Archive for July, 2012


Monday, July 23rd, 2012

I was dining with a friend the other night and she brought up the subject of the Vision Board.  I had never heard of such a thing so she explained it as a trend that has sprung from the 2006 self help book called “The Secret”, whereby one sets up a board and affixes images culled from magazines of the things one wants in life.  This may take the form of a representation of professional or personal achievement or simply physical objects of one’s desire.  I can only assume the look on my face was registering about a 7.1 on the richter scale of disbelief and repugnance as she was explaining this phenomenon to me.

I am not what one might call a “power of positive thinking” kind of gal.  There have been moments in my history where my personal debate did not involve asking if the glass was half empty or half full but rather if there was a crack in the glass and had I ingested a shard that was making it’s lethal way through my digestive tract.  This is an attitude that I have been trying to change but I still doubt you will see me skipping down the street to my local craft store seeking bristol board, snub nosed scissors and a large Laurentian coloured pencil set.

The conversation made me wonder what was wrong with actual goal setting and, dare I say it, ambition?

Ambition is described as “as earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honour, fame or wealth and the willingness to strive for its achievement”.  That doesn’t sound so bad to me but being ambitious as a concept seems to carry a slight taint to it.  It is easy to tack “overly” on as a prefix and ambition at middle age, like sex and sleeveless t-shirts, seems vaguely unappealing.

I started a company in the middle of a de-re-whatever you want to call it-cession in a floundering industry in my 40s. I know many of my peers are finding themselves in similarly situations as we create new income sources and engage in seemingly risky behavior (which used to mean fun sexy drunky druggy bits and now means bank loans).  We set goals, we struggle, we are filled with self doubt and the occasional bout of tears.  We are ambitious and possibly insane.  I would be lying if I didn’t admit to no end of finger crossing and hypocritical atheist prayer to an amorphous god-type that I profoundly do not believe in.  And PLENTY of lottery tickets. In the end diligence, dedication and coping with the occasional failure are all parts of a realistic recipe that I can understand.

Maybe some find ambition a little unattractive but I like the looks of it better than a Cosmopolitan magazine collage stuck on my wall.

Courage, My Word!

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

Some weeks back I went to see Augusten Burroughs give a reading from his new book “This Is How” which can loosely be described as a self help book directed at those who loathe such tomes.  The experience itself was quite cathartic for me.  Despite coming from as dissimilar upbringings as two white North Americans who have done time in the advertising world can have, he and I share a similar view on many things and the lecture started a tsunami of contemplation. Burroughs’  central theory is that one is entirely responsible for ones own destiny.  I have always believed that every single thing that happens in life as a lesson and that lessons can by times be very unpleasant.  You can choose to learn from the events in your life, you can choose to ignore them or you can even choose to spend your life in a morass of self pity, railing about the cruel hand that life has dealt you.

I must confess I have indulged in the latter and found it a chronically tiresome place to dwell.  I am endeavoring to excise such behavior from my life and in doing so I have been thinking a good amount about courage.  You can bitch and moan about how much your life needs to change, but until you are willing to actually either proverbially shit or get off the pot, it ain’t gonna happen.  And no one wants to hears about your poo in the meantime.

Which brings me to Stacey.

Stacey is a woman who I was introduced to by a mutual friend.  She is, amongst a great many other things, a TV producer who decided a couple of years back that there was a one woman show living inside her that needed to make its way out.  Instead of lolling about wondering what life would be like if she ever followed this dream she signed up for a workshop, wrote an introductory 20 minute piece and performed it.  Realizing this was not going to quell the desire she assessed her finances, took a huge amount of time away from work and spent about a year developing the story into a 75 minute one woman play which I had the great fortune to see debuted in New Mexico (at the cabaret theatre of a retirement home for the transgendered.  Needless to say, that’s a whole other story).  As she herself will say I saw the framing of a house at that show in Santa Fe.  She has now developed the walls and the insulation and the roof  to include props, costumes, music and movement and she just wrapped a seven show run at the Toronto Fringe Festival.  (And yes, I suck for not having written about this BEFORE the show wrapped.  So sue me.)  She will be taking it to the Edmonton Fringe and after … who knows.  She is a brave soul for following her dream and she is a source of great inspiration for me.

As I cast my eye over the list of people to whom I send this little blog directly I realize how lucky I am to know so many courageous people.  People who have changed the current of their lives, started companies, moved abroad, sought education for new career paths.  People who straightened up, took a look at the horizon and charted a bold course for their own future.  People with the courage to swallow their fear and set out even with the naysayers and the terror and the uncertainty in their faces every day.  I am proud to count myself amongst them and I steal a little bit of strength from each and every one of them.  We should never stop dreaming, and never stop having the audacity to make those dreams come true.

Homeward Bound

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

I am sitting in the departure lounge of Terminal 2 at the Los Angeles International Airport.  I am in Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant, eating my final meal in California of half a pepperoni pizza and a Caesar salad.  It is, frankly, a rather aggressive meal to be consuming just prior to strapping myself in next to a total stranger for a six hour stint as I am sure to be gently exuding an inescapable garlic effluvia but I seem to have made it rather a tradition.  I am not a big pizza consumer and this particular meal combo is one that I surely have had more times in the past few years in this particular environment than slices I have consumed at home over the same course of time.

Travel for me, especially to this city, is like hitting the reset button.  What does the future hold?  Where will I be?  Am I happy where I am and what can I do to improve my lot in life?  These questions are by no means onerous and I think it is a good thing to periodically examine the “You Are Here” sticker on ones life map.

I read a book recently where the author, new to such self-examination, meets up with an ancient and wise guru.  He breathlessly assaults the guru with his questions and theories, at the end of which the guru levels a calm gaze and says “The future is written.  You just have to breathe”.  Good advice.

The future for me now is to swab the grease off my keyboard, settle in to my seat, try not to exhale on my neighbour more often than is absolutely necessary, and let the future unfold.  See you there.


The Pixie Has Landed

Monday, July 9th, 2012

Greetings All!

It has been many weeks since my last confession.

I am writing to you from my temporary rental pad in Los Angeles, California.  I decided some years ago that birthdays celebrated abroad, like the calories in food eaten while standing up, don’t actually count so I have made it a habit of being absent for them as often as possible.  I flew off to repeat the experience and I find myself in another tiny perfect Pixie Palace a mere four blocks from where I lived on Formosa.  I have spent my birthday so far eating Farmer’s Market organic strawberries which is pretty much the same a sucking on a sugar cube, only with fibre.

In an atypical move I forgot the cable that enables me to download photos from my camera so I will be image free for the duration of my trip.  Noelle may breathe a sigh of relief as she will not (yet) be inundated with photos of the Scariest Mannequins In The World.

Ok, just one, but I don’t know what the new outfits look like yet.

It is strange being back.  I landed on Wednesday and drove directly to a July 4th party at my friend Anny’s.  I have been tooling around to all my favorite places and I have yet to turn on my GPS.  When I wake up in the morning it takes a second to try and figure out which of the lives I lead are the real one.  I love Toronto, I love my friends and there are opportunities and attitudes in Canada that are so much more sane and humane than in the US, but I still wonder if this place is truly out of my life forever.  I guess that, like all things, remains to be seen.

I am off to a meeting in Santa Monica then for lunch at the Rose Cafe in Venice (another tip of the hat to Noelle, that one).  A wander along the boardwalk seems like a good thing to do and then I have booked myself a dinner in West Hollywood at a restaurant that purports to have the best home made chocolate pudding in the world.  There are worse ways to spend a birthday, I must say.