thankful

Hurdles

The last month has been an absolute whirlwind. More press articles than I could’ve ever imagined being featured in. (I was in my home town’s local newspaper once, as a five-year-old, for donating a giant chocolate Easter egg to the children’s hospital, and that probably would’ve done me for life.) Being interviewed on national radio and having my song played on it, too. Letters, words of encouragement, people spilling their secrets to me and finding inspiration in some lyrics I wrote. New friends. TV interviews. Coming top by popular vote in Manitoba. And everyone I know pulling together in a huge pile of love to help me get there. I made a quick little video to sum up the experience as semi-finals were drawing to a close in which you can see the highs, lows, cries, love, where the song began, and what it became – thanks to an incredible group of kind, generous, and impossibly talented friends/musicians who’ve helped this journey become something magical.

About twenty minutes ago, I found out I didn’t make the final cut.

It was one of those moments where you feel a little bit like a science beaker into which somebody’s just poured two dozen different chemicals, and had a naturally surprising reaction. Except instead of chemicals, they’re emotions, and they’re all tangled up together fighting for the chance to be the sole one that can describe what I’m feeling, and instead of an explosion, there’s an implosion, an internalizing of all the feelings I’ve felt during the course of this contest. And that’s what it is – a contest. A stop on my journey – not the destination. But I can’t help but feel above all, that I’ve let everybody down.

#Searchlight

I submitted this song to CBC’s national contest with no hopes or expectations of actually getting in. I’m new to making proper music, I’m new to being in the public eye, and I’m new to even seeing myself as a musician. I give all credit to anything on my tracks to the wonderful souls that see a seed of potential and help transform them into real things, and for that I am, and always will be, eternally grateful. I still have an EP coming out next month, I’m still writing, and I’m still hopefully releasing a full album in the new year.

But right now – especially after kind and unexpected blogs like this, or this morning’s Metro article telling the entire city that I’ve “fought” my anxiety to “achieve” my dream – old thought patterns are emerging again, telling me that I haven’t achieved anything. That I haven’t fought anything – the fact that I’m sitting here after seeing the news, questioning why I didn’t make it and inventing reasons that surely went through the judges’ heads in deciding (“We can’t put her through because she used to struggle with bad anxiety – she’s too much of a risk.”) – means, clearly, to my old self, I haven’t overcome anything. I don’t mean that. I know full well that the person I was a couple of years ago would never have had the guts to put such a personal creation out there into the world because I wouldn’t have had skin thick enough to handle the potential criticism.

Now I am able to see that I have achieved something. I allowed myself to be proud of doing something I’d always dreamed of. I set out with a goal of writing and recording some songs. I’m still doing that, with the added bonus of having had a month of exposure, of having reached people who’ve told me I’ve inspired them, and of having my first song not only on national radio but on iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify, just like a real artist! I’ve connected with other contenders in the competition, those of whom made it to the final 25 I wish nothing but the best for, and even to those who fell at the last hurdle – we all made it this far. We made something and put it out into the world that wasn’t there before, and people took notice. History is doused with dreamers and doers whose work never saw the light of day, who never stopped anyway. I never set out to be a star. I set out to tell stories through songs that might bring people together or make them think, and I have every intention of fulfilling that goal.

Triad video

This week, we began filming the second music video. The rest of this month will be filled with adding the finishing touches to the EP, and as of about a month from now, I’ll be able to share the rest of these songs with the world. And gosh darn it, I’m still going to go to my niece’s (well, almost-first cousin once removed, but who needs extra words when it’s me writing) Show and Tell at her school in a couple of weeks. “You’re a star in her eyes,” my cousin told me. “I’m going to face this fear because of you,” said others. And that’s more than I ever could have wished for.

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No words could ever describe the gratitude I feel for everyone who took the time to listen, to vote, to share their stories, to share mine, and to support me along this journey. I don’t take a second of it for granted, and I feel so incredibly lucky to be surrounded by such kind and generous souls. I’m free tonight, if anyone wants to grab a glass of wine, haha, but for the rest of the day, I’m going to remind myself of the message I tried to send to the world. This contest was temporary, and life goes on! And to the faint echoes of anxiety I’m feeling right now: When you speak, can you hear yourself? The hourglass is upside down. Will you remember any of this, when life is on its way out? I’ll remember the kindness, the journey, and the amazing people I’ve shared it with. Not falling at the last hurdle. Because the thing with a hurdle race is that you can pick yourself up, and just shoot for the next one.

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Life Doesn’t Stop for Anybody

“Things change. And friends leave. Life doesn’t stop for anybody.” – The Perks of Being a Wallflower

It’s hard to believe three months have gone by. I sit here in the middle of an unusually temperate November, sun shining and snow still a daydream away, and reflect on the weeks that have been with a twang of disbelief. Three months ago, I was still working at a car dealership (and loving it; though as always seems to be the way, the jobs you adore most are the ones that make it the hardest to make ends meet), living alone in a house I was renting from my father. Well, I say alone; Rose makes for the best roommate in the world but has never done much in the way of paying her way.

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panSince then, I have travelled Europe. The love of my life moved in with me, and I gained a cousin, too. I quit my job for a 32% increase in pay, a fancy title, a level up in responsibility, and a whole lot of Lessons In Developing A Thicker Skin. The weekend of the move-in, we also ended up buying another house. Though all incredibly exciting and terribly grown-up, all of this happened within about a month – the resulting excitement being rather diluted by stress and worry. Getting lost in foreign countries, changing friend circles, big new jobs and buying houses I’m told rank pretty highly on the stress scale, so the last couple of months have had their fair share of tears. But I have absolutely nothing to complain about.

I’ve seen lots of complaining lately. Friends, family, colleagues; I’ve been guilty of it myself. Starbucks Cupgate 2015? Makes me want to punch people in the face. I was listening to a news story on the way in to work this morning about a couple who’d planned to get married this Christmas and recently welcomed a baby into the world, after which the groom was diagnosed with a terminal illness. They are instead getting married today, and the city is helping in droves with things like donated photography, videography etc. It’s a true lesson in perspective: nothing, no matter how important it seems in the moment, is more important than loving each other. Our life is finite. Every second spent focusing on something that, let’s be honest, we won’t even remember at the end of our lives, is a waste of a gift. Perspective and gratitude should always be at the forefront, no matter how stressful things may seem in the moment.

This idea was once inspiration for a song I wrote a long time ago. I was working in a position I could only remain in for about six months – when you invest the largest chunk of your everyday life into an environment and a vision, you really have to be on the same wavelength as those surrounding you. Sometimes you enter into new ventures and find, for some reason or other, the way you are and the way things are are incompatible. Sometimes it’s physical – I could never show up at a building site and expect to have a successful career as a 110 lb construction worker. But sometimes it’s mental, and though I pride myself on endeavours of unity, sometimes you are simply outnumbered. You’re a thoroughly sensitive INFJ whose strengths are in words, feelings, ideas and relationships, in a fishbowl of Ts who have no patience for such things, because such things don’t fit the corporate mould. My chorus:

When you speak, can you hear yourself?
The hourglass is upside down.
Will you remember any of this,
When life is on its way out?

Funnily enough, that song was resurrected over the last month by a new friend of mine. During the summer, my band parted ways, and I was left with half a dozen handwritten songs and an enormous longing for people to work on them with. After putting out a plea to every musically-inclined soul I know on Facebook, I was met with interest! Guitarists, vocalists, digital artists, producers! People all genuinely willing to lend their time and talent to collaborating with me. In a burst of disbelief, excitement, and giddy enthusiasm, I somehow went from wishing for people to jam with to creating an entire EP – and this song, which initially didn’t even make the shortlist, became first in line for a complete makeover.

Over the past few weeks, my friend Dave has taken this from a tiny little acoustic ukulele track I threw up on the Internet moments after writing (and promptly forgot about) to… an epic, radio-worthy ballad I’ve fallen in love with. It has more layers than I could count… harmonies, instrumentation, swoops and whooshes and texture and big moments that brought me to tears the first time I heard it. I am so incredibly lucky to know such kind and talented people. Words cannot describe how it feels to look back and remember how terrified I used to be of even speaking in front of people, anxiety-ridden nights spent wishing I had the confidence to let the inside out without fear of judgment… and now feel ready to put my heart and soul out there for the world to see. I’ve been doing it for years behind a computer screen, but to be able to do this now… is everything I’ve ever dreamed of.

Still on topic (trust me), I picked up a book earlier this summer: The Art Of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help. I’ve not followed Amanda Palmer‘s career a whole lot, but I do know she’s married to one of my favourite authors of all time, and I do know that as soon as I saw the title, that book’s contents belonged in my head. I haven’t read it yet – but I think now is the perfect time. I’ve somehow found myself on the path that will lead me to one of the biggest dreams I’ve ever had for life, but in order to reach the destination, I do need help.

I was reluctant to start a fundraiser (stay with me!) because I hate asking people for money. I hate feeling like I’m begging (please never put me in your wedding party if you’re having a social), and I hate seeing all the people see your cause and choose not to help. I take things way too personally at the best of times, so this sounded like a recipe for disaster until I talked to a couple of wise musician friends of mine and learned a few things. Notably: “Crowd funding isn’t a begging platform (which is good because no one likes begging), it’s a sales platform. The people who succeed are those who already have an audience that would have bought the final product; it just moves the chronology of payment around. People contribute to a crowd funding campaign because they feel like they’re buying something they want to buy. And ultimately, they’ll receive something for their investment.”

Huh. It really is just a chronologically wibbly-wobbly way of exchanging funds for a product. Anyone who donates to this campaign will receive something in return, even if all they donate is the cost of a coffee. Music, handwritten notes, photoshoots, a free CD… all in addition to the knowledge that they helped make someone who was once scared of everything make their dream come true. Any and all funds raised will go to the cost of the production of this record. Two very talented producers have been kind enough to gift a month’s work (so far) to me for my first track, and have given me a good quote on the cost of producing the whole thing, but I can’t afford it. I also want to repay the kindness of those who’re collaborating with me – fellow musicians, singers, and artists (the artwork, done by my good friend Jen, is out of this world), in addition to the cost of physically making this a thing. A lot of people have seen the campaign, and a few amazingly kind souls have been generous enough to support, but there is a long way to go. I have another 57 days, and I know it’s going to go by in a flash.

If you have two minutes and can afford to help in any way, your support would mean more than you could ever know. Story, sample, and link to donate below. Thank you ❤

Fringe, authenticity, and friendship: A single cloud cannot extinguish the sun.

As I begin writing, the Winnipeg Fringe Festival is at its midpoint and I’ve taken in four shows (five, if you count the one I enjoyed so much I went back!). Each one has been wonderful in its own way, and I can’t wait to wrap up this week with an explosion of theatre that will surely leave me as inspired and invigorated as it does every year, and has for the past decade. I’m positive I’ll write again after the second half after the festival is over.

I’m starting to realise that with words like “decade” – realizing that some of the brilliant souls I’ve shared this festival with over the years – I met before I’d even turned twenty years old, and it’s kind of fantastic how we’ve all shared in these creations of creativity, fully immersing ourselves in the experience that seems to exist to celebrate imagination and the artistic spirit. I remember shows from years ago, so clearly I can remember the goosebumps I got, or the awe that struck me, and I can look them up online to find barely a trace of them having happened at all. These performers flock to the city for ten days each year to display the products of their imagination, to share their talent, their energy, and to draw audiences into their world in the hopes of sharing it, inspiring, and creating memories. These shows burn brightly and touch countless souls, bringing laughter, tears, and wonder, and then, like the glow of sparklers after Bonfire Night, they are gone for another year. There’s something bittersweet but quite wonderful about their transience. If you are to exist for such a limited time, then why not make that existence shine?

Photo by Leah Borchert

Fringe couldn’t have been timed better this year. So far, I’ve seen master storyteller (and eternal favourite) Martin Dockery, who brought with him two shows (the second to come later in the run), strings of words and buckets of charisma, and DVDs (finally!) of some of my all-time most loved shows from festivals past; a tale of a man’s journey through cancer as told through story, projections, and stadium rock songs; the greatest hits of the always brilliant Die Roten Punkte, a “brother and sister” duo from “Berlin” who sing about robots, lions, and the Bananenhaus, and the 5-Step Guide to Being German, suggested by my friend, who’s dating a German man, returning for a second time after having such a blast being the token Brit and ending up befriending the performer, going for food, chatting about literature, travel, and pseudo-plotting the emergence of a British version of the show. To come: zombies, performance poetry, parodies, puppetry, and magic. I usually take time off work for Fringing, but this year I have a grand total of ten days holiday off from work (can Canada take a flip through the UK’s book of employment standards? McDonald’s workers back home get at least four weeks!) and they’re all being used up very soon in the most epic way possible: jetting off to Europe with the love of my life and packing in eight whole countries. In eleven days we’ll be stepping onto a plane, and my heart will burst with excitement, gratitude, and awe.

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But I digress. Fringe, in all its glory, is good for the soul, and as of late, this soul has been feeling a little empty. Perhaps empty is the wrong word – I haven’t stopped writing songs, making music, diving into this new photography business, planning trips or going on adventures. I haven’t stopped seeing people or filling my time with exciting things. But I have had a bit of heartache lately when it comes to the people in my life. I’ve come to realise I probably feel things at a greater extreme than what’s considered normal – and I think any fellow INFJ can relate. Everything I do has to be with passion, everyone I befriend has to become a kindred spirit, and everyone I love I do so with all my heart. Every hurt I witness is as if I feel it myself, and every injustice to a cause, or animal, about which I care, goes straight to my heart and tears flood out. Tears flood out with all the positive, too – whether gratitude for kindnesses, for love, or for simply being part of the same human race that creates such brilliant things – I feel pretty hard. So it’s no surprise that losing my two best friends this year has thrown me. I’m thirty years old, not thirteen, so I’m not going to go into details, but it’s made me pretty sad. The illusion of permanence always does, when things come to an end. I tend to invest everything into things and people I care about – believing words like “family” and “forever”, and thanking my lucky stars for people who feel as strongly about our coexistence as I do. It’s heartbreaking when things you believed were forever are shown to be untrue, and I feel a tad foolish for ever believing otherwise. But I guess that’s the price of growing up – as we become older, stronger, more authentic, and (hopefully) wiser, we scan and audit our environments to ascertain whether or not they still align with our values and the person we’re becoming.

“Highly sensitive people are too often perceived as weaklings or damaged goods. To feel intensely is not a symptom of weakness, it is the trademark of the truly alive and compassionate. It is not the empath who is broken, it is society that has become dysfunctional and emotionally disabled. There is no shame in expressing your authentic feelings. Those who are at times described as being a ‘hot mess’ or having ‘too many issues’ are the very fabric of what keeps the dream alive for a more caring, humane world. Never be ashamed to let your tears shine a light in this world.”
Anthon St. Maarten

Sometimes, what fit who you were before no longer has a place in the life you’re meant to be leading, and as you grow into that person, that life, fundamental incompatibilities begin to show. It’s sad, but somewhat inevitable –the more you invest in people, the more their authentic selves begin to show. Hopefully, as with any relationship, you discover layers upon layers of shared hopes, dreams, experiences, and above all, values – but sometimes, you discover you only aligned on the surface. Hurts begin to emerge, and panic sets in – it’s not supposed to be this way, you think, and before you know it, there are conspiracies and spite thrown about in the name of others’ preserving their own images and reputations at the cost of yours. Losing people is never easy in any circumstance, but witnessing those who once cared turn so quickly on you and toward gossip and flat-out mistruths hurts hard. Last week was a hard one, but after much reflection, introspection, and a tallying of all the wonderful things that hold true in life, I’m feeling better. I heard a turn of phrase recently that made me slightly wistful – “people are only happy for you as long as you’re not doing better than them.” Is this the new way of the world? It’s sad, but what can we do about it? We aren’t equipped with the power to change the world. But we can make a conscious decision to be honest, kind, true, and real, and leave the world hopefully a little better than when we arrived in it. We can choose to be an example of what we wish were the norm. And we can choose to let go of the things that are no longer good for us in order to do so.

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Fringe most definitely helps. Friends from other walks of life surface and relationships deepen, genuinely, and I find myself excited at the prospect of memories yet to be made. I count my blessings for those who’ll drop everything to show their caring when it’s needed, and hope they know I would do the same. I relive moments, words, and photographs of recent days and remind myself how lucky I am to have experienced them. I think of the past six months with J. and how much laughter and love have filled my days; moreso than the entire rest of my life. When your world seems to be falling apart, if you take a step back and look at it in its entirety, things usually aren’t quite so dire. The universe is simply pulling out weeds to make room for a more beautiful garden – one that’s pretty lovely to begin with, and one that you’re probably already standing in.

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From my Lady of the Lake photoshoot 🙂 (http://stardustphotography.ca)

So, here begins week two of this wonderful festival. I’ve already met people from faraway places I hope very much to stay in touch with. I recently indulged in some more creative storytelling, heading out onto the open road under skies of the most brilliant purple and orange, sitting solo under the symphony of the heavens. I’m working on new songs, finding ways to record on my own, and reconnecting with possible future collaborators. I’m loving the death out of summer, but quietly anticipating colder days and evenings filled with good tea, great music, and the return to my novel. I’m going on adventures to abandoned ghost towns in the middle of the night, jetting off across Europe with the most incredible soul on the planet, and capturing the beauty of this planet we share an existence with. For those things that have ended, their bitter culmination doesn’t take away from their season’s brilliance. With everything comes new skills, wisdom, and a clearer picture of what’s needed in life, and what isn’t. This week is going to be filled with creativity, camaraderie, fun and adventure. The one after will take us on a journey I’m sure will be a highlight of this lifetime. When things seem sad, it often helps to write things down, and see that one black cloud doesn’t extinguish the sun.

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So I don’t have a turkey on my head.

Today, here in Canada, is Thanksgiving. I wanted to write something meaningful, but I also wanted to make sure I wasn’t repeating myself, so I went back through the archives of Octobers past and found a rather alarming amount of… nothing. October 2009: Back pain. My bank account getting hacked. October 2008: A modelling gig. Daleks reading the weather.  October 2005, 2006 and 2007: No posts at all. It seems I’m long overdue for a post of gratitude, especially on a day like today.

In England, we didn’t have Thanksgiving. I remember watching those episodes of Friends and wondering what the significance was behind the holiday, and back then, wondering why English people didn’t have a special day for being thankful. I figured it was just because my experience of most English people involved English people from Stevenage, commonly known as one of the biggest chav towns, famous for Public Profanity, Vandalism, Disrespecting the Elderly, and Single Teen Mums. Not exactly gratitude central. When we first moved to Canada, I’d met a girl in high school whose parents soon became friends with mine, and had invited us over for what appeared to be a giant Christmas dinner come early, except with pumpkin pies instead of mince ones.  I finally learned about the significance of the holiday, in both the US and Canada, but also adored the chance to get together with friends and family every year for a big stodge up and just take a moment to truly count our blessings.

This year, we’re having three Thanksgiving celebrations. Two with my almost family-in-law, and, this past Friday night, one with our friends. I’d always wanted to have a Friends-style Thanksgiving, but until now, my friends had all either moved away, or didn’t know each other well enough to enjoy a whole evening celebrating together. This year however, I have a huge amount of things, opportunities, events, and most of all, people to be thankful for – the perfect year to throw our first one. This group of people came into my life after a series of events unfolded in the spring causing my whole social circle to change. It became apparent that, after a few periods of tension, misunderstanding, and subsequent distancing, a handful of people I’d known for most of the time I’d lived in Canada no longer belonged in my life. At the time, I was hurt, confused, and didn’t understand why it seemed I was being thrust out of a group I’d been a part of since first-year university. I was worried and scared of being alone – most of my good friends remained home in England, or had moved away. So I did what I do best: burst into floods of tears for a good two days.

But then came the lightbulb moment. The time spent saying “I wish” could just as easily be spent saying “I will”. So I made an action plan. Signed up for an evening class in the hopes I’d learn more about something I’m passionate about, and have the opportunity to meet new people.  Started reconnecting with people I’d lost touch with. Signed up for Meetup groups online and spent my birthday with a group of brilliant strangers who brought me cake. It was from that moment that my world began to change. I met some really fun, creative people, one of whom ended up sitting at my table for a good portion of the night, who just so happened to live a stone’s throw away from where we do. We stayed in touch, and soon after, introduced our other-halves to each other, and the four of us began seeing each other quite often. In the last few months, we became introduced to their group of friends, and have since recorded radio plays together, shared music, sunbathed at the beach, attended house parties, learned about Vikings, sung our hearts out at bonfires, planned Halloween costumes, and asked two of them to be in our wedding. These people came into my life at the perfect time – just as one door was closing, they opened another and allowed a flood of friendship to follow suit. I feel more blessed to have been accepted by this group than I think I ever have in my life, and celebrating Thanksgiving with them was beyond amazing, full of great food, laughs, “Antelope Canteloupes,” and fun.


This Thanksgiving I’m thankful for so many things. For being given a job where I can incorporate my passion for helping people, do things I’m good at and be given chances to work on the things I’m not, to be pushed out of my comfort zone, and see real lives being changed.  I’m thankful for my friends, new and old, some who’ve just come into my life and have already enriched it so much, and some who I got to see this summer who have been in it since childhood and still remained strong. I’m thankful for my family, my Dad and stepmum and all they are, and the new family I’m about to join, too, for all the times they’ve welcomed me into their home and their lives.  I’m thankful for Sweet, of course, of everything he’s helped me become over the last two and a half years, and for this amazing next chapter we’re about to embark on.  I’m thankful for little things, like access to great music that excites my soul, an education that I’m passionate about growing, cat cuddles on cold days, chair dancing at work, great books to read, and being able to keep up with the latest news, TV, radio and events back home in England. And I’m so very thankful for you. For any time you’ve ever taken to read something I’ve written, to offer your comments, thoughts, support, encouragement, or alternate viewpoints. For your continued readership and, more importantly, friendship. Through this blog I’ve met some people I’m honoured to be able to call friends, both over long distances and in real life, and for that I feel truly blessed. Thank you… and though it may not be Thanksgiving where you are right now, just know that today, somewhere out there in the world, there’s someone who appreciates you.

A call, an answer, and to new beginnings

First order of business: you guys are AWESOME.  Seriously, the emails, comments, texts, and cards in the MAIL made me feel tonnes better after the weekend, and I hope you know how much I appreciate every single one of you.

It’s been four days since everything went down this weekend, and I cannot even begin to describe how incredible they’ve been. On Sunday, I was hit with an unexpected blow, and after a few tears, I found in my inbox a message from one of my favourite bloggers.  It posed the question: “It may seem challenging, but when have you not been up for a challenge?” It threw me back to the last time I felt overwhelmed by something.  Back to almost a year ago, when I was afraid of everything. So crippled by the fear of judgment from others, so desperate to be living a different life, one where I could lead groups, speak my opinion, and be free of worry, perfectly secure in myself.  Back to when I made the decision to change everything.  Fast-forward a year, and I’m finishing up almost six months of teaching weekly classes, offering my thoughts in meetings, even singing in front of people. The journey still has miles left to go, but what I’m learning along the way, those tiny victories, give me the belief I can carry on. And the kick in the pants that I can do the same thing all over again if I have to.

When life throws us curveballs, I’m trying to grow into the person that realises the choice they have as to how to deal with them. Instead of taking the easy road into self-pity, when things aren’t going our way, we can get up and face the world head-on, taking new roads and new opportunities we may never have thought to try.  When one door slams harshly on our faces, we can struggle in vain to unlock it again – or we can walk away. Try a new one.  And see where it leads us.

Hannah’s words made me realise I had that opportunity. So Monday’s post was me putting it out to the universe – and the universe, in the last three days, has delivered. HARD CORE.  I was surprised that very afternoon, whilst at my desk at work, by a phone call from one Nate St. Pierre, down in the States, asking me what I planned on doing for lunch the next day.  I don’t think I’d ever been so simultaneously thrilled and confused! He explained that someone he’d spent a week with recently exploring Napa Valley, California, just so happened, according to Google Earth, to work two blocks down the street from me, and he thought we’d have a lot in common, and might hit it off! So Tuesday I went for my “blind date” – and had a wonderful lunch with his friend. We talked charity work, social media, travel, immigration to Canada, work – work! She just so happened to be pretty high up with a very well known chain of restaurants, and passed my info along to the regional manager – who called me today to see if I’d like to meet to talk about marketing and promotion while he was in town. During the first week of April. AKA my first week of unemployment. Coincidence? I don’t know, but all I know is I’m stunned by the impeccable timing of this wonderful twist of fate, and feeling rather excited indeed.

I also went out for lunch this week with a great coworker, who sadly is leaving the same day as me – we’ve shared many a laugh, a Glee-fest and a thought-provoking discussion since we’ve shared an office, and I’ll miss seeing her every day dreadfully – but at lunch this week, we talked about outside-of-work plans, including tea, good TV, and working on our goal of singing in front of people together.  I’m totally excited to spend more time with her!

And then today, I arrived home to a bit of a surprising email – from a friend I hadn’t spoken to in years.  I was shocked, initially – but after I finished reading it, I was literally jumping up and down.  We’d fallen out over something silly, and she’d read my post on Monday, and decided to reach out.  We used to be extremely close, and I was often sad she was no longer around – and all of a sudden, by random fluke, she finds my post, and decides to take a risk.  And it couldn’t have come at a better time.  This was the girl that I used to see multiple times a week, have endless conversations with, trade music with and convert to all my British TV. 🙂  Her email reminded me of how I’d felt about Sweet and I – we used to date years ago, didn’t speak for at least five, and had a second chance… after we’d had some time to learn more about ourselves, about the world.  And once we’d grown up a little, we got the chance to give it another go.  This time, the timing was right. And I’m awfully hopeful it’ll be a similar case with her, too.  We’re meeting to catch up this time next week – and I can’t wait.

I’m gobsmacked at the fact it’s only been a matter of days. And at the difference the power of choice can make.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned recently in life, it’s that we really do have the ability to shape our lives.  It’s just a matter of deciding what choice to make.  Sometimes, when you profess your desire for change to the universe, it really does deliver, with more rapidity and assurance than you ever could’ve hoped.

Despite many things right now still being very much up in the air, I’m feeling a heck of a lot more comfortable that everything’s going to work out just fine.  And I owe a great deal of that, my dears, to you guys.

Here’s to the next chapter…

In the spirit of Thanksgiving…

In the spirit of all the American Thanksgiving-inspired posts I’ve seen recently, even though we had our own Thanksgiving a month ago (complete with microwave turkey and dropped pie all over the oven), I feel inspired to write a Thanksgiving post of my own. 

It’s interesting when you look back on your life over the last couple of years and see how much has changed.  How difficult situations, at the time, seemed so arduous and complicated; taking big steps involved cutting ties, getting rid of the comfortable and easy and moving on toward the different and new.  It’s been a tumultuous couple of years, but I’ve landed with a handful of people who make me feel like life’s amazing. 

I’m thankful for my fiancé, who came back after years of not seeing each other, took a chance on me at a time when it would’ve been easier to say no (though my persistence may have played a small part in this) – he was working fifteen hour days six days a week, and seeing me the one free night of the week meant he had to give up church, time with his family and time with his friends.  I’m thankful he stuck with me when my confidence had been destroyed along with my self-esteem; while I was unable to believe somebody could ever care about me, and while I was afraid of absolutely everything.  I’m thankful for everything he’s taught me, about faith, about relationships, and about gratitude – not a day goes by without him giving thanks for the country we live in, the people we have in our lives, and the blessings we really do have, even when life seems hard.  Through him I’ve become a better person – more secure, more benevolent, and more confident.  And for this I am truly thankful.

I’m thankful for my best friend, who funnily enough also was in my life years ago, and came back after years of being out of touch.  We’d fallen out over something stupid, and at the lowest point of my life, following an enormous break up, I was sceptical I could ever live independently again.  I’d poured all my energy into a horribly abusive co-dependency as a result of my own insecurity, and I had no idea how to function in the real world.  In a recent conversation, she said I’d been like “a paper bird, literally trembling, and jangling cups and saucers as I’d pour her tea”.  She came back into my life during my biggest low, and I truly believe she rescued me. She took me under her wing and slowly brought me back to life.  I’d never been cared for like that before, and I owe who I am today hugely to her kindness and friendship.  I’m incredibly thankful for someone I know is going to be there for life.

I’m thankful for the wonderful relationship I have with my dad.  We’ve gone through some extremely difficult times together, and he’s been the constant in my life that’s helped me get through absolutely anything.  I couldn’t imagine life without him and I’m lucky to have been blessed with such an incredible man I get to call Dad.

I’m thankful that in a world of technology, incredible authors are still churning out fabulous stories, wonderful writing, and books that allow my imagination to soar further than any movie could.   Though on that note, I’m also thankful for the technology that allows me to stay in touch with my friends and family back home, to watch all those wonderful BBC programmes, and to listen daily to my beloved Radio 1 and not feel quite so homesick.

I’m thankful I got the opportunity to work where I do now.  My term may be coming to an end, but even if I don’t get extended, I’m thankful I was given this opportunity.  I’ve grown more in the eleven months I’ve worked here than I ever have in any other job, and I’ve formed friendships I know will last beyond my time here.  People have supported me and pushed me out of my comfort zone, seeing my potential and capability when I haven’t been able to see it myself.  I’m in a better place because of my experience here, and for that I am truly thankful.

I’m thankful for the awful relationship experiences I had in the past – they forced me to really figure out who I was, who I wanted to be, and were invaluable life lessons.  If I hadn’t gone through the crap, I would never have been motivated to live any differently, and I look back on it all as an opportunity to learn and grow to get to where I am today.

I’m thankful for all my new bloggy friends! For everyone who reads, comments, and emails when I’m going through something good or bad, for those people scattered around the world who check in and read my blog, and whose friendship is becoming very real – I’m thankful I found you, and I can’t wait to keep reading and being a part of your lives as much as you are mine.  

Things can be pretty bad sometimes, but when you take a moment to really count your blessings, life can seem truly wonderful.   Happy Thanksgiving to everyone south of the border!

Happy new year

This weekend was possibly one of the best weekends I’ve ever had. I’m adding Friday and Monday to the term “weekend”, because wonderful things started on Friday evening when we got all dressed up to go to a wonderful girl’s high school graduation… took some snapshots, ate a fancy dinner, drank some wine, and danced to Cotton Eyed Joe in an evening dress and heels.

At midnight Sweet rang in my 24th birthday with a BEAUTIFUL card and a poem (!) which brought tears to my eyes. After I woke up a few hours later, my dad phoned me to tell me to get ready for a mystery surprise I’d been trying to figure out all week: it was an hour outside Winnipeg, and it was only going to be confirmed as definitely going ahead on Saturday morning. So I got myself ready and was picked up (following some amazing gifts… Fringe festival here I come!!) and driven out to the middle of nowhere (Google maps named our final destination as “Unknown Road”), where we were picked up by a fellow named Bruce who drove us out to the Gliding Club – I was going to fly a plane!!

A couple of hours later, I’d been taken up by a tow plane, pulled the string to disconnect, and flown over the prairies at 4,500 feet even taking a hand at the controls. It was an incredible view, and I couldn’t have guessed it for the world – an absolutely amazing birthday surprise!!

The evening brought in another suprise – my wonderful boy getting off work five hours early! So we went for a special dinner, came home and got dolled up again for a fun evening with some of my favourite people in the whole world. We had laughs, drinks, an elephant watering can and ended the evening running up and down a back alley waving sparklers in the night sky. I felt truly blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful, thoughtful people, and to have had the best birthday yet.

Father’s Day was spent with my dad – WHO’S DEFINITELY NOT MOVING TO ENGLAND THIS YEAR! He’s slightly sad, but is going to go back in a few years anyway, and I get to keep him for that much longer. 🙂 We had a pub lunch and a matinee movie, and then my mum even came round to wish me a happy birthday. (I haven’t seen her since Christmas, and the last six months haven’t exactly been full of happy family relationships) It wasn’t awkward at all; we talked for about an hour before heading to another family dinner at Sweet’s grandparents, and came home to share the rest of the evening before being separated for four days… four days which can’t pass quickly enough.

I woke up sleepy, and was surprised with a warm cinnamon bun, coffee, and kisses. I arrived at work to the most beautiful bouquet of “I’ll miss you” roses I’ve ever seen in my entire life; cried, and got a lovely card from all my coworkers, and tomorrow I start properly training for my new position.

Right now I’m feeling especially happy, and very, very lucky indeed. I think 24 might just be my lucky number!