simple life

It's almost comical how different my life has become in a mere two months since moving to Madison.

Here is a typical weekday in Montreal in 2012: drag myself out of bed, get on a bike  or bus or on the metro, become angry at least one at a bad driver or fellow commuter, maybe grab something to eat from the mall below my office, head into office, work, talk, meeting, work, talk, work, talk, meeting, maybe lunch with friends, maybe the gym, probably eat a meatball sub while editing photos in a basement food court, work, talk, work, talk, do a bunch of errands after work, maybe meet friends for drinks, maybe see an early movie, probably go home and edit photos and catch up on client emails, eat something delicious that Brian cooked, work some more, maybe meet up with friends if work was done, maybe talk on the phone to family or friends for an hour, maybe do a shoot, do some more work until about 11 or midnight, stay up late, watch a movie or our favourite tv shows, sleep (finally).

Here is a typical weekday in Madison in 2013: wake up, make some kind of green smoothie while Brian makes coffee and tea, work, gym, work, lunch, work, break, work, [workday ends], dinner,  relax, talk on skype, relax.

The biggest difference between now and then is that I now have one full-time job instead of two. Although 2012 was a crazy ride, it is one I'd be reluctant to take again. I'm by no means the only person who lives like I did; there are tonnes of others (women in particular) who juggle school, multiple jobs, responsibilities and of course family, all while trying to have a social life.  There are so many who do this with more energy and grace than I ever could, and I salute them.

The thing is, almost every aspect of my busy life was something that I enjoyed. I really liked my writing job, and my colleagues. I enjoyed all the projects I had on the go. I loved photography and my clients. I was grateful to be able to take public transit or bike to work. I have the best friends and we have so much fun together. The problem was that there was just not enough time for everything.

I also have difficulty saying no to things, only because I don't want to say no. If it's something, I probably want to do it. I am addicted to saying yes.

But every yes comes with responsibilities, and comes at a price.

One for the prices for me became chronic migraines. I first wrote about this in late 2011, when they had begun to cause me drama. By mid-2012, they were becoming far more frequent, and I found myself living in fear of the next optical migraine, when the aura would cause me to lose my sight and be overwhelmed by nausea for 20 minutes straight and then the threat of a painful migraine coming after would loom for days.

Before I had my first migraine, I didn't know what the fuss was about. I mean, aren't they just bad headaches? Yes, and so much more. They are completely and utterly debilitating. On one occasion I got one at a friend's birthday party this fall while visiting another city. Because I wasn't able to go home, I spent most of the party dry heaving in a bathroom stall, trying not to cry because crying increases the pressure, just praying for the pain to stop. The worst.

Anyways, I don't mean for this post to become a total downer, because this story has a happy ending. In Montreal, I was lucky to find an amazing family doctor. She is the stuff of legend. This wonderful woman, with incredible warmth and a sense of humour, was able to help me manage my migraines. She helped me understand their origins and learn their triggers, and make lifestyle changes. I am so grateful to her, and the way that she vastly improved my quality of life. Aren't good doctors amazing?

Speaking of quality of life, that is what I'm focusing on now. In 2012, too many instances of "yes" created a large quantity of stuff and made me trapped by my own choices. I did too much, talked too much, ate too much, spent too much. 2013 for me is about quality. It's about less. It's getting back to basics and living a simple life.


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