Within the span of a week I’ve quit my job, cried a ton, asked for help, made this blog, and finally let myself listen to my favourite song for the first time in months.
Maybe I should rewind for a second?
My name is Jasmine Flora but since the beginning of my social media presence I’ve been JazzJazzFlora. That small decision I made years and years ago (back when I was trying to dye my hair with english breakfast tea so that my blonde locks would look more like Bella Swan’s without the commitment of box dye, the good ole days) managed to stick with me through the terrors of puberty and the countless new beginnings.
And today, for what has felt like the first time in ages, I finally feel like I’m coming home to myself. To a girl who thought that JazzJazzFlora was a good name for an Instagram, a girl who never could seem to listen to music loud enough, and for the most part, a girl that has wanted to reinvent and rewrite herself time and time again.
What happened today? Well, I went to my first yoga class in a loooong time. The first time being when I was 16 years old. Back then, I went to a little studio down the street with my best friends for the free teen yoga class. There, I found my first ever teacher. A young woman who found freedom through Hinduism, yoga, and 90’s rap. She introduced me to the spiritual practice behind yoga, MC Yogi, took me to my first ever Kirtan music meet-up, and planted the seed that heartbreak can bring us home to ourselves.
And at 16 years old, after dealing with my first ever break-up, I dove head first into Yoga. I’d love to point out that at the time, I had a pink streak in my hair, just got my license, and was very, very emo. This break-up was nothing compared to the heartache I was going to face in the years to come, but I was so punk-rock and very dramatic about it. At 16 I was able to have one foot in the spiritual world, celebrating the full moon on top of my town’s water tower each month, and embracing the flower-child within while the other foot was slamming on the gas, blaring the angry music of sad boys, and probably talking a lot of shit about my ex-boyfriend. (I’m sorry, Ben. So glad we’re still friends!)
Fast forward a couple of years and I find that dichotomy confusing. Sometimes I feel like the way the world views me and the way I view myself are very different. And most days I feel like I want to erase who I was before and become someone completely new. But there are so many varied one-sided versions of myself that I can’t seem to choose. Bubbly Jasmine? Bad-ass Jasmine? Leading Lady Jasmine? Quirky, supporting character Jasmine? Burlesque Jasmine? Anxious Jasmine?
When I finally got diagnosed with Endometriosis it started to feel like there was only one option– the chronically ill Jasmine. The Jasmine who at 23 years old was bound to pain, suffering, anxiety, and medical bills.
But 16 year old Jasmine was punk-rock, angry, and political. She was also gentle and caring and cried about friendship. Freshmen year of college Jasmine was bright-eyed, in a very romantic love affair with Seattle, enamored by all things musical theatre, sweaters with skirts, and self help books. As I grew older I never felt like I could be both? Angst or giddiness. Softness or edge. Never both, how very limiting.
As I walked out of my yoga class earlier this evening I plugged in my headphones and turned on a playlist of all my favourite songs. Suddenly, I found myself running along the streets of my neighborhood. I pulled down the hood of my coat and let the rain fall onto my face, staring in amazement at the way the water fell on the ever-changing leaves that lined the streets. “What’s Up?” By 4 Non Blondes, “Gray or Blue” by Jaymay, “Third Eye” by Florence + The Machine, and finally “Dark Blue” by Jack’s Mannequin began to play.
“Dark Blue” has been my favourite song since I was 11 or 12 years old. It’s my anthem of hope and wonder, my guiding light of quixotic optimism. And for the past several months I haven’t let myself listen to it. I always find an excuse to skip it when it comes on, a tragic sin my younger self would be so ashamed of.
With college ending, a new medical diagnosis, and a lonely, deep, dark sadness hanging over me like the fog in Seattle, my heart couldn’t find it in her to listen along. I felt lost and untethered, so much so that I couldn’t let something so familiar back in.
The days leading up to my reunion with my yoga mat were a whirlwind. I made the choice to quit my job after calling both of my parents and asking for help. It’s a weird thing to be 23 years old and living in a city far away from both your family and the sun. And it’s even weirder to be so independent and so in need of parenting.[ I’d love to point out that I haven’t felt the need to be parented since I was probably 6 or 7. Imagine me looking exactly the way I do now but on a much smaller body and ten times as bossy. My mother is a saint for putting up with my virgo attitude all these years. ]
After my diagnosis and the subsequent, dramatic hospital visit, the overwhelm of having endometriosis and how radically my life needed to change in order to combat all of my symptoms finally came crashing down on me. I realized that while I had an extremely supportive partner and some fantastic friends, I needed my parents. I had grown so exhausted, so anxious, and was battling so much pain that I needed someone else to be in charge. I was too in the dark to get myself out.
Together, we made the ego-squashing decision that I should quit my full-time job. That I needed to commit to my physical and mental health.This included: a yoga membership, finding a therapist, going to my doctor appointments, crying, and spending lots and lots of money following all of my doctor’s recommendations.
It’s painfully embarrassing to admit that my body cannot do what my friends’ bodies can do right now. Having to scale back and look for part-time jobs is infuriating. Acknowledging that I’m not in a position to audition for plays or musicals because of the level of fatigue I’ve been experiencing feels like failure. Asking for help because I had become so frightened and so sad filled my heart with shame.
But as I found my feet running along the rain-soaked concrete listening to “Dark Blue” I had a moment of clarity. I have anxiety. Yes. I have chronic pain. Yes. But I still find magic in music. I still lift my head up towards the rain, even if it puts me at risk of catching a cold. That the undeniable pleasure of being alive, with a kick-ass soundtrack playing in the background, is worth it, to me. After all this time, the best parts of me survived.
That’s the scariest part about being so sad, for me. Oh, how desperately I want to be alive and to experience everything and to do everything. The rush of walking home, in the rain, with music that made my soul feel like flying confirmed that not every part of me was lost. That there was still hope.
Of course, I still find being a human excruciatingly hard. But I also find it full of wonder and breath-taking exhilaration. I am angry and embarrassed and scared. But I am hopeful and joyful and brave enough to ask for help.
I am still that girl who can never seem to listen to music loud enough and finds peace on her yoga mat but I no longer want to chase a new me, a different me, a better me, or the old me. I don’t have to destroy every piece of evidence that I existed before in order to begin again. I am making peace with the embarrassing, head-strong girl I once was. Remembering that the soft, wide-eyed, in love with the world girl is still there. And learning to exist with every messy, beautiful, and opposing piece of myself.
Cheers to the heartache that brings us home and brings us to new adventures! As you can tell I now have a very honest, very vulnerable online diary! I have no clue what I’m doing 75% of the time, but as I figure it out I thought it’d be worth it to write it all down.
I’ve got some exciting stuff in the works — ugly things and beautiful things because if you couldn’t tell I’m currently obsessed with all the contradictions involved with the risky art of being a human. So feel free to check in soon!
Read on, dear friends.
P.S. Check out the playlist I mentioned below.