Tag Archives: Growth

Ink Stains and Paper Cuts

 

Writing is an extremely personal experience. It can be raw and naked and embellished with scars of history and lives’ past that bleed and crack against the bars of lined paper. When I began my experimentation into this practice it was in the pages of forgotten notebooks; pages strewn with formulas and highlighted notes torn free to leave 20 of the 200 paged leaflet to home my hesitant scrawl. There were letters penned to friends and family that would never be read, sentences of words laced together that sounded delicious on my tongue and stories. Many stories. Stories that jumped and back-peddled in formats more closely akin to poorly edited essays with jumbled descriptions and themes than anything remotely passable as a tale. I’d shock myself with a paragraph constructed with what I thought was beauty and depth and not have the confidence to continue, so there were constant beginnings but never ends. Words I liked to write and loved to say blotting page after page in a loop I couldn’t divert from. A circle I wasn’t planning to end or escape because this was all so new and freeing and so, so mine.

Continue reading Ink Stains and Paper Cuts

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The Quarter-Life Crisis. My Experience

 

Fear, an anxiety that burrows deep and this incredibly urgent desire to ‘escape’ are some of the symptoms of the little documented, newly prevalent crisis that is sweeping through my generation and most familiarly, within my own social circle.

Even now, as I type this my fellow mid-twenties to mid-thirtyers  are fumbling through this early on-set predicament. And I get it. I know what it is and I understand the anxiety and discomfort it’s coupled with. I’ve been there. When I took off to BC for an undetermined Continue reading The Quarter-Life Crisis. My Experience

Searched Far And Wide. Now It’s Real

Goldilocks wandered the home of the bears, plopping her bottom atop chairs too big and too small, stuffing her face with porridges too hot and too cold and playing mattress roulette like she was a valued customer at Sealy’s. Sure, she may have been dabbling in a high stakes game of breaking and entering in the lair of a family of bears and her particularity verged on fussiness, but her intention was to satisfy a basic desire of ours to just be comfortable.

Never thought I’d say it…but I get it. I get the need to wait; To hold off for that perfect fit.


I started this search over a year ago. A relentless, stubborn, tedious and exceedingly self-severe quest onto myself.

Too big. Too small. Too plain. Too extravagant.

I became real life Goldilocks. But I wasn’t in search of a mattress (although that’s on the list), nor was I taste-testing breakfast gruel. I had this corner of my apartment cleared, found a chair that wasn’t only comfortable but sexy in that way only good furniture can be and daydreamed openly about the better half I’d be setting it up with.

My desk was out there and I was going to find it.

Now, sitting back, with my feet propped beneath its luxuriously finished, glossy top I’m not only the proud owner of a new desk, I’m also finally feeling like a  writer. A real life, bona-fide writer. Well, at least I’m a step closer to that bombshell in my own mind.

As I explored and scrutinized stores throughout Toronto and endlessly browsed pictures online, it became clear that this single piece of furniture wasn’t just a single piece of furniture anymore. It was important. Somehow this new ambition of mine, this new endeavour that demanded the risk of jumping blind, wouldn’t be real until I was working towards it from behind this desk. Investing in it became a priority not just to fill a space in my home, but to make this whole thing an actuality.

I really won’t be a writer until I’m holding a copy of my own, physical book in my hands, but, damn…I’m almost there.

Don’t Tread Lightly

Dear ME2.0,

You’re going to be so tired. You’re going to keep being told to ‘take it easy.’ Everyone is going to be concerned because of those shadows under your eyes, and that strange slur in your character that hints towards another sleepless night.

Colds will be countless.
Your immune system will hate you.

You’ll question your ability to formulate spoken words because paper and keyboards become all you know. Emotions and feelings and thoughts separate between life and the string of words you lace together on a page.

You’ll be grateful for the sun on your skin those few moments that you force yourself outside. You’ll still be spewing imaginary dialogue and description in your head, and occasionally speak under your breathe the words of your next page, but at least you’ll only be considered crazy in populated areas.

You’ll forget to eat. Prepare your stomach for neglect.

Minutes slip to hours and you’ll look up and be discouraged by the minimal page count you’ve been able to turn out.

And you’ll be annoyed. Annoyed that you aren’t doing more, although you’re working yourself raw. Annoyed that time has no other agenda then to keep ticking by despite your plea for it to slow. Annoyed that all you wrote yesterday seems ‘blah’ today.

But.

Just ignore all of that. Forget the discomfort, the worry, the caution to ‘take it easy.’ You don’t need to tread lightly here. You’re ME2.0. You’ve been there – Done that. Survived and thrived. So keep striving. Keep thriving. Keep writing. Keep working. Keep doing more than anyone expects or asks or wants. Every minute of it is worth it. Be the you that stretches to the limits. Be the you that doesn’t second guess saying ‘yes’ to another task, another errand, another shift. It’s the best of you that shrugs off the obstacles and embraces the doubts of others and yourself. As ME2.0 you have a responsibility to be more. To be the better and the best. To write without pause and leap without looking. To know that a net will appear if you just trust the fall. So fall. So jump. So tread not so lightly and be amazed.

Love always,

ME (the original)

 

Playing It Cool. Super Mantra-ing

There’s a time for everything. A time for quiet, for speaking out, for being stubborn and for giving in. Lately, it’s been my time to play it cool.

Busy. So busy. Play it cool.

Meetings, conferences, deadlines and rush. Play it cool.

Don’t neglect your friends. Drag yourself out of bed to have a drink with a heartbroken bud even though you need to be up in 5 hours. Play it cool.

Writing, writing, writing. Edit. Write some more. Play it cool. Wait, did I run yet today?? Play it cool.

Playing it cool is just surviving with an easy expression plastered to your face even if your shoulders are tense or even if there’s butterflies playing smash bros. in your stomach. Generally I’m laid back, but this is a new level of mantra-ing even for me. What is this mantra-ing I speak of? It’s the secret to success. Too far? I actually don’t think so.
A mantra may sound like I’m going all hippie/yogi on you guys here, but it’s actually so much more universal than that. It’s the secret to playing it cool. I discovered mine more by accident than in active search. Somewhere on the side of a hill that just wasn’t ending, my brain was trying to logic my body into keeping its stride. Logic just doesn’t have the upper hand when it comes to lung capacity though and my lungs were pretending they had no more space for the oxygen I was sucking up. ‘Liar,’ I accused. Another deep breathe. ‘Breath. Push.’ Those words, that’s all it took to set my pace again. It reined in all the logic-ing, all the complaints and refocused that frustration. A good run wasn’t going to end on a crappy note just because a few kilometres back I had thought ending at the top of this hill was a brilliant life decision.

‘Breath. Push.’

Each time my foot hit the concrete I would think the word ‘push.’ It was the metronome to my run, to my pace and stride, distracting the ache and playing off my naturally stubborn nature. At the top of the hill I stopped, resting my hands on my hips, huffing like the classiest of struggling civics and didn’t think another second about the magical words. (Because come on now, you aren’t thinking anything at the top of a hill while resembling a dying honda).

Days later the words would slip back into my mind amidst another physically trying, self-induced adventure. Then again a week later. Sometimes the words would change on me. I caught myself picking only one word to mentally yell at myself, or changing it all up completely. I was going farther. I was getting faster. I had discovered magic. Or, less Hogwarts-y, my mantra.

It wouldn’t be until I was suffering writers block and feeling the burn of being over-worked and generally just feeling grumpy that my magic words would sneak up on me without the pressure of a hill beneath my feet. ‘Well then. This is a thing then, huh,?’ I had thought. My collection of playing it cool worthy mantras has since grown and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

My ‘off-the-top-of-my-head’ mantra list:

1. (The classic)  Breath. Push.
2. I’m stronger than I think.
3. Don’t Whine.
4. You’ll be proud later.
5. Be better than yesterday.
6. Keeping writing.
7. Get your shit together.
8. You’ve got this.
9. Go with it.
10. It’s worth it.

These words, my mantras, have a power to them. They’re so simple. So classically unassuming. But heed my warning: they’re not to be solely relied upon. If you start whispering these lines to yourself, your world isn’t going to flip and you’re not going to turn superman on anyone or anything. Self control, confidence and an inclination towards stubbornness are highly encouraged. You ARE stronger than you think and a mantra is meant to be used as a tool. It’s helpful but not a problem solver. It won’t jot down words on the page for you or transport you to the top of the hill, but it can encourage, focus and keep you in the moment.

The Makings of a Writer…Maybe?

I’m ashamed of my blogger silence. But I’ve already prepped and loaded an excuse!

I’m writing!

Clearly not here. But I am writing. My book is in full swing and I’m skimming past self inflicted due dates with a personally prideful determination. There’s been hard days of writer’s block, entire pages that I reread only to discover i hate them and way too many puppy induced distractions to wade through. (Not to mention my own nagging thoughts and injustices I love pushing upon myself). Each day, as the words become sentences and those sentences become paragraphs that fill page after page, I have a sense of growth. I’m getting better. I’m more confident than I was at the start of this shaky blog and i’m starting to believe that maybe I have a talent for this after all. Lacking the insane page output that Stephen King is famous for, I’ve struggled with feeling slow and inadequate. I criticize myself endlessly; pages don’t fill fast enough and I’m not piecing my thoughts together efficiently enough. Then I remember, this is me. It’s me finding my prose, it’s me developing my language and it’s me heading this project. These words are mine, this style is me and i can do this my own way. Discovering those they things have altered each step in this process.

Writer’s block is my mind telling me to let go. To give my thoughts space and time to collect. What’s the point in raging and letting my frustration leak onto the pages? I know what I’m writing about. Just breath.

So what if a few hours work seems like rubbish. I can revise it. Reword and rework what I have; It’s not all trash. There’s something buried in there for me to work with – be smart. Be patient. Be creative. There was a reason I wrote what I did, now rediscover it and find that purpose.

Distraction will happen! I’m human! If anything is worthy of breaking my concentration, it’s definitely the things I love most. The world won’t end and my book won’t fall to the wayside to be forgotten about and defeated if I take a few minutes to award my attention elsewhere. I’m going to jump back into it. I’ll write more, and maybe even with more of the happiness I get from my distractions translating onto the pages.

I’m still scared. I still question exactly what I’m doing with this foolish dream and big project daily. Yet something in me is pushing me on. Even if I’m being silly. Even if this never gets read by anyone but me. I can promise it will get done, and I’ll do my best each day to make it the best thing i’ve ever written. There’s a new calm that i can’t quite explain…but it keeps me going.

From The Depths Of Zero Fashion Sense

Tom boy Liz, in all her glory, has been known to rock soccer shorts, baggy man tees, ripped jeans (not the fashionable ones…I take care of tears all on my own), stained tank tops and mis-matched socks with shoes that have reached a point that no manufacturer envisioned for them. I’d like to say those days are long gone, but I confess to still being clad in massive sweat pants and shirts with holes in them way too often. If you ever intended to pick up some fashion tips from this blog, just click the little ‘x’ in the corner – I’ve got nothing for you.

My employment history easily assists in an explanation as to my pathetic style-sense. I’ve worked in scrubs and clothes that are guaranteed to get torn and dirty on a potentially daily basis. Animals aren’t the most considerate of fashion and I’ve (not so unwillingly), abided by their rules.

Now, without the excuse of animal interference, I’m faced with learning the art of being presentable on a regular basis. Sure, I can clean up when I need to. I’ve obviously not been totally hopeless. Living in a house of five girls, having a ‘girly’ best friend and maturing have all aided to my overall comprehension of how to dress. Malls are still places of struggle, dressing rooms mind as well be chasms and ask my opinion on accessories and I can promise a stare filled with mild confusion and a hint of fear. Oh and make-up? Nope. Just nope – Let’s leave it at that.

With this new path I’m wandering along in life, I’ve had to encourage the style-aware part of me to take some reins. It’s a sad truth that the way we look greatly affects how we do in life. It’s why theories such as the Halo vs Horns affect exist. Sure there are exceptions to the rule, but vaguely speaking, we’re judged a lot by how we carry ourselves. I’m not horrendous looking, but I’m far from stunning. Add some frayed jeans and ill-fitted shirts, and I’m barely grazing a 5/10. Professionally speaking, I’m in need of a re-vamp.

I’m not good at this. It doesn’t come naturally. Yet, what in life really does? Even the creative of us need practice to affirm those skills, and those fresh out of school need a little guidance in a new work place. There’s rarely just ease. Not being a natural at something is a poor excuse. It means that getting to the finish line may take longer, but at least your staying in the race. I’m working on myself. On my confidence, my style and even my hair. I need to up my game in every department now that I’m pursuing this new life. Be honest in my efforts and commit to each little step that may get me closer to my goals. It may seen like an insignificant change, but if it can, in any way, vouch for my word on how much I want this, then it’s big enough for me.

Cheers to a year of keeping track.

Once Upon A Time, I Was A Vegetarian

Hot dogs, mac and cheese, pb&j sandwiches and a total avoidance of the colour green on my plate. Those were my staples growing up. I was a picky kid to say the least. My parents would demand I not leave the dinner table until my veggies were gone. Luckily for me, I’ve never been short on stubborn flare and yes, I was THAT child; the one wrapping broccoli in paper towel and feeding the dog one pea at a time.

Fast forward almost a decade and I found a new cause for stubborn antics. It happened unceremoniously. On a trip home from my summer job before my first year of university. I sat at the dinner table with my family, a juicy steak fresh off the barbecue on the plate before me. Unenthusiastically, for no obvious reason, I cut a piece and put it in my mouth. Chewing slowly, something just clicked. I gently placed my knife back on the place mat and realized I wasn’t going to finish that steak.

For years I avoided meat. People would constantly ask me why, as though this choice were an insult to our evolution. I never understood the point in pressing for a reason…maybe it was the simplest conversation starter, or perhaps we just inherently seek cause or reason for choices – we seek validity through those around us. I stopped eating meat because I just did. I can list tons of reasons to back up why if I wanted. All I’d really have to do it point you in the direction of the shocking documentary, Earthlings, and it would all become a mute point. Sure, I disagreed with most farming techniques we use for our meat, and I feared what I was putting into my body due to my knowledge of the steroids and questionable diets my food had been raised on, and of course I love animals. I’d known all the facts before I put down that knife, but I hadn’t considered them in relation to my own eating habits. I became a vegetarian because I looked at the meat before me, and just didn’t want to eat it.

When I looked again years later, and I did want to, I did. There weren’t hoops to jump through or personal battles waged. I’m conscious about what I put into my body and like to consider most food choices I make to be, for the most part, smart. That said, I don’t turn my nose up to desserts all the time and I enjoy my cheat days to their fullest. One of the best lessons to learn in life is to enjoy yourself. To be true to who you are and follow the path that makes you happiest. You can let yourself explore all options and never feel criticized, judged or questioned. Never forget that you’re living for you.

Cheers to a year of keeping track.

Twenty-Six, Quitting My Job, Scared Sh*tless and Feeling It.

At this time, every day, a neighbour practices piano. The tune seeps through the walls and gently crowds our apartment. If you happen to be lounging outside on the balcony, you can close your eyes and steal the performance. It has become a beautiful perk to where we live. I have no idea where the mystery pianist lives, or what they look like, but each time the melody makes its way into our lives, I like to imagine this person calmly sitting before the keys, their fingers moving with purpose and ease. Their commitment to this skill as unwavering and dynamic as what they play.

So today, I sit here, typing to the melody of a slow, heart-wrenching Roxanne and continue to abide to my own commitment. My silence this past weekend was in respect for my birthday. Sweet sixteens filled with giggles and candles, nineteens dipped in screwdrivers and beer, twenty-ones and big old twenty-fives have come and gone. On Thursday the sun set on my 25th year in this world, in this life. Now, I’m into the 26th and I’m a whirlwind of emotions that differ in zero ways from yesterday, or the day before…or the year before. The biggest difference is in the risks I woke with the courage to take. These weren’t new ideas to sweep my mind in the hour of the anniversary of my birth. They have been glimpses of bright light illuminating dreams and hopes that my skeptic mind has scoffed at.

I’ve always been adamant that the change at the end of a date when the bells chime at midnight on December 31st, or the steady lapse of time as an age ticks up on the sunrise of your birthday does not signify real change. They are just numbers, they are just stats. Unless you make them significant, that is. Sometimes we cling to these minute changes because they are changes that can be enough to force our own hands. We mark our own progressiveness, our own decisions, our resolutions in the pursuit of betterment to the rhythm and clock of these occasions. This new number now pin points the starting line. A point to mark growth from, a buoy to cast glances back at to measure distance.

This birthday marks the day I quit my job.

That is a terrifying line. I felt my stomach clench and the breath hold an uncomfortable moment longer in my chest. A fear so deep rooted in the unknown, in needing to trust myself and my motivations. My heart is made up and my mind is staggering with this decision. I feel like I’ve dove into deep water, my back against the dark depths, my face watching the lighted surface stay firmly in one place as I sink farther.

But, I can swim. I know I can. I won’t drown.

Cheers to a year of keeping track.