The Most Romantic Punctuation Mark.

Last month, my best friends got married. I've been friends with them for nearly half our lives and they're the kind of friends who are really family. We've been through so much together and it was such an honour to be part of their special day and to watch them step into this new chapter of their lives.

They asked me to say a few words at their reception and let me tell you, it was the most nervewracking "commission" I've ever prepared. Lately I've been thinking a lot about love: what it is and how we can be open to more of it entering our lives. I have a lot more to say but today I wanted to share with you the words I spoke on that beautiful day in June.

I met Andrea and Eric in high school when I was 15. I was in the year ahead of Andrea at our high school, and I met Eric through Ethan - one of my closest friends. In fact, as crazy it sounds, a psychic actually predicted that Andrea and I would end up being friends for life.

And pretty quickly we became a tightly knit gang along with our other high school friends, which means I got to watch their relationship grow from awkward teenaged fumblings into something solid and real as the years progressed. 

I’m sure you can picture those humble beginnings: evenings and weekends spent in our parents basements or bumming around in parks. We were all figuring out who we were in those days, testing the boundaries of our freedom. Andrea and I with our piercings and mohawks, Ethan with his skateboard, and Eric with his extreme stunts.

Even then there was such a tenderness between them, which really set their relationship apart from the rest of us and our more misguided teenaged love interests. Eric had sworn that he wasn’t going to date until he was 25, but he’d found the woman who was worth getting over his cynicism for.

Andrea and I, and later Eric, also lived together in Toronto throughout university. This is a time that pulls two young couples apart as they meet new people, develop new interests, and ultimately grow in different directions.

But in this case the opposite happened. 

I can remember one time, the three of us were sitting outside of my old apartment during the wee hours of the morning after celebrating the launch of a creative project that I was helping to create. Eric asked me why I’d recently had a semi-colon tattooed on my wrist and I explained that I think the semi-colon is the most romantic punctuation mark.

A semi-colon joins two independent clauses; two fully formed ideas that make more sense together.

That’s what Eric and Andrea’s relationship is.

Two people who are so full of life; so strong in who they are; what they believe, and what they’re interested in.

And yet they’re better together. 

You won’t meet many men who will stay up all night helping his girlfriend make collages for her university classes. Or women who will support their partner in every hair brained scheme he comes up with - whether it’sor making a meat smoker out of a filing cabinet.

That’s what I’ve always been in awe of and it’s one of the most important things their relationship has taught me about love. Not to settle. Not to stay with someone who makes you small or tries to dull your light or change who you are.

To me, their relationship is like the banks of a river. It provides the strong support and structure they both need to flow through life exactly as they were made to.

I’m so blessed to have been born into a wonderful, supportive family but along the way, I adopted a second family as well. They’ve seen me through good times and bad, and even now that we’re separated by so much distance, I know we’ll always be the three amigos.

What strikes me the most today is how much love is in this room. We’ve come here from so many different places with so many different connections to the bride and groom. But whether we know each other or not, we’re united by a common bond: our love for these two. So when you’re meeting or reuniting through the festivities, remember that: you already have something pretty important in common.

TGGC #45: Finding magic in routines, sexual healing, & “me too!” moments with Sarah Starrs

Yes, the new name and look is here! We are officially The Girl Gang Conversations! So while this is actually the 45th episode of the podcast, it kind of feels like episode 1 - which is why, somewhat strangely, this week’s episode is also a special one: it’s with me! I’d heard from quite a few of you that you that you wanted to hear more about my journey and life and how I’d answer the questions that I ask my guests each week. So that’s exactly what I’m offering this week. My amazing friend Ebonie Allard interviewed ME and she did an amazing job; we got really deep and vulnerable and she asked incredibly powerful questions. 

I talk in-depth about my daily routines and rituals, the benefits of my meditation practice, finding magic rather than monotony in our daily rituals, my journey with sexual shame and what I’ve been doing to heal and release that, why I’m making these changes with the podcast, the importance of sisterhood, and so much more. We also cover my recent transition away from coaching and what I'm up to now.

I have to admit: I have a bit of a vulnerability hangover from this one but I’m also really excited to share it with you.

In this episode we talk about:

  • an in-depth overview of my daily, weekly, and monthly routines and rituals and how they contribute to my spirituality, health, and overall sense of wellbeing
  • my thoughts on making your routines and rituals feel magical, rather than like another to-do list and just going through the motions
  • what it's like to get a "download" during meditation and the experience of being "in the flow" that comes from consistent meditation
  • my journey of unlocking hidden sexual trauma in my body and what tools, practices, and mindsets are helping me to heal it
  • the three practices that have stuck with me the longest and had the biggest impact for me
  • why I changed the name of this podcast and how it reflects my changing views on sisterhood and personal development
  • how my beliefs about (and experiences of) friendship have changed since moving to another country

Links mentioned:

Where to find me:

Podcast art by Ella Masters.

The Debilitating Effects of Goal Porn

In the past decade I’ve transformed myself from someone who was apathetic, with little direction, or follow-through into someone who sets big goals and accomplishes what she sets her mind to. I’ve developed a strong work ethic.

It’s a transformation I’m quite proud of.

What I’m less good at is leaning into the uncertainty. When a big decision presents itself I want to figure it out and devise a five-point action plan like yesterday rather than allowing myself to feel into the nuances of the situation and ride the waves of change to see what signs and synchronicities present themselves.

When life is going more or less well, when my big goals have been accomplished and the next one has yet to present itself, my gut reaction is that I need to create a new vision. That I should be figuring out my life plan and getting completely clear on where I’m going. I’m always looking to strive towards something new rather than sitting back and enjoying how good life is right here, right now.

And I’m not alone.

In the past week I’ve had conversations with two women who are also desperately trying to force some big dream to present itself so that they can work towards big changes, even though they’re actually pretty fucking happy with where their lives are at right now.

Why is that?

I think as a generation we’ve gotten really good at dreaming big and striving and making things happen. But we’re not so good at just enjoying where we’re at. And we really suck at surrendering and going with the flow when life is uncertain.

It’s no wonder when the internet is full of goal porn: pushy articles insisting that we lust after six-figure incomes and step-by-step guides to creating vision boards that correspond with our 90-day, one-year, and five-year goals.

We’re totally adept at creating to-do lists and action plans, but has it come at the expense of being?

In both of the aforementioned conversations it became abundantly clear that all three of us needed to take our hands off the steering wheel a little bit and allow rather than always controlling.

My husband and I are currently making some big decisions about our future. We’d essentially found ourselves at a crossroads and I desperately wanted to create pro/con lists and hammer it out so that we could figure it out right now.

But it quickly became clear that there was no right answer. That we were going to have to feel our way through this one.

So I surrendered. The decision was still percolating in the back of my mind but I wasn’t forcing or obsessing. And soon we knew what felt right for us and things have been lining up pretty easily to support that decision.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not swearing off hard work and I’m still an advocate for having big dreams. But life comes in seasons.

There are times in our lives when big dreams present themselves and it’s worth the sacrifice of going all in to make this thing we can’t stop thinking about happen.

And there are others when life is uncertain. When we have the time and space to process, reflect, celebrate, and enjoy.

What’s the point of striving to better our lives if we never get a chance to enjoy the progress we’ve made?

Because let’s stop kidding ourselves that there’s some illusive day in the future when we’ll get to kick up our feet and just revel in pure leisure  time.

That’s a relic of the old “work non-stop for your entire life to enjoy a few years of leisure in retirement” mentality.

If we don’t learn how to celebrate and enjoy what we’ve got, I have a hard time believing we’ll ever be satisfied. I know that I’m so indoctrinated into the cult of productivity that I often feel guilty during my down time. I’ll find myself multi-tasking or worrying about how I could be “making the most of it.” True surrender and relaxation is something I’m having to diligently prioritize and actually train myself to do (which sounds contradictory, I know).

So this isn’t a five-point plan on letting go. It’s just a gentle nudge of encouragement to myself, to the women I spoke to, and to anyone else who can relate to click away from the goal porn sometimes. To recognize our propensity for vision boards and goals and action plans as another form of control freakery.

Let’s enjoy these seasons of rest when they appear. Let’s stop attaching our self-worth to our productivity and allow ourselves the radical act of enjoying our lives. And let’s trust that when the time is right the muse will strike again and the perfect big dream will take hold of our hearts and minds and we’ll be ready.