Thursday, August 24, 2017

Summer lessons & advice


This summer has proven to be a big lesson in balancing work, family time, productivity and profit. There are many challenges in building a brand, and when you feel like you're doing it all on your own, it can start to feel draining.

Last week, I asked Instagram if anyone had advice on balancing work as an entrepreneur when the only one on the team is yourself.

I thought I'd share the responses:
  • Make a list - Writing out a physical list of everything needed to get done will help when feeling overwhelmed. Take it one step at a time and check off the item when completed. Each completed task will feel like a small reward.
  • Reach out - It's important to ask for advice/share experiences with others, friends/people you admire in similar fields have probably been in the same boat, so don't be afraid to reach out.
  • Don't try to do everything at the same time - Go step by step. There is a moment for each creation.
  • There is no need to compare yourself to someone else's success - Observe and learn from what one does right, and don't stress about the rest. Each one of us are living our own, unique stories at our own pace.
  • Remind yourself why you started in the first place - If there is still passion and drive, you'll always figure out ways to move forward.
  • Take hardships as opportunities to improve yourself and your work.
Thank you to those who replied and who shared. This was encouraging, and I hope that if you relate, you can find courage in these pieces of advice and feel a little less alone (because you are certainly not alone), too. And when the time is right, I hope you (and I) gain the resources and wisdom to grow, with a team by your side and confidence in the knowledge that you are capable to do whatever it is your mind dreams up.

Be patient with yourself (a note-to-self, as well).
And never hesitate to reach out.

M.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Home

Just over 3 months ago, I moved into my first apartment in Toronto with my friend Elizabeth Carlson.

And a few days ago, one of my favorite friends Courtney Molyneaux came for a visit and took some photos of us at home.











Tuesday, May 2, 2017

I long to be

I am writing a few days before I turn a year older, in my new apartment, while it is cold and rainy outside. It is May.

I've been meaning to put into words the past few months of my life, but when you find yourself in a cloud and you yourself can't even comprehend where you are, words are scattered and few.

I believe growth is essential. I believe change is what allows for growth, and so, is essential, too.
But I fear change. I fear what is not familiar, what is not comfortable; I fear the taking-away.

A month ago, I moved out to settle into my first apartment. I'm now away from the suburbs: a place that had become a strange familiarity and a quirky source of inspiration. This is a new layer to the woman I am becoming, a new lesson into the human I am growing to be. Inevitable.
Although, I thought that by now, I'd maybe be given the human handbook or know the rules to being an adult. But somehow, I feel I am still improvising. And probably always will be. And I've made the shocking adult realization that most of us are and always will be, too.

I am not only learning to be independent in my own home, but I am also about to learn to be independent in a country. In a week's time, my parents and my brother are moving out, too, and starting a new chapter of their own in the sunny state of California. I suppose the best way to learn how to fly is to jump into the void.

I fear change, I fear what is not familiar and not comfortable; I fear the taking-away.
But when I look fear in the eyes, it becomes no more.
So, I will look you in the eyes, fear. I will feel you fully, and I will let you go. As you don't belong to me.
I am then left with an odd feeling of excitement and hope for growth, and for what is to become. I'm excited for my parents and for my brother. I'm excited for my time here, however long that may be. To grow and build and overcome.

Because I've come to understand that you have to let winter come and be for spring to fully be, too. The old needs to die in order for the new to grow.
What is familiar needs to be shaken and sometimes taken away for life to truly take shape.

And I long so deeply to know what it is to be alive, in the midst of the uncomfortable, in the midst of what I do not know, in the midst of fear.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

American Dream



My heart is heavy.

My heart is heavy and embarrassed and so sorry.

As the people who have grown up with me know, I am a Christian - formally defined as someone who follows Christ, or Jesus. I am also White. And in the last few years, I have come to realize what this represents (at many times ashamedly) and have opened my eyes to the reality of what this associates me to historically and politically: a mindset of superiority. And privilege. So much privilege.
I'm sorry it took me so long to see it.

I was born in Switzerland, a very small country in Europe. It is a country of many wonders and beauty, but also of great division, especially between the Swiss-born and immigrants.
I was young and I didn't fully understand. I believed what I'd hear and only saw what I was told to see.
I was surrounded by a repeating song.
Someone doesn't belong, and it isn't me,
it would sing.

When I was 4, my family took us to the United States for the first time.
I was still young and I still didn't fully understand.
But there was a sense of hope, of longing for better. And a lot of pride. Even as an outsider.
The American Dream.

When I was 7, we officially immigrated to America.

Someone doesn't belong, and it isn't me,
I'd still hear.

It took my sister and I about a year to learn English.
On the first day of school, I didn't know what the national anthem was or the pledge of allegiance. I don't know what the teacher said to me, but I remember she was upset because I wasn't standing.
We switched schools after that.

It didn't take long for me to see how important America was to a lot of Americans.
It was a bold lifestyle. And loud. And addictive.
This is where I experienced church. I went to church every Sunday.
It was part of our American Dream. We were surrounded by more Christians than we were in Switzerland, and this made us feel like we belonged.

We were surrounded by people who looked like us, who were bold and loud about it. And it was comfortable. We were immigrants, but we were White Christian immigrants.

We had found comfort in beliefs that suited our lifestyle,
we had given God a face and named him "White".

I began to talk to God alone.
I began to ask him more and more questions.
And the repeating song in my head telling me I wasn't the outcast started to change.
"What makes you better? What makes you more important? Your heart is just as messy."
I began to hear.
I became close to the God I asked questions to alone. And became conflicted with the God I'd hear about at church. Because, sometimes, it wouldn't match.

In 2006, we moved to Canada.
And I became more involved with church.
I was given handbooks and teachings that made Christianity appear very black and white.
I still had many questions, but I had new rules and guidelines this time. This was supposed to make being human easier. Or so it seemed.
I also became friends with people of different faiths and beliefs and orientations. I became friends with Muslims and atheists and gays.
And my mind was fighting the need to be right with "What makes you better?"
I had more and more challenging (but important) conversations with friends I didn't agree with. Sometimes they inspired me to change my mind. Other times they simply opened my eyes.

And it started to sink in: I wasn't better and I wasn't more right.
The Love I grew to know was unconditional, and it meant just that.
Grace could never be defined by the human mind.
Handbooks didn't make being human easier.
Countries don't determine whether you belong somewhere or not. And the color of your skin doesn't determine your value.
Jesus was a brown man, a refugee, and hated by politicians. (I had always seen Jesus portrayed in plays or films by a White man.)
And he preferred the company of outcasts.

I woke up from a dream not long ago where I had written the line "I follow God, not Christians" in my journal. Like a reminder of what should always be.

And so, I am a Christian, a follower of Jesus. And I am with the outcasts. I stand for the silenced, the hurting, and the weary. As Jesus did. I will fail often, and I will be wrong at times, too. But I will chase after truth, asking as many questions as I can. I will not be silent. I don't want to mask my fears with pride and a false sense of superiority. Instead, I want to take comfort in a Love I cannot fully understand that I don't deserve, but who wants me anyway. And speak with it. Act in it. Breathe and reflect it.
And if you are a Christian, too, I ask you to challenge your thoughts. To renew [give fresh life to; replace] your mind. Ask as many questions as you can. And chase truth. Don't settle with the easy and the comfortable. Spend time with those different than you. If your thoughts are different than mine and you wish to share them with me, I ask that you don't hide behind a comment. But instead, I invite you to have tea with me. Physically. Or over Skype. And we can dialogue.

In this time of heaviness, confusion, and pain, I send you light, hope, and love.

Friday, December 30, 2016

one day at a time

as days go by, i get older.
and the older i get, the more i learn about the world. i forget that sometimes. that i still don't know everything. that somewhere in me, there is still a child, and she's still innocent and naïve and some realities still surprise and hurt her. i don't think that ever goes away. i want her to stay.
i think there is a lot of courage in looking at life through hopeful eyes, trusting there is gold in each of us. trusting there is something more. i don't want that hope to ever fade. no matter how many times my heart breaks. no matter how many times my heart is disappointed and deceived.
but too, the older i get, the more questions i have. and i think questions and hope are of the same body. they're not opposites. they're stronger together.
i've been asking questions to try to understand, to get to the root of what hurts - and even in the mess, i've been finding beauty and hope, still. even when i don't understand.
a hope that can't come from me. a hope that says, "it's not for you to fix, let Me."
i learned i can't fix someone
no matter how much i give.
i learned we don't always mean what we say.
that a touch doesn't always mean "i care".
that sometimes it's selfish.
i learned that pretty words can't cover an ugly truth.
no matter how nice we make it seem.
i realized we're afraid to talk about what's inside of us.
we're afraid to change our minds.
we do the same things without knowing why.
we don't ask enough questions.
and we protect beliefs that we don't fully understand.
death is still scary, and we don't know how to embrace it.
Gilmore Girls is a comfortable show because there isn't anything uncomfortable about it.
lavender is still the tastiest ice cream flavor.
and i still don't know how to drive.

i know 2016 has been a heavy year. one of heart break, of anger, of fear. but also of bright hope. light shines the brightest in the dark, and i never want to lose sight of that. of how much light there is in darkness. moving. alive. (so alive)
as the days continue to go by, i hope to ask even more questions. to confront more. to consume less of what feels comfortable and grow from what makes me uncomfortable. to fight for the forgotten and unjust. i hope to learn more. but not lose hope. i hope to guard my heart more. but not love less.
i want to challenge what i know, and be more curious of what i don't.
and in the reminder that we are mortal bodies, i want to wake up every morning for as long as my heart beats with hope louder than my fears that tells me my spirit belongs somewhere beyond what i can see.

one day at a time.
together.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

a letter for September

dear beloved,
it's me.
i'm writing this because letters are easier for you to make sense of what is
too big to understand. i understand.
we'll take it slowly.
we've been 26 for a while, i know there's been changes. and i know change is hard.
you've been good with it.
you've been so good, i'm so proud.
your sister moved out, and married. i know you were scared,
but it's not so scary anymore.
you talk often.
it's not the same, but
it's temporary.
it's necessary.
we need time to be on our own.
you feel alone, sometimes, i know
but i feel it, too.
that makes us two, right?
together. (we're together)
i know this time is important,
the quiet, the unknown.
let yourself feel fully,
i know you've been doing it.
don't be ashamed of what you feel,
there is power in that.
i know you can see it, too.
this is a part of your story and it will mean something,
maybe not now, but later.
i promise.
i also know your heart ached. and sometimes still does.
you weren't honored and you wished to be.
i know you know what you deserve,
and i know that you know you're strong.
it hurts, and it's okay. you're not weak for feeling it.
you give, and it's beautiful to see. don't regret loving.
please don't regret loving. you love so well.
don't blame yourself for that. (the world needs you)
you don't know what's next.
and i know you feel small.
but you're extraordinary.
and you are with me.
the mountains will move
and the oceans will separate,
some already have.
don't fear.
we are in places
and we will continue to go places
you don't know of yet.

just know,
i know.
and it's okay.
it's going to be okay.

love,
Me.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Be human

Everything I am and do connect to my heart and my mind.
The well-being of my heart and my mind are very important; if I am healthy there, I can continue to be. And I believe this for each of us.
I think that the home we build inside of ourselves is a priority over the home we build in the world; it is the source of our thoughts, ideas, imagination, and feelings. It is the source of our spirit.
If you are at rest internally, you are at rest externally.

So why fear the subject around our mental health when it is the very thing that keeps us moving?
Mental health should be common sense and a common conversation -
not taboo.
Somehow, over time, we've created a standard of being for ourselves,
one that is "comfortable" and "safe". One that isn't messy, and without questions.
There is a certain way to be in public, and a certain way to speak.
We've created a standard that limits, quiets, and hides our being.
We've let fear and shame speak - and make the decisions. 

There is a war inside of my head;
Between sitting in the dark and standing in the light.
Between the "could be"s, "should be"s, and "what is".
Between what I know, and what I don't.
And I am not weak for admitting. I am not weak for questioning. I am not weak for being broken,
because the war inside of my head does not define my value.
The war inside of my head does not define my strength, my spirit, my being.

It is okay to feel. It is okay to be angry, jealous, nervous, even afraid. It is okay to take time to be alone. It is okay to be needy, and to feel pain.
Be human. Be as human as you can be. Be human to the fullest.
Feel
without shame, without justifying.
Your heart and mind are meant to be alive. And we are meant to be alive in this moment together.

Let's care for each other. Let's care for the homes inside our hearts and our minds.
They're important. 

You're important.