Wednesday, October 2, 2013

I did it my way.

I once wrote a personal blog that used to heal my heart, and apparently helped others along their life journeys. Life wrapped in lace started out as an outlet for my creativity and no particular direction in mind. I would write about fashion, music and post pretty photos borrowed from the then Beta version of Pinterest. I once took a chance and poured my heart out on a personal issue and the feedback was wonderful.

Instead of posting only the pretty as the blog titled suggested, I would post the un-pretty, the raw and real and my innermost turmoils and angsts. And I realized something. People responded to this. Sure there were the trolls who loved to search my name and find out that I was hurting. They probably even used some of my personal stories as ammo. Those types of people love to see others fail. Or read and talk about others' misfortune. But then there was the other percentage. The vast majority, who not only had been in my shoes, but were relieved that someone would finally put it all out there. Sometimes I think I was born to say and live what others think and experience and are afraid to say. By speaking the truth, by telling my story, people can quietly agree or loudly disagree. But at least it gets people to think. To feel. Does anyone feel anything these days? Life is just sometimes so robotic.

In the world of Fakebook and self consuming social media, it's tempting to flaunt, not flail. To brag, not humble. To feign perfection rather than live in truth. I've never been a great actress. How I feel is written all over my face. I've had to dig really really deep to figure myself out. To unravel the spool of confusion swirling in my head and heart. And I'm sure I'm far from an "In conclusion" moment. It's a constant learning process.

Ahhhh to have the knowledge (read: power) that I am armed with now. Without knowledge, you are lost. At least I was. I had no idea why I was so darned sensitive and shy as a kid. Why, despite my mom showing me over and over again, I couldn't find my way home. Why I couldn't, despite my coach staying hours late at every baseball practice, connect that fucking bat to ball and hit it. Not even once.
Why I would spend hours studying in University and not remember a thing come exam time, even when my friends would be out partying all week and ace the test. The same "friends" would rub it in that they were able to afford living away from home and let me know just how much I was missing out on living away. Or look me up and down in front of their new University crew and comment on my outfit. God. I couldn't wait to get the hell out of school. I would skip class if I showed up late, in fear that everyone would turn around and look at me. Literally, I would drive an hour to school, pay for parking, and turn around and go home if I was late. Neurotic I thought. I must be nuts. What the HELL is wrong with me? 

My heart would pound as I walked into the pub, frantically searching for a familiar face and feeling the creeping crimson of my face while people turned to look. Or at least I thought they looked. I'm sure it was all in my head. Looking back, I was a classic introvert. With obvious learning disabilities. I couldn't figure out why I would rather be inside reading than playing with the mean girls on the street. I couldn't figure out why, despite peer, teacher and parental help, I could not figure out Finite math or concoct a proper science experiment. Don't even get me started on gym class or geography. Funny enough, languages and art were things that I excelled at.

And yet....I found a way to graduate at the top of my class, date the most popular guys and run in circles with the "in crowd". For someone who sucks as an actress, I certainly put on a world class performance. Or did I just find a way to survive? Perhaps a bit of both. 

I am on a constant quest to find more about myself. I find it healing and refreshing that indeed there is nothing fundamentally wrong with me. When you come to a moment of truth within yourself, when you can be brutally honest about your faults, your fears, your offerings and your truths, you can form the most meaningful relationships and live the life you've always dreamed of. After all, how could you possibly know where you're going when you don't even know where you've come from?

I now photograph people for a living. The thing I dreaded most. People looking at me. Walking into a room and people staring. And now, for an income, I deliberately by choice command the attention of sometimes 200 guests and tell look at me! Look right here! 

It has always been my greatest fear to be judged. To be laughed at. To be talked about. To not fit in. To not belong. And yet, my entire life has been chartered on the path less travelled. I wanted to drop out of University and go to work on a cruise ship around the world. I seemingly hated school, while everyone else formed lifelong friendships and memories. I would ride to school with my so called best friend who deep down, I knew talked about me, would make fun of me in front of people any chance she got and would steal my boyfriend if she got the chance. (I'm certainly not perfect in this regard. I've been a shitty friend, a shitty girlfriend and an overall shitty person. But to my credit, I've never actually set out to hurt someone with intent. I do believe there is a difference between intentional and a mistake. One of these usually involves an apology. The other usually warrants a haughty shrug off. You decide which is which.)

I moved to Toronto when I found out the love of my life cheated on me. I couldn't handle the pain. The ink that stained my skin in a mutual tattoo still haunts me. I needed out. Out of the small town backstabbing. The bleak future that seemed my destiny. While everyone was cultivating their friendships in the formative years of their 20's, I moved away to a new world. To new people. While everyone was busy making plans to get married, buy a house and have kids, I flailed and flopped between jobs, relationships and drama. While my friends in their 30's were hiring nannies and renting out their basement apartments for additional income, I was renting my own basement apartment with seemingly nothing to my name, no plans to ever become a something, a Mrs, never mind a mom! I would always question my successful friends. I wondered why they even hung out with me. What I brought to the table in their lives. Apparently I brought a lot. Because years later, and sometimes months unspoken, these same friends making millions still ring me up. And I'm way behind them in all regards. 

I cut off friends that I didn't feel were right in my heart and I continue to do so. I don't keep people in my life that play bullshit Facebook games and then pretend they don't know what I'm talking about after we've had the exact same conversation about what other's have done. Social media can bring out the child in all of us sometimes. I don't give second chances or tell people I forgive them. I don't do this because I am that real of a person that I can't ever forget how I felt at that moment. This Best Friend Forever bullshit bugs me. I can admit it. It's mostly because I don't have one. Perhaps my feelings will change about this if I find one. But someone constantly referring to someone as their BFF in an adult conversation, is almost the same level of obnoxiousness as me referring to my husband as my "soulmate" in every conversation with a single person. Both situations imply that there is no room for another. There is a ranking and a "no new joiners"in your face stigma about it. It makes me want to say "Grow Up", when really I know deep down that it's my own personal insecurity. Just as when I talk about my husband, my single friends look lost in boredom. Or envy. Or at least I used to feel both when I was single. Or the friend that you introduce to others and they all of a sudden start making plans without you. It's like, ummm. No. There are unspoken rules sometimes about etiquette. With that being said, there is no way that we can all be the same. We can't measure others against our own standards. I've been told that I'll be very disappointed in life if I do. But still, it doesn't make it any less hurtful when you think to yourself....I would NEVER do that!

If I'm angry, I no longer lash out. But I certainly am quiet and distant. And people feel it. They feel it because I make a point in my daily life to constantly check in with the ones that I love. I have been a lot of things in my life. But one thing I most certainly am not, is a shitty friend. True, I am an all or nothing type personality. Another thing I have learned about myself. People have called me on it in my past. But there's no shades of grey for me. And in a non-linear world, this is difficult for people to accept or comprehend. Shit, it's even hard for me to comprehend. And I'm me.

I don't keep people in my life that say "I don't want to get involved." Or, "they didn't do anything to me." It's immature, I know. But is it so wrong to want someone on your side? I once cried in pain at being royally burned by a so called friend. And you know what another friend said to me at the perfect time? "I'll run that bitch over with my Volkswagen." Now of course, neither of us would ever want that to happen. I'm not a violent person. But in that moment of deep down pain, you really don't want to hear "well she didn't do anything to me." You would never hear me say that. If you hurt my loved ones, I will absolutely get involved. Even if you didn't do anything to me. Because I live with conviction, not with impartial ambiguity. Because I love madly. I hurt deeply. And because that's just the way I am.

I recently read that you should never let a good crisis go to waste. If I had only had photography and writing as an outlet back in the day, I would have created gritty masterpieces. But I had no outlet. I just thought a lot. And cried a lot. And made mistakes. And forged ahead.

Somehow here I am. I am running a successful business and not without my war  wounds to prove it. I have people coming to me asking for advice. Saying I inspire them. That my photos and words bring them to tears. Them are fightin' words. So what if I didn't like school. So what if I would rather stay inside. So what if I prefer a hike at the cottage than a party in Vegas.  I drank a lot growing up and partied hard. I drank so I would feel comfortable partying. People laugh when I say I'm an introvert. They are the furthest thing from shy.  There's a difference between shyness and needing alone time to recharge. I now know I can't go to a cottage for a week with a large group of people. It's great the first couple of days. By day three, I need to take off and have my own space. It exhausts me trying to be a people pleaser all day long. Nobody asks me to be this way. It's just the way I am. So what if I quit jobs. So what if I felt left out of the mean girls, even when it was my choice to walk away. This is my pattern. Things are my choice. I have made my choices and now have come to a place in my life where I understand why I have felt the way I felt. I hated school because I am not a textbook learner and don't thrive in meeting new people every day. Now instead, I watch tutorials and practice things hands on. I would have rather stayed inside because I am an introvert and thrive in smaller, more meaningful relationships. I sucked at science and math because I am meant to be in the arts. I am a photographer and I can finally admit, a damned good one. Even when I have moments of personal failure and doubts. I was miserable in an office because I had no personal space. I now work very hard on a wedding day, and am able to have a week off at a time editing in the comfort of my own home. I stayed up until the wee hours of the mornings perfecting an essay because I am Type A.  I can't sit and cuddle with my husband until my daily to do list is knocked off. I can't have people read over my shoulder until something is complete. It's just the way I am. I clearly learn differently than others. It doesn't make me any less bright, but different. I find ways to survive in the world, ace my exams, learn technology for my business that I simply don't understand and ram it into my brain in a way that I finally can understand. I was a bloody Director of Quality Control at Yonge and King street CGI at the age of 24. Half the time I had no idea what they were talking about. Policies this, Y2K that. Auditing this and contingency plans that. But I managed to get promoted at every job I ever worked at....until I would of course quit. I flailed and wandered because I am a dreamer. I am forever haunted by scary movies and bad news because I am a "high reactive." I'm sensitive. I kept ending bad relationships because I have found the one person in this world who gets me more than anyone. I cut off girls I didn't trust, because I now have a handful of quality women in my life. Maybe I lost a best friend and found one with a Volkswagen. Maybe she acts like a best friend and I just never will allow the term. I didn't have kids because quite frankly, I wasn't ready. I quit jobs because I was stifled in cubicle living and need my own schedule. I stink at board games because I can't pay attention long enough to listen to the rules. And although I may have got lost and failed geography, I am now here excelling in writing. And am fortunate enough that they invented a GPS.

Literally I may have always been lost, but figuratively, I have always found my way. I did it my way. And I have surrounded myself with people who love me just the way I am.

And despite it all, I love you just the way you are.

We could learn a lot from these lyrical geniuses.

P.S. If any of this resonates with you, you should really read the book called Quiet. There's such a freedom in knowing yourself. After all, how could anyone ever possibly accept could you be accepting of anyone else if you are not aware deep down inside, in your heart of hearts, what makes you tick? 


  1. Hi Wendy,

    We don't know each other but I started following you because some of my social media friends know and follow you. I also work in the photography world (not as a photographer) so their "likes" and seeing your photos is what first made me follow you (sounds very stalkerish but living in the world of social media, stalking seems to be acceptable if it's done on a computer or other device:)).

    I just wanted to say that you amaze me. In so many uncountable ways.

    First, your photography. It's beyond brilliant. Simply stunning. I am so happy when one of your photos pops up on Facebook or instagram, they always make me smile. And I go back to them over and over again. No matter what you shoot, you bring out all the emotions and capture the moment that makes people feel they are part of that moment when they don't even know the subject or have ever been to the location. Most of your subjects probably don't realize what I true gift you give them.

    Secondly, your willingness to share your feelings and let people into your world is admirable and amazing. I sometimes feel like what you write is about my life. I have the same feelings you have (or had), I've had the same experiences and I am so grateful for you sharing all of this so I know that I'm not alone (or crazy:)). The one difference between you and I is that you have certainly found your way to happiness. I'm still lost and working on that. Your blog postings help me feel that there is still hope for me when I feel absolutely hopeless. Your blog posting today stunned me. After a less than stellar day and being lost in a sea of horrible emotions, reading your blog was comforting when I have nothing or no one to comfort me. Not because I was glad someone else had to go through what I feel because that is not what I wish for anyone but it made me comforted by knowing that I'm not the only one out that is struggling or has struggled.

    I'm not writing this to creep you out or anything, I just wanted you to know that I think you are the best at what you do and I'm so glad you found your way to this profession and are able to provide memories for all the lives you touch. Your story gives me hope that someday I will be ok too.

    Thank you for sharing your world with the world and me, I'm sure you have helped more people than you could ever imagine by doing so. Keep doing what you do because no one can do it like you can.
    Your very thankful follower,

  2. Wendy,

    I really do not know what to say other then you are absolutely an amazing photographer/artist. May seem like a bias comment although I truly feel you have definitely found what you are meant to do in life. I am so proud and happy to have you as a family member.

    I wish you nothing but happiness and success in the future.

    Love you xo