2019 is forever going down as the year I thought I had hit rock bottom…then realized I had further yet to go.
Grab a cuppa and settle down, I can’t summarize this into a Too Long Didn’t Read (TLDR) summary. You’ll either make the time or you won’t.
Please be aware I am about to discuss items related to sensitive topics which may upset some readers. I am sharing from a place of experience, with supporting resources if readers would like to explore further but I do not wish to be perceived as providing advice as every individual’s situation is unique to them and their own personal experiences.
It has been a year of character-building and soul-destroying ‘milestones’–a roller coaster ride–and we still have two months to go. 🎢
Just as we wrapped up the first half of an amazing start to 2019…BAM! The fun house ride began. But this was no theme park full of positivity, celebrations and feel-good vibes 24/7.
Complete with twists and turns, unpredictable corners, uneven footing, doors which didn’t open, windows we couldn’t close and a very large volume of mirrors at every stop along the way forcing us to…slow down. Stop. Pause and reflect. Whether I wanted to or not.
We took our children on our first overseas trip to Europe, travelling with two kids under age three. The upside of international family life! The kids travelled better than we did, there were no tears in transit and we even managed to squeeze our car seats and luggage in the rental. Just not the stroller. 😂
I hosted my first ‘Babies, Business + Breakfast’ events, complete with guest speakers, while growing an amazing community of parents interested in professional development. It has been heartwarming, encouraging, empowering, a big learning curve but always, always completely worth it.
I solo parented (with lots of help from Grandparents) while my husband was on a business trip in China and in the same week, spoke at a crowded sold-out CreativeMornings event and on a panel alongside our children. It gave me the opportunity to put myself out there, speak my truth, deliver a message I believe in and get real feedback…even if I was sweating the whole time while juggling two kids, trying to remember my points and uncertain of the response.
My kids didn’t make strange or have meltdowns and to be honest, I received great feedback from lovely people I would not have met otherwise. It’s something I would do all over again if asked and further affirmed why failing forward is always a good choice for me.
I spoke to different audiences over the summer about bringing children into business settings and advised organizations on integrating pop-up childcare into their events. It has been humbling and encouraging to see concepts and ideas I have been sharing over the years enacted in real life. These ideas aren’t exclusively my own: they are a combination of things I’ve seen, created and participated in while living overseas, read about from afar and experimented with in my own personal and professional life over the years.
Even if all involved were doing it as a bit of an unknown trial, the curiosity sparked with the willingness to try something different brought home the importance of continuing to put yourself out there. The speaking engagements and pop-up childcare went really well and it has been so good to see what can happen when the power of different ideas is met with inspired action, to result in social change.
People started approaching me, saying they had heard of my work around creating more parent-friendly business spaces and events, offering to get involved, help and/or participate. As above, you may not think anyone is listening, or that you’re repeating yourself, being too much or asking too many questions. But, trust me on this one: you never know who needs and wants to hear your message–for the first time or the fifth time–who’s impacted by you showing up as you are, in all your glory or whose response will set a series of changes in motion.
I started practicing Tarot and began reading for friends, family and complete strangers. This one may seem a bit out-of-the-blue but it’s been a long time coming. When my clients ask me how long I’ve been reading for, I tell them I’ve been doing it for years…without the cards!
Tarot has given me a framework and container to speak with strangers about their unique experiences and discuss ways of dealing with what they’re going through. It helps others tap into their inner wisdom and turns the dial up on what they already know to be true but maybe haven’t been actively listening to lately.
My background in journalism and communications helps with the questions I pose and the storytelling aspect, while my experiences abroad have provided me with a better understanding of my own abilities…as well as the useful skill of getting to know complete strangers in 30 minutes or less. Now, my questions, comments and observations don’t freak people out as much because I can let the cards do more of the talking.
We made many new connections, friends and started feeling at home in Ottawa. This has been a combination of time, putting ourselves out there and letting things unfold as they will, following the breadcrumbs along the way.
We are feeling really lucky to have good networks professionally and personally in the fourth city and country we have called home in the past 10 years.
The first half of 2019 can be summed up as: Gratitude. Awe. Life-changing moments. Feelings of joy, celebration and achievement all gloriously streaming in.
I have been feeling the love all year…followed closely by discomfort, vulnerability, humiliation and flat-out despair.
I have always been a bit of a ‘The show must go on! Reclaim your power! Embrace the awkward! Use this experience as fuel/motivation to keep going!‘ type of person.
But halfway through 2019, even I had to throw ice cold water on my face, snap myself out of it and stop to process things first.
I have been *this close* to saying, fuck it. Wrap it up. Cut the lights. Throw out the script. These moments are too offside. Unpredictable. Unrepeatable. Unspeakable.
I have no desire to replicate them. Predict them. Repeat them. Speak them.
But I can write them.
For now, that’s all I can do.
And I am going to do so in hopes that if you’re going through a similar shitstorm, revelation, experience…you will feel less alone.
I realized I was being followed for a period of time when I was alone with my children, in the neighbourhood we live in.
Once it dawned on me, shit got as you might say ‘real‘.
Now, let’s take a moment to pause and let this first one really sink in for a bit.
While alone with my kids.
In our neighbourhood.
Where we live.
This experience has dramatically altered things in my day-to-day life, routines and overall feelings of safety and wellbeing.
As a woman, wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, community organizer and person who is showing up in public spaces as part of my work and speaking at events.
Police said it wasn’t ‘stalking’ as defined by legislation but moreso repeated ‘following’. However, victim support networks and other professionals disagreed and believe I am a victim of harassment/stalking.
And after I took action, I was told that while it had been dealt with at that moment in time, I shouldn’t be surprised if it happens again. All I could do was to be very self-aware going forward and try to go back to my ‘regular’ life.
What helped me through each step of the way were the complete strangers working at victims support and with the police telling me the facts of my story and experience were not unique to me. These incidents were patterns they had seen before. My emotional responses were ones many victims shared. And I had a right to feel concerned.
They reassured me I had done the right thing and thanked me for reaching out. Unfortunately, many people tell their close friends and families, then get deterred from taking further action.
For anyone who has been a victim of following, harassment and/or stalking, I am so sorry. It is a terrible, anxiety-inducing realization and one which I hope you can seek out professional support for immediately.
I was sent this Canadian resource by a professional victim support worker and it speaks volumes. In this country, women make up 76 percent of victims of Criminal Harassment, with 58 percent of them stalked by a former partner:
You can call the Victim Support Line 24/7 toll-free at 1-888-579-2888 or at 416-314-2447 if you’re in the Toronto area.
You can also contact:
- Victim Support Service Info
- Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General
- Ontario Office for Victims of Crime.
We experienced loss in our extended families both in Canada and Ireland.
Whether you’re near or far, loss is never an easy process to go through and over the years, we have experienced it many different ways.
Disconnection from loved ones or the inability to travel quickly enough, have made the realities of being an international family all the more real again.
I don’t believe there is an easy remedy for this one.
We will always live life in a place where one of us (and sometimes both of us) are removed from close family and friends. You can’t always be where you want to be, when you want to be there.
We try to be present for our loved ones when we are with them and to offer them support, assistance and compassion when we can’t physically be there.
It is easier said than done and you feel as though there is always more you could do.
I have never been a huge pray-er. But I am a believe-r. In things larger than myself and the often inexplicable. Spirit. Guides. The Otherworld. The Universe. Fate. Serendipity. Superstition. Signs. To me, they have always felt present at different times in my life.
I can tell you I thought about all of those things and more over the past year.
What was the lesson here?
What was the message?
Why was it happening this way?
2019 has been wonderful and miserable. Character building and soul destroying. Joyful and woeful. Awe-inspiring and terrifying. Brimming with love, closely followed by fear. Full of life, shadowed by death.
I have even more respect for the resilience people have both during and after experiencing life events which are completely out of their control.
You can’t make this shit up.
As I am still processing what has been happening over the past year, I am in no place to offer advice or guidance.
I am sharing my highs and lows in this candid post in hopes of showing that it’s not all about kicking goals.
Sometimes all you can do is cancel plans, rest, regroup and reset.
On that note, hold on, buckle up and prepare for some changes to take place as we head into 2020 because the places I’ve been to lately…I simply cannot go back to. Will not. Flat out refuse to.
I am still here, I will keep showing up but the show doesn’t always have to go on.
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