Winter Solstice and the Wisdom of 2021

Today is the Winter Solstice. It’s also Yule, and with the start of winter comes the end of the calendar year, which always feels blank and fresh.

I’m thinking about all of the lessons of 2021. Trying to gather them between my mitts and pack them into something round and hard that I can roll forward and gather into some sort of meaningful shape. Some of these lessons are new, but the ones I feel most deeply are the ones I’ve been struggling with for a long, long time.

Here, in no particular order, are the ones that come to mind as I type this from my bed:

I am very well suited to living alone. This is a thing I enjoy tremendously. When I was in my twenties, and even my thirties trying to do this, I’d be so filled with anxiety and loneliness that I would go just about anywhere to get out of my empty apartment. Now I will spend entire days in my pjs, unwashed and puttering from room to room, neglecting household chores in favour of writing or reading, or cooking or making things. If I ever live with a partner again, I need a room or studio of my own that I can retreat to without question or repercussion. I imagine the type of person I’d settle with would need the same. In my fantasy, I have a bright and sunny writing and crafting studio and they have a woodshop.

Casual dating isn’t for me. For a long time, I’ve struggled with the notion of committed relationships. My track record hasn’t been good, and I started buying into this belief that maybe long-term relationships weren’t for me. What I believe now is that long-term relationships are hard work. If you’re stuck in old, unhealed patterns of behaviour, you’re inevitably choosing the wrong people to try to partner with. If you’re not committed to your own healing, you’re not aligned with your values in the way you need to be to create the foundation for a lasting connection. I’ve done a lot of work, and intend to continue to do the work. I want a safe container with a solid person who sees my value and can commit. I think I could co-create a beautiful life with the right person. I want that for me, and for my kids.

The only person who knows what’s best for me is me. It’s been one of my life’s great challenges to trust myself enough to believe that I can solely exist and thrive on my own steam. By January, I knew I couldn’t keep relying on the various safety nets I’d tried to create (roommates that didn’t work out, the pandemic relief fund, asking for the insight and opinions of people who I needed to create more distance from) and I’d have to figure it all out on my own. In some ways, this was easier than others. I felt confident making work decisions. I continue to have a hard time trusting myself when it comes to matters of the heart. This seems like a pretty clear indicator of where I need to do the work. A huge thank you to the trusted friends who are there when I need to talk through the ramblings of my inner world.

I am a good mother. My son had a very challenging first half of this year. I shed a lot of desperate tears, not knowing what to do to support him as he moved through some powerful emotion. On the other side of this, I know that sometimes all you can do is stay steady and create a container for the ones you love. Don’t be afraid to share your own mental health tools with your children. Be transparent (in age-appropriate ways) about your healing journey. We all need to know that these are LEARNED skills that we often learn much later in life than we should. Age and emotional intelligence are not always correlated, but it’s never too late.

I miss my daughters and if I want to see them, I will have to be the one to make that happen. My connection to my girls isn’t traditional or conventional. They aren’t my biological kids, and they don’t live with me. They’re also busy teenagers and I have to constantly check myself so I’m not taking their lack of response or availability personally. Losing a regular connection to them is easily the hardest part of the breakdown of my family. With one of them off to University soon, I need to make sure we have lots of time together in 2022.

When you’re with the right partner, you can heal in deep and profound ways. I’ve been seeing someone since August, and I’m deeply happy. It has been magical, sacred, and rewarding in so many ways. I’m so inspired and delighted by him. He’s teaching me patience, empathy, the value of moving slowly while building a connection, and the importance of establishing strong communication and emotional security. With him, my old patterns are shifting. I know this can also be credited to my own work, but he is firm in his boundaries and transparent in his intention and communication. I still catch myself feeling sometimes like the bottom is going to fall out if there’s a source of conflict or tension, but I can see that now as it’s happening, and communicate that, and he can root himself in his own needs while reassuring me that his emotions don’t mean he’s leaving. I know I’m helping him grow too, and it’s a beautiful thing.

All of my past relationship mistakes are rooted in my attachment wounds. This is too complex to sum up in one paragraph, but if you’ve struggled in love and connection you may want to do a deep dive into the rabbit hole of attachment theory. This is going to be my personal dedication in 2022. I intend to become an anxious attachment expert and heal myself in the process. I plan to share that here, in the hopes that some of you will benefit from what I’m learning.

I am an artist and I need to create and connect to the arts community. I published two books this year, and it was both terrifying and exhilarating to put my work out there. I learned so much about how I perceive my writing life, how it feels to embrace it, and how called I am to create space for other artists to share their work. I must stop neglecting my creativity and trust that it is a vital and necessary component of what I have to offer to others.

I need to get an education so I can have the career I dream of. I want to be a registered, qualified therapist. My journal coaching work has cemented this desire for me, and working with clients through the medium of writing has been so fulfilling and wonderful. Going back to school will help me remove any barriers to doing this work in deeper and more nuanced ways. I loved my brief taste of university in 2019, and I’m excited to begin school again full-time in 2021.

I need to continue to heal my relationship with money. The education piece is a component of this healing, but in 2022 I need an active, conscious effort to create security and stability. I am also committed to teaching my son about how to respect and share his own resources. I vow to never find myself in a precarious financial position again.

What another strange and incredible year this has been. So much uncertainty and confusion. So much growth and expansion. I can’t help but think the two are connected in some way. I’m grateful for all of the lessons of 2021, and I look forward to what the new year will bring.

Perhaps you might share one of your own powerful lessons from 2021 in the comments below?

Have a peaceful and joyful holiday season. May you gather with those you love, tend to your heart, and find moments of stillness to lean into gratitude.

An Autumn Ritual for Release

Release spells are best worked during the waning or dark moon.


A small table centered in a space with enough room around it to walk in a circle

An altar cloth of natural fibres

A vase of autumn flowers

A cup of wine, milk, or water

A dish of sea salt or Himalayan salt

A dish of water

Incense: cinnamon, evergreen, sandalwood

5 white or pure beeswax candles with holders for each



Fireproof vessel


A compass

Lay Your Altar:

Lay your altar cloth on your working surface. Arrange your flowers, and offering of wine, milk or water in the centre. Set your directional offerings on the altar at each of the directional points as follows: North/Earth (salt); East/Air (incense); South/Fire (one candle); West/Water (dish of water). Light your altar candle and your incense. Add fireproof vessel, matches, paper and pen to the altar area. Set a candle at each of the directional points, in a circle around your altar space with enough room for you to walk around inside the circle.

Cast a Circle:

Begin facing east. Centre yourself with a few slow, deep breaths. When you feel grounded, visualize something that represents the element of air. Welcome in the energy of this directional point as you light the candle. Moving clockwise, move next to the south. Visualize something that represents fire. Welcome in this fire energy, light the candle, and then move to the west. Visualize something to represent water. Welcome in this water energy, light the candle, and then move to the north. Visualize something that represents earth. Welcome in this elemental energy, light the candle, and then move to the east once more to complete the circle.

 Set Your Intention of Release:

Settle yourself comfortably before your altar. Breathe deeply as you feel the protective energy of your circle grounding you and helping you create sacred space. When you feel open and calm, take your pen and complete the following prompts:

  1. As the autumn trees release their colourful leaves, I wish to let go of:

  2. I must release this because it costs me:

  3. In releasing that which I have named, I create space for:

  4. These are the lessons I have learned from that which I am letting go:

Take three slow breaths when you feel you are finished writing everything you need. If more words or thoughts come, add them to your page(s). When you feel still and certain that you’ve put everything you need to on paper, fold the pages and lay them in the fireproof vessel. Read or speak the following words:

I cast this off so I can be

Open to what’s meant for me

My heart needs not the weight of these

Stones that rob it of its ease

Take these words that I have penned

Bring this cycle to its end

I release this to be whole

And find contentment in my soul

Strike a match and light the paper on fire. Do this as many times as required to turn the pages to ash. As the paper burns, visualize its contents leaving you.

Take three slow, grounding breaths.

When you are ready release your circle.

Releasing the Circle:

Begin this time in the west. Thank the elements of water and release them. Extinguish your candle. Repeat, moving counter-clockwise (south, east, north, ending again in the west). Scatter the ashes of your pages in a natural place outdoors, along with your offering of wine, water or milk.

Sparking Joy

It wasn’t a clean break. The space I was trying to build with someone else is still a work in progress because we weren’t ready to let go yet. It’s currently relationship limbo. That nebulous space where you know something is there, but nobody knows what it is, exactly. It seems I’m the kind of person who needs the security of a label. ‘Single, but dating’? ‘It’s Complicated’? I don’t know how any of this relationship stuff works, which is no small irony considering the career and life path I’ve chosen.

I’m taking until the end of this lunar cycle on the 31st to feel my way through to the next steps with this one. Do I keep trying? Do I start to let go and begin to date other people? Do I end it completely and take a break? It’s been challenging, and a few certainties have emerged. I’m certain I need to put the vast majority of my energy towards mom life and school. I’m certain that there are specific personality types/behaviours that trigger incredible anxiety for me in relationship. I’m certain that I’ve lost my sense of joy.

Losing my joy is frankly scary. I blame nobody but myself for this. My ability to find joy, or at the very least, beauty in every day is what gets me by. I’ve been so consumed in this relationship puzzle, and in fact, the relationship puzzle at large, that I’m losing the wonder of each moment. Why have I made finding romantic love so important? Is it because I feel that it ultimately eludes me? Is it because I’m afraid of being alone? Am I trying to prove my worth through someone else? Am I trying to justify the terrible heartbreak I weathered with a shiny prize in the bottom of the box?

My wise friend Paje recently said ‘don’t look for a relationship, but let a relationship emerge if there’s going to be one’. This was like a small explosion in my brain. I should not compromise or commit exclusively until I am completely sure that there is something real emerging. Something real and mutual.

So, it’s back to the foundation again. My foundation. The qualities and choices that lead me to my higher purpose; to the kind of woman I want to be. She is strong, loving, independent, wise, generous, sensual, inspiring. She wants someone who will celebrate this with her the way that her dear friends do. The way that she celebrates the wonder of the people she loves. Someone who has the space in their life to actually see her, and know her worth. Is that really possible here?

Maybe I was too hungry for this idea of a relationship. Maybe the Universe knows that I’m not ready for a relationship right now, even if I believe otherwise. Maybe it’s a bad time to eat when you’re starving because that’s when you make choices that aren’t so healthy.

It’s a gray day here, but the heat has broken. I’m moving through this Monday sifting for joy in the mundane. I feel lucky that I can work from home and spend the morning sipping amazing coffee without worrying about what I look like. I feel, for a brief moment, the sweet buzz of an excellent energy exchange the night before. I take note of the fact that the sight of my belly in this clingy dress doesn’t bother me as much as it usually does. I give thanks for the low cost of repairing my punctured tire (thanks Peninsula Tire). I’m happy for good food for lunch. There’s a coffee date with my lovely friend Kate to look forward to. Maybe I’ll buy myself a birthday dress at the outlet mall. I’ll get to see my kids later, even if it’s just for a little visit. I’ll think of my free evening as an opportunity to catch up on my studies. Don’t dwell. Keep on moving forward.

Each day I need to wake up and promise myself that my priority will be searching for the good and the beautiful. Even if the day has only tiny morsels to offer up. Can you believe, after everything I went through last year, that I would allow myself to lose sight of my worth? To lose sight of the sparkle I’ve fought so hard to recapture? It happens to the best of us, doesn’t it? We take for granted our own priorities until suddenly we don’t even feel like ourselves anymore.

Here’s a little exercise. My therapist, James McQueen taught me this one, and I revisit it again and again. James introduced me to Acceptance and Commitment therapy (or ACT) and I really love the hands-on approach to mindfulness that ACT offers:

Divide a page into four quadrants.

In the bottom right quadrant, make a list of the core values that are most important to you. Also list the people who are most important in your life. 

In the bottom left quadrant, list all of your behaviours and feelings (including self-talk phrases) that take you away from your values. 

In the top left list all of the ways that you manage any emotion or behaviour that takes you further away from these values. 

In the top right quadrant, create a list of things you can do to manage the behaviours and bring yourself closer to your core values.       
You can apply this exercise to life in general, to your career, to any specific relationship, or to relationship as a concept. This entire blog is a testimony to the power of writing things down when you’re trying to manifest change, and there’s real power in revisiting the words you’ve committed to the page.     

For more information about ACT, you can visit this site There’s lots of excellent free resources here too.

And so, as I launch into birthday week (I’m a Leo, we don’t just have one day) I’m on the hunt for that which I can delight in. What are some tiny things that you do to spark your own joy?                                                                                                                                                  

2018 Wish List

Happy New Year!

Photos by Kyle Andrew

I hope the festive season was good to you and those you hold in your heart. This year, we slowed things down for the holidays. We knew we wanted to try something different after a particularly maudlin 2017 Christmas, but this decision was reinforced by a series of daily meltdowns I had leading up to the holidays. (I can’t talk about that yet, but I will soon). Christmas Day was spent at home, all day, in our PJs. My parents, brother, auntie and dear cousin joined us for a small turkey feast and we played cards, ate too much, and shared some laughs. This felt so completely right, that it’s gotta become a new tradition.

Tweens hugging

Another new tradition is crafting a list of things I’d like for the brand new year. I won’t call them resolutions, because I feel the pressure just typing those letters. I wanted to write something for you as we sail into the New Year, but everything I started to craft sounded like trite horse shit. I’m sitting on a mountain of change, and I can’t talk about it yet. I’m avoiding sharing my feelings with you because they’ve been messy, and unpleasant, and embarrassing. Instead, I give to you my 2018 wish list.


  • More fun ways to exercise
  • A return to a keto lifestyle
  • Increased energy
  • Gratitude for my healthy body
  • Creativity in the bedroom
  • Time in nature
  • Time in the kitchen
  • Stress management techniques that work
  • A sense of security


  • More face-to-face time with my friends
  • More time connecting with my kids
  • Down time
  • A gratitude practice
  • Bubble baths
  • Reading for pleasure
  • Frivolous ways to spend time
  • Opportunities for volunteering
  • Dinners with family
  • A sense of security
  • Truth bombs on the daily
  • Saying no to things that make me anxious and resentful


  • Crafting time
  • Journal time on the regular
  • Crafts with the kids
  • A sense of security


  • Organization
  • Discipline
  • Growth
  • Daily writing practice
  • Regular efforts at promotion
  • A published novel and/or literary agent
  • A sense of security

In addition to this list, I intend to spend the next few days mind-mapping all of the ideas rolling around in my brain when it comes to work. I don’t actually know what mind-mapping is, but when I imagine myself doing this, I’ve got colorful markers in hand and I’m puking out random ideas onto an empty page. I have some power over my work life, and I’d like to exert control where I can.

Another thing I just did, not because I’m feeling particularly nostalgic, but because my SEO optimizer prompted me to add some internal links, was go back through this blog and ready every post I’ve ever written around January 1st. This hurt my heart, and in particular, I could see a real turning point in 2014. As I type, I find myself yearning for the articulation and joy of 2016 (my brother’s awesome photos really say it all, though). These posts are inconsistent, but I’ve linked you here in case anyone would like to read my evolution:







Kid drinking milk christmas pajamas

It’s impossible to know what’s going to happen in 2018. It seems that each year, there’s a sea change, and trying to prepare for such a thing seems like a guaranteed way to get washed out. I’ve become an expert in self-reliance, and that’s something. In fact, I think that’s everything, now. I can count on myself. I can take care of myself. I believe I’m a good mother, though certainly not perfect. I have sometimes believed that I’m a good partner, but I don’t know about that anymore.

I’d like to find stability and trust in 2018, even if that means trusting my own two feet to carry me the rest of the way. If I’m deeply honest, (and vulnerable in the ways you’ve always seemed to love), I’d like to know that lasting romantic love does in fact exist, and that it’s safe to trust another person on a profound level.

What’s on your 2018 Wish List?

A To-Do List For A Difficult Day

Anyone who knows me knows about my love/hate relationship with November. This year, I seem to have gone darker and deeper into the grey than ever before. I need vitamin B, or iron. I need a week off. There’s never enough sleep, never enough time. The leaves are hanging on longer because even they seem to know that I need the added brightness of their outrageous colours. The good news is, it’s nearly over.

Here’s a to-do list for today. It will likely be extended to tomorrow as well. These are big days for me, these two. Big enough that without such a list, I might just sit here and stare out the window and not get anything done at all. Feel free to borrow this list, any time you need to. You’re guaranteed to feel at least 3% better if you use it.

Today I will…

  1. Eat an entire bar of chocolate. Well, almost. But, it’s fair trade and sugar free. Plus it’s dark, 70% even, so I’m okay with this.
  2. Cry over nothing.
  3. Cry over some really big things.
  4. Write.
  5. Try to work. Mostly suck at this.
  6. Make an entire thermos of tea and sip it slowly all afternoon.
  7. Listen to Leonard Cohen.
  8. Miss my kids.
  9. Colour.
  10. Read for pleasure.
  11. Eat soup for dinner.
  12. Wear my slippers at work because I need the extra cozy.
  13. Wear lipstick, or something else that makes me feel better.
  14. Finish all my work so I can do whatever I want all weekend.
  15. Send lovey emojis to my cousin-sister.
  16. Call my mom.
  17. Hug my kids after school.
  18. Go for a walk.
  19. Try not to cry in front of people who barely know me.
  20. Avoid the news, because sometimes I have to.
  21. Sing.
  22. Have a glass of wine, but only one.
  23. Make a fire in the fireplace.
  24. Add some frankincense to the diffuser.
  25. Watch a funny Christmas movie.
  26. Eat popcorn.
  27. Light a candle.
  28. Remember the spectacular depth and breadth of love.