Monday, December 23, 2013


As I sit and write this morning, Christmas is only a few short days away. It’s a festive, yet busy, time. Despite the challenging weather thrown at us here in Toronto, we’re still out and about doing some last-minute shopping, throwing up some decorations, planning the Christmas meal. This year I’m lucky to have Christmas off, and will get out of the city for a few days and spend the holidays with my in-laws.

This is also a time when we reflect on the year that has been. There are countless TV specials that examine the events and people that have shaped the world. Facebook, too, offers a retrospective of your year (and that always makes me chuckle). We try to take stock, see where we were, where we are, and if we made it to where we were hoping to go.

I can say that, for me, 2013 will end much better than it began. At the beginning of the year, I was still after six months frantically looking for work. Each month I had no idea how I was going to pay the rent, or put food on the table. The worry, the anxiety, the uncertainty didn’t help my depression either. It was, perhaps, one of the darkest moments in my life. But I was blessed, truly blessed, by the love and support offered by my sister, and so many good, true friends: Heather-Anne, Myrtle, Zan and Dave, Adrienne and Tina. Their unwavering support taught me a lot about friendship and family, demonstrated that, in the throes of chaos, these were the people on whom I could depend. Yes, I am truly blessed.

When I finally managed to get a job offer, it threw another curveball. The job was located in Toronto, and that meant another move my third since 2008. And, really, who likes moving? But I had to get myself back on my feet, and that meant taking the job and moving to a new city. The move, thankfully, went smoothly, and I am happily settled here in Toronto.

2013 has been a year filled with change. There have been good times and challenging times. Times when I felt like giving up, times when I had to dig deep, dig way down, to find the courage to carry on for just one more day. But here I am, as 2013 winds down, surprised and happy by where this journey has led me. And this is what I’ve learned, or relearned as the case may be:

Change is constant. That means that each day I have to get up and be ready for the unexpected. I do not always know, or cannot necessarily foresee, all the challenges that will be thrown at me. I can only do that which is within me. And, so, there will be times when I pray, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Do what it is that you love to do. My day job pays the bills, puts food on my table and shelter over my head. But it is my writing that makes my heart sing. So each and every day, no matter where I find myself in the world, I write. It keeps me focused. When I’m writing, be it a short story, novel or essay, I know (as my good friend Adrienne reminded me) that I’m doing my best to “stay grounded in your conviction that you're doing what you want to do and feel called to do.”

Love life. We live in an age where it seems like it’s not just easier, but more the norm, to criticize, deconstruct, than to try to build something up, attempt to see a silver lining. It takes a lot of energy to be negative all the time. It almost becomes a state of mind, and it is, quite frankly, unattractive. Maybe that’s why I do my best to lead a positive life. I smile and laugh a lot, which seems to be contagious. I guess I’ve learned to not take myself, and life, too seriously but to try and simply enjoy the journey. Climbing up the mountains or wading through the valleys, I remind myself of the blessings in my life — my partner, family and friends, my job, my writing and other artistic endeavours. I try to focus on what really matters to me, and that, in turn, allows me to see the beauty that is this world.

Be grateful. As I said, 2013 has been a challenging year for me. A few months ago, after reading Rhonda Byrne’s The Magic, I started keeping a gratitude list. Every morning I count my blessings, listing ten things no matter how small for which I am grateful. Counting my blessings, I see that, even in the midst of chaos or uncertainty, life is beautiful. My gratitude list always puts a smile on my face.

As 2013 draws to a close, I am grateful to my friends and family who have stood by me during the year, for your support, encouragement and love. It made all the difference. And I am grateful for all the people who have stopped by to read my blog. I am happy to have all of you accompanying me on this journey.

To you and your families, I wish you a truly Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. See you in 2014!

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