Old Passion: Blogging

In the search to find out the things that could help me discover my passion, I turned to something I used to be passionate about: blogging.

I used to run a pretty successful food blog. The thing is that I hated being labelled a ‘food blogger’. The blog felt like so much more than that. It felt like an extension of my creative side. A side I had only just discovered. I worked really hard on that blog. I felt like that was my real job. I did all the design, photography, writing, editing and social media for it. I was out interviewing local businesses and invoicing magazines who requested my photography. I worked on it during the days and went to my bar job at night. By the time I was getting ready to leave for Canada I was working with high profile brands such as John Lewis, Tesco, Marks & Spencer to name a few.

And then I stopped.

I thought that if I put in as much work as I did at home as I did in Canada, the blog would be as popular. But that wasn’t how it worked out. Canada ain’t cheap. Rents are crippling if you want to live anywhere remotely connected. Life there in general is expensive. Even deodorant. So I had to get a 9-5. I had a new life to pay for and new friends to spend time with. Something had to give.

There were times where I wanted to pack it all in and head off with my camera and laptop. I missed that creative connection I had to something. I tried and failed to think of ideas that I could work on. As series of pretty harsh setbacks halted that altogether. But lost in a confusing haze of anxiety and listlessness, I never once asked myself ‘is this who I really am?’ Why did I give up what I enjoyed to do something just to make money and survive. Why didn’t I manage my time better to be able to do both? These are questions I now know the answer to: I can do it. I just have to want it badly enough.

This blog won’t be like the other one. I put a lot of pressure on myself to make it successful. What I did learn is that I enjoyed many aspects of being creative; meeting like-minded people who inspire me, discovering new things and taking pictures. I wish I wrote on their more instead of letting the pictures doing the talking. So this blog is the counterpart to that.

This is just the beginning.

Day 3

Success Starts in Coalhurst, Alberta

When I was living in Canada a good friend of mine announced that his friend, Marko, would be cycling from west coast to east coast with a deadline of three months. That journey would be from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Toronto, Ontario. The land border between Canada and the USA is 8,891 kilometres, which would mean he would have to cycle over 100 kilometres a day. Or something like that.

With his work visa rapidly running out, there could be a chance he would be cycling across the country illegally if he didn’t make his flight from Toronto in time. But despite everyone’s concerns, he set out to cycle across the second largest country in the world. He checked in everyday to let everyone know he was still alive. His safety was the biggest concern. But he called undeterred, even after spending the night alone in an abandoned warehouse in Crowsnest Pass, Alberta. But by the time he reached Coalhurst, he was exhausted. He sold his bike and got a bus to Lethbridge, where he worked bussing tables until he had to be in Toronto.

At the time we all thought he was crazy. He had a bunch of luggage that needed to find its way back to his homeland of Croatia, but that didn’t bother him so much. He was so focussed on his trip that he let his friends deal with it. The only thing he had to do was cycle, eat, use the bathroom and sleep everyday. The harsh, isolating expanse of the Canadian highway hadn’t even factored into his plans. He would be free.

I think about that story often.

We still joke about it now. How he had these grand plans to cycle from coast to coast. Three months isn’t even enough time for the Terminator to cycle across Canada, and he can time travel. See, there was no way he would ever finish the trip. I think deep down he knew that, but he wanted to try. He wasn’t afraid of failing. He still cycled across one province and halfway through the next. I won’t cycle anywhere near that distance in my entire life. But he did. And he did it alone.

What I admire the most about Marko’s journey was that he knew when to stop. He didn’t give up. He simply couldn’t cycle the insane distance in the time frame he’d established. He realised it was going to be impossible for him to do. He knew he had reached his limit, so he stopped. He didn’t care that people might label it a failure, because he didn’t fail at anything.

A lot of my downfalls in life have been because of my refusal to admit failure. I just won’t do it. I will keep going even when I’m unhappy. This stubbornness has seen me stay in relationships that far exceeded their sell-by-date. It saw me working for one company for five years and quitting two months before they went bankrupt. Heck, I lived in Canada for longer than I could mentally cope. I never used to be like that. I would walk away if my work load was too much or if I was unhappy with who I was dating. I could tell myself enough was enough. I would follow my gut. That’s how I used to be.

I used to be like Marko.

Day 2

I’m Not Young Anymore

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I have been a bit lazy when it comes to updating this blog. I started this blog looking for an outlet during a very difficult time in my life. When I reached rock bottom I never felt the inspiration to write. But who wants to read about sadness times? Yeah, me either.

So, what prompted this sudden burst of blog posting? Young people. Goddamn perky young people. You know the type? Real go-getters who love the outdoors and do crafts and volunteer. The type of people who work at Camp America. Thing is, I kind of want to be one of those people, so I started my application for CA .

I don’t actually know if it is the right choice for me, but going through the application I had to fill out three skills that I could offer the programme. Luckily I was saved by the drop-down menu. I had to sit there and pick three things off that menu that I could sell myself on. That really got me thinking. The type of thinking that elicits rapid Facebook messaging to your best friend. You know, the messages that say ‘Omg, my life is not as good as I thought it was. FML’. And so on. So that best friend and I decided to work on the treatment for my for application video. After watching a few on YouTube he bluntly told me ‘you’re going to have to lie’. Damn perky young people.

What does all this have to do with blogging again? Seeing those videos inspired me. All those 19-year-old kids with so many hopes and dreams for the future. I used to be like that. I used to invite challenges and opportunities my way. I worked hard at things. I felt accomplished. Then a series of decisions lead me down different paths that didn’t make me happy at all. I was lost in the myriad of ‘what you’re supposed to be doing’ for so many years. Pressure gets to us all eventually, it’s how you respond to it that matters. And I didn’t respond to it very well.

Now, in my 29th year on earth (because one day we’ll be living on Mars with Matt Damon), I have a lot to think about if I want to make year 30 and beyond really matter. Older people always say to me ‘but you’re so young, you have plenty of time’. Really? Because when people said that to me ten years ago I would agree. But ten years have passed, and that saying is kind of depressing, because in another ten years it won’t seem right to say to a 39 year old ‘but you’re so young, you have plenty of time’ because that won’t happen. It’ll be more along the lines of ‘you’re 39 and you STILL don’t know what you’re doing with your life? When are you having a baby and getting married and doing all the things you’re supposed to do? Get it together, loser!’ Yikes.

And from that simple enquiry into Camp America I decided to spend the next 365 days living as authentically as I can. Am I destined to be working as a receptionist with co-workers who always need to leave by 3pm to pick up their kids from school? Was I destined to be the most average worker Blockbuster ever had? Should I have stuck to being an amateur TV reviewer? Or maybe my destiny was always supposed to be in the kitchens of Paris. Will I make it to Camp America?

I hope you join me in finding out.

Day 1

 

Project What Next?

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My hotel room the night before I left for Canada. Everything was awaiting me, or so I thought.

Hands up who knows what they want to do with their lives? Anyone? Because I sure don’t. And I need some help figuring it out.

I remember a few years ago ITV2 had a programme about celebrities following their passions. Girls Aloud was the feature of that series. The band had been interviewed in a magazine about participating in the show and it mentioned Nadine wouldn’t be on it, as she was already following her passion: singing. ‘Wow’ I thought ‘I wish I was so passionate about something that I could stick two fingers up to the ITV bosses!’

My problem is I like a lot of things. Things interest me. I’m good at lots of things, but I don’t think I’m particularly great at anything, and I certainly don’t know what I am passionate about. But I often like to give things a try, or let my imagination do the hard work for me.

Some examples:

I lived in Canada because I thought it would change my life. But it was an experience I would describe as ‘70% fun and 30% crying the shower’. Some days it was 100% crying in the shower. I love to cook and be creative in the kitchen, so why don’t I move to Paris and study at Le Cordon Bleu like Rachel Khoo? Or like that American journalist whose book I read? Sweat it out in the kitchens of Paris. Oui! I love to watch good quality television, so I tried to be a TV reviewer for a friend’s blog. I did one review post and I hated it. MAYBE I hated it because I really love to watch comedy. Maybe I should be a stand-up comedian and be team-mates with John Richardson on 8 out of 10 cats does Countdown. We’d be such a good team! You see what I’m getting at here?

But what did I take away from that ‘life changing’ Canadian experience? Simple – I literally have no idea what to do with my life, and that no amount of Tim Bits and pountine was going to help me figure that out.  But I did come back rather broke and with an anxiety disorder. So at least I’m good at  some things: being anxious and not looking after my finances.

I always admired those people who knew what they wanted to do from a young age. They had a focus and a determination that dictated all the choices they made in life, the people they met and the places they went, ultimately leading them down their chosen path. Sometimes those people strayed from the path and sought out other avenues and stuck to those. Maybe those people stayed on that path for their entire lives. Whatever it was that drove them to their paths, it was something.

They all had passion. Just like Nadine.

 

 

Things never turn out how you want them to.

I often wonder why, exactly, I stayed in Vancouver. I mostly attribute it down to lack of funds to move elsewhere, but also down to a sheer stubbornness to try and fit in. I kept digging deeper  and forcing myself on this city.Trying to scratch the surface. Kind of like “Heeey, Vancouver, I’m here. Let’s have a good time. You kind of like me and I kind of like you. Let’s do this.” A city surrounded by mountains and beaches. An outdoorsy, yoga-filled lifestyle. What’s not to love? Well. Turns out a lot. I love beaches. But I don’t love gravel pits next to a tanker lined e-coli infested waters. I love beautiful scenery but I don’t like hiking through it. I can’t abide the smell of weed and this city is filled with weed dispensaries. I had never even heard of Lululemon until I moved here – I had to Google it.

The thing about this city is that is wraps around you like a warm, suffocating hug. It doesn’t let you go. The folks here are simple – hiking, camping, getting stoned, taking part in seasonal mountain based sports is all you need to qualify to be a ‘Vancouverite’. Maybe head to a gig of the latest indie band to play the Orphium in the evening. That’s pretty much it. There was no to scratch. The friendliness I had encountered on the east coast of Canada didn’t exist here. It feels more like a small town disguised as a large city. It can be isolating both mentally and geographically. Friendships with locals are mostly fleeting, they’re always waiting for someone or something better to come along.

I often feel like I outstayed my welcome. But did I ever feel welcome? It’s one thing to change as a person and another to change into a different person in order to fit in. I realised I didn’t want to fit in. I don’t mind the occasional entry level hike. I don’t mind jumping on a ferry and heading to a quiet island for the day. But my free time is more for exploring a new neighbourhood or town. Camping and dropping acid in the woods and baking myself into a weed coma is not really how I choose to spend my free time. Each to their own, I guess.

Eventually, when I move on, I won’t think of all the things I missed out on – skiing, getting stoned, doing yoga on the beach. I will think of all the people that enriched my life and helped me to grow as a person. I’ll think back to the times we looked out for each other, the adventures we had, the jokes, the laughter and the experiences. The mountains will fade from memory, the beautiful lakes will glisten less, but the nights we stayed up late playing Cards Against Humanity and making plans for the future is what will remain. Sometimes it’s the people that make the place.

When you find your people, you find your place.