So this was a little bit of a different Christmas for me. It was in fact, the first Christmas that I was completely away from all family, and I’m not gonna lie, it was a little weird.

A few days ago, in Newcastle, Australia, where I’m playing for the Jets in the W League, I started getting kind of homesick and feeling lonely. I’m usually pretty tough in this regard, but hearing everyone talking excitedly about spending time with their friends and family made me realize how much I was going to miss being with mine. I texted a friend who put it all in perspective in about a sentence, “Just remember when you’re feeling sad that you are playing soccer. In Australia.” She had a point.

That being said, still feeling somewhat displaced, and having my natural reaction to try and turn anything negative into a positive, I decided to look up flights to New Zealand. I’ve always wanted to see the country, and it seemed to be a cool way to spend the few days that we had off. Sure enough, flights into Wellington from Sydney were reasonable, and knowing that I had a friend from home who was in the city to provide some Canadian love, I just did what I do best, and booked it on a couple days notice, and I came over.

So while most people spent time stuffing their faces surrounded by family, I wandered around a foreign city alone. That being said, it gave a really interesting perspective.

The first is that if you are alone on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, you stick out like a sore thumb. I’m not going to lie, I tried to project the image that I was on my way to a really important Christmas gathering, and this solo jaunt was just a couple-of-hours -while-I-killed-some-time kind of thing. People look at you a little sideways, like, why exactly are you alone on a holiday when the streets are deserted because everyone is with someone.

As I wandered around, I grabbed some food at the only restaurant I could see that was open (an Indian restaurant). As I sipped on my masala chai (I have a newfound obsession for anything with the word chai in it), I people watched from the window of the busiest street in Wellington, Cuba Street (which was dead) and saw other people walking around alone.

They are the people that I never noticed on Christmas before, because I’ve always been at someone’s house not wandering streets, but they were people that genuinely looked like they had nowhere to go. Even if it was a case of them not projecting such a smooth image of popularity as me (obviously said tongue in cheek as I am sure some of them were feeling equally sorry for me seeing through my facade), it did make me realize that there are a lot of people who truly are alone on the holiday. Often through some bad turns in their life that sometimes is nothing more than plain bad luck. It made me realize that there are people that don’t have a loving family on another continent, or friends sending in well wishes via social media. Things that we take for granted. In some weird way I felt some kind of a camaraderie with my fellow solo Christmas street cruisers and definitely some perspective on what the word lonely truly means. Perspective (which is usually a catalyst for gratefulness) is a beautiful thing.

Being alone, I also managed to slam a 500 page book in 24 hours. A Piece of Cake, A Memoir by Cupcake Brown. It was about a woman who finds her loving mother dead when she is 11 and through a messed up court system that separates her from her caring family, she finds herself thrown into an abusive foster system that drives her into drugs, and a crack addiction. It’s the story of how she turned her life around at age 25, and in the end became a lawyer. It was truly inspiring and maybe because I was feeling a little misty eyed because of the holiday season, I’m not gonna lie, a tear, or five were shed.

Some quick notes that I made from this gem of a book which kind of tied into my previously mentioned realizations about spending Christmas alone:

1. Feeling your Feelings- a reminder of a saying that’s helped me overcome a lot of the anxiety I have felt in my life “feel the fear and do it anyways.” For Cupcake, when she didn’t have the drugs to mask negative emotions, this was an idea she really had to embrace

2. Serving Others: We are so wrapped up in our own lives, and there are so many people less fortunate; the importance of always looking at ways that we can serve others (and it’s a lot more of a meaningful and long lasting way of experiencing happiness than buying something or fulfilling some image that society shoves down our throats)

3. The importance of believing in a higher power, someone stronger than ourselves

4. Writing down the person that you want to be

5. Changing the tapes in our head: many of us have been raised with certain ideas of who we are and what we are. When we go back through beliefs about ourselves and who we are, often times, we are ideas that have been indoctrinated by other people or experiences, not necessarily the truth. We can always change the tapes of who we think we are, or what we think we are capable of, and truly can be anyone or anything we desire to be.

6. People are put in our lives for a reason, but not everyone is meant to stay.

7. I thought this was a great one “If you want self-esteem, do esteemable acts.”

Like I said. It was a bit of a different Christmas, but different doesn’t always mean worse. I feel lucky to have had some quiet time to reflect and if nothing else, give thanks for everything that I have in my life right now.

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