Thursday, 14 January 2016

Clean

I tend to always want to rush through something. I'd rather set goals and just pass them one after the other, but more often than not I end up forgetting to enjoy each goal I reach, as if getting to that point wasn't good enough because there is so much more ahead.

When I officially moved back to Stockholm in August 2014, battled through the winter and turned into Bridget Jones... got fat, cried a lot and drank a lot of wine all the while wondering if I had made the right choice. So when the overcoming feeling of self doubt and guilt of thinking I made the wrong choice struck me, I knew I needed a break. At the time, I was able to take the time I needed to go home for my brothers wedding and then extend it. I was lucky to have understanding colleagues and the whole summer I spent in Toronto and to be honest I was about a week shy of staying indefinitely. I was really unsure of coming back to Sweden. It wasn't anything like my life in London, it wasn't anything like the life I left in Toronto, I wasn't sure if the few friendships and relationships I had built, in fact I wasn't sure of anything really. But as I know myself, I knew I had to come back and see it through. 

When August of this year came and I returned home to Stockholm, I had a bit of a tough go ahead of me. I had to find a new place to live and manage the departure of a close friend and colleague in my life. Though we remain acquaintances currently, the whole situation happened so quickly I'm not sure what to even think of it anymore.

With the changes in my workplace and the hunting for a flat, Autumn came and went faster than I could of ever felt it. Even though it shot passed my like a dart, everything fell together, more perfect than I could of imagined it. 

I ended up finding a beautiful flat just outside the city, and am finally having a place to call my own and live alone for the very first time in my life. The bar has never felt more like a place I am so proud to be apart of and most importantly the two gentlemen I work with, well we're lucky to be not just colleagues but genuine friends. 

With every high point there comes a low, or maybe a plateau or just a moment of self doubt and I couldn't help but feel that I had this overwhelming feeling of missing London once everything fell together here in Stockholm. It was like I was repeating my feelings from the previous winter. And maybe it's because the dark and dreariness of Stockholm and the freezing temperatures of December, I was certain to book a flight in the early new year to check in on friends and family and see if the life I was really missing was all that it was chalked up to be. 

I caught the first flight out of Stockholm to London on the morning of January 3 and in true London fashion, arriving or travelling anywhere on a Sunday, always, always think twice. Rail closures, road closures and delays... what felt like an entire day later, I finally arrived in West London to my cousins in Hammersmith.

London felt different this time. I couldn't decide if it was just the exhaustion of travel or dreary rainy London, but for the first time ever I didn't have this insane nostalgic feeling with every passing London bus, or stroll down memory lane. I missed it, but I no longer, longed for it. I didn't need London anymore, not in the way I used to.

I mean don't get me wrong, there is always going to be something magical about it to me. It's the city where I defined the first few years of my 20's, the city I found my first love, and the city I managed to lose everything in. But this time, there was finally this clean feeling.  A feeling that even though I stopped into my old place of work and had drinks with my ex's little sister, it wasn't about chasing an old life, it was about sharing the new one I had spent so much time building.

Sometimes you need to get out of town to get a new perspective.

For me, running to London was never a good idea. It had me comparing everything to it. But this time, it gave me a whole new insight on Stockholm.

I think my last visit to London made me understand that life isn't about comparing one situation to another, the grass will always be greener, here is no better than there; in some arguments... but what it is about, is understanding that each experience has it's own story. The places we go, the friends we make, the love we felt, the heartbreak and new beginnings, it all just fills the spaces in our mind with more memories to share, more perspective to gain and new stories to write.


Monday, 11 May 2015

life, as I know it.

You know when your mind feels a little foggy? The feeling like you haven't slept, but you actually slept for 10 hours. The feeling like you're a little big hungover, but you didn't have a sip of alcohol the day before...

I have this feeling, like I can't get a clear thought, and I just can't seem to shake it. I suppose it's the emotional stress of leaving Stockholm for 12 weeks, going back to Toronto for the summer and seeing friends I haven't seen in a while. I suppose I'm just nervous about putting things on 'hold' here in Stockholm. I feel like I'll be missing things, significant moments with new found friends... but if I consider coming back early, I feel like I'll be missing out on the life I have in Toronto.

My friend and I were talking this morning, about keeping in touch with old high school friends, college friends and colleagues from years ago... he and I met in college and though we never really get the time to see each other, he always seems to be on the other end of the phone. He said something interesting to me, as I spoke about friends from Sweden possibly coming to visit, and possibly a friend from London and he said " Maybe it's just me and my OCD, but I don't like my world's mixing".. and it just kind of had me thinking, the idea of connecting the two gives your life abroad so much more 'realness' to it.

In the last 3 years of living across the pond I have had two visitors. One, my sister in law, and two my sister. Both were in different cities and only my sister really saw my life, in Stockholm. And though my sister and I are complete opposites, and she's no where as near as  'warm and kind' with people as I am (I mean she is but you'd have to know me to get it)... the point though is when she was here all of the sudden all the stories and people and places she has heard about became so completely true. She met my friends, my colleagues, saw me behind my bar, walked the streets of Stockholm, and though she can be a harsh judge of character, it put a lot of my life into perspective, it sort of flicked a switch in my head, making me want to push harder on an 'independent' life in Stockholm, because all I really have now is my industry and the many friends, great friends I have from it.

I guess the struggle stands like this, the more I continue to bring those two worlds together, the harder it seems to have them in different places. I think the one reason I survived two years in London and the last year(ish) in Stockholm, was very much the fact that Toronto has and always will be 6,000+km away from where I stand and what I choose to share about both sides of the story, Toronto to Stockholm, Stockholm to Toronto... the West Coast of Canada and London in between, they're all so separate, and when I mixed those together in London (my ex meeting a bit of the family I had and the family that came to visit) it became so impossible to ever separate them again. The one thing though about London, was I knew it was never a 'permanent' option, I wasn't in the best place career wise, and I knew my visa couldn't be renewed...

But here in Stockholm, it's so different, I see a life, long term (5 years or more) here. I see the city as a place I can really fit into, even though I lack the language and the 'stiffness' of Swedish culture. But something about having come here solo, staying single and being happy and okay with that, comfortable in that, makes me feel confident that it isn't about depending on someone to stay here, but knowing that I want to stay here for me and the possibilities of what Stockholm could do for my career.

If my European friends do come to visit me in Toronto this summer, I guess I will just have to understand that sometimes when your 'world's' mix great things can happen. And making your life feel more genuine isn't the worst thing.

It's just the older I get, the more my siblings get older, get married and plan to have families, I know it's going to be the hardest moments of my life missing moments to be with them, but at the same time, being there with them, when I can spend that time, it's going to mean so much.

The hardest things we face in life, sometimes we face them alone and sometimes we face them surrounded by the people we love so much.

At the end of the day, having two worlds collide gives everything in my life a little more meaning, and I feel good about that.





Sunday, 15 March 2015

Twenty-three.





You know that feeling, the one when you're in a crowd and you can't seem to get through, there is hundreds of people going in different directions, and you just can't seem to find that one path to stick to and get through it all?

That is the feeling in my head. One thousand thoughts, ideas, goals, ambitions, and I just can't seem to pick the right one, I am hesitant in my choice. 

I have always been a firm believer that you have to go with your gut, and follow my heart and the slightly annoying part to that 'gut' feeling I have, my heart doesn't agree.

No matter how many times I put it down on paper, bring it up in conversation, London is no longer an option. But for some reason, it feels like it still is. I feel like because I had a life there, I'll always feel like it's an option. And that's what my heart wants.

I was having a chat with my taxi driver last night, you know those slightly too honest, borderline delusional conversations because you just finished a rowdy Saturday night service, worked 15 hours,  and slept so little leading into that shift, that it's 2am, you're exhausted and a slightly vulnerable, and you're taxi driver asks why you're in Sweden, why you came alone, and how long you'll stay... and for whatever reason that question, the question I get asked at least once a day, it was so hard to answer. 

I talked about my life on the West Coast of Canada, life in London, and now life in Stockholm, and he said something to me, that I've heard a few times now...

"You leave a little piece of your heart everywhere you begin to create a life, so eventually, if you ever do go home to where you grew up, you'll never actually feel like it's home because you've left parts of you everywhere else, so you should choose the place you felt for most, the one that made you grow"
(Pretty profound for a taxi driver, if you ask me. But much appreciated)

He is right, and like I said, it's not the first time I have heard that before, I guess it's just sticking in my head and it had me thinking all day. 

But with all the trauma of how I left London, and what I left behind, I know, I absolutely know I will never be able to pick up that story again. That part of the book ended, the chapter is over, but why can't I let it go?

Am I just being a little bit nostalgic because a year ago, this weekend, I stepped into Stockholm for the first time, with a completely different idea of what my life was supposed to be like. Is it because I didn't get my way that I can't just let that be? Or is it because I still keep little bits of that life in my pocket and carry then with me... 

Maybe it's because life happened so easily there, I made instant friends, I had family, and six months in I fell in love and spent the rest of my time there with that person... Maybe it's because life happened so easily there, and it hasn't happened the same way here in Stockholm, maybe it's just me wanting to hold on to the comfortable, and familiar. 

I guess what I am trying to make myself realize, is that I came to Stockholm for a job, nothing else, not a person, or a friend, or family, I came for a job. And though building a life around that, I've done all on my own and it has been hard, and a little bit lonely.

I didn't have family for a buffer, I didn't have a boyfriend who made his family mine, I didn't make the same friends so quickly... But what I did do, was through caution to the wind a little bit, and went with my gut, and my gut told me Stockholm, and my gut told me take the job and my gut continues to tell me stay here a while, and build your life here, even though I may have left my heart in another place.

In a sort of run around way (which makes sense due to my lack of sleep, and sort of zombie like state) my gut says Stockholm, but my heart says London and maybe it always will; But I went with my gut the first time, so I'll just keep going with it. 

Though I have a big break coming up, where I will be gone from Stockholm from middle May to beginning of August, I think the break will do me well. I think it will give me the perspective I need on my life here, and maybe I will realize a little piece of my heart is here in Stockholm. 

The challenge will always and forever be feeling like I've made the right choice, and believing in my life here, my job and the friends I have made, and will continue to make. And to be honest with myself, I don't think I will ever feel completely set on this choice, well, maybe not until it feels as comfortable as London did, and though sometimes it kind of feels like it's going in that direction, I have days like these where I always just need to check myself. 

I suppose at the end of the day, you're never going to really know the biggest moments, or days, or decisions of your life, until you're in the middle of them. And having reservations like these, or concerns, or swayed opinions, it makes you human, and my goodness, it reminds me I'm young, and as much as I want to run before I can walk,  I can't. I just want to know that the choices I make in my life today, will be the best ones for tomorrow and after, and maybe I won't, until I'm right in the middle of one. 

The carousel will keep spinning, and I guess I'm okay with that. 




Friday, 26 December 2014

Do you know me, at all?



Nothing lasts forever
But this is gonna take me down
He's so tall, and handsome as hell
He's so bad but he does it so well
I can see the end as it begins, my one condition is


Say you'll remember me
Standing in a nice dress, staring at the sunset, babe
Red lips and rosy cheeks
Say you'll see me again even if it's just in your wildest dreams
Wildest dreams


---

I think at some point we always hold on to moments, important or not, a long time ago or recently, we hold on to them, their significant fades and sometimes changes, but more than anything, we hold on to it, because something about it defined us, maybe for a minute or maybe for a while. 

2014 has felt like a year that's thrown me some very significant moments, tragic, happy, sad and exciting ones, but I feel like I've spent my life at 22 on damage control.

Trying to understand what has happened to me. 

There's a great quote from Grey's Anatomy (of course from Grey's, we all know I live my life vicariously through Meredith Grey) but it's when Christina is wondering about the significance of her life, and all the moments that led her to being nominated for a Harper Avery. Long story short...

"Do you know who you are? Do you know what has happened to you? Do you want to live this way?

But I think those are valid questions. Questions we forget to ask ourselves, questions we all too easily leave unanswered in the back of our minds, afraid to really understand what we're actually doing.

I hold on to a few moments this year. 

1. Finishing at my previous hotel bar. The history, the story, the 24 months of my life I spent there. Something was so wonderfully liberating about leaving, but absolutely tragic about it too.

2. Listening to the words someone said, but watching them turn and walk away from you. 
Actions will forever be louder than words. 
I still love you doesn't comfort a broken heart.

3. A sign of change, a job offer for my current employer in Stockholm.
The sheer happiness I felt, with the extreme terror that loomed in my mind.

4. One Sunday off, meeting my two colleagues for a drink, wanting to leave because I desperately just wanted to be alone and curse why I ever let myself leave London. They didn't let me leave, they didn't even know what was wrong. They'll never know that in that moment they made me realize that 1. they were not just my colleagues, they were my friends; two kind, caring, thoughtful people and 2. that being amongst people during a moment of self doubt, is more important than trying to brave things on your own- because sometimes we just need somebody.

5. My 23rd birthday. The whole day, the happiness of being around such great new friends, and the sadness of missing those who couldn't be apart of it.

Holding on to these moments, reflecting on my life, wondering, wishing, dreaming, do I know who I am? Do I know what has happened to me? Do I want to live this way.

Today, I was catching up with a very close friend of mine from 15,500km away, and hearing her voice couldn't of been more inspiring. But it's like I said to her, I've spent 22 in damage control. Just trying to pack the wound and hope that I would make it through the night. Going through the motions, living on the surface of things. Doing my best to just breathe in, breathe out and move on. Do I want to live this way? No.

But the liberating part, the self assurance, the confidence, the 'bravery' some say I have was being in Stockholm through in all. Breathing in, breathing out and just trying to move on, move forward,  missing London less, realizing that a love lost, is a lesson gained, and that best friends don't need to be in the same city as you, they just need to be on the other end of the phone. 

I said something to an old college friend on the morning of my birthday. He asked if there was a birthday present waiting in my bed for me... he said, that's the best way every birthday should start, and though Alexander Skarsgård would of been perfect for that...I happily replied:
"No. I want 23 to be about me, myself and I, the cities I want to conquer, what countries I want to visit, what books I want to read, what stories I want to write. What places I want to fall in love with, and how I will push myself to be a better friend, acquaintance, colleague, stranger and person"

I want to stand firm in those words. Nothing has been harder than moving to a city where I knew less people than I ever had, picking up the pieces of my broken heart, wandering around with 'unfinished business' in London... these are hard things, being ripped out of a life you built. I guess thats the haunting truth about visas and immigration... it's out of your hands sometimes and that's the hardest pill to swallow, because no matter how determined you are about something or someone, you can't control the cards in their hands.

Do I know who I am? 
Well, I am figuring that out, more and more everyday. The more time I spent outside my comfort zone, living my life in a little bit of a limbo of should I stay or should I go mentality, makes me a little bit more brave, a little bit more ballsy, a little bit more honest in that the right answer will present it's self when the time is right.

And everyday spent roaming the streets of Stockholm, sipping cocktails in some of my favourite bars, catching up with new friends, standing behind the bar in Old Town, is just a little bit more of reassurance that I've done exactly what I set out to do... International career, stay in Europe, and I'm pretty damn proud of that.

Do I know what has happened to me?
There will always be constant reminders of the last year of my life, it's in the photos on my phone, the blog posts I write, the old sweater hanging on my wardrobe... Ofcourse I know what has happened to me. But it's how you let the things in your life effect you. 
I grew up in anything but 'normal', 'steady' and 'consistent' for the first 8 years of my life. Life was messy, it was hard. But I didn't let it make me jaded. Instead of resenting love and marriage, it's nothing I want more than to build a life from scratch with someone. 
Then being a preteen sucked, kids were mean, I was bullied. Most kids were, but I let it almost break me apart one night, but something told me not to. 
If we let our past dictate who we become, we're not leaving ourselves with much room to grow. As my father says " Shit happens, life goes on" and though that is slightly humorous, it's dead fucking honest. 
Shit, does happen. Life does go on. The carousel keeps spinning. But how will you let that change  your life. Sometimes we call those terrible moments 'rock bottom' where you stand there seriously, honestly, truly wonder, where are we going to go from here? But there is that sheer hope that a little bit of courage, resilience, and determination that pushes you forward. 

At the end of the day, when the sun goes down, and there is a slight chill in the air... silence is around us, but you're sitting there left in the dark, you lie there and judge yourself on your accomplishments and failures. And you'll always be your worst critic, but there is something to be said about being proud of what you've done, the things you have said, the people you've made friends with, the ones you once shared your heart with... be proud of it all, breathe in, breathe out and take it all in.

Being on your own is terrifying. Finding comfort in solidarity, it isn't easy, it can be lonely, but the biggest reward it what you do with the time you have for yourself, you can choose to spend it whatever way you want, and that, that's the best part of young and twenty something. Selfishness, it's kind of appropriate, in a small way.

Do you know who you are? Do you know what has happened to you? Do you want to live this way?

Ask yourself. Breathe in, breathe out and wonder about it. You might want to change something in your life. Or you might want to continue living exactly how you are. But just be certain of it, be confident in it, don't let the fear of failing hold you back, choose you, choose vulnerability and learn something from it.

---
You see me in hindsight
Tangled up with you all night, 
Burnin' it down.
Someday when you leave me, 
I'll bet these memories, 
Follow you around.


Even if it's just in your wildest dreams.


Saturday, 1 November 2014

Autumn In Stockholm

I arrived back in Stockholm on August 27th and before I knew it, it was the 1st of November.

Time fly's by so quickly, months turn into days and days into hours, and well hours into minutes, and everything just comes rushing at you, it's almost like you can't get your head to stop spinning.

Since coming back to Stockholm, settling in and thrown into it all at the Club, it's been like climbing up the side of a mountain, unsure of your rest points, if you'll ever really make it to the top, or if your safety rope might break and you'll fall to your death -okay, maybe not that dramatic-but still, fight or flight, preserver, stay motivated, or just like any new city, you'll get lost in it all.

I remember what it was like moving to London, at first it was this super exciting thing, and then the novelty of the new thing wore off, and then I hated London, I was going to leave and before I knew it I found a new reason to stay, a new exciting adventure to be apart of, and that falling in love makes you see something in an entirely different perspective.

I think what is unique about me being here in Stockholm, is that though this was not what I had planned on, not what I was working towards, not my dream, it's become everything I wanted, and everything I need for a little while.

There is something to be said about new city, new friends, new job, new adventures... but there is also a new sense of self discovery, life after the heartbreak of both ex boyfriends and ending visas, this time, these last two and a half months, have given me a three hundred and sixty degree perspective on who I was and who I am now, and who I want to be.

I have always been really focused on my career and though it may not seem like that from the outside perspective, for me, it's been in every decision I've made since I started college and studying hotels and hospitality. Every job I took was a stepping stone to the next and though I started off with wanting to do something else entirely, my former job at the legendary Savoy Hotel in London, was a huge player in my career goals, and after realizing that five star is amazing, I'm so glad I got to be apart of it,  it wasn't really me. Working with the talented colleagues and bartenders however, that changed me, that made me excited about bars and cocktails and spirits and I would of never thought about becoming a bartender, but after watching a friend win a global compeition and seeing the rest of the guys I work with compete and the opportunity to work with a World Class bartender, I think that's what got me interested, the fact that there was more to just making a cocktail, it was about becoming a storyteller for my guests, a comedian, a counsellor, a temporary friend, for the people sitting on the other side of that bar top. The ability to create not just amazing drinks, but an experience, and that's totally something I have always wanted working in this industry. The guest experience has always been my major focus and working corporate totally shaped that.

In the independent and small company I work for now, with just two other bartenders and a part time bartender, with a small team, I'm exposed to so much. I've learned more in the last two and a half months than I did in two years. 

I think more than anything I have found what I am looking for, which is just the opportunity to build who I am, both personally and professionally and I can confidently say, that I am happy, even though sometimes I can be a little bit lonely here. 

With the confidence of conquering a new city, I am returning to the city that stole my heart, that almost feels like everytime I go back, I never actually left. A few days in London will help me gain a bit more perspective on life here in Stockholm. I am excited to catch up with old friends and though the memories of what the city once meant to me, I think I'm finally clean of all that. 

And though here I am seven months after the fact, the initial heartbreak is over and I've spent so much time on what I want and now that I am standing right in the middle of it, who I am and who I am longing to be, it's never been a better feeling. 

And now with all of this I encourage you to take a second, think about if you're proud of who you are today, can you wake up and be proud of everything you're working towards. 

Be proud, be present, and just keep going. 

To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield. 

Friday, 15 August 2014

It's a longer road to being me again, than I thought.

“ There ‘s a reason I said I’d be happy alone. It wasn’t because I thought I’d be happy alone. It was because I thought if I loved someone and it fell apart, I might not make it. It’s easier to be alone, because what if you learn that you need love and you don’t have it? What if you shape your life around it and then it falls apart? Can you even survive that kind of pain? Losing love is like organ damage. It’s like dying. The only difference is death ends. This? It could go on forever.”

There is something I love so much about reading that over and over again. It just sits and resonates so deeply through my soul, what if you do in fact lean on love and it falls apart. When you love someone and you break up, where does the love go?

About four months ago I went through the first breakup of my life that actually meant something to me. A person who I thought would of stuck around a lot longer than expected, and since then i’ve sort of fallen back into the old ways of my self circa, Summer 2011 and when you go from the extreme of loving someone with your heart wide open, to trying to fill that massive void with something else, anything else…sometimes you can lose yourself somewhere in the middle of it all. 

Since the breakup I have moved on, and there has been other dates, and sparks of possible relationships, but something tells me that I don’t really need it right now, I’m grasping, trying to fill the void in my heart someone left. Or maybe I do need it, but in a slow, day by day approach, living in the present moment, kind of idea. Breakup’s aren't easy, and believe me, i’ve come along way since the first moment it happened. I just think it’s the adaptation part. the whole living your life alone again, going from ‘we’ to ‘me’ and knowing that when you get home at night, there won’t be someone waiting for you. Those are always going to be the tough, real life, feelings you have to face. But it’s in being vulnerable we are our strongest person, and though sometimes those moments catch you off guard and make you a little bit sad, there is honesty and truth in that. It’s because someone mattered you feel that way, and that’s okay too.

Adding insult to injury, I had to leave a city I didn’t necessarily want to leave then and there, it was like one day I woke up with a great life in London and the next day, it was over, and there was nothing I could do to get it back. It becomes some sort of unfinished business you’ll forever have and I think that’s what has made the breakup hard to move forward from, it was so abrupt - all of it- and I guess when you don’t see something coming, it takes a few minutes to get back up when you’ve been knocked down.

In braving the storm, more than often, there is a rainbow to look forward to at the end. And though the last four months has had it’s tough moments, it’s also brought a few things full circle for me. 

I now know for certain I am heading back to Stockholm for some time. Which means a new adventure, a job I really started to enjoy and can’t wait to get back to, making new friendships and catching up on the brief ones I had made just before I left. 

Toronto. Well, you see the tough part in being in Toronto, was how familiar everything is, and how easy it is to fall into old routines and parts of yourself you swore you’d never let take over again. However, I got to spend so much time with my brother and his fiancé and the rest of my family, some time with old friends and had the opportunity to make some new friendships that I didn’t expect to make, so for being stuck in a city I’d rather not be in, I worked hard, made some money, watched my mum and dad get married, see my step brother for the first time in 3 years, and made some unexpected new friendships, that I hope last longer than this summer.

The ability to continually visit London. Though sometimes I get nervous knowing I am going back to visit (re: running into your past) and hang out with old friends, the best part is I can still walk the city and remember if it was truly the place I wanted to be. Because it is still forever on my mind, but if I ever want to call it home again, it’s going to take a bit of work, but it also has to be the place for me, not for anyone else. 

I have just under a week left in Toronto, getting ready to head to London for 5 days and then Stockholm for the 27th of August. 

I think one of my closest friends said it best, to be just 2% scared because adrenaline will get me through that two percent. I think more than anything I just want to get back to the adventure I started back in May… new city, new job, new friends, new everything, because the opportunity to start again, start new and fresh- ready and eager, means so much when you’re trying to move forward.

I know the next 7 days will fly by faster than I know, considering I am working 5 of them hoping to make my last big cash grab before I head back to Europe. 

I’ve told myself I want to see a new city once a month, I need to take advantage of how close so many things are in Europe and I now get a second opportunity to see new places and spaces, with the freedom to do whatever my heart desires.

These are the moments I live for. The ability to go on an adventure, immerse myself in a new place and culture, give a little piece of my heart to another place on the earth, create  a new “home” just for a while. 

First stop, catching up with all things British, a buzzing city vibe and some of the best friendships I’ve made… London, see you in a week.


Stockholm, I’m coming for you! Be excited, be ready, can’t wait to take the city by storm a little bit more this time. 



Thursday, 29 May 2014

Summer.

Where to begin?

Yesterday marks 3 weeks that I've been in Stockholm. It's been an adventure so far, and let's just say the story is about to get A LOT more interesting.

I think my first reaction to Stockholm was a bit surreal. This place I'd been working towards moving to for 3 months, finally happened. I landed on my own two feet, had a job, somewhere temporary to stay, and was waiting for my working holiday visa to be processed.

Challenged by the waiting game, frustrated by the language barrier, and unsure of the currency conversion, it posed to be a place that I would quickly sink or swim in. My initial reaction after about 72 hours was "give it a month and if you really hate it, then look into other options"... which changed to "give it the summer and if it sucks, then go back to Canada, sort out your visa for Australia and get on a plane." I think at first I very much came here to prove a point, to basically say " well, I invested my time into something, and because someone gave up on me doesn't mean I'm giving up on myself". It very much felt like I was living someone else "dream" or idea, especially because every Swede I met kept saying "so what the heck are you doing in Stockholm"... Good question.

The more I sat down and thought about it, the more I looked into the last few weeks of my life, the more I thought to myself... well, I've just made a huge mistake. But then, the more time I spent with my colleagues at the Club, the more things I roamed around seeing, the more I started to discover that I could define the reason I was here. The opportunity I have working at this cocktail bar will not only show me another side of the bar industry, but it will give the opportunity to make me more well rounded as a person, it gives me the ability to learn more about spirits and furthers my passion in the industry. I now realise how much I actually love this job and can't wait to get back to Stockholm in August.

Which brings me to my next point. Visas. Immigration. Government processes and well, being a non-EU citizen has its severely complicated issues. As a Canadian, we have partnerships with many countries, including many in the EU for a "working holiday exchange program" which depending on the country, allows you to work 1-2 years and travel within the country to experience "life and culture" in another part of the world. That's how I got to London and that was the same way I was going to be in Stockholm. The only problem I'm faced with now, is the fact that my visa is going to take much longer than anticipated for the application to be approved... what was said to be 6-8 weeks is actually more of a 3 month process, and as frustrating as that is, well I am stuck in a rock and hard place with this, as I can't stay and work here, and it will put me out too much so I have to go back to Canada. 

I am desperately trying to find the silver lining here, as there is nothing more I dislike than living in a city I have sort of 'overcome' as a person. I am glad its filled with people I love that are excited for my short 8 week return and I hope that I can made the best out of a bad situation and work hard, make some decent cash and catch up with friends and family over the 8 weeks. 

I think its hard to deal with the ongoing battle of visa situations, but I always knew it would be the biggest "red tape" on my dreams of travel and living abroad, but being put in a situation like this also proves a point that I've always raised in living abroad or giving advice to someone considering it: you can always go back to where your from. And in this situation, I have to. Everyone knows I genuinely don't want to- but its the best choice to make to insure I stay on top of my finances and don't step on anyone's toes with visas and immigration.

Though the daunting voice of my ex runs through my head as I remember him saying how complicated these things get, and how much of a hassle it would be to go back and forth across the Atlantic ocean, but there is nothing I can do, it's out of my hands, and those were the cards I've been dealt in life, for now atleast.

It's totally my dream to call Europe home for good, though my heart is set in London right now, and I cannot tell you how excited I am to head back to Toronto, simply because I get to be in London not once, but twice this summer. However, I know how I fell in love with London and I feel like I could definitely feel the same about Sweden, or maybe any other country in Europe I may end up in.  I've totally adopted the idea that the world is in fact my oyster, and I plan on seeing as much as I can not just now, but throughout my life. I know the whole "do it while your young" phrase sticks in my mind, but who says you can't be 44 and roam the streets of Istanbul? Amsterdam? Mumbai?

I don't ever want to limit myself to one place, or one way of life, I know I want to settle somewhere, so I can always know I can go back there, but at the same time, I'm happy to spend 6 months of the year somewhere else, if that's what is required of me. I think the key in all of this, is that I do know what I want. Maybe not the exact specifics, but the general ideas of travel, hospitality, and international experience... they're all things I will continue to strive for. I think you're lucky when you know what you want, because I feel like when you don't, when you have no clue, you get scared when opportunity is put in front of you, you pass it down because your not sure of the outcome. I would never say any of this is easy, I would never recommend it for the fainthearted but you know what? I would always recommend doing something that scares the hell out of you, and trying everything twice in life... so you can really make a true judgement call on if you like it or not.

I've got about 10 days left here in Stockholm, so I plan on doing a few things over the weekend and early next week, just to feel like I've seen a little bit more, and can feel confident with coming back. As I said to a friend today, it's not like I'm gone for 8 years, it's just 8 weeks... and as my other friends said to me late the other night- think of it as a little vacation with your friends who have known you since you were 12/13 and will constantly remind you of who you were and what you wanted before all of this unfolded.

I think it's crucial to always reflect on what you've done, where you've come from and where you might be going. The more you question your behavior as a person, the more you ask yourself questions, demand from yourself reasons and push yourself through challenges, the more self aware you become, and I think we all strive for that a lot in life, and sometime struggle because were scared of the answers.

Don't be afraid to be a bit hard on yourself, but always remember to grant praise where praise is due and go with your gut, because nine times out of ten, it was completely right.

I'll leave you with this...

To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield. - One Week.