The Saint-Etienne Cathedral in Metz, France

While I can’t say that Metz is my favourite city I’ve ever visited, I can say with a huge degree of honesty that it holds my most favourite cathedral, which makes this a travel story that I must tell.

The train to Metz cost more than I thought and seemed to be a little bit longer too, but was made fun by the lovely ladies I was traveling with. It was a dreary, rainy Saturday in February that we decided to go and boy, did we make a mistake in not brining a map. We got off the train, starving and ready to be tourists in France. Only we ended up going the wrong way from the train station and walking about 20 minutes AWAY from the tourist part of town we had wanted to be in. Lost and turned around, sopping wet from the soggy rain, we went walking up and down the same street, trying to figure out which way we had gone wrong. Eventually, after speaking some broken french to a stranger and realizing that he too was directing us in the wrong way, we made it to the part of town we had wanted to be in.

It was adorable, with lots of shopping and places to stop and pick up pastries or meringues.But the absolute best part of the day was the cathedral. Now, before this trip I had never heard of Metz or this cathedral. I had absolutely no idea what I was in for.

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Nicknamed ‘The Lantern of God’ (and rightly so), Metz Cathedral is known for its ***fantastic*** stain glass windows & gothic architecture. Walking in, I was absolutely amazed. Even on this rainy, ugly day the colour from the windows was glinting everywhere.  The high ceilings and archways are enough to make you feel as big as an ant, but paired with the colourful glass windows and I was speechless.

metz5metz3 If anyone reading this has seen disney’s version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame- I felt like singing ‘God Help the Outcasts’ like Esmerelda in front of the stain glass. (then again, i’ve always wanted to be Esmerelda so maybe thats not such an odd thing for me)

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All in all, if you happen to be in the Lorraine region of France any time soon, it is WELL WORTH the trip to Metz for the cathedral.

It will forever be one of my most favourite churches I’ve ever seen.

Living in Luxembourg So Far

luxtitle.jpgIts been exactly one week since I’ve moved to Luxembourg and its been a crazy busy week at that. Between doctors appointments, TB tests, immigration papers, driving in a new country and sorting through 3 different languages here- its been hectic. Yesterday, I was finally able to get out and explore a little bit and I’m very happy for it! This country so far is beautiful and I can’t wait to see more of it.

lux2I took the bus into the city centre not exactly knowing where I would end up. After walking a bit from the bus stop I came to the WW2 monument- something I had only seen while driving by. The first thing I was amazed at was the view. The 3 plateaus with valleys in between make for awesome sights in Luxembourg and really show the age of the country. While it is winter here there was still lots of green moss and ivy to brighten things up (unlike in Canada where all you can see is snow!). As it was Sunday, church bells seemed to be ringing all around making it even more spectacular.
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I then crossed the street to find the Cathedral Notre Dame & the National Library. Just inside the cathedral doors is a history of Luxembourg in french, german and (thank goodness) english! I found it very helpful. After reading I went to walk into the cathedral to wander around only to find that mass was still going on at 1 in the afternoon! Whoops. Sundays are taken quite strictly here and select shops only open 2-6.lux4

Finally, I was able to find the main centre square. This is where I would recommend you start because its where the tourist office is! After loading myself up with maps and guides I was able to continue on my way knowing where I was going. I ended up headed to the Palais Grand Ducal – which is where the Grand Duke lives. Its right in the middle of town and surprisingly open for the public to walk around it. It is only open for tours July-September but still a wonderful site to see with its grand doors and rapunzel-esque towers.lux6lux7After the palace, I made my way onto a tiny ally, lit with paper lanterns. In front of me was a couple that were clearly entirely infatuated with each other, kissing and groping and laughing big, full laughs. It was nice to walk under the lanterns on the cobblestone path and be reminded that there is more love than hate in the world. Originally I had doubted whether I should take the ally, being a lone female tourist, but fear lost and fought through the doubt. Trusting will lead you where you need to be and if my gut had screamed louder I would have trusted that too. Popular media teaches us to be very wary- especially in Europe- however theres a difference between fear and caution, i’m learning.lux11.jpg

Suddenly I found myself at a lookout over the most beautiful little town I have ever seen. There was snow covering the roofs of the houses with chimneys puffing steam into the air. There was a yellow chapel looking building with a tall point reaching into the sky and it was all set against the mossy rock from the plateau above. It was like out of a story book. I only stayed briefly because my hands were starting to **freeze** but it somewhere I will most certainly be returning to.lux5.jpg

After wandering around as a tourist, the shops began to open up. There were a few I had never heard of (Pull & Bear?) and some I was very familiar with (Esprit, my mamas favourite when I was younger). I wandered into an H&M not thinking i’d find anything but ended up realizing that they sold home goods. Perfect timing for me to start making my little apartment space more mine. I bought some things that were all on sale (great sales) and am feeling more at home now.

All in all, its been an exhausting first week of firsts- first time driving in a (completely) different country, first time having a TB test, first time being somewhere that english isn’t the base language… its all coming together very slowly. I had a massive break down mid week because of a spider incident. It was a big one and right beside my bed. With that, everything came crashing in. The fact that i’d come so far from home and wasn’t sure what for. The fact that I left behind those I love in search of some sort of early 20’s wanderlust fulfillment. I doubted it all. I fell apart. But my touring around has helped me see that the firsts & the falling aparts are good. We adapt. We learn. We grow. I’ve see two other spiders since and I’ve handled them accordingly, with no tears, no fast breathing. More importantly, I haven’t fallen apart, and I know if I do that I can put my pieces back together again.

After all, ruin is the road to transformation.

Much love,

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Trust

I’ve always felt like a fairly brave person.Not brave as in, no fear & solid as stone, but brave as in willing to walk through the fire and get what needs to be done, done. The cross-over to this year is teaching me that bravery is actually useless & harmful. Trust is much harder than bravery… Why? Because it’s a hell of a lot harder to trust what you are unsure of than to power through it without feeling the flames.

In bravery we are arrogant, in trust we are humbled.

I felt brave making this move to Europe. I felt I was making the hard choice to move and last month I began to doubt that a lot. Now I see that there is no right or wrong. There is no brave moves- only those that require a lot more trust. I trust that this is neither good nor bad but that it will lead me where I am meant to be. I don’t know that this will all work out and I’m not so fearless as to think that it will be without its hardship. So far I have been shown so much generosity and kindness that it has been overwhelming at times. There have been so many moments when fear creeps in and tells me ‘this is where everything comes crashing down and you return a failure’ and every time there is such a peace after the fear. Such a moment of quiet connection to ‘now’ that I feel humbled enough to trust whatever will come, even if it’s catastrophically horrible.

Yesterday,I went to the airport with my dad to fly to Luxembourg. When we got in the car I was nervous and ready to get it over with. I looked up at the driver to see on his dash board  2 ganesha sculptures. I laughed to myself- it’s meant to be, I’m moving obstacles, I’m making changes, I’m in the right place at my right time. Fast forward- past getting searched at security and a very chaotic Heathrow post New Years- I got on the plane to Luxembourg, nervous and shaking. The plane took off under the most beautiful sunset-a scene I will always remember. The seatbelt sign switched off and I got a gingerale to settle my nervous stomach. Then we hit turbulence. Then more. Then the captain (who kept saying ‘gentlemen welcome to your flight’ and ‘gentlemen please take your seat and fasten your seatbelts’ as if women were non-present on the flight) came on and advised that it was about to get even rockier so to please remain seated. I’ve been on flights with turbulence before but none quite like this. The woman next to me was losing. her. shit. and I found myself looking at her and thinking ‘thats what inside my head has looked like for what feels like my whole life’. I found my grip on my seat loosen and my mind wander to those two ganeshas. I’m not in control. I’m not making changes. I’m not walking through this fire. I am trusting that the obstacles are meant to be there. That they need not be moved by me– that they will move on their own accord when the time is right. I’m trusting it all will be exactly as it is. My insides suddenly didn’t reflect the girl freaking out next to me and neither did my outsides. I found myself grateful to her and her fear and to me and mine. I found myself happy to be beside someone who was entirely in her own experience while I was so entirely within mine. And that is the difference between trust and bravery…

According to J.M Barrie, one of my favourite authors,
“All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust”

That may sound hokey and too sunshiny / naive to some but I’m starting to believe more in the power of trust…even if it takes me to ugly places where i’m overwhelmed and lonely.It’s all life and that is more empowering than being brave ever will be.

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What Do Social Media, Yoga & Being a “Millennial” Have in Common?

“Social media is changing the way we communicate and the way we are perceived both positively and negatively. Every time you post a photo or update your status, you are contributing to your own digital footprint and personal brand.

-Amy Jo Martin

I am writing this after having thought an awful lot about it and after having many conversations about it with those around me. These days, it seems like the world is divided in two: those that support social media and those that don’t, and for some reason, there seems to be a lot of judgement surrounding both. I was sitting in a group of people the other day who all began discussing how social media will be the ruin of yoga, which I don’t really agree with…but more on that later.

The Age of Emojii & Emotion

First off, I personally resent the connotations that come along with the word ‘millennial’. Being a millennial and having the term often discussed in many spheres as a negative thing ( we are lazy, picky, indifferent beings who walk around making self-obsessed decisions) is both wrong and hurtful. I’m not saying there aren’t some millennials who would fit such a category, but then again, i’m sure there are many baby boomers who would as well. As millennials, we are also a generation  who value art and creation of art and resiliency and environmental sustainability. We are activists and poets and dreamers and travellers and thinkers, just the same as any human who was born in the 20s or 30s or 40s and so on. We are humans, and while there are some socio- cultural aspects of life that go along with the year a person was born in (i’m not disregarding this, who else is going to celebrate Britney and Justin’s matching all denim outfits?), it simply does not define an entire ‘generational personality’. So when people comment that social media is ‘for us millennials’, I get a little confused. Is the comment being made because of technology? Or is it because they simply don’t understand it?

Or is it because such a vast number of us ‘millennials’ use social media, that the entire system of media is discredited by association? Is the baby thrown out with the bath water?

Every generation has been ‘vain’ in some form or another, otherwise we wouldn’t have corsets and many other body harming contraptions (sorry to all you corset lovers out there). Humans have been sharing stories since the beginning, through oral language and image and script. Whether one perceives the evolution of that to be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is irrelevant, because its going to happen anyway.

How Does Yoga Fit In?

Now to yoga. All the comments i’ve heard and see have to do with spirituality and yoga as a spiritual practice. Those sped up videos and contortionist like images posted to facebook or instagram take away the depth of yoga that one can experience. To an extent I completely, totally, 100% agree. When I put my phone or computer away and sit in silence with my thoughts and connect to the deeper part of me that transcends external, I am home. I can’t get that ‘online’ and I don’t believe anyone really can. SO, I hear you non social media yogis! I do! I personally don’t believe in teaching people to wrench their body into a pose to contribute to a ‘challenge’ that they’re not sure connects with their karma or health needs. Not only does it hurt your soul, it hurts your body. Some people might believe in it though, and guess what thats okay.

What I do believe in, is sharing what is healthy for you. For your body, your mind and your soul. This means sharing when a pose is giving you those warm fuzzy feelings, or sharing when you feel happy or sad or heavy or excited. It means connecting to the physical world and sharing your experience in the physical world, even though us yogis know enlightenment is so non physical. I believe in being both, because I AM BOTH. My being is in fact here, in this physical form and it is also not. I don’t believe in dulling the physical to only live in the spiritual- they all work together. You CHOSE your body FOR A REASON and I don’t think just because we are yogis we can filter that story out and just keep the karma part.

“So why share it then?” is always the next question. Why not keep all 3 levels to yourself and work out you on your own? I believe in stories. I always have. Its why I completed an english degree despite my constant restlessness and wanderlust. Deep down in my soul, in the core of my being, I think telling stories is important. I think teaching is important.

So What Now?

THAT my friends, is what social media should come down to. HOW DO YOU WANT TO TELL A STORY? Whether it be through images or 140 characters or a whole novel or chatting with a friend. It is not the byproduct of a self- obsessed generation and it is not going to be the end of ‘real yoga’. Especially in the yoga community, we need to stop what my teacher called ‘yogier than thou’ syndrome of assuming we are more ‘yoga’ than someone else simply because they tell a story the way they want to. We need to stop judging people based on their generation and look at the fact that we’re all humans.

We need to stop judging people based on the way they choose to tell a story. Posting and not posting- its all the same side of the coin, what is healthy for you. Those that post, lets not find ourselves moving from a place of insecurity. Lets find ourselves sharing our story in the most loving way to our body, mind and spirit in that moment.  Those that don’t post, lets not fall into yogier than thou syndrome on the social media scale. Lets love ourselves fully, completely and passionately without degrading those who do the same.

I’m interested to hear more thoughts on this…because it is a big heavy topic and I certainly am not expert in any capacity