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On 2013

2013 has not been an easy year… I can kind’ve break it into three parts: The Preparation, The Destruction & The Resurrection (I’m determined to write more about this later) but in the meantime…

2013 was the year that:

I was lied to, lied about and slandered publicly no less than 3 times.

I helped someone walk away a from an abusive relationship.

I was betrayed by close friends and several people who were employed by me.

I had surgery to remove what was suspected cancer from my body.

I was literally dizzy with relief when it wasn’t cancer.

Someone I love dearly had to have a mastectomy.

I got my first (and definitely not last) tattoo.

I successfully applied for Art Council funding. Then told the funding was an error. Then successfully had the funding reinstated.

I finally got off my anti-depressants after 3 years.
2.5 months later I had to start taking them again when the show collapsed.

I watched in awe as Maisie started school, learned to read, write & spell.

I wore a onesie in public.

I had severe suicidal thoughts.

I had incredibly wonderful friends make sure I wasn’t alone, even for a minute, for 4 straight days.

I’ve promised a friend that I would always be there for and be a part of her children’s life if she were no longer here.

I’ve had people see value in me & what I want to achieve when I saw nothing and had nothing left to give.

I conducted research that found that 70% of women who see the work that I created feel better about themselves as mothers.

I’ve given countless kisses and hugs. I’m looking to do more next year.

I was accepted into Oxford University & began their Creative Writing program.

I was given a place to lick my wounds and put myself back together.

I’ve learned some people will screw over anyone to get ahead. While others don’t climb as quickly as they deserve because they choose to be kind.

I have seen so many friends bestow great kindness on Maisie.

I learned how to have the hard conversations.

I’ve learned how to stand up for myself.

I’ve laughed myself silly.

I’ve written far more than I published.

I’ve eaten some incredible meals.

I started dating again.

I lost 28lbs.

I discovered my tribe.

I’ve found reason where there should be none.

I lost my savings on the show.

I had part of my life optioned for a feature film.

I’ve passed on opportunities to other people that have advanced their careers.

I’ve refused to give up.

I have never publicly said a bad word about any of the people who have lied about me, slandered me or destroyed the show. Nor have I told those who’s actions impacted in other ways, how things were their fault. What’s the point? It won’t fix things and it ultimately won’t make me feel better (in the long run anyway!)

I’ve met someone who is the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing I think about at night.

I have learned to put myself first.

For the first time in 5 years I did NOT move house this year!

I have learned that when challenged the work is not as important as we think it to be. The human cost is ALWAYS more important than work.

I have done love. Soooooooo much love!

I know that 2013 has been a hard year for many of you – you have my sympathy & my commiseration. All we can do is hold our heads up high and face the bright future of 2014 with optimism and faith. Here’s to a clean slate!

Much love,

Emily xoxo

Why I Refuse To Call It The ‘Big C’

Yesterday morning I woke up, rolled out of bed and headed straight for my closet. I flicked through my wardrobe until I found the perfect dress – a navy v-neck with a bold floral pattern and accents of pale lemon and coral. I carefully ironed the ruffle around the neck and the tie for the back – I desperately wanted to look impeccably casual, as if perfect creases would give way to a perfect life. I checked my unmade up face in the mirror then decided I couldn’t pull off a completely naked face, so quickly added a touch of eyeliner and mascara to soften the eyes that hadn’t really slept the night before. I threw on my denim jacket, some “cute” shoes, grabbed my bag and glanced at myself in the mirror – healthy? Do I look healthy?

More than 20 years ago my father had a severe, rare form of skin cancer and as a cautionary procedure my sisters and I were all thoroughly screened. That process lead to me having a a series of moles (somewhere between 11-15 I can’t quite remember) removed. Only a few of them were completely benign – the rest were atypical and/or had early signs of pigment or cell mutation but they were able to get everything with the removals and I went on with my life.

Over the last six months one of the moles which had been removed has grown back. I don’t remember EXACTLY what that mole looked like before so I can’t tell you if this one is its twin or not, (I’m calling it the Zombie Mole) but it’s grown up in exactly the same spot. Which is kinda bad news. In fact, according to Australian skin cancer research more than 90% of mole regrowths are melanoma.

So yesterday I tried to channel my most healthy looking self in the waiting room of a major skin clinic – sadly the pale lemon and coral didn’t distract from the obvious – it needs to be removed, and pronto. Surgery has been scheduled for the end of the month.

I’m swaying between totally freaking out and being fine. As anyone who’s been in a similar situation will tell you the waiting is the killer, excuse the pun.

I mentioned to someone the other day I was going in to the hospital to be checked out by a specialist team and they said “Well if it is cancerous then at least its the good cancer.” I didn’t realise cancer came in different flavours. Does good cancer slowly eat away at your cells, turning them to glitter until you sparkle like a Cullen on midsummer’s day? (Oh please let me be all sparkly like Edward!!!!!!) Or maybe it means I can consume as much chocolate and wine as I like without gaining an ounce – the Dr must’ve missed that part when we were talking outcomes.

Hey ya, I know it’s easier to remove cancerous moles than say, a cancerous spot on a lung, but I’m still having a chunk of my body cut away. And there’s a mighty high chance that I’ve had cancer growing in my body for the last 20 years. Which just freaks me right out. (Both the growing and the “last 20 years” how do I have that as a reference?) Whatever it is, wherever it is, for everyone, cancer is still cancer – I have no desire to dress it up and introduce it to my friends and I don’t think we do anyone any favours when we try to be pc about it.

In the last four months, five acquaintances or friends of friends have died of cancer and two friends are currently going through chemo, one on her first round, the other on her fourth and fifth – ALL between the ages of 30 – 40. This shit is serious. They haven’t been taken down by something sweet or friendly;  the “Big C” is not some drooling harmless frat boy playing pranks, Cancer is a serial killer. One we need to outsmart and pray we outlive.

So although I don’t know exactly what I’m dealing with, I do know that I intend to beat it. I’m going to use my time NOW, to refocus on what I want, what I really need, to contemplate what my best life really looks like it and figure out how to live it. The last three months have been (and still are) excruciatingly hard and now I have this to contend with on top of all the disappointment, betrayal and sadness. There has to be a light at the end of the tunnel (although I hope its not “the light” if you know what I mean!) and I need to move towards a stronger, happier, more connected life after all of this.

Tripping

I’ve been home in London for a week and have drowned my time in a haze of busy-ness. Dr’s appointments, school visits, cleaning, washing, fixing, avoiding, testing, hiding.

It’s very hard returning to a life that isn’t. Isn’t what it was, isn’t what you wanted, isn’t what you hoped for. People who you believed cared for you are no longer present. Work that you adored vaporized into the ether. Sometimes it feels like depression is just lurking, waiting like smoke around my feet to ensnare me, once again dragging me back into its murky depths. People always tell you that change is hard but I don’t think that is entirely true; sure it’s not easy, but absence of what once was is harder. Change is great if it’s what you wanted but very different when you trip over it. I’m in that funny space right after a trip, the moment where you  throw your arms out,  before you right yourself enough to continue on a slightly different stride.

It’s the throwing out of the arms where all the humanity resides. Ungainly, awkward, instinctual. We do it without thinking, to protect , to save ourselves, to try and be ok. And I’m really trying to be ok – ok with the change, with the absence, with the falling. With the unknown. I don’t want to be this girl who asks all the questions, who turns over stones to ponder things – I want to be the girl who inspires with her actions and thoughts and writing but I’m really not there. Yet.

So I’m trying to find beauty in the fall, in the moments before I right myself. In planting seeds with hopeful expectation, in watching grown workmen play on the swings they’re installing, in the tartness of homemade lemon curd and the pale eyelashes of a sleeping Maisie. In the clarity of the moment when the picture itself is blurred. After all, life is simply a series of little moments strung together so I’m hunting for the most beautiful tidbits, the shiniest beads, to string together my mosaic with love.

 

Jetlagged Thinking About Time

It’s 2:15am and I’m sat watching Madagascar 2 for the umpteenth time with a very jetlagged Maisie. She’s just put on a pair of ridiculous  pair of 5 inch glittery sequin platform stilettos that I once wore in a short film and a veil and announced that she’s getting married. She’s making me laugh and giving me cuddles and generally filling this dark hour with the brightest of lights.

I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately. It is the only thing in our lives that is truly and completely limited and yet it’s the thing we so willingly squander (um hello Candy Crush!)  I struggle between the things that make my life more enjoyable (say, a clean house) and a frantic “need” to clean my house which means time spent doing that instead of spend time on the floor with Maisie, or you know, watching her stumble about in shoes 10 times too big for her.

Tonight I discovered this fabulous essay by Anne Lamot & posted on the wonderful A Design So Vast. There are so many wonderful points about time and it definitely captures the dilemma that we as parents find ourselves facing on a daily basis. I urge you to have a read!

Our True Wealth: this moment, this hour, this day

 

If my life was gonna fall apart it picked a damn fine time…

IMG_0454Today I’m packing up to leave Canada and head back to our “real life” in London. We have had a wonderful time here. As the title of the post says – if my life was gonna fall apart it picked a damn fine time to do it. Whilst we’ve been here we have:

  • Celebrated Mother’s Day,  my parent’s 40th wedding anniversary, two of my brother-in-law’s birthdays, two of my nephew’s graduations, my mum’s birthday, Maisie’s best friend’s birthday and Father’s Day.

 

  • We woke up to this view every weekend but one:Loon! Lookout!

 

  • We ate the national snack of Timbits (donut holes) at “Timtims” (Tim Horton’s) – Canada’s favourite coffee and donut shopMmmmmm Timtims

 

  • We had mummy & me pedicures at a fab place which had a special chair for Maisie – I think her expression sums up how she felt about itYay!

 

  • We went to the Children’s Festival & watched Pirate Petunia on the High Seas while we sailed around Granville Island and then Maisie had her face painted (this was a bit of a theme of the trip!):IMG_0410

 

  • I got inked!  (And then promptly burned myself with an iron)IMG_0415

 

  • We went camping…IMG_0453

 

  • roasted marshmallows…IMG_0435

 

  • and tried out my new Vibram 5 Fingers by the fireIMG_0436

 

  • I discovered a FAB new beer – Kona Brewing’s Wailia which is brewed with passionfruit – DELICIOUS!IMG_0452

 

  • We took the ferry to Vancouver Island to see a darling friend. This is Maisie on the ferry with a pirate pack – a massive flashback to my childhood!IMG_0437

 

  • On the island we feasted on fresh, wild salmon, sang songs, caught up, visited grabbed fish & chips off the dock, Maisie even fed a seal in the ocean and we spent far too long playing with baby goats on a farm.IMG_0444

 

  • I’ve reconnected with friends I haven’t seen in years, ran into people from high school, spent hours and bottles of wine  catching up and having deep, truly meaningful conversations. I’ve had countless AHA! moments and am slowly learning to lean in to my discomfort. I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you in the coming weeks.

But for now – Au revoir! xoxo

Me Likey Monday – June 17th 2013

I haven’t done a ‘Me Likey Monday‘ in donkey’s years so I think it’s time to get back on the wagon!

Here are a few of the things that I’m digging this week!

Mesmerizing writing which is making me THINK about my own life, purpose and action!

THE GIFTS OF IMPERFECTION, by the brilliant Brene Brown is one of the books I’m devouring at the moment. I’ll do a proper review when I’m finished but I am basically having an AHA! moment with every chapter. If you feel lost, uncertain or struggle with self esteem, direction or perfectionism I can’t recommend this book enough!

THE BEAR & THE HONEYBEE Aaaaaaaaaaad there’s a sale! What are you waiting for?

The day after I arrive back in London we’re going to watch two wonderful friends get married. They have their own style and my most recent “wedding guest dress” is too much for a sunny, less formal London wedding. I’m watching the pennies right now so didn’t want to shell out a bus load of cash and so I decided to wear a cute navy strapless dress I nabbed in a GAP outlet store and pair it with some bright yellow accessories. I’ve been coveting several items from THE BEAR & THE HONEYBEE for some time (seriously how retro-cute are they?) so I grabbed a double strand yellow necklace with an adorable butterfly brooch attached. But the best part? Hands down the amazing customer service from the store owner Leigh. She was kind, generous and speedy! Can’t wait for another excuse to return to this fab Etsy store!

Oh that one’s not totally aimed at me is it? ;)

If you love quotes like I do you, will love the plethora of love, life and laughter at my favourite site du jour: LIVELIFEHAPPY.COM Little bits of wise, happy, insightful words whenever you need/want them!

And last (but holy shit!) definitely not least, is the incredible song, SAME LOVE by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, featuring Mary Lambert.

This song literally stopped me in my tracks, gave me goosebumps and made me ask a shop assistant what it was. I downloaded it right there in the store. I have so much love for this song. ‘Nuff said. Damn right I support it. <3

Unchartered Territory

what you do

 

I’m struggling today.

If the giant throbbing knot in my stomach wasn’t a giveaway, the fact that all I’ve wanted to eat today is sugar and carbohydrates might be. I’m feeling bruised. Damaged. Weak. Apologetic. And AFRAID. Almost terrified. But I don’t know of what.

I mean, hasn’t the worst thing, the thing I was most afraid of, already happened? And aren’t there far worse things that can happen? I currently have friends, or friends of friends, suffering from breast cancer, skin cancer, brain tumours, stillborn babies, sick children, dying parents – aren’t all of those things far, far worse than me… what? What exactly am I doing? Failing? Having a crisis of faith? A midlife unravelling?

But there’s the rub. We don’t have to be experiencing one of life’s “official” shitty things to feel terrible. Anxious. Uncertain. Depressed. And anxiety, uncertainty and depression lead to what I can only call “Unjoy”. And so that’s where I am today. In the middle of Unjoyful territory.

I’m no pro at dealing with Unjoy but today I’ve been trying to cut myself some slack, be gentle, read, think, name what I’m feeling. What do you guys do when you’re feeling stuck? How do you deal with feeling unjoyful?

On Growing.

It’s hard being human.

Right?

We receive no roadmap, no instructions and are intrinsically flawed from the get go. Our heart physically resides inside our bodies and yet it is so easily bashed, broken or damaged it’s as if we wore it tied to our feet. Each of us is varied and different and yet so similar, although for whatever reasons we find it easier to focus on the contrary than the harmonious.

I’ve been away for three weeks now, three weeks of thinking, analyzing, trying to forget, moving on, attempting forgiveness. Three weeks of searching, finding, stretching, being uncomfortable. I have no real answers. I’m still not entirely sure how I ended up here. But know what?

IT DOESN’T MATTER.

I’m here for a reason.

I definitely know who my friends are. I’ve realised I’ve been operating from a place of fear whilst attempting to appear fearless. I’ve stopped making space for growth. There are plenty of things to learn right here, where I am. And there’s peace in that. We’re where we need to be, and if we’re not life will keep trying to put us where we need to be. Regardless of whether we want to be there or not.We either go through life or we grow through it. And this little seeding is pushing her head through the soil again.

 

Small Limbs

no matter what

 

Last night, exhausted as always, I stealthily crawled into bed with Maisie, manoeuvring my way passed landmine traps in the guise of a ladybird pillow, a tortoise nightlight and a well worn baby,”Baby”. Just as my head hit the pillow I felt Maisie stir and my first thought was “oh shit” followed by the ridiculous “pretend you’re asleep”. Doing my best log impression, I laid there, willing her back to sleep to no avail.

Maisie turned over, reached out for me and I heard a tiny sleepy voice say “Mama?” I murmured softly hoping to send her back to the land of nod. She wrapped her tiny limbs around mine, took a deep breath and on her gentle exhale my planked self hears “I love you” as she slides back into sleep.

How she slept as the truck full of gratitude & love rumbled through that little room, shaking the mould of despair from my heart, is beyond me.

Ace of Bass

dont-quit-your-day-dream

 

Apparently sitting down to write out what’s been going on opened some sort of floodgate. I guess I knew that would happen, that’s probably why I waited a couple of weeks before I laid down my words.

After writing I was plagued by anxiety, the knot in my stomach tying and untying itself, and then after  seeing something on twitter (I know, I know – why do I even go there!) the anxiety ramped up to ridiculous levels. I was literally sick. I sent one of my dearest friends (who also happens to be studying to be a psych nurse, which is handy when you’re already crazy) a text and he was out and couldn’t talk and so I climbed the walls of my mind. I imagined scenarios, conversations, hatred that will probably never happen – I turned the hand-crank of crazy until I was running at distraught warp speed.

Not knowing what to do with myself I decided to go for a run. I’m not a great runner but I knew I needed to get outside physically if I couldn’t get outside of my head. I hate running on hills but as I’m staying with my parents and they live on a mountain hills was what I was going to get. Even that wasn’t enough to deter me so I must’ve really, REALLY needed to get out.

As I began my walk/run it started to rain softly. I don’t mind running in the rain – I’m from Vancouver and I live in London – if you want to run you need to be prepared to run in the rain – but I hate drizzle and that’s what I was moving through.

The voice in my headphones told me to “Start Running” just as I hit my ascent of the mountain. As I took step after step I noticed my lungs squeezing tighter and tighter. I felt like there was a weight on my chest and it was as if someone was squeezing my windpipe. Step. Gasp. Step. Wheeze. Gasp. Step. I started to cry. Gasp. Step. I was frustrated. Gasp. Gasp. Step. I was angry. Gasp. Wheeze.

Now I am not a religious person in a god-is-a-big-white-guy-in-the-sky, heaven/hell kinda way but I do believe there is something bigger than us. I’m not always as plugged into it as I’d like to be but I do believe its there. So in my pathetic but very real hyperventilating state, on the side of a mountain for some reason I looked up and said “Yeah well if you’re so powerful why don’t you actually make it rain hard then.” Nothing like antagonizing the gods – I would have rocked ancient Greece.

So I continue my walk/run, sobbing between gasps and the running app guy (does he have a name?) tells me to “Start Running” again so I do and the track is now steeper and my chest is tighter and I am, for some unknown reason, even more determined to keep running. And as I lean into the incline a little voice in my head simply asks “Is this your best life?” And I am PISSED. No I think back, this is not my best anything. This isn’t my best body or my best mind and I am not being the best mother I can be or the best friend or the best whatever and NO. THIS. IS. NOT. MY. BEST. LIFE. I actually don’t even know what life this is. And all of a sudden I start to laugh because I’ve realise that it is raining HARD. Crazy hard. Like I’m running in the shower hard. Now I’m running down the mountain and I can breathe again and I am laughing and doing the ugly cry at the same time and my pace is picking up and I am drenched and I tune back into the music coming through my headphones and I can’t figure out what the song is from the intro and then all of a sudden it hits me. The song is I Saw a Sign by Ace of Bass. And now I am laughing, really laughing, my whole body shaking not from the sobs but from the laughter and I’m taking huge, easy, gulping breaths as the rain washes away my tears and I cruise down the mountain.

I look up at the sky and think “well played Universe, well fucking played”.

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