For most people, memories from early childhood are difficult to recall. You may remember images from old photo albums, or even moments from a birthday party or holiday gathering, but most times the details fade away over time. I honestly don't remember much before getting into sports in junior high, but the story of the Phoenix, the majestic "bird of the sun", has stayed with me since a Greek mythology project in grade school (yup ... incredibly "nerdy").
During the most difficult and trying times in my life (i.e., health issues, relationships, career changes, family turmoil, etc.) the symbolism of perishing and "rising from the ashes", to live, learn, and move on, has continued to keep hope alive and well. I've come to realize I am a wiser, stronger, and more resilient person because of my hardships ... and ultimately a more beautiful human being. For this reason, I declare 2017 as the "YEAR OF THE PHOENIX"!
2017: The Year of the Phoenix
For me, 2017 has earned the title as the "YEAR OF THE PHOENIX" because resilience through adversity, survival, and growth were common themes for the 365 days leading up to January 28, 2017 (the dawn of the Year of the Rooster). The title is also fitting because the Phoenix is also known as the "August Rooster" and its image is sometimes used to depict this character in the Chinese zodiac. For me, the three major life-changing experiences of 2016 include:
- Being the victim of a theft and burglary ... and SURVIVING.
- Being faced with finding a new career (in the midst of these tough economic times) ... and SURVIVING.
- Completing a 35+ hour tattooing journey (over 12 months) to reveal Chiwon An's rendition of the Chinese Phoenix ... and SURVIVING.
Rebuilding and Feeling "Safe(r)"
On October 29, 2016 ... the unthinkable happened to me and my family. While at my place of work, my purse was stolen, my car was stolen, and my house was broken into (all in a span of two hours). Aside from having to replace all of the items stolen as a result, our family had to learn to remember what it was like to feel "safe". Material things could easily be replaced (thanks to insurance) but it took a while before I could fall asleep and get a full night's rest. I wonder if the thief will ever get caught and how many others have gone through the same experience. Regardless, life has reached a point of "normal" again (thanks to the love and support of my friends and neighbours) ... but I am much more cautious from here on in.
To learn more about the robbery and my family's experience, click here.
New Year. New Career.
At the end of 2016, amidst the recovery from the theft and burglary, I was faced with the reality of having to find a new career. At a time where the economy is struggling and the job market is not ideal I went into this next challenge with a lot of apprehension and uncertainty. To be honest, this took a lot out of me ... mentally and emotionally. I had to ask myself:
- What do I REALLY want to do?
- What am I REALLY good at?
- What things am I truly PASSIONATE about?
- What are my PRIORITIES?
- What are my long term LIFE GOALS?
- Can I find BALANCE today and/or in the near future?
After taking some much needed time off (a week of sleeping in, lots of yoga and meditation, coffee dates with friends, reading a trashy novel, and enjoying an escape from my recent routine) I dove head first into the job hunt and career search! This included:
- Lengthy conversations with mentors and thought leaders,
- Re-evaluating and updating my resume and CV,
- Re-evaluating and updating my LinkedIn profile,
- Signing up to ZipRecruiter.com and Indeed.com, and
- Being persistent, applying for jobs that interested me every day, and NOT giving up.
After a few weeks, just as I was losing faith and thinking there was no hope, the phone calls came rolling in! With each interview I grew to learn more about myself, what value I bring to the table, and the things that matter most in life ... stability, security, respect, and a sense of purpose. In the end, I found a good fit and am starting a new chapter! Don't let the headlines fool you ... Calgary is thriving and there are lots of opportunities out there for those who are willing to be patient, put in the time, and network!
The Girl with the Phoenix Tattoo
For those of you who have been following my Six Foot Canasian adventures, you will be familiar with Chiwon An (from At Tattoo). In January of 2016 we began our journey to complete the Phoenix tattoo, a side piece that covers my ribs, hip, buttock, and thigh. The reason for the Phoenix was as a reminder of the challenges I've faced in my past, my present, and those I have yet to encounter in my future ... and my ability to survive, learn from, and overcome adversity. The 35+ hours I spent lying on the table, with my eyes closed, and intently breathing through the discomfort and pain, was testament enough to my ability to endure uncomfortable situations!
To learn more about my latest tattoo experience, "The Girl with the Phoenix Tattoo" documents my journey through tattoo over the last 25 years. Countless people over the years are connected to my journey towards each agonizing session on the table ... because they shared in the stories that "earned" my ink. For those amazing people (wherever you may be in the world), these words are shared in honour of you!
Final Thoughts ...
In the end, I look at the Phoenix on my side and smile ... remembering all the experiences I've been through over the years to become the strong woman that I am today. I am not perfect. I am flawed. I am human. I am still fragile. But ... I am compassionate and appreciative of the smallest blessings this life has to offer.
Here's to the start of an amazing new year ... THE YEAR OF THE PHOENIX!