Posted by: faultlessfinish | July 14, 2014

Movin’ Along

“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.” – Rosa Parks

Ten weeks and counting until moving day. [Insert appropriate "time flies" expression here.] Until this point, nothing has really sunk in. Of course I’ve been getting excited, and I’ve had the occasional “holy crap!” moment where I feel as though I’m going to burst with the crazy reality of it all, but this week for the first time, the fear set in. I felt unsettled.

The thing is, I can’t quite pinpoint why. The answer should probably be obvious. I mean, I’ve moved a few times in my life, but never to a different country, let alone across the ocean. For a small-town Saskie girl, it’s kind of a big deal.

When I moved from Saskatoon to Calgary five years ago, I was on my own for a month before my friend joined me in our apartment. I had an air mattress and a computer. It was enough. I was ready to start a new chapter, meet new people, get my first “real” job. I would sit in the coffee shop a couple of blocks away for a few hours in the evenings just to be around people. Finally I got hired as a waitress (the publishing job came along a few weeks later). That job was a godsend, and I’m so grateful to have met some lifelong friends there. Anyway, enough of my stroll down memory lane.

The point is, I’m not afraid of moving alone – that’s half the adventure. I think it’s simply the fear of the unknown that’s tugging at me, the inability to picture what my life is going to look like. And this is the kind of fear that should be overcome at all costs, because it can become debilitating. It’s part of the reason it took me ten years to finally decide to move to London. It disguised itself in many ways.

Today, I acknowledge the fear, and I choose to move past it. Because if I don’t see what’s on the other side, I know I’ll regret it for the rest of my life.

Is fear of the unknown preventing you from taking a leap to something you want? It’s a tricky little devil in disguise.

Namaste :)

Rachel

Yup

Yup

Posted by: faultlessfinish | June 10, 2014

The Beauty of Simplicity, Revisited

Three years ago around this time, I was on my first solo trip. I spent a month wandering around Costa Rica, doing the whole soul searching thing. The meandering, slow days allowed for ample reflection.

June 20, 2011:

“Being down here has reminded me of the beauty of a simple life. The other morning, I went for a walk down the beach and saw a lone fisherman. He would go out in the water with his line, wait patiently, and then go back and sit on the shore. He did this for hours. Inspired, I decided to just sit and watch the water for a couple of hours. Thoughts kept creeping into my mind: ‘You should do something.’ ‘Hmm, what do I need to do first when I get home?’ ‘What should I write my next blog about?'”

Not a whole lot has changed since then.

Though I crave adventure and excitement, I find the most joy in simplicity, in the simple life, but achieving this is another story. On Friday, after a hectic week of “on the go,” I had twenty minutes before my friend would arrive to pick me up for a bachelorette weekend in the mountains. As I sat down on my couch to wait, the first thoughts that came to mind were How should I fill this time? Can I fit in some more project work? Maybe I could start a movie? Waste some time on Instagram? And then I laughed. I reached over and ruffled my cat’s fur, and I decided to look out the window. And do nothing else.

And it was wonderful.

Late that night, after the rest of the bachelorette revellers were tucked away in bed, the bride-to-be and another close friend and I had a chance to just sit and talk. We laughed about the night’s antics, and then the conversation shifted to our busy lives. “Our society is consumed with the idea of ‘busyness,'” one friend said. “We rush around filling our days, but is it all really necessary? When you ask someone how she’s doing, the response is almost always ‘Good. Busy.'”

I am certainly guilty of this. Why is this the default response? To let the person asking know that we don’t really have all that much time to be talking to them? To make sure we fit in with all the other “busy” people? We are all busy people, but just what are we busy doing?

The difference between a busy life and a full life is vast. And when I think back on my days, I don’t want to remember being busy. I want to remember living a life that was full of family and friends and work that I was passionate about. I want to remember experiences and relationships.

Congratulations, beautiful friend. I can’t wait to celebrate your big day with you.

Namaste :)

Rachel

Lonely beach

Posted by: faultlessfinish | May 6, 2014

Runnin’ Down a Dream

“I run because long after my footprints fade away, maybe I will have inspired a few to reject the easy path, hit the trails, put one foot in front of the other, and come to the same conclusion I did: I run because it always takes me where I want to go.” – Dean Karnazes

Exercise and I? It wasn’t exactly love at first sight. Back in high school, I couldn’t care less about fitness. There are actually people out there who run for the fun of it? Gross.

Then along came university. And lots of time sitting down. And parties. And terrible food (ice cream and leftover Timbits should be banned in dorm cafeterias – just sayin’). Desperate times called for desperate measures. I decided to put my $40 gym membership to use, still a bit peeved that it was automatically included in my student fees.

One fine day I happened to be testing the treadmill waters. And by that I mean watching my friend on the treadmill beside me run twice my speed. Uphill. And barely break a sweat. Kinesiology majors. Sheesh. “I’ve never been able to run,” I told her after our workout. “I just don’t have it in me. I’m not built that way.”

My friend disagreed. “It’s all about training properly. I can teach you how if you want to learn.”

Though skeptical, I decided to give it a shot. Lo and behold, run-a-minute-walk-a-minute became run five, walk one, became run ten, walk one, became run thirty, became run 5k, became run 10k, became “Holy crap do I ever love running!” became run a half marathon. Now I’m hooked. I wish my old gym teacher could see me now.

“See, the doubt is all a mind game,” my friend told me.

Running sets me free. I run when I’m full of energy, when I need energy, when I’m excited, and (especially) when I’m angry. I never would have discovered this had I let the “silly me” keep talking.

But the doubt never really goes away, does it?

Just the other day I was out for a run in the mountains with this same friend who taught me how to run years ago. As I fought for dear life up the last hill, she casually floated ahead, then circled back to meet me (Kin majors. Sheesh), shouting encouragement the whole way. When the ground levelled off and I could finally breathe again, she said, “You know it’s all a mind game, right?”

Ah, that much-needed reminder. Despite how many challenges you meet, how many miles you cover, that silly little part of your brain will not shut up if you let it run free. The trick is one “run-a-minute-walk-a minute” at a time. Relentlessly push forward towards that dream.

My move abroad, a dream ten years in the making, is starting to feel pretty darn overwhelming. But I remind myself: “One day, one task, one emotion at a time.”

Walk a little, run a little, see what you can make happen.

Namaste :)

Rachel

Mountain run

Posted by: faultlessfinish | April 2, 2014

What’s Your Gut Telling You?

“I believe in intuitions and inspirations . . . I sometimes FEEL that I am right. I do not KNOW that I am.” – Albert Einstein

When’s the last time you listened to your gut? Right now, mine’s telling me that sushi and frozen yogurt might not be the best combination. But I digress . . . This is not a post about stomachaches.

I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve said “go with your gut” when asked for advice. Truly, we all know what’s best for ourselves, but clearing away the head clutter to make space for that little inner voice can be a Herculean task.

“All signs point to yes,” or, “Danger, danger!”  The latter is much easier to hear. We’re built to rapidly identify danger and act accordingly.

But intuition isn’t just there to help us feel out potentially dangerous situations. Looking back over my last few years as a freelancer, and the projects I’ve taken on, I’ve realized that there were times my intuition was simply screaming at me, and I ignored it.

When I first started freelancing, I took everything that came my way, red flags or not, because I was desperate to build a business, to make money. And I’m willing to bet I’m not the only freelancer who has succumbed to this. I’ll admit that sometimes the “means to an end” is necessary, but when everything inside of you is telling you “No, don’t do it,” let it go. Make space for what suits you.

What I’ve most clearly come to realize in the last year or so though is that intuition plays a key role in major decisions, if you let it. I’ve spent hours writing lists of pros and cons, writing pages upon pages about various dilemmas. Yet I could never figure out why all the biggest decisions in my life were made seemingly on impulse.

In hindsight, it’s clear that these decisions weren’t spontaneous. I already knew what I wanted on a very basic level. And when I gave my head just a few seconds of space and quiet, suddenly my decision was “magically” made.

So what do you really want that you haven’t allowed yourself to admit? How’s your gut feeling?

“Chasm”

A leap of faith requires ferocity,
a steadfast belief in self and circumstances;

There is no room for
. . . hesitation . . .
when flying across a chasm placed
just above the depths of doubt;

Rocks may pierce the feet upon landing,
but the gap has still been leapt,
and, weary, battered feet can still
. . . move forward.

Namaste :)

Rachel

lMonterosso

Posted by: faultlessfinish | March 18, 2014

The Stranger with the Cigarette

The other night I was going through my travel journal and came across this poem. I wrote it while sitting in a bistro sipping (strong!) espresso to the soundtrack of French music and conversation. I was alone with my thoughts, an outsider but content in this warm, friendly atmosphere. It was the perfect Paris moment.

“The Stranger with the Cigarette”

She stands shivering in the chill, Paris-morning air,
smoking her cigarette,
surveying the indifferent street from above, huddled.
Her grey sweater, dull-green scarf, nondescript,
her face unreadable.

This tired Parisian, she looks my way.
I am an intruder.
Does the cafe’s glass obscure her view of the stranger unabashedly observing her?
I hold her gaze for only a moment,
look back to the street,
leaving her to her cigarette,
understanding the need for solace.
A glance back a minute later, and
she’s gone,

this stranger with her cigarette,
who left a mark on my memory . . .
after only the briefest of moments.

These little moments are what truly inspire me. Life happens quickly, but every once in a while it slows down and gives us little gems, moments of connection.

Namaste :)

Rachel

Eiffeltower

 

Posted by: faultlessfinish | February 25, 2014

The Whole 20/20 Thing

“To paraphrase Oedipus, Hamlet, Lear, and all those guys, ‘I wish I had known this some time ago.'” – Roger Zelazny

The blog prompt in my inbox this morning was as such: “You’re 12 years old. It’s your birthday. Write for ten minutes on that memory. GO.” I rarely roll with these prompts, but every once in a while, one strikes a chord.

To be honest, I can’t remember anything about my 12th birthday, and I have no desire to write about it. I’m sure there was a cake with oodles of icing. I’m sure I was hoping Taylor Hanson would show up on my doorstep to sing “Happy Birthday” (yep, I was one of those). There may have been a couple of friends around. But I know this much: it wasn’t the best time in my life. I don’t pine for those lost days of my youth.

Rather than write about that memory, I’d rather get in touch with 12-year-old Rachel, enlighten her with some of my oldness and wiseness. I know, I know. I’m sensing all the eye rolling right now. I get it. I’ve got a long road ahead, to be certain.

But I’m leaps and bounds ahead of me, age 12.

And I think this girl could use a hug. Maybe you could too. So here are four:

1. When people laugh at your expense, laugh with them. Or smirk and walk away. They’re really just looking to get a rise out of you. Don’t give them the satisfaction. Believe it or not, some of these people will be friends of yours in the years to come. Hint: this strategy works with adult meanies too.

2. As cheesy as it sounds, when you look in the mirror, smile and acknowledge everything that’s beautiful about you, especially the inner stuff. When you tell yourself you look ugly, your brain gets ugly. And it starts making you believe it. And it can be a hard thing to get over. When you get older, every single woman you talk to will tell you that she hated how she looked at your age. She’ll probably tell you that she hates how she looks now. Don’t be that person. Compliment other people, compliment yourself. Life’s too short to get hung up on bad hair days and pimples.

3. Embrace what you love to do, even if it makes you a nerd. Embrace your nerdiness. Spending Friday nights at home with a book (and a glass of wine when you’re old enough!) instead of at a party is pretty cool. And it might just lead you to a career you don’t even know exists right now. No, you’re not going to be a famous rock star or an MTV personality. That’s OK. That would have gotten old for you really quickly.

4. Understand that your life is not going to be “white picket fence.” There is no formula, though it’s hard for you to see past that ideal right now. Hell, it’s hard to see past that ideal when you get older too. Start changing your mindset now. There is no right way — there’s only your way, so start dreaming big, kiddo. What do you want your life to look like?

What would you tell your twelve-year-old self? Are you living the life he or she hoped you’d be living?

Namaste :)

Rachel

Yup...

Yup…

Posted by: faultlessfinish | February 11, 2014

Overseas Experiment

“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” - Emerson

The first time I read this quotation, the words jumped off the page and slapped me across the face. Now it’s written on a colourful Post-it note stuck right above my computer. It reminds me every day of the importance of taking risks, making changes, trying things out, making mistakes.

I certainly have a little squeamishness to overcome right now. Time for a big experiment. Possibly the biggest one in my life to date. I’m moving to London, England, for a year in September, to freelance and travel. The one-way flight will be booked by the end of this week, so there’s no going back. Even when I read what I’ve just written, it still doesn’t seem real.

A brief history of my fascination with England: it started at a young age. Oddly enough, watching terrible British comedies on TV with my mom is among my favourite childhood memories. And with a last name like Small, it’s obviously in my blood.

My visit in November confirmed that the pull I’ve felt to London for years wasn’t just my imagination. The city felt like home, in a sense. For years I’ve considered moving to Europe for school and work, but I’ve always had a plethora of excuses at the ready — some legitimate, some . . . well . . . just plain silly.

Even now I could take my pick of reasons not to go. Much of my time in Europe last year was devoted to the back and forth – should I? Should I not? (Sorry, Sarah!) But in a moment of solitude and clarity, I finally made my decision, knowing that I would regret not going far more than I would ever regret making the move. I’m so excited to immerse myself in something brand new and to expand my network. I’ve never been more grateful for my ability to take my work with me.

This is truly what I had in mind when I started freelance editing, and when I started this blog. This is what freedom looks like to me, and I plan to take full advantage. And I’ll be writing about it every step of the way.

I’m bursting with excitement and scared out of my mind, but that’s the beauty of it, right? I’m looking forward to sharing this journey with all of you.

Namaste :)

Rachel

IMG_5573

Posted by: faultlessfinish | January 29, 2014

Ink Blotches

When it comes to keeping track of my schedule, only old school will do. I like to see my week at a glance in hard copy, in blue ink. And it has to be perfectly neat and orderly and organized. Hey, I’m an editor. This should come as no surprise.

Due to my rather *ahem* obsessive tendencies, my day planner is full of Wite-Out, signalling changes in plans. This week has been a particularly unpredictable one, so the page is littered with corrections.

There are only so many times you can try to hide a mistake before you need to admit that it’s there and start fresh on a new line.

“Ink Blotches”

Big white blots and smooth sweeps

consume the ink-blotched page

Either way the cover-up conceals not

the fact of the error,

for it will always exist in that space.

Pen is (relatively) permanent,

but there is always a blank white space somewhere,

somewhere to make the correction

New words, not a cover-up.

Namaste :)

Rachel

London

Posted by: faultlessfinish | January 15, 2014

Go with the Flow

“Every creative art brings you to your innermost being where there is just calmness, utter quietness, absolute silence.” – Osho

A couple years ago, I watched a fantastic documentary on the science of happiness (Happy). The film discusses how the happiest people in the world have three things in common, including the ability to lose themselves in “flow,” or what athletes might call “the zone.”

Loosely defined, flow is being immersed in an activity. All your attention is directed to the task at hand — meditation in action. The documentary lists painting, rock climbing, and playing an instrument as a few activities through which people achieve flow.

I’ve been losing myself in music, both as a listener and a musician, for as long as I can remember, but for the past nine years, I’ve only had sporadic access to a piano. And whenever I play, I’m reminded of how necessary losing myself in music is for my sanity, my clarity. This year for Christmas, my parents surprised me with a guitar. It was, without exaggeration, the most excited I’ve been on Christmas morning since Barbies were on my list (and no, that wasn’t last year). I jumped up and down and screamed like a five-year-old.

Immersing myself in learning the guitar has inspired creativity in other aspects of my life, and when I feel stress starting to mount, I take a break to play, and soon enough I have a huge smile on my face.

I’m inspired by my many of my friends, who find flow through painting, photography, making jewellery, writing stories and poems, and pushing themselves in hardcore workout regimens.

The new year is in fully swing. What do you want to lose yourself in? What hidden passion can you explore?

Namaste :)

Rachel

Guitar

Posted by: faultlessfinish | January 2, 2014

Living the Details

Happy New Year everyone! I love the blogging world this time of year, as I’m a huge fan of recaps and reflective posts. One in particular made me pause: “A Quiet Walk on New Year’s Eve,” a post from one of my absolute favourite bloggers, Bottledworder.

She writes, “Suddenly it struck me how we think of our own lives as a collection of momentous memories. A collection of big events like in a badly written history book. Weddings, funerals, births, big moves, important accolades.

“The everyday disappears within those big memories just as life disappears condensed in a resume of it.”

Her words resonated with me. When I returned to Canada after my trip to Europe, my friends wanted to know the highlights, and I found myself mostly recalling the major places and events. “Florence was amazing! So beautiful!” But in truth, the highlights of that trip were the tiny details – the way I felt when the setting sun cast a warm glow over a sleepy Italian village, the way the breeze caressed my face as I sat on a bench in Rome and made a life-changing decision, the first sip of wine and a smile shared with a friend in Paris.

The details of our lives are often those things that are impossible to describe in words: the way we feel, the way we are moved, the way we react. The details are our daily interactions with people and the world. And these get lost in our larger stories.

As we move forward into 2014, let’s be mindful of the beautiful details that are at risk of being lost in the rapid pace of our lives. Breathe, enjoy.

Namaste :)

Rachel

Skating rink in London

Skating rink in London

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