On Writing

Three Life Changes, a Letter

Dear friends, I have begun an extraordinary career and life shift. 

I have made three critical choices:

  1. I am no longer Poet Laureate. I resigned in mid-September. There was no grand announcement, no press release. In an effort to maintain my creative integrity and explore this very different, very exhilarating new career path, I chose to step out of the position. 
  2. I will be closing the Gertrude’s Writing Room space. As of January 1st, 2023, there will no longer be a gathering place for writers at the Coach House. While I am keeping the business open through one-to-one editing/mentoring (not taking on new projects at this time, but completing current writing projects with writers), I will no longer be running the space, offering workshops or classes, or running the poetry circle. Yin writing is on hold until further notice. 
  3. In 2023, I will be taking a year-long sabbatical. My intention is to continue to explore this new creative path, to complete writing projects that have been patiently awaiting my attention for years, to submit my work to new and challenging contests/submission calls, to strengthen my writing craft by taking classes and workshops, and to be open to whatever creative endeavours flutter my heart and evoke my curiosity. (Perhaps an Etsy page for pillows I’ll make…or karaoke once a week to strengthen my singing skills for a dream of fronting a band!)

“Consider how the tree remains supple and secure when everything around it may be in shambles. This is how you need to be right now: willing to learn new things, teachable, malleable, yet firmly grounded in who you are.”

Wisdom of the Oracle card, #19, Flexible

This year has been one for the books! I lived the dream of being Poet Laureate of Windsor. Despite it being short-lived, it was an important part of my evolution as a creative writer, as a dreamer, as a mother and a friend. And, it is and will continue to be a major catalyst for this intense inner-shift that I am navigating. Things happened that burst open my centre (that affected my values, my beliefs about who I am, and the communities I am a part of), in at first, a negative way, but upon reflection and contemplation, in a way that enabled me to assert my integrity, stand strong in my values and beliefs, and experience a kind of empowerment that I’ve never felt before. 

There are versions of stories. One of the major reasons I have been vague about what has happened over the last six months is because of this fact. Facts themselves, I’ve learned, shift. I know what my story is. I know my truth. And I know I have remained, and will remain, in my integrity no matter the consequence. Each decision I made and will make does not come lightly, does not come without deep contemplation, conversation, spiritual intuition and love. Self-love, to be specific. Something I realized that was waning with each day, with each poem, with each reaction…

And now, I am giving myself the opportunity to face this reality: why did my heart, mind and body react the way it did? Why did my spirit deplete and look for dark places to hide? Why did I feel wrong, weak, less than and confused about things I ‘thought’ I believed in, valued and respected – including my own ability and power? Why did I feel a burning in my stomach when suggestions/advice to remain on the job were offered with love and support? These questions, and many more, are constantly on my mind and banging in my heart. I am facing them. I am answering them. I am learning from them. 

But the truth is, my truth is, that I cannot face these questions, I cannot recover and re-ignite if I remain on the same path, if I keep making the same choices, if I keep being afraid. Afraid of hurting someone’s feelings, afraid of speaking my truth, afraid of confronting a bully, afraid of using my voice to tell my truths, afraid of being ‘canceled’ or shunned or excluded.

I am choosing to retreat and to be accountable for my choices. It is terrifying. It means I am letting go of things I love; I am shifting passions; I am changing the way I exist in our community and communities beyond. I’ve never done this before. I don’t even really know how to do it, but everything in my being is telling me to follow my heart so I can learn from this experience. I know that this is one way to deal with the situation. I know that there are countless other ways to have lived through this, that each of you would have had your own ways too. I want to own and feel pride in my choices, and to do that, I am following this new path. 

I have been having double vision since mid-September. When I look down and/or to the left, things are askew and double. I have to wear a patch when I drive, which I’ve only started doing again after a few weeks of not driving at all. I have had many doctor’s appointments and tests. We are still not sure what is the cause. This health challenge is another reason that I am taking time to retreat and recover. The spiritual implications of ‘double vision’ are very real to me. The left eye represents the future. When I look that way, things are askew…there is more than one way of seeing. I am very aware of the spiritual lessons I am experiencing at this time, and I want to give my body and my mind all the strength and energy they need to heal. 

My children have seen me crumpled in a sobbing heap for many reasons this year. My actions, reactions and responses to the hard things, to the mean things, to the confusions, to the fear and to the divine emotions of navigating my voice and my ability to love unconditionally (my self and others) is a mirror. What am I showing them? What am I teaching them?  Who am I in their eyes and their hearts? I want to be the best I can be for them, someone who is thriving with a life and love force that can navigate even the hardest and scariest of internal and external times. Someone who can have perspective and awareness, within a family structure, in a community and beyond. 

I want to learn how to be grateful without guilt. I want to learn how to love myself by feeling it in the thump of my pulse. I want to learn how to write for the love of writing. I want to read without feeling jealousy or envy. I want to breathe without comparing myself to everyone all.the.time. I want to do one thing at a time. I want to unlearn ‘busy’. I want to feel okay with wanting to change anything or everything. I want to believe in the simple beauty of making a choice from the integrity of my own heart, with good intentions, and know that that is enough. 

I don’t know how often I’ll be blogging once I begin my sabbatical. If one of the things I’ve always done is blog…perhaps taking a break from it as well will warrant a new experience for my writing life. I’m curious about how so much of this new writing life experience will affect my writing, my heart, my soul…

I have been grieving for some time now. I recognize that is part of any process of change. I am sad, but slowly, my spirit is flickering into its self, and hope and excitement are building.

The next step is going through all the fun things at Gertrude’s…packing up books and some decorative things, and selling the rest! If you’d like to come by and shop, give me a call/email/text. I am feeling both overwhelmed and excited at this part of the process.

With love and gratitude,


7 thoughts on “Three Life Changes, a Letter

  1. Bon voyage dear Vanessa! you are navigating a new chapter all your own! of life, love, fresh winds are blowing breezily! I will always be available for you, supporting you as you grieve, cheering you on as you pioneer healing, growing and expanding your soul in new, invigorating creative avenues and adventures. And of course, as I tell you all the time, I learn from you. I love that you are giving yourself the ultimate gift of a Sabbatical. I’m giving it a capital S to signify it’s vitality and sacredness. A return to wholeness.
    Love you madly womanfriend!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Vanessa,

    I gave a good read to both your posts and it seems that you are working through things and butterflying your way into a delightful future.

    When can I come by to help you organize and pack. I’ll probably buy a shelf or cabinet. Also I’ll be going to Hungary to visit some schools for migrant children. If you have school supplies and stationary for sale, I’ll be happy to purchase some. The students will appreciate and treasure the beautiful stickers etc. I want to help in a positive way.

    It’s crazy that two poets laureate have left. Honestly four years is too long a commitment. The whole program needs to be revised in my opinion.

    Anyway thanks for sharing you beautiful thoughts and experiences.

    Do call me. I’m available most of the time and have a flexible schedule.

    Much love,



  3. Hi again,

    More importantly we will really miss Gertrude’s Writing Room and all the wonderful work that happened there. Life moves on and change happens. See you soon.

    Much love,



  4. Sometimes, the moments that seem darkest and scariest crack us open and let in new light.

    I’ve grieved many losses, and each one made me strangely stronger, truer, realer and subtly or overtly happier…over time.

    “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” Harriet Tubman (And to change your world: inner and outer.)

    May you find all you seek, as well as the special surprises you don’t yet seek, but that will appear when your soul is ready, and heal you so you can soar.

    I’d love to come help you pack and chat sometime.


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