My New Space

… continued from Part 1.

At my core, I am an artist, expressing myself through writing and visual arts. Sometimes my artistic side gets the better of me, going back and forth and finding it difficult to make final decisions. The original concept we came up with for the room was too red/purple. The red was too energetic for my place of rest. Instead we went for blue/purple — a more relaxing feel.

Paint colour was so important to get right. It took three coats of paint and many different samples of too dark, too light before the perfect colour purple was found for the ceiling. I love it. Only after the paint went up, I remembered as a teenager when I boldly painted my bedroom ceiling bright purple. Although a bit more subtle now, recreating that rebellious time takes me back to an age where I started to become my own person. Something that I’m building back up again.

I sometimes found even the simplest decisions to be challenging, like choosing pillows and bed linens. Ann was incredibly helpful in making final decisions, such as which daybed to buy and layout of the floating bookshelves.

“You want an end table near the bed, huh?” she said. “Why don’t you just flip one of your suitcases on its end. Voilà! There’s your end table.”

Ann’s thoughtful but decisive decision-making process was good to practice, and I will carry into other areas of life… though I still have kept receipts in case I change my mind! Baby steps here.

The room is filled with things that are either symbolic or sentimental. The antique suitcases took me to remote parts of Ontario and got me out of my house and visiting family and friends important to me. They are now filled with meditation colouring books, journaling prompts and calming lavender that I can easily use in times of distress. I also keep a shawl draped over the chair on ‘permanent loan’ from my uber-supportive cousin — giving me a hug anytime I need one.

Even the bookshelf was a therapeutic process. Deciding what should be displayed in the limited space took a long time. I found it symbolic of going forward in life: what is healthy to choose for me today? Letting some things go is not always what you want, and sometimes you have to let the ‘good’ go to make space for new treasures on the ‘shelf’. It’s come a long way from the cluttered bookshelf that was there only a few months ago.

There are a lot of children’s books in the space — some I’ve been collecting recently and others from my childhood — about things you teach kids but need reminding as an adult. One of the books is called ‘What If…’ by Samantha Berger, a book about a girl who likes to draw but for some unknown reason her pencils disappear. Instead she decides to sculpt, build, dance and sing. I’ve added this one to my bookshelf as a reminder that sometimes our efforts don’t necessarily take us to where we were hoping to go, and that’s okay. With a bit of imagination, we can accept a wrong turn or the lemons that we’ve just been handed; and let it take us to a different, perhaps a more desirable, place than we could dream up on our own!

Finishing the room, finding myself

Ann was very helpful every step of the way. She went the extra mile every time, even once volunteering to pick up shelving at IKEA (no way I wanted to go through the stress of visiting IKEA)! She helped guide me through transforming my room into a healing retreat and helped me develop lifestyle tools, like journaling, to improve not only my mental and physical health but my spiritual well-being as well.

Finding a love for journaling was surprising. I wasn’t interested at first, for fear it would let the negative thoughts spin more out of control. Ann insisted on giving me a journal before a solo trip I took to last fall to the Maritimes. On that healing trip, I filled the whole journal. Page upon page of the good and bad, the funny and sad, and even some profanity. This completed journal is kept on my bookshelf as a reminder to write down at least one gratitude each day and make dedicated time to ‘check-in’ on myself. I plan to continue journaling along with yoga and other creative activities in my space.

She even got me back into creative writing. Given my interest, she offered me the opportunity to write this blog entry – from scratch. Gripped with fear of the blank page, I declined. She gently got me going with a nudge from her writing team. Completing this piece of creative work gives me another small peg of hope for the future.

To Ann, I am more than a client.

We’ve become friends. I still have a long road of recovery ahead of me. But no matter what the future has in store, I know she is only a short phone call away.

Rebecca Fortin lives north-east of Toronto with her loving partner (Chris), vivacious dogs (Milo and Copper) and debonair cat (Ross). Until recently, she had been working as a Journalist in Global Journalism with the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto; and prior to that working on healthy urban design as a senior-level Advisor for Peel Public Health, a large public health unit located west of Toronto. She is now growing organic herbs and creating art on her 6-acre property nestled in the environmentally sensitive Oak Ridges Moraine and Greenbelt lands.