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Year 5 of Emancipation

Good morning.  Today is the 5th anniversary of my emancipation.  Five years ago today I officially left the corporate world behind with the stroke of a pen.  On that day, I remember I was wearing a double breasted navy suit and gold Calvin Klein sling backs . . . I asked my lawyer when "this" would be over, and he said "today", to which I replied, "well it's a good thing that I wore my gold shoes today."

Emancipation might seem like a strong word, usually preserved for human rights and freedoms kind of events, and I don't want to reduce the importance of those events by borrowing the word to describe my freedom, but it was, and is, a mammoth event in my life.

I had worked in the corporate world from 1996 after graduating from the School of Journalism & Communications at the University of Regina.  My career began as a student communications officer writing copy for a federal crown from Monday to Friday, and writing features and chasing fire trucks for the local newspaper on the weekends. As a reporter, my job was seek out information.  As a communicator and planner, my job was to be at the table and facilitate and share the information.

It was my curiosity that carried me through my career as I wanted to know why things worked the way they did. Why and how decisions were made, and who made them.   From a communications officer  to a policy analyst (although at the time I really didn't understand that title), to a corporate planner in the credit union sector, and finally an executive in another crown corporation in 2008, every day was about strategy, direction and communication.

I felt very lucky most days. I was invited to the table and learned from some of the best and brightest business minds. I saw how an Act can be changed at the federal level, wrote national business strategies, wrote and won awards for annual reports, corporate plans and a social responsibility gaming framework. I was the back up dancer in most cases, as my executive reaped the rewards of my efforts. I was paid and promoted, but that's how the corporate dance works.

Corporate decisions happened along the way, but they were business, not personal.  But then one day, it became personal. Something happened that changed me.  And changed my life. What I would accept from it.  I call it "The Rain of Nails".  I had to speak out.  On June 15, 2011, I walked away from a 20 year career that I once thought would take me to the end of my working life.

The emotional roller coaster ensued. I wish I could say it was easy.  It wasn't.  It was the hardest thing I have ever done, and it still is.  On that day, I found myself literally looking out at the rest of my life not knowing what I would do.  I had always had ideas and dreams, like most people do, but my life had been consumed in other people's dreams and visions and their words, not my own.

So I had to find my own words, and my own way.  And I am.   I have looked upon that day many ways  . . . sometimes with regret (why didn't I just suck it up again), sometimes with disdain, sometimes I count the money that I have not made since that day . . .

What have I done with my freedom?  I purged, and I have written my way through it and in doing so, found my voice and my way.

I published a book about freedom to purge the thoughts and stories that were holding me back (How to be Pink Flamingo in a Brown Duck Pond),  followed my love of words and story telling to become an entrepreneur publisher of SKY Magazine now in its fifth year and third metamorphosis, and created a consulting company, Lynear Thinking to assist entrepreneurs, social organizations and cooperatives in finding their way.  In 2016, I ventured into the shoe boutique business, reinventing a 29 year old brand under the new name ZÖE which means "life lived in shoes." I seek out the inspired and the inspiring and surround myself with them. I follow my curiosity and instincts. I teach and practice yoga to find the possibility and the joy in the good things and the dreadful things, and to remind me that learning to fly is about holding on and letting go.

To freedom seekers, I would like to say there has been no giant epiphany except for the one on that day when I decided that I would accept nothing less than to be treated with respect and dignity. There has been a journey.  A practice of putting one foot in front of the other every day, and being open to the experience of each day, good and bad.  Knowing what to hold on to, and what to let go of in a given moment.  Remembering to breathe.  Most days I have been afraid, but I take the steps anyway.  Most days are about stepping off the precipice of my own making and flying.  But this is my precipice.  And that makes this day a celebration.

Have a beautiful day.

Lynn Larson Armstrong

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