I was within a few short days of making a big dream come true: traveling “sola” to Germany to begin what I fondly call “the pilgrimage to my heart’s desire.” As the day of departure drew near, I remember being filled with trepidation, at moments so strong, I considered aborting the mission.
The adventure was beyond what I imagined, as I went with few expectations, grounded more in my intention to put myself out there, “to experience myself in this different context to more fully know, love and appreciate myself, my gifts and talents. And from this experience, to sense what comes next in my life…how to design and manifest my next chapter” (personal journal entry).
During my Christmas recess, I sat immersed in memories, photo files and travel books to design the first volume of my love letter-picture book of the first leg of my journey: my arrival in Germany, the first of three trips to Italy – Bologna, Ravenna, Verona and “oh-my-god,” Carnevale in Venice, and then back “home” to the Black Forest for their pre-Lent festivals. I chose this picture taken at the Peggy Guggenheim Gallery in Venice for the cover shot, as it depicts well the journey’s intent.
In the midst of this labor of love, I came to know that Venice really was my favourite city. Maybe because I felt so at home being on the water – me, a daughter of Niagara, whose original orientation and perspective was living by the Niagara River. Or being so utterly delighted with my good fortune in being there during Carnevale, like a kid in a candy store surrounded by brilliant colour, splendor, radiance and magic. Or maybe it’s because my “signature” go-to, encapsulating memory of those three months’ abroad was the total visceral recall of that precise moment when I stepped out of the train station onto steps filled with people, bags, and costumes, looked down onto the canal, and thought, nearly out loud, “I can’t believe I did it, I’m here in Venice and now I have to find the vaporetto to take me to my apartment!” And within minutes, I easefully did so, and wedged myself in so I could, without obstruction from glass or people, see and feel and smell and taste Venice, that cold, grey, rainy Sunday early afternoon (a day much like today.)
In early December, after several weeks of pondering, I took the plunge and got a new haircut. (Not really new, because some thirty years earlier, under the creative scissors of an avant garde Vidal Sassoon stylist in Toronto, I got my first asymmetrical cut.) With a quickly rendered sketch in hand, drawn a few nights earlier when out with friends at our favorite Blue Chair Café, upon seeing the server who first inspired my pondering, my current stylist, Tanya, was thrilled with my invitation to do create something new. As soon as she snipped off those first strands from my almost shoulder length bob, I said out loud “I can’t believe I’m doing this!” and immediately remembered Venice.
Calling this haircut “Venice,” it symbolizes reclaiming my boldness, the external expression of an internal shift, of a walking around the corner through the disillusionment and grief I’d been feeling at work since my re-turn.
Now a few months later, at the midpoint of this school year, in some ways I feel I’ve walked around and into that grief again. It’s like that, cycling and spiralling through…sometimes and suddenly hit with a sadness, bewilderment, a headache full of tears. The starkly illuminating counterpoint of having the occasional day in which to unabashedly do the work I love, serving with my gifts and talents.
And through it all, re-remembering a year ago and my bold, intrepid, dream-big self, flying into beyond.