What doesn't kill us...

I often credit the role of trials and tribulations in my life, how they shaped who I am and got me to where I am today.  This was a year that started off in a rough way.  I was in an interim position, with little to no certainty that I would have a job at the end of my secondment. Heather found out that she had to undergo a brain procedure. And Dylan muscled through a roller coaster ride of a year.

We persevered, and as 2014 prepares to give way to 2015, I can't remember feeling as inspired and fulfilled.

"You were in a very different place a year ago," said Don Scott, one of our MLA's and Minister of Innovation and Advanced Education, a former Council colleague, and a friend, as we sat enjoying lunch.  He noted a dramatic change in my demeanour and energy in words that I don't quite remember. What a difference 365 days can make.

What did I learn?

TRUST that everything will work out

Even at the lowest of the lows, I still believed that a path would reveal itself.  At no point did I feel completely despondent.  I knew that it would turn out the way the Universe intended.  And it did.

I long for LIGHTNESS

At some point in the year, I felt incredible weight, shouldering unnecessary responsibility for this, that, and the other thing.  An anxiety attack convinced me that I needed to make choices based on what felt LIGHT as opposed to HEAVY.  That shift in thought changed everything.

Find the MENTOR

I am so grateful to Chuck Smith, my dressing room partner during Les Mis√©rables.  He was a vital sounding board at a time when I desperately needed one.  Through conversations between scenes, he equipped me with some great tools to manage the uncertainty that was in front of me.  As the year progressed I was able to graduate from being the mentee to the mentor, with several wonderful people who needed a trusting ear in their lives.

Follow my INSTINCTS

When I saw the graffiti on the back wall of my shop in late May, my instincts told me that it was an opportunity to paint a mural.  My instincts also told me that mural needed to be of Elsie Yanik; no other person popped into my mind.  That project became a catalyst to a period of creativity and a body of work that I never could have predicted in a million years.  I continue to listen my instincts.  They are incredible astute in terms of knowing what I should be doing next.

Make COMMITMENTS

I made several major commitments in 2014 and carried through with all of them.  The most important one was ensuring that I continue to paint, even when the world got incredibly busy in the fall.  I had this vision of being able to be a viable artist in my retirement years, providing a late-life revenue stream and hours of fulfilling activity.  I knew that continuing to exercise my painting muscle was essential to realizing that vision.

Find the GRATITUDE

One of my lighthouses during my meandering journey to find my way was gratitude.  When I was most lost, I would find someone or something to be grateful for and express it.  It kept me in a positive frame of mind and instantly changed the energy in my little ecosystem.

Be INSPIRED

As I emerged from a long drawn out period of uncertainty, I began getting inspired at every turn.  I felt so alive and ready to respond.  It got to the point where one moment of inspiration led to the next and the next and the next.

Great STORIES can change the world

Human beings are inherent story tellers.  One of the highlights of the year for me was leading a number of workshops about how to tell your story.  I was blown away as people connected what they do with why they do it.  We all have stories that deserve to be told, stories that can potentially move hearts and minds. It's been fun encouraging others to share theirs.

I'm grateful for 2014, all the lessons it taught, and the inspirations it provided.  The things I learned will serve me well as I dive into the New Year.  I hope that something strikes a chord for you.  All the best.


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