My Latest Rise of The Phoenix (& Why It’s Healthy to Let Things Burn)
Feathers, ashes, transformation & rebirth
I turned 34 last week and I’m really excited about it because 33 was a rough year—largely due to the instability of entrepreneurship. My birthday felt like a symbolic “turn of the page” after making changes over the last couple of months to regain the groundedness I’d always felt within myself but had temporarily lost.
Being a solopreneur over the last two years was an adventure—one I’m glad I found the courage to embark on. I learned a ton about business, life, and myself in the process. But one of the most important things I learned was this old adage in entrepreneurial circles:
“No one’s coming to save you.”
In hindsight, I was really burnt out—we’re talking fried—for the last six months of my two-year solopreneur run. As a result, I was barely making any money. But I kept thinking I’d figure things out. And mostly, I had (what was now clearly) false hope that someone would swoop in and make my life easier.
Six months later, someone did—me.
When I finally accepted it was 100% on me to initiate changes to a dynamic that wasn’t working, I was frustrated and demotivated. I’d wanted someone to “just give me the answer” to my problem. But that wasn’t going to happen.
Instead, I had to summon a “rise of the phoenix” type transformation. I had to figure out what I was willing to burn to be reborn with renewed strength and optimism.
I spent a couple of months weighing my options, going back and forth, and feeling conflicted.
Aside from losing a loved one, they were among the hardest months of my life. I felt depleted, confused, and at times defeated. And if it weren’t for my incredible family and friends, it would’ve taken me far longer than a couple of months to push through those lows. This brings me to another adage:
“It takes a village.”
As part of my solopreneur journey, I was lucky to participate in Quebec’s Self-Employment Program and one of the key questions they asked me at the start was:
“Do you have the support system you need to sustain yourself through the highs and lows of entrepreneurship?”
I’d encourage anyone considering entrepreneurship to consider this question carefully.
Even though I knew I could count on support from family and friends during my darkest hours, I have an even deeper appreciation for them after this most recent difficult period. And that led to a deeper appreciation of myself because every time I thanked someone for their support they would point out “If the situation were reversed, you’d be the first person there for me.”
Most of us don’t see how valuable our support is to others because it’s just something we give by nature. So the upside to “falling down” is the opportunity it gives your loved ones to “catch you” in the ways you catch them when they fall. It’s a reminder that being strong means being vulnerable and that relationships need give and take.
Fast forward a couple of months, and I eventually landed in a great place.
I found a full-time role that would allow me to do work I love for an organization whose mission I believe in. And on top of that, it offered me a hybrid work environment that would allow me to lay deeper roots here in Montreal, while still giving me the capacity to take on side projects—adding more freedom to my career.
The company is within the health and well-being space and the essence of the work is in alignment with a newly emerging purpose I felt to help people on a deeper level (though I like to think the training and development initiatives I’ve worked on in the past have had TLC baked into them as a primary ingredient).
I knew this role would give me the stability I felt I’d lost in the form of a clear direction, a steady paycheque, and most importantly—teammates to share the journey with. This brings me to another adage:
“You can go faster alone but further together.”
When I first jumped into solopreneurship, I had all these grand notions of how incredible it would be to have so much “freedom.” But here’s the thing. Too much freedom is overrated. It can make you feel like a balloon aimlessly floating through the sky. By contrast, being part of a great team is meaningful and thus gives me more fulfillment. (Ironically, the anticipation of not having teammates was a key factor in why I waited so long to have a go at solopreneurship. I knew I would find it hard but even then, it was way harder than I expected).
My takeaway on this quote of “going faster alone” is you can go so fast, you can crash and burn before you even realize you’ve lost control of the vehicle.
Now I’m optimizing for “going further together” by pacing myself realistically alongside a team in my new role. Not to mention, I’m slowly but steadily building on the foundations of the business and personal brand I spent the past couple of years solidifying—albeit in a limited capacity given my full-time role is now my priority. That said, it’s rewarding to be in a position to take on the odd consult or project regarding online course products because a) I enjoy it and b) everything I do in one area of my work upskills me across every other area.
For example, this past week I ran my third workshop of the semester for university students and recent grads on how to create career opportunities by writing online (the previous two were on project management). And it was a testament to the saying “The best way to master something is to teach it to someone else.” Because by taking the time to explain how I get my work done efficiently, I increased my self-awareness and became even more efficient.
On that note, I’m excited to see what growth opportunities 2024 brings.
One of the many things I learned as a solopreneur was “colour psychology”—a concept marketers use in branding to evoke certain feelings in customers. Light pink, for example, is considered a “calming color associated with love, kindness, and femininity.”
Ironically, my solopreneur branding naturally evolved to include light pink as a primary colour for my slide decks, etc. and now I’m working with a company dedicated to making personalized care more accessible to individuals across Canada.
Here’s a glimpse of how pink has been increasing in my surroundings in the form of some of my favourite items: coffee mugs (which I brought back from Paris in 2020), The Five-Minute Gratitude Journal (which came with this charming bookmark that gives a nod to both Paris and my phoenix analogy in the form a feather), and a stylish, gold-accented notebook of my own:
This brings me to a final adage—a quote from Steve Jobs:
“You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something—your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.”
It can be hard to navigate the dots when you’re struggling to see the big picture, but my latest chapter has reaffirmed they always connect in time. Until then, here are some mantras to keep in mind:
There’s always hope. If you’re struggling with something right now, remember it’s a temporary situation and you can move past it to long-term happiness (this can be hard to remember when you’re in the thick of something).
You have the strength. We often want someone to “save us” when we feel overwhelmed or incapable of figuring things out ourselves. But if we take a deep breath and get tactical, we can handle anything. Just focus on one little step at a time.
Everything will work out. Change can be scary, especially when we’re unclear as to what direction we want to move in next. But the only way to find out if what we think we want is really what we want is to try it on for size. So keep trying things and you’ll eventually find the right fit.
I hope these insights serve you in whatever it is you’re navigating at this time. And if you’re a new subscriber and curious to find out more about my journey, I’ve been sharing weekly updates over the past two years. You can peruse my archive here.
Seasonally Appropriate Birthday Celebrations
Ever since my first backpacking trip around Europe in summer 2010, at the ripe age of twenty, I’ve realized I’d rather spend money on experiences than things. Now, whether I’m treating myself or gifting someone else, I gravitate toward a “What would I/they enjoy doing and what might achieve that?”
Case in point, the past week celebrating my birthday was filled with fun, joyful experiences as I caught up with various friends and family members.
Nothing Screams Christmas More Than Mariah Carey
On Wednesday, I went to see Mariah Carey’s Christmas show at the Bell Centre where she graced Montrealers with her presence for the first time in thirteen years. I’m not a diehard Mariah fan—until last week, I didn’t even know she referred to her fans as “lambs,” though leave it to Mariah to pick a “term of endearment” with a sacrificial connotation. But regardless, it felt like a tick off the bucket list to see her perform her classic “All I Want for Christmas is You”—an annual chart-topper since its release in 1994 (that’s a whopping 19 years straight if you’re struggling with math today).
True to her iconic diva persona, Mariah had no opening act (distractions, please), she came out more than fashionably late, and as one Montreal newspaper—Le Journal de Montréal—hilariously pointed out, she summoned her glam squad on stage after just two songs to touch up her hair and make-up (despite having barely moved as she sang).
Her vocals and festive outfits were on point though. As was the stunning duet she performed hand-in-hand with her 12-year-old daughter (the two of them were wearing crowns, obviously). She also had her daughter’s “rock band” perform during an outfit change and featured her son (her daughter’s twin) for a musical performance of his own. Mariah also talked about their family traditions and how they’d inspired her show. It was heartwarming and entertaining to see the doting mom side of her in conjunction with her diva-like ways.
I Take It Back: Macaulay Culkin Might Scream Christmas More Than Mariah
In addition to my weeknight with Mariah (and family), I spent Saturday night “at the theatre”—or as we Montrealers call it, Place des Arts. My sisters and I, along with our two cousins and three oldest friends (who are also sisters) got dressed up in our holiday glitz to see “Home Alone in Concert”—which was ultimately a viewing of the Christmas classic accompanied by a full-blown orchestra.
Our group was a mix of those of us who hadn’t seen Home Alone in years and others who could spout off every line from “Buzz, your girlfriend... woof!” to “Keep the change, ya filthy animal.” (The latter, I discovered, is from a fake movie that was created specifically for Home Alone).
It was hilarious to rewatch, especially with those I grew up seeing it with the first hundred times. Add in the Joe Pesci antics, the audience cheering when John Candy popped up at the airport, and my shocking realization that Kevin’s mom—a seemingly down-to-earth, elegant woman—is Moira from Schitt's Creek, and I could not stop smiling. Plus the orchestra was amazing. It added a cinematic flair to the iconic soundtrack that you just couldn’t get from watching the movie alone (pun unintended).
Ironically, my 34th birthday was a rather important day for Macaulay Culkin as well. He was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame on none other than December 1st, 2023.
How it took this long for him to get a star is beyond me—he’s only the biggest child star imaginable—but the best part about the whole thing was he reunited with his Home Alone mom-turned-Moira for the ceremony. Amazing, right?
Well, there you have it. Two very Chrismassy events to celebrate my birthday in the utmost December style. But I’m curious…
They were both spectacular, so there’s no wrong answer.
Thanks for reading and have a wonder-full week,
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☕️ If you want to grab tea or coffee in Montreal, let me know when you’re in town.
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