You Can't Go Back

Not a magic flying carpet, but this gorgeous hooked mat still symbolizes a trip to my past :)

Not a magic flying carpet, but this gorgeous hooked mat still symbolizes a trip to my past :)

It's true, what they say. You can't really go back. But you can go forward by trying to go back. Errr….

What I mean to say is that sometimes healing comes from the most unexpected places, including... the past. Confused? Read on.

A Certain Kind of Freedom

A Certain Kind of Freedom

If you've been following my blog, you know that I piece together a very satisfying and fulfilling life with all sorts of hobbies, passions and jobs. On May 12th, for instance, I had the unexpected and thrilling pleasure of moving into the Delta Hotel in Charlottetown (PEI) to work on a Canadian television show (which will from this moment forward be called The Show That Shall Not Be Named due to the signing of a non-disclosure agreement). I had the time of my life. Working on those big shows is always exciting, challenging, stressful, and awesome! (This one was also the reason why I haven't blogged in a few weeks! Late nights and long days…) Coming back down to reality, at home I finished my Feature Documentary, The Healing Place, spent two wonderful and rare weekend days off with Steve, had a meeting about getting a Feature Film going, and then spent yesterday fine tuning and polishing two short stories (A Gentle Peace and an excerpt from my as yet unpublished novel A Certain Kind of Freedom) for submission in the Alice Munro Short Story Competition. Then I started a six week contract visiting my past.

Peggy Miles on the right, with her sister Shirley. Peggy's touching story of healing after the loss of her sister is rooted in nature's healing powers. The film takes her out to the International Children's Memorial Place in Freetown, PEI, a park with a mandate to help others work through their grief after the loss of a child or sibling.

Peggy Miles on the right, with her sister Shirley. Peggy's touching story of healing after the loss of her sister is rooted in nature's healing powers. The film takes her out to the International Children's Memorial Place in Freetown, PEI, a park with a mandate to help others work through their grief after the loss of a child or sibling.

I love the diversity in what I do. I feel a certain sense of peace in finishing my doc - it's been a long process financed mostly with nothing but sheer passion, and there were times I thought about just letting it go. I can't live on passion alone. And Steve can't live on my passion alone. (Uhhh…that was a loaded statement. Completely accidental. Oops!) But I'm glad I saw the film through to the end and I hope it helps some people - the people who need to see it. It is, after all, about healing through nature after the loss of a child or sibling. I'm also up to my ears in meetings that will provide the content for a book on the history of Community Schools that I've been contracted to do. (Side note to those who keep asking me to finish Riptide, Number Four in the Drifters series - it's on the list! Maybe this summer after this new temp contract…)

The timing to start at the Wyatt Properties was perfect.

Before I went to film school I worked as a museum curator. While there I made my first film, Bobby's Peace, shot on 16 mm and sold to CBC and Bravo. It was based on actual WWII flyers whose articulate, emotional letters I found in a shoebox in the Wyatt Historic House's attic. The entire time I worked at the Properties, loving the opportunity to explore other peoples' lives, I always felt a pull towards film, and my own storytelling. When I got the call a few weeks ago to come and help catalogue and store some of the textile collection in the historic house, I almost jumped up and down with excitement. I feel a certain peace now about who I've become and the type of work I find myself doing these days. Going back to Wyatt, where in truth I left in a huff (a bad attack of PMS) years ago, is already becoming an enlightening experience.

You see, the thing is, around me I see so many people who carry lots of old baggage with them. They have a constant chip on their shoulder and they can't seem to let go of the things - people - who've hurt them in the past. As a result, everything becomes someone else's fault. They can't seem to accept responsibility for their mistakes, for their part in past hurts, for their lives. They let these things define and control them, and they almost wallow in big pools of negativity. I've had days like that, heck I've had years feeling that way - why can't good things happen to me? In the old days it was "Why can't I meet a nice man?" Or even "Why can't I have a successful relationship with a man?" "Why don't I have a new house in Gavin Estates with a pool in the backyard?" "Why can't I take a trip down south in the winter?" "Why can't I make a feature drama?"

This has all changed. And I can pinpoint the actual moment the evolution towards positive thinking happened for me. It wasn't when I got frustrated with not living the life I wanted while working at the Wyatt Properties. For the most part, I absolutely cherished and loved my time there with a passion. Going back this week was a gift. It wasn't when I went to film school, either. That was a tough journey - a single mom from little PEI in a big, scary city, going back to school with a lot of people younger than herself (and some the same age, phew). It wasn't coming home, either - struggling to start a business and reconnect with a man I'd been away from for a year, while my son was living across the country. No, it was when I wrote the Drifters books. Suddenly all the pieces fell into place. It was like I was a pressure-filled balloon and, once I started writing, all the air came out, in a good way. Writing makes me the happiest person on the planet. And - lo and behold - my work is selling, it's appreciated, I get great reviews for my books and short stories (although can't please everyone - who can?), and I'm HAPPY. At peace. It feels sooooo good.

So going back to Wyatt is an interesting, cathartic experience. I was thinking last week that it will be a little lonely working in the Wyatt House alone, but then I had a very vivid dream about Wanda Wyatt herself. I believe that I wouldn't be going back there if she didn't want me there. In the dream she was happy. She was telling me that there would be others there with me, and I looked around and sure enough there were women present. Ghosts, yeah, but still women who wanted me there. Ha! Dreams! But it felt so real and, after having been there the last few days, I really do feel connected to the family whose treasures I am cataloguing. I am grateful for the opportunity to be with my old friends and 'family' again. And, despite the fact that I left in a huff years ago (ahhh, the old me. Shucks.), I have let any toxins melt away. They are gone, finis, and I am so at peace that I know this is going to be a wonderful experience. And I thank the folks at Wyatt for seeing that in me as well, and for trusting me and bringing me back. (I did make them a few films when I was fresh out of film school, and they trusted me then, too! They are good folks :) )

The Wyatt Historic House, where I am now spending most days cataloguing and triaging a textiles collection! Just like the old days! PS I shot my first film Bobby's Peace here. It was based on a shoebox of old letters I found in the attic :)

The Wyatt Historic House, where I am now spending most days cataloguing and triaging a textiles collection! Just like the old days! PS I shot my first film Bobby's Peace here. It was based on a shoebox of old letters I found in the attic :)

So my advice to you today is Don't be one of those people who lets the world get to you, who blames the world for everything. Who holds on to past hurts. All they are going to do is fill you with toxicity and negativity, and end up causing you misery. LET GO, find the passions that drive you and make you happy, and make time for them. Live your life with verve and gusto and meaning, and fill it with joy. Will it be perfect? No. But when the negativity comes, deal with it, and let it go so that you can enjoy the positive (I can't take credit for saying that, I heard it on Q yesterday, but I do feel that way myself). 

As for me? I am at a good place in my life, and I am eternally grateful. Would I like to have that pretty yellow house in Gavin Estates that I visited during Sunday's Open House? You betcha - who wouldn't? The big office alone was enough to win me over! But I know that's not the most important thing in life - the quest for material possessions - so instead I'm focusing on my next passion project - a feature drama. 

And in the meantime, I am wondering just what Wanda Wyatt is bringing me back to the Wyatt Properties for. I have a feeling she has something she wants to tell me, something she wants me to find…will it be another shoebox filled with letters? Will it be a new story she wants me to tell? Hmmmm….or maybe it's just simply…peace.

I'm moving forward by going back.

Til next time -

Cheers :)