Thursday, October 29, 2009


Tomorrow is the day.

For the first time in 456 days, I will have an address. A place to call home.

I suppose it’s a rather monumental moment and there’s no doubt that I should be blogging about it...I just don’t know what to write. Maybe in part because I‘m not sure how I feel. I suppose some might imagine that there would be nothing but happiness, relief, joy at settling in again and benefiting from some stability after months of adventure and change. And it’s partly true.

I’m absolutely excited about seeing my things again, but not for the reason some might imagine.

Mostly I can’t wait to send another huge honkin’ load of it to the Goodwill.

Over the last year-plus I have edited, and then edited, and then edited my edited edits of belongings. Still, tonight when I stood gaping at the stockpile of cardboard boxes full of perplexing heaps of mostly-unwanted clothing and shoes in my storage space, I kind of wanted to take a flamethrower to it all. I have lived without all of it for more than 10,000 hours and I am absolutely fine. Finer than fine. I partly hate that I have to do anything with it at all. That it even exists. Can I tell the movers to load up the truck and just keep on going?

Yet, I do look forward to sleeping on my space-age Tempur-Pedic mattress (after a year-plus of sleeping on everything from straw mats in Laos to fold-out futons in friends’ basements); I can’t wait to curl up with a glass of wine in my gigantic, squooshy Montauk chair; I visualize what my bookshelf will look like when it is once again populated with my favourite books.

I do miss some of my things, but my wants are diminished now. My needs are few. I have changed my life, and as a result, I have changed. Or perhaps it’s the other way around.

As much as I look forward to getting re-acquainted with an elite selection of my stuff, it brings a certain sense of sadness with it as well. That storage space, the steel box that represented my freedom and my mobility, will be no more. I will once again be the keeper of my keepsakes, paying a monthly fee for essentially just a different kind of storage that has windows and Wi-Fi and cable TV.

The adventure isn’t coming to an end, but it’s definitely about to take a different direction, and change is always scary.

It is said that home is where the heart is, and my heart belongs to the world now.

504 Osborne is just the next stopover.

"I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself." Maya Angelou

Monday, October 12, 2009

Give a Little Thanks

Every night when I snuggle down into the bed (I can’t say “my bed”, as I haven’t actually slept on my own in over 14 months), just before dozing off I mentally say a quick little prayer of thanks: Thanks for the purely safe, warm and delightful feeling that that pocket of time between wake and slumber unfailingly brings and for how lucky I am to be able to experience it every night (save for a few nights of dodgy accommodations and situations whilst on my world travels); thanks for making it through another day in one piece and without causing anyone else too much harm, either, hopefully; thanks that I get to close my eyes and check out of the world for a few hours in the form of that most awesome of states, sleep; thanks for the knowledge that I’m most likely going to wake up in the morning with a chance to start over. It’s a simple and innocent little exercise that makes me feel good; like I’ve taken care of business, no matter what shenanigans might have taken place in my day.

What I’m not sure of is why it makes me feel that way.

Where does the power of gratitude come from? Is there one? Does saying “thank you” feel good simply because it forces us to get out of our own way for a minute, to realize that we’re pretty damned lucky just as we are despite our constant soundtrack of self-aggrandized woes?

There are endless writings dedicated to gratitude: the essence and power of it, how to practice it, what can manifest in your life as a result of said practice and so on. I’ve read some on it, listened to one mind-bendingly complicated CD book on it, dabbled around with the concept from time to time. I do believe there’s something to it, but suffice it to say you won’t find any inspirational plaques or posters on my walls attesting to the secrets and miracles I’ve discovered about it.

I’ve never gotten anywhere particularly epiphany-worthy with the concept of gratitude beyond the simplified knowledge that it makes me feel good and present and alive and humble and yes – out of my own way - when I do it. Whether the universal laws of attraction and all that really do come into play, I don’t know. I just know that it feels right.

Interestingly (at least to me), the most powerful moments related to my own personal gratitude occur completely unexpectedly, at random times and places. I think I like these moments even more because they are unscheduled, unforeseen, and thus incredibly powerful – a feeling similar to when you’re in the ocean and a wave sneaks up from behind you and catches you by surprise, taking your breath away. Except the gratitude moments are less salty.

Full moons, out-of-place rainbows, the riotous colours of the leaves on the trees that stand ragged sentinel along my route to Ontario. When I run. When I write. When I work out, when I walk and talk with my best friend, when it rains, when I think about my island paradise. At the risk of getting too wall-plaque-ish-sounding, there really are countless random moments and things that I find myself grateful for.

Naturally, as is also the law of the universe, it’s not always that easy to be grateful. Struggling to find work was a tough one to be thankful for, until my best friend reminded me how lucky I was to have had 18 months off to do essentially whatever I want with. I haven’t dreaded a Monday morning, yearned for 5pm on Friday, sat in a boring meeting or had to wake up with an alarm clock since May 1, 2008. Fantastic, and for the vast majority of people, unattainable.

And now, the pendulum has swung in the complete opposite direction. I’ve bitten off more than I can chew work-wise taking on not two, not three, but count ‘em, FOUR jobs - and am quite frankly terrified to get back to Montreal and try to hit the ground running. I’ve got two months of nonstop madness ahead of me, and I’ve no idea how I’ll get it all done without pissing anyone off or having some type of breakdown myself, or worst of all, getting canned from one of said four jobs. Here too I must constantly remind myself to be thankful instead of freaking out and whining. A little more than a month ago I had no job at all, no money coming in, and no certainty about what I was going to do or where I was going to go next. Now suddenly I’m being paid to write – my dream come true – and with the other three jobs I’ve still somehow managed to avoid the corporate world and its capers (although I’m not allowed to wear jeans when I teach, which I silently but eternally protest).

So far, I’ve done it. So far, so good. I must learn to be thankful for the bags under my eyes that will appear, for the lack of sleep, for the pressure and the stress that are coming. It means I’m working hard. It means I’m working, period. It means I can finally afford get a place to call home (can I? I feel short of breath even writing it); it means I am contributing again.

It is in those moments, more than all others – when I want to quit, give up, cry, hide under the covers – that I - that all of us - must remember to say thank you.

I’m home now, in my old room and my old bed again. It’s my last day of hiding out from the big crazy world, tucked away safe and sound here under mom’s nurturing wing where nobody can get me. In a few hours the smell of roasting turkey and pumpkin pie will fill the air and we will raise a glass of wine and toast each other and this will be all that counts for a brief while.

It’s a nice tradition, having a day set aside to remind us how much we have to be thankful for. But the secret I’ve discovered is, when you remember to show a little gratitude, every day can be Thanksgiving.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Cough. Rumble. Wheeze. Grumble. Protest. Sputter. Quit. Repeat.

It’s woefully evident that I haven’t been inspired to blog much lately: Some re-marketed thoughts on materialism and a half-assed back-to-school update are all I’ve haphazardly chucked on here through most of the summer.

Although, maybe “inspired” isn’t the correct word choice. I’m wondering if I’ve just lost focus of, and faith in, the point of medium.

What is a blog? Why do we keep one? Most importantly...WHO’S READING THIS THING, ANYWAY??

Loads of people say that blogging should be undertaken first and foremost for oneself and not for others. Wikipedia offers this gem: “Personal bloggers usually take pride in their blog posts, even if their blog is never read by anyone but them.”

Eh. I’m not buying it.

The way I see it, if these screenfuls of boundless pontificating, far-flung ruminating and general waffling-on were truly intended for an audience of one, the resulting amalgam would be referred to as a “journal” (one of which I’ve faithfully kept since the age of about 14) and no matter how hard they searched nobody would ever be able to find it (although I’m 100% confident that my mom and my sister found mine on more than one occasion over the years. Completely by accident, of course.)

So the lined paper journal (with its useless little golden lock and key, back in the day), full of our innermost private thoughts, clearly has its place. On the other hand, it seems to me that we blog because we have something to say that for whatever reason, we think or hope others might want to read about. Little doubt that this holds true for a select list of celebrity gossip, tech info and recipe blogs. But what about the billions of us other unknowns who hopefully and often hopelessly hit the upload button every day, week, or in my case, season?

Am I the only one that gets excited when someone comments on my blog post – because it means someone actually read it?

I was coming perilously close to giving up completely on the blogging idea when a lovely meeting with a smart woman in a Parisian-style cafe yesterday changed my mind.

Damn her!

The elegant and charming L wrote a book about women in the corporate world (yes, that’s an intentionally-vague description on my part) that’s being published in a few months and I’m in it. Not only am I in it, turns out I’m the CLOSING STORY in it. And not ONLY am I the closing story in it – but she informed me that she’s also included the link to this blog in it.


To calm me down (and no doubt out of a sense of responsibility to her own readers to some degree) she was kind enough to send me a list of the subjects that readers of her book will want to be updated on when (not if, but when, according to her) they visit my blog. The list includes (but not exhaustively): Did I cave in and go back to my old corporate lifestyle? If not, what am I doing now? How am I coping and what are the challenges I’m facing? What’s the latest on my little island paradise in Indonesia? And of course, the timeless and ever-popular: Do people think I’m crazy?

So. My blog apparently is going to get some visits. As a result I feel a newfound and slightly overwhelming sense of responsibility to try really hard to populate this space with interesting fodder, and certainly on a much more regular basis. How I’m going to accomplish that will be a feat of miracles in and of itself, as I’m quite literally on the cusp of being busier than I’ve probably ever been in my entire life.

They say if you want something done, give it to a busy person. If the adage holds any water, my little space here in the ether is about to spring back into action. Guess we’ll (or I’ll) see. (ARE there any of you out there who are actually reading this? Drop me a comment to let me know. Thanks.)

Time to dust this relic off, turn the crank a few times and see if I can bully it back to life again.

Cough. Rumble. Wheeze. Grumble. Protest. Sputter. Quit. Repeat.

“Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but in the ability to start over.” F. Scott Fitzgerald