i'm darkness and light, bubbles and faerie wings. i am sparkles and glitter, shadows and clouds. i love purple, and faeries, and books, and music.

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Ramblings by Year

who am i?

It’s been a week since my final day at work. I have noticed a change in myself both physically and mentally because of this decision. I feel lighter. Though I have my “WTF DID I DO?!” moments. Those seem to happen in the middle of the night. And last Friday I was pretty lonely and sad out of the blue, so I know that it was just me coming down from the adrenaline of my last day in the office, and making this huge decision.

So now what?

Who am I when I am not “Cat, the girl who works at McGill, and assists the Dean and Dean’s office”? How did I become my job? When did I become my job? What do I do now?

I like the idea of being a student right now. Only school work to worry about, and some free time to do things I enjoy, like crafting and reading. But I can’t just be a student. I need to find another job. We need the income. It is not feasible for me to not be working.

But I’m not quite ready yet, and to be honest, I don’t know what I want to do. I have ideas, but nothing feels right.

And I don’t want to be an administrative assistant again. I know I could kick butt at that type of job, because I do (did?) my job well. But I don’t like that kind of job. But I have been Me in That Job for so long, I’m not sure who Me in A New Job is yet.

was my job for such a long time. I identify as a McGill employee. I identify as a Schulich School of Music employee.

I’m not sure what my identity is right now. It’s a work-in-progress I suppose.

If my dogs have any say in my identity, it’s pretty obvious that I am destined to be Yoshi’s pillow for the rest of our lives. He’s been quite pleased that I have been home the past week. I was out for six hours today and you’d think I’d left him for years. Whether I am on the couch, in bed, or even in the chair at my desk in my craft room, Yoshi has to have his head against me. He’s like a security blanket that follows me around.  If I could get someone to pay me to stay home so I could be Yoshi’s pillow, I think it would work well for many of us in this household.

Meanwhile, I went back into the office today to return my keys, sign my termination papers and clear the rest of my stuff out of my space. It was way more real today. Last Monday was fun, all costumes, candy, and parties. But today was… strange. Surreal. Sort of like watching a dream unfold. I no longer have 5lbs of keys at the end of my lanyard. What even is that? I don’t understand this.

I don’t want to stay home and not work. It took a while for me to figure that out. (Hi, 6-month medical leave for PTSD.) But working from home would be nice, or something part-time, and most importantly working at something I enjoy and makes me happy. I’m just not sure what that is right now. I’m all for applying for work at the local Indigo (I miss that a lot), but I… I don’t know. Something is stopping me. I think it’s the fear of the unknown, and the fact that I have been my job for such a long time, trying to see myself anywhere else is like trying to look through a foggy window.

So I’m having this odd existential crisis about myself and my future and it’s pretty annoying. I know it will all sort itself out and I’ll be able to see Me in so many other things than just the job I had. But it’s kind of scary to have this huge blank canvas in front of you waiting for you to choose the right colour to begin filling it in with.

That’s what I’m trying to sort out! (Random epiphany as I type.) My colours! I feel them all returning, the grey is dissipating, but right now the colours are just out of reach. An entire Crayola box of possibilities (the one with the sharpener in the back of course), and I just need to reach out and choose one.

finding my own wonderland

Halloween 2016

We spend most of our lives trying to figure out who we are. Life is a never-ending path of discovery and questions. Some get lucky and figure out who they are, and what they want to do, early on in life. Not everyone is so lucky. Some take decades to finally feel at home in their own skin.

It took me over 30 years to be comfortable being myself. Being me. Embracing all that was quirky and odd, accepting that I don’t always like what everyone else likes. And then one day the sky fell and I got lost again. Suddenly, I realized, I didn’t know who I was anymore. Nothing I used to love to do was holding any interest for me. I was apathetic to EVERYTHING. I wasn’t reading. Wasn’t crafting. Wasn’t happy at all.

Going downtown five days a week wasn’t helping. After March 27, 2013, I really didn’t want to be in the city anymore. I never liked the city much anyhow, I love seeing the sky. There’s little sky viewing in downtown Montreal. All tall buildings. And as much as I love the people I work with, the job itself was making me feel…grey. Blank. Drained. There was no joy in staring at my computer all day scheduling meetings, or coordinating meetings, or taking minutes.

And so this summer I had to think. Think hard. What needed to change in my life? What could I do to stop this downward spiral into sadness so strong I felt as though I couldn’t breathe.

Months of pros and cons lists happened both mentally, and in my journal. I spoke about what I could do with my husband, and my therapist (the same one helping me through all the PTSD stuff). There were sleepless nights where I just felt so lost and trapped that I couldn’t even close my eyes. The darkness was too bright and too deep.

At some point I looked at job postings online and saw something closer to home, not in town. And it was as if someone had filled me with air. I could breathe again. I didn’t feel weighted to the ground with lead. Something clicked – I needed to be out of downtown. I needed to eliminate that part of the equation. That’s when the epiphanies started, of course my job is downtown, but what if I quit my job? What if I took this opportunity to actually stop doing something that was draining the life from my soul (dramatic sounding, I know. But I wasn’t even READING anymore!) and turning me into a drone, and started to do something I loved? Suddenly the people I had worked with for almost 11 years weren’t enough to keep me going into a job I didn’t love anymore. But leaving those people? People who had become as close as family? THAT wasn’t an easy decision.

Even more so, leaving meant I had to leave my boss. A woman I have wished was my own sister for years. A woman I adore, and learned so much from, and admire and just…adore. It was like breaking up. It was not easy. It is not easy.

But I did it.

The first week of October I gave notice. I think my heart was in my mouth. My hands shook, my stomach clenched, and my head was spinning. But I did it. One of the hardest things I have done.

Leaving the security of a place I have been for 15 years isn’t easy, and it wasn’t a whim. But it was time. My last day of work was Halloween (because, of course it was!), and my 15th anniversary at McGill was October 28. My first four and a half years were at the bookstore, and then the last 10 years and seven months were in the Dean’s office in Music. I literally spent a quarter of my life at that faculty, in that job (though it did evolve over the years).

They had a Halloween party for me on my last day. My heart was overflowing with emotion. I don’t like emotion. I was shaking like a leaf, but I managed not to cry. I cry at night as I try to fall asleep. It’s how I roll. There was so much love though. And I’m two days into being home and I miss everyone so much.

However, I am ready for new challenges. I am THIS CLOSE to finishing my Book Publishing diploma at Ryerson University, and I am desperate to work with books. I miss books. SO MUCH. I want to sell and publicize children’s books. My entire being vibrates with the desire to do that. To talk books. Read books. Sell books. And if I didn’t make the leap and change now, I’d have chickened out over time and just become resentful of missed opportunity, wasted passion, and bitter about a job I wasn’t getting any joy from. I couldn’t live like that. I can not live like that.

So I made this big, terrifying, life-changing decision and I don’t know what’s next. I just know that it needed to be done. Once I realized this what what I needed to do my entire body relaxed. I read 11 books this month – and I hadn’t read nearly that much yet this year. You have no idea how much stress and anxiety dissipated once I realized what I needed to do. Instead of being anxious about not knowing what’s NEXT, I lost anxiety I didn’t realize I was holding on to about staying as is.

No one who knows me would ever claim I was a fan of change. As a child I couldn’t handle the smallest of change. I remember having a clock-radio that I loved that died and I couldn’t sleep for a few weeks once I had a new one next to the bed because it WAS NOT THE SAME. The world was off-kilter. The air was too sharp and jagged. The cocoon of my room was DIFFERENT. And that was not good. And I’m pretty sure my parents would have bet cash money that I’d never move out of their house, and my room. And that I’d likely still be living there even though they sold the house. Change was not something I was ever able to handle. It’s amazing what a trauma and some other life-altering events can do to a person.

‘Cause, this is a Big Change, yo. This is me leaping into unchartered territory. This is so very un-Cat that it’s astonishing that I chose to make this decision. Astonishing that I even came up with this decision.

But I knew I needed to figure myself out again, and I needed to take a deep breath and make some Big Decisions as part of that. I can’t live in a grey world. I need that Wonderland that Alice found, as confusing and scary and dangerous as it might be at times.  I can’t allow myself to shut down by mindlessly going through motions because it’s what’s expected of me. I need to do something with my life that I have passion for, that brings me joy. Books bring me joy, so that’s the path I’m following.

As for right now? I’m going to finish this copyediting course and look for another job. It might be a temporary one as I figure stuff out along the way, but temporary is just a blink of an eye and it’s easier to digest than “forever”. I’m scared. I’m nervous. I’m excited. I’m hopeful.

I’m feeling like someone I used to know a little better. Almost myself again. And that’s one step closer to Wonderland.

you’re a good mom


I have never wanted kids. I’m not a fan of kids. I wasn’t even a fan of kids when I was a kid. Kids make me anxious. They are honest, blunt, judgemental, and emotional. (And like…do they have to point out the giant zit on my nose to everyone? Do they think I’m a loser? OMG do they think I’m cool? Am I not cool??)

I never played Mom With Kids, as a child. I played many other games – Doctor’s Office Receptionist, Grocery Store Cashier, Librarian. Those were the games I played. I had lofty goals. (I didn’t know back then that to be a Librarian you had to go to school for a billionty years. No thank you.) Occasionally I played School. There I was the teacher to my seated stuffed toys, but really all I wanted to do was write on the chalkboard. Chalkboards are fun and I loved getting to use one. I never really asked my stuffed toy students to participate. I just wrote things on my makeshift board.

But others do want children. And they have them. Or they struggle to. And so many people have children who probably shouldn’t have had them. You read the news, you know what I am talking about.

But this post. This post is for the friends I have, whom I love and adore and admire, this is for them. And to each one of them I say:

You’re a good mom.

You are. Truly.

My mom friends have children of all ages. Some friends I met before they had children, some I befriended who had young children, or older ones. I myself have a mother. I watched her raise me and my sister.  I have watched these women with their own children and at some point I have heard the phrase “I’m not a good mother” uttered from every one.

But it’s a lie. Don’t believe it. Ever.

I have watched you comfort your children when sad, hurt, or scared.

I have watched you discipline your children when they do something wrong, dangerous, or mean.

I have watched you encourage your children to always be themselves, teach them to be polite, and to be kind to others.

I have watched you cry, pace, rage for your children as they face challenges like exams, oral presentations, scary medical stuff, bullies, or even because they wanted to dress themselves that day and you were worried about them being picked on.

I have seen, firsthand, the love you have for your children. You want to protect them from all harm, and monsters under the bed. And you do everything you can to keep them in this bubble of safety.

And sometimes things go awry. Sometimes they fall and bones are broken. Sometimes they don’t listen and harm might befall them. Sometimes the world is just a terrifying place and there are so many things you cannot control. And I have seen you doubt your ability to be a good parent because you can’t protect your offspring from the world.

It will never be perfect. Nothing is. You have given your children a solid base for them to grow from. Eventually they make their own decisions because they are tiny humans who have suddenly become bigger humans. And those values, and lessons, and all the love you’ve poured into them for their entire lives… All of that will influence those decisions. You will always be a part of them. After all, you were also once the child of a mother. You had parents who raised you and you turned out okay enough to have your own children.

I have watched your children grow up. Some I have seen grow in person, and some only through photos and your own words to me about your child. And I don’t really care about children. I don’t like them much, so if I happen to be all mushy gushy over your child? That’s a legit reaction and interest. I won’t fake interest in children just to be polite. I just won’t talk about them. But I’ve met, and know, so many amazing kids – of all ages – whom I am so proud of. And I genuinely want to know how they are doing and what they are doing.

And I know you’re a good mom because otherwise I’d probably stop caring about your kids because they annoy me. Heh. But seriously, I know you’re a good mom because I have seen these tiny humans, that you insanely let grow INSIDE YOU LIKE AN ALIEN (gah!), turn into bigger humans who are full of love, and intelligence, and ideas, and dreams and imagination. And I kinda sort of love them.

You’re a good mom because you love your children and you want what’s best for them, and to keep them safe, and loved.

There will always be downs that go with the ups. You will always probably feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle. But you love. And care. And protect. And every human has their own energy in the world and that’s important. You’re doing your best, and that doesn’t mean you’re doing everything perfectly. Because perfect is a myth.

I’m no expert on raising a child. I can hardly take care of myself most days. I can’t keep a plant alive in the house at all. I do pretty well with raising my dogs. But that’s nothing compared to a young human. Young humans are tough. (Seriously, do they think I’m cool? What if they don’t think I’m cool?! Am I a loser?? GAH!)

Siblings will fight. (Expert on that one.) Children will scream to high hell at their parents. They will eventually utter the words “I HATE YOU AND WISH I WAS NEVER BORN!” That’s all smoke. We did it, too. I think it’s like a rite of passage.

I have a mother. She has also wondered if she could have been a better mom. (SPOILER ALERT: the answer is no. She is a wonderful Mummy.)  And I know mothers. That’s the extent of my knowledge on the motherhood front. But I don’t think you have to BE a mom. to know when you SEE a good mom. There is always doubt in everything you do. I think that’s part of human nature. But to you, my friends, I have watched you. I have heard you. I have known you for all different lengths of time, but I see you.

And you, my friend, are a good mom.

You are. I’m extremely proud to know you. And I probably don’t totally dislike your kids.

words inked into my soul

I love tattoos.

I know they aren’t for everyone. I know many people do not like them, but I do. I love being able to wear art on your body.

I also believe in being 100% certain that I want something etched into my skin for the rest of my life. Unlike piercings, you can’t just take off a tattoo and go on your merry way like it never happened.

Everything I have on my skin, I wanted, and still want. And all of my tattoos mean something to me.

Lately, I have been obsessed with words. Words are power. If words are tattooed into my body, they become part of me. They become me. My last two tattoos have been words. I already know what my next tattoos will be – more words. Not sure when. Probably within this year. I don’t know. But I know what words, and where they need to be. And those words will become part of my soul.

Corny, I know. Cliche, I know. But true.

we're all mad here tattoo

My latest tattoo is a quote from Alice in Wonderland. I love that story, the Disney movie (animated one, not the newer live action ones – those are CREEPY.), and there’s something about Alice and Wonderland that has always resonated with me. I had originally thought the words enough, but then wanted to add in the Cheshire Cat in some way. All attempts to add the eyes and smile of the cat didn’t work out right. But thanks to my wonderful friend Emilie, and her ability to draw something from my horrid cut and paste, clip art photo, I was able to find the exact design I wanted. I wanted a collarbone tattoo, similar to those (now too) popular flying bird ones. But not birds. Nothing about birds says “Cat”. But I loved the simplicity of the tattoos. Mine isn’t as simple as those, but I think it matches me perfectly.

And yes, I am quite mad.

Especially these last few years.

Back in September, I also got a tattoo. This is the closest in time that I have ever gotten inked. But I had been working on that tattoo idea for some time. I knew I wanted a semicolon, but I needed something more. All I had worked out was, “breathe ; ” What came next was a struggle to figure out. Although as soon as I did figure it out, I knew I needed to get the tattoo right away.

semicolon project tattoo breathe

I might be impulsive about getting my tattoos, but a lot of overthinking goes into what I want to put on my body. Thing is, because of my very strong intuition about things, I often need to get things done as soon as I know I need to do something. Thankfully my tattoos have been pretty small, so I didn’t have to wait too long for appointments.

The arm tattoo is a reminder that I can, and will, survive. Anything. I just have to remember to breathe, and my story isn’t over yet. I can rewrite, and restart. It will happen. I’m okay.

Words are my jam. They mean something to me. And as I was starting to write this post, I realized I hadn’t ever posted about the back tattoo I got in 2012 – which is where my obsession with words on skin began. In August 2012, I had a lyric from my favourite Sarah McLachlan song – Elsewhere, tattooed on my back. I wrote the text, and Emilie helped me with the design around the words.

Elsewhere tattoo aug 2012

All of my tattoos can be covered up if need be. I have stars on my wrist, a faerie silhouette on my leg, and a paw (and “pant”) on my ankle (my first tattoo – in memory of Kewpie after she passed away in 2002). My collarbone tattoo is the first one that’s going to be harder to conceal, but with a t-shirt on, you don’t even notice it. And really, unless I get another job where concealing tattoos is a rule, I’m not all that worried about them. They aren’t hurting anyone, and they are such a part of me.

I love tattoos. I love words. Makes sense to have the important words permanently inked into my soul. (As cheesy as that sounds.)

overthinking

I wonder a lot about things. All things. Little things, big things. Things. I wonder. I ponder. I overthink. I stress, obsess, worry, and fret.

It’s part of who I am. Even if I might not know who I am at all times. And even that – who am I? – I tend to overthink. It’s a daily struggle.

I do about 95% of the things I do based on instinct. I’m a highly intuitive person, and I have learned over the many years of my life, that I should follow my gut instinct when making decisions, or I won’t end up happy. And happy isn’t really an emotion I was used to for a lot of my life. Once I worked out overthinking my instinct, I found I was in a happier place.

But that doesn’t mean I stopped overthinking things. Not at all. Even if I know, deep within me, the decision I want to make, I will still stress, obsess, fret, and think-think-think, over it under I have ripped it to shreds.

Sometimes I don’t follow my instinct. I think it’s wrong. It’s like when you a pretty sure the multiple choice answer is b, but you choose c at the last second and you get it wrong.

But in the inbetween between those two choices, you overthink the answer. You stress. You fret. You make your final choice and it’s…not the one you really wanted to make.

Sometimes I overthink my intuition. I question it. And I question myself.

And lately, there have been lots of questions, and a whole crap-ton of overthinking. I think… I think I’m not the same person I was three years ago. I mean, of course we all change, but in my case, I think the trauma changed parts of me that I have always taken for granted.

Obviously trauma can change a person. I mean, it’s trauma. Your entire world changes in an instant. What you know, and think you knew, shatters.

I find my reactions to things are no longer the same as they used to me. The me that I have grown so comfortable with has grown blurry. Am I who I thought I was? Am I becoming someone else? I question so many things lately. More so that I used to. Part of that is a loss of innocence, and naiveté that I still carried within me before the end of March 2013. I think I am feeling the loss of that most of all. And now I wonder about so much more than I used to. I wonder about trusting the world, and people around me. I wonder about me, and what I want out of life, and the world. And sometimes I wonder who I am supposed to be, because the me I was becoming was pushed off course. Have the parts of me I feel like I have lost stay lost? Will I regain those part of me?

What I will always have is my ability to overthink things into oblivion. Often that holds me back from life, and happiness.

I overthink. I worry. I obsess and stress. I wonder about things. I wonder what happens next. I wonder what the next chapter will reveal. I wonder what sort of stories I have left.

I overthink the possible endings. I overthink the current plot line.

I wonder. I overthink. I feel. I KNOW. I question.

And I just hope, that with all these thoughts running around my head, that I end up making the right multiple choice decision.
EDIT: this post ended up sounding way more morose than it is meant to be. I have been writing, writing, writing in a pen and paper journal a lot lately and this was more of a stream of consciousness based off of my journaling. Only way more emo-sounding.