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We made our way West

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On a Tuesday in November we decided to move west.  I can’t say I was very surprised that our lives were leading us there.  I always had the feeling the mountains were calling to me.  Seasons passed and the time eventually came to pack our lives into boxes and begin our trek west.  It hit me somewhere in the middle of Saskatchewan last week just how lucky we were to have spent the past 10 months in the cute little house by the water.

As we packed our final things into the car that day and took one last walk through of the house, we hugged side by side and took in the sight of the empty space.  In that moment I felt full.  I was filled to the brim with gratitude and nostalgia and felt that familiar wave of bittersweetness that happens with these kind of moves.  Gone were the days of the gorgeous lake sunsets, or the echoing voice of the final boarding call for the ferry.  That cute little house with a view held us through our first year of marriage.  We moved in in the fall – my favourite season of the year, we endured the longest winter since the 70′s, and enjoyed its brilliance turning from the sweetness of spring to a highly anticipated summer.

I have a tendency to fall in love with places and this one takes the cake.  Not that it was better than the house that I grew up in, or my very own apartment in the city, it’s just that I had my new husband with me for this one.  There were we’s and ours plastered on the walls that made this place different. It made this place home.

As we made our way west, we stopped for ball games in the states, jammed to tunes through the prairies and were left speechless with the first glimpse of the Rockies.  Those boxes arrived a few days ago and it finally sunk in that we just moved across the country.  Change isn’t always easy, but it sure is an adventure.

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Dear Grama

When journeys collide

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Dear Grama,

I was on a mission that day that not even the rain could disrupt. As I made my way to Westminster Bridge to recreate this photo of you, I remember thinking about the beauty of perspective.  Not only was I grateful to have found this photograph of you in front of this very spot decades earlier, but to be there giggling to myself as the wind blew my umbrella inside out, left me in awe.  How did I get here? Who’s crazy idea was this?  I actually made this happen?

Looking back at this photo now, over a year later, makes me realize that anything is possible.  The incredibly unpredictable journeys that brought you to this bridge, then brought me to this bridge, then gave me the urge to dig up this photograph to have another look are more connected than I ever knew possible.  The layers and years in constant dance with one another creating beauty and rhythm with every step.

I am writing to tell you that in 4 months time, I will hold the first draft of my book in these tiny little hands of mine.  The book that will be laced with both of our fingerprints, decades apart.  I don’t want to do this alone.  I can’t do this alone.  This is why I am telling you.

With a granddaughters love & admiration,

Carly xoxo

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To every “LIKE”

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Since this journey began, my head has been filled with shoulds. I should write. I should blog. I should tweet. I should network. I should learn how to get more followers. And the list goes on.  I was surprised when the greatest lesson I would take away from this journey hadn’t shown up on any lists – the importance of human connection.

Though I spent most of my days connected to the world, through facebook, instagram, twitter, email, texting, letters and just about every other form of technology, I felt a deep loneliness. It didn’t matter how many virtual connections I had received that day, what I longed for the most was physical touch, someone’s presence, or a conversation – live in real time.

The most profound aspects of my journey were the people I met.  On a parkbench, in a library, at a cafe and even on the ship on my voyage home, I noticed the connection between people and what good old fashioned connection has to go up against in this time: cell phone notifications, cameras, texts, selfie photo ops.  I couldn’t help but wonder if we are losing the ability to truly connect with one another anymore.

I’ll never forget the moment in a Starbucks when all I could have ever wished for was someone to sit across from me and share a story or engage in meaningful conversation when I noticed two girls sitting beside me.  Mid conversation one of them took out her phone and took a selfie with her mocha frocca latte frappiccino – cutting her friend off completely, to show her instagram and facebook friends what she was up to. It rocked me.  It didn’t make sense. We have things so backwards it hurts my soul, my heart and my ego when I actually think about the amount of times I’ve done it, too.

Of course I see the perks of it all.  We keep in touch in this now very small world because of it all.  I know instantly what someone is doing in Costa Rica.  I follow a Japanese Hedgehog on Instagram for goodness sake.  But something is happening and our world needs a shift.  My generation is feeling it and the generations after us need to be educated on it.  We need to put our phones away and connect with our grandparents – our elders.  There is a whole generation of people who lived through the world wars that are dying.  I am guilty of it, too.  My grandfather lives 2 minutes from me and I only go for visits every so often. He tells stories.  I need to hear his stories and record them.  There is an urgency about this that needs to be addressed.  Yes there is a place for technology, smartphones and facebook – but I want to stand for connection in its truest form – in real time – with those around you who you love the most.

Our wedding video going viral has made me feel it even deeper.  I have received lovely messages from people near and far.  From Cape Breton to Australia and England to my hometown of Leamington.  People are so sweet and the likes, shares and followers truly do mean a lot.  The truth is, my wish for everyone is that to every “like” there is a hug, a conversation, a touch, a look…in real time, with those around you who mean the most to you.  With those who if you were given one month to live, you would turn down all the computers and hug, soak their soul into your heart forever, talk about the big stuff, the life altering lessons that make you say: right, THAT is what matters most in life.

We are born to connect and there will be a shift.  I can feel it.  I want to be a leader for that shift.  So here I am making a commitment to you.  This week I will visit my papa, I will take in a sunset while resisting the urge to document it, and I will leave my phone at home the next time I go for a coffee date.

What will you do?

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Good Morning America called

10 things I’ve learned the second time ‘round a media blitz.

Thanks to our viral video shared in the last post.

 1.    Breathe.

Sunday night I was flat on the floor and my heart rate was as if I had ran a marathon.  Let’s just say that I made my mom’s birthday…uh…memorable.  I was officially overwhelmed by the 100,000+ views.

2.    AVOID the comment section when feeling overwhelmed

There are some very lovely people out there sending us well wishes.  Some are even saying our love has brought them to tears.  What is also true is that there are some people out there who have opinions or make assumptions about stuff they don’t even know about. We truly are blown away with the amount of people taking the time to respond and truly appreciate that.  Something I’ve learned through all of this is that you must try, try, try to remember 3 good to every bad.

3.    Focus on the positive

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to scream from the rooftops that “I chose my own dress!” I could go crazy sifting through the many inaccurate articles online, but that’s not very positive.  The positive is that some people are actually reaching out to me wanting to interview us.  That’s pretty darn cool. This has also been a wonderful chance for Adam & I to relive our wedding day ALL over again.  It really is quite special.

4.    Thank you, and YES I’d love to be interviewed

These things happen really fast – especially with the pace of the internet, so when people contact you for an interview – say YES and make it happen.  Anyone who has reached out to us has been kind, sweet and genuinely happy for us.  The second I started getting calls, my heart rate slowed down to a somewhat normal pace, so that I could actually explain myself, which leads me to my next point.

5.    Use your voice

Once I started getting tweets, messages and calls, I was able to use my voice and tell my story. And this is what lifesletter is all about…having the courage to tell my story and encourage YOU, yes YOU, to own your story and write your life’s letter – no matter how scary that may be.

6.    Love  your support system.

Both online and offline.  Truthfully, press or no press, all that matters is that I am married to a wonderful man, we have the most incredible family and friends and their support and loving words mean the world to us.

7.    Be Grateful. 

Any press is good press, right? I’m writing a book and hope to share my story with the world.  If anything, this is putting my name out there, giving me experience with media and making my skin a little thicker.  This is all part of the journey.

8.    Get your hair done. 

It just makes you feel good!

9.    Dare Greatly

I’ve been struggling lately to share my truth and own my story – hence a silent blog for a while.  I’m a huge fan of Brene Brown and her latest book is based on this quote by Theodore Roosevelt: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doers or deeds could have done them better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly;…who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” I’m ready to enter the arena again, folks.  Get out of my comfort zone, embrace the fear, and show up.

10. Breathe

And be sure to take it all in.  It’s not every day that Good Morning America calls.  Enjoy the rush.

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That’s right folks, our wedding video has had over 80,000 views in only a few days.  It’s a pretty surreal feeling even 7 months later.  It sure has been an exciting week reliving the magic of our surprise wedding day all over again – not to mention getting my butt into gear…back into the blogosphere.  Thanks again to Steve Shilson of Straylight Films for capturing our day so beautifully.  More to come soon…stay tuned.

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That Summer in Burgundy

I’m not even really sure how to start this post.  I’m back.  I’ve missed you.  I’m ready to share.  I want to start by going back a bit…back to “That Summer in Burgundy”.  The video truly says it all…inspiration, beauty, creativity, COWS, wine, cheese, nature, simplicity, writing & connection.

I had the pleasure of meeting Marty Gervais before I left for England back in January.  He loved my story, gave me some writing advice & was even the one to suggest  the brilliant “Dear Grama” approach.  He also invited me to join his group of creative writing & photojournalist students for a summer course in France.  Not only did he invite me to take part in the course itself, but he also asked me to do my own talk for the group.  What an honour…my first speaking engagement.

On the second night of the 10 day trip, I was on the hot seat and must admit that I was a little nervous.  I made up a slideshow of photos from my journey, shared stories of the ups & downs of putting my hopes & dreams out there for the world to see, and talked about what the creative process was like for me.  I wrote every single day while in England…that in itself was quite the process.  Let’s just say, the presentation was well received.  The more I shared, the more authentically I showed up & the more vulnerable I was, the greater the impact.  I had the audience engaged, I had them laughing & I even had them crying just by being me, sharing my story, and truly honouring what the last 6 months were like for me.  The good, the bad & the ugly – and by that I mean that I even showed a picture of myself ugly crying in the slideshow.

It was a wonderful experience & I can just tell that this is the beginning of something BIG for me.  Not only did it help me become clear on how I am going to approach writing my book, but it also made me realize that I want to share the WHOLE story every chance I get.  The stories of self-doubt, what it’s like to hear negative comments in the media, the never fading fear of pressing ENTER after writing a blog post, the feelings of doing something different – & a little outrageous – that may cost you friendships, money & time and after all of that combined finding a way to POWER through.

I already have plans to share my story with schools & university creative writing classes in the near future.  My hope is that in sharing my story, I can hear yours.  I can hear your heart & soul’s desires, crazy-nutty dreams & ideas that may not even be full sentences yet.  Even if at this stage it’s just an itch, an inkling or an intuition that there’s something creative you want to give-a-go.

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