As I write this I’m surrounded by boxes and random objects that I haven’t quite figured out how to pack. In just a few days we’re moving out of our two story flat on Queen St W, a busy, trendy street in Toronto to a quieter little house in a nearby, but new neighbourhood.
When I first walked into our current place, I fell in love. We hadn’t been looking for a new home and I just happened to see it serendipitously. The moment I came in, I could picture us living here. Thirteen foot ceilings, expansive living space, numerous sky lights, chandeliers in the bedroom, huge windows. My very own Parisian apartment (albeit a bit far away from Paris!) The only thing is, it was on a very busy street above a store. There were two decks but no backyard. The street is lovely and full of activity (coffee shops, restaurants, independent boutiques) but like any city street, it can also feel a bit sketchy sometimes.
The “common sense” side of me could have thought, this is a great place for a young couple without kids. But the side of me that has been through a lot and knows to follow what feels good had already decided the flat on Queen St W was our new home.
Going through hard things has taught me to focus on what really matters vs what other people think should matter. Sometimes that line can get blurry. We think we want what other people want. But when we attempt to achieve/get it, and then succeed, we often find it isn’t what we wanted at all.
Think of the exec that strives to join boards only to find that it doesn’t interest her at all. Or a friend who takes her family on holiday to a highly recommended all-inclusive resort only to find she’s not a resort person and much prefers a more adventurous holiday.
It is so easy to get caught up with what others are doing and even their reaction to what they are doing.
Here’s a thought - do we just want those things because we can imagine what it would feel like to have them? One of my favourite sayings is, “We reach for the highest branch we can see”. Meaning we reach for examples of what we already see around us. But what if what we really want is on a higher branch, or on a different tree altogether?
My instincts for what truly lights me up were sharpened after my husband passed away almost eight years ago. All the things I had imagined for myself in my 30’s had evaporated. It’s like the puzzle pieces I had been carefully placing together in my 20's were thrown up in the air and landed in complete disarray. So I decided to start a brand new puzzle. One that was driven by what would make me feel the most alive. One that would allow me to get closer to myself.
Is there something you want that you’ve been minimizing? Have you been prioritizing the wrong things based on “common sense”? When it comes to your dreams, I invite you to throw common sense out the window. Begin to question your beliefs about why you can’t have, do or be what you really want.
After four years in our Parisian flat on Queen St, we are moving onto our next adventure. Living in the heart of the city has its pros and cons but my daughter Nova has grown up getting to know the people in the neighborhood - old and young from all walks of life and all socioeconomic backgrounds. She has made friends with the shopkeepers and workers on the street from the coffee shop to the juice bar to the motorcycle store. Trinity Bellwoods, the local park (one of the nicest in Toronto) has been her backyard and whenever she is there she either finds or makes a friend. We’ve had conversations about mental illness, poverty and disabilities just on a normal evening walk. She knows how to safely cross a busy street, approach any doggie for a friendly interaction and order an americano and kombucha.
Deepak Chopra says that our purpose here is to know ourselves (our dharma). But we don't get to know ourselves by looking around at what others are doing or what feels safe or what seems like common sense. We get to know ourselves by paying attention to, trusting, and following the light within us that knows where we want to go.
Today, pay attention to what your light is telling you.
Kena Paranjape, Founder, All You Are