Good Morning, Welcome Home.

IMG-5058

There’s almost nothing as soothing to me as waking early to a cool, bright morning after a full sleep, knowing myself, feeling full freedom in the day ahead.

It’s been almost exactly a year since I left for the UK, a trip that was full of mixed emotions. I was supposed to “make it” something, come home anew.

My Dad was on his way out of this world, he in BC, me in Montreal, and it was heart-wrenching. I went, and because of a passport issue, my trip got turned around. I felt like a failure, in part because this was a trip I was making “for” him in some sense. A last chance of him knowing freedom through me…maybe.

At least that what I told myself.

I made the trip as nice as possible, but it still felt…unproductive. Aside from a bit of exploring and relaxing, and visiting a good friend, nothing really happened. I had some peaceful moments, but nothing I couldn’t have had here, for the most part. The highlights were definitely Edinburgh (meeting up with Emily!!), meeting Jaime Khoo IRL (a freaking fantastic afternoon with a tour of York), seeing Sara (still not sure how someone can be quite so beautiful), reconnecting with Colin (20 years later, we still feel the same). I also quit my job, which was something that had been needing to happen, but of course, made things more challenging in some ways.

I spent November in Montreal, trying to be in touch with my mom, and basically waiting for “the” call. I walked, grieved, took space. It was actually pretty lovely, despite the sadness.

And then, the call. I sobbed hard. The grieving took on many different forms through the next little while.

I went to be with my mom for a bit, and it was lovely, hard. Still, there was a certain peace inside of me, even though everything felt disjointed. I went to LA for 2 weeks, then Vancouver for about 4 months. It was nice enough, but even that even turned sour in the end.

I felt supported relationship-wise, because I was around good friends. I needed that—always will. But I still didn’t quite feel like I was supporting myself. Financially things were dismal. I scraped by on bits and pieces of work, but still felt too scattered to really buckle down. I knew I needed a certain type of business guidance, but I didn’t know where I’d find it. And a fight broke out over money, a fight which made me feel smaller and more incompetent than I had in a long time.

I felt like I was climbing out of a long hibernation, only to be sort of shoved back down the hole a little. It’s kind of how I’ve felt all year.

I guess that’s what life does, generally.

Late March, I was back with my mom for a bit, then was invited to stay at an Ashram in the Kootenays with a dear friend. It was the first time I’d felt a hint of sobriety—literally and metaphorically—in ages. And things felt a little lighter.

That was early April. I bussed to Calgary and flew back home to spend April at my own space in Montreal. The point was really buckle down and move my business forward. But I knew I didn’t have long because my space was rented out. I needed the extra income and had planned to spend the summer elsewhere.

I remember sort of goofing around, then, still not buckling down. But I managed to scrape up enough cash to sign up for a copywriting course, which I followed haphazardly through the summer. I knew that doing that was exactly what I needed, but I wasn’t quite sure how until more recently.

I enjoyed the summer—time at my sister’s, my mom’s, with some good friends. There was a Picard reunion, camping, beautiful walks, plenty of day-trips, quiet nights, plenty of wine and simple dinners. And I can’t forget the fantastic (quasi-spontaneous) 39th birthday in Vancouver, thanks to a few stellar friends there.

I needed that company, the support, the freedom. This was my first summer not working full-time in probably 20 years, and it was glorious.

I returned from that trip two months ago, and immediately felt momentum as soon as I set foot in my own space. But between more rentals and a good friend visiting, I still didn’t quite get into the flow that I know I’ve been needing.

The truth is, despite all the good stuff, I’ve still been scraping—emotionally, financially, energetically. I realize now that, although it’s been great, I haven’t been able to find balance and focus very easily. I do have a few health issues and my business to tend to. I have come to terms with myself that I cannot heal or focus properly without complete space. I need (what seems like) a ridiculous amount of space to truly do the work.

So, it’s time to stay still for a while.

This morning is the first one in a while that I’ve known I can just stay. I now understand what being footloose is: as much as I love my people, I can’t expect too much of myself during those times. I can maintain, but not move forward. Without regular, long periods of alone time, I won’t deliberately practice the level of radical balance and self-support which is essential for staying centered while moving forward, both business-wise and personally.

I am grateful for all the arms that held me this year, for each and every adventure and calm moment together. But I’ve also been feeling new momentum, in part because that copywriting course and other growth work (via Kate B and others) has opened my eyes to what is really going on.

It’s not all pretty: there’s still a lot of negative/anger floating around inside, but I’m ready to approach it properly now. Alongside of this feeling of approaching it differently comes different twinges of possibility, entirely new things that I sensed through the past year, but never really acted on.

So I don’t now what true balance and radical self-support is really going to look like exactly, but I do know that health and business go hand in hand, and that it’s all right in here—in my apartment, in my heart.

This is the time to deliberately heal, build, grow.

And I’m ready to dig in.

(PS: This is kinda what the book will be about. ;))

Advertisements

38 Things to do when you Quit your Job (or Any Damn Time)

img_2045
Image: Renee Picard
  1. Go to the ocean

  2. Get a room with a view
  3. Eat fish and chips, mac and cheese, or whatever your favourite comfort food is for breakfast.
  4. Drink vodka, whiskey, red wine.
  5. Wear “too much” or “too little” make-up.
  6. Read Big Magic; choose to abide by it (or at least try really hard).
  7. Start a bucket list.
  8. Write a letter.
  9. Take a long bath in the afternoon with a coffee-grind mask that stains the white bathmat and will make the housekeepers wonder.
  10. When you are tired, pass out to the dulcet tones of British TV shows about antiques.
  11. Remember your Old Life—then let it go.
  12. But check in with the people you love back there, in your Old Life. Don’t let them go.
  13. Know you absolutely can do it in a new way. Then cry, because half the time you don’t believe this, really.
  14. Do yoga despite the heartburn, with a focus on the hips.
  15. Watch TV—but not for more than an hour at a time.
  16. Smile at the old people playing bridge in the lobby of the antiquated hotel, and at the mob of red-faced, navy-blazered Old Boys’ club that gathered around the bar one evening, all bald-headed and jovial.
  17. Smile at the kids playing in the sand, chasing the seagulls…until the mother pulls out bread bits to feed to the seagulls (please don’t feed the birds).
  18. Smile at the arthritic and slightly wet black lab trying to nose into your medoicre-at-best breakfast fish and chips.
  19. Re-do your website.
  20. Share a story in the secret women’s-only Facebook group.
  21. Decide to pug sit in Hollywood over Christmas.
  22. Wonder how one person could possibly be so content.
  23. Wonder how one person could possibly feel so distant from those that she loves.
  24. Go to the aquarium and simultaneously marvel while dipping into a concrete sort of sadness; you want to be with these creatures, but (mostly) not like this.
  25. Take the French lessons you’ve been meaning to take for 2 years.
  26. Practice finishing what you started.
  27. Take a social media/job-search break for 12 hours to read Beautiful Losers and write.
  28. Tell stories about the time you saw a giant tortoise eat it’s own…well, maybe not. It was more the reaction of the other observers that was priceless.
  29. Forget about how the much-younger-but-still-cold-and-overly-formal bartender kept calling you “Ma’am.”
  30. Enjoy the shit out of the complementary tea, custard creams, gingerbread and shortbread that sits waiting in every hotel room there, ’cause they just don’t do that at home.
  31. Don’t worry that you were 2 hours away from Stonehenge with a completely open schedule but still didn’t go and see it. You will be back soon enough.
  32. Turn everything off and just read.
  33. Colour with the window open, sitting on the floor, watching the sunset, with the sea breeze cooling your wine-warmed face.
  34. Wonder (stop wondering) why you can’t seem to be in love with the right person, ever.
  35. Find a new rhythm.
  36. Eat fruit slowly.
  37. Devote yourself to living by the sea in a more permanent way.
  38. Don’t let the cheapness of the combed sand or the too-small aquarium tanks or pier toll sway you from just visiting places like kitchy, old-timey beach towns.  Those are really the best, anyhow.

It’s just around the corner.

autum-road-fog-end
Photo: Remi Skatulski @ Unsplash

*Note: I wrote this thinking that my beloved Pops was not going to make it out of the hospital this time, but alas, he should be on his way out, and so I feel like a bit of a fool for all this emoting, but it still stands as a testament to all that we have and are. I am so glad that we get to keep him for at least a little longer. 

I wake every morning with that heaviness in my chest, my gut.

He’s not gone, but we all know that it’s just around the corner and our lives will be forever different when he’s gone.

Mom must be feeling this same heaviness ten-fold.

Dad, I know you are alone and scared. And maybe a bit accepting of it all, because you are pragmatic and brave like that.

I’ve never loved anyone so much in my life, and yet I’m terrified of this next phone call. I don’t want to know that he’s in pain; I don’t want to hear his weak, strained voice; I don’t want to think about him frail in that hospital bed, tubes shoved crassly under his skin, stuck to a machine—that’s not My Dad.

Though there was this moment, on the last visit there. There was a moment. And a few before that. The older he got, the more these moments of actual, deep soul would pop out, as a sort of childlike innocence. He was no longer trying to be cool…he was just so much more himself. Occasionally this even curmudgeonly, which we laugh about, because he’s not really that way.

But there was this way that he seemed so vulnerable when the nurse lifted up his shirt to check his heart as we were sitting in the big easy chairs in the waiting room, watching Jeopardy. How kind she was. How kind he is.

The way that he seemed so excited to teach me exactly how to make a proper omelette.

That giggle, the smile.

His heart.

That time, he came back from the hospital. He came back to be with me. And there’s so much more we needed to talk about, then, and I wanted to, and now we have no time. I want more stories, more out of the stories he’d already shared, and now there’s no time.

His heart is failing.

How could someone with a heart so big have it just fall apart like that? 

Maybe he didn’t take care of himself so well. Or maybe something like this would have happened regardless…who knows.

But death comes for us all.

Yesterday was okay. I felt less emotional, I knew he was okay. I somehow managed to stay feeling pretty balanced and good in my head, my own heart. I don’t know what it will feel like when he is actually gone, but I know what he will always want me to do: dust myself off, get on the road, raise a glass to life.

Follow the road, no matter how unclear the path appears.

Read up on history. Ask questions.

Document everything.

Talk to people. 

I’m going to Europe in two days, as planned. Because he insists. He insists because the thing that matters most is to taste life, to keep exploring, learning. To stay curious about the unknown, and not let anyone or anything hold you back.

“We write to taste life twice.” ~ Anais Nin

I learned from him to taste it once, to risk, to make mistakes, to go forward no matter what, into the uncertainty.

And I write now for him.

It seems strange to not rush to be with him, but as a family, that’s how we roll. We are free spirits. And I need to go. I didn’t really even know why, before. I don’t know what’s out there–but that’s exactly why I have to go. And he gets that.

Soon you will be free of you pain and suffering, and you will rest, but in body only. In some way, your spirit will be the most free.

I will always carry you with me, but no one soul will ever know me like yours does.