Pausing after a relaxing week spent with friends and family in the countryside makes me realize how lucky I am to be surrounded by so much love and support. People often ask me how I am able to survive as a freelancer, and the short answer is, with a lot of determination… and help from collaborators, mentors, friends and family.
This year has allowed me to experiment with many different types of projects, from exploring interior design with Annika Krausz, to rekindling my interest in journalism through my Creative Mornings speaker interviews series. In broadening my scope however, my strengths only seem to become clearer. I have always enjoyed the research and strategy aspects of marketing, and this proved to still be the case, such as in working with Immersive Design Studios on an extensive Canada Media Fund Experimental stream application, which proved to be successful.
On a personal level, 2013 was also a big year. Much of my time was consumed by looking for, moving into, and now renovating a home with my significant other Bob. We didn’t quite know what we were in for, but the work has been rewarding. As a product of an instant gratification generation, and someone with many design ideas, I have to constantly remind myself to be patient – that a home is always a work in progress.
On a very personal level, I took new steps in 2013 to manage my depression and anxiety. Although I have been seeing various therapists for years, it is only in the last two years, in working with a talented music therapist, that I have noticed improvements in being able to connect on an emotional level, understand my feelings, and discover my true voice. I believe that my emotional state is deeply related to my professional life. In previous job situations, I struggled with authority figures and didn’t know how to deal with volatile personalities. Through therapy, I am learning how to remain grounded in challenging environments, better communicate my intentions, and stay true to myself, come what may. I intend to continue developing and nurturing my professional and personal paths, hopefully not at the expense of one or the other.
I questioned whether or not to write about this here, in such a public space, but feel that I have nothing to be ashamed of. I suspect that some of you reading this have your own struggles, many of which are still taboo to discuss openly, whether at work or at home. In an era when so many of us have had to recreate our careers in an unstable economy, make do without pensions or job benefits, and adjust our lifestyle expectations from those of our freewheeling baby-boomer parents, we need all the help and support we can get. If this is something that resonates with you, I would encourage you to check out and support Partners for Mental Health – a national organization dedicated to improving the way we think about, act towards and treat mental health. They have a smart website and engaging campaigns, encouraging Canadians to learn more about this important issue that affects so many of us. The book When the Body Says No by Dr. Gabor Maté also has some keen insights into the relationship between personality, stress and illness – I highly recommend it.
Looking ahead at the year to come, I’m reminded of my recent cross-country ski trips in the Laurentians as a means of inspiration. Bundling up to face the elements, heading out onto the trails, sometimes slipping a little bit backwards, then lunging forwards, always looking ahead around the bend. I hope this year brings you health, a little closer to your goals, and open to finding beauty in unexpected places.