I know a lot about disappointment. I also know a lot about reframing, bright sides, and the universal tendency toward good things. This post is about that. Sort of.

There was a not insignificant amount of build up to the Simcoe Country Violence Against Women Coordinating Committee talk. I was approached at the Muskoka Domestic Abuse Review Team conference after my keynote speech by someone who wanted to recommend me to the former agency. I didn’t have a business card at that time so I just wrote my name and phone number on a piece of paper with a woman symbol (♀) on it.

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I have a card now – like?

I didn’t hear anything for a while but then a woman named Meghan called me and we chatted about my speaker fee and requests, and what her conference looks like. It was to take place in Barrie and I would be the last speaker of the day. I requested a hotel stay the night prior because it helps me ground myself and gear up for speaking so publicly about my experiences with child sexual abuse and rape, and also because the drive was about and hour and a half in good weather. Since I wanted to attend the conference, that would have made for a strikingly early morning, which I am no cheerleader for.

The Sunday before the conference fell on a record-breaking storm. Barrie especially was being pummeled by freezing rain. The temperature dropped and the 3500km linear (South/North) storm was in full force. The drive to Barrie was fairly treacherous, with my windshield freezing and causing visibility issues until my vehicle warmed up enough. The road was covered in frozen snow and sleet with icy patches. About halfway through my drive, where I steadfastly remained in the right lane, I witness an SUV directly in front of me spin out, first from the right lane across the left and almost into the guardrail, then abruptly right again, spinning around to face me. I saw this begin to happen and took my foot off the gas, though I wasn’t about to hit the brakes. I can’t explain how, but this vehicle didn’t hit any other cars or the guardrail, though we were in snug traffic and there’s no reason it shouldn’t have. I pulled over and threw on my hazards, and the rest of traffic stopped while the driver gathered themselves and maneuvered the vehicle in the proper direction.

When I finally arrived in Barrie and got into the hotel, the wind was blistering my face with ice pellets and there was hardly anyone on the road.

I checked into the hotel and went up to the 4th floor. The hotel was fairly nondescript and I plucked a few long brown hairs from the pillow case before I flopped onto the bed. It was young in the day still, and I got to check-in early due to there being quite a few rooms available.

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Cool lights in the bathroom made for neat selfies

Before I’d left, I’d emailed Meghan to make sure we were a go, and she’d assured me we were. I learned that the main speaker’s flight had been cancelled but they were working on Skyping her in. I was looking forward to her talk on the Philadelphia Model, where victims’ advocates work with the police to make sure victims of sexual assault get a fair shake when reporting this crime.

I’d only been in the hotel room a couple hours before I got restless and hungry and decided to venture out. I really wanted to go to a restaurant called the Simmering Kettle, and I also needed to get scissors, tape, and batteries. I had borrowed an earpiece mic from Nancy Osborne, who is also a speaker and has helped me shape my talk so much. So I needed spare batteries for that, and the scissors and tape were because I wanted to cut my talk printout to fit into a notebook that my friend Jenn had created for me, so that it looked more visually appealing and also would hold itself together.

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I put the two stops into my GPS and headed out into the storm. They weren’t far so I walked. I found the wal-mart right away (for the record, I never shop at wal-mart, I used to work there and got fired and banned for stealing when I was a teenager, but also I object to them from an ethical standpoint). I went there because anything else was too far to walk with sidewalks engulfed in snow and sideways ice jettisoning against my face.

After wal-mart I went to find the Simmering Kettle, and after going in merry sightless circles I arrived despondent on their doorstep, desperate for all-day breakfast. Alas, they were closed due to the storm.

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I went to my favourite sushi place instead, which as luck would have it was only a parking lot away from the hotel. There weren’t many people there. I indulged in a delicious all-you-can-eat, and came to the point where I think many solo eaters come to at such an establishment: the point where you realize there is no one else to finish off the things you don’t have any room for! I realized it was all on me, and I stuffed it in. I think I’m too self-confident for all-you-can-eat!

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A room with a… view?

Full and freezing, I returned to the hotel. I called Kai and practised my talk on speakerphone, so I felt well-prepared and could relax. She grounds me and lets me work through my anxieties and basically reminds me that yes, my work is valuable, and yes, I am saying things in a way that only I can say. That my experience plus my phrasing makes me unique and desirable as a speaker.

After we got off the phone, I filled up the bathtub. I love a good bath (never met a bad one) and I haven’t cleaned the tub at home for a while, so a clean tub was a joy. I enjoyed some wine and listened to Kesha’s album Rainbow, and though I’d brought Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now with me, I didn’t read it. I actually enjoyed the Now, as I existed within it.

I went to bed fairly early, ready to deliver my talk the next day.

But…

It wasn’t meant to happen.

The conference had to be cancelled due to the weather. It was just too risky. After I hacked into my car through an inch of ice…

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and made my way to the Simmering Kettle again to meet Meghan for lunch, we talked about how hard that decision was for her and how many factors were involved. And she actually spoke to how she thought specifically of me before concluding that it had to be cancelled, because she understood it was hard to gather that energy to share something so personal.

The truth, though, is that I’m just so grateful to have these opportunities. I’m grateful to be able to speak, I’m glad to be heard, I’m thrilled that people take something away from my sharing, and I enjoy modelling vulnerability and resiliency.

Because it was cancelled, I:

Got to sleep in!

Got to have lunch at Simmering Kettle

Got to talk and share with Meghan, who seems like an awesome person

Heard what the women who referred me to her had to say

Saved my mom (really, me) money on not needing a cab home

Got insight into the agency and other possible connections for gigs

Because of the cancellation, I will:

Get to refine my talk

Get another trip to Barrie

Possibly have my girlfriend see the next talk due to timing

See Meghan again and strengthen that connection

Meet Sunny Mariner, whose flight was cancelled this time

Have all the attendees will be there, not cancelled due to weather

AND

Whatever else the universe has in store for me.

When talking with Meghan, I let slip the cliché, Everything happens for a reason. She rather (understandably) sceptically asked me if I believe that. And I told her that I wish I had access to more words to fully explore just how true I believe that to be. Not only do I know that ‘for a reason’ is a matter of perspective (see my above lists) but I truly believe the universe conspires in my favour. Why me? Because I’m the only me there is. Every other individual’s universe may do the same thing for them; I don’t know. And it doesn’t actually matter, because I’m not in charge of that. All I know is that my life dramatically improved when I began to believe in working together with the universe rather than living in regret, fear, and disappointment.

I know that sometimes this can sound cruel. Like, I should be happy that I was abused as a child because I now get the opportunity to travel and speak about it – because, you know, everything happens for a reason. Well, I’d’ve rather NOT been sexually abused, even if it meant I had to work in a completely different field. I’m not grateful for the abuse. I am, however, grateful that I acquired the resiliencies, the support network, and the investment in myself to work with this experience to change the world.

So, thank you, universe, for freezing Barrie solid and causing this conference to be cancelled. I cannot WAIT to link back to this post with all the reasons, beyond the ones I already listed, that this happened, like this, now.

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Photo by Meghan – who indulged my millennial need to commemorate everything, including delicious choc chip pancakes!

7 Comment on “Blog: Thanks, Universe, For Fucking Shit Up

  1. Pingback: Blog: Thanks again, Universe, for Making Space for Good | kathleen may

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