Monday, June 16, 2014

April and May: Here's to you, West Coast.








I just spent two months in Vancouver, British Columbia. It wasn't spontaneous, but it wasn't planned either. And I liked it better that way.

Let me back up.

I'm a person of plans, and when things don't go the way I had hoped for, I cringe, and break, and eventually cry. I have a hard time letting go. And more importantly, I have a hard time letting things simply "be".

But I needed a change of scenery. And a challenge.
I wanted to know that I could be okay even in the midst of uncertainty, I wanted to move away from the stable and familiar just so I could depend on the One I cannot see, I wanted to be uncomfortable just so I could grow, I wanted to face the ocean and the mountains and throw my old flesh away.
I wanted to break the routine and breathe all over again. To simply be. Without justifying.

Alongside Gabriela, we faded west. We climbed cliffs and waterfalls, gazed at the sea and sky and its sunsets, and ate a whole lot of donuts. But no matter how beautiful the ocean or how majestic the mountains, it was you who made it worth it. You and you and you and all who we met.
It was the community.
A community of the kindest hearts and the most inviting souls.
You took us in and became home to us. You made it easier - easier to let go, to breathe, and to be.
Your stories and your longings and your creations inspired us.
And for that, I thank you. I thank you for growing with me, for your genuine hearts, for the way you honor and value each other, for your conversations and your generosity.

I've come to realize that this is what matters after all.
Meeting Love in the faces of strangers who then become some of your closest friends,
sharing the things that make you joyous, the struggles that bring you pain, and the future that you dream of; doing life together, this is what makes you come alive.
So, here's to less plans and more surprises, to more being and less doing.
And here's to you, West Coasters. I'll see you soon. x

Monday, March 24, 2014

And so we hope to be surprised.

I've been told that I'm good at being honest, and that I have a way with words. But it's 1 in the morning and I am struggling to find the words to write.
My heart is longing and rejoicing and aching, too, in my many questions, and all I know is that it is beating and I am alive. I am alone, but I can hear You sing that Your love is strong and that You alone are worth the fight. Tonight, this is all I know, and I am letting it be enough.

There was a time when words and vulnerability frightened me more than anything, when the weight in my heart and my mind were too heavy for me to carry.

I was once told that nothing is impossible and that if I believed, I could move mountains. The child inside of me found no reason to doubt. I was 11, or maybe 12.
And I held onto those words with everything inside of me.

Until Fear creeped in.
I began to battle wars I couldn't win on my own. I was ashamed of being, of speaking up - I believed my voice didn't matter and that my words held no value. It took me hours before I could fall asleep, and I don't believe my mind ever found rest. I went over every conversation, every class presentation, my every action and response - over and over and over again - in my head.
I had become my own enemy.
I was 13.
I was 14, and 15, and 16, too.

And yet, I could still hear the words I had once heard and chose to hold close to my chest.
They trembled in me when I worried. They would echo and shake and fight the fights with me when I was weak and broken. They were with me. Those restless nights, those questions and cry-outs. They were with me. The desperation, the need, and the push-and-pulls. They were with me.
You were with me. You had always been with me.

And, one night, we faced them together. The fears, the worries, the monsters. You reminded me what I once believed - that I was valuable, that my voice mattered, that You were strong and You were with me, that I wasn't alone, and that I had a story worth telling.
You reminded me that nothing is impossible,
with You,
and together, we broke down walls.
It was 2007, and we had just moved to Ontario.

I began to take courage. I began to take risks, despite the fears. I began to speak up. I began to let go.
Even in the pain, I learned to be okay with feeling. I learned to be okay with the process of growing.
I learned to be okay with being human. And together, we awoke and You showed me what it meant to be alive. Together, we learned to breathe.

I became inspired by the people who surrounded me - the very people who continue to inspire and challenge me today, and I consider my best friends. I also found the story behind To Write Love On Her Arms. A story of pain, but also of hope and healing. A story of redemption. And a wake-up call. I realized that we were broken and hurting, and that the wars I had fought alone were being fought by other people, too. I realized we needed to be more honest and that our conversations needed to matter more. That the words I had once heard had to be shared.

It is out of this yearning that grew more honest relationships. It is out of that same heart that once carried the weight of every fear that grew the courage to be vulnerable. It is there that grew the desire to speak up and bring change, and out of that, grew a week of awareness and of hope, led by a group of us broken and growing and willing teenagers in high school.
It is out of this that this blog became. I started this blog to be honest with you and to be honest with myself.

I started this blog to tell the story of my healing and to remind myself that "nothing is impossible".
I started this blog to tell the story of Love and redemption.

7 years later, and I am asked to design a shirt for TWLOHA.

"And so we hope to be surprised."

It is 3 in the morning, you're singing "bring me back to the beginning again",
and being alive never looked this beautiful.

(Find the shirt here, with a few words here)

Monday, February 3, 2014

We're together in that, too.

Originally, I wanted to talk about culture. About magazines and perfection. And how we aren't perfect. 
Originally, I wanted to talk about the media. About how we are easily fooled. And how we fool back.

But tonight, I write about something that hurts my heart. Over and over again. About something that moves me - a shaking in my bones - and somehow in the pain, brings every inch inside of me to life.
Tonight, I write about loss, about the addictions and the monsters we hold too dearly to our chests
that leave us silent and alone, and about the very things I barely know how to write about.

Tonight, I write about the names we know and the names we don't. About the famous, but also about the invisible. This is for him.
This is for her.
And for them.
For the millions unheard and unspoken of: this is for you.

I break at the mention of overdose. Addiction or suicide. Depression, self-harm, or eating disorder.

The big screen. High school classrooms. Award ceremonies. Parties and sleepovers and graduations. Cafeterias. Dinners. And Christmas. Arenas. Sold out shows. Bedrooms, kitchens, "home". The elevators and the subways. Noise and crowds.

And the silence.

The left unsaid.
The fear to speak.

I have found myself here, where the people are many and the sounds are too loud, where the spotlight is on and where the attention is on the gold, the victories and successes. I have found myself here. Finding it hard to breathe. Pretending. Unable to be
true and honest. A mess in disguise.
And I think somewhere in here, you can find yourself, too.

But, how?
Just how can it be that we've become so numb to ourselves,
and to each other,

to him
and to her
and to them?

How have we grown so apart
so alone

It's okay to be honest. It's okay to hurt. Because I hurt, too. It's okay to be broken. We're together in that, too. Speak up. Break the silence in the noise. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Your voice matters. You deserve to be alive. Your story is important.

We're human
telling a story of pain and of hope and redemption, too.

(And this may just have been what I originally intended to write
all along)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Letter Project

Sometime last year, I started 'The Letter Project' on Instagram, a project where I challenged myself to use different material to create the letters of the alphabet, each word representing one of my favorite things. On one hand to experiment with typography, and on the other to have something to complete, this project was a way for viewers to discover something new about me - of which I am the guiltiest.
Though created for others to see, I think I may have been the one to have learned the most about,

I learned this: my strengths are with the branches, the leaves and the flowers, I can go many, many days uninspired, it takes time to complete something, and zeal truly is my favorite word.

arbre ('tree' in french), birds, community, dreams, eyes, feuille ('leaf'/'paper' in french),
grapefruit, honey, ink, journals, kinfolk, lions, mornings, nutella,
ocean, (acoustic) pianos, quirk(y), rest, sunshine, teal, (the) unseen, vulnerability,
white, xulon, Yahweh, zeal

branches / leaves

dry petals

carved wood

thread sewn into fabric

dead branch / chalkboard

So, do something unexpected. See where it takes you, without knowing the final result.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Here's to you.

Oh, 2013.

You had me laughing, and crying, and breaking, and healing.
You had me hoping and hoping again and again.

This year, I visited the Georgian Bay, had my first poached egg, and drank too many lattes.
I officially became Canadian.
I designed my first set of wedding invitations, and created alphabet letters out of sticks and leaves.


This year, I took a bus and said hello to Montreal, once again.
I connected with friends with hearts bigger than mine.
I adventured far, but also travelled 5 minutes from my house. I found beauty there, too.



This year, I woke up to see the sunrise. Twice. And went back to sleep afterwards.
I collaborated with my best friends to create something quite unique and beautiful.
I chose to chop my hair off.
I said hello to the West Coast for the second time with family, and fell in love with the ocean all over again.



I saw lakes and oceans and waterfalls.
I saw tall trees and foggy beaches.
I flew by myself and visited Vancouver, BC. 



And with every fall and hurt, I learned. I grew.
With every fear and worry, I saw You nearer.
And nearer.


And yet, I am still learning to be.
I am still learning to love.
I am still learning to breathe.

Here's to you, 2014.