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THE GIRL FROM AWAY is a little online shop with a soft spot for the Canadian East Coast.

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"East Coast Girl Gang" Wins American Photography Award

Nadyne Kasta


We're so happy to announce that this image from our East Coast Girl Gang photo shoot was chosen by American Photography as a winner of their AP33 competition. 

Out of over 8,000 submissions, ours was one of 103 chosen.

Past winners include Annie Leibovitz, David Lachapelle, Gregory Crewdson, Cindy Sherman and Steven Meisel.

This year's distinguished jury included photo editors and creative directors from The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, Variety, and BuzzFeed News, and we're very grateful to them and to everyone at American Photography.

Photographer Aaron McKenzie Fraser and I dreamed up the idea for this shoot in our kitchen last spring and we were very lucky to have some talented folks help us turn it into a reality. They are Emma Wells, Evelyn Rose O'Hearn, Mercedes Paull-Newton, Stephanie Joline Clattenburg, Darcy Lyndon Fraser and John Cochrane; they’re a dream team.

This year's winning images are posted on American Photography's website here.

Holy lobster claws! We're pretty proud of our little Canadian/Maritimes/Ketch Harbour/Sambro team!

LAST CALL

Nadyne Kasta


As some of you may have already heard, American Apparel (the company that manufactures our tees, fleeces and tote bags, as well as those of many small businesses and makers we admire) filed for bankruptcy earlier this week (and have closed their Canadian wholesale site). Luckily for us, we stocked up on their shirts earlier this fall, in preparation for the holiday season. 

We'll be looking into finding another socially responsible manufacturer in the new year and should have replacements for most styles (and new stuff) but what we have now is likely the last batch of our tees, fleeces and totes in their present form.

We'll have all of our products with us tomorrow and Saturday at the The Dartmouth Makers Winter Market. And, as always, you can find them in our online shop, as well as at our awesome stockists': 
Halifax's BIG PONY
North Rustico's The Makers
Moncton's Ok My Dear
Montréal's Evelyne boutique
and Victoire in Ottawa and Toronto.

ASK THE GIRL FROM AWAY: LIVING IN THE MARITIMES

Nadyne Kasta


Today's question is from Taylor in Kitchener who's considering moving to the Maritimes. She writes: 

Hi, Girl From Away!

I saw you're doing a Q&A and although I'm not a maker and don't have any questions regarding the business side of your life, I do have some questions about how you became a Girl From Away.

You see, I'm 24 and from Kitchener Ontario and I've been in love with Charlottetown for about 2 years. It's hard to explain, but something seems to be drawing me out there and I just can't seem to shake the feeling. In less than 2 years, I've made 9 trips out to Prince Edward Island and although I've made friends out there, it feels like there's something bigger that keeps me coming back. The 'feeling' of the Maritimes is something so special and it seems so cheesy to say but I just feel so at home out there.

So why not just move there, right? Well, I'm terrified. I'm a huge homebody, I've never lived anywhere other than here, I'm scared to be on my own and away from my family, what if I fail miserably, what if it's not all I imagined it will be? I know 24 is not "old" but I do feel that whole I'm unmarried, with no kids and no serious career and no mortgage, now is the time to do something huge like move halfway across the country before it's too late and I regret never doing it.

Do you have any advice for this ultimate wannabe islander/wannabe girl from away?

Firstly, thank you so much for sharing this, Taylor. I think it perfectly expresses how most of us feel when we're considering making a big change in our lives. How, on the one hand, we have a little fire burning inside, an internal voice that says: "Do it! Do it! You know you want to", and how, on the other hand, we're trying to be sensible, to minimize risk, to avoid regret and, ultimately, pain.

I've been thinking a lot about your question in the week since I received it. And thinking also of how best to respond to it. I could write a 15 page essay on this topic but I'll try to reel it in.

Let me start with the easy stuff.

I think you're right when you say that now is a good time. It doesn't get easier to make big changes as you get older. Mortgages, steady jobs, kids, ageing parents; these are all factors that often make it trickier to pick up and move somewhere new. So there's that.

Secondly, I should state, for the record, that I'm a firm believer in moving away from your hometown (and your comfort zone), at least once, and at least for a little while. There's something about being in a new place, on your own, that teaches you a lot about yourself. A lot of growth comes from these kinds of experiences, even when things don't work out as we'd hoped. Especially when things don't work out as we'd hoped. The more we know and learn and experience, the better we are at being human beings in the world. Plus, as corny as it sounds, life has a lot to offer, and we miss out on a lot of it when we repeat the things we've already done in the places we've already done them.

Thirdly, I suspect this fear you have (the one that's making you terrified) is unfortunately not going to go away. There is no age at which making big changes (like this move) gets easy. What does get a little easier as you get older (and as you get a few big changes under your belt) is the realization that very few things in life are life-shattering. You ask what will happen if you fail miserably, and I would answer: "Define fail." Is "fail" moving to PEI only to realize that you don't actually like living there so you end up moving back to Kitchener? Because that's not what failure looks like to me. For me, the bigger tragedy would be to have a life dream go unfulfilled simply because it doesn't come with guarantees.

Here's a thing we don't talk about a lot, or that isn't quite as glamorous as making a big, exciting change: we're allowed to make that change, and then we're also allowed to change our minds again. You're allowed to go to PEI, experience what it's like to live there, and then you're also allowed to say: "OK, good. I did the thing I wanted to do and now I want to go back to Kitchener." Or I want to move somewhere else. That's what we do as human beings: we grow and evolve and what we want changes. There's no need to stay stuck somewhere we don't want to be simply because it's what we wanted a year ago or 5 years ago or 6 months ago.

Will you miss your family and friends and all of the comforts of a familiar place if you move? Definitely. Will it be so unbearable that you'll have to move back? We won't know that unless you try, right?

I also really want to tell you this:
My feeling is that, unless money is no object, you absolutely need to secure work or some way to make money before you move. Lots of Maritimers have to move away because there isn't enough work for them here. That's just a fact. And life can be hard when you're struggling to make ends meet. We don't want this to be a struggle. We want this to be awesome. If I were you, I'd make finding work a priority, and I wouldn't move until I had that part figured out. The Maritimes, unlike a big city, is a not a place where you can move to and just pick up a job once you're here. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, I'm just saying I wouldn't bank on it.

Also, have you considered the possibility of a trial run? Say, instead of moving, you spend 3 months here? Or 6? Just to test it out. Or what if you were to tell yourself that you're just moving for one year? Or two years? Sometimes, it helps to give ourselves an out in case we need one. It helps to know, especially when things get hard, that there's an end in sight. And sometimes, what we're looking for is just to switch things up for a while, an adventure to break the monotony of day-to-day life, in which case a little stint on the Island may be a better idea than a full blown move.

When I moved to Nova Scotia, I, like most people I know who've visited the East Coast, had very romantic notions of what life here would be like. The ocean, boats, lighthouses, fog, saltbox houses, lobster traps in the yard; it's what Pinterest dreams are made of. And in many ways, parts of my life here are exactly as I'd hoped they would be. I live in a little fisherman's cottage by the ocean. My boyfriend and I walk to the sea almost every day; it's healing and powerful and feels like my friend. And Maritimers are friendly, and whatever-the-opposite-of-pretentious-is, and I really like those qualities a whole lot. And it's low key and rent is relatively cheap. And I eat lobster, oysters and scallops a lot. And my childless life in the very slow lane here allows me to take everything in and to process it at a pace that I find very civilized. There are lots of great parts.

In the first 6 months of having moved here, I received a surprising amount of emails from old friends and acquaintances back in Montreal all saying similar things: we're so happy for you, your life looks so dreamy, you deserve to have things work out as they have. And while I was touched by their words, I was also surprised. Because the reality of my life is that, on most days, it does not feel like a dream come true, and does not even come close to feeling like I've got all of the kinks worked out of it. My biggest challenge here, by far, is missing my mum and my friends. I miss them a lot. A lot, a lot. And I think a lot about moving back. But, as much as I miss them, I don't regret having moved here. I wanted to do this, and I did it. And I wouldn't have known what it was like unless I'd moved. And I wouldn't have had the experiences I've had here had I stayed in Montreal.

Nothing is ever just one thing, is it? We all know that. But our minds, or my mind at least, loves to believe in fairy tales and happy endings, and yet all evidence, my entire life, points to the contrary, points to sometimes good, sometimes a shitpile, and most times somewhere in between. And that's no different on the East Coast than it was in Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa or any other place I've lived.

Here's what I would do if I were you (and what I did before I moved here): make a plan for what you'd like your life here to look like. Figure out as many parts of it as you're able to figure out without actually moving. For example, how are you going to meet people and make friends? How are you going to find your tribe? What about money? How are you going to support yourself? Are you going to get a job? Where? How much money will you earn? How much money will you need? Find out how much rent is, and utilities and food and all of your expenses.

Most things are more expensive on the East Coast. When I moved here, my cell phone, home internet and car insurance bills all went up by $30 (each per month - from about $70/month to about $100/month). For the exact same services/plans I was getting back in Montreal. And everything at the grocery store seems to be about $1 more than it is in Ontario and Quebec.

So without committing to moving, make a plan for your future PEI-girl-from-away self. Make a mood board, visualize, get a binder and write: "PEI Life" on it, and fill it with all of the information you gather. And maybe in the process, you'll realize some things that are less appealing to you. Maybe in the process, you'll change your mind about the move. Or maybe it'll just stoke the fire and you'll be a bunch of steps closer to getting what you seem to want and where you seem to want to be.

Only you know what's best for you, and what you want and don't want for your life. And there's no shame either way. Whatever you decide, I'm wishing the very best for you, Taylor.

If you have a question you'd like to ask, I want to hear it. Big, small, medium sized, trivial, super heavy duty - all questions are welcomed at thegirlfromaway@gmail.com.

ASK THE GIRL FROM AWAY: GETTING YOUR PRODUCTS INTO SHOPS

Nadyne Kasta


Today's question comes from Stephanie in Halifax. Stephanie actually has a few questions. She's a maker and she's wondering about the best way to go about getting shops to carry her products. She's made linesheets but, since her line keeps growing, her pdf document is now 7 pages long. She's wondering if she should do walk-ins with a wholesale catalogue (but doesn't want to put shopkeepers on the spot) or if she should just email potential stockists.

Before I get to Stephanie's questions, let me start by explaining, for those of us who might not yet be familiar with it, what a linesheet or wholesale catalogue is. Essentially, it's a document intended for potential retailers/stockists that tells them what they need to know about your company and provides wholesale information on your products. It includes things like your contact info, wholesale pricesminimum quantities, and lead times. You can find more info on linesheet and wholesale catalogues here and here.

What I do (and have done) to get stockists is actually fairly simple: I send them a personalised email. 

When I was in my twenties and early thirties, I worked as a TV reporter, and people would often email me and send me stuff, in the hopes of getting me to cover their story or event. It was an invaluable lesson in how to get someone's attention, and the biggest take-away I got about promoting yourself is this: PERSONALISE EVERYTHING. Mass emails don't work. "To whom it may concern"/"dear Sir/Madam" doesn't work. People can smell a mass email a mile away.

You want to make the recipient feel like your email is intended just for them. 

When it comes to shops, I try to find the owner's name on the shop's website and I address my email directly to her/him. If their name isn't on their site, I google the shop to see if any articles have been written about them, and I sometimes find the owner's name that way. If all else fails, I get creative: "Fine folks of XYZ Company", "Awesome XYZ Team". I also try to share something I like about the shop. Sometimes it's as general as: "I'm a big fan of your shop" or "I've been admiring your Instagram account for some time." Other times, it's specific: "Your new renovations are amazing and the store looks fantastic." It's not ass-kissing if it's the truth. I don't contact shops unless I'm a fan. And everyone, including shop owners, loves getting a happy, positive, sincere email. 

Remember that this isn't a cover letter or a résumé. It doesn't need to be dry and matter-of-fact. You're allowed to be yourself. You're allowed to be quirky, funny, silly, excited, hopeful and real.

For simplicity's sake, I don't usually include my wholesale catalogue in my first email. I attach small versions of my best product shots, and write something along the lines of: "I've attached a few pics of my products but you can see more here if you like." I add a link to my website, and I tell them that I'd be happy to send them a copy of my wholesale catalogue if they'd like. I also explain that wholesale prices are half of the retail prices on my website. So they don't even really need a copy of the wholesale catalogue. Sometimes, I just get an email back from them saying: "I want 10 of this and 5 of this and...", and we forgo the order sheet altogether. I also always let them know that I'm happy to sell my products on consignment if that works best for them.

I'm not a fan of walk-ins. When I started The Girl From Away, I had a brick & mortar/pop-up shop on PEI and, a couple of times, makers came by unannounced to see if I'd carry their products. I felt a little put on the spot. If you'd like to meet with shop owners, I'd suggest it in an email. Maybe something along the lines of: "I'd love to come in and meet with you to show you some of my work, and to see how I can best cater my products to your customers."

Other things to keep in mind/consider:
- try to reach out to shops that are already carrying products that have a similar vibe to yours
- without being boastful, tell them about your accomplishments: what markets you've attended, what other shops are carrying your products, what blogs or magazines you've been featured in
- if your customers have been asking where they can see/find your products, include that in your email: "Customers have been asking where in (insert their neighbourhood/city/province) they can buy my products, and I'd love to be able to send them your way."
- be specific about their location, for example: "I don't presently have a stockist in (insert their neighbourhood/city/province) but I'd love that to change"
- if you're not sure what shops to contact, you might want look at where makers you admire are selling their goods
- use your contacts: if you know someone who knows the owner of a shop you'd like to have as a stockist, ask them if they'd mind putting in a good word for you
- if you're doing a decent job of promoting yourself on social media, shops will likely start reaching out to you
- If you don't hear back from shop owners, don't take it personally (if you're contacting enough folks, this is bound to happen... it doesn't mean that your products aren't great... their shop might already be as full as they'd like it, or they may not feel like your stuff's a good fit... just keep at it)
- be patient (sometimes it takes time for the word to spread, and for the world to catch on to your awesomeness)

Thank you so much for your questions, Stephanie! I hope this was helpful.

If you have a question, I want to hear it. Email me at thegirlfromaway(at)gmail(dot)com.

ASK THE GIRL FROM AWAY: ETSY VS. YOUR OWN WEBSITE

Nadyne Kasta


Our question today is from Laura in Halifax who's thinking of making cards, prints and shirts with her artwork on them, and she's wondering whether she should make her own website or use Etsy to sell her products. Excellent question, and definitely one that I also asked myself when I first started my shop.

Firstly, let me just say that I don't think that there's a right or wrong answer to this question, and that different makers would probably all have different answers. I suppose what it comes down to is what your needs and your intentions for your shop are. Here's how I see it, and how things went down for me.

I now have both a website and an Etsy shop, and I'm a fan of both. But for the first year and a half, I didn't have an Etsy shop. I used my website exclusively, and sold my products through it. And that was great. I've always seen The Girl From Away as a kind of weird, little art/life project, and not just a business or a way to generate revenue. I wanted a place where I could not only post and sell products but also where I could write and share information, post photos, and create a cozy, little home for myself online. So, for those reasons, it made sense to have my own site. As strange as it can be, I also enjoy using and sharing on social media so I knew I'd be able to generate some attention towards the site that way.

Etsy was around when I started The Girl From Away (almost 3 years ago) but it wasn't quite what it is today. Then, it was mostly a platform/storefront to sell products. It's still that but it's now also a community that supports makers by offering tips, guides, checklists and other resources, which are surprisingly helpful when you're a maker who mostly works alone.

If I'm going to be completely honest, I originally only got an Etsy shop so I could apply to the Etsy Made In Canada markets, which take place every year in September, and which, in Halifax, are some of the most well-attended markets. What I didn't realize upon first joining Etsy was how much more it would make feel like part of a community of makers. I love being a part of Maritime Makers (which is a group that connects Etsy sellers in the Maritimes and hosts events); it's probably my favourite thing that's come from opening an Etsy shop. I feel really supported by the team leaders, as well as the other makers. They're an endless source of information when it comes to all things related to running your own business, and their support and encouragement are priceless to me. So, even if there were no yearly Etsy markets, I'd still want to have an Etsy shop.

To get back to the question, I'd say that having a website and an Etsy shop are both of value, and, if you can do both, you should. I personally make a lot more sales through my own site than I do on Etsy. One of the downsides of Etsy is that it's quite popular and a lot of people are using it so it can be tricky to generate traffic to your shop. Even though I don't make as many sales as I do on my own site, I do still make enough on Etsy for it to be worthwhile.

There is no right or wrong way here. Making your own website and/or joining Etsy are both good options. And if you do one, and realize that it's not for you or that it's not working the way you'd like, you can switch to the other. 

Whatever you decide, I'm wishing you the best of luck, Laura! Thanks so much for your question!

If you have a question you'd like to ask, about business or being a maker or, really, about anything (!), email me at thegirlfromaway(at)gmail(dot)com.

ASK THE GIRL FROM AWAY: SHOULD I START A T-SHIRT BUSINESS?

Nadyne Kasta


Ask The Girl From Away.JPG

Hi, friends! Welcome to the first Ask The Girl From Away Q&A! 

Today's question comes from Ellen in Montreal who has a great idea for a t-shirt. She's thinking of having a batch of these shirts made so she can sell them, and she's wondering what's involved in the process, and whether it's financially worth it. Great question!

Let's break this down in terms of process and costs so that you (and anyone else who's thinking of starting a t-shirt business) can decide whether or not it's worthwhile for you.

For simplicity's sake, let's use the East Coast t-shirts I make as an example.

So, the first thing I do when I'm having a batch of shirts made is to order blank shirts. I do that from American Apparel wholesale. I use American Apparel because I like their shirt styles and because they're not made in sweatshops. I also really like that they have stores in most major cities so I can go to a store and check out styles, colours and sizing before I place a big order. It saves me from having to order (and pay for) shirt samples.

If you have a business (big or small), you can open an account with American Apparel's wholesale site, or whichever manufacturer you're using. If you don't feel like opening a wholesale account or if you're not yet a business, you can also almost always order blank shirts from the people/company who are going to print your shirts (who are, themselves, ordering the shirts from the manufacturers). Just make sure the printers aren't marking the cost of the shirts up too much. The entire process can be a bit pricy so you want to keep your costs down wherever you can to increase your profits.

Once you have your blank shirts, you'll want to have them printed.

You basically have two options here. You can either screenprint the shirts yourself or hire someone to do it for you. For the sake of brevity, I won't go into what's involved in screenprinting and I'll assume you want someone to print them for you, as I do.

When you're looking for printers, you'll want to shop around and get quotes from a few places to compare prices. It's also a good idea to ask other makers to see who they are using. You want someone reliable who's got a good reputation, not just the whoever will do it for the least amount of money. 

The printers will want to know how many shirts you're having printed and how many colours you want per t-shirt graphic. Each colour of your graphic represents a different screen in the screenprinting process so the more colours you have, the pricier it will be.

Again, if I use our East Coast t-shirts as an example, here's what we're looking at in terms of costs:
The blank American Apparel t-shirts I use are $5.75 each (when you order a dozen or more of the same size) + taxes + shipping. Then, there are the printer's costs, which can vary (depending on the printer and the amount of shirts you're having printed) but they're generally between $1.50 to $3 per shirt plus the screen costs which vary between $10 to $30 per screen + plus taxes. If you'd also like your wordmark/logo printed in the inner back collar (which I didn't used to do but have just started doing), that's another $0.75 to $1.50 per shirt + screen costs + taxes.

So let's say that making an East Coast t-shirt costs me somewhere around $10 per shirt. I sell them online and at craft/pop-up shows for $34 each, which means that I'm making about $24 profit per shirt. Sounds good so far, right? But here's where things get trickier. I also sell the shirts wholesale to brick & mortar shops. When I sell shirts wholesale, prices are 50% of retail prices (which is standard). So 50% of $34 (the retail price) is $17 (the wholesale price) per shirt, which means I'm actually only making $7 profit per shirt when I sell them wholesale. 

In some shops, I sell on consignment, which means that the shop pays nothing up front but that I make a bit more money (60% of the retail price, so $20.40) per shirt sold. The profit on that being about $10.40 per shirt. So, basically, I have to sell about 4 shirts online, 10 shirts on consignment or 14 shirts wholesale to make $100.

A general rule for figuring out wholesale and retail prices is to take your cost, multiply it by 2 (to get the wholesale price), and then multiply the wholesale price by 2 (to get the retail price). And while this is a great, easy rule, it's also important to consider what your customers are willing to pay for your product. For example, if I'd followed this rule, I'd have sold my shirts for $40 each retail. My feeling was that that was a little too pricey. Some customers would have paid it but others would have found it too much. So I brought the price down, which means I make less per shirt but, because the shirts are a bit more affordable, I sell more of them.

Another suggestion I can offer is to have a proof made before having the full order of shirts printed. So, essentially, have the printers print one test shirt. This will ensure that the graphic looks the way you want it to. If it doesn't, you haven't wasted your full order of shirts on a graphic that you don't like, and you can make the necessary changes to it before proceeding.

I hope this was helpful. Thank you so much for your question, Ellen! 

If you have a question you'd like to ask (about running a small business, being self-employed, the East Coast, creativity, why life is so weird), email me at thegirlfromaway(at)gmail(dot)com.

ASK THE GIRL FROM AWAY

Nadyne Kasta


Our friends over at Victoire started a Q&A series on Instagram recently and I love the idea so much that I thought I'd also give it a shot.

Do you have a question you'd like to ask? Are you thinking of starting a small business or becoming self-employed? Are you in a creative rut and don't know how to get out of it? Taking a trip to the East Coast and don't know where to go? Or are you just trying to be a decent human being in the world and finding that difficult? Tell me all about it! No question is too big, insignificant or off-limits.

Email questions to thegirlfromaway@gmail.com. I'll be answering them here in the next few weeks.

HAPPY HOUR MAKERS MARKET

Nadyne Kasta


HappyHour.jpg

Together with our pals at Big Pony and Maritime Makers on Friday May 27th from 4 to 8pm, we'll be packing Halifax's Company House to the gills for Happy Hour Makers Market! If you're an artist/maker/designer and you'd like to apply for a table, please email bigponyhfx@gmail.com and thegirlfromaway@gmail.com with your info and/or website/FB page/IG account/pics of your work. It's going to be a good one so save the date!

Thank You, Halifax!

Nadyne Kasta


So, apparently, there were between 10 000 and 15 000 people at last Saturday's Etsy Made In Canada Halifax Pop-Up Market, which is a lot of people for any craft show, not least of all my first!

Thanks so much to everyone who came out to support local makers! I can't tell you how much fun it was for me to get out of my little, solitary maker bubble, and to get to meet and speak with so many interesting folks.

Huge high fives also to Maritime Makers for organizing such a stellar event, and for letting me be a little part of it!

Etsy Made In Canada Halifax

Nadyne Kasta


If you're in Halifax this weekend, come visit us at the Etsy Made In Canada Halifax Pop-up Market on Saturday (September 26th) at the Garrison Grounds at Citadel Hill between 10 to 7. It's our first craft show! We're pretty jazzed.

Nova Scotia Bound.

Nadyne Kasta


If it's OK with everyone, I'm going to start by pretending that I'm not the world's most inconsistent blogger, and just skip to the part where I tell you that I'm moving to Nova Scotia at the end of the month. WHAAAAT?!

I'll spare you the details of how this came to be, and just say that life is strange and amazing, that, ever since I got back to Montreal last fall, after our time on PEI, I had a strong feeling that I wouldn't be here long, and that I couldn't be happier that the current of my own life is pulling me back to the East Coast.

I'll be temporarily closing the online shop for a few weeks, starting at the end of next week, but will reopen as soon as I've settled into my new digs.

I've also been working on new goodies, and there are other schemes and dreams in the works, and I can't wait to share that all in due time.

Happy spring, friends!
See you soon, Nova Scotia!

(Re)Open For Business!

Nadyne Kasta


Friends, we're excited to announce that we're back to business, and have reopened our little online shop! We've got a few new goodies, some old favourites, and more to come.

Shipping is still a flat rate of $10 on any sized order to Canada or the US. International shipping is also available; please email us if you'd like more info.

You can also find some of our products in a few shops across Canada. See our FAQ page for the list of shops.

We had a stinkin' blast at our photo shoot with Pipe Major Robert L. Redden and Halifax-based photographer Aaron McKenzie Fraser, and are grateful to both of them for braving the frigid temperatures at Herring Cove Look-Off in Nova Scotia that day.

It's hard to believe that it was over a year ago that we started working on this project. Thanks so much to all of you who've been following since the very beginning! And if you've just discovered us, hi! Thanks for taking the time to check us out!

 

The Places That Scare Me.

Nadyne Kasta


My paps was in the ICU at the Kingston General Hospital when he died. That's probably not how they teach you to start blog posts at blogging school but bear with me; it gets more hopeful, I promise. He'd suffered a stroke and had fallen into a coma the previous day. The doctors, along with a social worker, had taken my mum and me into a special meeting room and given us a talk:
Things are not looking good. We don't know what's wrong. The results of the the CT scan don't match his state. But it's not good. If you have family or friends to call, who'd want to see him, you should do that now.

I'd never seen my mum the way she was in that room. I'd never felt the way I felt in that room. I remember asking if there was a priest I could talk to. I remember that I prefaced it with: Please don't judge me but (is there a priest I can talk to?) I didn't want them to think that I was a bible-thumper. I guess I figured that they were probably all atheists and I didn't want to create a divide between us and them. Essentially, I think I just didn't want to give them a reason to not like us and to not give my paps the best possible care. But, yes, I wanted to speak to a priest. I needed to speak to someone who also believed in heaven, an after-life, another realm, whatever you want to call it - anything that meant that this wasn't the absolute end. I wanted to be assured that my paps' soul or spirit or energy would make a safe journey to wherever it was going.

And there was a priest in the hospital that day, and, all of a sudden, he was there, in front of us. And I remember his words, trying to reassure us: This is the sacrifice you have to make. You have to take on the pain so he doesn't have to have any. And I remember thinking: OK. OK, yes. We can do that. Of course, we'll take on the pain if he doesn't have to suffer. Just please, please, God, don't let him suffer. My mum and I hung on to the priest's words for a long time. We still do. When one of us starts spiralling, the other will sometimes remind her that we took on the pain so he wouldn't have any.

And I remember - and I don't even know where this came from or why I said it but - I remember telling the priest that, if there is a heaven, I'd like my paps' soul to go straight up, no stops please, and the priest replying: I'll be sure to tell God not to put him on the milkrun. And I remember thinking, even in my hysterical state, that that was a pretty good joke for a priest, and that my paps would get a kick out of it.

Anyway, where was I going with this? Oh, yeah. 

So, that day - the day my paps fell into a coma, the day before he died - I remember that, aside from being a fucking mess, I was really confused. I kept flip-flopping, between trying to be hopeful, wanting more than anything for him to wake up and for us to have him back, and trying to be at peace with the fact that he wouldn't wake up and giving him permission, in my head and heart, to let go. And I don't know that I can accurately explain why I was so troubled by this but the best I can describe it is that it felt like the ground had just been pulled out from under me, and I needed something to hang on to. I needed, at the very least, to figure out what to wish and hope and pray for. Am I praying for him to wake up? Am I praying for this to end and for him to be at peace? What the fuck am I doing here? I eventually shared my confusion with the social worker when she came by to check on us, and I was a little shocked when she suggested that, instead of focusing on one thing or the other, I could just wish for whatever was best for my paps. And I guess the reason I was shocked was that that had never occurred to me. And it was such a comfort to at least know what I was praying for, and that's what I did from then on; I wished and hoped and prayed for whatever was best for my paps. And it's such a simple thing now that I think about it. But I couldn't see it back then. I couldn't see it until the social worker suggested it. I thought I needed an answer. I hadn't realized that I didn't, or that not having an answer was my answer.

And I guess the reason I'm thinking of this story now is that it reminds of how I'd been feeling recently. Of how my mum and I wanted so badly to know what to wish for. Of how we wanted to find a way to be OK with all of this. Of how we wanted to find the answers to where we should turn to bring some meaning and joy and hope back to our lives. Of how we wanted someone to say: You do this and this and this, and then it all works out. Of how we wanted someone to swoop in and protect us from any more pain. Of how I'd been believing in the illusion of that possibility. Of how I'd been believing in the illusion of security. Of how I'd been believing in the illusion that it is possible to avoid uncertainty, discomfort and pain, and also in the illusion that there are people who have managed to do that, people who have built fortresses around them to keep the pain out, and that if I had or if I could still just build my fortress high enough, I'd have been or would be safe. Of how, on occasion, I believed that I was broken, and of how that belief crippled me. Of how I have other thoughts, about myself and about the world, that limit me. Of how maybe the answers lie in not having the answers.

I've been reading a book since I wrote my last blog post. I'd actually read half of it a few years ago but I'll damned if I hadn't forgotten every single bit of what I'd read. And the only reason that I know that I read part of it is that certain lines and paragraphs are underlined, and there are notes and stars and exclamation marks in my hand-writing next to certain sections. And recently, in my search for answers and hope and anything to help me through what felt an awful lot like rock-bottom, I'd also been on the look-out for books that could help me look at things in a different way. And this book kept showing up. On a suggested reading list for people who are grieving, in an email from a friend. And, I'll be honest, at first I was like: But I've read most it already! I'm not reading it again! But it just kept showing up so I finally gave in. It's The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön. And it's helping, a lot. Not in a here's-how-you-fill-the-hole kind of way. More like here's-how-you-get-comfortable-with-the-hole. And I highly recommend it, especially to anyone who's in a rough patch. And even to people who may have already read it, or read half of it, years ago. It's also not specific to grief, by the way. Frankly, I think everyone should read it.

It's reminding me that, despite the fact that I have a full shelf of books on psychology and spirituality in my bookcase, most of which I have read, a few of which had a substantial impact on me, I forget that having read those books however long ago doesn't necessarily help me that much today. Like a muscle that I have occasionally exercised but haven't worked on continuously or even recently. 

It's helping me sort out my thoughts and feelings. 

It's helping me peel away layers of bullshit and illusion, that both my own mind comes up with, and that the outside world fills my head with. It's helping me get to the bottom of thoughts, feelings or situations, to a place where there's no more confusion, no more questions, to where there are no lies left.

It's helping me look at my thoughts and my self-talk and pinpoint how I am and how I am not helping myself.

It's got me thinking a lot about fear, and of all of the branches on its tree - insecurity, anger, envy, perfectionism, loneliness - and of all of the things we do to try to run away from it - pick up our phones, surf the internet, shop, drink, work-out, work too much, eat, avoid, lie, gossip, blame ourselves, blame others, make excuses, isolate ourselves, busy ourselves, get into relationships, get out of relationships, have kids, cheat, get married. And, just to be clear, I'm not at all saying that I think that every time someone has a kid or gets married or goes shopping they're running from their fear, just that this book is reminding me that we do all kinds of things - little, tiny things and big, major things - to just not have to deal with stuff, to just not have to look truthfully at the parts of ourselves and of our lives that make us uncomfortable. To try to be who we think we're supposed to be and not just who we actually are. To not have to admit, to ourselves or to others, that we're scared, angry, sad, frustrated, lonely, underwhelmed, overwhelmed, bored, confused or that we feel stuck. 

It's got me thinking  about what exactly fear is and that, in turn, has made me less fearful. And being less fearful makes me less sad - about the loss and about most of the things that make me feel sad (or angry or confused or frustrated).

It's reminded me that fear comes from not knowing what's going to happen, and just that - right there - was helpful to me. Because what it means is that, sometimes, when I start to feel sad, or angry, or scared, if I can remind myself that part of why I feel that way is because I don't know what's going to happen, I can also then remind myself that no one actually knows what's going to happen. There is no certainty in life. And then, maybe, I can also remind myself that I'm worrying (or feeling sad or scared or angry about) something that doesn't even exist, about a future I have very little control of. And then, maybe, instead of having the fear overtake me, I stand hand in hand with it and say: I see you. It's OK

It's reminded me that human beings are not designed to feel good all of the time. Happiness is a temporary state. If I'm chasing a temporary state, I'm setting myself up to fail. Honesty and authenticity seem like better goals, certainly more sustainable than happiness. If I decide that my goal is just to be honest, to listening to myself and to what my life is trying to tell me, to have the guts to look at the parts that are harder to look at, to admit the things that are harder to admit, to accept when I don't have all of the answers, the end result will very likely be that I'm happier.

It's reminded me that there's a certain amount of pain that I can't escape, that is unavoidable. I'm entitled to it. I'm justified in feeling it. There's no way to spin it to make it feel better. But what I can do is not feed it with bullshit or unhelpful self-talk. What I can do is gently watch my thoughts and figure out when I start getting off-track, and when and how I'm not helping myself. What I can do is not numb or run from it so as to not hear or see or feel what's really going on, what those feelings, thoughts or situations are trying to tell me. What I can do is not pretend. What I can do is sit quietly with it, make time for it, listen to what it's saying. Know what triggers it. Know how it tries to camouflage itself. Ask questions that peel away the layers of illusion. Befriend it. Be patient.

It's reminded me, as silly as it may sound, that I like my mind. It's helped me do lots of great things like create stuff, start businesses, attract interesting people, maintain great relationships, find solutions, and, occasionally, tell a decent joke. But, man, does it ever start freaking out when it doesn't understand what's going on. Does it ever start losing it when it can't come up with a solution.

There were things I knew or had read about fear and pain  - a few of which I mentioned in my last post - but there was lots that still wasn't clear. Things like: All you need is inside you. While I believed that to be true, I'd hear that line or some variation of it and not quite understand how it was that I could feel stuck or how it could be that things felt hard if all I needed was inside me. Or, another example: I knew that I wasn't supposed to push away the pain but I didn't exactly understand what that meant, or what it felt or looked like to not push away the pain. I did understand that numbing it wouldn't work because I'd just be postponing or putting it on the back burner but there was a lot that still wasn't clear. Do I just sit here and be in pain? Is that what I'm supposed to be doing? This book has helped me answer those (and lots of other) questions. I get it now.

When I first moved back to Montreal after our time on PEI, I was excited. The city seemed new to me again. Familiar but also as though I was seeing it with fresh eyes. I was excited to spend time with my friends. I was excited to walk on the mountain. I was looking forward to going to all of my favourite spots. I was genuinely happy to be here. But within a few weeks of my return, the bottom feel out again. A romantic relationship that had gone from 0 to 250 in the blink of an eye ended just as quickly. My best friend moved away. A good friend had a baby and was understandably focused on her. Another good friend had just started a new relationship and was wrapped up in that. I was having a difficult time finding an apartment. I wasn't sure what direction to take the business. I wasn't sure whether or not to go back to hairdressing, which is what I did for work before I had the shop. And the grief had crept its way back in again, in a big, heavy way. I felt confused, scared and really alone. I felt really lost. And part of me was angry. Part of me felt like: Really?! After the year I've had, this is what I get? You've got be fucking kidding me! 

Nothing was clear. Every aspect of my life felt broken. Aside from my mum, I felt like I had nothing. At times, I even felt like the world had it in for me, as though it was a personal attack against me. And I got really, really sad. And I couldn't figure out what I was supposed to learn from it. I felt like: I'm a good person; why is this happening to me? I wanted to fix it so badly but I didn't know how. 

Until I read this book, I hadn't realize the extent to which I wanted something from the outside to make me feel safe, to make me happy, to fill the hole, to be the answer. I had tried, many times, to look inside. I've always been curious. I've always been a seeker - of answers, meaning and truth. I knew the answers were inside but I couldn't access them. I don't think I really understood until now how to go inside or what to look for. It just felt like the answers weren't in there. And so I'd feel sad until something happened to make me feel happy again. And then I'd feel happy until something made me feel sad, and the cycle was repeated.

But, recently, nothing was making me feel happy. And my insides just felt empty and tired. And so my mind, as usual, was like: Unacceptable! Start a new project, get a boyfriend, get on Facebook, get on Instagram, take a course, write a blog post, busy yourself, find an answer, find SOMETHING! But I knew that those things wouldn't do it. Not really. I've done that stuff in the past. I knew that those were all just temporary fixes. I knew that the outside stuff wouldn't sustain me. But I also couldn't find anything on the inside. So, for a while, I felt like I was just in limbo. In an agonizing, torturous limbo. And days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months. And then it all came to a head one night, shortly after I wrote my last blog post, as I was getting out of the bathtub. I was at the end of my rope after too long a time of everything feeling hard, and of me feeling shitty and hopeless. And I started to cry. And the crying turned into sobbing. And the sobbing turned into a full blown meltdown. And I thought: What do I do? What do I do that I haven't already done? And all I could think of was to get down on my knees and pray. That's so cliché, my mind said. Who do you think you are? Liz Gilbert? But I could not think of one other thing to do. And I was desperate. Really desperate. So I got down on my knees, on the bathroom floor, with nothing but a towel around me, tears and snot pouring down my face, and I said, out loud, between sobs: Help me. Help me, God!  Please! Show me what to do. I don't know what to do. I need hope. Show me how to look at this differently. Give me a reason to want to go on. I want to want to go on. Please give me a reason. Please show me how I go on. I didn't even really know what I was asking for, or who I was asking it to, just that I couldn't go on as I had been.

And then, the next day, or maybe it was the day after that, I got an email from a friend suggesting that I read this book. And, for whatever reason, instead of ignoring it as I had been, I found it in on my bookshelf and started reading it. Again. And it helped. And I found some answers. And a new way to look at things. And suddenly hope found its way in. And it felt real and honest and sustainable.

And I guess what I'm getting at here, in the most long-winded way, and where I feel like my last post fell short, is that it wasn't until I felt like I had nothing left, until I lost all hope, until I was hanging on by a tiny thread, that I came to realize what everyone was talking about when they were saying that everything I need is inside me. Everything I need IS inside me. Which is not to say that I don't wish that I could have my paps back because I do. More than anything. Or that I don't wish my best friend lived closer. Or that I wouldn't like to fall in love with a great guy and live in a nice place and do meaningful work. It's just that I finally understood, in my head and heart and body, that there is NOTHING that exists on the outside that can make me truly feel safe on the inside. Not a boyfriend, not my best friend, not even my mum and paps. Only I can make myself feel safe on the inside. And the paradox, and this is where I kept getting stuck, is that the way to make myself feel safe is by reminding myself that there is actually no such thing as safe. The answer lies in not having the answer. The answer is that there is no answer. The answer is that sometimes I will hurt and sometime I'll feel like a gift from God. And in the hurting times, there will sometimes be absolutely nothing I can do to improve my situation except to accept myself in whatever state I am in, and accept the situation, however shitty it is, and to not make it harder by fighting against it. And to just listen to what's going on inside of me. That's it. 

And yes, I still have to make decision about my life. I still have to figure out how to spend my days and nights and who to spend time with and who to not spend time with and all of the stuff that makes up a life but I guess the difference is that I'm not expecting anyone or anything to fill a hole inside me, to make me feel safe, to fix the parts that feel broken or scared. I realize that, no matter how much I'd want them to, they can't. I don't need them to validate me. Because they can't do that either. And when I start believing that they can, or that I am less than (fill in the blank) without them, or not (fill in the blank) enough, when I start believing in an illusion, I am setting myself up for bad news.

It's amazing to have people we love in our lives, to have a job or a project or an activity that we find rewarding, and meaningful, to have exciting goals to work towards but, as good as those things are, and they can be soooo great, the hole is still underneath, the uncertainty still exists. It's just that we start believing that it isn't because those things make us feel safe. And we get attached to those things or to the idea that we need those things to feel whole, and we start believing that we can't survive without them. We start believing that there is a way around pain, and that we've either figured it out or that we need to figure it out. And the old me finds that so depressing - that there's always a hole, that you're never safe from pain, that someone's love can't save you - but the new me finds it so fucking liberating. Because what it also means is that there is ultimately nothing we need on the outside, and nothing that can be taken from us to prevent us from being OK, from being whole. What it means is that we can want the things we want, love the things we love, and miss them when they're not there or when they go away without feeling like we're nothing without them.

I don't know.
I'm the same as everyone, looking for answers, for ways to make things feel better and make sense, for ways to make the most of my life. I just happen to have taken a big hit recently, and coupled with the things I was already grappling with before the loss, it took me down so low that I didn't know if I'd find my way up or out again. 
And I tried and looked and read, and was somewhat relentless in my search for answers and for making what I was going through make sense. And this book has been incredibly helpful.
I'm going to try to remember, when I'm feeling like I'm getting off-track, when I start believing in the illusion, when I'm frustrated because I don't have answers, to pick the book up again, to re-read it, to exercise the muscle.
But I'm also writing it down because I'm less likely to forget if I own up to it. And, to be honest, it lightens my load a bit.
And maybe there's some little nugget of this story that helps someone else get to a better place inside of them. Or maybe there isn't. Either way, I'm good. Whatever happens, and however painful it has been, however much I hated it at the time, I'm grateful for the bottom falling out. I now see that what felt at the time like a personal attack against me was in fact an opportunity. As terribly corny as it sounds, it was a gift. And that, without it, I'd have just stayed stuck, in the safe zone. Without it, I wouldn't have gone to the places that scared me. And it was in those places that I found answers, hope, inner peace, and, yes, even joy. It was in the places that scared me that I found what I needed, which, ultimately, was nothing at all.
 

Everything Is Not Going To Be OK.

Nadyne Kasta


If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. 
If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.

- The Gospel of Thomas

 

I had a boyfriend who, whenever i was sad, used to say: Everything is NOT going to be OK. And that might sound like a strange thing to say to someone who's sad but I always loved when he said it because it was his way of telling me that I had a right to be sad, and that he wasn't going to try to rush me through the sadness so we could get back to normal. And that, in turn, always made me feel better.

Many times, I've sat down at my computer to try to write this post. Many times, I've wanted to neatly and cleverly wrap up our adventure in a perfect, Pinterest-worthy package, and say: this is exactly what it was like, this is how it felt then, how it feels now, these are the lessons I learned, isn't it great how it all worked out. As it turns out, it isn't quite that simple, or easy to explain. Not in a blogpost, not to myself in my own head.

What I can say is this: we're attempting, my mum and I, to settle back into our respective lives. The lives we had before we went to PEI. The lives we had before my paps died. An ever so slight problem has arisen, however, in that those lives don't actually exist anymore. So, in fact, what we've been doing lately is something resembling teeter-tottering. Between what our lives used to be, what we think our lives should be now, and what actually is. It's very, for lack of a better word, strange. Actually, I hate it.

I suppose I'd assumed that, at this point, 15 months in, we'd be doing much better. And it's not that we haven't made progress but I wouldn't describe how we feel as much better. 

Some days, I feel strong and good. But there are days when I want to never get up. There are weeks when I plow through life. Then, there are weeks when I hide from it like it was a viable profession. Sometimes, I am at peace. More times, I'm not.

I have a hard time deciphering between the sadness caused by the grief and the sadness caused by other things. It all, somehow, feels grief-related.

When I'm feeling good, I think: I'm cured! I get all the more bummed when I realize that I'm not, in fact, cured, and that the weepies have sneaked their way back in again.

I get flashes (of my paps' last days, of our lives before) that make my whole body shudder, and I think: I'm fucked for life. Or: I'm losing my mind. Often, followed by: Jesus, Nadyne, don't be so goddamned dramatic.

Our lives have lost their meaning, and finding new meaning is proving to be the hardest thing we've ever had to do.

We will get through this.
No, we won't.
Yes, we will.
No, it's not working.
Yes, look how far we've come!
But it's still so fucking hard.
Yes. Yes it is.

A constant struggle between team love and team fear.

So, yeah, there's some heaviness, the kind you don't find on Pinterest. And it would be a lie to say that I haven't felt, given that it's been over a year, that I should be better at dealing with or accepting the heaviness by now. At times, (get it all out, Nadyne) I find it paralyzing. I try to remind myself that that's what people do; they die! Every day, everywhere in the world, people are dying. And other people are grieving. None of this is particular to me, or to my family. But it doesn't help. In the moments when I'm replaying, for the nth time, how it could be that he was here, alive and in front of me, the anchor of our tiny but fierce family - with his dimples and his moustache and his general, overall, comforting paps ways - and then, it was over - in those moments, it doesn't help to know that someone else is also wondering how they're supposed to be OK with their own loss.

On occasion, I'm told by well-meaning friends: At least you have your mum. And, of course, they're right. Of course, I'm grateful for my mum. But my mum and I are so tightly-knit that she feels more like one of my limbs than a separate entity. So it always just feels to me kind of like telling someone who's been shot that, at least, they don't have cancer.

Some people, when they're sad, reach out, and ask for help. I tend to be in more of the buy-a-bunch-of-books-on-the-subject-figure-it-out-yourself-and-try-not-to-bring-anybody-else-down camp. But that strategy only really works if you're trying to install track lighting or building a pallet coffee table. You can't think your way out of being sad. And you can't, as I'm unfortunately discovering, think (or read) your way out of grief.

In realizing that my strategy is not really working for me, I recently called a good friend who also lost a parent suddenly. And after I essentially barfed all of my feelings all over him, he reminded me that it took him not one but four to five years after his mum's death to get to an OK place again. And that, in turn, reminded me that maybe it's not so surprising that I still find it so hard. Maybe I'm not losing my mind. Maybe this is as OK (or not OK) as anyone can be expected to be, 15 months in. 

I'm happy we went to PEI. I'm happy I started this project. But I think that part of me thought that I could find something that would fix the sadness. A move, a shop, a project, a boyfriend, a book, a youtube video.

If I just find the right thing, or the right combination of things, the sadness will go away, and I'll be OK again.
If I just busy myself, if I distract myself long enough, I'll be all better by the time I come back up for air.

And I guess, if any lesson has been learned so far, if I had to go back 15 months and speak to myself, I would say this:
You can't fix this.
You can't fix the hole that's in your heart. And this is going to be a tricky, little lesson to learn because those things - the outside things, the distractions - they will make you feel better sometimes... until they don't... and the waves of grief come crashing over you once again. And, just to be clear, what I'm saying here is not that you should disengage from your own life, or that you shouldn't keep trying, and moving in the direction that feels most right. I'm not saying don't go to PEI, I'm not saying don't open up a shop, I'm not saying don't do all of the things you want to do - quite the opposite, in fact -  but those things will not fix you. From what I've gathered so far, time and love will help ease the pain but I don't think they actually fix this. Reading, writing and talking to friends will help you understand it better but, again, they won't fix you. I don't think you get fixed from this. And I know that that's not what you want to hear right now. I know that you desperately want it to be fixed. I know that, more than anything, you want to find a way, right now, for you and your mum to not be sad. I know you want to study or write or travel your way out of this but you can't. 

And I know it's hard to believe that this is how life works because it feels, at times, like you have so much control over it, and that, if you only place the pieces in the right places, everything will work out and the hole will be filled. But I'm pretty sure that that's just an illusion. 

Here is what you can do (and, I'm warning you, this sounds an awful lot like some hippy-dippy, self-help bullshit, and you're going to hate it and feel like it's not enough, but just listen anyway, and let whatever parts want to sink in sink in):  
Try to accept, as best you can, whatever state you're in, however unpleasant that state may be. I know this seems impossible because it's extremely uncomfortable right now. Just do your best, and try not to judge yourself or how you're feeling.

Do the work of living your life in the way that feels most right to you, show up for it as best you can - but then let go of whatever happens next. Don't make up answers if you don't have answers. Don't force pieces that don't fit - I can't stress this part enough, because, let's be honest, you can be an impatient, sparkly, little firecracker sometimes, and you will want the things you want - healing, growth, forward movement - when you want them but, again, all you can do is your part of the work, the rest is not up to you. 

Try not to think of this as something that needs to be fixed. You're not broken. You're not crazy. You can call it those things if you want but what you actually are is just really sad, and your reserves are depleted. Try to ride the wave instead of swimming against it. I know you don't want to. I know you want to fight and claw your way out of this. I know you want analyse the bejesus out of it, sort it into compartments, make it make sense and then shove it into a hermetically sealed box and never look at it again. Just please try to ride the wave. Because I know for sure that fighting against isn't helpful.

Lastly, and most importantly, it will feel like there is no meaning or no point left to your life. And you will want, more than you've ever wanted anything, for hope and joy and peace and love to fill your heart, and to fill your mum's heart. And you will want to prove, to anyone who hears this story, but, mostly, you'll want to prove to yourself, that, in the end, the storm does break, the light does return, team love does win. Because what this loss has also done is shaken to its core your belief in the goodness of every single thing, and made you question everything you thought was true about the world and about life. But, for now - just for right now - while you're waiting to prove this, or waiting for it to be proven to you, maybe the most you can be expected to muster up is that you're doing your best, that you're trying, and that everything is NOT going to be OK.

Kinfolk.

Nadyne Kasta


Régine and Katie, the bright lights behind Victoire Boutiques

So a few years ago (10 to be exact), in my former-former life as a TV reporter, I got the chance to meet and interview 4 of the most creative, engaged and enthusiastic girls, through their performances as part of a weekly event that they'd created and organized called Punk Rock Aerobics. The were the sweetest. And cutest. And definitely the coolest. And I immediately felt a little kinship with them. Like maybe we were sisters in a former lifetime.

Anyway, a few years later, 2 of the girls went on to open a tiny, little shop in Ottawa called Victoire. They've since done so well for themselves and grown their business in such a solid, steady way that they now have 2 gorgeous shops in Ottawa and a brand new one in Toronto. 

I'm so happy for them, and it pleases me to no end to announce that, a decade later, our paths are crossing again, and that they'll be carrying our some of our products in their shop. Jiggity jigs!!! 

 

Victoire Boutiques
OTTAWA: 246 Dalhousie St (613) 321-1590 / 1282 B Wellington St W (613) 421-0089  
TORONTO: 129 A Ossington Ave (416) 588-6978

Last Day!

Nadyne Kasta


Friends, we were meant to be open until next week but things have been moving faster than expected so our last day at the school house will be THIS SATURDAY, August 16th (from 10 to 5). Hope you can make it! We've still got lots of fun goodies left!

The Shifting Tide.

Nadyne Kasta


I can't believe how long it's been since I've written a post on this blog. Embarrassingly long. So long, in fact, that I'm not even sure where to begin. Let's go back a bit.

My mum and I have had a great summer on PEI. It truly has been the best place for us - to get away, to discover, to heal, to just be. The generosity, kindness and warmth of the people we've met here are beyond anything we've ever experienced. It gave us a direction and a sense of purpose when we didn't have one, and if we had to do it over again, we wouldn't change a thing.

As we neared the end of the summer, we knew we'd have to make a decision on whether or not to stay on PEI. It's not been an easy one. After talking about it more times than I can count, what it came down to is the exact same thing that brought us here in the first place; we tried to listen to our guts. 

Both my mum's and my life changed dramatically after my paps died, and I suspect we could have stayed stuck in a very dark place for a very long time were it not for this experience. It pushed us back out into the world again. It gave us a reason to get up in the morning. It gave us a reason to go on. That said, we're also aware that we're starting a new chapter of our lives. That is especially true for my mum, and what we've realized is that what's best for her now is to have as much support as possible. Since most of her friends and family are close to Ottawa, she's decided to move back there. I'll be going back to Montreal, to be close to her, and to my own friends. Though we're sad to leave PEI, we're also very grateful for our time here, and excited about what lies ahead.

As far as our little shop is concerned, our last day at the school house in North Milton will be on Thursday, August 21st. I'll also be closing the online shop, temporarily, while we move and get settled. Though we won't be on PEI anymore, I'd like to continue The Girl From Away. I'll need to reconfigure a bit. It'll no longer be a physical store, and likely not so specific to PEI, but I'd like to continue with the online shop, and perhaps craft shows and pop-up shops, which, in hindsight, is essentially what the school house was for us. I've really enjoyed creating and working on this project, and I'm looking forward to what's to come.

So that's our news, friends. That's where we're at.

Before I wrap up this already long-winded post, I just wanted to thank you all so very much for your support. So many of you have come out to the school house, placed orders online, told your friends about us, taken the time to write to us, and that, by far, has been the very best part of this adventure. I know that my mum and I will always look back fondly on this experience, and that's entirely due to all of the kindness and support we've received from you.