Real Talk: Creativity

Real Talk: Creativity

I was recently thinking about the worst advice I ever listened to, which sounds like a pretty negative downward spiral to go on, but this story ends good.

What brought this on was my noticing of some serious job envy going on inside of me the last year or so. This was strange because I actually really liked my job, especially when I was making money writing, which I always thought was what I wanted. But whenever I would come across an artist, or a graphic designer, or an interior designer, or an illustrator, or a photographer, or anyone that did anything related to the visual arts, I would be all like, “I want that!!”

The shitty advice that I listened to came from my art teacher nearly ten years ago, God bless him. I know it was spoken with good intention, but I wish I had been like a typical teenager and not taken anything my superiors said seriously.

I was eighteen, and he had just given me an A+ in his highest level class. I was about to meet with a career counsellor and decide what I was going to do for post secondary. 

“Don’t go to art school Katie.”

Huh?

He elaborated and told me to enroll in something that would make it easier for me to find a job after university.

So what did I do? I majored in English Literature.

Just as useless.

But nevertheless my art teacher (and parents/friends/relatives) approved because at least if I majored in a core subject, I could surely land a job as a teacher, something my art teacher (and parents/friends/relatives) all thought I would be very good at.

I liked the idea of having summers off, but that’s about all that excited me when I envisioned my life ten years down the road standing at the front of a classroom.

I am not belittling our educators – I applaud them. It just wasn’t what was calling me.

It may have taken me a decade, but I feel myself circling back to what was tugging at my heart all those years ago. Art, creativity, paint brushes, colour, writing, texture. 

I wanted a studio, not a desk.  

It took me a decade to get really clear on something important to me. I was red wine drunk sitting on my couch in my condo for one of the last times before it sold. I was with a friend talking about my strange job restlessness when it hit me like a blinding flash of the obvious. I thought I was being really profound so I even typed up my words in my phone and quoted myself.

“I don’t want to be the one managing other people’s stuff, or critiquing other people’s work, or writing about other people’s creations. I want to be the one creating the stuff.” – Katie Tetz

I was drunk, and incredibly clear.

It’s a deceptively simple thing to want, and really easy to fall astray from.

Managing people was where the “status” and money was. I couldn’t be satisfied with being a visual merchandiser in retail; that wasn’t good enough. Writing about other people’s companies, creations, and chasing celebrity gossip – that’s where my words could pay the bills. And I couldn’t call myself a writer if I couldn’t pay my bills.

But that’s not what I truly wanted either. 

Which brings me to what spurred this rant – another Real Talk question.

IMG_5949

I’ve read a lot of good this-changed-my-life-books, but my newest favourite is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. (Eat, Pray, Love lady).

This book is a creative person’s dream.

She’s (almost) totally got me convinced to let go of the external results that can once and awhile come from a person’s creativity. She makes an amazing argument that those results are not the point. I say almost because I guarantee that if I write my book and some big mean critic tells me it’s shit, I’ll be a little upset.

Of course I like it when someone tells me they like my blog, but that validation cannot be why one makes stuff. Of course it would be great to make a living through art, but reading Big Magic left me feeling like it just doesn’t matter. And because it doesn’t matter,  I won’t feel like I’m not a “real writer” until I cash a giant book advance. I won’t feel like I can’t pick up a paint brush just because I didn’t go to art school. This book reminded me that the only way we can live a happy creative life is to do it for the love.

I’m not sure exactly what all this job envy is pointing to, but when I look at my coworker’s photography, or my cousins paintings, or when I snuck upstairs to a distant relatives art studio in Germany three summers ago…something tugs at my heart. Every time. Without fail. And while my unintentional career in retail has it’s ups and downs, the one thing I continue to love is the thing that lets me play with colour and design and texture, visual merchandising.

It’s been a decade and I can’t shake it. I like being the one creating the stuff. Period.

So as much as I wish I hadn’t listened to my art teacher’s shit career advice, I know better now. And I hope I’ve lived enough to recognize that advice next time I hear it. Of course it won’t be in those exact words, but the message is always the same: That thing you want, whatever that thing is, is only worth pursuing if it’s going to make you money.

What a lie.

I like Elizabeth Gilbert’s thinking: “We still have enough space left in our civilization for the luxuries of imagination and beauty and emotion – and even total frivolousness. Pure creativity is magnificent expressly because it is the opposite of everything else in life that’s essential or inescapable. It’s a gift. It’s the frosting. Our creativity is a wild and unexpected bonus from the universe.”

I am finishing a book this year and I bought some paint brushes a few weeks ago. If I ever sell a book or have an art show, that’s cool, and it’s also okay if those things don’t happen.

But if they do, I will most definitely be sending my old art teacher an invite.

 

 

Creating Space

I’m standing still for a moment, which is good progress. – Bertlott Brecht

I was getting ready to go explore another neighborhood in Sydney but was taking my sweet ass time deciding what to wear. Half an hour behind schedule, my boyfriend and I left my apartment.

“I feel very laissez-faire in this outfit,” I said.

“Totally,” he agreed, not even sarcastically.

“I don’t even know what laissez-faire means,” I confessed.

“Me either.”

We continued to use this phrase over the length of his stay without ever bothering to find out if we knew what we were talking about. Finally, weeks later, he sent me the definition: a policy or attitude of letting things take their own course, without interfering. 

I’ve sort of taken a “laissez-faire” year for myself – some time out to sit still and ponder what’s next. I just happened to do so while also putting the entire ocean between me and my life. I gave myself space, quite literally.

In my short twenty-nine years on earth, I have learned the importance of making decisions and subsequently felt the amazing snowball effect when those decisions are in alignment with what I really want.

Enter happiness.

Letting things take their course, or standing still for a minute or two, is surprisingly a lot harder. Especially with the beast that is social media constantly reminding me of all the amazing, inspiring, world-changing things everyone else is up to. Whether it’s making change or making babies.

Sometimes it completely overwhelms me. And sometimes it really is inspiring.

Either way, it always reminds me that the world is moving very quickly and that there are millions of people out there taking action, building businesses, crushing goals, taking photos of doughnuts, getting into calligraphy, etc, etc.

I feel lazy because I still don’t know what I should be “hustling” for. It’s the way in which the word hustle has been glorified that annoys me, particularly when I see things like, “Good things happen to those who hustle.”

No. Anxiety, break-downs, and stress related illness happen to those who hustle.

I am not opposed to working hard. My teachers in school and my employers in adulthood have always gold-starred me. What I am an advocate for is self-care and presence in between all the hustling so that one doesn’t forget to enjoy one’s life as well.

I just want to sit still for a minute. Go for walks until I maybe or maybe don’t stumble upon some answers.

An actual excerpt from my diary:

“In the best way, not that much has even happened. I found a job, an apartment, and walk the coast over and over and over again with my backpack. I have a couple of new friends that I meet for pizza and wine about once a week. I like sitting in bars knowing no one I know will walk in. I’ve found a coffee shop that sort of knows my name (Kelly), and a liquor store with good wine deals. I’ve organized my inbox, finished some books, blogged, gone to bed early, eaten well, and I always have enough time. I feel like I hit pause. And in doing that I also feel like I’ve taken some giant steps forward.”

I suppose there is a time and a place for everything. And right now, evidently, is a time of not much action, which means my tarot card lady was freakishly accurate.

“You’re going into your hermit year.”

Sorry – what? I don’t hermit.

“You may not understand what’s going on with yourself, and that’s okay. You’ll find you only want to spend time with really important people, or you’d rather just be alone.”

And dammit she was right!

It’s quite startling how much I’ve enjoyed the hermit lifestyle the last four months. My coworker started referring to me as “Mom”.

Six months ago if someone called me that I would have grabbed a bottle of tequila and proved them wrong.

I know that being in action is important, but what about taking some time to stand still and bask in where life ended up, or time to be really thoughtful about what’s next, and what’s here now.

There’s lots of voices and opinions floating around, some my own and some others.

“It’s time to decide honey.”

“Don’t worry about it – you don’t have to make a decision right now.”

So laissez-faire it is. Turns out happiness can come in that door too.

Real Talk: Wolf Packs

Real Talk: Wolf Packs

“Do you think it’s more important to have a diverse group of friends or a wolf pack that you roll with for life?”

Friendship.

The older I get, the more I have to say about the topic, the more I value it, and the more I see how complicated it can be. When I was growing up, my friendships were the only constant – they were the relationships that I ran to and knew would be there like I knew the sun would rise. Everything else in life was where the fluctuation was. Boyfriends, jobs, family dynamics, life decisions. But my BFFs? Solid.

Then, I got a little older.

To answer the question, I prefer to have my cake and eat it too. I would always choose both, but what do I think is more important? I might ruffle some feathers saying this, but I have been surprised over and over again at the impact the different people who have come in and out of my life have had on me. So I’m gonna go with option A.

#diversityforthewin

I value growth. I want to become more and more awesome the older I get. Or rather, more fully myself. And how I’ve gotten closer to that has everything to do with the diverse group of friendships I’ve had along the way. Some remain and some fade away, but they were all meaningful and if I wanted to overthink on it a bunch, I could tell you that every single one of those people taught me something different.

I’m taking “diversity” to mean that you are open to, and make friends with, a wide array of people. They don’t necessarily become a wolf pack, nor do you necessarily roll with them through your entire life. On the flipside,  I’m taking “wolf pack” to mean the same friends, all together, all the time.

Luckily we live in a universe that doesn’t make us choose between one or the other. But to be honest, sometimes I’ve felt like I had to.

Sometimes I feel like a shitty friend because I can’t keep up with all of the rad people that have made their way into my heart. It’s an awesome problem to have, one that I’m sure my awkward thirteen-year-old self would be proud of. Oh you’re that popular that you feel like you have too many friends?

Cry me a river.

But that’s when friendship got a little more complicated. When there started to be more than one wolf pack, when I started to value different things, or moved, or grew, or changed, or couldn’t keep up. Friends I met at school, friends I met traveling, friends I met in the workplace, and then another workplace, and then through friends of friends, and then I even become friends with an ex’s ex.

What’s next? Brunch with my ex-boyfriends?

ENOUGH FRIENDS ALREADY.

I know what you’re going to say to me: “It should be about quality not quantity.”

Save it.

My pushback will be that unlike all of the terrible boys I dated circa 2014, I happened to find a shit ton of quality platonic relationships.

In all seriousness, I think the older we get the more clear we get on who we really connect with, and that shifts and changes too depending on what’s going on in our lives. But I think the mistake we make is labeling that shift bad. Those “friends for a season” people aren’t necessarily shitty friends. Maybe you can just love them for what they gave you in those moments of friendship, and that’s enough.

I know there’s not a single friend that I’ve drifted away from that I don’t cheer for from afar. But being okay with that is where the growing pains are.

Letting in all that “diversity” has been so worth it for me. The mentors, the party animals, the single-girl companions, the older & wiser, the young & borderline insane, the ones I had the time of my life with and the ones I cried my eyes out in front of – I wouldn’t trade all those experiences for anything. Maybe they could have happened with the same wolf pack, but they didn’t in this girls journey.

My current friend roster ranges from age 22 to 66. And that’s not including family.

The 22-year-old literally just does whatever he wants and doesn’t overthink anything. And by “does whatever he wants” I don’t mean partying with reckless abandon. I mean he’s an Instagram famous self-taught photographer, he’s started his own brand and magazine, and he even makes candles. He’s inspired me to just start whatever it is I want to start. Zero overthinking.

The 66-year-old is my absolute favorite coffee date. Nothing beats the wisdom behind her twinkling blue eyes. It’s such a unique experience, listening to someone with that many more decades of life experience than you. It’s both humbling and encouraging. I trust her like I’ve known her my entire life.

I absolutely love letting people in for this reason: I believe the universe gives you what you need when you need it; it just takes a keen eye to notice this phenomenon (and a belief in something other than coincidence).

I think that letting people – all sorts of people – make an imprint on your heart is an amazing way to spend your life.

The handful of girls that I have carefully curated as my best friends, yes they are my wolf pack or tribe or whatever you want to call them. But they are not my wolf pack by default. They are the result of me loving everybody up that’s come into my life, some long ago and some more recent. I know I’ve really chosen them, and they are most definitely diverse.

 

When it comes to friendship, sometimes keeping one another in each other’s lives is harder than letting each other go. But maybe all we need to do is cherish that carefully curated wolf pack, and send love to the friendships that have come and gone. They weren’t bad friendships; maybe they were just meant for other things.

Friends for a reason, season or lifetime, everybody is invited to my party.

On Being Alone

In this summer’s issue of FLARE, Briony Smith wrote an article called “The L Word”, and no she wasn’t writing about love. Instead, she wrote about a topic much less talked about: That of loneliness.

It made me think about two summers ago when I was one of the only single people at a friend’s wedding.

I was in a coral lace dress sitting alone at a table for 10 waiting for my friends and their dates. We had some time to kill between ceremony and reception so we all met for drinks in Eau Claire. I was more comfortable sitting there overdressed and alone sipping my drink than I was two hours later when it dawned on me that I was the only solo person at the table.

But wasn’t I having fun until that moment of single girl panic? I was drinking and laughing with the dudes that my friends had chosen. I was absolutely, positively okay.

Later that week I was alone in the middle of my condo with boxes and pillows and books everywhere. Sixteen months had gone by since I moved there. It boggled my mind how much had happened, but also how much hadn’t. I never brought any guys home. A few slept on the couch, but it was only my girlfriends or coworkers that had slept in my bedroom. Shouldn’t I be having loads of sex and dates and choosing which guy I thought was a keeper? I thought.

And who put this idea in my head-that my mid-twenties should be bursting with men?

See, I wasn’t lonely until I was surrounded by couples at that table two summers ago. And I wasn’t lonely in my mid-twenties until I was packing up my apartment and realized I hadn’t brought anyone home the entire time I lived there. I wasn’t lonely until some expectation about what my life should have been like started to sink in.

Now, two years later, on the other side of singledom, I sometimes feel weird talking about “what worked” or offering up any kind of advice. Who am I to talk? I was making mistakes right up until the day my boyfriend made a move on me. *

There is nothing more annoying than being single in a group of girls, (or even worse – family members) who decide they ought to start dishing up advice.

Stop focusing on it.

Maybe you’re looking in all the wrong places.

You’re being too picky. What about [insert name of guy you’ve friend zoned here]

It’ll happen when you’re not looking for it.

Join a beer league.

And my personal favorite, “Just focus on yourself”

Are you kidding me? I’ve had half a decade worth of ‘me-time’, self-improvement, and staying selfishly busy. 

Hearing “Just focus on yourself” just pissed me off.

Single girls don’t want advice. As Briony Smith points out in her article, all a single girl needs is some empathy and your hot friend’s number. (2015, Summer) The L Word. Flare, page 92.

But if there’s any advice I wish I had let sink in as a single lady, it’s that I never needed to be anything more or less than what I already was.

All that self-awareness stuff, sure it’s worth it in a lot of ways. But is it necessary to find love? Aren’t we supposed to be loveable just as we are? And why did it always feel so weak to admit that “Yeah, I’d really like to have someone to go home and have relationship-y sex with.”

I would have really enjoyed a date sitting beside me at that wedding two summers ago, but I shouldn’t have felt, even for a moment, like there was anything wrong with me because I didn’t.

“This obsession with dating success by way of self-improvement is a by-product of western society’s can-do ideal …. I tried, for a long time, to eradicate my undesirable bits. Some changes made me a better person, like going to the gym and softening my bitchy resting face … I eventually gave up. There’s only so much of myself I can change before there’s nothing left.” Smith, Briony (2015, Summer) The L Word. Flare, page 94.

As the months went by and my single status never changed, I really started to feel like I wasn’t pretty enough, skinny enough, witty enough, smart enough, and so on and so forth. It makes me cringe that some nights, the lack of some drunk guy hitting on me had that much of an impact on my self-worth. And even worse, that the same kind of guy also had the ability to make my self-confidence soar.

“You’re gorgeous” said the devil.

I believed him. And I believed all sorts of other vain compliments from guys over the years. But when the guy who is falling in love with me says the same words, I automatically think, “He has to say that”.

I’m admitting this because I wish I could tell my fifteen year old self that even if no one is loving you at certain points in your life, you’re still super loveable. I wish I had never given my power away to this idea that I needed to be better in order to be desirable.

So no. You don’t have to master self-confidence in order to find love. You do not have to be the smartest or wittiest girl in the bar. You don’t have to start or stop anything. You’re not doing anything wrong. Stop giving away that much power to the idea of romance, when most of what our dating lives consist of is meaningless hookups and mediocre dates. It’s not worth beating yourself up over.

You can want it as much as you want, just don’t base your self worth on whether the real thing is in your life yet or not.

It’s easier said than done. But I wish I could make that feeling disappear for every girl and guy in the world. Because it’s a liar.

Fresh out of dating, newly retired if you will, I don’t miss being single at all. I suppose there was something thrilling about knowing it was all ahead of you – the meet, the first kiss, the falling. But what’s better than all of that is the kiss that says “I missed you.” 

The difference now is that being alone doesn’t worry me anymore. Not that heartbreak doesn’t scare me – nobody likes heartbreak; it’s what fucks us all up. Even our parents heartbreak can have a huge impact on us.

#daddyissues

But the being alone bit, the waiting for love to show up again, that I can do. Because now I know for sure that you can be totally surprised by it. It can show up in the most unlikely of ways, when you least deserve it. And you don’t have to change a single thing about yourself. I really didn’t think I was going to be surprised by love ever again. 

“You might already know him.”

Pffffft. YA right.

I was surprised, to say the least.

No advice here. Just a message to future romantics and seekers of love (and to my fifteen year old self if I could talk to her):

Someone will get over themselves and their shit and go to the depths it takes to love somebody like you. In the meantime, be as much of yourself as humanely possible because even though at times it will feel like a game that you desperately want to tap out of, the right person will want you. Including the undesirable bits.

Ugh. I feel like the advice that annoyed me the most probably annoyed me so much because it’s TRUE.

“Just focus on yourself”

But don’t make that mean that you have to focus on changing yourself. You don’t have to change a thing.

*I was still sleeping with the devil

Spirit Animals & Eskimo Sisters

“It looks like an expired Cheeto.”

We were admiring my friend’s new gemstone collection at a booth in Earls earlier this summer. 

I gravitated towards a green one that apparently brings prosperity. Stampede was fast approaching and my plan to save some extra funds had failed, as per usual. The one that my friend decided resembled an expired Cheeto supposedly aides in manifesting love, something that caused the three single friends I was with to go “Ooooo lemme see that one.”

As a joke, I carried the green money manifesting stone in my pocket the first weekend of Stampede. Do I believe a gemstone is the key to my financial freedom? No. Do I occasionally pick up that little stone still sitting on my dresser beside my jewelry and pretend that it’s working? Yes.

I just paid off my credit card and I’ve barely worked since mid-June. Coincidence or crystal powers? 

The collecting of gemstones, the reading of horoscopes, and the finding out of spirit animals, all falls in the realm of things my brother would call, “fucking weird.”

I on the other hand eat that shit up. When I’ve found myself in situations that many people might find “woo-woo”, I’ve always tried to keep an open mind. The shaman who led me through the sweat lodge ceremony that I attended in Mexico last year seemed like a very happy and content guy, making me curious about how he came to be so. Why wouldn’t I be open to what he had to say?

Similarly, when I found out what my spirit animal was, I wasn’t sitting on my couch filling out a quiz that I had just googled. I found out what mine was last summer from a reliable source, someone much more practiced in the spiritual realm than the Google search bar.   

This doesn’t mean I think my spirit animal is better than your spirit animal. I am mostly ignorant when it comes to these practices, I can only speak of my experiences in being open to them. In fact, I threw a temper tantrum when my boyfriend did the googled spirit animal quiz and got “hummingbird”.

“YOU’RE a fucking hummingbird!? I’M supposed to be a hummingbird!”

I really like hummingbirds and always thought that that should have been my designated animal. I’m not taking liberties and adding the F-word for emphasis here; that is in fact how I responded.

I’m actually a hawk, incase you were wondering. 

This means that I have a keen eye and am good at seeing the overall perspective of things while also narrowing in on what’s important – clearly not demonstrated in that conversation with my boyfriend post quiz. 

A lot of people, myself included, also like to believe that things happen for a reason. That there are no coincidences.

When I think about coincidences and chance, I always think about the time I was picked as one of Calgary’s most eligible singles by Branded Magazine, only to find out that the other two girls chosen were the exes of the last two guys I had dated.

[I can’t even say exes. I just mean we had slept with the same guys-is there a female equivalent to eskimo brothers?]

Sure you could call it coincidence and say, “it’s a small world” but really – when something that unlikely happens my mind goes straight to “Why is this happening???

The conclusion I came to was that Calgary’s dating pool was much too small and I should probably consider moving cities if not provinces.

What I did instead was find a different age bracket 😉 Worked like a charm.

But in all seriousness, what actually occurred because of that huge coincidence was that I met someone who is now one of my closest friends and her “I don’t give a shit about what the world thinks of me” attitude was exactly what I needed at the time, and still do. She was a breath of fresh air and whether by coincidence or divine intervention, I like to believe we met for a reason and that the timing was perfect.

No matter how seriously we believe in gemstones, spirit animals, horoscopes and the like, I think there’s something to be said about believing in something. 

I think of it like I do my favourite photograph filter. Stuff happens, and then I decide how to make it appear better, or at least have it make sense in the grand scheme of things. I am a very optimistic hawk.

How you choose to see the world, which filter you choose, is up to you. I like bright sunny ones. And I can’t help but feel enchanted by and curious about all of this, to quote my brother, “fucking weird” stuff. Even if at the end of the day all it does is give me a false sense of clarity on how the universe works.

– I have no financial worries right now. Must be the green gemstone.

– Why am I being such a bitch?  Let’s see what my horoscope says.

– I keep running into adorable baby french bull dogs. The universe is clearly telling me I need a puppy.

As for the love-bringing stone that resembled a Cheeto, it seems to be as effective as Tinder.

In other words, it’s usually not.

Dating is kind of like eating a Cheeto. It looks good from far away – you definitely want a bite. Up close, you’re not so sure; it looks messy. After awhile it gets stale and you crave something with more substance. Except does that even exist anymore? What you actually want seems hard to find, so after awhile you start going for the expired Cheeto(s) and some nights you think to yourself, what the hell am I doing with this orange dirt bag? Yet, there’s something larger at play. All of those stale processed bad-for-you snacks are leading you to something greater. You’re learning about yourself, what you want, and what you’re worth. And then one day you realize you’re better than an expired Cheeto. You want a Ritz Cracker.

I’ll stop now.

All I’m saying is that sometimes the universe works in magical ways and gives you exactly what you need: a new friend, a green gemstone, a surprise tax refund. And whether it’s true or not, every time I see a hawk – which isn’t very often – I feel like everything is going to be alright.

Get Your Eggs Out of My Basket

Originally published on It’s Date Night

I’ve heard this dating advice many times over the last few years – “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

I can’t say I’ve followed this advice religiously, or at all for that matter. When I meet someone I like, I like them and only them. I’m kind of like a bug. If the men in my life are a bunch of glowing lights, I go for the shiniest one and he’s got my full attention. 

I put all my eggs in one basket you could say. His basket.

This keeps biting me in the ass. 

Another problem has arisen since that terrible mercury retrograde we went through in February. Even though nothing has panned out [clearly still single]they keep lingering. It’s like I still have a few egg shells out there that I haven’t collected.

Now they’re the bugs. Annoying ones that keep buzzing around my periphery. 

I’m partially to blame for this.  Whenever I get a brazilian wax I tend to make bad decisions. [Don’t judge me, I know I’m not the only one.] My new year’s resolution was to not sleep with any assholes. Then it came time for my next wax. 

Two days after the fact I had failed my 2015 promise to myself and brought one of them back into the mix. Self-restraint? What’s that?

Then there’s this guy I dated last year for awhile. I keep randomly hearing from him. Maybe he thinks it’s nice of him to “check in”. I know better – His check in’s are usually in between his spurts on Tinder.

And then there’s Carlton. 

There’s a common sentiment that exists within my friend circle. “Poor Carlton.”

Now, I definitely don’t like being pitied, and there’s really no reason for us to feel pity for Carlton either. He’s smart, sexy, tall, kind, etc, etc. There would have been some definite perks to dating him. My mother would have been very excited if I had brought him home for Easter this weekend. 

Except I wasn’t into him. I tried, but the elusive spark was not there. After a month of dating I realized that I had put him in the friend zone and as much as I tried to convince myself that continuing to see him was a good idea, I knew doing so wasn’t fair to him, or to myself. 

And unfortunately, he was one of those guys who just wasn’t getting the hint.  

In fact, I can’t even call it hinting. I was very straight and clear with him, multiple times.

Initial break up text: “I don’t see this going any further for me.”

Two weeks later: “No I don’t think going for wine is a good idea.”

Four weeks later: “No Carlton I don’t want to sleep with you. Yes, I realize you mean friends-with-benefits but I don’t want that either.”

Then the final straw. I was very excited when I found out that he had gone on a couple of dates with a girl I knew. When I heard from him again I asked him about it. “I heard you went on a few dates with Hannah! She’s great!” 

He must have taken my inquiry as jealousy. 

His response: “What, did you think I was going to put all my eggs in one basket with you?”

I DON’T WANT ANY OF YOUR EGGS IN MY BASKET CARL.  

Yes I actually texted him that and yes I still heard from him a few months later offering to take me for dinner. 

So here’s what I’ve learned. Sometimes we put our eggs in people’s baskets too soon. Sometimes they still have one of our eggs even when they shouldn’t. And sometimes you get eggs put into your basket that you really don’t want but if the other person won’t take it back, there’s not much you can do about it. 

Part of my spring cleaning is going to involve organizing my egg collection if you will. 

Happy Easter everyone! The hunt continues.

Love Actually (Maybe)

“The magic moment is that in which a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ may change the whole of our existence” – Paulo Coehlo

Decisions, decisions. To text him, or not to text him. To kiss her, or not to kiss her. To get back together with the asshole, or to tell the asshole to go to hell. To marry her, or not to marry her. If at these kinds of relationship crossroads you’ve never second guessed yourself, or felt pulled in different directions, then you are one of the lucky ones.

It’s no secret that dating and relationships can be tricky. Love, and our pursuit of it is one of the most talked about and written about issues in our lives. It’s this emotion that in many ways is the most beautiful and uncomplicated thing in the world. Yet the amount of hours I’ve spent decoding conversations, analyzing feelings, and asking for advice, is insane. And I know I’m not the only one.

This also isn’t unique to our generation. I have a friend, who in all of her brilliance still calls me asking for dating advice even though she makes a living helping other people with their problems. She’s the one that everyone else goes to. Yet when it comes to dating in her forties, she’s got the very same questions my friends in their twenties do. Then there’s the 60-year-old woman I met in a mastermind program. One night I spent nearly two hours on Skype with her talking about the man she had feelings for. “Should I text him? What should I say?”

We’re not all that different. It’s the same rush of emotions, the same conversations, the same questions. Much of our time is spent in a grey area, unsure about where things are going, or if we want them to go anywhere at all.

The Law

In 2008, Mark Manson wrote an article titled Fuck Yes or No in which he explains, “Most dating advice exists to ‘solve’ this grey area for people. Say this line. Text her this. Call him this many times. Wear that. Much of it gets exceedingly analytical, to the point where some men and women actually spend more time analyzing behaviors than actually, you know, behaving.”

Indeed, the internet is full of articles insinuating that they hold the secret to finding love, or keeping it. The only problem is, there’s another human being involved. A human being with their own thoughts, feelings, patterns and behaviors that regardless of how much you perfect your behavior or text messages, will still act on their own accord.

So, Mark Manson provides some clarity. Here is the answer we’ve all been waiting for.

“The Law of “Fuck Yes or No” states that when you want to get involved with someone new, in whatever capacity, they must inspire you to say “Fuck Yes” in order for you to proceed with them. The Law of “Fuck Yes or No” also states that when you want to get involved with someone new, in whatever capacity, THEY must respond with a “Fuck Yes” in order for you to proceed with them.”

It’s uncomplicated, clear, and incredibly effective. If it’s not a ‘fuck yes’ then that means it’s a no. Manson explains that this gets rid of a lot, if not most of the grey area in dating. We would save ourselves a lot of energy and pain if we lived by this.

“The Law of ‘Fuck Yes or No’ implies that both parties must be enthusiastic about the prospect of one another’s company. Why? Because attractive, non-needy, high self-worth people don’t have time for people who they are not excited to be with and who are not excited to be with them.”

While I agree with everything this article says and try to live my entire life by this, I’m going to play devil’s advocate for a few minutes before I go back to following this law religiously.

What if …

  • What if you’re one of those people who falls really hard, really fast, for everyone that you meet. If this doesn’t apply to you, you know someone who does this.

“They’re the one, I know it!”

“This is it this time, I can feel it!”

“I’ve never felt this way before.”

For these hopeless romantics, everyone they date is a fuck yes.

  • What if it doesn’t feel like a fuck yes right away? 

My current relationship started with my boyfriend behaving like a ‘fuck boy.’ I was his manager at the time and he overheard me saying that all I really wanted for my birthday was birthday sex. (I know, I should have been more aware of who was listening) So he offered it and I promptly told him to fuck off. (I know, not very professional) But he’s a smart man; the seed was planted and obviously in this case it bloomed. He went from fuck boy to fuck yes, but it took a little bit of time.

  • What if it was a fuck yes, but things change?

Furthermore, what if this is a pattern that you keep repeating? Where no one seems to do it for you. Reasons for this could include but are not limited to: daddy issues, ex issues, or your own shit that you’re not dealing with. Maybe your parents got divorced and you’re therapy’s biggest cliche, unable to let yourself be loved for fear that it will be ripped away from you re: mom and dad. Maybe an ex-fling that you had amazing sex with keeps playing with your head. What if the reasons why that ‘fuck yes’ feeling goes away is about you, not about the relationship itself?

Manson does elaborate and explains that you should apply the law to your decisions as it suits your particular circumstance, “Fuck Yes or No doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be falling in knee-wobbling love at first sight. It doesn’t even mean you have be completely convinced that someone is right for you. You can be “Fuck Yes” about getting to know someone better. You can be “Fuck Yes” about seeing someone again because you think there’s something there. You can be “Fuck Yes” about giving things a few months to pan out and see if you can fix the problems in the relationship. The point is: both you and the other person need to be fuck yes about something, otherwise you’re just wasting your time.”

Of all of the dating advice I’ve ever heard, Mark Manson’s is in my opinion, the most refreshing. Frankly I’m a little upset that I didn’t come across it for another 7 years after publication. I could have really used that advice in the summer of 2008. And 2009. And 2011.

Of course, you don’t have to take this advice or any for that matter; as with all things, you get to decide for yourself. And no law or rule of thumb is going to make those decisions any easier. What I would suggest is making sure your choices are actually yours, and not a result of some personal shit that you aren’t dealing with. Make sure that that ‘fuck yes or no’ is coming from a clean slate.

Once you’ve got ‘you’ handled, then start saying “Fuck Yes.” Otherwise it might just be your ego or your pants doing the talking.

Originally published in Branded Magazine Issue 08: The Affirmation

Blind Faith

“I really admire your blind trust in the universe,” said a friend I was with Saturday night.

She meant it, though the words themselves don’t pack much punch, the look in her eyes and how she said it definitely did. I laughed and took a sip of the bourbon that I couldn’t afford.

Indeed, many of the decisions I’ve made recently, and in the far away past, probably look quite blind from the outsiders looking in.

I don’t know that we ever get to an age where we have to make less choices, but right now there seems to be a lot. And they all feel BIG. And detrimental. And…important.

The older I get, the more I can start to weave together the impact even the tiniest of choices can have. To say yes to that date and no to another, to break up or stay together, to say yes to that job and no to that one. 

To walk away from something or someone with no certainty that something greater is around the corner.

It’s hella scary.

Choices, of any kind, used to paralyze me. I’m that person who has to order last at brunch. First I can’t decide if I want sweet or savory, the classic breakfast dilemma. Then, just when I think the painful decision process is over:

“How would you like your eggs done?”

UGH.

A trivial decision yes, but how you behave at OJs on Sunday afternoon is likely very similar to how you behave elsewhere. Consider that how you do anything is how you do everything.

I read this “motivational” quote by some guy named Michael Josephson: “The choices you make in your life will make your life. Choose wisely.”

That didn’t motivate me Michael; it stressed me the fuck out.

I feel very lucky to have grown up in this generation where our choices seem endless. We’ve thrown the straight and narrow out the door. We are no longer looked at funny if we’re 25 and without child. Reinventing ourselves five times before our 30th birthday and having numerous careers is totally cool.

But is anyone else feeling overwhelmed?

I used to have this deep rooted fear of aging. And not the getting wrinkles kind of fear. It was more of a, “I’m running out of time” kind of fear. That, coupled with the fact that there are lot of things on my bucket list, was causing a lot of stress. As if I had to get it all crossed off, like, now.

To know which impulses to follow, and to know when it’s time to pull the trigger. To know which ideas still need time to blossom, and which you should just go for. To know when changing your mind is just that, or when it’s actually just giving up when you might be three feet from gold.

The tug at your heart, the impulsive decisions, the well thought out plans. When to choose and when to sit on it.

I may have written about this before, or I may have just uttered this lesson to friends and colleagues, but here’s a teaching from a friend and mentor that changed everything for me, and is likely the reason why it looks like I have blind trust.

I assure you, it’s not blind.

We always think that it’s about whether we choose A or B, but the most important thing, and the thing that actually propels our lives forward, is making a decision.

Mind not blown? Consider this: That place of indecision sucks. Wavering back and forth between moving, quitting a job, or leaving a relationship, is so much worse than just making the decision and pulling the trigger.

In Edwene Gaines’ Four Spiritual Laws of Prosperity, Maxwell Maltz says, “A step in the wrong direction is better than staying on the spot all our life. Once you’re moving forward you can correct your course as you go. Your automatic guidance system cannot guide you when you’re standing still.” (p.38)

So, just go out there and choose, and trust that you’ll be able to course correct.

And trust that you’ll get what you need one way or another.

Last Friday night I was having coffee with an old friend at a quiet cafe. One way to look at it is we were discussing our latest choices. Choices like: sleeping with guys you know deep down are fuck boi’s, moving cities, and quitting jobs. Giving things up for new experiences, or giving things up for one night of fun.

Mid conversation an older man came up to our table with two plates, a dessert for each of us.

He said, “These are for you. I have 5 daughters and you two sitting here chatting reminded me of them and how much I miss them.”

Hopefully he didn’t hear the details of our conversation, for his sake.

His sincerity took away any initial reaction I had that screamed, “Don’t take treats from strangers!”

Then he said, “The world is good to us, it’s not always as bad as they make it seem.” 

I think the difference between reckless blind trust and the kind of faith my girlfriend and I were talking about this weekend, lies in the difference between being impulsive (which has its place) and having your eyes wide open. When you know yourself well enough and have your eyes (and heart) open, making those choices gets a little easier. You don’t get attached to one outcome over another. You trust that the world will be good to you, because your eyes are open to all the ways that it already is.

High School Reunion

Published in Branded Magazine

IT HAD COME TIME TO ATTEND MY 10 YEAR HIGH SCHOOL REUNION.

How did I get here? I still remember what I wore on my first day of university. And didn’t I just move out?

I have to remind myself that I’ve had, like, six boyfriends, seven roommates, and it’s already been five years since I finished university. On a sunny afternoon in June of 2005, everyone warned me, “Don’t wish time away; it’s going to fly.” I was in my gown with too much eyeliner on and too platinum of hair, thinking only about after-grad and not much else.

Well, as expected, they were right.

I wish I had a hilarious reunion story about running into an old crush that had rejected my 15-year-old self only to wind up being one of those guys who ‘used to be hot.’ We all know those people who peaked in high school.

But I don’t have a story like that because I didn’t go. I don’t even know when it was, but I decided I would be busy that night.

Nevertheless, having been free from the doors of my high school for an entire decade, I’ve been thinking about all of the things that I’ve done and haven’t done since. In reminiscing, I became aware of the lessons that I’m really happy I stumbled upon. Though some of them involved a lot of growing pains, they have been instrumental in shaping the pretend fully functioning adult I am today.

10 Things I Learned in the Last 10:

1. There are many unconventional ways to make money. For a long time I felt judged for not taking a traditional career path, knowing that trying to justify my choices was futile. Yet I spent the majority of this summer working from my cabin. Never had I thought that I could design a schedule and a life that allowed me so much flexibility. It doesn’t have to be 9-5.

2. I remember hearing these lyrics for the first time and knowing exactly who I would dedicate them to: Ive got some friends,some that I hardly know, but weve had some times I wouldnt trade for the world.” Swing Life Away Rise Against

They reminded me of those restless souls that I stumbled upon while backpacking SE Asia, the standard twenty-two year old thing to do.

HSTRAVEL2

Traveling is a better teacher, self-discovery method, and roaring good time than you can imagine. Short trips or big trips, it’s worth every penny.

3. You’re going to offend people— it doesn’t make you a bad person. You are a good friend whether you say yes or no to going out for drinks. And anyone who is up to anything in this world is going to piss some people off.

There’s bound to be someone that thinks of you when “Bad Blood” comes on. Speaking of Taylor Swift lyrics…

4. a) Dating is hard. 

4. b) The grass is never greener. All you want is a boyfriend/girlfriend until you’re fighting with them about their ex, or what Netflix series to start. When you’re finally single and free again, the hunt for your next mate commences and the cycle continues.

4. c) Don’t compare your relationship to other people’s. You never know what their relationship is really like – we only post the good stuff, and even the good stuff is filtered.

4. d) GIRLS: Ignore boys who text you after 10 p.m. BOYS: If she doesn’t text you when she’s drunk, she’s not that into you.

5. Write things down. I first started writing down my goals when I was 23. Five years later, I am living the exact life that I envisioned. It’s freaky. Now I write down ridiculous unlikely things just to test out my manifesting powers.

But in all seriousness, you really are a powerful creator. Just decide, write it down, and take a tiny step in the right direction.

6. Don’t drink on an empty stomach. I’ve learned this lesson about 7,345 times.

6 b) What classifies as binge drinking is really not that much, and you’re probably going to have to lie to your doctor.

7. McDonald’s will never fill you up.

8. You will finally understand why your mother always bitched at you to put your dirty dishes in the dishwasher—especially if you end up with a messy roommate.

9. At some point you will realize that you are either wearing, or have eaten, all of your money. You will then proceed to scribble down a ‘budget’ that you’ll follow for a day and a half. Nothing will change.

10. Dating will seem like the most complicated thing in the world, until you’ve met someone great. Then friendships will take the cake for the thing that drains energy out of you. That is, if you let them. Relationships are tricky, whether they are romantic or not. The best advice I’ve ever been given is to speak up when something is bothering you, and to say what you’re really trying to say—but say it now, not three days or three years down the road.

And this:

One day, whether you are 14, 28 or 65 you will stumble upon someone who will start a fire in you that cannot die. However, the saddest, most awful truth you will ever come to find is they are not always with whom we spend our lives.” –Beau Taplin, The Awful Truth.

That good old saying, “People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime,” is true. And it’s okay. We play different roles in each other’s lives. Sometimes we are cheerleaders from afar as we watch one another conquer goals via social media. Sometimes we are not much more than drinking buddies, an occasional therapist, or a shoulder to sob on at 2:30 a.m. outside of a bar. And sometimes we even play the villain.

Overall, the last decade seems to have been a trial in learning to chase after what we want, while simultaneously learning to let things go. As much effort as this life requires, it needs to be matched with an acceptance and willingness to roll with the punches.

To the next 10.

I have to admit that the closer I get to 30, the less scary it seems. I imagine it to be a time where I’ll laugh at my twenty-something self and her petty problems, finally have a career figured out that seamlessly weaves together my passions that pays triple what I make now, and of course, eat salads every day.

I know, dream on.

I can only hope that the approaching dirty thirties have some great times in store. Until then, I will bask in the knowledge that the last 10 years have brought, and of course, continue to lie to my doctor about how many ounces of alcohol I consume on a weekly basis. 

I’ve also been writing about coffee and jackets. Check out brandedyyc.com

Oil & Grain Collab

Read this post on Oil & Grain

[“the first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are” – John Pierpont Morgan]

July 18, 2013. I’m not good with years or dates. I only know this was the day because I found the piece of paper I had scribbled on during an afternoon with three coworkers. Mid summer. Mid twenties. A couple hours before I had to go to work.

I was kind of lost. I was standing still.

The big question was posed – What one great thing would you dare to dream if you knew you could not fail?

I had heard that question many times before. But for some reason that afternoon the real honest answer came up – or maybe it had been there all along and I was finally ready to listen to it.

lululemon will call this kind of work goal setting. Danielle Laporte might call itDesire Mapping. [Read that book!] My writing mentor would call it intention setting. This particular question is Brian Tracy’s; he calls this work thePsychology of Achievement. My dad has a bucket list. My mom has a vacation planner. I dabble in all of the above.

The truth about me is that I’m as into personal development and making my life as rad as possible as I am going out on friday nights. I guess you could say I found a way to blend the two.

I say yes to out-of-body spiritual woo-woo stuff on yoga retreats. I say yes to doubles on Thursdays. Yes to personal development seminars and the self-help section at Chapters. Yes to making terrible decisions and laughing about them later.

So July 18th. Two summers ago. I got really honest with the question I mentioned above. “I would be our generations Candace Bushnell. I want to be recognized in a magazine as our generations Carrie Bradshaw.”

I had also heard the follow up question many times before. “What’s one thing you could do that would be a step in the right direction?”

Here’s my two cents on that question: I don’t think it so much matters what small step you take – it’s just the act of taking a step.

My favorite university professor who I met in 2006, and now my writing mentor and as I like to call her, my life coach, taught me a really important lesson: So often we get stuck in a spot where all we’re doing is debating to take path A or path B. We weigh the pros and cons, second guess ourselves, and let fear [of a million things] stop us from making a choice. We think that the big decision is whether we choose A or B. But the truth is, the real decision is just making Adecision. Any decision. What matters is pulling the trigger.

Because nothing is going to happen if you stand still. At least if you choose B, and it turns out to be shit, you can course-correct. You learn something. You’re going somewhere. My small step was sending my university professor an email to see if she was still teaching writing workshops. [She is – http://www.languageofyoga.com/%5D

There were thousands of other tiny choices and steps along the way. But what amazes me is how much ease there was in all of this. As soon as I took that first step, things started rolling.  I was just published for the first time, I write for Swagger Communications, I’m a regular contributor to Branded Magazine, and someone from the Sun just contacted me about freelancing. Last night I started to put together a portfolio. Things are rolling, one step at a time. Branded Magazine called me “Calgary’s Carrie Bradshaw.” That’s pretty close to what I scribbled down two summers ago.

And all I’m doing is being me, writing about what I want to write about, and saying yes to people, opportunities and connections. It can be that simple.

Someone else who is chasing dreams and taking tiny steps is my friend & photographer Nina. @ninavis www.ninavisphoto.com

We got together this winter because a) I was freaking out and feeling really self conscious about a magazine photo shoot I had just done and b) I wanted to capture this time of my life with more than just selfies. I wanted photos that felt like me, in my condo, in my belongs-on-a-beach wardrobe.

I have a mini freakout every time I hit “publish” on my blog [including right now] and Nina has a mini freakout every time she puts her images out into the world. Of course we do. We’re human. We’re girls taking paths a little less traveled and a little more risky.

Judgemental voice inside my head every day that I’m getting better at ignoring:Your dream is to be a writer? Good luck with that one.

But being able to express who we are creatively, and that feeling I have right now which I’m pretty sure is my heart going YES YES YES … these things make it all worth it.