Have you ever felt like your life just needed something? like something’s missing and you can’t quite put your finger on it? Me too. I had been leading a life doing what I thought I was supposed to do. I graduated high school, got a job, went on to post-secondary, got a job in my field, worked hard, travelled and bought a house, but none of it felt special are really meaningful or at least to me anyway. I had been reassured by my parents, colleagues, and friends that I was ahead and doing a great job. I had accomplished so much in my short life so far, but why didn’t I feel that way? I began to just go with the flow and thought this must be it, this is what “being an adult” is like.

My whole life I was told that I was over sensitive and I would need thicker skin or a stronger back if I wanted to make it in the real world and maybe you’ve been told this too, but what if I told you all you needed was joy would you believe me? Every birthday, every bridge I travelled under, and every eyelash that was found on my cheek I wished “I just want to be happy”. Reflecting on that now, I never understood at the time why I wished that, I just hoped my future self would figure it out or it would fall into place and live a happy life. When I saw the poster for this workbook, I didn’t know I had just stumbled upon an experience that would aid with my journey of finally “figuring it out”.

Constantly pouring from an empty cup, giving myself to the people I love and the people I care for in my profession as a social services worker. I never wanted anyone to experience hard times or if they did, I would be there right alongside them. Until I was burnt out or I had nothing left to give. I wasn’t caring for myself. I figured, it will come along, I’ve felt moments of happiness, I know joy exists… but what am I doing wrong that I can’t find it anymore?

The day I signed up for the “Pathways to Resilience course ” was the starting point of my life I always wanted and knew could exist. Alongside like-minded people who all made a choice to live the best life they possibly could. With the guidance and assistance of Joanne and Claudia, they created a meeting place, a safe space, and an environment free of judgment that allowed all of us to feel accepted and comfortable to share and be are genuine selves. This workbook is the real-life survival guide to get the absolute most out of your life.

Reading the first chapter of our workbook reassured me that I was indeed in the right place and I had never felt so sure that I was doing good for myself. As each week went on, we uncovered layers from the three pathways, Body, Mind, and Heart and we learned a little more about ourselves. I immediately applied every ounce of knowledge I was receiving directly into my life and I could not believe how good I felt. Understanding myself allowed me to put myself on a higher level and give myself the praise, love, nourishment, patience, and compassion as I would typically give to others. I am in the spotlight of my own life and I never ever thought it could be possible. Now that I have discovered how to take care of myself, I am finally hitting peaks for the very first time and taking charge in many areas of my life I had left in the dark.

For many of us living with anxiety and depression this lifestyle seems so unrealistic or unachievable, but I promise you it’s not. Does it take practice? Yes, but you will also thank yourself every day because of it. By setting realistic and achievable goals and following the visionary in my mind and not the critic were the first big steps forward on this journey. I made changes to the food I ate to fuel my body and my mind, not my feelings or emotions.

I added vitamins and minerals to aid with serotonin levels based on the type of depression I associate with. By putting a name to it, anxious depression, it really helps me to put a name to the feeling. We began to learn about mindfulness and being present. I began to practice wherever I was or when I noticed I wasn’t being very present. I also began to meditate at home and at work, when I felt I needed to or wanted to take a minute and center myself. Slowing down and being present really helped when we began to explore the Heart and Mind pathways.

We explored second arrows, emotional tsunami’s, our inner child and rejected self and how to deal with it all. Being able to connect deep down in my heart allowed me to forgive and accept what is and let go of what no longer serves me. I can show the not so nice parts of me love and compassion and this allows me to not be so hard on myself. I have learned that journaling and writing my deep thoughts and feelings is healing and productive for my own personal joy. These are all tools I have in my tool belt for happiness, good energy and karma. We are frequencies in the universe and what we put out is what we will receive. All areas of our life require attention and maintenance and if you are not willing to address or understand yourself, you will continue to slip into a depressive state.

Knowing what I know now I have balance, order, energy, a clear mind, and if I fall short, I have an amazing resource to fall back on and get back on track. I have never felt so set up for success in my whole life. Making myself a priority has allowed me to tap into my deeper self and be connected, reach out to people and classes available in my circle and my city and explore things that I know best serve me. I find joy in everything I do and everywhere I go and can say, I am finally happy. And if I’m noticing I’m not, I know where to find it now.