Back to top

'Dear Overachiever' Blog

The IT Factor: 5 business sustainability factors

I must have taken a wrong turn somewhere while chasing sun, because I'm now in Riga, Latvia. It's a winter wonderland, but I haven't been this cold since I left Montreal in 2005 after university. Holy shit, has it been a decade already?

Like Bill Gates says,

Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.

How are you possible?

I was replying to Michal and asked her the same thing, how are you possible?

Between not fitting in, bullying, tiger moms, puberty, cultural pressures, social expectations, anxiety, depression, loss and trauma, not counting the mortgage and the bills, how did any of us survive this far... no less become a damn fine success

What do you think? What is it that keeps us going?

Without the IT factor

The last few journals I shared with you were pretty heavy, pretty intense. Thank you muchly for continuing to pepper my inbox with "me too's" and "yes to thawing!". Even if it takes me a few weeks, each of your emails are read, fragrantly inhaled and replied to.

I don't have THE answer to how we are possible? But I can definitely point you in the right direction.

Once upon a time...

Once upon a time, there were 3 women overachievers. Each were reinventing themselves as entrepreneurs.

  • Mona, The Replicator
  • Julianne, The Hobbyist
  • Aneela, The Leaper

Mona, The Replicator

Mona started her business, by default, based on skills she already had [TALENT], skills she got paid for in the past [PROFIT] and skills others needed [NEED]. Grand!

But soon, she realized that she didn't love it (the work, the people, the environment, the lifestyle, etc.). And she couldn't sustain it “forever and ever” (<-- you know, the type of work you'd jump out of bed for even if you weren't paid).

She did it by default, not by mistake. She didn't know about the IT factor. Essentially, she recreated a J.O.B. for herself, with more demands and less resources. <-- Yup, been there, done that! :S

Julianne, The Hobbyist

Julianne absolutely loves what she does [LOVE]. She excels at it [TALENT]. And the world desperately needs what her business has to offer [NEED].

But soon, she realized that her business is not profitable. And the way she's running it, it’s not sustainable, she'll never be able to step away from it.

She did it by default, not by mistake. She didn't know about the IT factor. Essentially, she recreated a hobby for herself, with more stress and less enjoyment. <-- Yup, been there, done that! :S

Aneela, The Leaper

Aneela also absolutely loves what she does [LOVE]. The world desperately needs what her business has to offer [NEED]. And she is making great money [PROFIT]!

But soon, she realized that she's not that good at it… yet. She needs more training and can't see a long-term future for her business.

She did it by default, not by mistake. She didn't know about the IT factor. Essentially, she leaped off the cliff and is building her wings on the way down, roller-coasting between terror and hope... every 2.5min. <-- Yup, been there, done that! :S

She's a badass, albeit an anxious mess of a badass

Of all the ladies, Aneela is the badest of badasses, albeith an anxious, manic, hot mess of a badass. It's ok, we've all been through the swirl of reinventing ourselves. The difference between Aneela and you, is that you know the difference between a calling, a profession, a vocation, a mission and a passion.

A calling

A profession

A vocation

A mission

A passion

With the IT factor

The IT factor is that sweet spot where calling, profession, vocation, mission and passion overlap. With the IT factor, Mona, Julianne, and Aneela all lived happily ever after :) Go toward the swirl. I'll meet you there!

I hope you didn't do what I did. But if you did, that's ok. Join the club :P

Speaking of club, I've been playing with a virtual salon concept, where we meet from all over the world, see each other's glorious (or beaten down) faces (depending on the moment), share a cup to tea, and exchange wisdomery. Like a book club, but instead of reading books, we are the books.

If you're interested, add me on Fb We can better co-create that way.

A little lighter this week

Deep exhale. Feeling a little lighter this week. You?

Forward this message to she-who-is-reinventing-herself
and she will pay it forward to just the right person.

More lightheartedness to come next Sunday. Maslow has a Hierarchy of Needs. I've got a lopsided Inukshuk of Needs. And I suspect you do too... :P

xo, Ella

What about the people in the middle? (+ the trauma list)

I was going to tell you about the unanimous reaction people had to my legal name change. Instead, I have to send you my list of 21+ traumas. I have to. Because my inbox ballooned with:

"I realized from taking a trauma 101 course that I actually had PTSD. Like you I associated that with war veterans. It explains a lot why I can initiate things in my life yet have an almost impossible time finishing them. Due to any significant increase in stress and my body shuts down and I freeze." "I struggle with that myself all the time and it's comforting to know there is someone who would understand. I would be interested in seeing your list of traumas. I often feel like I'm incapable of feeling love or loved."

"My parents sound like your parents. I appreciate them, but they didn't know how to support a gifted child who is also very sensitive. Send me your list if you don't mind?"

But I don't have a sob story... 

Your "me too" stories moved me to tears. They reminded me of a discussion I had with my friend Lily about sob stories.

Lily is Indian American. I'm Chinese Canadian. And we are both 90% white on the inside. She's a coconut and I'm a banana. We had just come from a personal development workshop. We were told to draft our Why story. Not what we do, or how we do it, but why we do what we do. (See fabulous TED talk by Simon Sinek on The Power of Why).

We looked at each other and both let out a languid teenage whine, "But I don't haaaaave a sob story." (<-- You know you're with the right friends when you can say anything you want even if it's not PC.)

What about the people in the middle?

We weren't raped as children. We weren't beaten by our husbands. We didn't have to live out of our cars. If you were and you had to, I'm so, so, so sorry. That must have been so hard, so painful, and so brave of you to overcome. I want to wrap you in my pink bamboo blanky and never let go.

So how do you achieve greatness when you don't have a "sob story" like Oprah or Tony Robbins? This won't apply to you, but I know this will rub "the masses" the wrong way: two privileged North American girls with their first world problems.

That is not the case. I don't devalue the sob story. It's actually intimately part of your hero's journey. Instead, I'm seeking answers for all of us, all the people in the middle.

We have every right, don't we?

Surely, you've watched webinar or stage presenters tell their rags-to-riches story. She turned her cancer as a single mom with 4 mouths to feed into a national foundation. He turned his childhood disability into an international sensation. They survived a car wreck and founded a global media powerhouse. Lily and I, we don't belong here. We don't have "rags."

And surely, you've watched others achieve great things because they're related to the Kennedy's or have "Von" in their last name. They went to prep school and are setup with trust funds. They are secured for a lifetime by inheritance. They fly first class and/or marry rich men. Lily and I, and I suspect you too, we don't belong here. We don't have "riches."

So how do you achieve greatness when you have neither rags, nor the riches to tell a story with?

But I'm not an orphan

What's worse: being an orphan with every right to feel abandoned and alone, or having both parents but feeling like an orphan anyway, minus that right.

But my dad is not an alcoholic

What's worse: being raised by an alcoholic dad with every right to feel rage and to cut all ties, or having a dad who couldn't emotionally attune, minus that right.

But my mom is not a tiger

What's worse: being raised by toxic and/or neglectful mom with every right to feel broken and to rebel, or having a mom who couldn't empower you, minus that right

But I didn't live out of my car

What's worse: living out of your car with every right to feel homeless and betrayed, or having a house to live in but feeling homeless anyways, minus that right. 

But I never went hungry

What's worse: not having food to eat with every right to feel injustice and sorrow, or having food in your stomach but feeling starved, minus that right.

List of 21+ Traumas

We have every right, don't we? To feel, to know suffering, to wallow in it, and to rise from it?

Yes. Yes, we have EVERY right. No rags, no riches, no matter. You have EVERY right to feel, to be, to range.

"Thank you so much for sharing this journey. I am positive my husband has PTSD. I think that most likely I do as well. We both come from broken homes. I would benefit from seeing your 21 traumas list. You really struck a cord." "If you are willing to share your list, I would like to see it. I experienced a ton of trauma as a kid... I am amazingly/ against all odds successful even though... Fear and anxiety keep me working for a company that both limits and controls my success ability." Ok, now the list of traumas! Please remember, the biggest trauma can befall someone and they turn out just fine. And the smallest trauma can befall another and they are deeply traumatized. The good news is: all trauma is heal-able

  1. Born by C-section (<-- Had no idea this could be traumatizing until I saw a shaman who healed it for me, freaky!)
  2. Was left alone at a YWCA at 3 years old
  3. Raised in a culture of: children are meant to not be seen and not be heard, ever.
  4. Becoming mom’s emotional rock from the age of 3.5
  5. Dad came home drunk one time and pounded 5 holes in the wall (Mom, bless her, covered it with a world map. Maybe that's why I love world maps. They cover broken holes...)
  6. Raising my parents from the age of 14
  7. Bullied in high school for being too smart
  8. Lost all my friends in college for winning all the awards at graduation
  9. Chronic lack of support from my family because I didn’t become a doctor
  10. Bought my parents a townhouse and moved them across the country with zero gratitude
  11. Cheated on by my fiancé of 8 days
  12. Betrayed by "man cub" boyfriend (I know, I let him... <insert head shake>)
  13. Preparing for a critical exam and grandad died that day
  14. Launching a new business venture and grandma died the morning of the launch
  15. Going on a 16-country freedom tour and dad die 3 countries in
  16. Emptying a pack rat mouldy house for sale after dad's passing
  17. A sweet friend with 2 young kids died of breast cancer after a valiant fight
  18. My college friend’s son died right after his birth
  19. Launching a new business venture and no one came. Not a single soul.
  20. As an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) chronic loud noise, obnoxious perfume, scratchy fabric or strobe light is lightly traumatizing
  21. Travel hiccups: stolen camera / losing photos, lost iPhone, not picked up, locked out of guesthouses, missing flights, paying exhorbitant amounts of money for a rebooked flight, being in dangerous countries, being harassed by male assholes

Ironically, there was more...

As the trauma healed and my memory thawed, I remembered, ironically, more incidents of trauma.

  1. After my first day of Kindergarten, being locked out of the house and utterly forgotten
  2. Parents fighting on the boulevard about not going to Disney World
  3. My teacher hired me to consult on her e-strategy and she bit my head off (<-- but I thought she was supposed to be a loving role model?)
  4. Utter self-sabotaged of a potentially glorious relationship
  5. No longer trusting myself to choose my own life partner

So now what?

My psychotherapist lives in Atlanta, GA, USA. My somatic coach lives in Vancouver, BC, Canada. I'm happy to make a warm introduction for you. Here's a directory: of Somatic Experiencing Facilitators. I can facilitate an introduction with any of them as well, it might just take a bit more time to get a hold of everyone.

Today, you are my superhero! That is all.

xo, Ella

The tiger is always about to eat me!

I previously wrote how paradoxical it was to wish a Great Big Depression or a Dark Night of the Soul for you, just so you can experience the Great Big Thaw. I'll share why.

Is there always a tiger about to eat you?

Here's what you and my clients have told me:

  • I make great money, but I always feel like I'm not taken care
  • I have savings, but I constantly feel like it's going to disappear in a flash
  • I know I'm strong and capable, but can't sleep at night awaiting dooms day
  • I have a life partner and love, but I feel like it's gonna be taken away

On their own, these thoughts seem harmless. Who doesn't worry from time to time or have a bit of doubt here and there.

But when you simultaneously experience the above states, like a tiger is going to eat you into the hole financially, or to divorce court, or to the grave, that's not normal. A constant state of vigilance and threat is NOT normal.

The only way to heal PTSD

The only way to heal PTSD is through the body. You can talk yourself in circles until the cows come home. Until you work with your somatic system, nervous system and body, you'll be the tiger chasing your own tail.

I asked around and hired a Somatic Experiencing Coach. If I had filmed the sessions, you'd be watching paint dry. This ain't no "lose 30 pounds in 30 days" extravaganza. The healing and movements are very subtle.

The Great Big Thaw

Because you and I are in the privacy of my living room, I will copy and paste my Somatic Experiencing (SE) journal entires here. May they liberate your path. May they liberate the path of someone you love.

Pre-notes (3 weeks prior)

Topic of psychotherapy session: feeling unsafe. Always had roof over head, food in belly, savings in the bank. So why constantlyfeeling unsafe? Why have I never, ever felt safe.

Session 1 Notes

Somatic Experiencing (SE) coach I chose lives 2.5 blocks from me. What are the freakin’ chances?!? I met John today. Forgot to ask him how much the sessions are. Oh well. Doesn’t matter. Not changing my mind. Not living with this paralysis for rest of my life. Thirty years was enough, for one lifetime!!

Nothing much happened during session. We talked. I really, really, really hope I see results.

As walking home, felt so so so so validated to hear John confirm that I have classic developmental PTSD (cause by an upbringing that didn’t meet my needs, as differentiated from circumstantial trauma like war or car crash).

Woah. Suddenly remembered Jen (energy healer) telling me I have classic symptoms of PTSD… back in December… 6 months ago! Woah. Totally didn’t register that. Memory is off… Trauma messes with memory.

Practical tool that actually worked: Under shower head, pass every area of the body, with eyes closed, and feel with that body part. It works, just give it 10-12 tries.

Session 2 Notes

Will I? Will I ever be ok in this world? I’m looking forward to what Johs will help me discover. Fuck these traumas!!! How many of them do I have? I'd so rather be doing anything, but this.

Session 3 Notes

I still really, really, really hope this works. So far, meh. John taught me orientation. Something to do with eyes shifting a lot, constantly scanning for danger / threat… leading to overly charged nervous system. Reminds me of advise to track the horizon when on a boat to reduce sea sickness.

Practical tool that actually worked: Orientation is as simple as fixating on something steady while I move through the world. The red mailbox, the big tree on the corner. It works, just give it about 15-17 days of practice.

Session 4 Notes

I’m sleeping better. Can’t be sure it’s because of SE… But I still can’t get over the long list of traumas that came from filling out the health intake form. They all seem benign on their own. But when they happen young, traumas start to shave away at your self-worth, leaving a little kid feeling insignificant / unwanted. Ouch.

I have the full list of 21 traumas. Would it be valuable for you to see it? Reply, you let me know. Happy to share, without making this entry too long.

Practical tool that actually worked: Sleep. Sleep constantly, uninterruptedly, unapologetically. Cancel everything. And just sleep. It works if you radically claim ALL of your time back. People won't understand. Fuck them. 

Session 5 Notes

Well, something is definitely shifting. Because my memory is more vivid. I’m remembering… more traumas, 5 more specific incidents. Yay. Fuck.

Today on SE table, body started twitching and jerking. Then tears… because I realized that I have no memory of my parents holding me or cuddling me with physical reassurance. We weren’t raised with displays of affection and until last year, we never said “I love you” to each other.

Not the parents fault. For all their valiant effort to do the best they could, they didn’t have the emotional capacity to deeply understand and support a highly sensitive gifted multipotentialiate child. I wouldn't know what to do with such a child!

My right hand twitched and was looking for a hand. John gave me his. I placedmy hand against his but didn’t clasp. John noted that I have an avoidant attachment style. I don’t get attached because I don’t believe people will stick around. Ouch. I kinda knew this, but to watch your body dance out your story for you… Ouch.

Practical tool that actually worked: Listen to your breathe. If you've ever gone scuba diving or even snorkelling, you'll have experienced the meditative soothing effect of listening to your breathe... without the agony of actually sitting still for meditation. This works instantly, just need to cue yourself to remember to do this.

Session 6 Notes

Feeling lethargic. Is it the rain? Last week’s SE session was super draining. Isn't it supposed to give me energy, not drain me. Sucks to watch my potential slip away. I strive so hard… just to end up burnt out and/or traumatized. Wtf?!?!

Practical tool that actually worked: Swear all the time. Constantly and unapologetically. It works... and it's fun!!!

Session 7 Notes

On my way to my SE session, I wanted to quit. I’m not seeing results. But I want to thaw. I’m tired of being frozen. Argh. So which one is it, Ella?

Strangely, the mantra John and I came up with for tonight is: it is safe for me to rest and sleep. How fucked up is that? That I don’t feel safe to sleep. Because sleep implies non-productivity. Ox don’t sleep. Gah. 

Practical tool that actually worked: Associate the wind with love. Everytime you feel wind on your skin, hear the words "I am loved." It works, just need to give it about 3 months. Yeah, love is a tricky thing to accept and feel. Weird but true. Once you feel it though, you can never go back. You'll always feel love at the tiniest gust of wind. And you'll laugh at how much you're being loved during a hurricane.

Session 8 Notes

I think SE is finally working… I can feel my spine exhale a deep sigh… unwinding… my nerve endings thawing. Woah. Weird feeling. Is this what a thawing pork chop feels like? Glad I gave up read meat.

SE is working! My creativity is back! I arranged my bed so that there are pillows all around, like you would pad a sleeping baby so it didn’t roll off the bed. I felt so embarrassed that I had to do this for myself as a grown adult. But hey, if not me, who else will do it?

Woke up next morning literally feeling pillows against my back… almost like the Universe has my back… That’s too easy of a metaphor, right?

Practical tool that actually worked: Rigorous morning routine: wake up, 5min self-compassion talk, a glass of room temperature water, start aromatherapy machine, meditate for 15min, defrost smoothie, brush teeth, wash face, barf out morning journal, clean kitchen, then just sit and drink smoothie. No internet. None.

It would mean the world to me if you forwarded this to one person, they will pay it forward to just the right person.

When I'm at my "desk" on Wednesday, I'll tell you more about my legal name change and the UNANIMOUS reaction everyone had.

xo, Ella

How you probably have PTSD too

Firstly, thank you, deeply, for your outpour of love, compassion, and comfort. I know you too have known loss, grief, and suffering to have hearts this big and love this plentiful. I promise to reply to each of your emails one by one.

Did you know most people have PTSD?

As a positive psychologist, certified success coach and licensed psychotherapist, I know better than to go through a whoppin' life ordeal and not seek professional support. So I reached out to my psychotherapist, who also supervised my Daring Way training.

On our call, I talked, she listened, I talked, she mentioned Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). On the next call, I talked, she listened, I talked, she mentioned PTSD. This repeated itself for weeks, as if I didn't want to hear the truth.

Eventually, my pattern seeking self overrode my “sweep it under the rug” self.

But I am not a war veteran, I said. But my parents didn't physically abuse me, I said. But I've never been in a life-threatening car accident, I said. What do I have to be PTSD'ed about?

Trauma is trauma

I spent many more sessions, stubborn as fuck, claiming that PTSD is not for me. PTSD is reserved for those who have fought for our freedom, those who were victims of abuse, and those whose parents abandoned them.


No. No, it's not. Trauma is trauma. The biggest trauma could befall a person and they're not traumatized by it. The littlest trauma could befall another person and they are traumatized for life. It all depends on our individual nervous system. 

For an exquisite insight into trauma (the insight being exquisite, not the trauma), read Peter Levine's book “Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma”.

So fucked up!

I spent months uneasy with the label of PTSD because I don't like labels. But mainly, I didn't think I deserved the “title” of PTSD, reserved for war veterans, rape victims, and abandoned children. 

How fucked up is that… that I didn't feel worthy of a mental disorder diagnosis?!? 

After I read every book on the matter, I finally accepted that indeed, I was experiencing PTSD.

What is trauma

To its oversimplified definition, trauma occurs in the body when the reved up energy from a fight, flight or freeze event is not discharged from the nervous system.

For example, an impala is being chased by a cheetah. It gets caught. Its nervous system freezes to play dead, as an attempt to spring away, before the cheetah digs in for dinner.

During that time, the impala's brilliant mammalian nervous system is reving up and storing energy to make that escape. If successful, once the impala does escape, it then thrashes in the grasslands, doing a jitterbug dance. It's nervous system knows to discharge the residual energy. It knows to literally shake it off.

We, humans, don't. We don't instinctively discharge that energy / residue.

Do you show symptoms of PTSD?

It's important to know that one symptom does not constitute PTSD. Even a cluster of symptoms after a busy or stressful season does not constitute PTSD.

But when you exhibit most of these symptoms at the same time, it's time to seek professional support!

Chronic anxiety

Not just stress, but a sharp and constant frazzled state often paired with shaking hands.

Chronic fatigue

Not just tired after a busy week, but an energy debt that stays in the red no matter how much you sleep, exercise or eat well.

Depression / Paralysis

Not just the rainy blues, but a frozen response to things that never paralyzed you before. A loss of hope, even.


Not just waiting for the shoe to drop, but a deep seeded jumpiness that everything is a threat, including the pigeon that lands unexpectedly next to you.


Not just a separation of body and mind, but a loss of sensation to your five physical senses and to your emotional GPS.


Not just about introverting or "me time", but a heightened inability to integrate with the world.

Disturbed Sleep

Not just sleeplessness before a big presentation, but clinical insomnia or excessive sleep, both out of your control.

Vivid dreams / Flashbacks

Not just a perturbing dream resulting from a stressful deadline, but a multi-sensory vivid replaying of past or future traumas.

Shame / Low Self-Worth

Not just the “I am not enough” blues, but a paralyzing belief that you are nothing, which you didn't have before.

Most people have PTSD

How often do you hear people say that they are exhausted, and anxious, and depressed, and jumpy and aren't sleeping well, and avoiding things they used to love, and, and, and?

Most people, like I was, are wandering around traumatized, not even knowing it!

Trauma is cumulative

That one shock from dad's passing, it can't give me PTSD, can it? No, usually not.

Unfortunately, trauma is cumulative.

My PTSD came from decades of developmental trauma, emotional neglect, being bullied all the time, chronic under-support**, physical assaults, years of working in international humanitarian aid with people dying in the thousands, being an empath (and not knowing it) completely porous to the suffering of the world, being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP, and not knowing it) perceptive of every plight and emotion, heartbreaks the equivalent of blunt force car crashes, and all the historical documentaries that I should not have watched before bed.

Fortunately, trauma is heal-able.

Two surprising facts about trauma 

In my research, I was surprised to learn that the body doesn't differentiate blunt force trauma from a car crash from blunt force trauma from an emotional shock (such as a sudden death or betrayal). Blunt is blunt. Shock is shock. And trauma is trauma. 

The MOST surprising finding is that chronic undersupport** manifests the exact trauma symptoms as a car crash! Our nervous systems don't distinguish between the two. We know losing a child is traumatizing. We know divorce can be traumatizing. But I did not know that going through life, chronically under-supported can be equally traumatizing.

My love goes to all the single moms <3 <3 <3 They know what I'm talking about.

#permissionslip: trauma is trauma

How to heal trauma 

As I worked with my psychotherapist and somatic coach, the post-PTSD thawing is like no sensation I've ever known. And I have tried all sorts of weird shit.

As paradoxical as it sounds, I almost wish you some PTSD just so you can experience The Great Big Thaw. It's... it's so…

Let me find my words, I'll write to you again on Sunday, during my morning tea. Fortunately, trauma is heal-able and I'll tell you how.

xo, Ella

I'm sorry I died without telling you...

Buy experiences, not things. 2016 © Ellany Lea

It's been a while... I couldn’t figure out what to title this message to you… A few options were:

  • How normal people have PTSD
  • How we probably all have PTSD
  • Tuesday morning garbage glee (<-- I don’t think these keywords would rank well in SEO)
  • She’s aliiiive!
  • WTF is Filial Piety Paralysis
  • I’m sorry I died without telling you, and
  • What thawing like a pork chop feels like

In the end, I went with the penultimate because I have an inner drama queen that never got to express herself for 3 decades, so she’smaking up for lost time with a flare for the dramatic. Olé! { Note: I highly recommend you Olé as well. Daily. Wherever possible. }


She coaxed me out

I’ve been so wanting to share with you one of the toughest months of my life, with the sudden passing of my dad last year, while I was on a 16-country Exquisite Freedom tour; and the care of his estate, and my mom, and their packrat-ness. Oh. My. God. More on that later.

But I couldn’t. My body was frozen in time and space. Completely. Unable. To move. More on that as well.

A few days ago, I was coaxed out by one of my readers, Chereen, whom I now consider a dear friend. She asked:

Where have you been luv? Noticed I don't get emails from you anymore. 
I miss my wisdom infused with funnies.

Come on back! Hope all is well.



Tears gushed out like marbles rolling out of a tipped over fish bowl. For years, I've been dancing like no one is watching, singing like no one is listening, and writing as if no one is reading. Until this day, I forget that thousands are reading :P

So I started replying to Chereen by e-mail. Then thought, wait... You, are also my reader, my teacher, my peer and my friend. So you, too, belong to this conversation.


This is where I’ve been….

April – Selling the parental packrat house

  • Wondering WTF is Filial Piety Paralysis (FPP)

May – Frozen in time and space

  • Experiencing PTSD and thinking you probably have it too

June – The Great Thaw

  • Thanking God every day that trauma is heal-able

July – Legal name change

  • Preparing to tell you how people will unanimously react to your name change

August – Empty nesting

  • Feeling jubilated and lost now that I'm done raising my parents

September – Club of Non-Belonging

  • Asking where I belong when home is everywhere and nowhere

October – Chasing the sun

  • When in doubt, go traveling to keep celebrating freedom


One person, one moment

I'm a gargantuan fan of quotes and principles. But sometimes, THE most helpful wisdom comes from the lived story of one person, at one moment in time. So here are several moments...

{ Note: My OCD and I are smirking ear-to-ear at how tidily my life can be put into monthly bento boxes. }


Backtracking a bit

In 2005, my high school best friend and I went on a trip Around-the-World to 11 countries. In 2015, 10 years later, I thought it poetic to do it again. Maybe even do it every 10 years

This poetic dream whizzed into my mind on January 4, 2015, at 10:12AM as I was setting my goals and intentions for the year. I was in a relationship at the time.

So like any good girl raised by a doormat mother to be a good doormat (ie to always keep a bright smile as you let people wipe their feet on you), by January 4, 2015, at 10:15AM, I had buried this dream so deep that China should have charged me property tax.

It wasn’t until months later, when the flames of betrayal roared through my veins, that I dug up that dream, dumped it into Excel, and let The Holy Spreadsheet guide me like the North Star.


#Lifefail and #Lovefail

As I held The Holy Spreadsheet, I realized:

  1. I train people on how to treat me. I train them poorly, they treat me poorly. Oops. #lifefail
  2. no longer blame my mother for being and raising me as a doormat. Her mother was probably one too… Neither could have done any better than they had.
  3. We, collectively, as intelligent, high-potential, hyper capable women, settle far, far, far, far, far, far, faaaaaaaar too often for scraps in matters of the heart. Oops. #lovefail

So I went! I went on this fabulous 16-country Exquisite Freedom tour around the world.

It represented the total annihilation of all external expectations, outside judgement, cultural conditioning, social norms, birth order duties, gender faux-pas, people wanting you to fail, comparison perfectionism, scarcity, etc. etc. etc.


Freedom never dies

Freedom never dies. But 3-countries into my tour... dad died. Hyper suddenly. 

I flew home for the funeral. My 16-country flights cost $5,200. And this one flight cost $3,000. <grumble, grumble, cry, sigh, accept, cry some more, grumble, grumble just a bit more>

It took every ounce of courage and loving support from my besties and from you to get back on a plane and finish the tour. Dad died. But freedom hadn't died.

Freedom still needed to be celebrated, touched, felt, tasted, inhaled, sat on, jumped off of, and lived.


You are being summoned

Although freedom never dies, it can come to a grinding halt sometimes (anyone limbo-ing in a nasty divorce can relate).

In April, 3-countries before the end of my tour, a booming voice came through the principal's intercom to summon. That voice is also known as Financial Crisis

Since 2006, when I packed 71 giant boxes, put a partial down-payment on a gorgeous townhouse, and moved my family across the country, so my parents could retire in comfort, sans snow and closer to Asia, I created this giant tabbed binder with all their bank, wills, power of attorney, real estate, legal, and fiscal documents.

It was like a holy bible. It sang angel songs to any fellow OCD person who held it.

But when your baby brothers, whose diapers you changed and snot you wiped off, tell you that things are crisis-y at home, no matter how holy that tabbed binder, you:

  1. immediately wire transfer thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars home, and
  2. drop everything and fly home.


The crappiest homecoming ever

It was the crappiest homecoming ever. Actually, it wasn’t any homecoming at all.

No big welcome home party, no powerpoint slides of all my travel photos, no laughing at all my travel fails, no sharing of similar misadventures, no head shaking at my shenanigans with handsome, ahem, blue-eyed boys. None of that. None.

Instead, heaps and heaps and heaps (and heaps, and heaps, and heaps) of junk, black mould and cob webs [... to be continued]

I need to rest, sending you the rest tomorrow,

xo, Ella

FYF 008: Lisa Serice

Lisa Serice is a singer, songwriter, performer, school teacher, fitness practitioner, and certified AntiGravity Yoga instructor.

She has lived and performed all over the US.




Before the podcast...

Tell us about a moment when the Universe called and you answered?
A new friend randomly gave me a 4 track recorder, and songs fell out of me!

What makes you “seriously” different?
My ability to consistently find light in darkness

What was the dumbest thing you ever did (or almost did) to fit in?
Believing that being a grown up or responsible meant being serious all the time.

What’s a “fuck yeah! I did it!” moment?
When the band hit the first chord of my song Storm in the recording studio. I cried like a baby.


Glenda could have told Dorothy
there was power in the shoes,
but she really had to
take that journey herself.


On the podcast...

  • What it takes to be a Modern Day Dorothy
  • How to find our very own X-Men
  • How to do what you love, when you love so many things
  • What gets in the way of singing your heart's song
  • What are homemade prison cells


Girl Friday is Houston based singer songwriter Lisa Serice. Combining traditional, contemporary, and alternative acoustic, rock, and synthed sounds, her music is lyric driven, harmony infused, and designed to draw the listener into the musical poetry of the story. Notable venues played are the landmark Bitter End in NYC, Lestat’s in San Diego, House of Blues in Dallas, and Dosey Doe in The Woodlands as well as a variety of wine bars and coffee shops around Houston.

Girl Friday is also a national songwriter for the Songs of Love Foundation, writing customized tunes for critically ill children nationwide and a volunteer for TONIC bringing live music to the bedsides of pediatric oncology patients at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. Her EP’s Light of the Moon and Songbird can be found on iTunes and Spotify.

Off paper, she's a lover of kitchen dance parties, and believes that kindness, compassion and the "f" word can bring light and freedom to all!
Website   Facebook  Instagram   Twitter

Nominate a Reinvented Woman!

FYF 007: Erin Sullivan

Erin Sullivan is an end-of-life care practitioner, hospice volunteer, children's author, advocate, meditation facilitator, yoga instructor, author, expert napper, deep encourager, and loving friend.

She has lived in beautiful Canada!




Before the podcast...

What are you most proud of?
Continuing to open my heart, in the face of much loss and leaving my marriage

Describe “the hardest year”?
Illness, immense loss, extreme depletion (emotionally, physically), divorce, heart and soul breaking, acceptance, healing, light

What is your longest standing regret?
Not trusting my self, thus bailing on an opportunity to volunteer abroad

What was the dumbest thing you ever did (or almost did) to fit in?
Trying to fit in at all! Also, early-ish  consumption of alcohol.

It's about setting goals.
Expecting them to not work out.
Being thrilled if they do!


On the podcast...

  • Living with Cystic Fibrosis, 20 years past her life expectancy
  • Letting go of the idea of independence
  • If men have a partner, they live longer. If women don't have a partner, they live longer
  • How illness affects self-worth
  • Using "Loving Kindness" metta technique to find purpose again


Erin’s greatest purpose is to help others find strength, peace and light within. Living with Cystic Fibrosis, a chronic, life shortening, breath taking illness; she has been gifted the daily challenge, practice and forum, to help herself and others access and cultivate these inherent gifts.

Erin is a trained yoga teacher, meditation practitioner/facilitator, hospice volunteer and contemplative end-of-life care practitioner. She draws on experience from these trainings and her own life long journey with illness, hospitalization and the loss of countless loved ones, to illness, in order to support birth, life and the end of this life journey. Her first children’s book will soon be published.

Off paper, she's a lover of kitchen dance parties (or any dance party), and believes that kindness, compassion and the "f" word can bring light and freedom to all!
Erin is a little better at talking about ideas, than she is at acting on them. This is a work in progress! She laughs easily and often (cries almost as easily), and is grateful beyond
words or measure, for the family, friends, communities and light, she is surrounded by!

Nominate a Reinvented Woman!

FYF 006: Linda Kash

Linda Kash is a TV director / movie actress / stage actress / comedian / writer / radio co-host / co-founder of the Peterborough Academy of Performing Arts / improv teacher / mom / warrior.




Before the podcast...

Tell us about a moment when the Universe called and you answered?
My husband died in a car accident in 2012 and I've been very awake since

What was the dumbest thing you ever did (or almost did) to fit in?
Thinking E Harmony was a good idea

What is your longest standing regret?
That I choked for my 'Frasier' audition for Roz. Like to do that one again

What’s a “fuck yeah! I did it!” moment?
Having a baby after 34 hours in labour without an epidural


It's not like I'm teflon,
but I'm a shit load braver than I used to be!


On the podcast...

  • Why it's fantastic to bomb and fail miserably
  • The importance of knowing what *I* want for dessert?
  • Working through grief of losing her life partner far too soon
  • Why romantic relationships have a shelf life
  • Being hardwired for "glass half full"


Linda Kash began her professional life at the Second City in Toronto. She has also appeared in a number of plays for Canadian Stage. She was a series regular cast member in The Comedy Mill, Max Glick, and Variety Tonight in Canada, and She TV, Minor Adjustments, and Style and Substance in the US and more recently. the Ron James Show. Linda has been a guest on Seinfeld, Third Rock From The Sun, Cybill, Everybody Loves Raymond, Ellen and Sabrina. She also worked on Ken Finklemen's Newsroom, Foolish Hearts, Good Dog and , At The Hotel (for which Linda won a Gemini Award).

Kash’s list of films include Waiting For Guffman and Best in Show, both directed by Christopher Guest, and the multi-nominated Cinderella Man directed by Ron Howard. Linda has co-created several shows for TV including My Talk Show, Go Girl!, and The Joe Blow Show, which she also directed. In 2012, Linda starred as Molly Brown in the ABC miniseries Titanic, which coincided with the 100th years anniversary of the sinking. Linda also performed as Bella in Lost in Yonkers in Toronto, Moving to a farm outside Peterborough, Linda co hosted a morning show for radio station Magic96.7 fm for 4 1/2 years and has run the Peterborough Academy of Performing Arts which she co-founded in 2009 with her late "great" husband actor Paul O’Sullivan. She also teaches improv to children and adults throughout Ontario through corporate workshops as well as community outreach programs. She is currently directing Love It Or List It: Vacation Homes which will air on W Network this spring!

Off paper, she's a warrior who rarely says no and almost never regrets it.
Website   Follow Linda   Follow Linda

Nominate a Reinvented Woman!

FYF 005: Jobina Bardai

Jobina Bardai is a Dancer / Choreographer / Coach / Teacher / Magic-maker / Wanderer / Explorer / Friend / Sister / Daughter.

She's lived in several cities in Canada, UK, USA, Australia, and Germany.




Before the podcast...

Describe “the hardest year”?
Last year - 2015 - it was spiritually the hardest year ever, but it brought me to the work I am meant do be doing

What makes you “seriously” different?
The fact that I never take "no" as an answer!

What was the dumbest thing you ever did (or almost did) to fit in?
Lol, I don't think I ever did this. I am usually doing dumb things to stand out!

What’s a “fuck yeah! I did it!” moment?
Moving to Berlin without knowing a soul, with just one bag, my teddy bear and almost non-existent German


I learned to take my fear with me. And eventually not even to buy into it.


On the podcast...

  • Leap and build your wings on the way down
  • If we don't listen to our intuition, it gets louder and louder
  • The artistic recovery process
  • Choose love over fear. Fear feels contracted. Love feels calm.
  • Trying IS a step forward
  • A Course in Miracles


Jobina Bardai is a dancer, Miracles coach and world-traveller. She is passionate about helping people to awaken to themselves, as the vehicle towards living an effortless life. Her work as a coach involves guiding my clients to build a strong relationship with themselves, so that they can manifest Miracles on the outside.

She has danced and lived in 7 cities, in 5 countries, on four continents, and counting! Her greatest passion is for being of service, be it through creating art or supporting others to be their best selves and to make a great impact in our world

Off paper, she's a creative nomad, who loves being on the road and getting lost as a way of finding herself. She's happiest when the biggest decision of the day is whether to turn left or right, and finding adventure along the way.
Follow Jobina  Follow Jobina   Follow Jobina

Nominate a Reinvented Woman!