Story Gathering: What I’m certain of


I decided I was going to go to Story Gathering while I drove home from a particularly bad day at work in April.

This was a creativity conference I had been following for a few years, and came up with all the excuses why I couldn’t go each year.

It was too expensive.

I had no one to go with.

I had work commitments.

It probably wouldn’t add that much to my life anyway.

But that drive home, after that particularly bad day, I knew this was the year I was going.

And that April Lindsay? She had no idea how much her life would change between when she bought that ticket and when she attended that conference.

April Lindsay was on the brink. She knew things couldn’t stay as they were. She was miserable, frustrated and desperate for change. Well, she got that change…and then some. Life has thrown some curve balls she did not predict.

April Lindsay knew September Lindsay would need this conference. But really, she had absolutely no idea how much.

Because a few weeks after Story Gathering, there are a few things I am certain of.

Pay attention to what nudges you.
When the conference theme of “liminal space” was announced on the same day I first heard the term, I paid attention. I’m not sure I actually believe in “signs”, but I do believe we get to decide what we pay attention to.

Since then, I’ve paid attention to liminal space. The space in between. Between no longer and not yet. I see it everywhere. In sunrises and sunsets. In job transitions. In that period between diagnosis and treatment. In Instagram memes, in conversations, in podcasts, in quotes.

Maybe liminal space had always been around me and I just never noticed it. Maybe it only started to appear after I heard the term and it truly was a sign. I’m not sure, and it doesn’t actually matter. All I know is that since I opened my eyes to it, it shifted how I take in the world around me.

And to spend two days completely immersed in the topic of liminal space and how it related to creativity, that was magic.

I could’ve ignored it. My life would’ve been fine. But I chose to pay attention when liminal space nudged me. I chose to investigate and dive deep. And that changed everything.

Be willing to be vulnerable.
The most meaningful sessions of Story were the ones where the speaker didn’t claim to be strong. It was the ones that offered twists like “and then I found myself staring at the ceiling in a psych ward” or where the speaker broke down as they shared their story.

We were drawn in, in those moments. Not a single person in the audience thought the speaker was weak for being vulnerable, in fact, we leaned in, rooted for them, trusted them, and stayed with them as they took us through their vulnerability. Those were the sessions that got standing ovations. Those are the sessions I’ve talked about since I’ve been home.

And one breakout session, that likely will be a post unto itself, took a sharp left turn due to an audience member’s vulnerability. That session, that sacred moment I got to witness, is the most impactful thing I took away from the conference.

Invest in yourself.
As far as conferences go, this one wasn’t too expensive. But convert it to Canadian dollars, add in a flight, a hotel, transportation and food (because southern comfort food is not cheap), and a two-day trip is all of a sudden a big investment.

Since April, I said no to a few things to make this conference happen. It was an investment in me, and I decided to make it a priority.

I know I’m lucky. I’m lucky to have a new job that values personal development. I’m lucky to have the time and lifestyle that allows for this kind of adventure. I hold none of that lightly. But I think we can all pay attention to what nudges us and make sacrifices to prioritize that. Whether it’s big or small, the return on investing in ourselves pays dividends.

Choose butterflies.
This trip was so scary. I had to do it all by myself. I didn’t know any of the 1300 people that would be there, the thought of walking into the conference on my own was enough to make me almost change my mind. I had to navigate a new city all on my own. I had to manage flight delays, missed connections, flooded hotel rooms and strange Uber drivers all by myself.

Every part of this trip involved choosing to do things that gave me butterflies.

But I connected with a few attendees online before I got there, so I had people to meet up with, to eat lunch with, and to save seats for.

And navigating a new city is easy with Waze and Google.

And I took each travel twist as they came, figuring it out as I went.

This whole Story adventure was an exercise in Choosing Butterflies. And it only reinforced why that’s important. Because if I had chosen comfortable, I wouldn’t have heard these incredible speakers. I wouldn’t have had my eyes opened to liminal space in new ways. I wouldn’t have met all the creative and adventurous people that I met. I would’ve have had the confidence to realize I can do adventures by myself.

Choose butterflies, my friends. When you’re given the option between choosing what’s comfortable and choosing what gives you butterflies, choose butterflies.


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I quit my job


Photo by Simon Migaj on UnsplashI’ve thought a lot about writing those words and this post. This blog is supposed to be about choosing butterflies, choosing to do things that are hard. And for the last year and a half, I was choosing comfortable.

My job had gotten comfortable. The thing that was supposed to give my life purpose was comfortable. The answer to “what do you do?” was comfortable.

How can I write a blog about doing hard things when one of the biggest things in my life was so freakin’ comfortable?

Because comfortable feels…well…comfortable.

I knew my job and my organization inside and out. I could do it well without over-exerting myself.

My commute was 15 minutes.

My job paid me what I needed, gave me lots of vacation time, some flexibility, and a great work/life balance.

I liked the people…a lot. I worked with people that had slowly become very close friends. I’m someone who values relationships above most other things, so getting to show up at work and spend the day with close friends felt really good.

I had been in the same job for 6 years, 7 months and 1 day. That’s longer than a lot of marriages. Kids that were born when I started my job are about to start grade 1. There are very few things in my adult life that have ever been that consistent.

And leaving that consistency, those friends, that balance, that comfort, felt too scary to consider. So I stayed…simply out of the fear of leaving.

But I was bored. I was restless. I was frustrated. I let little things drive me crazy. I let big things ruin my day. My career was stagnant and I was becoming okay with that. I was complacent. I was no longer the engaged employee who was proud of her work.

This meant I was down on myself all the time. My self-confidence was seeping away. I felt stuck. I wondered if all I was capable of was a job that was comfortable. And who was I to write a blog about choosing butterflies when I was absolutely choosing the opposite?

Finally I knew I couldn’t keep choosing comfortable. I can’t even really pinpoint what did it. I do remember being on vacation and saying aloud that it was time to actively change this situation. Maybe it was the break from the monotony to get that perspective. Maybe it was too many drinks. But regardless, I knew it was time.

That began an incredibly challenging season. Job searches are hard. There’s a lot of waiting and a lot of rejection, two things I don’t handle well. I questioned my abilities and my worth. I again wondered if all I was capable of was this easy job. I doubted my judgment and didn’t trust myself to make good decisions. All this while my current workplace faced one of the most difficult times in its history. I was in this liminal space where staying and leaving both felt impossible.

But I made it to the other side. And in a few weeks, I start a job that I’m so excited about, doing work that feels important, fun and challenging.

And that’s scary.

It’s scary to face a job that will push me out of my comfort zone.

It’s scary to take back control of my career path and have the opportunity to grow.

It’s scary to be the “new person” again.

It’s scary to brace myself for a lot of uncertainty and finding my footing.

It’s scary to think about working with people that aren’t my close friends. It’s scary to leave my close friends.

But this is choosing butterflies. This is choosing the challenge over the comfort.

Here we go.

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No longer and not yet

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

Last fall, my dad had to be rushed to the hospital with severe chest pains. They quickly stabilized him, but they knew something was wrong. For about a week, we lived in limbo – we knew things were about to change, but we weren’t sure what that would look like.

When we finally learned that it would look like cardiac disease and a sextuple bypass surgery (yep, it’s a thing), you’d think we would’ve felt worse – this was not the news we were hoping for. But we didn’t feel worse. We had a plan. The fragile, confusing space between no longer healthy and not yet a heart patient was one of the hardest spaces to sit in through the whole process.

I think a lot about that space in between.

In change management, there’s a theory called Bridges’ Transition Model. It’s the idea that with any change, there’s the “neutral zone”, the period where things are no longer what they were, but you’re not yet at a new normal.

Or as Richard Rohr puts it, “When you have left the tried and true, but have not yet been able to replace it with anything else.”

Think about changes you’ve gone through – can you identify that middle space?

When you have a baby, there’s a period where you’re no longer childless, but you’re not yet used to being responsible for another life.

When a company restructures, there’s a period where you’re no longer operating as you used to, but you’re not yet settled in the new way.

When you begin a relationship, there’s a period where you’re no longer technically single, but you’re not yet comfortable calling this person you’re boyfriend/girlfriend.

I’ve never liked this in between – the space between “no longer” and “not yet”. I’m not good at waiting and anticipating, I’m not good at not knowing. I want a plan, a way over to the other side.

I recently learned there’s a term for this in between space: Liminal Space.

Liminal Space: of or relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process; occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold.

I first heard the term on Good Friday at church. The speaker described it as the time in between, the waiting. In this context, it was the time between when Jesus died and when he rose again.

Later that day, I got an email about the theme for a conference I have followed closely for a few years, but had not yet found the courage to attend. This year’s theme? Liminal Space.


A term I had never heard before, about a concept I have thought so much about, comes up twice in one day. (And yes, I signed up for that conference…more on that later)

Okay, I was paying attention.

For the first time, I considered that this in between space could be good, it wasn’t something I needed to fear. Dr. Carol Kershaw explains that “the state of mind achieved when you’re in a liminal space—either physically or mentally speaking—is conducive to forming new habits, changing old ways and finding creative solutions.”

So maybe, when we are aware that we’re in this space, we can use it to our advantage.

With this realization, liminal space was suddenly everywhere. And I could see the fragile creativity that happens in it.

A sunset. It can be the most beautiful display of nature, that time in between day and night, but it lasts only a moment.

The moment between sleep and awake – I have some really clear revelations in that moment.

The time between getting exciting news and sharing that news. What a precious moment where the news is yours alone.

So I’m going to start embracing the liminal space. I’m not going to fear it. I’m going let that space wash over me. I’m going to choose to find beauty, creativity and preciousness in it.


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Adults need thermometers too

rex-pickar-564246-unsplashTwice this year I’ve been sick.

And by “sick”, I mean fetal-position-on-the-bathroom-floor, puking-while-driving-(twice), can’t-watch-food-commercials sick.

I guess this was life’s payback for years of bragging that I never get sick. Lesson learned.

And while I typically enjoy the perks of living on my own (notably: no one judges the amount of ice cream I eat, I don’t share a bathroom, and no one cares that my bed is not made), being sick when you live on your own sucks.

You have to crawl out of bed to get your own glass of water.

You must have all the Tylenol, Gravol and Nyquil in stock (and not expired…that’s a thing) because a quick drugstore run takes the same amount of stamina as a half marathon.

You have no one to commiserate with you, only you feel sorry for yourself.

You have to gauge the seriousness of your own symptoms, asking yourself questions like “Am I normally this shade of grey?” and “Does this level of shivering and sweating constitute a fever?”
(Side note: I don’t own a thermometer because I thought that was something you only did if you have children living in your house. My doctor and a few friends assured me adults take their temperature occasionally too. I did not know this.)

But here’s the thing. When you tell people you’re sick, they care that you’re sick.

They check in to make sure you’re still functioning somewhere in the “alive” zone.

They go to the pharmacy to pick up your prescription for you and also get you Gatorade and Lipton chicken noodle soup.

They offer to come clean your kitchen and wash your sheets.

They keep their phone close by overnight in case you need them to drive 40 minutes to take you to the hospital that’s three minutes away.

They offer to come sit in your living room while you shower, in the event that you blackout and fall.

They make sure you’re following doctor’s orders, even when you think you’re feeling better.

They feel sorry for you and say “this sucks so much” and “I wish I could make it better” and “wow, you really do look terrible”.

If you were to tell teenager Lindsay that she’d be living on her own in her 30’s, I think that’d be hard for her to hear. But I hope you’d also tell her that she’d be very happy and supported and taken care of. Because that’s so sweetly true.

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Your gifts

Your gifts aren't an accident

I had the opportunity to hear Jo Saxton speak a few weeks ago. About a week after I faced why I hadn’t been writing lately.

“That way you have with words, that way you have with numbers, that way you have with hospitality, that way you have with raising your kids, that way you have as a CEO, that’s not an accident.”

I sat with that. I tried to let that truth wash over me.

Our gifts are not accidents. They are on purpose. They have purpose.

Think about it. What are you good at? Where do you thrive? Where do you find your flow?

Whatever that is for you. It’s not an accident. It’s on purpose. It has purpose.

Sit with that. Let it sink in. Read it again and again until it does.

Maybe, like me, you have trouble believing that. Maybe that comes from inside you. Maybe you’ve been told that by someone in your life. Maybe society tells you that.

So what happens when we believe whatever voice tells us our gifts are by accident? Or rather, what doesn’t happen?

What books aren’t being written?

What plays are not being performed?

What organizations are not being started?

What churches are not being planted?

What inventions never materialize?

What theories are left undiscovered?

What relationships are not pursued?

What dreams are deferred?

What if we stopped apologizing for our gifts? What if we stopped minimizing them? Stopped thinking they’re not a big deal and not all that special?

What if, instead, we celebrated them? What if we made a big deal of them? What if we realized our gifts don’t take away from anyone else’s gifts, and that others’ gifts don’t take away from ours? What if we truly believed our gifts were special and meant to be shared with the world?

Really. What would happen?

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Why I haven’t written

Photo by Lauren Mancke on Unsplash

“You haven’t posted anything on your blog in a long time. Why?”

I was out for dinner a few weeks ago with two dear friends who love me and call me out on my crap.

“I don’t know,” I shrugged. “I guess I don’t have that much to write about these days.”

“That’s not true,” one of them gently fired back.

She was right. A lot has happened since my last post.

The one-year anniversary of Sejal’s death passed with lots of reflection.

My dad had emergency life-saving heart surgery.

I spoke at a national conference.

I travelled through Europe.

I’ve exercised consistently for nearly 18 months and feel stronger than I ever have.

I discovered I’m an Enneagram 9 and won’t stop talking about it.

I’ve listened to a few podcasts that have shook me…I also won’t stop talking about these.

“So really. Why haven’t you posted anything? What’s stopping you?” They asked again.

I was quiet. A lot of thoughts were stopping me.

What right do I have to share what I write? Who really cares what I have to say about anything?

What if I offend or embarrass someone by something I write?

What if someone criticizes me?

What if what I write is too dramatic? What if it’s too vague?

What actually motivates me to share? To get attention? Approval? Probably…so I shouldn’t share.

Putting anything out there feels incredibly vulnerable.

In other words, I haven’t posted anything because I’m scared. Fear is loud these days and I’m intentionally not choosing butterflies. I’m distracting myself, numbing myself, coasting along trying not to make a single ripple in my relatively calm-at-the-moment life (did I mention I’m an Enneagram 9?).

We talked about this for awhile. All of a sudden, this casual (not my) birthday dinner turned into Lindsay’s Friday Night Therapy Session.

“It wasn’t always this way,” they pointed out. “What changed?”

I was quiet again. I didn’t want to answer that. Could we go back to talking about citrus squeezers and dark chocolate and anything but this? They were patient while I hoped the moment would pass. It didn’t. So I tried to describe what changed:

Any semblance of confidence I had was gone.

And really, it’s amazing how seemingly little things can throw our confidence onto the floor and stomp all over it.

A passing comment.

A small shift in a relational dynamic.

A meeting that just doesn’t sit right.

A missed opportunity.

An unresponded-to email.

Each of these alone is not a big deal. But the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Especially when you’re a chronic overthinker who is in the habit of making up stories from innocent facts.

And that’s when fear sees your defences are down, marches right in and tells you not to bother writing or doing anything creative. Instead, fear tells you it’s fine to watch one more episode and play one more game of solitaire on your phone, and just pass the hours until it’s time to go to bed.

It’s crazy that fear can speak this loudly, even when really great things are happening too. When you are surrounded by supportive and creative people. When you’re given positive affirmation that feels like it’s being spoken right to your soul. When you know you’re part of bigger stories.

Even when all of these uplifting and meaningful things are happening, fear hovers and tells you that the good parts are just illusions.

Fear is a jerk.

“You know what? I’m kind of mad at you,” one of my friends said.

“Where are you going with this?” I asked wearily.

“Because you have a gift and you’re keeping it to yourself,” she said.


I’m not sure she’s right. But I do know that I spent that night writing out this post in my head instead of sleeping.

And I do know that I’m fighting tears in a coffee shop as I write this, and it feels important and good and familiar. Like a friend I haven’t spent time with in awhile.

So I’ll try to keep doing it. I’ll try not to let fear have a vote. I’ll be easy on myself if I don’t post regularly or if I post too much.

And I’ll keep hanging around people who love me and call me out and help me find the truest version of myself.

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A shared agreement to keep going


Photo by Jamie Taylor on Unsplash

I’ve always loved friends.

As a kid, my first thought each day was wondering who I’d call to come over and play (or “hang out” when I decided I was too old to play).

I was shy, but made friends easily. I had neighbourhood friends, school friends, friends from soccer and dance and gymnastics. I played with my mom’s friends’ kids, my dad’s coworkers’ kids and my brother’s friends’ older sisters. I saw any girl as a potential friend.

In high school, my group of friends was my everything. There were nine of us who spent waking (and sleeping) hours together – at school, playing euchre, renting videos, swimming, talking, gossiping, crying, laughing…figuring out boys and the future and life together. 20 years later, these girls are still very present in my life.

But I always thought friends were a thing kids and young people have. I thought I would do life with my friends until I had a husband and kids to do life with. It’s not that I didn’t think I’d have friends when I was married, but they’d be more of a frill than a foundation.

That Lindsay also thought she’d be married with kids by the time she was 34. She’s not.

And it’s okay. In fact, it’s kind of cool. Sure, marriage and kids is something I wish for and wonder about…but right now, my life is deeply full and meaningful. And that’s all because of high-stakes friendships.

“I wasn’t after low-stakes friendships or people who felt safe to hang out with while I regrouped and tried to figure out the marriage thing. I wanted my friends to consider me as necessary as they had become to me. I wanted them to know that these were long-term relationships and that I’d be there for them, too, in any way they might want. The emails, texts, weeknight dates and weekend outings, secrets, jokes, and tears all rolled into a big ball, giving my female friendships weight and importance that they’d never had before in my life.” – Kayleen Schaefer, Text Me When You Get Home

I read Kayleen’s book while on vacation (with girlfriends, appropriately) earlier this year. It completely validated my desire to invest in and elevate the friendships in my life.

“[A friendship] was two people who remained together, day after day, bound not by sex or physical attraction or money or children or property, but only by the shared agreement to keep going.” –Hanya Yanagihara, quoted by Kayleen Schaefer

The shared agreement to keep going.

This is what makes friendships uniquely fragile. They only keep going because both people want to keep going. That’s it. There really isn’t anything else on the table to keep both of you sitting at it. In reality, you can walk away from a friendship without much consequence.

We can’t do that in a marriage or romantic relationship. We can’t do that in work relationship. We certainly can’t do that in a family relationship. Yes, we may walk away from all these relationships, often for very real and good reasons. But we also stay in these relationships because walking away is too complicated and painful, and the consequences are too much to face.

I would argue this isn’t the case in a friendship…because it’s happened to me. I had a very close friend who walked away from our friendship without an explanation. She simply didn’t share the agreement to keep the friendship going, so it ended. As much as I tried to reach out, I eventually had to respect her decision. No matter how much it hurt, or how guilty, rejected or confused I felt. That shared agreement wasn’t there anymore, and I couldn’t force it. So I had to accept it.

I’ve learned that this shared agreement is fragile. It is so valuable, but can shatter quickly and without much fanfare. So I hold on tight to the friends that do share the agreement to keep going…

They are my spontaneous adventurers.

They are my quiet moments.

They are my difficult conversations in the pursuit of deeper connection.

They are my encouragers and my safe places.

They are my check-ins and rememberers.

They are my inside jokes and laughing to the point of tears.

They are my listeners.

They are my belonging just as I am.

And I hope, I try, to be these things to them.

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Hurry and slow


Photo by mauro mora on Unsplash

As a kid, I never did anything quickly.

I was born a month past my due date.

I didn’t learn to walk until I was almost 18-months old.

And once I learned to walk, I still took my time. I have distinct memories of my mom hurrying me along by saying “quick like a bunny.”

In high school, I still hadn’t figured out how to hurry. My friends mercilessly and lovingly teased me for my sauntering pace…taking in everything around me as they all rushed to wherever we were going next.

My natural tendency is to move slow. But our world is not conducive to slow, so slowly, I became a hurrier.

Now I pack too much into most days. I forget things and have to retrace my steps which is inefficient and irritating. I’m very familiar with the moment I switch from “I have so much time” to “holy cow I’m going to be late”. I get annoyed when other people get onto my elevator and press floors that I don’t need to go to. I’ve come to value efficiency – I want to get things done quickly and with minimal extra steps.

I recently listened to a podcast from the Meeting House with guest speaker John Mark Comer. He talked about ruthlessly eliminating hurry from our lives. He talked about the poison that hurry seeps onto our lives, our relationships, our creativity. It was so incredibly convicting, I wanted to write about it.

I’m writing this on a Sunday. This morning, I was incredibly efficient. I went to the grocery store before church. After church, I ran some errands before coming home to put dinner in a slow cooker. By noon, my only obligations for the day were complete, so I decided to drive to Starbucks to do some writing. On my way down to my car, the elevator stopped on the 11th floor and that familiar twinge of elevator annoyance bubbled up.

An older lady got on and pressed the “G” button, which meant one more stop before I would get to my floor. Even more annoying.

Then to my surprise, she apologized.

“I’m sorry,” she said, “I’m going to delay you.”

Could she read my mind? Or was my for-no-reason annoyance actually filling up the elevator?

And really, she was going to delay me from…what? Getting to Starbucks to write away the afternoon? Because the 30-second delay was going to make a huge difference to the rest of my day? No, not even a little bit.

I sighed.

“Please don’t apologize,” I told her. “I’m not in a hurry, and I needed to be reminded of that.”

She smiled knowingly. Like she knew she actually didn’t need to apologize for getting on the elevator from the floor she lived on, and off on the floor she was going to. Like she knew that her apology was just to make a point. A point that I really needed to hear.

I feel like I’m so used to being in a hurry, that when I’m not, I still go through the motions and emotions like I am. I run a yellow light. I pass the car moving too slowly. I get annoyed at the couple using coupons for every other item in their grocery cart. Because I think I have things to do, because I think I’m busy.

“It’s easy to confuse a lot of activity for a purposeful life.” – Bob Goff

This quote kicked me in the stomach when I read it. Isn’t it true? Don’t we equate activity with purpose? We assume that when we’re busy, it means we’re important. And we want to be important, so we find ways to be busy.

And I think making ourselves busy is so much easier than digging deep to find our purpose.

But I don’t want to live a life full of activity, but empty of purpose.

I think I do that by choosing to ruthlessly eliminate hurry from my life.  I need to figure out the difference between efficiency and hurry, and the difference between activity and purpose.

I’m working on it.

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Vacation brain in real life

I haven’t posted anything on this blog in four months. I swore I’d never let that happen. For almost four years, it didn’t.

It’s not that I didn’t have things to write about in those four months. A lot happened.

I became an aunt and am completely smitten by my sweet baby niece. Even three months in, I see the sacredness of the niece/aunt relationship.

I’ve read a few books that I can’t stop talking about, books that have made me examine my habits and relationships.

I just wrapped up a work project that consumed every part of me and stretched me in surprising ways.

I could’ve written about these things and more. It would’ve been so good for me to explore these topics in a blog post, and maybe they would’ve been helpful for other people too.

But I just couldn’t open the laptop to write about them. Though I did start a few posts, I convinced myself they were self-serving or boring or that I had no right writing about these things. Sometimes the feelings were too much to put to words. Sometimes I felt completely insecure about what people would think, especially about things that felt really raw to me.

So I distracted myself. I became a consumer instead of a creator. It was easier for so many reasons.

I did all the things I could do instead of writing, all the things I’ve said I shouldn’t do on this very blog. I watched TV, I scrolled through social media. I went to the gym, put in extra hours at work, and met up with friends.

But then I hit pause.


I went to Cuba. Where the internet sucks and the TV sucks. And I couldn’t go to the gym or work, and the friends I was with were busy reading or people-watching or napping to constantly entertain and distract me.

So I read a lot. And I underlined and took photos of phrases and concepts and sections that made my eyes linger. I typed notes on my phone, my fingers trying to catch up to the thoughts in my brain.

I took away all the distractions, and the desire to create, to write, tapped me on the shoulder and said “remember me?”. I let myself get inspired and my brain began processing through story and blog posts.

I like my brain when I’m on vacation. Apparently my creativity sweet spot is when there are no obligations, no reasons to rush, no schedules. No distractions.

But that’s the opposite of my non-Cuba reality (though, for the record, I could definitely live that reality long-term).

So how do I replicate that in my Canadian, distraction-filled reality? How do I train vacation brain to activate in real life?

I think I go back to all the things I wrote about a few years ago – that I have to be disciplined and find a writing routine. That I have to be louder than the (incredibly loud) voices in my head that tell me I’m terrible at this and that this is self-serving and that I have no right to write publicly.

And I need accountability. So I’m posting this for that reason too. I’ve put it out there, now I need to do it.

Here’s to making room for vacation brain in a real-life world.

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Butterflies aren’t always sexy

When I first started thinking about choosing butterflies—choosing things that take me out of my comfort zone and give me butterflies—I thought about things that were exciting and inspiring. Travelling the world, volunteering in an exciting way, quitting a job to pursue a passion.

Things that would make others stop and say “wow”. Things that would be hard, but worth it. Things that would make me feel bold and brave and proud.

These were sexy butterflies.


Photo by Nathan Shipps on Unsplash

But sometimes, choosing butterflies means doing something you really don’t want to do, something that is the opposite of everything you feel capable of doing. Something that forces you to dig up those deep-rooted roadblocks that you’ve been doing a great job of driving around for such a long time.

That happened to me last week.

I had to be the person to deliver some hard news. And in turn, that meant I had to be the person to handle the backlash.

This was hard for me for a few reasons.

  1. I hate confrontation. Want me to do something I don’t want to do? Raise your voice, just a little, and I’ll concede.
  2. I am a chronic people pleaser. I’ll tell you the dress looks great, or very politely tip-toe around the fact that maybe, possibly, there’s a dress that would look so much better than this one, but if you really like it, then it’s beautiful and you should wear it. (Sorry to anyone that’s reading this and has had this conversation with me)
  3. I don’t do well in reactive situations. I want to be thoughtful and strategic and put in a lot of work to plan and execute. I have a hard time on my feet, reacting in the moment.
  4. I have an overwhelming fear of making a really big mistake.

This task forced me to face these issues head on.

I would probably be yelled at.

I wouldn’t be able to please anyone because there was no way around this hard news.

I would be reacting in every single interaction.

There was the possibility I’d make a big mistake when I was in reacting-mode.

These were butterflies I’d have to face and nothing about it was exciting, inspiring or remotely sexy.

I could’ve said no. I could’ve said, “I’m not doing this.” But that wouldn’t have been professional or a team player. So I chose these hard, anxiety-ridden, unsexy butterflies.

And because this is what I do, I told people that this was stressing me out. I was open about the struggle. And people listened and spoke into that. They helped me see the big picture and how this fit into it.

(I can’t say this enough: don’t hide your struggle. Tell people, or at least someone, when you’re struggling.)

So we shared the hard news and the backlash ensued. And it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be…at least it hasn’t gotten there yet. This is likely due to the fact that I was convinced this was the worst thing that I could possibly have to do. (Spoiler alert: it wasn’t, and it won’t be). So with that mindset going in, anything would be better. It also wasn’t as bad because I was prepared as I could be, and I was well supported.

And how do I feel now? Happy that I had the opportunity to do this and grow? Proud of myself? Seeing the bigger picture and the lesson learned? Ready to tackle this again?

Nope. But I am okay.

I still would’ve preferred to have not had this responsibility. I don’t feel as though I’ve grown. I’m certainly not ready to tackle it again.

Maybe that’s because I’m actually not really finished with it, so I’m not quite ready to say I’m on the other side of it. And the anxious anticipation is still fresh in my mind.

But maybe it’s also because choosing butterflies can be painful and those lessons take a long time to be uncovered and digested.

It’s not always sexy.

But I have to believe that, in some way, it’s always worth it.

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