I am taking the Brave Blogging class with Andrea Sher and I promised myself I would dive in and participate.
I wanted to stretch myself with my blogging and when I saw Andrea’s class I knew that would be perfect.?Of course I could just challenge myself to blog more for a month, but being in a class?creates a totally different kind of container for exploring.
So I promised myself to do the work even when I don’t want to.
I mean I’m traveling to Northern California?this month and I am doing a thing I’m going to tell you about next week so some days?I won’t be able to participate – but on the days I do have time I promised myself I would do the prompts even when I didn’t want to.
And we’re starting with a prompt I don’t want to do.
I think it’s a great prompt and kind of a perfect one for starting out but it’s something I’ve always avoided doing. ?Which is why I should totally do it so here goes….
Thing 1: My first big dream failure
I went to Ryerson University in Toronto. ?When I graduated, I didn’t want to stay in Toronto and I didn’t want to go home to Winnipeg. ?I got a letter from a friend who had moved to Nelson, BC and her description of her life there made me want to move there. ?So I did it – I sold a bunch of stuff to raise money and off I went.
This was my first big experience of following a dream. ?It was a spectacular failure as Nelson is a super small town and was not in need a freshly graduated fashion designer. ?I did get a volunteer position in the costume department of the local theatre which they said would lead to paid work, but did not lead there fast enough for me to be able to support myself.
So I ended up back in Winnipeg, in my parent’s house until I could get back on my feet.
Now I feel like Winnipeg is the right place for me, though when I was younger I was so resistant to the idea of it that I wouldn’t have come back here if I’d had other options. ?This was the first time I saw that following my dream can lead me to where I need to be even?it’s not what I expected, or what I thought I wanted.
Thing 2: I wanted to do creativity workshops for 13 years before doing them
While in Nelson, when I was starting to see?that I wasn’t going to find a job and wanting?to get creative about how I could make money, I realised that what I really really really wanted to do was teach?creativity workshops.
I wanted to share the magic and healing of creativity that I had discovered.
But I didn’t know how to lead people through that kind of transformative process and didn’t trust myself to figure it out so I didn’t even try.
It was thirteen years later when I finally put on my first creativity workshop – by that point I was an accredited spiritual teacher and could use my training as a teacher to lead people through internal transformation. ?But it was a few years of giving workshops before I really trusted my skills.
Thing 3: I never wanted children but am planning to become a step-mother
I like kids but have never had any desire to have my own and have been pretty happy about this. ?My boyfriend loves being a father.
I wasn’t sure how this would work, but as I have gotten to know his kids something has kind of gelled there. ?This is the kind of stuff I don’t want to share on my blog as it’s not just about me so I won’t say more about it.
Thing 4: I am allergic to a lot of raw fruit
It’s so annoying?to tell people about this because most people don’t believe me at first. ?How could I be allergic only to raw things?
Well I am allergic to a certain kind of pollen and so raw fruits with that pollen bother me. ?Once cooked they’re fine.
I try to just avoid those things without mentioning why because I’m so tired of that conversation.
Thing 5: I started to go grey in my teens
Back then I was already dying my hair for fun anyway so it didn’t matter. ?But in my thirties it dawned on my that I was dying my hair only to cover grey – that I was deciding that there is something wrong with me looking the way I look (!).
Right before I turned 40 I stopped dying it. ?Now I’m almost 42 and all of the dyed hair has grown out. ?I get a lot of comments from people about how I should dye it so that I’d look younger.
I like looking like me. ?I really like not wasting my time and money on trying to change my appearance.
Thing 6: But sometimes I put purple in there
When I was growing out my grey hair, I bleached my dyed hair white and then just used purple dye on my whole head – it blended my roots in with the rest of my hair and the purple is not permanent on non-bleached hair.
So now sometimes I put purple in with my conditioner and it leaves my greys just a little purple for a few days.
Thing 7: I once let someone get away with not paying me for a job because I was too shy to fight him
I got a job designing and creating costumes for a play. ?The owner of the theatre just stopped talking to me after the play. ?I left one message asking for my cheque and that alone was un-nerving enough I didn’t try again.
Thing 8: When I was a teenager my mom sent me to an assertiveness training course
It’s something my family still teases me about.
Thankfully I am plenty assertive now but when I was younger I was painfully shy.
Thing 9: I started sewing my own clothes when I was 17
My mom had sewn a lot of our clothes when my sister and I were little so sewing was always something that seemed normal to me. ?At 17 I started wanting to sew my own dresses.
I was having so much fun with sewing that’s why I decided to take fashion design in university. ?This is what led to me moving to Toronto (because?Ryerson had the only degree program in fashion design in Canada).
Thing 10: I really struggled in university
After having so much fun sewing it was kind of heart-breaking how hard university was for me. ?It was super competitive and most of my classmates were older and more experienced and I felt out of my depth.
Harsh critique after harsh critique started to kill my creative spirit and I started having panic attacks.
This is where I learned how perfectionism and focusing on the product instead of the process?kills the magic of creativity. ?It would be?a while before I learned what to do about this though.
Thing 11:?I wear almost the same thing every day
Two years ago I decided to stop buying clothes and to sew everything I need. ?I make a lot of my own patterns and when I buy patterns I alter them a lot.
But then my sister loaned me this pattern? (which is sadly discontinued) and I fell in love. (I have altered the pattern to fit better?and I’ve turned it into a v-neck.)
Now I have 6 dresses in that pattern – all different prints with some color-blocked and some not. ?So they don’t all look identical or anything but it really simplifies getting dressed!
Similarly, in the summer I have 4 sun dresses in the same pattern all in different?prints of light cotton voile. ?Once I find something that I really like I just stick with it.
Thing 12: Becoming creatively self-employed was my biggest dream come true – but after a while?it I felt really lonely
I didn’t have any self-employed friends and my new lifestyle was kind of alienating so some of my friendships struggled right after I left my job. ?Plus I was working alone and living alone – that’s a lot of alone even for someone who neeeeeds a lot of quiet?time to herself in order to feel sane.
At first this wasn’t a problem because I was working so hard and so happy with where I was. ?But over time that wore off and it started to feel lonely.
I used all the tools I teach to explore and transform my loneliness?which helped me be open to things changing.
Then I re-connected with an old friend who was about to become self-employed. ?He left his job soon after and we started meeting every morning for coffee and talking about what we were doing with our work. ?It was so great to have that daily connection and creative support.
(I’m typing this right now in a coffee shop and he’s sitting beside me)
Thing 13: I like traveling
I love the adventure of it exploring new places. ?I’ve been to every province in Canada plus the Northwest Territories.
And in the US to North and South Dakota, Oregon, California, New York, Texas, North and South Carolina and Minnesota.
And to Mexico, Guatemala, England, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Turkey and Egypt.
Thing 14: But I haven’t had energy for traveling the last few years
I’ve been really focused on my work and it hasn’t felt like traveling is the right use of my energy.
But I think my travel bug is coming back. This month I’m going to Oakland, California to do this workshop with one of my favourite people in the world. ?I’m staying for a week so I have some time to just explore and relax.
And later on this year I’m going to Mexico for my boyfriend’s brother’s wedding.
Thing 15: I once?camped in my parents back yard for a month
When I bought my Dream Loft it was a brand new building – I sold my home and got ready to move into the?loft but construction was delayed. ?This happened in September so I thought that was a cool opportunity to live in a tent for a while.
So I pitched my tent in my parent’s idyllic back yard (my mom is a master gardener) and had a great time.
Thing 16: I had my first wilderness camping experience this year
My boyfriend is a Native Canadian and practices the traditional ways. ?He can go into the bush and live there alone for months.
(I like camping close to little towns so I could go get pizza to bring back to my tent.)
One time we went canoeing – our aim was to canoe as far as we could, camp beside the river and then canoe back the next day. ?He had never canoed right from his home before, and I had never canoed ever, so we didn’t know how far we could get.
It turned out the twists and turns in the river made it hard for us to get very far away from his home – though the bush was really thick around the river and it didn’t feel like we were near any other people.
At one point we stopped to take a break for lunch and once we were on land he thought maybe we were near his sister’s house so he went off to explore a bit and I took a nap. ?Turns out we were near his sister, and he came back from his walk with pizza that she had just made.
So sometimes you can have it both ways.
And anyway I really like camping in the wilderness – no electricity or other people around.
Thing 17: And I got to sleep under the northern lights this past summer
One night my boyfriend and I were camping and it was really warm so I had taken the fly off my tent so we could see the stars (the top of my tent is mesh) and he woke me up in the middle of the night to show me that the northern lights were dancing in the sky above us. ?So cool.
Thing 18: I’ve been a vegetarian for 24 years.
I don’t?feel like I am missing out on anything and I have never craved meat. ?This is just the right way for me to eat.
I know if I ate meat I’d get more protein and probably fewer carbs and would weight less but that’s not that important to me.
Thing 19: I used to think?I could never be a cyclist but now I love cycling
I thought riding in traffic was super stressful and that riding a bike must really suck. ?Also I didn’t have the right clothes.
Then when I sold my old car and my intuition told me not get a new one, I started wondering about cycling. ?I thought I could use a bike just to ride to my local park on hot days when walking would be hot and annoying. ?I decided to get a cheapie bike to try it out.
Luckily my sister intervened and told me I had to get a good, quality, comfortable bike because?otherwise I would hate cycling and wouldn’t do it. ?So I got a great bike and fell head over heels in love with cycling.
From March – November I use my bike for my transportation?plus I just go for rides for fun. I average 20-30 km a day. ?Riding my bike makes me so happy (and I just do it in the clothes I have).
Thing 20: I hated the song Bootylicious when I first heard it and then later I loved it
That’s when I started to realize that sometimes?the things I resist the most are actually things I’m going to enjoy the most.
(Like cycling and cashew cheese and chip dip – when I was little I thought chip dip was gross but then I tried it and love it to this day)
Thing 21: When I was really struggling?as an artist I took an office job for a 6 month term. I stayed 7 years.
That job ended up being the best thing for me. ?Financial stability helped me build a better foundation for my creative work.
Thing 22: There are no closets in my home
The dream loft is 1,000 square feet with no interior walls (except around the washroom) or closets. ?I did buy one small IKEA closet for at the front door. ?But for the most part – I got rid of my shit so I could have a sense of SPACIOUSNESS in my home.
I am so glad I did this.
My old house had nine closets and I lived there 7 years and by the end those closets were mostly full of stuff I never used.
You know the thing about how you should only keep stuff if it’s either beautiful or useful?
When I was getting ready to move I only kept stuff that was BOTH beautiful and useful. ?Which means some really practical things didn’t make the cut. ?And I spent a lot of time looking for replacements and thinking about what “stuff ” would support me in living my ideal life.
No closet space also means I have to stay really conscious of how much stuff I’m accumulating.
This is harder now that I have a boyfriend who stays here every weekend and his kids hang out here on Saturdays. ?I have more candy and toys in my home than I ever thought I would.
Thing 23: I go to a knitting club where no one knits
It’s become our running joke – we plan a knit night at my friend’s house then when the time comes we’re all just too tired. ?So we sit around eating pizza and talking.
I try to be all “guys this is a knit night WE HAVE TO KNIT let’s do this!” but even I am starting to give up. ?It’s nice to get together even though I’m getting nowhere with the cardigan I’m knitting.
Thing 24: I bought a car mostly so I could go home early from parties
When I was younger and lived with my best friend and used to go out a lot more I always wanted to go home waaaay before anyone else.
When I was thinking of buying a car the thing that made me decide to do it was that I would always be able to go home as early as I wanted. ?It was so worth it.
Thing 25:?The thing I like least about blogging is receiving unsolicited advice
I believe very strongly that an important part of teaching is sharing the stories of how I live what I teach. ?This means being vulnerable and sharing the truth about my?struggles.
The thing is – even when things are hard I know I can handle it.
The reason why I share is to put examples out there of how you can work through the hard stuff and change it. ?You can use the shitty things as compost for growing your dreams.
But you can only do that if you stay in your power.
Unsolicited advice?says: I don’t trust you to figure this out. ?I don’t think your answers are inside of you, I think I have them.
And: I don’t like watching you struggle (because unconsciously it triggers my fear that I can’t handle my struggles) so I want to help you change this ASAP (so that I can feel more comfortable).
I know that is totally well-intentioned but its also dis-empowering.
Transformation happens inside the struggle so pulling someone out really just puts a band-aid on the problem and leaves true transformation out of reach.
Plus: I trust myself to handle whatever comes my way.
So when people offer me unsolicited advice I know they’re not really seeing me because they think I need their advice.
Putting myself out there and being vulnerable and then being misunderstood is uncomfortable.
I want to write more about this and why unsolicited advice is so rampant in our culture and how that is tied to unhappiness but I am still struggling to find the right words to say it.