Let me explain.
I’ve always been the kind of person who goes on a holiday to some far-off place and spends my time dreaming about how I can move there permanently. New York City, Italy, Mexico, Hawaii, California, Jamaica -- yep, I’ve planned to move to them all.
With Toronto, it was a bit more complicated. The truth is, I guess, I sort of ran away from home.
In 2014, having just laid the print version of ANNA Magazine to rest, I had the idea to create an email newsletter called Monday Morning Inspiration. Because its intention was to connect and inspire women, I was sure this newsletter would get good traction. And it caught on quickly, our email list growing to 2,000 women, and our inbox filling up with tons of feedback from our readers.
Our subscribers wrote, sharing their thoughts and feelings, and they were thrilled. I knew we were on to something.
But try as we might, we could not get advertisers to buy in. No matter what.
Eventually, I lost myself in a dark cloud of doubt. No amount of meditation or prayer could get me out of it. I just couldn’t find a place to belong, to feel understood. But I did feel a voice nudging me on. I felt I needed more breadth, more autonomy, maybe a whole new start. And since I’m a girl who loves adventure, and since I knew Toronto was only a quick hop from my beloved New York City, my choice was obvious.
I sold all my things, and like a student off to college (I never got to do that), I packed up our car and my daughter and I headed out of the city. (Somehow, the fact that my daughter was coming too made it all a little less daunting.)
I’ve only been here in our new home of Toronto for six months, and I am happy to say our Monday Morning Inspiration email newsletter now has over 16,000 women subscribers. That may not seem like a lot, but it’s half the size of Winnipeg’s Investor Field Football Stadium, so not so bad for a girl from a small village two miles outside of Winkler, Manitoba.
Over the years we’ve tested many subjects trying to find our voice. Food and recipes were our safety net, our comfort zone, our bread and butter. But I always longed to get back to our roots, and the reason this whole project began.
For me, it all began the day I found a little peach-coloured note in my then-husband’s pocket. It seemed innocent, a lovely little peach-coloured sticky note that carried an excitement almost, from its writer. Only I wasn’t the writer, and for me it was the end of my marriage and the beginning of a life I had no idea how to live. For about three years, I was in complete denial, unable to face what was happening.... I’m sure I drove my family crazy with all the phone conversations, reliving my misery over and over again. When I finally came up for air, I thought there must be more women out there with their own stories. And I thought if we could find a way to connect with them, inspire them with our own stories, we would have something.
The word “inspire” has been painted with such a wide brush today. What it means to me is sharing my story to encourage others, to show that something like this happens to all of us at some point, and that these challenges become the way we grow, the way we connect, and the way important new people and experiences come into our lives.
I hear readers and friends constantly telling me...
I’m feeling lost.
I haven’t found my thing.
I want to change my career.
My parents died.
My husband had an affair.
I’m a single parent.
We’re getting a divorce.
I need a business coach.
What is that bracelet you are wearing?
How do you set a table?
I can’t cook.
What are we really all here for?
I need connection.
Waking up every day in my new adopted home of TO, I still pinch myself. Am I really living here? I love it so much.
A writer needs inspiration, and here in my new life I get it from all angles. But I haven’t left my old life behind. In fact, I’m more connected to you than ever, with a clear mind and an open heart, ready to embrace the real reason we began this newsletter.
I guess, in the end, what I’m trying to say is this. Listen to your inner voice, the one that nudges you on, and it will never steer you wrong. (Except the time I thought it was a good idea to date that Italian guy –but let’s leave that for next week!)
Follow your dreams, knowing that at times we all face difficult challenges, but it's how we deal with them that ultimately defines us.
Going forward, I’m committing to writing more personal stories and encouraging you to share yours with me. We only have this one life and let's give it all we’ve got.
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Edited by Alison Gillmor