Doing Impossible Things.

Well, I finally did it: I achieved the impossible. I know I should be proud, but I feel kind of guilty, instead.

So, what’s the big impossible thing I did?

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I killed an air plant.

How hard can it be to keep an air plant alive? Actually, don’t answer that; clearly it is hard for me.

I mean, how do you even do that? I understand that some of my plants have suffered under my care (or, I suppose, more accurately, my lack of care thereof):

I will admit that I have occasionally forgotten to water and sing to them on a regular basis. I don’t know if it’s the water, the singing or the combination of the two that keeps my plants thriving, but I don’t want to risk the lives of innocent vegetation to find out through empirical experimentation. Repotting happens roughly eighteen months — at the soonest — after it first looked necessary to repot the plant for its future well-being and viability.

But an air plant? How? It’s an air plant. It’s called that because it lives on air, for crying out loud. We have plenty of that in our condo and it requires no action on my part, which was sort of the idea. I mist it every few days, as per the instructions, and it’s been fine since Christmas, when it joined our happy home.

We got a second air plant (they hang in these cool little glass bubble-like thingys) on Valentine’s Day. I wonder if the first one died of a broken heart, thinking we’d grown weary of it. We didn’t, little air plant, I swear! We loved you! We gave you the best air we had!

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I’d like to get a new air plant to replace him. Partly because it makes me sad and partly because the dead one kind of looks like a hideous spider and it’s freaking me out. All his legs are sticking up and everything. I gave up shopping for Lent, though (purchasing anything other than food), so here’s hoping that Adam feels compelled to replace him. Even Hermes feels bad for the little guy.

Seriously. How do you kill an air plant? Sigh…

NB: I just read up on air plant care and it turns out they do NOT live on air after all. Kind of misleading, actually. Still, though. I was watering it. I swear I watered it. HOW DID YOU DIE, LITTLE PLANT DUDE? Maybe it is the singing…

 

 

Day One.

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Well, it’s five minutes before the end of my first day as an entrepreneur. I’d love to say it’s been full of inspiration and provide you with mental images of me channeling my inner Braveheart with courageous shouts of “FREEDOM”, but that wouldn’t be super accurate.

Truth be told, today was largely full of fear and frustration. Fear about what I don’t know (which seems fairly vast, right about now) and frustration with a project I’m working on and my resoundingly crappy not-good-enough story.

On my last day, yesterday, my team threw me an amazing farewell tea, complete with all manner of sweets and treats as befitting the Health Promotion Girl’s final hurrah. Last night, after leaving the office in tears (I’m sad to leave my teammates and can’t help but feel a little fear of missing out), Adam took me out to dinner to celebrate, which was awesome, because a) I wouldn’t have thought to, b) I’d have stayed in and been a sad sack, and c) we went to Il Terrazzo, which is my favourite Italian place. I am so grateful that I get to share my adventures with him.

This morning, The First Morning, I woke up and was super lazy. Fairly anti-climactic, really. I succeeded in putting on my running gear, wearing it for three hours and then eventually conceded the fact that there was no way I was going to make it for a run between the calls I had scheduled. So I showered and dressed. I will NOT not dress nicely, just because no one’s around to see it. I may need to begin wearing shoes in the house though, lest I go into footwear withdrawal.

Technically, I’m taking two weeks off (apart from my current coaching clients, that is), to relax and enjoy this shift. So far, I notice a lot of judgment about what I’m doing: Either I’m not accomplishing The Stuff I need to do in order to be a success (clearly, I’ve got a lot riding on Getting There [where? I don’t know…] in the first 24 hours) or I’m failing at relaxing (how did you know I’m a perfectionist?).

This week is pretty much chock-full of work, for a week off. Looks like Adam’s right: I need to take another week off on the end, if I’m going to be in integrity with my declaration for a couple weeks’ break. From here on out, I know I’m going to need to be intentional about, well, just about everything. The time I’m working and the time I’m not. I can already tell which one will be trickier…

I wanted to post all day, but didn’t want to sound like a downer. “If I’m not smiling 115 percent of the time, people will think I’m failing.”

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To be honest, I was afraid people would gloat. Which is pretty lame, because who would gloat? And even if they did, why would I care? How would I even know? I was watching The Princess Diaries on the weekend (don’t judge me) and was reminded that no one can make me feel small without my permission. No one includes me, too.

So, since keeping up pretences is exhausting, I decided to just be honest about the day. I know some of you want to know and I really wish I could say it was rainbows and unicorns, but it was a busy and stressful day, following a predictably busy, momentous and sad day.

So that’s it. Day one. I do think it’s kind of cool that my first day was blue sky and sunshine-filled. Tomorrow will be brighter. I have to let go of this one, first, though, so that’s what I’m doing. One day at a time.

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Quitting and beginning.

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The above is the message that was in my fortune cookie yesterday. I don’t normally ascribe a lot of meaning to the things I find in cookies or horoscopes, but this time, it made me smile. It’s true: Things are a-changing over here in my world.

It’s been a long time, My Blog. A long time, indeed. It’s weird, how if I don’t write anything on here, nothing happens on my blog. I need blog elves. Partly because then my blog would be updated and partly because then I’d have an elf, and that would be be pretty much the coolest frigging thing in the world.

At least this time, I have a good excuse for being incommunicado: Like I said, I’ve been busy making some big changes and some even bigger decisions. You probably know that I write over at www.evergrowthcoaching.com, the blog that Adam and I share for our coaching company. Coaching has been getting cooler and cooler and busier and busier, all of which is really good news. I’m loving the work I’m doing.

I less love working nine zillion hours a day, but I’ve been doing it (okay, more like 10–12 hours) in service of a cunning plan: I wanted to build my coaching practice so that I could go to part time at my job and eventually be self employed. It turns out that “eventually” was a lot sooner than I thought!

Long story made short, I have [at last] resigned my position with the provincial government/public service of British Columbia. This decision was a really big one for me. I’m talking throat-constricting-and-gasping-panic-attacks-while-jogging kind of big decision. Not-sleeping-and-tossing-and-turning-coated-in-cold-sweat kind of decision. Several factors precipitated my choice and I immensely grateful for the whole experience: Without the stuff that went on, I would not have made the choice I’ve been wanting to make since, oh, before I began working with the provincial government.

I’ve always wanted to freelance, but couldn’t figure out how to make it work. I didn’t trust myself and I didn’t trust the universe, either. Without doing the work to become a coach, and utterly transforming who I am being in my life and in this world, I am pretty sure that I wouldn’t have been able to choose to let go of my desperately clasping hands and step outside of my comfort zone. Thank God I let go.

Now, I am not a person who would describe herself as brave. I’ve always been a timid little thing, from the time I was, well, a timid little thing. I know I’ve done a lot of things that were atypical or different, but for the first time ever, I really, really understand that courage isn’t the absence of fear; rather, it is something that is created when you face your fear and move forward anyway.

I am so excited for what’s ahead. I’m exhilarated. Every now and then, I’m afraid, too, just to keep it interesting. What I learned this week, and shared with my team (I’m a mentor coach in Seattle—so much has happened since I last blogged here!) is this:

It turns out that fear doesn’t stop me from doing things: I do. It turns out, I can have fear and move forward anyway. Forward movement doesn’t only happen in the sunshine.

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At least I’m gonna try…

Watch this:

In some ways, I think we kind of do live forever. I mean, for all that I will ever know, I’m alive. What went before and what comes after me exist outside of my personal eternity. I’m woven into the tapestry, my part of the fabric adding a touch of colour and texture into the greater way of things.

But, you guys, you guys; we must LIVE while we can. It is our one job to live. Burn brightly, hold tightly to what you love. I know it’s a cliché, but I mean it.

Sometimes, I’m utterly overcome with the desire to run and fall head over heels in love with my life. Because it is too far precious a gift to take lightly. And too beautiful to take seriously: After all, none of will get out of life alive. So LIVE it while you can. While you are conscious of the miracle of chances and choices that resulted in your being. Here. Now. Don’t waste a moment. Imagine the end of your life. Imagine what, as an afterthought, you might have done with all those moments you took for granted. I’m not sure who said this, but it’s a gooder: “You are a perishable item: Live accordingly.”

I don’t do this all the time. But I’m more and more aware of it. And I will tell you this:

At least I’m gonna try.

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Picture this (and then pin it).

First, just picture it.

No seriously you guys, you’re really gonna need to actually use your imagination, because I haven’t figured out yet how to add tabs on my blog. I mean, yeah, I have a couple of pages, but I haven’t sorted out the logistics, so anything I post is just added onto the existing post, thus creating The Longest Post in History. But you don’t care about all these details, do you? Nope. You don’t. I don’t blame you. I almost don’t, or at least I don’t care quite enough to do anything about it.

Yet. Just wait. No really, you’re probably gonna have to wait.

See, what I want to do is have this be all awesome and my website. I want a page dedicated to clothes and style and, of course, shoes. I very much enjoy these things (especially shoes) and would like to pull together some style notes. I have many Instagram photos of my lower outfits. It’s hard to take a full-body selfie that captures my outfit, so generally, it’s a photo from my middle down. Hey, you do what you can, right?

On another note, do you know how much I love Pinterest? I do. Hint: It’s a lot. 7,198 pins a lot. Oh, wait—7,199. See? See what happens? What a great site. I love that I can be a hoarder of beautiful things without actually hoarding them. This site has literally changed my life. Or at least my style. I will happily admit that between Pinterest and my trip to France last year, my style has evolved into something that is definitely Bay (and whoever else has pinned my gazillion same pins).

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I sort of feel like anyone who has gotten engaged, gotten married, decorated a home or ever done pretty much anything ever, prior to the dawn of Pinterest, should get a redo. Not because I would change my wedding—it was perfect!—but I would do other extra crafty things and it would be amazing. I would paint chevrons on my office walls and add glitter to my bathroom paint. I would bake cake pops and decorate them like miniature pumpkins and I would finally know what to do with my hair.

I love it. Though, one thing I don’t love is the misguided, but probably well-intentioned weight-loss motivation. “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels,” is lame. Come on. There are lots of good ones, but I wish my Pinterest peeps would just can it with the weight-loss pins and all the “amazing” before and afters.

Now I’m going to go look at my Creatures board. You might want to, too. If you like The Cutest Animals in the World. Or not. Your choice (what’s wrong with you? Look at the cute animals I have pinned!).

 

Aaaand we’re back.

Where’d you go? It’s been all silence for at least a month!

Just kidding. It’s not you, it’s me: I was busy doing busy things [read: procrastinating on studying]. So really I have no excuse for not blogging. You’d think I’d have been posting twice a day. You know, in all the time I should’ve been studying, but was clearly just examining air molecules. Did you miss me?

In other news, I just received word yesterday that I passed my written final, so that’s good news. I was on the fence about how I’d done. I wasn’t too worried, being that I’ve only ever failed one other test in my life, and it was finance and so I don’t care, because I passed the course. So there, Finance.

And now you have get to read about that exam. Finance was my nemesis during my MBA days. It didn’t make sense, it involved math and therefore was The Worst. Accounting also involved numbers, but at least it made sense: Debits and credits, people. Cash in, cash out. Just for the record, accounting totally made me cry, too (okay, I made me cry about accounting), but it made waaaaaay more sense than finance.

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On the last day of class before the finance final, we did what one does in every penultimate class and reviewed the concepts we’d covered over the previous months. Oh, wait—nope, no she didn’t. My finance prof did NOT review anything, but instead taught one last concept: Weighted Average Cost of Capital, or WACC (and yes, I did call it “whack” in my head, feeling like I was winning by name calling).

She thought this was okay. I did not. “But Rachelle,” she said condescendingly, or what others would’ve described as encouragingly, “it’s the same as what you’ve already learned. We’re just putting it together.”

No, I thought, it is most definitely NOT the same.

“You need to understand,” she snipered (or said kindly. Whatever).

No, I do not. I do not need to understand. I need to pass. Scrape by (“scraping by” in the MBA program meant anything above a B, which was some ridiculously high percentage, like 90%. Anything less was a fail.).

I wanted to complete finance and never use it again.

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I go home and study effectively freak out because I can’t. Get. This. Thing. It makes no sense. It’s not going to be on the formula sheet, because it’s supposed to be so frigging “understandable”.

This is when Adam reminded me that I knew how to study and it didn’t include hurling myself on the sword of the thing I understood the least, but rather reviewing my strongest areas. Excel where you can and take the hit on the things you don’t get, instead of trying to ace the stuff you don’t know and then missing the stuff you would’ve known if you hadn’t wasted all your study time on the financial equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle.

This guy. He is smart. So that’s what I did. It was common sense. After all, how much could a few questions on one topic be worth? We had a whole course to be test on our knowledge.

This was good thinking. Until I got to the exam and turned over my paper. The exam was out of 35. This is never a good sign. There are a lot of points on each question. You mess up a few answers and those heavily weighted percents really start to add up. Or down, I suppose, more accurately describes what happens.

Like any good student, I flipped through so as to see the beast I was facing. And this is when I saw the one question on WACC. Yup. Just one measly little question, which is good news, right?

Wrong.

That one question was worth 14 marks. HOLY CRAP IF I DON’T GET THIS THEN I PRETTY MUCH HAVE TO ACE THE REST OF THE ENTIRE EXAM. PANIC. PANIC.

I wrote the rest of the exam. I was pretty sure I did okay, but I knew I hadn’t aced 21 questions. Then I stared at the WACC question. I stared at the wall. I had more than 1.5 hours left of the exam and nothing to do but cry (which I did), pray (looking upward for divine intervention/inspiration) and worry. Oh, and write a passive aggressive note about why I couldn’t answer the stupid question.

Then I went out into the hallway and burst into [more] tears. I’d failed. If I failed finance, I didn’t get to rewrite: It was one of the few classes in which a fail meant a mandatory retaking of the whole bloody course. Extra time, extra tuition and, let me be honest, I could take the course about 30 times and still not get the bloody concepts.

It was the end of the world. Seriously, I think purgatory for me would involve a never-ending finance class. It’d be a special kind of hell.

Anyway, long story made short: I failed the exam. But, let the record show that I got 17/35. Yup. One-half a percent more and I’d have ridden the pass line. So, I was pretty impressed with myself.

Oh, and I’d busted my rear on all the course work all term, so when all was said and done, my class work grade carried my failed exam score and I passed the course.

Hallelujah.

 

 

What I’m thankful for right now.

Every day for over two years, I’ve journaled three things for which I’m grateful. Okay, so I have occasionally missed a day here and there. Some days, I can find it hard to be grateful. Those days, I’m lucky if I can think of three things, but I struggle with it because I feel like those days, it’s probably more important than ever. Those days, things like ice cream, new socks and hair products make up my top three.

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I do try to remember to be grateful. I hate it when it’s reflected to me that I’m not and I’m sorry to admit that the most recent time I received that reflection was about two weeks ago. The quick fire of defence I felt in reaction to the comment told me it was well deserved. And it was: The arrow hit the mark, because it was true. In my constant striving to get somewhere, I often forget to be thankful for things like my job, my condo, my car or, really, just about anything that I have that makes me incredibly fortunate and a part of an awfully slim segment of humanity that doesn’t have to struggle much for my basic needs.

gratitudeWith that in mind, and because it’s Thanksgiving Weekend (my favourite holiday after Christmas!), here are a list of things for which I’ve recently felt grateful:

  • Hot showers: Seriously? I cannot even imagine life before modern plumbing. Imagine living one hundred years ago. Five hundred years ago. People would NOT have smelled good.
    Also, how fortunate am I to live in a country where clean hot water is plentiful and readily available. Very, very fortunate.
  • Our car: It may not be splashy and it may be, ahem, streamlined on the passenger side panel (fun fact: when it comes down to a Chevrolet Cavalier and a concrete parkade pillar, the car will lose), but our car gives us mobility and freedom. We can go wherever we need, whenever we need to, and we can take whatever we need to transport with us when we hit the road.
  • Shoes: Come on. You’re not even surprised.
  • Pets: We have enough resources to take care of ourselves and can take care of animals too. Even Maui, who I caught in the act of pooping on the floor today and had to think of something about her to be grateful for: I came up with “she’s very pretty.”
  • Baking: Obviously, I enjoy cookies. And pie. But seriously, do you realize how many resources we have available to us that enable us to make food we don’t actually require? Food that we make just to enjoy? We just have these ingredients readily available (imagine life before sugar or baking powder—cake would’ve been pretty bland. You’d have been blowing the candles out on bread.). And don’t get me started on yeast again…
  • Electricity: I don’t know much about how things work, but I do know that a lot of what I’m grateful for requires power to work.

There are about a zillion other things I’m grateful for right now, but that’s a start.

What are you grateful for right now?