Tag Archives: life change

Easing Into the New

I’m still bogged by crap as I transition into my new life here in Victoria, but it’s slowly coming together for me.

When I moved, I’d been sick for more than a month previous, and the “sickness” turned into six weeks. At the end I finally realized I have a dust allergy, bought a Neti pot, and now doing it a couple times a week seems life-changing.

Now I’m finally getting caught up with work, getting my home to make sense, and see a vague form of a light at the end of the tunnel. (Woohoo!)

The beacon on Ogden Point's Breakwater, after rains and before the storm. By me.

As I start catching my breath, I’m trying to come up with things I want to do differently now. Like incorporating some meditation in my day, exercising, eating better, and taking more time for myself.

I’m not yet at the point where I have any semblance of real CONTROL over my life, because everywhere I turn there’s some little project around the house that’s yet undone, and my ADD self obsesses on the undone. But, come Easter, I see that all changing for real, since, well, it should be done!

My body has been rebelling against me, with too much walking too soon after too much moving and othe stupidity, so my plan is to really get firing on all self-indulgent cylinders — eating properly, taking “me” time daily, doing the rehab workout daily, and just creating a new kind of balance in my world, and slowly increasing the walking.

Balance has never been something I’ve attained. Why, I used to wonder. I’m beginning to think balance is pretty impossible to attain unless a) you work from home and b) you set limitations on your time.

Remembering to be awesome to ourselves is like shopping for unicorns — WHO DOES THAT?

But that’s the whole point of moving here. But making the choice to move here doesn’t magically mean I’ve figured that shit out. No, it will be a learning process, Grasshopper.

Victoria’s still pretty expensive. Less expensive than Vancouver, but it ain’t no bargain bin life here, my friends. If it were cheaper, then it’d be perfect. There’s still some financial stress, but the life balance possible here makes it worth it.

What Victoria has that Vancouver doesn’t, is great accessibility, if you choose the right neighbourhood. I’m lucky. I’m walking distance to great beaches, downtown, and one of Canada’s top 10 public spaces, Beacon Hill Park. I’m surrounded by character homes from the 1880s and turn of the century, lots of trees, and places to just be. Here’s the place I’ll become the walker I always thought I’d never be.

There are a lot of new-agey types in Victoria, and I’m hoping to learn from some of the less frou-frou ones on how to get out of my head a little more, and get into the moment. I’ve been so caught up in worry for so many years that I’ve forgotten how to just absorb the world around me for an hour.

Yesterday, I finally escaped for a bit to take in the ocean, and for the first time just sat down and looked, put my camera down and stopped “focusing” the camera in order to just focus me. It was pretty blissful.

I’m a sucker for movies with great teachers and students who overcome, like The Great Debaters, and there’s a line where Forest Whitaker says to his son, “We do what we have to do, so we can do what we want to do.”

I've been thinking about balance since I saw these dudes balancing driftwood on end, at Holland Point. By me, yesterday.

Well, I’m doing what I have to do now, then I’ll be able to do what I want to do.

My goal, ever since I chose to move last November, was to get completely moved in before Spring began in earnest. I’ve been telling myself since day one that I’d be done by Easter, with time off (four days!) for good behaviour.

That gives me 12 days and I’m optimistic I can do it.

I’m leaving my bookshelf until Easter Weekend. That’ll be my final project. I’ll be picking out books to read in the next few months, and organizing by genres, and making some notes on writing dreams. It’s going to be a very, very indulgent night of literary obsessions, and a good bottle of wine will be required.

Yes. We’re getting to the turning point here. Soon, I’ll have fewer distractions. I’m very excited to see how that unfolds. I’m trying to imagine it and it seems ridiculously fanciful. Like who has THAT life, where they can roll out of bed at 6, get half their workday done by 10, get dressed, enjoy a break, and finish the workday entirely by 2 or so, and enjoy the rest of the day?

Soon, maybe me. :)

For now, it’s not quite so simple. But, soon.

Easter and Change in the Air

My earliest memory of something atypical of Easter-cliche-happenings was in the year I would turn 8, 1981. It was Easter Sunday morning and my father, mother, brother, and I were gathered in the bright yellow sunroom for breakfast when the phone rang.

It was family back East. Seems my father’s father died that morning. I’d never met him. Phillip. But if he was my father’s father, well, he must’ve been a giant of a man, then.

We lived on opposite coasts of the world’s largest country back when air travel wasn’t exactly a bargain. But that was the summer — we were going back for almost the entire summer, spending it in Prince Edward Island for my mother’s parent’s 50th wedding anniversary and family reunion.

Two months too late to meet the last of my father’s parents.

Ever since, I’ve always found death and rebirth to be synonymous with Easter.

Winter rages, summer bites back. Seasons change. Lethargy bleeds out and enthusiasm rears up.

The romantic in me is enjoying the realization that such a major and untenable lifechange should come for me as Easter dawns.

I wish I could bottle and share this cauldron that bubbles inside me — a (in)toxic(ating) mix of excitement and fear, curiosity and dread, confusion and confidence. I have no idea what to make of it, how to pull it all apart.

It’s like my emotions are fighting like a carload of five-year-olds.

And this week coming up is filled with grey and cold and wind. A batten-your-hatches and clear-your-files sort of week filled with naps, short wet walks, pensive moments, and strategizing.

The weather gods apparently feel next weekend is a good time for Spring to begin her return engagement in the fair city of Vancouver, after peppering us with an ironic blast of late winter and snow after our “warmest Olympics ever” came to an end — and the city’s been in a freeze ever since.

From weather on down, change is coming every which way in my life. From my professional focus to my health attitudes to the time I have to focus on myself to my ability to be out in the world to my back account.

EVERYTHING changes here, now, this very week.

It’s not like this is some happy slow transition. No, dude. I’ve lost my job — I’ve gone from trying to juggle seems-like-60-hour weeks to juggling zilch, nada, zippo. My landscape of my life is like a vast stretch of prairie scrub. Goes for miles and miles and miles.

Its vast emptiness is paralleled only by the expanse of my savings account.

The life I had, overnight, is in cardiac arrest, sustained only by the faint hope that is the three-months-to-hire-me-back open-ended lay-off I’ve been handed. Aside from that?

Well, shit, son. Not every aspiring writer gets her bookwriting ducks in a row then gets her pink slip.*

My whole life’s kinda weird right now. I had a Mystery Mentor step out of the works on Twitter and give me very valuable advice for starting my book. I’m reading How to Write a Book Proposal by Larsen now. Very “start here” positioning when you have a good idea of how your book unfolds. As I’m beginning to.

But I’d been working toward this readying since December — figuring out plot and structure, style and voice, basic timeline. In my head, of course. But sometimes that’s a good start.

Life-wise, I was able to get just a few things in a row — not everything will unfold at once but instead it will unfold over the next few months, slowly making me able to sustain the kind of adversity I have to be ready to face if I’m to use this sudden shifting of worlds to my advantage.

All in all? Easter? What an exciting unexpected scary time for me.

Thank god I believe in myself and have an inkling that, despite this appearing to be “bad” luck, this may actually be the start of something wow for me.

WHAT, exactly, I don’t know.

But isn’t it fun?

Happy Easter, everyone. Save me some ham.**

And avoid the “death” part of Easter. It’s kinda lame. Ham’s better. Not for the pig. But, you know.

*Pink slips are blue, incidentally, in Canada. Get yer passport now. Yer missing the fuck out, people.

**You ever think the Christian tradition of ham at Easter is sort of an ironic slap at Judaism, which kinda started the whole Easter-ball rolling anyhow? I’m more a turkey girl.

And Then There Was Change

Photos 319I was informed of my layoff yesterday.

Wednesday will be my last day, until enough work returns, or the company is forced into harder decisions.

Kudos to the bosses, we’ve had an inkling this might happen. I’ve been grilling them weekly to see if changes were happening, but there has been no news, which was bad news. But what can you do?

Unlike any time in the past, I used this foreknowledge to spend a little money investing in my writing — ink cartridges and a new cabinet so my desk is now 3 inches lower — a long story, but long story short is, I was getting migraines from writing/working, and hope it’s no longer the case.

Normally, something big like a layoff  comes down, I panic and tell myself I can’t justify that spending, and I operate from a place of fear. This time, I just came up with a cheaper bare-minimum plan, and told myself it’s not optional — it’s about investing in myself.

Migraines don’t make good writing. And I’m too much a “writer” to not be good about it.

Now that I have some time to write in between the requisite job-searching, it’s obviously a priority.

I’m hoping I get called back to my job in a couple months or even by the fall. I know it’ll be tight and hard living, but I’ve been through this before and impressed the shit out of myself, so maybe it’s time to prove we only get better as we age.

There’s a difference now from back then — I now recognize I’ve suffered from mental illness, and live with difficult ADHD. I can, and do, learn new jobs, but I need to find the right fit for me, not just any job. I need the right kind of employers, work environment, and schedule.

Knowing this means I’m empowered, not a victim, by those challenges. I’m better off than most people; I know what I really need for success.

I’d rather return to my company, who’ve become like family over the years, who I trust and can approach about nearly anything, and who place the same value on life-over-work as all the employees do. Our schedules have been flexible, they accommodate the little things that pop up and would be better done with a shorter workday or a day off.

I’ve never made much. I’ve made $18 an hour while my friends have all being going on to bigger, better, amazing things, and I’ve been scraping by.

But in the time I’ve scraped by, with my work allowing me to flex my days and hours on a weekly basis, I’ve managed to:

  • overcome years of intensive rehab after almost dying a couple times
  • fought (and I think overcome) once-frequent forays into dark depressions and other mental illnesses
  • gotten through a number of tight layoffs with nearly no help from anyone despite my challenges and lack of savings
  • not only beat but beat into a bloody goddamned stump my writer’s block
  • rediscovered myself
  • gained 40, then lost 70 pounds
  • conquered many fears
  • discovered my inner athlete
  • and done a million other things, while never making the money to have others help me accomplish it easier

Scraping by the last three years let me improve myself more than most people accomplish in a decade or more, and almost all done by myself.

I have constantly been trying to heal or get over something — be it a physical or mental issue — and my work, my pseudo-family, has pretty much been there and made it possible, as possible as they could and still make an income, through it all.

Knowing myself now, in my post-head-injury, post-depression, post-unhappy life, I KNOW I can’t just work for anyone. I know I can’t just waltz into any company and “make the best” of it. It will tear me to shreds. Mental illness is a real issue; me working in a negative, high-stress job with evil people is like making someone with lung cancer work in a restaurant that has smoking. You can TRY, but what’s the fucking point? It’s got “FAILURE” and “CATASTROPHE” stamped all over it.

Like when I worked at a place for 6 months in during 2007, with The Dragon Lady and her art school, ruling by terror and venom, poisoning me with her negative depression on a daily basis from seven feet away with no wall. Oh, lord. Never, ever again.

I spiralled close to suicidal working under her. I gained 20 pounds in 6 months. Then I quit, went back to my old film job, and they gave me a non-judgmental, supportive, flexible environment in which I’ve made the most progress of my life, changing EVERYTHING with no trainers, no financial advisers, no real therapists — just a supportive workplace that let me make myself a priority.

I’ve changed me, inside and out. I’ve so much more empathy and enthusiasm for life and others now. I’m such a better person. I’m not gonna die young — not from my health, anyhow. And work played a big part in giving me the control to make that happen.

And now the future of the company that gave me such a fantastic environment that encouraged my change & growth is in danger. It breaks my heart.

All because of stupid government and bad tax policies. What a tragedy.

None of us employees wants to work for other people, the bosses don’t want to work with new people. None of us is in it for the money, not even my bosses. All of us live lives of sacrifice and budgeting because the job lets us put our art, creativity, and private lives first. We don’t make a lot but we’re under no illusions what kind of people we work for, and that’s why we’ve stayed.

But the government doesn’t want us to stay anymore. They won’t match film industry tax credits from other provinces, and now some asshole in Ontario or California is doing my job, since domestic film production is down by 40%, and 50% of the workforce has been laid off.

So here I am. Four days left.

And a book to write.

And a newly-adjusted desk to write it at.

Looks like I know what I’m doing.

Unlike most people, when I write this book, it won’t be gathering dust. I won’t be sitting around micro-panicking over every word. There’ll come a time when I’m Ready.

I have NOTHING to lose from publication. NOTHING. Anyone I stand the chance of pissing off in my book has probably already been pissed off at me and either knows that’s part of knowing me and my unflinching-but-always-trustworthy honesty, OR they’re already not talking to me and there’s no skin off my ass if I maintain the status quo.

I’m a WRITER. Through and through. My friends know this. Anything’s on the table for me, but they also trust me to toe a line. We’re good.

More importantly than the trust I have for my friends? I write about all my failings and weaknesses and dreams and thoughts all the time. It’s not like I have to dig that much deeper. If I’ve already told you some of the embarrassing bad things in my life, then why not just keep that ball rolling?

So, the writing? Not too stressed about that part. Organizing? Ooh, yes, trickier. Some of the get-an-agent-get-a-deal stuff scares the shit out of me, I admit it.

But you know what? I’m at that point where languishing in obscurity scares me more.

I deserve better than this. I owe it to myself. I’m tough enough to take it, too.

I have nothing to lose — except my home. But I’ll figure it out, I’ll get by. Times like these, having no savings, living in one of the world’s most expensive cities, yeah, things get daunting.

It’s uncertainty. My job might be back in 6 weeks, I don’t know. I could spend the whole year writing and looking for a job that fits me, I don’t know.

Where will I be in 6 weeks? 6 months? Where’s life taking me?

I don’t know.

And there’s not a lot I can do about it.

Except adjust my desk and get to work. That’s one area I know I can make a difference in, accomplish something in. That’s one area I know. That’s a start.

_________________

SO, HEY:
If you know of any agents for memoirs, let me know — this process entirely daunts me, but I think my work is worthy. If you have an “in” for publishing and think you can help, I’m all ears. Drop me a line, scribecalledsteff (at) gmail (dot) com.

I’m working until next Wednesday, with paperwork to deal with for employment insurance next Thursday, but after that, I’ll be all over emails, etcetera. The book is in full-on “go” mode, and I hope to have three chapters done by early June, with a workable outline for pitches. So, please, spread the word with serious publishing contacts that there’s a little ball of awesome right over here that’s looking to explode onto the scene. Thanks!