This was the year...

I pursued a dream
At the very start of 2015, I got to it and I applied for Disney and Pixar, because I had absolutely nothing to lose. I have been told all of my life that it's where I need to be, so I thought it was time to give it a shot and see what would happen. I did it, I didn't get in, but I had fun trying. I'll do it again, because why not? I think all pursuits of dreams and challenges should be treated with the attitude of nothing to lose. That's how I started it off, and it took me places. Even if I was told "thanks for trying" I kept going. That's all you can do!

Freelance war paint. 

I stopped faking it
Quitting design, jumping out of an office, and into freelance, was hands down the best (and most terrifying) choice I could have made for myself. I'll continue to write more about this experience, because it really has altered my life in so many ways. I'm a new person, and I feel energized by what I get to call my job. It's not an easy one, but it's the most rewarding position I've ever had. Again, I'll write more about this, because it's deep. It just feels good to work my ass off for the right things.

 My littlest best friend. So glad he was with me the whole time.

I stopped caring about the things that DON'T matter
It takes a lot of work for me not to care, but somewhere along the way, I chose to stop giving the wrong things my time and energy; because I don't have the time to do it. I think working for myself helped with this one, because energy wasters only drag me down. I am the engine to my business, and I need to keep it running. When I focus on what matters, it helps all areas of my life. Simple as that. If you have chosen to read this, and assume I'm somehow referring to you; maybe you have some things to fix. Acknowledge your own bullshit, face it, and fix it. I've got my own to deal with.

The time I got Breakfast to pick what whether we stayed or went on an adventure. 

I grew a pair
So many people have commended me for my choices, this year, saying I have a hefty pair of balls. I checked, and thankfully it isn't literal. It's funny, because I didn't see any of my choices this year as being ballsy, because I chose to act with myself in mind and how it would benefit my life. Some might say this is a selfish reaction, but I feel that life is all about living it for yourself anyway. It was definitely a scary thing, to live in an unfamiliar place, by myself, in my own company, for over 100 days. Considering there was a time in my life, where I didn't leave the house for 8 months, because anxiety had me paralyzed from even thinking past the front door... I've changed. I have a great set of balls to show the world. I'm going to keep them, and maybe let them grow even more.

Gold series. It's one of my favourite pictures. 

I learned to see myself as something beautiful
I started a personal project that I have yet to share more openly. I became quite vulnerable, this year, so I pushed my boundaries to find strength from a place where I didn't know I had it. My body. I feel that we really take our bodies for granted, and need to see them as something beautiful, and value them for what they tell us. The message is more complex, but basically I learned to look at my body as something with its own voice. It showed me things I didn't know were there. I love this project for what it taught me. I will definitely figure out how to share it more openly, one day. It's a little scary to put out there.

My sister has always been a big supporter of what I do, so long as I do the right things, for myself.
I hadn't seen her in years, so we got some time to catch up and explore. 

I learned how to strut
It's tough to be proud of my accomplishments, when I've had a number of moments of being told off for seeming "too happy" or "selfish" for the things I worked hard for. Not everyone wanted to join me when I chose to change my life for the better, and it's a common reaction, because some people simply don't like change. When you go from being passive and amiable, to having an opinion; people are going to try to push back for that control again. It's nice to say I won't have it, and valuing myself has acted as a filter from what I don't need. I worked hard to hold my head high without feeling like a dick about it. Confidence is something you earn for yourself. Do the work, and stop being an asshole.

The day I left for the island. It was amazing to see so much blue. 

I learned how to trust my guts
It's neat, when you live in the middle of nowhere and do absolutely everything on your own. You learn a great deal about your natural instincts. It brings a whole new perspective of what makes sense in your life; which is where all of the above lessons came into my life so steadily as they did. I suppose developing some confidence helped me listen more closely to what my guts were telling me. It's a nice feeling, and I hesitate less and less as I get to know what they have to say. I still laugh about how fast I jumped back on the ferry to head home, when I did. It was like I knew where I needed to be, and went. I don't regret my decisions. That's what guts look like.

Stopping in Canmore, both to and from BC, was a must. I love it there. 

I found my way home
It wasn't really a shock to realize that I came back to where I started; when I had left, that summer, on such a high note. It took me months to even decide to leave, because I had created a life for myself that I was happy with. Still, there were things I was uncertain of, and I figured it was okay to explore other options. I realize I had set up some boundaries that I didn't need. With distance, I learned how to let those boundaries go, by seeing them as things that I created in my own mind. It came with the lesson of self acceptance, and it helped me return and feel welcome, in the place I knew I needed to be. It feels good to call a place home, and actually feel it. I haven't felt this way in probably, at least, 15 years. That's huge. My heart is so happy.

I fell in love with the giant fall. These leaves! 

I fell in love, the right way
Loving and being loved for the right reasons, is where I feel a lot of people fall short. Some of us don't quite know how to be alone, so we hang on to what we have and hope for the best. I learned how to love myself by being totally alone, for a very long time; so the more I came back to myself, the more I attracted the right people. I have reflected on how I've treated myself through the years, and I can only say that I'm happy to be valued properly and seen for who I am. I see myself being treated the way I deserve to be treated; with kindness, honesty, and acceptance. It's a beautiful thing, and it's the easiest it has ever been. When you learn to love who you are, you welcome others to love you just the same. It's really pretty. The effort... is effortless.

The most unforgettable moment: 
There was a symphony in Beacon Hill Park, and they played Wonderful World, days after I arrived on the island. 
I cried, I felt alone, and yet not alone at all. It was absolutely beautiful. 

Nature became my best friend
I will always seek nature, to give me guidance, patience, solace, and inspiration. It has always been a healer in my life, and I realize I need to get back to it on a regular basis, like a certain medication. The memories that I have, being alone in the woods, listening to the silence, the breeze; watching the trees sway to my thoughts. Those images will never leave my mind. I honestly couldn't be more grateful to be alive in this world, in this moment, surrounded by so much beauty. I wish I could write nature a letter and just say thank you. Thank you, for helping me find myself. I left a big piece of myself in those woods, and brought back something that I needed for a very long time. My goodness, what a beautiful, challenging, and incredible year.

The year I'll never forget.


BFF 2015

At the start of the summer, before I left for BC, I made myself a friendship bracelet. I decided that I was going to learn a thing or two about how to become my own best friend, value myself as a person, and show myself some much needed love. I think we could all use our own personal friendship bracelets and treat ourselves a little better. It helped me tremendously, to have that physical reminder, to be more careful with what matters most.

 With the end of the year approaching, I actually decided to take off my bracelet, and put it in a place where I can come back to it and remember what sort of year this was. It was the year I learned who I am. Not who I was, who I've always been.

I'm a hardcore lover and a feeler. I see the good in everything and everyone, right down to the teeniest, simplest, things. This is both a blessing and a little bit of a curse. I'll get to the curse, below. I love that I love a lot of things. It's always been a part of my life, but I was nervous to let out into the open. I didn't want someone to take that from me, when yet, it's all in my own control. I see beauty everywhere. So much that I take the time to thank the moment when it takes my breath away; or when I need to be reminded just how lucky we are to even be alive on this planet. We don't own the world, it owns us. When we learn to embrace it and be a part of it, it becomes a much better place. So much feels. 

Being a heavy feeler can lead to being taken for granted, and most definitely taken advantage of. I see that I spent a lot of time on the wrong people, and it isn't that they're bad people; they just weren't right for me. It's okay to tell life suckers to fuck off, even if some of them have feelings, too. Those feelings will mend themselves, without your wasted energy and effort. If it isn't returned, spread it elsewhere. I have spent far too much time, trying to please others, and make the best out of what wasn't working for me. Life is just too damn short to waste time. Simple as that. When you get rid of the things that break you down, you can build yourself up with ease. It's kind of amazing. I'm so free of bullshit and clutter. No time for it. It only takes two words, and you're free. Fuck off.

I have a number of bad habits that I really need to cut out of my life. I often put myself at a certain distance from the things I care about, for the sake of avoiding the possibility of getting hurt by them. This has much to do with the habit from above, and figuring out how to trust properly. It takes away from the actual situation, and doesn't really allow me to grow through experience. The truth is that shit is going to happen, and it's out of our control. So long as I know how to keep myself safe, and value myself as a person; no one can cut me down. Make friends with people you trust, and people you treasure. Those feelings will be returned by the ones who matter. Learning how to love without the guard up was a valuable lesson. I ask less "what do you want from me?" or "what's the catch?" Trust is a tough one. I'm still learning how to accept the love as it comes to me, and give it back without reluctance. The nice thing is that when you learn to trust and accept it, it grows thicker. Too thick to cut through.

Learning how to value myself, and what I do was -and still is- a massive challenge. Just because I'm really good at something doesn't mean I don't struggle with it, or have my doubts from time to time. I have moments where I want to give up and tell myself that it's not worth it, because it's a tough gig to keep up with. I have the tendency to say to myself,"get a job" when this IS my job. I have been doing this for years. My entire life, really. I still catch myself tucking things aside, to avoid looking like a cocky asshole, to avoid becoming a certain target for people who feel I need to be broken down before things get to my head. Sorry, you guys, I worked hard to get here. If it makes you feel better, I'm terribly insecure about how talented I am. This isn't an arrogance act, it's fact. If you want something, bust your ass and work for it. If you think this job is easy, step up and do it for yourself. I did my time, since the day I was born. I'm only just learning to let it shine.

This is my job. 

The most valuable lesson I learned this year, is that it's okay to ask for help. I realize that I'm quite stubborn about wanting to do everything on my own, but it doesn't always benefit the situation. I crashed hard when I was on the island, because I was taking on far too much at once. Life, business, surroundings, finances, marketing, friendships, world, responsibilities, people, clients, work, emails, stability, structure... I was focusing on everyone and everything around me, over myself, and what I needed to keep going. I needed my people. I needed my friends. My friends are my family. My family makes up who I am. Who I am is just as important as everything else in my world. I even have a new mantra:

Just because you can do everything on your own, doesn't mean that you have to. 

Learning to love yourself is a hefty task, and a constant effort to maintain. It's like any muscle that needs exercise. You work with it, you move, bend, and shape it; it gets stronger. Loving who you are doesn't make you selfish, or arrogant, or conceited, it makes you human. You're with yourself until the very end, so why not learn to love what you have. It's not going to be around forever. Time is just as precious as you are. Take care of yourself, inside and out, and you might be surprised to find that you're a good friend to have.

Try it out. Be your BFF.


what it took

I was away for 100 days, and yet it felt like so much longer. I can't identify what it means to feel that way, being good or bad, but I realize that much of that has to do with the fact that I have worked hard, and in the process, I have changed. I feel so different, and yet more like myself. Because of this, I know I'll probably always seek certain adventures to remind myself what actually matters. When you take yourself away from everything you know; your comforts, your home, the things, the fluff, the bright lights and noise... the world presents itself and tells you things that were always there. You just have to listen.

From looking at how I was when I left, to how I am now, it's a significant difference.. and yet, I am who I've always been. I just needed perspective and a deep personal cleanse. I needed the world to speak to me, block out the noise and the unnecessary; cut me down, build me up, increase the silence, breathe in the balance, to listen to who I am. I let go of so much, and yet I returned with far more than I anticipated.

I recommend to anyone and everyone to seek the unknown. If an opportunity presents itself, like the one I was given, take it. It seemed selfish to pack up and go, but the ones who mattered supported my decisions to experience and grow. That's the beauty of trying life changing things; the ones who love and support you, will remain, no matter where you go.

The key is to love yourself, to nurture your own needs, and listen to what your heart tells you. While the isolation of being on my own, in a new place, had a certain loneliness to it, I never really felt alone. When you learn to appreciate your own company, you create a friendship with yourself that brings a new sort of self respect that no one can shatter. Learning to love who you are, inside out, is a very trying effort, and I managed to pull a big chunk of self respect out of my system. I believe this is when I listened to what was going on. I needed to go home. I needed to push myself harder, without taking on so damn much at once.

It's weird to think that I loved it, and left. There is far more to it than what's on the surface. And damn, that surface, that scenery, that island, those trees, that ocean, that sky that is filled with stars the city doesn't even notice, is absolutely incredible. I will always go back to it, and might even make a habit of getting out there, on my own (or with company) to let life filter out the good and the bad, when it is needed. I feel so clear of crap. We are so insignificant in this world, and that message is a valuable one to carry back in your pocket. The noise, the drama, the garbage, the gossip, the "does your ex know you're back?" Fuck if I care. Nope. I have bigger things to carry and nurture and provide for myself. It's incredible to feel like life is an actual gift, and it's up to us to take that gift for what it is and make it into something more. It is all..... all our fucking choice.

I gained so much confidence in realizing that I can take care of myself. I lived in an empty house, off of what I brought in my car, with my dog, and my business, which has become my life. It's a different adjustment when your office doesn't take you out of the house, so I took it upon myself to create a routine, where I managed to get the connection I was needing. For an introvert and semi-hermit, it was neat to me that social interaction was something I was seeking. It became so necessary, for a variety of reasons. One being that I am human, the close second being that I am a feeler. I like to touch people, by sharing with them what I do. I am an artist. We're emotional... so damn emotional.

I went out for coffee, to the same place, almost daily. I'd take my drawing things, set up my space, and leave a couple of finished sketches in front of me on the table. It was, absolutely, to lure people in through curiosity, not for showing off, but for interaction. Before long, I became a regular, and was dubbed among many as "art girl." I had people pass and give the thumbs up, share their own stories, and soon had strangers sitting at my table; discussing their feelings toward art and how they themselves wished to become more creative. My words will never change when I say, "you can do it." When I get the scoffs, the uncomfortable laughs, the eye rolls; equipped with some lame excuse that they'll never be as good as me, or how I'll judge them for trying.. I stare right back. Don't use your excuses to stand in your own way.

I took my advice. I listened to how I spoke to others, and I dissected my own example. I allowed myself to struggle so hard, for the sake of saying I was useless, that I'd failed, or that I wasn't cut out for something so important to me. Something that has been of value to my life, since as far back as I can even remember. This is my life. I was standing in my own way, waiting for it to be taken from me, waiting to be laughed at, waiting to be told that it was expected that I'd crash and burn. I was also distancing myself from the love and support that I already had, for some strange sort of punishment or personal denial. I decided to feel selfish and undeserving toward my decisions; that I was somehow a bad person for ever believing in myself and trying something so grand and life altering. It's easy to feel wrong for feeling so good. There are people who will hate you when you feel good.. I saw that when I was away. Glad I didn't have to look to find the ones I didn't need. They left on their own. Distance brings clarity.

I know I felt insecure to let myself shine, because it brings a certain amount of attention that creates a vulnerability, which I'm still not sure how to stand so confidently with. Why waste life tucking it aside, just for the benefit of someone who might feel threatened by it? It doesn't make sense. I worked my lifetime to get where I am. Just like we all do. Everyone has a struggle, a challenge, a life to live. The world keeps on going, regardless of what those things are. They're your things to know. Keep them safe, let them grow with you. Push them harder in the face of uncertainty. It's neat when you get past it and realize that it's all your own to carry. Every little thing is what you make of it. Stand your ground and stand firm. No one can knock you over but yourself.

I left so much of myself out there in those woods, but yet, I brought back so much. I've grown. I've become more of myself and I don't give a fuck who doesn't like it. We have been given a life to live, so why live it through anyone else but ourselves? Seriously.. who cares? Do something you love, let it out, share it, embrace it. Grow like a tree and reach for the sky. I'm being a super flighty hippie here, I know, but seriously. To all of those who wanted to stand in my way, along with a big piece of myself... you can remain lost in the woods where I left you, in hopes that you find what you're seeking. I guarantee that what you seek is yourself. When you find it, hold on tight. You matter. You really do.

This world is a breathtaking place that we need to be far more thankful for. We are breathing it in every day, and we barely take the time to look at it -off of our phones- and see it for what it really is. It owns us, it guides us, it supports us. The trees, the stars, the rivers, the leaves, the flowers, the skies, the mountains, the birds, the particles that dance in the breeze. All of it is what we are. I will be seeking nature more and more, to guide me. For now, I need my friends/family for support and care. I broke down a little, in the midst of building things back up. It takes a lot of work to do so much at once. I haven't even put into words what this entire year has done for me, as a whole. I have so much yet to spill as I go. It's coming out, at least. I write so I can see it. Damn, I am proud.

I'm happy to be back, surrounded by love, in the place I call home. It's like I never left, and yet, it feels like I was gone forever. I came home when it called me, and I didn't even really realize that's what it was until I acted on impulse. I listened to my guts, hopped on that ferry and came right back. I am so glad that I did. I'm happy that no matter what things look like on the surface, it's still a massive adventure. It's a deep, emotional, wonderful sensation that makes my life feel more worth it than it did 100 days ago. They say that home is where your heart is. Where your heart is... you'll find yourself.

Take it and run.