So THIS is what happens when women try to do it all…

June 7, 2010

It seemed like such a great idea at the time… A quick toilet scrub while running out the door to my full-time job. In pursuit of maximum efficiency, I squirted some cleaner in the bowl and went at it with a vengeance (quite literally). I attacked the chore with such violence, I must have looked like I was plunging some horrible clog. Until…

Exploring the delicious, pine-scented back woods of Quebec, one quickly learns to walk a few paces behind a partner. No, our dear French Canadians do not subscribe to some antiquated religious diktat – although the prevalence of front yard Virgin Mary ceramics do make one wonder. The gap is simply to prevent one of those prickly, dew laden, boughs from clocking you in the nose when it whips back across the path.

We lose so much in the time-clogged rush of being a modern woman; so many of life’s most beautiful lessons are forgotten in the mania of “having to do it all.” As the brush caught on the rim, and a heavy spray of yellowish, mucky, bleachy, ‘water’ splashed up into my face, I grabbed hold of the gentle quiet of those pine-lined trails to stop from screaming. No, life is not fair (especially before 7am), but it’s nice to know there’s still enough justice, somewhere out there, to make sure I was wearing my glasses!

(image source)

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Escaping The Joplin/Hendrix Birthday Curse

May 21, 2010

Headlong into twenty-eight...

Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kurt Cobain… the list goes on. At twenty seven, the creative brain must make a choice: to embrace its talents, or, through self-destruction and/or social conformity, escape them. The buoyancy of youthful idealism cannot be sustained. Once its intoxication, the powerful high of potential, begins to wane, it’s easy to see how a person could be drawn to the false grandeur of drugs. The latter would become even more of a temptation if the creative individual’s talents had been overindulged at a young age (ie: prodigies). Excess praise, however justified from an outside perspective, would have the dangerous effect of validating a child’s underdeveloped, self-centric understanding of reality. A child who has engaged with the world primarily through intelligent adaptation of her/his talents couldn’t help but develop an exaggerated sense of control over life. Combine this unreality with a lack of learned social empathy, and you’ve got a disaster waiting to happen.

There’s more to the curse, of course, such as exhaustion, overextension, disillusionment, and THE SHOCK. When creative production has been your currency, it comes as a terrible shock to discover how widely its value can vary on the global exchange. Turns out there are plenty of people who don’t need to “produce” to feel engaged and satisfied with life – lucky bastards! Some folks… wait for it… actually thrive primarily off human interactions. Weird, I know. But then again, I’d be lost without my circle (and my G!). Can you see the conflict?

At twenty-seven, the world comes crashing in. It is no longer possible to ignore alternative worldviews, and even the acknowledgement of differing motivations can be paralyzing to someone whose self-image, if not their entire self-worth (Joplin), has been dependent on narrow self expression. For authentic creative growth at this stage in life, the individual must be willing to integrate these new universalities into her/his work. Successful integration requires a compassionate understanding of these new value systems. But how do you prioritize/balance the demands of these new systems against one’s intrinsic creative independence?

Creativity is by nature self-indulgent, being, in essence, a personality’s violent rebuttal against the known (we’ll leave death for another essay). It doesn’t take long to discover how eager the world is to intrude on our self-direction. So how does one balance these new priorities and demands being made on our energies by the differing worldviews we’ve now gone and validated through successful integration into our creative work? Once you know how much your “No” will hurt someone, how do protect your creative time without feeling like a Jerk?

As someone who can relate (possibly more than I’d like to admit) to the struggles above, all I can say is this: you know who you need to love, so love them with everything they deserve. And, if you wake up to a dismal, snow laced, May Birthday, just grab a piece of office cardstock, some multicoloured highlighters, and go prove to the world that not only did you escape the curse, but… screw it… that not all of us were put on this earth to collect Royal Dalton figurines!

(Note: not that there’s anything wrong with that…um…vocation)


Burning The Ugly Pants: Join a 2010 personal style makeover (Part One)

February 5, 2010

The Before...

We live in a blank canvas world. Social conventions, notions of class, and even the dictates of fashion are becoming increasingly flexible. Such freedom can leave one floundering when it comes to communicating (or even defining) one’s identity. Who are we without structure? What happens when a society disconnects from its own history and traditions? 

We are becoming a surface people, all sound bites and profile pics, status updates and 140 character tweets. I’ve rebelled against this new framework from the start (although, I suppose you did just catch me blogging~wink). I’ve tried my best to dive down under the surface chaos – a life lived in ripples is a raw deal if you ask me – and explore the cool, still world under the waves. But, as you can see from the pic above, it’s bloody well time to come up for some air! 

There is a boon to all this surface talk. For the first in history, we have the unique opportunity to have our projections believed. If the world is so intent on taking us at face value, why not play the game? But on our terms. I’m not talking about plastic surgery and piles of makeup, but more about establishing a personal style that projects our strengths and ambitions. It’s about Focus.  

I invite you to join me in a 2010 personal style makeover. To tell you the truth, I’m actually quite nervous about this project. Will I have have the guts to follow it through? What about maintenance? Can I do it inexpensively? And, of course, the question all women ask themselves before embarking such journeys… Will it really make a difference? 

Let’s find out!

CLICK HERE to read more of this Saving Cymbria blog serial


A final note on this year’s Christmas card

January 13, 2010

...at the most inopportune time of the year, my pencil crayons and I had a major falling out...

Here’s the final version of this year’s Christmas card (minus the caption and border). The printer tech was a little weirded out and made me explain three times how I wanted the copies trimmed. “It’s a what now?” He kept asking. I took his confusion as a compliment. After all, the surest sign you’re doing anything new is the complete bewilderment of bystanders – like the time I carved “MERRY CHRISTMAS” into my grandparents’ Halloween pumpkin.

Note: …because when you symbolically embrace technological card making, one’s pinky must remain as ladylike as possible~wink.


Merry Christmas! (and the mystery is solved)

December 24, 2009

Here’s what I was up to on the office carpet the other day…

Merry Christmas to all my dear readers! It’s a true pleasure writing for you and I hope to see you all in the new year. Have a wonderful holiday season with lots of Family, Food and Festiveness!

Note: You’ll notice I’m wearing a different hat in the photo above… a long and complicated story. But what’s important is that the Christmas cards I sent out (featuring a composite of two of the most successfully angled images) turned out to be a great solution to this year’s dilemma: “how to rebel against my tradition of making handmade cards by making a handmade card” – gotta love technology! 


Dear Fellow Writers: Has this ever happened to you?

December 22, 2009

I decided to sneak in a few more paragraphs of my current writing project while I was up at the front desk covering our receptionist’s lunch break today. Without intending to, I found myself slipping into THE ZONE. Even more unexpectedly, a full-on, entirely involuntary, facial meltdown hit me when I ran into the last few sentences of Chapter Four. The emotional drama of the scene was just too much – and this is someone who held out through almost the entire end-credits of Titanic. 

Tears weren’t just brimming, they were streaming down my cheeks. I blew my nose in tissue after tissue, to no avail. Even the briefest peek at the screen renewed the reaction, but I wasn’t about to back down – never when grammar’s at stake! Pretty soon my eyes were bloodshot and my face was unmistakably blotched and puffy. I was, inescapably, inexcusably, a girl crying at work.


Chillin’ on the carpet at work – don’t ask

December 17, 2009

Sometimes we find ourselves doing strange things in strange places for the people we love... yesterday morning was one of those times.

What was I up to? You’ll find out soon! Hint: It took three dozen tries to get the right angle (this one was a major miss)