Moving to Toronto under the circumstances of a painful divorce came with a sense of foreboding and failure for me. I’ve lived a blessed life that has provided me with many opportunities to travel, learn, teach, grow and connect internationally. These experiences always came with a sense of excitement about the unknown and a promise of growth in positive directions. This transition didn’t come with these sentiments. Packing up my life this time didn’t feel like an exciting change. It was coupled with fear, anxiety, heartbreak, and an empty bank account. I was 28, unemployed with no prospects, moving into my parents basement in a new city where I had a very small, undeveloped network.
A year and a half sounds like a long time to be plotting and healing, but that’s the thing with restarting – it’s going to take longer to get your bearings than you’re prepared for. I would have preferred the whole process be done by 9AM, three Wednesdays after I arrived (I don’t know why but to me, three weeks has always seemed like a reasonable turnaround time for anything), but it wasn’t that quick and painless. I worked a bunch of jobs and projects that forced me to compromise my worth, growth, and personal politics before I found a place that I was happy to exist within.
There is no formula or quick fix for a strong restart. I’ve restarted my life before and every time, without fail, I forget that it’s going to hurt. YES the benefits are immense, exciting even, but the pain of transitioning is real. Getting to know your surroundings while you get to (re)know yourself within your new surroundings is daunting as fuck, and you can’t anticipate much of anything. If you’re moving as the result of a breakup, you’re also forced to face your shortcomings in the midst of pain and heartbreak. Facing yourself in this particular way sounds like something you want to be able to do, but in all truth and honesty, facing myself was one of the hardest parts. I needed to undo the parts of me that resided within my deepest being. The parts that were accompanied by fear and protected by pride.
Toronto gave me a chance to disappear into myself and into the city. I spent the better part of the fall and winter opening myself up to everything it could possibly offer me. Art, style, like-minded individuals, and a firm understanding of the concept of a personal brand. There were moments when I felt like this city was kicking my ass, but it was usually in these moments that I managed to have the best breakthroughs. The product of one of these periods, happens to be HER Collective.
HER is a testament to my personal belief, that if it doesn’t exist, build it yourself. We were all in need of a meeting place and a brand to house our individual brands. Somewhere to gather and collect our thoughts and practice undoing the negative ideas we had been taught about women working together. Little did we know that it would actually become a much bigger journey and bring us close to other initiatives driven by collectives of amazing women.
So here we are, two years later, rebooting and redefining our purpose. Another restart that has been painful and disappointing in some aspects, but also inspiring, exciting, and full of a specific kind of love that to me, needs to be learned. Now, we get to share our space with like-minded women across the spectrum. Working with this mindset has allowed me to complete my personal search for purpose in Toronto. I have no more questions about why I’m here, why I restarted or what it is I should be doing. I am simply, on the journey.