Profile: Annette Andrews
by Jess Salgueiro
This woman knocked me out when I first met her in Tulum. She was emerging from a yoga “studio” nearly covered by jungle life (seriously - it was outside-in the jungle), and her other-worldly bright yet deep, blue eyes glowed as she seemed to glide over to my friend Margarita and I. I’m not freakin’ joking. I thought she was our age (25 at the time) but nope. She wasn’t. We went for dinner and she regaled us with stories of her adventures in love, travel and spiritual exploration. Lucky for me, she now lives in Toronto and the moments I’ve been able to spend with this timeless, ageless, boundless woman have touched my soul.
What would you say to your 25 year old self? And can you place us where you were at that age.
At 25 I was making my way through college with the goal of entering university. I went to university a bit later because I moved out on my own when I was turning 18, and worked various jobs to make it work. College was less expensive than university, so I completed my first year there instead. At that time, I had made a great decision, a difficult one, made with the help of one of my brother’s. And with his encouragement, I took the leap. The financial burden of it, and that I didn’t feel I was capable of it, were things that I had to overcome.
If I had any other advice during that time, it would be to believe in yourself and your decisions, you callings, even if they may end in failure or a change of course, you are still always sailing in the direction of your heart, so you can let go into that.
I guess surrender, or trust the process of life, your life unfolding. Also, spend less time worrying about appearance. If you do anything important leading up to 25, it would be to be healthy and that would mean for me, at very least, to stretch! daily, and eat well. And then you can relax and enjoy your body, and your youth, your vibrancy. We waste our youth on self-torture, self-doubt, and self-absorbed thinking that spirals us into spells of depression, and for me, I took a lot of frustrations out on myself in fact. And this is a waste and unnecessary. You are gorgeous. You will never have this very body and mind, now, wherever you are - again. We never get younger, so now is exactly our perpetual, incredible moment of youth, to enjoy and be, wholeheartedly.
What is a favourite failure of yours?
There are so many. But in actuality, a failure is really just part of the process of refining your heart’s longing. Because, we resist following our hearts because it often conflicts with conventional reality, expectation, socialization. And this is where some failure is rooted in, so in that way, ‘failing’ is actually refining and clarifying. A lot of failure is failing what is expected of us, and in turn, the expectation and decisions we place upon ourselves and make for our own lives. And this will go wrong, when it must go wrong, in order for the heart to prevail. And by heart I mean, whatever IT is that speaks to you, intrigues you, whatever you are sort of hooked on in good ways, that makes you grow and accept challenges and that fills your spirit and mind with light and purpose. I suppose a big failure might feel like something we are presented with, an opportunity, that we don’t seize. However, if we do recognize the opportunity, and simply do are best but cannot realize it - I don’t see this as a failure. I see it as life. We always do the best we can with our limitations and opportunities as they present, the hardest with both, is recognizing them. The greatest failures for me, come in love and the rare creatures we meet along the way who we are unable to meet halfway for various reasons. Still again though, it’s not a failure if we fail at romantic love, IF at some point later we recognize the greatness of a person or moment, that we were not able or ready or open enough to embrace.
What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned about love?
That we are love, and we want to love, and that while we may feel love must be something that inhabits a person, and through one person or a family a child or our parents, we can only experience ‘great’ love - is not the whole truth. It’s the same trajectory, the same path, but it keeps widening and broadening as we go; if we let it we can come to experience the greatest of love in everything and being. Love is to be let flow, not even ‘given’ or ‘received’ but rather, we shouldn’t regulate it in ourselves in order to avoid feelings, or protect others. We should never not let someone or many know we love and ravish their hearts and souls, in all their imperfections or beauty, because love is transformative. And we all need to feel it, be shaped by it, bathed in it, and illuminated by it. Loving our friends, our family, lovers, or a significant partner or your cat. There isn’t one soul, including plants, that aren’t transformed by it, nor ever receive too much of it. Love is a beacon, we give it to others, and in turn, others give it to us, which is a path, we are a path of our soul. Love reminds us and convinces and assures us we are worthy of life itself and of being love itself at our very core. Love is the clarifying scope of the journey. And it flows like this, we the conduits, because we must be, in order for us all to progress along into a greatness of mind, of soul. If we try to block it because of conventions, codes, society, fear of the unknown, being hurt, we will feel negative repercussions in so many different ways, it will manifest as blocks in our own lives and bodies, and creativity and minds. The ‘look’ of love is no outside look at all, it isn’t that one is deserving of it, and another less so - behaviour doesn’t revoke our privileges of ‘love’ and right and wrong cannot touch it. It is.
What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned about beauty?
Beauty is you. We find others truly beautiful when they are alive, in the most healthy ways in body and mind. Beauty is this vibrancy. And some may see it, most do. And then many others will not, because we are a confused world that is a bit lost in superficialities; in this lostness there is at a play an element of control, of fear and this is because at so many levels, insecurity itself is a great weapon used by many for various reasons and ends. But true beauty, is vibrancy. It isn’t about accepting or rejecting, or demanding that others do, a body type, or a weight, or a shape, or a texture, or age - it is about living fully with as few obstacles in body and mind and heart as possible! And this requires a work of openness and honesty and clarity to live life as it is, uncontrived or contorted. We tell ourselves many things, as we hear them and regurgitate them from the external world - about aging, about shape, about texture - but in truth, when we are sort of quivering in and around balance and health on all points in our life… sexuality, spirituality, playfulness, curiousness, all forms of consumption and so on, this is beautiful. The biggest defining limitation placed on us as women to be a certain ever-fluctuating arbitrarily defined beautiful is by a society and people within that are themselves imbalanced, who are in power over us as with the old relic ‘patriarchy’ in its many guises and our own self doubt in life itself as beautiful and wonderful. I always try to be honest with myself in terms of how I am living, what I am consuming (images, sounds, foods, other’s peoples ideas and so on, my own projections and internal thoughts), and how well and freely I am loving without strings attached, in myself and my external world, and when I can balance this more or less over time, I feel beautiful. Because we all are. Being alive is beauty.
What is something you’ve come to love about yourself that maybe you didn’t always?
Writing, my proclivity for it and need to do it.
What are you looking forward to?
A long life with more and more time spent in meditation and retreat.
Annette Andrews lives in Toronto with her kitty and fiance. More info about her mediation classes here: