My baseline

Baseline (noun): An imaginary line or standard by which things are measured or compared.

Something new has been brewing and I desperately need to articulate it. The best phrase I’ve come up with to describe it is that my happiness baseline feels steady and straight. The word baseline is normally found in research literature and refers to a starting point of data to ‘base’ further research from. A baseline is a standard to which everything else is compared to.


Over the last few months, I have noticed my happiness baseline is consistent and unwavering. It does not appear to change. The best thing about this baseline is that it is 1) being sustained and 2) being created by only me. Nobody else. I have reached an imaginary line of contentment that no one else can alter. External factors which may (or may not) add peaks and valleys to my happiness will measure up against this self-defined, internal baseline that does not move. This, for me, is quite revolutionary.

The old me would have had a fluctuating baseline of happiness dependent on all external forces. Namely, whether or not I was in a relationship and if I was being validated by someone else’s love and attention. It was also dependent on what other people were doing around me, and how I viewed my life in comparison to theirs. But because I’ve spent so much time (happily) on my own these last 2 years, I have arrived at a place whereby I don’t need my self-worth to be wrapped up in other people’s views, emotions, choices, opinions or lives. This simply does not matter as much.

If lovers choose to come or go, if jobs come or go, if friends choose to come or go, if funding comes and goes, etc., I know, deep down, that I’ll be perfectly okay. This feels pretty great. The fact that I am completely responsible for my own happiness is not only liberating, it is exciting. I have been able to remain unattached to the world around me in a way that I never thought possible.

Join me in creating your individual happiness baseline. See things and others around you as merely additional research that cannot touch the years of life data and self-love you have already built.


Brand new me. Brand new free.

“It took a long, long time to get here. It took a brave, brave girl to try.” ~Alicia Keys

I’ve loved and I’ve lost. You all remember. I was crushed, the pieces scattered everywhere. I did not know where to begin in picking them all up and what life would look like going forward. Jamaica, India and Ottawa became my sacred healing ground. It was a slow, long, excruciating process of rebuilding, redefining and reevaluation.

But I have arrived. And I am able to declare this because I was truly tested. I saw him.

Two years have passed since I laid eyes on his face. The face that was once so familiar and the face that was my everything.

Admittedly, I was nervous. Would I regret this? Would I collapse? Would the pain (or worse, hope) all come flooding back? This was the ultimate test. I was facing my greatest opponent: him. Him, along with all that was lost and all that never was. Honestly, I thought this day would never come.

I looked down at my tattoo. Love.

Self-talk: “I love you and am so, so proud of you. This is all that matters.”

I am the hero of the story. I would not be swayed by his words.

Self-affirmation: “You got this.”

Indeed, I did not fall apart. I was calm, gathered and purposeful. I was witness to my own growth in those moments of being in the same space as him. It was like he had to get to know me all over again. Brand new me. And I like this new person. A lot.

I was real. Sitting in a park, sun shining bright, he asked about how I felt things were left between us. I was taken aback because I had left this story behind many months ago. Stuck, I did not have an answer for him as the script of the past two years flashed before me. Was once I disappointed? Hurt? Lost? Angry? Sure. But not anymore.

Not anymore.



And it will be you.

It will be you

Time spent in pain and suffering is wasted if you do not take the opportunity learn from these times. Rooted and stuck in those terrible disappointments and agonizing losses? Look upward and forward. You will be all the better for them if you choose respond with earnest. It will then be you that grows through, stronger than ever. Don’t wilt and fade. Rise – you never know what you’ll be able to be and create as a result. It will likely be glorious.

Love is Louder List II

Poooooof! And another month gone. Wowzers. My weekly contributions have been piling up in my head but not on paper. It’s high time I articulated the GOOD and the LOVE that is happening all around me, all the time. I haven’t forgotten about my very important mission – I’ve just been busy with PhD-related things.

1. More and more leaves. These, too, have been piling up in my neighbourhood. It looks like snow is in the forecast so I better appreciate seeing them while I can.


2. Pumpkin Pie. The best thing about Thanksgiving. I managed to eat some!

Pumpkin Pie with Sarah

3. Montreal. I was there last weekend. Every time I visit, this city steals more and more of my captivated heart. I need to live there one day for even a brief period of time. It’s magical and makes me feel like I’m living in London (or anywhere in Europe) again.

old montreal

4. Global friends. Recent visits to Toronto and Montreal and having a friend visiting me here in Ottawa have proven that friendships stand the test of time, even when you don’t live in the same city.

5. Spotify. This music streaming service is now in Canada and absolutely rockin’ my socks off. I’m discovering heaps of new music.

6. Zumba. I started taking Zumba classes again. I love how I feel after every class.

7. Meeting Justin Trudeau. This was a very love-filled experience. He is a kind and genuine soul. And speaks very well to a crowd – it’s not rehearsed or stifled.


8. I saw Once the musical in Ottawa the other week. It was better than the movie. Highly recommend it.

Once poster

9. Hockey’s back. Enough said.


10. Poutine Grilled Cheese Sandwich. Courtesy of my favourite restaurant in Montreal. It was just as delectable as it looks.

Poutine Grilled Cheese

11. Post-it power wall. I’m doing some coaching to help me start my own coaching/consulting business (Yep! The cat’s out of the bag.) and one of my tasks was to write done 50 things I’ve accomplished/am proud of/dreams that have already come true. This is what the wall looks like. It’s POWERFUL and full of self-love.

Post-it Power

12. University teaching. I love, love, love, love this job.

Love is Louder List

I’m inspired. (Uh oh.) No, this is a really good sign.

The distance between my head and heart got too long. Longer than I’d like to admit. I’ve spent the last 12 months ‘up there’ instead of inside the soul of my being. I guess this is the nature of academia. Pulls you up into the clouds and away from the ground. This needs to stop. Or at the very least, I need more balance.

Now that there is more space in my life to be expressive again, I have an idea. This idea was inspired by the magical Craig Cardiff who I saw live last week in Wakefield, QC (one of the cutest towns). His song, Love is Louder, is based on a tattoo of the same title. Love is always louder than all this head noise. And I’m going to focus more on that.

Every week, I’m going to create and publish a Love is Louder List. This will serve two purposes: 1) it will get me writing creatively again and 2) it will allow me to capture what is speaking to my heart (and not my mind – I do enough of that as I prepare for my Qualifying Examination). This list could be made up of images, songs, quotes, themes…whatever speaks to me that week.

I’ll start now.

Week of October 6, 2014: Love is Louder List

1. Leaves: There are colours everywhere in Ottawa: purples, pinks, reds, oranges, yellows and greens. I am so lucky to live here.

Wakefield Coloured streets Oh Canada

2. My window view: I look out a large window when I work at my desk. My view is of a paediatric care centre where I see bundled up babies and happy children go in and out continuously. The old me might have thought this was somewhat cruel irony, but now, it shows up as abundance. I welcome in this incredible view of love every day.

3. Sweaters: Cozy sweaters are coming out of the closet as temperatures drop. I am reminded of how much I love changing seasons and wardrobes.

cozy sweaters

4. Jason Mraz: I get to see this uplifting singer later this week live in Toronto. I can’t wait!

5. The unexpected: I am in awe of how the universe provides when you show up and are open to receiving.

be open


A Better Man

This song spoke to me and my mood today. Thank you, soulful Paolo. I really like and admire the girl he describes. I can relate to the parts about her being fearless, free, a live wire and having no time for the in-between. Enjoy the song and sing along on this gorgeous fall Friday. Lyrics follow.

She makes me smile
She thinks the way I think
That girl makes me wanna be better

Took her down Bleecker Street
Saw she drank the way I drink
I kiss the sky to send her blue a letter

That girl, makes me wanna be a better man
Yeah should she see fit, gonna treat her like a real man can

She’s fearless, she’s free
Oh she is a real live wire
And that girl
She’s got me feeling so much better
Oh you trade all the money in the world
Just to see this girl’s smile
All the while, she’ll make you feel so much better

Oh that girl, makes me wanna be a better man
And should she see fit, gonna treat her like a real man can

Come on in my arms
You make me feel alright
You make me feel alright

You know I might get eager
I might lose my cool
Feel like I’m in detention
In the office at the school

And you’ll either love me
Or you’ll hate me
But I can see you’ve got no time
For the in-between
But the reflection in your eyes
Gonna look so much better

I said that girl, makes me wanna be a better man
Yeah yeah yeah
And should she see she fit, gonna treat her like a real man can

Gonna treat her like a real man can
Gonna treat her like a real man can
Gonna treat her like a real man can

Don’t Worry About Losing

“And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens — The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.” ~John Steinbeck

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about love, commitment and timing. How is it possible that anyone ever gets married/finds their life partner in the first place? <Insert bewildered face here.>

(I will then turn to this letter by John Steinbeck.  It’s beautifully reassuring.)

How do two people who are meant to be together a) find each other (hard) b) meet at the ‘right’ time (very hard) and c) end up blending and amalgamating their lives so that both are happy and not compromising too much for each other? (extremely hard).

In order for any relationship to exist, I’m concluding that people must compromise to a certain extent. What are we willing to give up (or not)? To change? To abandon? To shift?

In my previous relationship experiences, I have been keen to do ‘whatever it takes’ to make them work, which results in me giving up some of my power and identity. This may or may not be a part of why the relationship ultimately falls apart, but is a pattern I’ve noticed as I’ve looked back.

These days I feel the need to hold on a bit more tightly. I want someone to figure the big life stuff out with me, not in competition with me.

I suppose this is the point where I return to the comment that I started this post off with – not worrying about losing someone or something based on who I am and how I want to live out my personal legend. I should be more worried about losing myself. 

Two idiots


Live With Heart

What do you possibly do to help and exist in a world that feels so incredibly heavy? I’m constantly and relentlessly surrounded by images of hate, ignorance, violence, grief and despair lately. I can feel the heaviness. The world is not operating from it’s Heart Center. We need a shift. Fast.

From my small, sunny, secure space in Canada, I turn to one thing and one thing only. I encourage all of you to do the same. It feels like the right and best thing to do.

Live with heart

In search of temporary world-chaos relief, I found and listened to this perfect, uplifting album today. Take a listen and a whirl. Send it on to someone you love.


“I keep a lamp over you, glowing in my heart,
To keep from tripping over troublesome thoughts in the dark,
We ain’t that different, we huddle underneath the same stars,
I see who you really are.”

(Lyrics taken from track #14 Shine.)


I just had to do it. Count the number of words I wrote between September 2013 and June 2014. The amount of time it took me to successfully complete 7 classes.

I wrote 86 060 words. This works out to approximately 350 pages. I wrote a whole dissertation already!

Despite this incredible accomplishment, these words on paper were written mostly for others. They were written to fulfill requirements. It therefore feels really good to be on the other side of this particular part of the PhD process. Now onto the qualifying exam this upcoming fall in which I get to determine the reading list (primarily) and devise the topic.

To restore, recoup and reassess, I have returned home. What does returning look like? A little like this.

Fullerton Loop Lookout

Johnston Canyon










And a lot like this.

Returning to nature.

Returning to family.

Returning to calm.

Returning to friends.

Returning to ‘home’.

Returning to inner voice.

Returning to inner peace.

Returning to inspiration.

Returning to motivation.

Returning to purpose.

Returning to love.

Throughout the last 10 months I’ve felt, at times, disconnected from the reasons that drove me to do my PhD in the first place. There were many demands and I found myself drifting away from my sense of purpose. It is important that I use the next two months to regain focus and control, replenish my spirit and self-initiate moments to reclaim my passion for what it is that I set out to do and why I began almost 12 months ago. And to cherish opportunities to celebrate what I’ve been able to achieve so far.