Thank you, 2018.

The jingling of board game pieces floats in and out of ear shot. My niece and nephews are crowded under a blanket, watching Youtube. My brother-in-law pushing away a toy stroller. My sister has the word “hope” spelled out on a dining hutch. It stares at me. Four white, block letters stand at attention. My attention.

‘Hope’ accurately sums 2018. I did much wishing, and yearning, and learning, and hoping this year. Hope that my daughter would move to be with me. Hope that my relationship would work out. Hope that I’d survive when it didn’t. Hope that my nearly three-year separation would finally dissolve into divorce. Hope that I’d stop thinking of her, and him, and those people, and that embarrassing moment. Hope that I’d learn to live alone, that I’d sleep on both sides of the bed in equal measure, that I’d remember to call, that I’d challenge myself to new things. That I’d stop napping everyday, that I’d stay awake during the twilight fares in my cab. I hoped I’d fight my way through my financial struggles and challenges. That my car would make the trek back and forth to Kitchener. That I’d take holidays with my kids. Hope for better days; brighter tomorrows.

Hope that I’d make friends. Hope that I’d finally make Kingston home, without the guilt that I had sustained through-out the first portion of the year.

I’ve recently re-read my 2017 note. I’d resolved to stop allowing people to get the better of me. To stop allowing myself to care when someone didn’t like me, or made me feel inferior. I resolved to stop giving into the anger, and bitterness; to not allow people’s opinions best me into submission.

That part didn’t work out so well. But I had really hoped it would.

I toppled into the dating field some time in the summer. I hoped something would work out, pan out, become something more than I was hopeful for. I hoped a reconciliation was imminent. I hoped the asshole who cat-fished me would be struck with a fate of karma. I hoped that the him I met for drinks came clean to his wife after I berated him for trying to cheat. I hoped the him I chatted with briefly realized that it was scuzzy to think a gal is ready to jump into bed just because he met up with her for breakfast one idle morning.

But what I had really hoped for was to stop feeling lonely, and sad, and longing. And, eventually, I realized that was exactly what was happening. It had taken no more than becoming my own best friend for that to finally come to fruition.

I took the reigns on my own life far sooner than I gave myself credit for. I worked harder. I met new people. I smiled more. I stopped napping as often. I started jogging. I went to the gym. I sang karaoke. I wrote my cab exam, and started hosting Fridays at the raddest country bar in town. I met handfuls of wonderful human beings, who supported my every step. Let me break when I couldn’t stand up straight, cushioned my falls, listened to my worries, and guided me through the tough times. Laughed with me in the good times. We joked, and told stories, and created memories that far exceeded my expectations. These people became my beacon and my strengthAnd more to that – they made Kingston home.

I started working in a music store, and swapped Empire Records stories with my new boss & new-found soul mate. I created new opportunities for myself at the radio station. I forged a new friendship with my daughter’s step-mother. I strengthened my relationships with my children, and their families. I started writing again. I started contributing to print media again. I started seeing bands again, and allowing myself to drink in the sheer joy of nightlife, and daylight, and when things started to feel right, I was ready to start being wholly myself again. I lived by the motto: “live your best YOLO”. I traversed the 401 till I thought my tires would burn out on the highway – with my playlist still banging loud.

I planned Welcome Home parties, and went to every country music festival I could sink my teeth into. I went to potlucks, and dinners, and meet ups, and hang-outs. I introduced concerts, and shows, and festivals. I reveled in the sunshine, brought family up to see me in my new world. In my corner of happiness.

And that’s what hope became. Hope translated into happiness. And not because the things I thought I’d hoped for had come true in the literal sense. But that my priorities shifted, and my expectations for hope suddenly became the simple desire to just be happy. And ready. And eager. To become satisfied with my own company, consoling myself into leaving the worrying behind. That I was enough for me. And that would make me enough for someone else.

As the year came to a close, I stopped apologizing for being someone who cared too much, and embraced the heart on my sleeve – whatever that may mean for me. Breaking my trust says something about their character, not mine. And once I became fully aware of who I was – what I loved, what I needed, what I hoped for – someone stepped in and said: I like all of this. I like all of you. I like everything you are, just like this.

That was more than I could have ever hoped for.

And this is the part where I say I became a better person in 2018. Or that tomorrow is the first of a 365 page book. This is where I leave you with something meaningful and motivational. That I impart some advice on how to become a version of ourselves we’re totally happy with each and everyday. I could use words like “journey” and “blessed”.

But here’s what I’ll sign off with, instead.

I hope 2019 is great for each of you. In its own way. I hope that whatever you do or don’t resolve, you find peace with however the year turns out. Moments, memories; chances, opportunities, challenges and chapters. I’m hoping the best for you for 2019.

xo

 

“When You Say Nothing At All”

I have to be up in a few hours.

It’s more than likely the reason I can’t sleep.

I thought at first it was because I’ve had a gnarly head cold the past couple of days. Or it’s because tomorrow I snuggle my babies off before school.

But the truth is, I simply have too many things jumbling around and when I can’t sleep, a writer does what writer’s do best. They write about it. It, in this collective case, is all the things I thought I should, or could, say but I’ve found something more powerful than words – when you say nothing at all.

“You say it best … when you say nothing at all,” Alison Krauss

Tonight, I caught up with a good friend who let me in on a new musical series she’s launching. An opportunity for people to sit and just get lost in the music. A space so quiet, you could hear a pin drop. The series would feature the voice of the musician. The notes of the song. A room with such dense acoustics, the audience is permitted to only take in what the artist has to offer. The sounds of silence.  I love it.

What is it about silence that we so desperately seek and crave?

The fact of the matter is that we fill our everydays with traffic. From meetings, to lectures, to classes, to parenting, to Social Media. We are absorbed by the cackling of the television, and the frequency of the dial. We jump to a notification from our phones. And we leap to grab that call. We are immune to silence. We are consumed by sound, and noise, that even our own thoughts get washed away in the conversation of our daily lives.

What happened to silence?

And then it becomes more than that. It becomes the gentle caress of a loved ones fingers brushing your hair as you both huddle in for a good night’s rest.

It’s the unspoken sanctity of a little one crawling into your lap when they’re not feeling well; you immediately understand their signals of security.

Remember the time her breath on your neck caught the attention of your entire body? Remember the flutter your heart felt when his hand touched yours?

Silence is power. Without saying anything, you can speak more in silence than a laureate could sonnet in a thousand read couplets.

Silence is deadly. You can reveal your character without uttering a spoken word just by the expression written in your eyes and on your soul.

Silence is necessary. When the axis of the world turn out of place, some nights you’ll beg for silence to drown out even the most remote of thoughts from your weary heart.

For me, the silence is resonating. I lose myself in the hours where I have only myself to rely on for conversation. In the days I’m stocking shelves, changing over the laundry, driving down the 401, working on show prep. Some days, I don’t speak out loud at all. The TV never turns on. I don’t crank out a drop of music.

Some days, I invoke silence like a spirit I’ve called home to console.

And what can you do with silence?

The answer is everything. You can find yourself. You can mediate your thoughts. You can reflect on your character. You can make decisions, and you can decide not to make decisions at all. But mainly – you can be quiet and let the traffic around you mute away to a dull roar that barely whispers.

You can sit in silence and hold on to the last thing that is yours – you.

In a world that hangs on your every word, demands your attention, calls for your commands, and desperately waits for the next thing you say – find silence. Find a way to say nothing at all. Find a way to reserve it for yourself. Give yourself permission to bask in the silence and the sunshine and the state of peace you so rightly deserve.

You might find that you say, speak, sound much louder when you say it with silence.

xo

 

Day 1 – You Are Not For Everyone

Thought I’d lead off 2018 with an optimistic headline.

You are not for everyone. Sounds negative, but reality sometimes feels like that.

When I first got into my career, I never really gave the opinions of others much thought. Not to say I didn’t care. The opposite, in fact. I cared a lot. But I hadn’t really considered how quickly I’d find out that people didn’t like me. And people really didn’t like me. A few, anyway.

My caring about how others perceive me, or feel about me, is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, I’m cautious and concerned for people. Genuinely. I want to make people happy. Laugh. I want to remember birthdays. I want to go for dinner to catch up. I want to be humble. And kind. I want to be someone who makes an effort to not be offensive. I want to be likable.

On the other hand, if people don’t like me, it’s all consuming. This is the curse. What did I do wrong? How can I make it better? What did I say? What did I do? How did my mouth get me into trouble this time? And how long will Istew over this? (Generally, the answer is until someone new doesn’t like me.)

But here’s why this blog is relevant today. Day 1 of 365. January 1st, 2018.

It’s relevant because this year, I’ve resolved to make a real, genuine effort to accept when people simply just don’t like me.

Because the other danger of working hard to make people like you, is that you lose sight of yourself. You start shedding your true colours to chameleon to their community. You start to sacrifice your principles, your values on the altars of simply being liked. And when it doesn’t work out – because it won’t work out, it can’t – you’re giving away free rent in your head to someone who, gasp, doesn’t like you anyway. And you know what else? They’re not thinking about you, either.

These are tough, unlikable truths.

But what is likable? Knowing that there is a mess of people out there who do like you. Who do care about you. Who allow you to be who you are freely and without reservation. Your weirdness aligns with theirs. And you don’t have to work on making them like you. They just do. That’s likable.

For me, I want those who tune in to my show to have a great time. Laugh with me. Joke with me. And for those off the air – my partner, my kids, my family, my friends – I want to be present for them; not locked away worrying about who I couldn’t collect in my sphere of friendships. Or who I’d had previously thought were friends. Or could be friends. Or could simply find me likable.

Not everyone will like you. You are not for everyone. But for some, you’re everything. Resolve to remember that. 💋

xo

So It Wasn’t The Year You Were Expecting

When I closed my eyes on the night of December 31st, 2016, my life looked exceptionally different than it does today.

There is some comfort in consistency. I’m obviously still a Mama. I’m clearly still a radio kid.

But I went to bed very alone that night. And very determined to wake up to a better 2017.

On the morning of New Year’s Day, I thought I’d have it straightened out. My marriage and soon to be legal separation. My goals and priorities. My objectives for the year. I thought I knew – for the most part – what 2017 was going to look like.

For starters, I was going to get out of my current residence; one where my ex and I had started to plant our roots. In less than six months, I’d have the kids and I outta the house that took me days to plow the driveway; weeks to mow the lawn. Multiple jobs to pay the rent and utilities. Now it was going to be over. The future looked bright.

But within a few weeks of the New Year, I met an illusion. With red hair and a promise. I abandoned what I thought I knew in favour of a new destiny. New Instagram photos. Renewed fire and passion in my heart. Something that had been buried but now reignited.

The illusion evaporated a mere few months later; and like a hangover, I groggily reached for the Advil and set a new path.

When I reflect back on 2017, the year seems little more than a spiral; a vortex of muddled emotions strung on tight rope of all that held dear. What was best for the kids? For me? Where did I go next? What happens next? After all I’d struggled to achieve over the previous decade, how did I end up back at the bottom again, yearning to see the light?

Family and friends carried me through the summer months. They broke their backs, lifting the weight I was unable to hold up alone. I am indebted to each of them. They focused for me, while I tried desperately to regain my footing.

Professionally, the year rolled along with new and exciting challenges and opportunities. However dark my personal life became, work became the veil that I could hide beneath. An escape from reality. The adage reversed; I strove to not bring home to work. For much of the year, I was successful. For part of it, not nearly enough. I try not to live with regret. I regret merging my personal life with my work life; and sometimes being too blind to see the difference.

I lost my TV show this year. It’s tough to translate how I feel about not volunteering anymore. I had been a part of Rogers TV off and on since 2002, and consistently since 2010. It was bittersweet. Packing up my vinyl from the set. Deleting the socials. It was surreal. Had it really happened at all?

The year held various victories for me. For each misstep, a lesson learned. For every point-your-finger-and-ask-why, a chance to do it better next time.

My kids went from grade to grade this year. One started high school. One turned the year-long milestone in her relationship. One headed off to Grade 6; the new Queen Bee in her school. The kids – the three of them – have grounded me into the woman I so hope I am. The one they see me as. The one who perpetually tries harder every day to be the Mama they so richly deserve.

I met Aaron this year. And cliches be damned – for what he and I have tackled, worked through, accomplished, it’s hard to believe we haven’t been together longer. Our first date was tribute bands and beers. From that night forward, we forged a path that has been complete with peaks and valleys, gullies and waterways. The least this has been for either of us is easy. And yet – we’re walking into 2018 hand in hand. I continue to treasure this man who’s become my best friend. My rock. The year seemed impossible at times. He became the voice of reason when the noise of the world threatened to drown out every rational thought I thought I had left. New Years 2018, will look different again, I think.

But what was the real lesson of 2017? If that’s what we’re supposed to take away from the previous year, if we’re supposed to reflect on what we learned and how to make it different for the year to come, then what was it for me? What did I take away from a year I became so bitter during? So angry during? So betrayed, hurt, frightened, alone, afraid, impoverished by?

I learned I wasn’t anything to anyone by stretching myself so thinly that I could only be somewhat to some people.

I was so consumed by what I considered misfortune that I was entrenched in my own misery. I was half a person. Half the time I could hide how frustrated I was. The other half I spent screaming like a wild animal (and that’s both literal and metaphorical).

And before it did take over my life, I had one last card in my hand. And it turned out to be the Ace.

In November, I gave it all up and left it all behind. My Facebook. My home. My hometown. My phone number. And my pain.

In 2018, I’ll wake up in a new apartment, in a new city, with my three wonderful babies. In 2018, I’ll remember that it doesn’t always happen for a reason you’re supposed to understand right away. In 2018, I’ll resolve to let it go sooner, to stop lurking in the corners of self-pity, to refuse beating myself up emotionally over the things I can’t change. In 2018, I’ll remember that 2017 nearly broke me. More times than once. But phoenix and ashes, right?

And while we’re on the topic of seeing the good – I did see the Dixie Chicks in 2017. I surprised my Mama with Tim & Faith tickets for her birthday. I surprised my Kid C with Katy Perry, introduced Kid B to Rascal Flatts and took a trip to the city with Kid A to see Kesha. I also lived on the beach, covered the Much Awards, interviewed dozens of artists, danced, laughed, and sang with multiple friends and family.

Balance. Good with the bad. Rotten with the great.

And when it became too much – when the scales were tipped so far from my reach I could do nothing more than to jump with both feet on my side of the teeter totter – it was time to let it go in a big, massive, life-altering way.

Wishing you all the best for 2018. Whether it becomes the year you expect, or not. 💋