High school is FINALLY in your rear view mirror and you’re anxious to take on the world – to move out of a home (as far as possible would be good) and be someone, anyone, other than yourself. You powered through high school, working every hour you could get at a local fabric store, saved your pay cheques, and now you’re ready to fly …

Your parents and teachers are confused and then appalled that you decide to apply your three scholarships for academic excellence to (wait for it) … a fashion college. You enrol in a fashion buying program at FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising) in Los Angeles – but you’ve always got one foot firmly stuck in quicksand back home in Vancouver. 

30+ years later you can’t help but smile at that fearless yet oddly conservative old soul – and want to slap her up the side of the head. Ditch the high school boyfriend you want to hiss in her ear. He was more like a big brother than anything. Stay in LA and continue to grab any freelance work you can get. Working in the garment district is dangerous but thrilling. Downtown LA is a seedy place for a precocious Canadian kid, but think what you would learn!

Or take your trend forecasting teacher’s advice and escape to Europe – “your education isn’t complete until you’ve been there” she notes as the class of mini fashion divas collectively roll their eyes. Be more like April, your Asian friend from Orange County who marches into class daily dressed “Like A Virgin”. Her corset and tutu, arm loads of rubber bracelets and combat boots earn catcalls as we pass businessmen on our way to school. Madonna (plus Cyndi Lauper, Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie) dominates the airwaves. Tell April that you will have dinner with Madonna one day who will gab with you like a long lost girlfriend. (Bucket list ✔️) 

30+ years later (plus many boyfriends and a fabulous career that far exceeded your expectations) you will look out of your Toronto penthouse window and decide it’s time to go back to those 18 year old’s dreams. You’ve saved enough money to provide a safety net so just do it. Quit your amazing job, sell your newly renovated condo and move. The jump off the cliff will likely be a small step – like stepping off a curb – instead of a plunge into a black hole. (You hope.) Park all of the other voices whispering doubt in your ear. You’ve learned to listen to your instinct and it’s hollering that you need an adventure right now.   

A few truths I learned along the way:

  1. Slow down – be patient, you don’t have to achieve everything tomorrow. Rushing always leads to mistakes.
  2. Be present – enjoy the moment, be fully engaged in who and what is in front of you
  3. Go easy on yourself – not everything you try will be successful. Own your defeats, learn from them and move on. 
  4. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Working in an industry fuelled by 18 year old perfect models (they’re the exception, not the norm) will teach you not to judge your face and body harshly. 
  5. Always look forward. The offers to go back into the publishing business are exactly what you shouldn’t take right now. 

“You’ve got this” (accompanied by an emoji fist bump) one of your dearest friends texts when she hears that you’ve stepped away from your full-time splashy corporate job. And you know that you do … You’ve never been more confident that this is your time to fly. 

Please join me on my next adventure. I’ll be updating my steps here. And let me know what you think!

Lisa xo