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When your wings are no longer clipped and you can soar

My heart thumped in my ears and my feet dragged on the scratchy institutional carpet as I made my way to the oak desk where my grade twelve English Advance Placement teacher’s eyes bore down on me. I felt sweat forming between my shoulder blades when my downcast eyes took in the red marks across the essay I had worked on just days before laying underneath his arm as if he was embarrassed to show it to me. I heard his intake of breath while I held mine tightly within my chest.

“Lesley, I’m unsure what to say to you.” His voice soft as I felt all eyes of 29 other students behind me leaning forward wanting to hear. His pale blue eyes were also soft but the truth that was displayed beneath the grey bushy eyebrows had me almost release my baited breath into a sob, so I held it even deeper.

“This was horribly written, you do not know how to write at all,” he said sternly pushing the pages towards me. I couldn’t bear to look at him or the pages filled with red lines and scratch marks with his writing, it looked like the red colour of shame I could feel creeping up my neck, so I looked down at the spotted floor with coffee stains and aged old gum instead. “I want to believe you can do better, but I’m not sure if have the skills or the talent.”

I nodded my head and reached forward to take the essay away from him, wanting to protect myself from any farther embarrassment. His hand touched the edge of as I peeled it away and looked straight into my milk chocolate eyes now rimmed with tears I didn’t want to show. “I think you should read more. I’m not even sure how you made it into this class considering your writing skills. You must do better, or you’ll be failing this class and won’t be graduating”.

I gathered the strength to walk back to my desk in the furthest row away from him and placed my essay facedown on the beige Formica desk and stared out the window. A dreary autumn sky danced around me and laughter started to bubble up in my chest as I thought of his last comment. Read more! I thought to myself if only he knew how many books I’ve read this past week let alone in my lifetime. I was reading The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien by age 5, I read a lot. 

I carried his comments around with me for years, and when I think back on that memory I can still feel shame creep up my neck as if I was facing him today. Despite being an avid reader I believed I didn’t know how to write so when I think about the fact that I started an online blog before they were cool and let everyone know how poorly I could write, I laugh.

Those early blog posts look and sound like they were written by a child because his comment cut me to the core. Instead of trying to prove him wrong I decided to be someone who couldn’t write. Until one day someone came along and told me they could tell I was trying to write but didn’t know how. They took me aside and showed me the basics of what I needed to know so I could write properly – not even well.

When I saw how letters could be stringed into sentences, that looped into paragraphs and built mountains of pages further than simple sentences like ‘I saw jack run to the house’ my heart fluttered and the hair on the back of my neck prickled with excitement.

My wings were no longer clipped, I could write and I began to soar.

I wrote daily and continued publishing more online content knowing I was fumbling and flailing, but I was learning. The desire to write stayed strong and learned that writing could be more than just writing my thoughts but could be deliciously detailed with symbolism and narratives I knew understood before.

Out walking with a friend on the polished streets of Den Haag I let words slip from my mouth and didn’t even realize that a desire I had since I was a young girl had been shared with her until she wrote to me the next day “I think you should get in touch with this publisher, she is always looking for new authors and I think you’d get along really well.” In her email were the contact name and number of a highly regarded publisher in the Netherlands. As I scanned the publisher’s website I heard the words of my grade twelve English teacher whisper in my ear “you do not know how to write at all” and let shame find a place within my writing once again and stuffed the email away never returning to the publisher’s website.

When I think on the fact that I’ve written a novel since then and a blog that has had thousands of visitors at it’s doorstep with people asking when I’ll be posting next or that my writing has impacted them I wish I could go back and stand before him and say “I may not be able to write today, but you just wait. One day I’ll be creating worlds bursting with colour and emotions so raw you’ll be wishing it was you who wrote them. But more than that you’ll have wished it was you who saw the diamond in the rough and polished it until it gleamed.”

When you want to go slowly yet the world is demanding that you go faster.

Type B personality, Creative business, Vancouver Coach

I’ve been on this entrepreneur path for quite some time but one thing that I’ve never discussed is my aversion to the word hustle. When I see messages like “Every day I’m hustling”, “If you’re not hustling then you’re dead”, ” Hustle first, hustle second” it makes me cringe.

I see examples of successful or starting businesses who are making huge waves in their industry and they talk about the hustle, the long nights, and the amount of hours they are putting in. I feel like that no matter what speed you’re working, the world is demanding that you go faster.

I have a really hard time explaining why these statements don’t sit right with me, mostly because I feel guilty or like something is wrong with me if I’m not into hustling. All these Type A personalities are raving about how hard they are hustling and I am sitting here thinking, “umm I am so not Type A. I am Type B! Someone grab them a cup of tea and tell them to relax!” It feels like Type A’s are the glorified personality type. They get things done. They are go-getters. And if you’re not a Type A, well, better pull your big girl pants on and learn to hustle even harder. Because the Type A’s are going to get the early bird and all you’ll be left with is the scraps.

Just typing that out makes me feel tired.

I don’t want the scraps but I also don’t want that life. It isn’t for me.

Anyone else feel this way?

So instead of pulling on my big girl pants, I start telling myself stories that I must be lazy. I must not have what it takes. And since I’m lazy and don’t have what it takes I won’t be successful. I’ll replay scenes of my past where I prove to myself that I’m lazy and I’ll never make it. Then next thing I know I’m flying down a hole throwing my self-confidence down the drain. I can hear myself muttering that I may as well pack up my bags and close up shop because clearly there is someone who has more hustle than me and they should have a crack at the game.

Yet, somehow I still sit at my desk every day. I’m writing, I’m creating, I’m building relationships that are important.

I refuse to give up.

I’m not interested in the hustle and giving up taking care of myself to see my business succeed at lightening speed. I’m not willing to sacrifice my health, my relationships, or my life for the sake of my business. I started out on this entrepreneur journey because I wanted to focus on my art and creativity. I wanted to do life my way.

I want to open up the conversation of what entrepreneurship looks like if you’re not a Type A personality. If the word hustle sends you back under the covers and you’re peeking out wondering if there is another way to do it, I want to show you that there is.

If you’re interested in enjoying the sun in the afternoon and still sending in that client proposal. Taking days off to recharge then responding to client emails. Fostering strong working relationships and boundaries so that you can live the life you dreamed of living. While making sure you’re getting the sleep you require and still meeting your client’s needs I want to let you know you can. And you will.

We all work to get where we are going, just some of us aren’t interested in the hustle. We’re interested in enjoying life along the way.

If you feel like this, I’m thinking of starting a group of like-minded people who want to work hard and get to where they want to go, and still get to be present for their children and not feel guilty for putting their phone down because date night is important to them. Send me an email if you’re interested!

 

An afternoon flower bath

flower bath, milk bath

I adore having fresh flowers around my house, there is something about it that livens up my space of white and grey. Since being on my spending detox fresh flowers was one of the things that I had to let go of. I did it willingly but it wasn’t easy. However, that doesn’t mean that other people can’t surprise me with flowers and that is what Mister did for me. I came home to a beautiful bouquet of pinks and purple flowers and I can’t tell you what kind of smile it brought to my face.

I’ve been moving them around the house depending on where I am at the time. Yet sadly the day came when the flowers were drooping and only a few flowers could be salvaged for a smaller arrangement for the kitchen table. Instead of throwing the flowers away like I normally would I asked Isla if she would like to have a flower bath and she responded with a resounding “yes” so off to the tub we went.

How to make a flower bath:

  1. Pluck moist petals off the heads of flowers. (skip the dry petals as it makes less of a mess if they break in your hand)
  2. Fill bathtub with warm water (test with your elbow for temperature if you’re filling the bath for children – just doing my do diligence here)
  3. 1-2 drops of lavender essential oils
  4. Sprinkle petals into the water
  5. Slip into your flower bath and enjoy.

Isla really enjoyed her time in the bath and eventually I jumped in with her. It’s something we’ve been doing since she was a newborn and it’s one of our favourite things to do at the end of the day.

flower bath, milk bath, childhoodunplugged

Let me know if you’ve tried out a flower bath and what you thought of it! I can’t wait to do it again.

A trip to Southlands Farm

southlandfarms, pony rides, vancouver

This weekend we piled into the car and drove a quick 20 minutes from the city towards Southlands Farm. It’s a quaint little farm that we used to visit weekly last year when little Isla used to take riding lessons, but when she became aware that Henry hated horses (and anything else that was bigger than him or would make noise) those lessons quickly ended. She would do anything to make him happy instead of screams of terror. I didn’t feel like I should force Henry to face his fears so we never returned.

However, lately the children have been asking over and over to see horses. To make them smile I would drive down back country roads an hour away from the city and say “look out Henry’s window, a horse!” and it made them smile but it wasn’t good enough. They wanted to see them up closer.

So yesterday I asked them if they’d like to go see horses up close and Isla grabbed her boots and jacket right way while Henry went around the house saying “horsey, horsey”. So we left the buzz of the city and drove through the most beautiful houses I’ve seen and drove up to the creaky gates of Southlands Farm.

We wandered around the grounds letting the children lead the way from the tire swing, to pointing at the chickens, attempting to pet and feed the goats and then finally into the barn to see the horses. I’m happy to report that Henry didn’t cry! I would say that was a success for him!

As we stood outside watching one of the horses she used to ride on Isla asked if she could ride Magic. Thankfully they were able to accommodate our last minute request and out came Bailey the sweetest horse who loved to give kisses. Henry clutched my jacket while wide eyed, but I could tell he was completely enthralled with the horse with the velvet nose. Isla couldn’t contain her excitement and when I swung her up onto the saddle her smile was as big as I’ve ever seen it. She was so confident and happy as she sat tall leading her horse around and we were beaming watching her.


southlands farm, pony rides, vancouver

2 comments
  • BonnieMay 5, 2017 - 11:58 AM

    This looks like the farm where I rode for many of my teen years. I would walk from Granville Street in order to muck stalls to pay for my riding.ReplyCancel

    • LesleyMay 11, 2017 - 11:09 AM

      That is a dream I have for Isla if she wants to pursue horseback riding!!ReplyCancel

Stop with the screen guilt

I’ve recently started watching Gilmore Girls for the first time (I know, I’m behind) and I’ve become completely fascinated with how Rory has if not one but numerous books with her so that she can read whenever there is a lull in her day. Sitting at the bus stop, in the hall at school, outside waiting for her best friend, even before meeting her date she will read a few pages before she is interrupted. And she is always interrupted, and she greets it with a smile.

So I’ve started doing the same, only, with one book. I tuck it into my purse and pull it out while either at the playground with my children, going through drive through for an afternoon pick-me-up, waiting in the car while one of my children nap, and especially at the end of the day before bedtime. It’s really relaxing and enjoyable!

This new way of living has made me become more aware of how much guilt and judgement there is around screens. If I’m at the playground and starting at my screen I feel a sense of guilt that I should be paying more attention to my child instead of at my phone. And I’m also wondering if other parents are judging me for doing this.

I remember reading an article a few years ago about a mom who gave herself such a hard time because she was staring at her phone so intently that she wasn’t able to save her child from harm and they ended up hurting themselves on the playground. She wrote a whole entire article about how our phones aren’t worth the time that our children need. There was a part of me that agreed, and sympathized with her, but also at the same time I shook my head.

When I would go to the playground or the pool when I was younger, my mom had one eye on me and another eye on something that she was interested in – either a book or a friend. And it was good. I hurt myself and would come crying to her, she would hug and kiss me until I felt better and then off I went, and she back to her activity. It wasn’t a big deal.

So I wonder why there is such guilt around screens that it’s making everyone anxious and judgey. Can’t we all just get along, enjoy whatever activity we bring to entertain us to our child’s activity whether it be a book, a phone/ipad, notebook or a colouring book. If it leaves you feeling good, then by all means, go for it.

Let’s lay the screen guilt aside and pay attention to what activity feels good for us for once.