Isn’t it Ironic?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, the hardest lesson to grasp, is that everything you so desire… will always find you the second you stop caring whether you have it or not. Life is completely ironic, Alanis Morissette had it right.

I’ve spent my working life in the service industry – restaraunts, catering, events. More specifically, I ooh’d and awe’d over slingin’ pans and roasting myself over grills. I fell in love with the hard work, dedication, the blood, sweat, tears and endless burns and scars the kitchen gifted to me. In return, I felt accomplished, valued and my creative soul was brimming with joy.

It’s a love/hate industry. Add in a few personal life traumas, day to day struggles and growing through your teens to early twenties… and, well, I gave up and restarted a thousand times over. Until I made the decision to end what was starting to feel like a toxic relationship. At this point, I had a child and a heaping pile of personal issues I was ignoring that didn’t mix well with the demanding kitchen atmosphere.

I moved on. Hit restart. Went to school, went through more trials and tribulations, failed at what seemed like everything I touched. Which sent me into a deep, dark hole of self-pity where the mantra that played on repeat went a little something like, “what’s the point?”.

I quit working, I quit just about everything. The one and only thing I kept constant and alive was time and care for my son. Always, always, always.

But things turned to a state of emergency when I couldn’t pay my bills anymore. Instead of holding out for the perfect job, specifically what I had gone to school for, I started scouring for any old kitchen job. I had become so hateful of the kitchen and its atmosphere that I hated myself for having to do it. I felt like I was going backwards and I will honestly admit, my pride was hurt. I tried to make a better life for myself and Owen, and I failed.

I got a few gigs and bailed. More depression.

It wasn’t until I swallowed my pride, started taking some action and facing the things I was afraid of head on. Everything just started to spiral from there. I was signed up for a new course that had more promise and I had put in the proper research beforehand. I was feeling good and then I get a call. One of the kitchen gigs that I had really wanted phoned me after a month of silence following the interview.

I snatched the opportunity immediately, I was in no position to turn anything down. Following that, I had found out my EI claim had been approved, though there were issues and it seemed unlikely I would get it. Somehow all the stars just started aligning. So because I was receiving the EI benefits, I finally had some financial relief and this would float me until school started. Which also meant, I didn’t care overly about impressing the pants off everyone in the kitchen.

To be extremely honest, I wasn’t entirely afraid of being fired or losing the job, either. But I enjoy working hard, take pride in what I do, and I’m quite OCD about cleanliness, so I’m the employee who follows the “time to lean, time to clean” policy. So I did well. So many things I often struggled with in the kitchen, things I could never quite get a proper grasp of, just started to come easy. There was no desperation, no absolute need to impress. There was just work to be done and enjoyed.

Within less than a month I became more trusted and valued than employees who had been there for years. Chef was searching for a sous during my first interview with him, something I have never imagined I would overcome my weaknesses to achieve, has now informally asked if I would be interested in filling that position. Knowing I have made other commitments and somewhat moved on from the kitchen.

Things I dreamed of came knocking once I stopped longing for them. I stopped feeling like I needed them to be happy. You are infinite as you are. Simply as you are, nothing added. It takes absolutely nothing to be happy. You have a mind, you have a body. Breathe in… did you feel that? Hey, you’re alive! Neat, right?!

Bottom line, what I take away from this, don’t take things so damn seriously. Live each day like you’re going to die, because you are.

And on that note, gratitude. I will always preach it. It’s life-changing to spend each day counting your blessings and realize you are not entitled to all of this, you get to have all of this. And that’s frickin’ amazing. For example, I’m so grateful for my dingy little $20 coffee maker. I use it everyday, it never fails me, and I remember not everyone has this luxury.

 

Gratitude & a sense of humor. I swear by it.

 

c i a r a   l e a h

 

 

 

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Nobody Likes You When You’re 23

It’s true, isn’t it? I get it. 23 has been the year for me with the most hardships, coming at all angles, in every aspect of my life. New struggles, as well as old ones.

It’s like when you’re 18, you’re jogging on a treadmill. Your face is bright, your eyebrow is cocked on one side. You are owning this shit. You think you’re rocking this adult thing, albeit you have few debts, a few simple bills (or lack thereof), and you haven’t experienced enough of the evils of the world yet.

Now you’re 20. Add in a bad knee, some lego pieces to the treadmill, and maybe a paper airplane or two flying past your head. Alright, this is trickier. But manageable.

Skip ahead three more years. 23. It’s full blown chaos. You still haven’t learned how to deal with life, cause where is that class and can I sign up? You’re still young enough to be dumb, but old enough you shouldn’t be anymore.

The treadmill is lava, and everything is smashing you directly in the face. Bills months past due, student loans from certificates that got you nowhere, more than just a cute mini-muffin top around your waist, counting pennies just to keep your utilities from shutting off, no time, no energy, and no motivation to keep trying after all this has piled up.

Circuit overload. So you retreat. Cancel plans. Start acting more cynical and selfish than you normally would. You feel like you just need more time. More time to deal, more time for no-one-understands-me kind of sulking, and the usual moans and groans of life. Voila! No one wants to play with the pity-party-23 year old.

This is the first time you’re dealing with it, this is the first time you’ve ever been 23! Let’s not repeat this age again, so wipe away the tears, dust yourself off and start picking away. Start figuring it out now, so you aren’t learning 23 year old stuff when you’re 26. We all do it, put it off, procrastinate, drink, party, what-have-you.

But it’s all manageable, one piece at a time. I’m 9 months into my 23rd year and I spent every minute of it giving up. 9 months to the day, actually. I still woke up feeling like crap today, but I decided pushing through was more important than staying stuck. I felt like crap ANYWAY, so what was I worried a 30-minute workout was going to do? Feel like crap? Oh, no! So I did it. That’s my baby step of the day.

The way I see it, you can do things in the moment that feel good, such as eating unhealthy, binging alcohol and Netflix, ignoring financials, BUT – the bad feelings always come after. Do the unappealing things like eating vegetables and reading, and you will reap the benefits afterwards. Every single thing has a pro and con, whether you get the con first or after.

ADULTHOOD. You can avoid it, but it will pile up until you’re picturing yourself on a lava-filled treadmill being chased by a group of angry trolls. Make time for the boring stuff. You’ll thank yourself later.

So here I am, pictured above, with my post-baby pouch. Can I still call it post-baby if he is 3.5 years old? I’m actually asking. But anyway, this is day one. The rules are simple, yet we complicate it. Eat more veggies, less fried foods. Less alcohol, more tea. Read more. Take more walks in the sunshine. Simple rules.

I’m simplifying my life. Cutting the drama. Making time for the real and important stuff. Getting back to my nature-loving, wild roots. The girl with tangles in her hair and sunshine in her eyes. This is day one of my journey back to basics. To feel real again, cut away the materialistic and superficial crap I’ve swallowed over the years.

There’s no magic pill, no 10 step plan, no cookie cutters. Hard work, perseverance, patience, sunshine.

Here we go, 23, let’s make up for the last 9 months while there’s still time.

 

P e a c e,

Ciara Leah

 

5 Simple Rules for Being a Good & Successful Human

I’m addicted to change and innovation, new connections and opportunities. I say yes A LOT. It doesn’t matter what it is or if you have no clue how it’s going to benefit you, because it just might bring the best things or people into your life. Always connect.

 

When you’ve got a good feeling, follow it. Your gut knows. The connection between our gut and brain is amazing. So when that voice in your head is saying YES, THIS, DO IT. I’d listen, if I were you.

 

Erase the word ‘shortcut’ from your brain. It will save you a lot of disappointment, grief and wasted time. Time that could be spent building a sturdy foundation. There is no shortcut to something you want to last and you miss out on a lot of valuable knowledge taking the shortcut. Ever hear the term “take the scenic route”? Where you take a longer way, but the scenery is worth it. Yeah – do that.

 

When you take the time to build meaningful connections, they stick with you. And you help build each other up. But if you’re looking for a quick way to the top, pushing other’s heads down to lift yourself up, you will tumble at the first slight breeze.

 

It’s so important to stay humble. Do you enjoy the company of someone who thinks they are better than you? No. Do you want to support their business, personal goals, or help build them up with that kind of attitude? Hell no. This one is just simple.

 

peace & love,

C i a r a   L e a h

 

When Stress has got you in a Chokehold, Remember These Three Things…

 

  1. Chasing balance is overrated. You will get tired trying to maintain a juggling act. Life is meant to be kinda haywire. It’s a ride and you gotta hold on. Sometimes you eat out all week, sometimes you meal prep your entire month in advance. I think the beauty comes from letting go of perfection. Balance is good, great even. But maybe balance can also be about not always being in control of your life, and letting things ride. Other times, you’re super-woman armed with a planner, pen and a cute travel mug. But allow yourself the days where your inner-hippie can emerge with flower’s in your hair, sun shining on your smiling face as you lay back in the grass and let the world breeze by you. And both are okay.

 

  1. Over-thinking never has and never will solve your problems. Having every upcoming minute of your life planned out has never been relaxing. Because when something doesn’t go as planned… oh shit. Now pass that brown paper bag. I get it because I’ve lived it. And what I hear the most is, once anxiety hits, I can’t just stop. And I understand how difficult that is. Because I just spent the morning talking myself down from a panic attack. Literally over nothing in particular. Well, there were things, but all solvable, doable things. But listen, we start to panic because we don’t feel in control and we are afraid of the unknown. We start thinking in double-time to try to solve all the problems at once, and essentially, create a plan in our heads of how things will go so we can relax and know what might happen. But that’s silly, right? If you can jump into the unknown with two feet, and learn to love the chaos – I mean you’re living this chaos in your head already anyway, right? – You can beat the anxiety. Get out of your head and get into the world because the time will pass, either way.

 

  1. When in doubt, always simplify. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, start subtracting. Take the least important things away first, just erase them from your mental to-do list. Or even clean the slate entirely and then begin with your most important. And start there. Just stay focused on that one task, whatever it may be. But also, I’m a big fan of clearing your physical space to inspire a clear mind. Are those old tennis shoes you never wear, collecting dust in your closet, kind of, sort of, well… eating away at your brain? Distracting your focus? C h u c k  t h e m. Or sell, if you wish. Donate, ideally. Please don’t throw away perfectly good shoes, forget I said that. Just start subtracting.

 

And then tell stress to eat your shorts, cause you got better things to spend your time doing, lady (or gentleman).

 

just peace & love,

Ciara Leah