An update

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There’s been a lot of change in my life in the past few months, and there’s going to be even more in the months to come. I wanted to make an update post to keep people that I know in the loop about what the heck I’m up to these days.

  1. I’ve had an injury. The week after I made my post about how active I was and how much I love being active, I got a stress fracture. I was told to immediately stop any activities that had a high impact on my foot (ie: running). I tried yoga, but the upward to downward dog transition hurt my foot. I tried swimming, but the foot paddling associated with anything but the breast stroke also caused foot pain. I tried to walk less, but I’m such a big walker, and honestly it’s been a crazy struggle. 4 weeks later, I’m not feeling that much better, and I’m wondering if the end will ever be in sight.
    I’m going to try to get back to going to the gym, but with no box jumps, skipping, steps ups, etc etc etc, and see how it goes.
    I’ve seen so many runners that I know deal with injury, and it’s so fucking difficult. On the plus side, it has made me MISS running so much. I constantly think about how much I love it and how much I want to get back out there. Distance is definitely making the heart grow fonder in this case. So much fonder.
    I’m trying to remember to see the long game (patience!). In the big scheme of things, one month off (or two…) is so short when you compare it to a lifetime of physical activity.
    This injury was also a good reminder for me. I knew that it was time to replace my shoes. I could tell that they were worn. But I put it off. And with the level of physical activity that I was putting in, that was a fucking stupid decision. I will never do it again.
  2. I’ve started freelancing full-time. This decision came about in late 2016 after a series of personal breakdowns and revelations, and I finally realized, “I CAN DO WHATEVER I WANT” and went for it. I spent the next few months taking every meeting and coffee that I could get, and now things are starting to come together. I’m so god-damn excited about the year ahead. I’m excited for the variation in projects and clients, and the feeling that I never have to be stuck in a specific job if I don’t want to ever again. BUT WHAT DO YOU DO, ALTAIRA? Well, I’m still kind of figuring that out.
    For now it mostly falls into a few buckets:

a. Writing. I love writing, and I’m good at it, and I can pretty much write about anything. I’m hoping to do more health care communications work, some work related to environmental and social issues, and also some work making online resources on various topics. This will be balanced with a healthy dose of blog posts on things like running and mental health and creativity. Writing all the time.

b. Research. I’m good at digging for things online, I know how to identify legit sources, and I’m basically a professional lurker. If you need something from the Internet, I can find it. I love going down knowledge rabbit holes and digging forever until every bit of useful information has been found. Whether it be for an environmental scan, or a policy paper, research holds a special place in my heart. It is a good partner to writing.

c. Other consulting. This third basket is a mixed bag of other things that I like doing. This includes some consulting about events (how should it run, what issues might you come up against, what are your goals), some strategy, and I’m hoping in the future to help teams develop online courses/workshops etc to supplement their own consulting work. I’ve helped to shape countless workshops and online education modules in the academic world, and I’m ready to take those skills and apply them to creative projects.

d. Workshops. I’m also running a series of workshops here in Toronto called Just Write. The purpose of which is to give participants the tools that they need to turn off the part of their brain that tells them that they can’t, and to just start the writing project that they have been thinking about, because that is the first and most difficult step. The next one is THIS SATURDAY. If this sounds interesting to you, I encourage you to register. This month’s workshop is only 45 bucks and will include a really great yoga session by City Yogis.

  1. I’m (mostly) moving back to BC. You heard me. May 2017, I will be packing up my Toronto life and moving it back across the country to Gibsons, BC. I’ve known for a few years that I would be planning a move to BC’s Sunshine Coast, and now the stars have finally aligned and it’s time to go home. I. CANNOT. WAIT. If we’ve ever spoken about my homeland in real life, you will have noticed how my eyes light up when I talk about the smell of the forest, and the damp air coming off the sea. I’m ready for bonfires and vegetable gardens, for trail runs and swims in the ocean on my lunch break, for easy west coast hangs that blend from morning into night, for long table dinners in apple orchards and afternoons spent holding baby sheep. READY. FOR. IT. In large part, this readiness has been facilitated by my decision to freelance. I was always hesitant to move back, because even though my heart ached for the West Coast, the thought of leaving my Toronto life completely behind, and visiting a week or two a year was just too much to bear. So at the moment I’m building up my Toronto clients, with the plan to have a home base in Gibsons but to come back and live in TO 2-3 months a year. The Sunshine Coast has so much possibility, and I cannot fucking wait for the projects, events, community building that I have started brainstorming for the year ahead.
  1. I’ve met so many wonderful people. WEST COAST HIPPIE MOMENT. When I finally gave in to what I really want from my life, I started to meet even more of the best people. I already have some truly wonderful, supportive, funny, generous friends in my life. But the connections that I’m making have just started to explode off the fucking charts in recent months. It’s blowing my mind a little.
  1. Everything is always working out for me. My fam, Jacqueline Jennings Pierrot has started using the term, “coming out of the spiritual closet” for people connecting with their purpose, and generally getting into new age spiritual practices like tarot readings, crystals, positive vibrations with the universe etc. One morning, on my most recent trip to BC, she was like, “I’m listening to this positive thinking podcast, I know you think that it’s stupid, but whatever, it’s totally working”. One of the things that she said from the podcast as a positive mantra was, “everything is always working out for me”. And my immediate reaction was *EYE ROLL* *FUCKING GAG ME* and J was like WHATEVER. And then I started saying it as a joke, because it was too self help, new agey for me, but then actually everything started just working out for me in exactly the way that I hoped it would. Soooooooooooooo… EVERYTHING IS ALWAYS WORKING OUT FOR ME.

Update COMPLETE. Big thanks to everyone who keeps reading my blog, and sending kind words or letting me know in person that a post that I wrote really resonated with them. You’ve helped me to write more consistently and honestly in the year that’s passed, and encouraged me to dig more deeply in the year ahead.

 

Finding my chill

Over the past year, there have been some reoccurring themes in my life. Messages and lessons that pop up again and again.

2016 mostly involved me being hit over the head with patience. Patience. Patience. So many things that happened forced me to take a step back, and just breath, try my best not to spiral into an anxiety pit, and know that things would work out if I just let them. It continues to be a struggle, but I’m learning to be ok with waiting. I’m learning to be ok with planting seeds, and not giving up on them if they take their sweet sweet time coming to fruition. This has also gone hand in hand with getting better at just feeling ok. Things will be fine.

If you’ve read many of my blog posts, you’ll know that I have a Generalized Anxiety Disorder, that can at times make it difficult to believe that things will be ok. So when projects, jobs, relationships, you name it, aren’t progressing at a good clip, I can start to feel like nothing will ever progress; I will never be more successful; I will never have a partner; I will never have the kind of life that I hope for that blends stability, adventure, family, generosity, creativity, and travel; I will die alone with nothing to show for my life. Basically, I can go to a place where nothing is possible. As you can imagine, this is neither healthy nor productive. It also fosters a manic energy that leads to me flitting from priority to priority, spinning my wheels, and never really progressing along any one path, but rather a million teeny tiny paths, taking the teeniest, tiniest steps forward.

Then, in late November, I attended the CreativeMornings Global Summit. I was feeling a little lost and unsure of where to turn next in life. What kind of job should I take? What are my priorities? What do I actually want from my life? I felt untethered.

The very act of being in the presence of so much of my tribe was heartening (the CM Summit brought together 250 organizers from every corner of the globe.) But in particular, a talk given by James Victore got under my skin, and hit me deep in my gut. The main messages and takeaways were that the things that are weird about you are where you get your creative vitality from, so just embrace them; you don’t need energy, you need purpose; just start – whatever it is you’re doing; and Action Action Action – not one action. three actions. All the actions, full steam ahead.

I went back to my team’s Air BNB after this talk, and fell apart. What was I doing? Why was I aiming for Plan B, C, and D in my life, instead of just going for gold? Why did I keep settling for jobs, projects, and people that left me feeling unfulfilled, and like I wasn’t reaching my potential?

I decided that I was done, and that if I really wanted to leave behind the reoccurring feeling that I was going nowhere, I would have to start making real moves towards going somewhere that I actually wanted to go.

Post-Summit, I was sitting with some other folks from the global CM community, eating tacos, and Kevin Huynh (former CM COO) asked us, “What’s a question that you want me to re-ask you in 2 years to see how much progress you’ve made?” My first, somewhat jokey response was, “Are you still in turmoil every day about what you want to do with your life?”, which I then changed to, “Have you learned to balance stillness and action?” I wasn’t 100% sure what I meant by that, and in the weeks that followed, I thought about getting in touch with Kevin to change my question – I thought that it sounded pretentious and vague, and wasn’t sure how I was going to answer it 2 years down the road.

But then something happened – Action and Stillness began to show up unrelentingly in my day to day.

I did a tarot card reading with some friends that said that I needed to learn stillness to fuel action in my life. Another friend identified me as having a Pitta Dosha under the Ayervedic body types – Pitta is the fire constitution that again, needs to find inner stillness to be able to use their fire constructively. I was injured and started doing yoga again for the first time in years; it reminded me how fucking chill I felt when I left Vancouver for Toronto and had been practicing yoga 5 times a week, and that I need to balance all of my intense physical activity that requires action and fire, with the inner calm of grounding activities. I spent a lot of time in self reflection, and the times that I have felt the most powerful, are also the times that I have found certainty and calm within myself; the times that I was able to quiet all of the chatter right the fuck down, and feel still, are the times that I also felt that everything was possible. It’s interesting what happens when you actually start to listen to yourself.

Stillness and Action.

Action.

Action.