spend the night dyeing my hair. Since my daily conversations generally run the gamut from poop all the way to princesses, the R-rated option will win out over splattering hair dye on the bathroom sink every time.

4. Who has the money? Between ballet classes, organic food and chemical-free bath products—plus a new pair of shoes every freaking month—giving away good money to my hairdresser is equivalent to giving away precious time trying to do it myself. No thank you.

5. Weirdly, it’s keeping me young. My grey hair is my rebellious side shining through, a big F-you to society, my uber-conservative parents and all those ads geared towards ‘age-defying’ this and ‘look younger for longer’ that. Choosing not to buy into that makes me feel like I’m 17 again and flashing my fake ID at the punk bar I’m not supposed to be at. It feels naughty and a little thrilling. Which is the kind of feeling any parent on the dark side of 35 wouldn’t mind keeping around a bit longer.

The truth is that going grey is a huge stigma in our society, especially for women. I have had to deal with the occasional hater making jerky comments, but for the most part I forget that I have greys, and I think that’s a good sign. It means that I’m confident enough to buck the system. It makes me less judgmental about my looks and the choices of others, and it also has managed to keep me firmly grounded in reality.

First article for Elite Daily

Elite Daily screenshot

Icon

I decided as of Jan 1st 2015 to do what I love. Sounds simple, I know. But trying to survive while being broke and jobless was immensely scary. I made this decision over the holidays after getting brutally sacked from a job I hated. I never wanted to feel humiliated again, unless it was from an honest effort at doing something I was passionate about. So on Jan 1st, I sat down at my laptop and started to write. Within one month, I got an article published by Her Magazine, Choosing to Give Birth in a Developing Country, and also got accepted as a freelance contributor to Elite Daily with 5 Reasons Why Constantly Looking For ‘The One’ Will Get You Nowhere. Both of those things have been enough encouragement to keep going with this crazy, life-changing initiative. I’ll post everything I do here and maybe you can tell me about what it is that YOU are dreaming of doing.

We all gotta start somewhere.

Choosing to Give Birth in a Developing Country

Icon

give birth

“I don’t ask you for much, but I’m asking you for this.”

The words my sister had written were blurring together on the page. She wasn’t asking for money, or one of my kidneys…but something that she had deemed just as important. It didn’t matter though, because I had made up my mind. I was six months pregnant and had decided to give birth to my baby on the other side of the world, on a small island in the Indian Ocean – Sri Lanka.

Suffice it to say, my family and my partner’s family were extremely vocal in their discontent. “You live in Canada,” they said. “The healthcare is amazing here.” It’s true that the Canadian healthcare system is widely regarded as one of the best in the world. Loosely based on a socialist view, healthcare is free and accessible to all regardless of status, class or creed. In fact I don’t think I would be sitting here writing this if I hadn’t had access to free healthcare throughout my life.

So when we thought about having the baby and how we would fit it in to our busy, world-traveling lives, the choice seemed easy. Stay in Canada. First, I called a midwife. I’m a big proponent of natural childbirth and had always assumed that I would deliver my child in a birthing centre. The first midwife collective I called was booked up. So I called another. And another, and another. In fact, I called every midwife collective in the downtown Toronto area and was put on eight waiting lists. After asking around, I discovered that the general rule of thumb is pee on the stick, call a midwife. Meaning that if you don’t call right away, you won’t get one. It has been 7 months now, and I have still not received a call back.

Okay, I thought, I’ll just find a progressive, holistic-minded doctor. Easy-breezy, in a liberal town like Toronto. Hmmm. Couldn’t seem to get an appointment. So I sucked it up and decided to try to locate a doctor out of the city. I found a woman who seemed very sweet, at first. But when I mentioned that I wanted a natural birth, she visibly shuddered. I’m not kidding, she turned her back to me and I saw her shoulders shake.

After more research I discovered that even if I had found a fantastic doctor and spent nine months developing a relationship with her, there would be no guarantee that she would be the one to deliver my child. It really comes down to whoever is on call on that specific day. This made no sense. Did I really want a stranger to guide me through the most important day of my life?

I decided to meet with a doula, to ease my woes. She shared even more shocking news. There are no birthing centres in Toronto. None. Also, water births are not allowed in hospitals. Another fact? Ontario has the highest incidence of C-sections and epidural deliveries in Canada. I was told that when I go into labour it would be important to wait until the last minute to go to the hospital, otherwise they are likely to induce the birth. The doula told me that she once heard a nurse say to a labouring mother, “You’re here to give birth, not to labour.”

Lastly, I spoke to a friend who is an ER doctor. Many things were divulged, but there was one important fact that could not escape my attention. Ontario doctors do not get paid unless they are present at the time of the delivery. So if you come into the hospital and labour for 13 hours, right through one shift and into another, only the doctor who attends the actual birth will be the one who gets paid. The more research I did, the more I realized that having a baby in Canada has become about money and time.

We were astounded. My partner had a home in California, but I was not insured. It would have cost us upwards of $40,000 US to deliver there, and that’s as long as everything went smoothly.

So we went to Sri Lanka on a work/leisure trip, intending to do similar research over there. We entered the private health care system and found that a birth would cost us about $3000 CDN. Each visit to the doctor cost us $10 CDN. So far, so good. After asking around we found a doctor who had helped several friends through difficult births and also happened to be the head of the Obstetrics and Gynecology department at the University. We made an appointment that week to see him.

Sri Lanka has many large fully-functioning hospitals and several small nursing homes which serve as a type of birthing centre for mothers and moms-to-be. The one we arrived at was simple and sweet with beautiful gardens surrounding it. The doctor was incredibly affable and direct. He believed in what he called a non-violent birth, with full communication. Music to my ears. In 17 years he had only sent four women to the neighbouring hospital with birth related complications.

I was in love and completely placated. Not only were we able to spend time in an island paradise, but we had found a doctor and a hospital that put the labouring mother’s needs above all else. My partner and I are were thrilled with our decision. Our families of course, took time to come around.

It’s hard in Canada to see past our reputation. I love this country and am proud to be a Canadian. But I think it’s important to see the faults in our system. All these little idiosyncrasies about the obstetrical practice are overlooked and therefore come as a shock to many expectant mothers. While delivering our child in a small, impoverished country may seem like a radical choice, it was actually an informed one.

Like any mom-to-be I still have anxiety about going into labour. It is the great unknown, the uncontrollable. But every time I have a doctor’s appointment now, I leave feeling calm, informed and ready – a big step towards the kind of birth experience that I believe every mother should have access to.

ABOUT AUTHOR
Maya Bastian is a dreamer by nature, a wanderer at heart, and an artist when the inspiration strikes. She writes for online magazines such as Dogster.com and HoneyColony. After a decade working as an award-winning filmmaker and video artist, Maya left Toronto and started traveling the world in search of further insight and enlightenment. Currently she is developing her first feature film and raising her four-year old daughter to be tough, beautiful and proud.

Stay in the loop. Please subscribe to my blog

Subscribe. Lush lips and phone

Are you too busy to remember to check back here? Please subscribe to get my new blog posts about topics in areas such as entertainment, film and video, lifestyle, parenting and politics. Enter your email below then check your inbox to confirm. Unsubscribe anytime. Feedback welcome.

Subscription form