Good Morning, Welcome Home.

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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. ;))

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Grand Delusions or Just Plain Faith?

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Yesterday I woke heavy, sore, fuzzy-headed. After dragging myself out of bed, I walked into my living room and over to my paper-and-book-mess ‘desk’ (which is really a crappy wooden dining table) and picked up the Hillberg & Berk catalogue that I had gotten in Regina recently.

My best friend had bought me a pair of emerald sparkle balls from the jewellery store when I was visiting her for her wedding. She told me the story of Hillberg & Berk, how the (female) owner of the small business now sells jewellery to the stars, was on the Dragon’s Den and has even been on Oprah…all a pretty big deal.

I’ve never really considered myself a fancy jewellery person; owning a bunch of it is not high on my list of priorities. These earrings are probably the fanciest ones I’ve ever owned, and it was so kind of her to gift them to me.

I love jewellery, I want to look good, but the priority has always been ‘cheap.’ And besides that, in my attempt to be fairly non-materialistic, I’ve never aspired to real diamonds, whether I buy them for myself or not.

For my entire adult life, I’ve worked full-time (and gone to school) but still have been in debt and living mostly paycheck-to-paycheck. This is what is normal to me. I also tend to buy cheap crappy things because (even though I realize it’s not the most ethical thing), that is ‘all I can afford.’

My mom did her best to teach me how to manage my money, and conceptually I understand this. Yet I find myself caught in a cycle of scarcity, a situation which runs much deeper than just ‘how’ we manage our money. I accept some of the responsibility for not being as good with money as I could be.

But there are deeper issues to consider… like quality.

Lately I’ve been getting more and more frustrated about my crappy furniture, the fact that I can’t really afford to replace my good quality boots, the fact that just getting a new (cheap) laptop to work on is a big huge expense.

It’s hard to have lived single for so long in an expensive city. No partners to split the rent, to take vacations with, to even split the chores. Not even enough leeway to do a car co-op thing. My friends are endlessly generous, and sometimes a date will pick up the dinner bill, which is a huge treat.

Mostly it’s just me, and I want to treat myself and my friends/dates too. I would like for it to not feel like a struggle to spend a little money on self-care, or get someone a special (local/handmade) gift.

After a brunch out and a small grocery shop yesterday, I walked home in the hard November rain. Carrying too-heavy groceries that were making my arms ache, feet soaked and cold, breathing heavier than I should be after only two short flights of stairs, I almost broke down.

Being this independent is simultaneously glorious and exhausting.

I’ve known for a long time that I have to start doing things differently in order to change this feeling of constantly being stuck, and for a while now I’ve believed that I can. I realized a few months ago how much the job that supposedly keeps me sustained is actually what’s keeping me down.

But it’s almost like I feel guilty for wanting something ‘more’; I mean in the end, who cares how much money my earrings cost? I feel like if I say that I want to be able to afford (somewhat) expensive things, I will sound like a pretentious boob, or like I have a (false) sense of entitlement. I will sound superficial, which is not me at all.

Or if I talk about how Oprah (writing for her website/magazine at least) is on my life ‘goal’ list, I would sound delusional. People would think I was crazy.

It’s just a pipe dream, they’d say. It will probably never happen. And besides, they’d say, why would you quit a job that has such great benefits? How are you going to support yourself? Do you have a plan? What about retirement?

What hit me yesterday as I was looking through that pretty catalogue, and wishing that I at least had the choice to purchase something a little bit luxurious for myself is that it’s about the choice, not the stuff.

The choice is about noticing those moments of feeling inspired yet tingly-terrified. When my heart is beating a little bit faster and my tummy feels butterflies because someone tells me that my writing has made their day better. Or that I’ve made them think about things a little bit differently. Or I’ve helped them to remember what makes them cry out of relief, or shine a little bit brighter.

And the choice is about choosing the quality work-the work that makes you happy and the world better-and not worrying so much about the cash flow.

Most real diamonds aren’t even ethical purchases so they are not important to my life. But what they do represent is (not romance!) quality, longevity, authenticity.

I may not have an exact plan, but I have a feeling. A really strong one-like, I actually believe that I will design an even more authentic, quality, free life.

And the more I feel like this, the more light I have to reflect back into the world.

So now when I wear those sparkle ball earrings, I’m going to remember that it’s about giving myself permission to want a more comfortable life. It will probably come in the form of joy, flow and freedom.

Kinda-sorta-maybe living the dream.

So my plan, really, is to go with the momentum, the feeling that I’m moving in the right direction. Because in the end that’s all we’ve got.

They didn’t know I was watching

I sat silently on my second floor perch, peering at bits and pieces of city life.

From here I’ve watched: staggering drunks weave their path along the sidewalk; the solo rapper; a man brushing his teeth; raucous groups of teenagers; dedicated walkers carrying plastic bags and plugged into their ipods; the wheelchair couple racing each other; a man fall asleep at the bus stop; the older, native, chihuahua-bearing fellow with the walker.

You know, regular East Van pedestrian stuff.

Last night, it was two sets of neighbours, gorgeous couples crossing paths with a friendly hello at the door.  I sensed a lightness in their steps.

One set into the cool crisp night, the other up the stairs to the cozy abode above.

I meant to say hello.  I saw that they were safe and good, and that made me happy.

I’m surprised at how few people notice me: they don’t often look up. They don’t hear much above the steady stream of busses, cars, accidents, ambulances.  And that’s okay.

For a street fairly pedestrian-free, I have seen a lot from here.

Sometimes, instead, I might be nestled in the darkness of the audience, watching mouths move, settling into the words and music and song and other bodily sounds bursting out and bouncing off walls.  Revelling in that moment of creation.

Creepy?  I don’t mean to be.  I am still and quiet and observing.  Not judging, or criticizing.  Not about to swoop in, or down.  Just sensing, absorbing, listening, letting your essence float over to me, gently.

I’m looking out at you, for you, into you.  Silently, unintentionally intuiting your energy.

And when I catch your eye (if only for a moment) we might just engage, partially or fully.

I hope you don’t mind that this exchange matters to me… even if it sounds like fluttery- flattery (that’s not really what it’s meant to be).
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Mostly, I’m glad to just sit, reflect and digest, reconstitute those thoughts into a new set of metaphors.

This is inspiration, evolution.

I’m not in any rush to hop on that stage: my truth (mostly) comes forth in subtler ways, from silent, sacred dream-spaces and shadowy places, where conversation flows and looks linger longer.

If you want to know this, please stop, listen, see.

Sit. Be. Talk with me.