New Year Navigation

A fresh blanket of snow, glittering and wondrous in the dazzling light of a cloudless sky, is the perfect canvas for the start of a new year.

2021 ended with such fragile, exquisite beauty, my heart was soaring with the hope that everything was coming together at last. Then, 2022 began with a painful, jarring reminder that my past lessons continue to repeat themselves. A reminder that I am solely responsible for some of the things I allow in my life.

I’ve chosen to live in the grey now for quite some time. There is more context and meaning when one moves away from either-or, and all or nothing. Empathy lives in the grey. Compassion feeds off muted, washed-out tones. I see myself in others through this foggy lens, and with these eyes, I can afford more grace.

Some of the most powerful lessons of my life have been gathered over the last four years. The greatest being that I am my own best source for everything. This doesn’t diminish my capacity to connect or to be open and vulnerable. True autonomy allows for softness and transparency because I know now that if I am not received in the way I need to be, I already have all that I require to live the kind of life that I want.

What are the things you value above all else? This list is a compass by which to steer every decision, every direction you choose. This values compass navigates the grey like a lighthouse beacon.

If you value family, this doesn’t mean that you must choose family over all else. It means that you can choose friends and partners who also share deep family values.

If you value independence and freedom, it doesn’t mean you should be alone. It means you can align yourself with others who also need solitude from time to time and who have a vast array of their own passions to pursue.

If you value stability and security, it doesn’t mean you should slam the door on situations that feel unsteady. It does mean that you should nurture your own stability and security while you observe how the swirling grey might move and shift to a reality that better aligns with what you value.

The clean slate of a new year is truly an opportunity for a fresh start. I will move ahead, grounded in self and certain of my worth. This is my story, in which I take on huge personal challenges in the hopes of bettering myself and creating more stability and security for myself and my children.

I’ve realized my theme for 2022. This is what I will dedicate myself to; growth, courage, stability, and security. If the choices and relationships in my life cannot align, then I will choose other directions.

And because I love the grey so much, I recognize that growth and courage are most certainly going to lead to some measure of instability.

Some adult in my childhood long before the days of GPS and Smartphones had a compass stuck on the dashboard of their car. The thing contained water, and any bump in the road would create a tiny tempest under the bubbled dome. The directional points would swirl and toss and then eventually right themselves again.

I’m watching my life like that little device. I’ve got both hands on the wheel, and I’m steering around the biggest potholes. There once was a time where I was perpetually off-roading, and it was as messy as you might imagine.

Happy New Year. Thank you for spending some time here with these words. If you’ve arrived at your own theme for 2022, I’d love to read about it in the comments below.

Pandemic Saturday

The sun is determined to shine here today, even though the temperature has barely made the double digits. It’s not quite noon, I’m in sweatpants and my hair is still damp. I was hoping it would dry in pretty waves. Half my head cooperated, the other half decided a scraggly, limp situation was all it was going to manage. It’s Saturday, I understand the desire to phone it in.

Our restaurants, bars, public spaces, and theatres all continue to be shut down here in Southern Ontario. We seem to be failing at pandemic management, and I’m not going to start pointing fingers. The fact is, I don’t know enough to know how to do this right. I survived COVID, which for me was like a mild flu with about four days of rather intense body aches. The worst part was being separated from my kids while I quarantined.

This weirdo time is teaching me some things. I suppose I’m not special there. We’re all learning, I hope. The biggest lesson for me has been how much I need myself. How I need to be clear on what I want. That I can provide most of what I want on my own. Anyone else I invite in should also appreciate what I want. I need to be absolutely alone every now and then to be aware of what I actually feel.

There are a few big concepts I’ve been working on. Self-abandonment is one of them. It’s a buzzword, but it’s also something I’ve been guilty of my whole life. Human Design is another one (I’m a 6/2 Reflector, in case you’re into that sort of thing). Codependence and Ego. This is the cocktail I’ve been mixing on the daily to get through this pandemic. I need to garnish it with patience and a steady reminder to stay in the Feminine.

Be careful about how much I drink, attentive to how many herbs I’m using. I now realize I have to get my carbohydrate consumption in hand. Write every day, sit in intentional silence every day. Stretch and walk every day. I forget this, I feel awful, and then I adjust. Over and over and over.

I miss a few people. I’ve kept most of my core humans close, but there’s a handful of them who I’ve been thinking of: my troupe of Toronto peeps, that unassuming girl with the incredible voice and capacity for epic porch chats, the blue haired girl who felt like my little sister, the brash young mama who stole my heart by farting loudly and unapologetically while a bunch of us hung in her backyard shed, that sage who used to help me start my day with meditations and prayers, my sweet friend with the big heart and the woodlot getaway.

Dating has been largely unsuccessful, but I haven’t given up. I’ve connected with some people who I know are kind-hearted, but our lifestyles don’t really align. Others show promise, but not enough capacity to create space to connect. If there’s one piece of dating advice I could give, it’s work on yourself until you are in a space where you really, truly love being alone. It’s from this place that you’ll understand what you’d like in a romantic relationship.

I will never feel like I am chasing someone again.

Meanwhile, I know there’s someone out there who can appreciate being a parent, understands their own values, loves nature, has time and the desire to nurture a relationship, is a great cook, and can enjoy a bit of hedonism while still making their health a priority. I’ll tack on responsibility, emotional intelligence, and a strong sense of purpose.

I’ll never close my heart, but I can see now how full it is without anyone else occupying it. I know this theme is repetitive, but I also know that there are many of us who haven’t arrived at this yet. I just want you to know that you can get there.

And so, I’ll do a bit of housework now. I’ll dial up a cheery play list, and burn some juniper after everything is tidy and clean. I’ll cut the 6″ excess off those new wide-legged jeans and try to do something with this hair. I’ll venture to the grocery store and choose some wine and an exciting cheese and then have a visit with my crush from the bar I used to frequent. I’m excited about a conversation that doesn’t involve us shouting at each other over the noise.

Let’s all stop shouting at each other over the noise.

A Year Ago

Do you remember who you were a year ago?

I was frustrated. Impatient. I felt like I could see all of my dreams like puzzle pieces, but like a dream, I couldn’t get any of the pieces to fit together. Deep in my gut, I knew how fully I loved, but on the surface a lot of it wasn’t making sense. I kept forcing the pieces together because I wanted the big picture.

Now, I am the big picture. The whole thing from start to finish. I’ve lost lovers, friends, co-dependent connections, homes. I’ve moved three times in a year. Three times. Every twist and turn my life takes pushes me closer to myself. I feel this in a way that’s so clear, I can surrender to the disruption and uncertainty, because the outcome is always my own autonomy. 

You won’t have a solid romantic relationship, but you will have a burgeoning journal therapy practice and do the work you were always meant to do.

You won’t be able to live out some Golden Girls fantasy life with a roommate, but you’ll have the means to have a lovely home for you and your children.

You won’t be able to keep all of these friends and lovers, but you’ll be so rooted in yourself, you won’t be lonely.

I was driven by a longing to find that one, great love. Now I feel like a Whitney Houston song. 

Have you ever heard of a twin flame? No, it’s not another cheesy 80’s ballad. It’s the notion that there’s a relationship out there that mirrors your own soul. This other person doesn’t complete you (because we are all complete when we are connected to self, and source) but they hold a mirror up and invite you to do some of your deepest healing work. If both people can recognize and embrace this, it can be a deeply powerful connection. 

If they can’t, well, they continue to mirror each other’s deepest wounds.

My last serious relationship (also a year ago) was exactly this. Why else would I have felt such a deep, safe connection at a soul level, and total confusion and frustration on the surface? He’s a good person, not malicious in any way, I just think we kept showing each other where we still needed to heal. Not a very useful thing, if we’re not ready for the healing.

So, I took all the information I received from that connection and I’ve been working on my own to mend and understand those places; the need for validation, the co-dependence, the attention-seeking, the fear of focusing on my own talents and passions, my understanding of how I can experience other people’s energy, my sexuality, the filling of my own cup. 

This kind of work is the work of a lifetime, but I feel tremendously rooted in what I’ve discovered. I’ve found outlets for some of my behaviours and needs that are powerful and useful, and in fact, can serve others in an entirely healthy way.

I’ve abandoned the story of finding my other half in favour of embracing my wholeness. 

My love remains, but I can hold it with gratitude for the lessons and release everything that isn’t meant for me.

Do you ever try to imagine returning to a packed bar or restaurant, filled with the people you used to see? When I entertain this fantasy, I imagine that nobody will recognize me. I’ll be familiar, yet strange. I’ll be a wizened, tested version of myself, simultaneously older-looking and more compelling. Maybe they will come and say hello, or maybe they’ll turn too fast and I’ll know they’re avoiding contact. 

It won’t matter now. I have a seat at my own table, and no matter who joins me, it always feels full.

The Crow Herald

It’s been just over a week since I asked him to leave. At the new moon last Tuesday, I committed to transparency. To look at the last year, our year, and identify patterns. To search for the lessons in old journal entries, poems, blog posts and to uncover the truth that I must realize in order to move forward.

I have lived so much of my life in fear, and that fear has informed so many of my reactions. Now, we are collectively gripped by fear, fanned daily by the media and the ever-changing reality we find ourselves in. I don’t like where my fear has led me. Not in this. Not in so many past relationships.

The need to protect myself from perceived threat becomes greater than all else when I am in conflict with my love. Perceived threat can be blown way out of proportion by my lizard brain. In my reactivity, I seek to guard rather than to find any empathy or compassion. I retreat into myself, and the intensity of my emotion. It makes it impossible to connect. To collaborate. To build trust.

Another discovery: a “sky is falling” feeling that comes up in the face of relationship conflict. The moment I fall into that ‘perceived threat’ place, it feels like it’s the end of everything. It’s not a disagreement between two people who love each other, it’s the end. With this filter, my close friends and confidantes often get a skewed perspective of relationship. My hurt, scared, confused perspective.

I need to trust myself in my capacity to handle the unknown in love. I need to trust the love I create to be the light that guides us out of the murk together. 

This is my piece in the struggle for trust that has afflicted my romantic relationships. I’m not shouldering blame for all that went wrong, (relationship dynamic is created by both people and we both made some unhealthy choices) but if I’m not humble, where do I find grace? How do I know what to take to my mindfulness practice? To therapy?

I looked up my astrological chart last week. I’m a Leo sun, and now I know I’m a Taurus rising. This means I’m stubborn as hell, which isn’t a surprise to me, or to anyone who has tried to love me. This particular phrase felt like a gut punch: “Stubbornness and persistence can get you places. However, it can sometimes cause interpersonal problems, mainly because people close to you can be tempted to approach you in roundabout ways simply to get their way. If this persists, relationships can become toxic. Aim for more flexibility and place more value on others’ honesty and directness than peace and harmony in the moment.” (From

I have not been the partner I want to be. I want to extend the same kind of empathy and compassion to my partnership that I have no trouble accessing in friendship, or with family. I want to offer that compassion to myself as I realize where I’ve acted out of integrity. I want to create stability and trust. I want to be reliable and steady, even when I’m hurt and scared.

We met yesterday in the cemetery. This place has now become a sanctuary for me, for my child. The sunshine had returned, and it was warm enough to shed my jacket. I sat, leaning against the stone columns, watching honey bees buzzing in the dandelions and creeping veronica. As I waited for him to arrive, I saw a dragonfly. It’s not even May yet, but there it was, just above me. I was filled with light in that moment. In my family, dragonfly is widely recognized as a visit from my Aunt Jackie, whose wisdom and strength (and independence) I call on frequently.

In the realm of animal omens, dragonfly signals the presence of magic.

He arrived, and we sat eight feet apart from one another. No hug, no kiss. How does one navigate relationship strife in a pandemic? We eased slowly into a conversation. I knew I had to make space for his feelings and his beliefs, no matter what emotion either conjured in me.

A crow landed at the top of a tree several feet behind him. Crows always feel like guides to me. This one wasn’t leaving, and I felt a stirring somewhere deep inside. We continued to talk, and the crow flew over us, landing in a tree behind me, just a little up the embankment, maybe ten feet away. I remarked that it seemed to want to be closer. It started to crow.
We continued to talk, and the crow kept cawing. “I hear you,” I said.
It wouldn’t let up. I looked at my love and said,  “I think it wants me to go over there.” I stood and headed to the tree.

The crow got louder, it swooped down to a lower branch, screeching. A huge white and brown owl unfurled its wings and burst off of the bough where it slept, into the tree next to it, the crow giving chase. The crow dove at the owl, and a confetti of downy owl feathers rained down. One for me, one for my love. The great bird flew over our heads, across the cemetery, the crow in hot pursuit, still cawing away.

What kind of insane crow attacks an owl? Why didn’t the owl fight back with its huge talons? Were they playing chase? Was the owl roosting in a tree too close to the crow’s nest? 

I believe these rare moments of animal magnificence are messages. I believe that the crow wanted us to see the owl. Because of how powerful this moment was, I was open, and listening with more than just my ears. 

Crow means an invitation to transformation and new awakening.

Owl invites us to see the truth we are afraid to see.

I heard his heart. I was present. I could feel all that we have been to each other and all that we could become. I saw my worth, his worth, the intensely fragile moment of this deep, harrowing uncertainty. Not just the uncertainty of love, but of our very existence, as humans, in the world at this time.

Will we find our way back to each other? I don’t know. I believe this relationship has merit, because within it, I have uncovered so much, in such an accelerated time, about the places I still need to heal. He has met all this with continued patience. A patience that humbles me.

I can’t force this, or try to fit this connection between us into a tidy narrative. Perhaps we are only meant to bump up against each other’s wounds so that we can see how easily they still bleed? Perhaps we are the light that illuminates each other to tend to our healing. 

The cemetery, the space we shared, the dragonfly, crow, and owl have led me to my own threshold. I can step more deeply into myself and tend to what needs mending. Alone or together, I will be forever grateful for this moment.

What’s This Day?

I woke up sandwiched between my seven-year-old and the cold wall of his bedroom. We’d slept cramped in his twin bed the night before. He couldn’t get close enough. He hasn’t been able to get close enough to me since we’ve found our way into this pandemic. At first I thought he was missing his grandparents and aunts and uncles. Only last night, when he refused to roll over onto the adjacent twin mattress, did I realize why he hadn’t been able to get as close as he wants to his mama; I’d been barricaded.

Later that morning a friend of mine asked, “What’s this day?” 

I knew she was referring to the day of the week, but in realizing that days have lost all meaning, I also realized we can now attach any label we want to days of the week. 

So, instead of Monday, it became ‘Day of Decision’.

I will agree that this virus and the blink-of-an eye transformation of society is unsettling, but it hasn’t been the major cause of my personal blockade. Or maybe it has. It’s hard to be certain anymore. COVID-19 has become the plot twist in which I’ve been forced to examine all of the places I still need to heal. My romantic partnership became the chapter in which I fought against all of my old demons.

My partner and I fell out of alignment in the ways we feel about our liberties being suspended, and perhaps forever altered. We weren’t on the same page about how to weather these social-distancing demands. While I was feeling trapped inside myself, he was feeling trapped within the walls of our apartment. Maybe he was feeling trapped in the relationship too. The cracks that existed began to spread. At some point we fell into one, and there wasn’t a hand to help us out. The point is, home was not a safe place for either of us to shelter, and right now, home is all we have. 

 I asked him to leave. It took all of my courage to listen to my gut. (Those are the moments your need to listen the most). In all my adult years, I’ve never consciously ended a relationship with so much still invested. I needed to move on with love and respect still very much a part of the equation. When it dissolves so far that neither of those things can be accessed anymore, that’s when love becomes a tragedy.

I prefer for love to be a noble epic of courageous questing, demon-slaying, unearthing lost treasure, transformation, and protagonists shedding monster enchantments to emerge as golden heroes. It’s a story I’ve never been able to read from cover to cover. I have given all I have to this particular epic, and the time has come for me to heal myself completely from an old wound that will seep and fester over and over again with each attempt I make at loving at my own expense. 

Maybe it’s a bookmark on the page. Maybe I need to re-write the story; love is about comparing battle wounds and making sure you’ve both healed enough to combine forces against the demons.

Love is about wholly loving yourself and recognizing that the sticky-handed touch of a softly snoring little boy is worth more than a library of badly-written endings.

I am grateful for the beautiful light that I got to touch before the shadows settled in. For the sweet, tender earnestness that I was so drawn to. 

Love is patient. Love is kind. Love does not challenge our boundaries. Love does not tell half-truths, or facilitate omissions of truth. Love is not easily-angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love doesn’t demand to know where you’re going or who you’ve been around multiple times a day. Love is built, bolstered and healed only in total transparency and safety.

I’ve not been myself. I’ve been trapped in my fear. Not of this virus, or of death. Not of the government, or how I’ll manage without all of the normal daily things I took for granted. I’ve been trapped in being afraid of being wrong. Of not listening to my gut. Of knowing that it’s time to put the book on the shelf.

Let’s all just tend to our hearts. If we can’t weather the pandemic together, let’s get through it alone. Let’s just all be whole, and safe, and well. Answerable only to ourselves and those who truly depend on us for their safety and care. If there is one thing my life has taught me, it’s that I can take care of myself. I can give myself all the love I yearn for. I can make myself a priority in the way I deserve to be prioritized. The Universe has got my back.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.