WriteOpenBook

Write What We Dare Not Write

Ever since the attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine, I’ve been pondering the true meaning of freedom of expression. You’ll remember that the magazine was attacked because it had portrayed images of the prophet Mohammed – considered blasphemy in Islam – and the magazine did so again after the attack.

Victoria Musgrave Writer at her desk

The attack shocked and horrified me. I am not a religious person and I have no interest in tolerating religious extremism of any kind. (This is probably an oxymoron but I support reason and scientific thought, and oppose religious dogma). But what really upset me was the response of people working in the journalism and media professions.

One media personality here in Canada argued that everyone should be more “sensitive” to others’ beliefs. I took this to mean not openly challenging any kind of religious or cultural belief. Now, I don’t think we should be insensitive for the sake of being insensitive, but I think we should be free to challenge ideas and beliefs without fear of being harmed or killed.

Canada has government-sanctioned multiculturalism that is defined as inclusive citizenship where all Canadians are able to live together in mutual respect. Of course, there is government policy and then there is reality.

What does mutual respect mean when individuals take up assault rifles and kill unarmed journalists in a newsroom, or kill an unarmed soldier standing guard at a war memorial? Words and cartoons challenge and mock beliefs but they don’t kill.

Another writer declared – in an online group for writers – that we writers should strive not to “offend” people. Really? The whole point of having freedom of expression is to be able to write and say things that challenge the status quo and current beliefs.

If Galileo was afraid of “offending” the Church he would never have turned his telescope to the sky and used scientific evidence to prove that the earth was not the centre of the universe.

If Nellie McClung and other suffragettes worried about “offending” men, women would never have earned the right to vote in Canada.

If Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein worried about “offending” the Washington political elite they would never have exposed Watergate and the criminal actions that were used to elect Nixon to the White House.

And just so you can’t accuse me of bashing America, there is increasing evidence that the current Prime Minister of Canada has been muzzling government scientists, especially in regards to climate change and the dangers of the oil sands projects. The current Canadian government also loves to use so-called “omnibus” budget bills that slam through a huge number of government policy changes that most Canadians know nothing about and certainly don’t have any say in.

A free and democratic society requires freedom of expression and this means taking the good with the bad. I have the right to express my research, thoughts and opinions that just might offend you. But you have the same right to express yourself and possibly offend me. Modern society requires some give and take, some bad along with the good. The freedom to offend and be offended, but not to kill.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about how we censor ourselves or allow ourselves to be censored in our personal lives. Last week, I started reading The Warrior Woman by Maxine Hong Kingston. This loosely defined memoir begins with an imagined account of the author’s aunt, who had gotten pregnant outside of marriage and committed suicide by throwing herself down a well. The aunt’s behaviour had brought shame to the family and the family responded by attempting to erase her from their collective memory, so Kingston had to use fiction to try to imagine what her aunt’s life had been like.

It is possible that Maxine Hong Kingston offended her family by publicly sharing the aunt’s story, even if it was somewhat fictionalized. But I think by sharing the aunt’s story, Kingston did more to help countless immigrant women and their daughters challenge traditional cultural and gender roles, thereby achieving personal freedom. And yes, these women likely “offended” their families and communities by wanting to break free of traditional roles.

This brings up the whole issue of challenging patriarchy – a whole blog post, or many – all on its own.

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know that I’ve been slogging away on a memoir about the time I spent living aboard a sailboat with my family as a teenager. Last summer, I discovered that several of my family members didn’t want to read the book. I was really hurt by this and it threw me into a tailspin. My family members weren’t blocking the publication of the book, but their lack of support put a wedge in our relationship.

After some thought, I decided to rewrite the book as a young adult novel. At first I thought this would appease them, but in the same way Maxine Hong Kingston used fiction to reclaim the memory of her aunt, I realized that fiction would allow me to tell a deeper truth. By fictionalizing the characters and events, I am free to explore what truly motivated a father to pull his two teenage daughters out of school and isolate them on a tiny sailboat.

Last week, I read excerpts from the diaries I kept during the sailing trip to a packed house at Dear Diary 3. It was an incredible feeling to tell complete strangers exactly how my teenage self felt about being squashed onto a sailboat. I’m going to make a video of my reading to share here in the next day or two, but I’ll summarize the experience by saying that living on a sailboat is more struggle and hard work than glamour.

We must all write what others think we should not write – whether we make that writing public or not. Maybe we will come off as insensitive or offensive to some, but we will set ourselves free.

LoveKeyNarrow

Getting in touch with my guts

I’ve prided myself on being a pretty determined person, although I haven’t always thought of myself as a gutsy person. I just did what I thought I needed to do. Other people would tell me I was gutsy.

I left home when I was 19 years old. I had finished high school and had dreams of going to university, but my family was falling apart. I moved from a small town to the big city of Toronto and got a job. For two years, I worked full-time and went to school part-time in order to complete the credits I needed to gain admission to high school. I succeeded and was accepted to one of the top universities in Canada. On top of that I managed to pay for the first couple of years myself before I had to take out a student loan. For years, I either went to school full-time and worked part-time, or the other way around. I was busy moving ahead with my life and career and I never took the time to think about what it had taken to set out on my own and make it through university with very little help or support from anyone.

But three years ago, my gutsy determination left me. I found myself in a job that, on the surface, I should have been happy to have. A good salary, benefits, a fancy title and an office with a view. But I wasn’t happy. I felt stuck. Writing had been my passion since childhood and here I was in a job that didn’t satisfy that passion.

I quit my job – it took guts to cut the safety net – but my gutsy determination did not return. I took freelance projects and struggled to write a book about living aboard a sailboat as a teenager. I managed to finish two drafts but wasn’t satisfied with what I’d done. Every day began to feel like an uphill battle to be productive instead of camping out in front of the TV or crawling into bed.

Finally, last fall I admitted to myself that I something was wrong and went to see my doctor. I was diagnosed with depression and put on a mild medication. I’ve also been seeing a counsellor and it has been enormously helpful to have someone outside of my friends and family to talk out my problems with.

Admitting you have a mental illness and need help takes guts. It didn’t seem to matter that I used to work at a community mental health organization and have a family history of mental illness, it was still tough for me to admit that I needed help. It was that thought that so many of us have, “I’m okay. Other people have mental illness.”

I’m old enough to remember when mental illness was considered shameful and not something that you talked about openly. In the late 1960s my grandfather had  a “nervous breakdown” and spent time in a hospital. He underwent electroshock therapy that was apparently affective in treating his condition. This happened before I was born and the grandfather I knew was even-tempered and loving. We all knew he’d been in the hospital, but it wasn’t something that was discussed at the dinner table. To this day, I don’t really know what his diagnosis was – severe depression, bipolar disorder, or perhaps PTSD related to having survived WWII in Nazi-occupied Holland?

Mental illness is not a weakness or something to feel shameful about. It is a medical condition like any other that can be treated and managed with conventional and holistic remedies – medication, counselling, therapy, exercise, yoga, meditation, etc. We would never hesitate to go to the hospital if we fell down and broke our leg, so why do we hesitate to seek help when our brain “breaks”? It is also understood that some conditions, such as schizophrenia, respond better to treatment the sooner they are caught.

I take my medication each morning and see my counsellor on a regular basis. I try to get some exercise each day and attend a meditation class when the winter weather cooperates. Slowly, I’ve begun to emerge from the fog.

Recovery is an ongoing process. Unfortunately, when you have depression and seek treatment, you will not wake up one morning and “be all better.” It is a gradual process and I’ve learned to be patient with myself. Each day, I give myself three main things to accomplish and hang onto the faith that the fog will continue to dissipate if I trust the process.

I am also learning that the only way to achieve big dreams is to take lots of small steps in the right direction. I easily get impatient and won’t things to happen right away. But when you are trying to build a business, it isn’t going to happen over night.

My thoughts often turn back to my nineteen-year-old self, the girl who took off to the city with big plans to work and go to university. She made all of those plans come true. She didn’t waffle or have a plan B. She put her energy into pursuing what she most wanted. I’m getting back in touch with that gutsy girl. She is re-emerging in my drive to grow my business and see my writing in more publications.

My gutsy plans for this year are starting to come clear. Later this month, I will be performing on stage for the very first time. I will be reading excerpts from my teenage diaries at an event called Dear Diary 3. I heard about an earlier version of this event and signed up before I gave myself too much time to talk myself out of it. I had a rehearsal last weekend and, while I’m a little nervous, I’m looking forward to sharing my funny and embarrassing teenage diary entries.

I’ve got other plans in the works. Finally finish the book I’ve been working on for ages. Kick my coaching practice into high gear and launch several e-courses. There may be an e-book or two in the works. Perhaps a deeper exploration of photography. It’s all exciting and daunting.

Getting gutsy is all about stepping outside your comfort zone to reach your goals and live a life that makes you truly happy. This post is my entry for Jessica Lawlor’s Get Gutsy Essay Contest. To get involved and share your own gutsy story, check out this post for contest details and download a free copy of the inspiring Get Gutsy ebook.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

PenPageMug

The Importance of Listening to Your Intuition

Just over three years ago I left my job in communications and marketing. I wanted to take time to write a book and find a new way to live my life. It has taken me until now to really figure it out.

Shortly after I left my job I landed an opportunity to write and design a website for a sports club. It was related to what I had done in my communications career and it was a way to make some money. This project let to several other website and e-newsletter writing and design projects.

It was fine. I enjoyed the work and liked the people I was working with, but it wasn’t what my intuition was telling me I should do.

I wanted to find a way to help people, beyond fixing their websites. I wanted to use my own experiences as a way to help others connect to themselves and live better lives. I wanted to use my experience of overcoming body image issues, recovering from major surgery, dealing with my depression, coming from a broken family and finding my way into creative entrepreneurialism.

I’ve been a working writer most of my adult life. I word slinger if you will. I started out by working for a business consultant writing and editing business and technology stories for the company’s website. I also edited a business book and managed reprint permissions. It was fine, but again it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do. That job ended when the book project was completed.

Then I moved to a non-profit organization where I was primarily responsible for writing and editing newsletters. I also got to indulge my love of graphic design and got to create holiday cards, brochures and posters. This job came to an abrupt end when my job was eliminated due to budget cuts.

I started my next job, a promotion of sorts, at another non-profit organization. I got to dive into huge projects, such as rebranding and building a new website, but I also struggled to find my place and demonstrate my value. I had management level responsibilities without the management title (or salary) in an organization that was very hierarchical. Suffice to say, it was hard. That job came to an end when my position was eliminated due to a merger.

My intuition was telling me that I really wanted to focus on my own creative endeavours, but fear got in the way. I took a job with a fancy management title. However, I quickly discovered that management meant sitting through long meetings, signing budget documents and assigning the creative work I most enjoyed doing to junior staff. I’d come home from with this thought circling through my mind:

Is this it? Is this how my life is going to go?

I began thinking that there had to be more. I wanted to leave my job but didn’t think I could. Then I took a hard look at my finances and realized that with some careful planning and some occasional freelance work that I could take a year off to write and figure some things out.

That year stretched into three. I wrote three drafts of a travel memoir before deciding that my childhood experiences of living on a sailboat will make better raw material for a young adult novel.

I dove into learning about myself. I attended the Creative Joy Retreat with Jennifer Louden, Marianne Elliott and Tracey Clark where I discovered a group of like-minded women who accepted me just as I am. I took Tara Sophia Mohr’s Playing Big course and began figuring out how to push past the restrictive barriers of my inner critic. I was diagnosed and sought treatment for depression.

Throughout the last couple of years, I got clearer and clearer on what I wanted to do and how I wanted to help others. I wanted to write essays and articles that changed and inspired people.

When I was getting ready to graduate from journalism school one of my instructors told me I should consider going into teaching. Teaching? I didn’t really consider it at the time, but her words kept coming back to me. Throughout my career, I have often found myself mentoring staff and students, teaching others how to write effectively or use a piece of software. I taught adults how to ice skate for a couple of seasons. I discovered that I loved teaching.

For awhile I flirted with the idea of getting my MFA in creative writing so I could apply for college teaching positions but then I realized I didn’t need an expensive degree to share what I know or am learning with others.

Instead I followed my intuition and began taking Creativity Coach training with Eric Maisel. I love it. I love that I am able to help others embrace their innate creativity, identify and solve their challenges, and work with them to provide the tools and techniques to help them achieve their creative dreams – whether it is keeping a daily journal, writing a book, starting a new creative outlet or taking their creative output to the market.

This is my journey today. This journey continues to unfold.

ProfilePortrait

There have been many false starts. This website has been redesigned so many times it must have made visitors dizzy. I’ve put up offerings and taken them down because I wasn’t quite ready.

Throughout this journey my intuition kept pointing me in the direction I wanted to go and I finally started to listen. I’ve let go of the website work I used to do, so I can focus on coaching, writing and my growing passion for photography.

I want to help others to do the same. I’ve launched my first e-course. The Write Start will help participants establish a daily journal writing habit. I’ll provide instruction on how to find time to write, what to write when you don’t know what to write and tips on establishing a practice that to last the rest of your life. It’s only $30 CDN for 30 days! (A dollar a day. Even less if you convert to US dollars or UK pounds.)

I feel like my intuition has been pointing me in this direction all along, and all of the threads of my life are being woven together.

I’m the girl who spoke at the PTA meeting in high school and was told she is dynamic. Now, I’ll be performing in an event here in Toronto and I’m planning more speaking engagements soon.

I’m the girl who craved seeing her byline in newspapers and magazines, who now has a blog space she can’t wait to fill, an article in Mabel and many more to come.

I’m the girl who was told by her journalism instructor to consider teaching and now I’m offering my first e-course.

Isn’t intuition wonderful?

CreateGoalsPen

How to Create Goals You’ll Actually Achieve

Over the weekend, I shared a link to an article that argued that we should set unrealistic goals for ourselves. The idea is that aiming higher will push us to do better. A Twitter follower responded that she struggles with goal setting. She didn’t want to set herself up for failure but didn’t want to play it safe either. I wanted to respond but quickly realized that there isn’t a snappy, 140 character response to such a large question.

How to create goals you'll actually achieve

So how do you set goals that challenge you, but that you can actually achieve? I suggest you take a hard look at your goals and ask yourself these questions.

1. Are your goals things you should do versus what you want to do?

Lots of people know they should lose weight, but do they really want to lose weight? Especially, when most people from this as a negative – cutting out foods they enjoy and doing exercises that they hate.

Instead, can you reframe this goal into something you want to do?

Okay, let’s stick to the example of losing weight. Maybe you have to lose weight because you doctor told you that you’re at risk of diabetes or heart disease. Can you shift the goal into something that is rewarding and that will motivate you to achieve it?

Instead of focusing on losing weight, perhaps focus on doing something that will enjoy that will help you achieve that goal. You could set a goal of completing a charity running race, climb a mountain or do an overnight hiking trip. These goals will require you to achieve the less pleasant goal of losing X number of pounds and improve your physical fitness. Giving yourself a pleasant goal will motivate you to achieve the less pleasant goal, especially when the going gets tough.

2. Is your goal truly meaningful to you?

In the previous section I suggested that running a charity race might motivate you to achieve the goal of losing weight. Running a race is a public goal and that kind of accountability might be just what you need to achieve your goal. However, your goal really only has to hold meaning for you.

So, instead of running a race, perhaps you want to run around with our kids without huffing and puffing. Instead of focusing on losing weight, you can focus on creating meaningful experiences and memories with your kids.

3. Make your goals measurable.

Stating your goal as “losing weight” won’t help you achieve it. Instead it should be lose X pounds in X months, run 5 km in X minutes by a set date, or be able to run around the backyard for an hour with the kids and not be completely exhausted. The last goal is a little harder to measure, but if you try to do it every day and eventually notice a difference in how you feel you will know you have achieved something.

4. Break big goals down into smaller goals.

I’m going to drop the weight lose example and explore writing a book as a goal. Writing a book is a huge goal and one that many people fail to achieve. But if you break it down into smaller goals, you will have a better chance of achieving all or most of the goal.

So, to write a book, you’ll need to write a first draft of say 100,000 words. If you write 1,000 words a day, you would have a first draft in 100 days, or just over three months. Now, can you commit to writing 1,000 words a day? Do you have the time to do that? Do you know how long it will take to write 1,000 words each day? Some days the words might come quickly and other days it might take longer. Are you prepared for that? Perhaps you’ll write 500 words each day from Monday to Friday and catch up on the weekends. Or write 500 words a day and take 200 days to complete a 100,000 first draft.

To complete a book, you’ll want to write a second or even a third draft, so you’ll want to repeat the time exercise to figure out how long it will really take to write a book. Some authors take a year to finish a book and some take much longer.

But if you break your goal down and then achieve only writing a first draft, you can celebrate that accomplishment instead of feeling like you failed because you didn’t finish the book.

5. Create conditions for success.

If you want to achieve big goals you need to set yourself up for success. If you want to work out or write every day, you’ll need to schedule it. You’ll also need to tell people about your goals and get them to support you. So, if you are married and have kids, you’ll want to enlist your partner’s help to keep the kids occupied while you write or workout. You’ll also want to be vigilant of activities or behaviors that could sabotage your efforts. For example, if you want to eat healthier, you’ll want your partner to not bring home a chocolate cake and cajole you into eating it.

6. Focus on how you want to feel.

Danielle LaPorte wrote the book The Desire Map to help people focus on core desired feelings. How do you most want to feel in your life and work? Do you want to feel content, powerful, etc.? Once you have decided how you want to feel, you can create goals that will help you feel the way you want.

Check out the Desire Map for a whole process to creating “goals with soul.”

* Would you like a free printable planner to help you record and track your goals, and schedule time to write? Sign up for my newsletter to get The Writer’s Planner free.

YearReview

How to do a Year End Review

For the last couple of years I’ve spent New Year’s Eve the same way – by myself reflecting on the past year and planning for the year ahead. This may not sound very social-able or exciting, but it is a very valuable time for me.

YearReviewPin

I begin early in the evening with a glass of wine, my journal and a template of questions I’ve created after trying many different questions over the years.

You can download and use my questionnaire too. I hope you find it useful.

I find it so useful to reflect on everything that went right – and wrong – the previous year, before tackling big plans and dreams for the next year.

I am also diving into Susannah Conway’s Unravelling The Year Ahead. This will be the third or fourth year I’ve done this.

This past year was not a great for me. One of my main sources of freelance revenue dried up and then I didn’t make my revenue goals. I also acknowledged and sought help for depression. It was a relief to finally realize that I wasn’t just lazy or uncertain. Depression was the cause of a fog in my brain that made it hard to do much of anything, other than write in my journal and watch too much TV.

I also had to come to terms with the fact that the memoir I’ve been working on for the last couple of years just wasn’t working.

But it wasn’t all bad. I’ve successfully completed Introductory and Advanced Creativity Coach Training with Dr. Eric Maisel. I’ve opened up my coaching practice and coached my first clients. I love this work and I’m looking forward to deepening my practice and continuing my training.

I published a personal essay in Mabel magazine and finally settled on a blog design that makes me happy. I’ve been addressing the roots of my depression and resolved some family issues. I’m taking the guts of my failed memoir and turning them into a young adult novel. I’ve also got a nugget of an idea for another young adult novel. At the beginning of 2014 I would never have imagined that I’d been writing YA!

I’ve also opened up registration for my first journal writing e-course. I’m so looking forward to all of the new opportunities that will come my way.

Things are never as bad as they seem. But don’t take it from me. Former Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield is a pretty smart guy.

CandleSeaGlass

It Starts With Change

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making plans.” John Lennon

This quote by John Lennon has often been tossed my way by friends and family members whenever I talked about my hopes and dreams for the future. It was meant as a discouragement; the subtext was something like “I didn’t get what I wanted out of life so why should you?”

This morning a blog post and e-book called Start Life Over by Donald Miller landed in my inbox. The timing was perfect. Of course, it is that time of the year to reflect on the past and make plans and resolutions for the future. I’ve read countless articles about smart goal setting, picking a word for the year and how to set up the perfect planner system. But Donald’s blog post starts with the basic principles that make every resolution, intention and plan possible.

His first principle is that we are designed to change. There is a lot of life that we can’t control (and true wisdom comes when we really learn this) but there is much we can change. Donald writes of how he went from being unhealthy, lazy and unproductive to healthy, productive and running a successful business.

But you have to want to change. You have to be willing to do the work for what you want.

I’ve known many people over the years who haven’t been happy in their careers or lives, but aren’t willing to take the steps to identify what they truly want and make the necessary changes.

Three years ago, when I announced I was leaving my job, a co-worker wistfully confided to me that she wished she could do the same. She hated her job.

I asked her, why don’t you quit?

She responded, “…well, I have benefits and a great pension…”

Needless to say, she didn’t join me in quitting her job.

That’s the thing about big dreams. You have to be willing to change.

That means letting go of situations, habits and even people that don’t help you get where you want to go.

Donald writes about how, after he changed his life, that people missed the old Don – the one that was overweight and emotionally isolated. He doesn’t miss the person he used to be.

You have to be like a phoenix rising from the ashes. In order to change you must be willing to burn away anything that doesn’t help you grow.

I’m going through my own evolution right now. I’m shifting my business away from copywriting towards creativity coaching and journalism. I’ve let go of jobs, people and professional associations that no longer help me move in the right direction. The ashes are blowing around my ankles, but I’m making my way towards fresh ground and new growth.

MuralSelfie

I’ll be back tomorrow to share how I’ve been reflecting on the past year and planning for the year ahead.

Writer's-Planner-Header

Does writing figure into your plans for the New Year? Sign up for my newsletter to get The Writer’s Planner free printables right away.

BYOBPhotos

When I Felt Beautiful

Today’s prompt for #Reverb14 is “When did you feel beautiful this year?”

Tough question because I spent most of the year not feeling very good about myself. I didn’t feel ugly per see, just not beautiful. Af the beginning of summer, I discovered I’d put on just enough weight to make some of my favourite summer clothes just a little too tight. This didn’t crush me, but I was disappointed. I’d looked forward to wearing those clothes and didn’t want to buy new clothes. However, I wasn’t really motivated to lose a few pounds, so I made due with the clothes that did fit. So, I didn’t feel beautiful.

I felt beautiful only twice in the last year.

The first was when I participated in Vivienne McMaster’s Be Your Own Beloved photo walk during World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon last July. If you aren’t familiar with Vivienne’s work, she offers a couple of courses on how to use self portraiture to see yourself with kindness and love. The photo walk wasn’t about taking beauty shots, but a few simple techniques, such as camera angle and being aware of light, can have a huge impact on how you look. The photo walk was a great experience and I managed to take some shots that I liked. It was really all about being playful and looking kindly upon myself. It wasn’t about being pretty – just seeing and liking myself just as I am.

Then, in August I decided I needed new pictures for my website. I shot a few photos while standing near Lake Ontario, but the light was too harsh and I was squinting in every photo. Plus, I had lipstick on my teeth!

I tried it again a few days later in the evening when the light was softer and I was delighted with the results. Great light changes everything. I used my 35 mm camera with a 50 mm lens to get a blurred background. I also used fill flash to balance the light on my face with the light in the background. I also shot a few images while sitting on my balcony – again in defused light.

I’d like to be clear that I wore minimal make up and didn’t use Photoshop to “fix” my face (remove lines, wrinkles, etc.). This is me – just taking advantage of good light.

Victoria Musgrave
I look at the photos and can hardly believe it’s me. Damn, not too shabby for 42!

ForkCupcakeCoffee

At the Start

At the start of 2014, I was full of hope and vague plans. There were books and articles I wanted to write. E-courses I wanted to launch. I wanted to apply for an MFA in creative writing. Being an inveterate journal writer, I kept writing down all the things I wanted to accomplish. And wrote them down again and again.

None of these things happened. I spent months trying to make plans to accomplish these things but I felt like I was trying to walk under water. Nothing could quite seem to come together.

That’s the problem – and benefit – of being a journal writer. If you flip back through the pages of your journal, your patterns and habits stare back at you.

By September, I’d had enough of the perpetual gloom. I was tired of being tired and sick of the self-doubt and fear that had taken over my life. I went to see my doctor, a woman in whom I’ve entrusted my health for over 20 years, and told her how I felt.

I was diagnosed with clinical depression, put on a mild anti-depressant and began seeing a counsellor. I am so glad I reached out for help. It is such a relief to no longer have to carry the burden that is depression all by myself.

The grey curtains of depression have begun to part. The plans I had back at the beginning of the year are beginning to come to fruition. New plans are coming together. I’m now offering one-on-one creativity coaching – something I hadn’t dreamt of offering at the beginning of the year!

It took me awhile to decide to share my personal journey with depression here, but I believe whole-heartedly in removing the stigma of mental illness.

After all, if we fall down and break a leg we wouldn’t hesitate to go to the doctor, so if our minds don’t work right, why would we hesitate to do the same?

If you think you have depression, I urge you to speak to a doctor and get help. I don’t advocate for one treatment modality over another, but I believe any kind of help is far better than trying to go it alone.

You are not alone. You are going to be okay.

OMW-Mabel

Owning My Wings

Three years ago, I sat in my office on the top floor of an office tower and watched a pair of hawks spiral across the sky, riding the updraft. I had achieved everything I thought I wanted in my corporate career. I wore pantsuits to a fancy office, had an assistant, and a nice salary. By conventional standards I was successful. I should have been happy, but I was not. Those hawks were free to soar above the city, and I felt anything but free.

This is the opening paragraph of my personal essay in Mabel on how I came to own upbringing as the daughter of creative entrepreneurs and that above all I value the freedom to a live a life of my choosing. My freedom is more important than security.

Would you like to read the rest of my personal essay? Please consider purchasing Mabel Magazine, Issue 2. It costs $25 USD or $39 for Canadian orders, plus shipping. Yes, this isn’t a cheap magazine. However, unlike most magazines, this one isn’t being bankrolled by a huge media conglomerate that can afford to run a loss, or make loads of money on advertising. Mabel was created with a lot of love and perseverance by Liz Kalloch and Stephanie Renee to share stories by and for creative professionals.

This is a beautiful magazine packed with inspiring stories and gorgeous images. Think of it more as a keepsake instead of a magazine.

With love,

Signature

P.S. Issue 1 is sold out, so don’t hesitate to purchase Issue 2. Think of it as a Christmas present for yourself or for a special creative person in your life.

P.S.S. I’m not an affiliate. I just love Mabel and think you will too!

PinkRoseGreen

A Fresh Start

I have been blogging in this space on and off since 2011. I must admit that my purpose hasn’t always been that clear, because I have divided my time between doing work that pays but doesn’t light my fire and the writing and photography that sets my heart free.

My last freelance website content project wrapped up a few weeks ago and I’ve decided I won’t be actively pursuing new projects. If my current clients contact me for work, I’ll certainly work with them, but I won’t be pursuing new clients in this area. Instead, I’ll be pursuing the types of projects I’ve always wanted to do – travel writing, photography, personal essays and journalism. When I graduated from journalism school all those years ago that was the kind of writing I most wanted to do. I had the naive hope that I could change the world. I cling to that hope, even if it is naive.

I’m also excited to begin offering creativity coaching for writers and other creatives. Over the last couple of months I’ve been coaching myself to really push forward with creating work that has intense personal meaning for me. That means I’m going to be more revealing here – share more of what I’m learning as I continue on my creative quest. It is just possible that what I’m learning will be of benefit to others.

A couple of months ago, I recognized that I was depressed. I’ve had depression before, but it still took me awhile to recognize that the grey curtains were closed and that I needed help. I reached out to my doctor and am now taking an anti-depressant and seeing a counsellor. Slowly, the curtains are opening and daylight is starting to peak through.

To celebrate my fresh start, I’ve spruced up my online home with a new design and a new logo. Lots of new things will be coming soon – new blog posts, some special offerings just for my newsletter subscribers and a new writing e-course that will launch in the new year. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter below to be the first to know.

With love,

Signature