Tag Archives: lifechange

Finding My Words

I’ve been enjoying the reclusive life and doing a lot of solo exploring in small chunks since I’ve moved. It can’t, and won’t, continue for much longer but it’s been a brilliant choice on my end.

It’s only now, clearly, that my desire to write is returning. I was sure this would happen sooner, and part of the Being Antisocial Plan was so that I’d reconnect with my words. Well, yeah. It’s taken time but it’s happening.

Sunset off Clover Point in Victoria. Par moi.

I’ll embrace antisocial behaviour for a little longer — a week, maybe two — to let my wordy seeds grow. Then, I’d like to start meeting people and think it will be easy to do so. Optimism helps, kids!

If I’m in the right mood, people generally like me. Or, people I like tend to like me. That’s not cockiness or anything, because being liked just isn’t hard — be nice, be interested, be interesting, be kind, be authentic. It’s much easier, of course, when you actually talk to people and make an effort. So, until I do that, I shall remain anonymous and lifeless. Yay?

As we both might know, I’m no dummy. I’m the thinky-thinky type, like all geeky writer girls tend to be, and all my cerebral wheels have spun something fierce in the months leading to this moment.

See, I know what small towns are like, and at 1/9th the size of Vancouver and my living in a very small neighbourhood within that, I know anonymity evaporates in a hurry once you start fitting into the community. And that’s great, it’s nice to feel noticed and like you belong, but once you have THAT, you never have THIS again.

I talk to people, I’m chatty, I smile a lot, and most people enjoy bantering with me, so I expect to start knowing more people than I don’t. One day, I’ll be able to recall this 8- or 10-week period where I saw no one but strangers, did nothing beyond shop browsing, and never got greeted by name.

Kinda awesome. For a while. Life and its contrasts are fantastic. People should enjoy their weird life phases a bit more. The start of a relationship, the awkwardness of being new… Newness is fantastic and fleeting. Everything gets old so quickly.

It’s common that we get so caught up in wanting the future to happen now that we forget we can never come back, we’ll never have THIS moment again. We’re the impatient fast-food, flash-cooking society, and it shows in our lifestyles.

I don’t own a microwave. I am in no hurry, friends. Anymore, anyhow. Namaste.

There’s nothing to regret about holding off on joining the Locals Club. I know I’ll get there, and when I do, I’ll absolutely adore being a part of this community. It’ll be great living in a place where I can walk all the way home after 2 or 3 drinks, where I can casually go meet people at the city’s most popular parks and beaches, since they’re all a short walk away. I’m under no illusions of a) what my life can be like here, and b) what it’ll take for me to connect with others.

But, for now, I’ve more literary aspirations in mind.

For that, it’s nice, this anonymous wanderer schtick of mine. A rewarding way to burn off the rat race hangover I’ve had since I escaped the faster, bustling drone of big city life.

I’m still in the headspace where I feel like I have so much I need to do, and that’s all part of the necessary efforts in transition. It’s catching up on work, finishing projects around my home, and other little things. But now I’ve found time for writing (and even blogging) each day for a week.

The change I’ve sought is officially afoot, it seems. Oh, writing, how I’ve missed wanting to do you.

Longtime readers know I’m a big believer in writing being a muscle. The more one does it, the more one taps into the rhythm and grind of what makes writing great.

But if you’re living a life where nothing inspires you, nothing sets you free, it’s hard to tap into that. In fact, it’s damned near impossible. I should know, because that’s how I was feeling for much of the last two years. Trapped and frustrated.

That’s changing, quickly. I’m becoming fascinated and intrigued often. I’m becoming inspired and recharged from time to time. I need more. More, more, more!

Creativity requires much in life but it mostly requires focus and awareness. Stimulation, too. And we can trick ourselves into thinking the city is what we need for stimulation, but, for some, cities are built for distraction, not stimulation.

I’ve been so distracted so long that this silence and quietude in my new life is overwhelming at times. I’m so undistracted I’m confused.

And that too is part of the life transition. Slowing down. It’s the emotional and mental equivalent to the way solid ground feels after an afternoon of being at sea or a day spent 4x4ing. The sudden stop is jarring to our equilibrium.

Well, I feel the same these days. It’s almost panic-inducing at times, because I’m still waiting for that day when I don’t wake up thinking my vacation’s over and I need to return to the city soon. Because I don’t. I live here now.

That’s something I have to remind myself of, daily. There is no rush, there’s no return, there’s just me, here, now.

So, that’s where I am today. Still anonymous, still wandering, still transitioning… but a writer once again.

Interdimensional Limbo

When I transition through phases in life, I tend to find myself sort of mentally overwhelmed, and my response to it is that I find one thing to focus on, to just get somewhere, then I can take a look at the larger picture from a better place.

Or, you know, something.

I’m onto a “me” phase out of necessity. Things are in the works, big change is afoot for this here writer.

Coming up on July 1st, I’m officially un(der)employed.

Happy Canadian independence (repatriation, if yer picky) day, indeed.

The Canadian system allows us to earn about 25% of our working salary on top of unemployment benefits, legally and without financial penalty. It makes life much, much easier — puts the food on the table when benefits only cover my basic costs of living, not even food.

I’m lucky, I’ve got that 25% worktime on my hands. My present/former employers do love me and I get work when I need it / they have it. So, you know, I eat. I like this.

Do I want to go back there full-time long-term?

Well, I’m faced with knowing I’ve given the last 10 years of my life to an industry that is at the mercy of international currencies, cultural trends, taxation policies, and government legislation.

Time and time again, I’ve gotten the ax. It’s unpredictable.

“Well, why do it,” you ask? Working in film is a lifestyle choice. The people are hip, fun, cool. The jobs are plentiful in variety and come in waves. It’s creative but structured. It’s an industry you work in because you’re a fan — anything you can do to be a part of film? Yeah, diggit. You contributed. You’re a part of art immortal, a member of a creation team.

But I’m too old for this shit.

Being Canadian, there’s lots of great options available. As a worker in a long-tenured position, I can return to school — which I’d have to pay for — and receive unemployment benefits for up to 2 years. I’ll be looking into some options in the coming weeks, but sort of know what I’d like to pursue.

What a time of change, though.

Never coulda seen this coming last year. What a wild ride the last three months have been. I already know some of what’s coming for the next three, too, and it’s just more of a wild ride.

When I lost my job, my attitude was “Well, I can’t change that, but I can be open to what this time brings.”

I see some people resisting the change life’s thrown at them of late, acting from a place of fear instead of empowerment. I ain’t judging. I’ve been there before.

There’s a certain salty confidence one gains from hard times. Lord knows I done seen mine.

I’ve never been as confident in myself as I am now, but I’m also at an absolute loss to tell you what my life will entail. I know aspects of it, sure — writing, speaking, doing comedy, losing weight, looking for clients, et al… but where it’ll lead? Who knows.

It’s the mystery that makes it fun. It’s the intrigue that makes my eyes sparkle with curiosity. I’ve loved the weird detours I’ve had so far, and can’t wait for whatever unexpected discoveries come my way.

As long as I’m eating month to month? Well, hey, man. Let’s see.

If you’ve never read Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, it’s one of those books that’s in that crowd everyone should read in college — Siddhartha, Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, etc. It’s a book about a young shepherd boy who dreams of achieving his goal one night, and sets off in search of treasures in far away lands. It’s a fable, and it’s a wonderful little novella.

Along the way he is frequently told “Maktub,” which apparently translates from the Arabic to mean “It is written.”

Beautiful thought but I’m not so sure I agree. I can’t believe the strangeness I’ve endured year in, year out is written.

Life seems like a game of celestial pick-up sticks to me, my friends. Throw what you can, get what you can, and see what you can make of it.

Perhaps, though, life is written. Perhaps I just need to have a sly smile and know my life will take me the right places, because I know myself and I know my dreams. Perhaps, in that way, it really is written.

Life really is a gorgeous mystery sometimes. It’s nice to believe in the mystical, to think there’s some cosmic puppeteer helping to orchestrate incredible happenings of rich experiences, if you’re willing to play the role and follow the program.

The last time my life began moving in strange and mythical ways, I landed my ass in the Yukon for a year — living in the land of the Midnight Sun, reading dead writers, learning about writing, and experiencing my dream of seeing Northern Lights night after night.

There’s a lot to be said for sitting back and telling life to take the wheel for a while. Who knows where it feels like goin’?

It ain’t the destination, it’s the journey. If you’re always fucking with the navigation and the “right” way to go, there’s some amazing unexpected happenings you’re liable to miss.

Chill, Winston. Enjoy the ride. Have a destination in mind but be open to detours. It’s the best way to travel.

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.

What to Learn from Unemployment

I woke up with a smile this morning. I woke up unemployed.

It’s not permanent… yet. They have three months to hire me back. If they can’t, I get severance then. If they do, tickety-boo.  Just not for a while, please.

I’m so fuckin’ tired from runnin’ so fuckin’ long.

I need to stop. I need to breathe. I need to be.  I need to remember small things, simple moments, big dreams, little lessons, and good times. I need this.

Can’t afford this. But I need this.

I used to find stillness often. I’m that person who has literally sat still and watched light change on a landscape (during some midnight summer sun in the Yukon, a religious experience if you’re into that kinda thing). I used to know I could stop, just stand somewhere, just stare, just be.

Be someone doing nothing someplace for some time. Sometimes, it’s everything.

Then I got on a hamster wheel and just started running.

In the last year, I’ve finally forced myself to pull back — a lot. But my downtime has been nothing but fraud. Downtime? Not so much. Just… distraction. I was doing THIS, not that.

Years ago, I was hanging by the window on a ferry ride home, dreading that moment when I stepped off that boat and transcended island time right back into my rat race. This guy, I guess, saw something of that in me, and we got into this conversation. He commented that cities were built to distract us — “Hey, look at the shiny toy! You’re not unhappy at all! You don’t hate your job! Your boss isn’t a fucking prick! Your commute doesn’t suck balls! Hey, there’s a new nightclub — let’s go drink and pretend we’re anywhere but here!”

The city life, we’re all so busy rushing from the job to this to that and fitting him in while squeezing that in, and saving the date in case that other thing falls through, which depends on her contract panning out and —

Oh, Jesus. There are days I just want to stand on the sidewalk and shout at everyone “FUCKING STOP! Doesn’t it get TIRED? Aren’t you SICK of this endless shit? NOTHING EVER CHANGES. It just comes with new toys!”

But then I wonder if it’s just me, and I’m tired of checking into the same plastic neighbourhood and seeing all the same people with their shiny toys and lives of distraction, where nothing real gets said and everything’s all wink-and-nod.

Yeah. I woke up with a smile this morning. Yes, it’ll be hard.

But I’ve been wise to that distraction for so long. I see the veneer of happiness so many people wear every day, the air of lies and fakery that exude as people try to convince themselves that, YES, when they were six and daydreaming before Saturday morning cartoons, that THIS was a life they’d be happy to live — tied to a smart phone and plugging in detail of every single day, microprocessing life and yet never really ever stopping to remember what simply sitting still in a moment feels like. It’s all there in the subtle sighs and sunken shoulders, the trancelike moments where they fall away for just a — and then snap right back into this.

I think we’re all sucked into a “Is this all there is?” moment every now and then. Sure, we convince ourselves this is a pretty good gig, but sometimes the bigness of the world just magnifies the smallness of our lives, emphasizing how stupid it is that our daily grind should seem so immensely important when we know that 15 years from now all these stupid fucking appointments this week will mean jack shit.

I’m unemployed.

It’s time to recalibrate.

It’s time to break the hamster wheel.

There’s a gift, you know, in poverty.

Desperation can be a beautiful thing if you know how to channel it. Being forced to enjoy the simple and the free can remind one just how little it takes to enjoy a moment.

Yes, you might love the chef’s tasting menu at West and the flight of wine you had, but I imagine some sunsets with beer and buck-slice pizza, spent on a log at the beach, would blow your fancy-ass meal out of the water. The laughter, the comfort, the trust, the beauty… True ease.

You can’t buy that. You can trick yourself that it is up for grabs, but… you can’t buy that. It’s not for sale. Only the appearance of it is for sale.

I’ve had simple barbecues, a few good friends, an afternoon with no end pin-pointed, that have left every person there thinking “Yeah, no one’s enjoying their place or moment more than I am right here, right now. It’s this beer, that hot dog, this place, those people, and this feeling of weightlessness and grounding that comes with.”

I wrote once that I want the trappings of success but not the trap. You can keep your microscheduled, nanoprogrammed life of pace and panic. If it means you get the $80 meals and the lights and pizzazz, so be it.

I’m fuckin’ done, Martha.

I need me some time. I need me some mornings when I can roll over with a dopey grin and grumble into my pillow as I try to decide if I get up now and nap later, or sleep another hour, knowing the only other pressing conundrum is when to brew some coffee or start to write.

Other people have money, get to leave town, leave the country, find their fuckin’ selves. Well, some of us are stuck here, broke, hangin’ on a dime and a prayer, clasping at any five minutes we get without obligation.

I’m fine with that. I’m stuck here, broke, nothing but a vague sense I can get by and a will to write the best hardcover memoir you’ll read in 2012.

It’s like Ken Kesey once commented, something to the effect that, if you can’t find God in your backyard in Kansas, he ain’t gonna be found at the Egyptian pyramids, either.

In fact, I think “soul-searching” done abroad in fancy healing retreats may not be as beneficial as tackling those mysteries while trapped in your life. I think you have to earn it harder, you have to want it more, you have to dig for greater meaning. I think it’s too easy when you’re off at some yoga retreat. When you’re here, in your life, you need to make other people understand your search, you have to value yourself to do the work, and you have to balance the life you lead with the life you want.

It’s not easy and it ain’t for chumps.

Find your soul at home and you won’t have to worry about it falling away from you when you “return” to life.

This summer, I find my soul. I catch up with it. I figure out what the beginning after this end is supposed to be. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it better this time.

My life is a gift, man. My adversity is my opportunity.

It’s times like these I call upon this much-loved Bruce Chatwin quote I’ve posted on so many occasions:

“A white explorer in Africa, anxious to press ahead with his journey, paid his porters for a series of forced marches. But they, almost within reach of their destination, set down their bundles and refused to budge. No amount of extra payment would convince them otherwise.

They said they had to wait for their souls to catch up.”

Yeah. That’s right. I woke up with a smile. And you?

About My Dad, About Weight, About Change

My dad was moved from the emergency ward, where they were keeping him under intense care because there were no beds in the ICU available, to a “normal” ward because he’s now stabilizing.

The long and the short of what’s wrong is, he has a systemic diabetic infection. Bad shit’s going on inside him and they’re trying to flush it all out. He is sick because he is fat and because he eats shit and does no exercise. Plain and simple. I love him, but these are the facts. Continue reading