Friday, 29 April 2016

The Universe Digs Me, Man

In the early nineties, when my mother was going through a particularly difficult time in her life, she became somewhat spiritual and turned to a lot of the self-help gurus of the day to get her through her days. Books about empowerment and motivation and blah blah blah were all over the house… stacks of self-help books sat in corners and in bathrooms. I couldn't get away from them. Then she started putting motivational quotes in my lunches. To a kid in his teens, my mother's new-found spirituality was a little unsettling. And super embarrassing.

One evening before going to bed she handed me a book titled THE LAW OF ATTRACTION. "Read this," she said. "It'll change your life." I looked at it and in typical fashion asked her to summarize it for me. "Basically," she said, "if you know what you want… what you really want, and if you continue to tell yourself it is going to come to you, then it will." I coughed "BULLSHIT" and went to bed.

Despite my response, it was the first time I had heard of the law and I think that night it was absorbed somewhere deep in my subconscious. THE LAW OF ATTRACTION… "like attracts like." In the book IN TUNE WITH THE INFINITE, Ralph Trine wrote "The law of attraction works universally on every plane of action, and we attract whatever we desire or expect. If we desire one thing and expect another, we become like houses divided against themselves, which are quickly brought to desolation. Determine resolutely to expect only what you desire, then you will attract what you wish for."

My intention with this is not to get new age-y with you… To give you THE SECRET or  pull a Tony Robbins on you and tell you this thing is rock solid, but there are FOUR instances in my life where the universe truly delivered exactly what I wanted, despite the insurmountable odds of these things happening. It was partly because I worked extremely hard for these things, but mostly it was because I said they were going to happen… over and over and over again.

In grade eleven a friend's parents purchased a little coffeeshop in Abbotsford called ROASTMASTIRS, with an "I" in "STIRS". Punny, right? Roastmastirs became our hangout for the next two years. I'd sit on the patio hour after hour drinking cold coffee, inhaling second-hand smoke, and ignoring school. I liked the concept of owning a little coffeeshop. I was working at Starbucks at the time and I hated it with a passion. I knew if I owned a little coffeeshop I would make it sooooo not Starbucks. "Yeah, one day I'm going to have my own coffeeshop," I told my friends.

I didn't say, "I think I'd like to have a coffeeshop," or "maybe one day…" I said, "I am going to…" and so my intention was put out there into the universe. Over the years, no matter what direction I was heading, no matter what career I was trying out, I always told people my end game was owning a little coffeeshop. And the years would pass… and that desire would continue to smolder in my subconscious as I moved into the next phase of my life. Early adulthood.

I had always been good at telling stories, or "lying" as my mother put it. In grade twelve I had a creative writing teacher who saw potential in my daunting prose. She inspired me to work on simplifying my text and to explore, in more detail, the craft of writing. That year I began a novel that was a semi-fictional take on my life growing up in the bible belt in the Fraser Valley. As I wrote it, I began telling people that I was going to get my book published. Not that I was "hoping to get my book published…" But that "I was GOING to get my book published." These were the days when millions of writers were fighting for double-digit openings in the publishing world. These were the days before self publishing and lackluster literature was so widely accepted. My friends told me to stop dreaming. My extended family told me it was next to impossible. When I finished my book, I sent it off to two-dozen publishers. After every publisher rejected my novel, I contemplated giving up writing, but then something funny happened. At a family Christmas party, I noticed one of my young cousins reading a children's book by Lemony Snicket. She said it was her third time reading it. If I wanted, I could borrow it. I read the book in three hours and knew then and there I had been writing for the wrong audience. That night I dreamed I was at the barrier wall of this castle-like home. The wall stood as high as the clouds. There were police officers all around me with their batons drawn. But something wasn't right about these cops. They were all hobbling. Then one of the officers caught his pant leg on the bumper of his squad car. When the pant leg rose up, I could see his leg was made of wood. I woke up with a story in my head. Six months later I had the manuscript for my first middle-grade children's novel, THE KING OF ARUGULA. I didn't have the same expectations with this one. I visited several classrooms of children aged 9 to 12, workshopping it with the very people I had written it for. When they were happy with it, I sent it out into the world. The sixth publisher I had sent it to accepted it. I knew I was going to get my book published… and I did. It may not have been the book I had been writing at the time I had made the decree, but because the universe was working for me, it directed me to where I needed to be. I spent two years with that book traveling the province reading it to kids and promoting it.

And it just so happened to come while I was on a new career path. My book came out just before I went back to school to learn about the world of publishing. I was given an assignment in class to build a magazine from the ground up. I focused on a magazine of playfully dark children's literature, like what I was writing. Though it was just an assignment, I quickly saw that there were thousands of amazing writers out there who had no outlet to share their work. As the assignment grew into an animal of its own, I began to tell my fellow students and my teachers that I was going to jump in and do it for real once school was over. They told me how hard it was going to be. They told me I would never last more than an issue or two. They told me to get real. It just so happened that when I left school, my parents were making more money than they had ever made in their lives. They helped me get the first issue off the ground. The universe was on my side again. I published fifteen more issues of CROW TOES QUARTERLY. The magazine was on magazine racks across Canada and had subscribers in more than twenty countries. I said I was going to do it… and I did. And despite the struggle to keep it going I loved every minute of it.

When the magazine folded in late 2010, I had to return to the real world and rebuild a social life that had collapsed alongside the magazine. Starbucks coaxed me back into their management program. All I had to do was sell them my soul. For four years I put my morals aside and I pushed the poison of the green siren. And I was making more money in management at Starbucks than my friends who were teachers. It was making me sad. And Angry. At that point I think the universe had had enough of my inner struggle. In the spring of 2014 I was at a family reunion in Oliver when my aunt mentioned a little café in Penticton I might like. She had heard me say for twenty years I was going to open up a little café of my own one day. I couldn't visit the café then, but when I got back to Vancouver I looked it up on the Internet and found out it was for sale. I had never been to Penticton and I had no chance in hell of securing a loan to purchase the café. But I knew the minute I saw it for sale, I was going own it. I was so sure of it, I went to my boss at Starbucks the very next day and gave her my notice. As luck would have it, my mother had just started working for one of the wealthiest men in Abbotsford. He was a good Christian man who had built a fortune in construction. At 80 years old, he now gave out personal loans and used the interest on the loans to fund initiatives in Africa. My mother got my foot in his door. For me, the catch was, I had to sit down with him for two hours and prove to him that I was worthy of his help. And what he said during our meeting still gives me chills. "The way you talk about this," he said, "It's like it has been inside of you forever. It's like every path you've taken, every decision you've made has lead you to that chair across from me. It's like as much as you want this, the universe wants it for you just as much."

Six weeks later I was living in Penticton, about to take over SAINT-GERMAIN CAFÉ GALLERY. There was always a pure energy behind the belief I would one day own a café. There was never any wavering on this belief. And I never put a time frame on it. I just knew it was going to happen. And that is the key to the LAW OF ATTRACTION that I want to leave with you. As soon as we put time limitations on our dreams, we put a sense of foreboding on what happens if we don't get there in that time. This negativity scares the universe off. I know the LAW OF ATTRACTION is real, because it brought me three exceptionally wonderful things that might not have come had I wavered on them in any way. I just lived my life and when the universe knew I was ready, it delivered. And it keeps delivering little things, like new loves and new passions.

Now I know, if you've been paying attention, you're probably saying to yourself, "he said the law of attraction brought him four things. He missed one." I'll let you know, the fourth is actually a work in progress. We'll talk again when I'm mayor of Penticton…