Saturday, May 26, 2012

Moving forward -- Sword, meet Wand -- Welcome back, Katie

As many of you know, 2011 was a pretty stress-filled year for me.  I won't call it the year from hell, because lord knows I've survived much worse (and there were some fabulously good things that happened during the year, too), but... it was a year of great battles, both internal and external, which has raised up many ghosts from the past, and uncovered many new hauntings.

Most loyal friends and followers know only the tip of the iceberg of what I went through last year.  There is much that has happened which I have not been -- and never will be -- able to make public, in part out of a desire to protect the innocent and respect the privacy of loved ones, in part due to an imposed court order (ironic and blech).  Suffice it to say that dealing with cancer was actually the easiest part of 2011.  That may sound cold to many of you, but... trust me, I'm anything but a cold person.  It was a truly gruelling year.

Yet, while the year was one of battle, it was also one of victory.  And while nothing will ever bring back all that was stolen from me so long ago -- both literally and figuratively, internally and externally -- and true justice seems a ridiculously naive concept, there is no small satisfaction in seeing the end of the battle.  Alive.  Intact.  Relatively sane.  Content.  Hopeful.

We had great visions of saying good-bye to 2011 and being able to just leave it all behind, celebrate our great victories and dance our way into the rose-coloured future.  OK, we really knew better, but parts of our inner-child selves clung to that blissful naiveté...  The end of the external battle was just the beginning of the internal one.  My main partner-in-fighting-crime is now battling PTSD, I'm scraping and clamouring myself as far away from that abyss as I can.  We're all exhausted, overwhelmed, waiting for this to all be truly over.  Knowing that wish is probably more blissful naiveté.

There is a certain beauty in fiction, in fantasy.  The hero conquers all, the dragons are slain, everybody lives happily ever after in blissful splendour.  Neat and tidy with a bow and a cherry on top.

There is a greater beauty in real life.  You win the battle, you take a look at what it has taught you, you deal with it, you become a stronger and wiser person, better equipped to take on the inevitable bigger dragon hiding around the next corner.

Because, let's face it, if I were stuck sitting around and eating bon-bons all day, I'd be really frikken' bored.  What kind of dragon-slayer just sits back and eats bon-bons?  Dragon-slayers are too busy itching to go for their next dragon.

So, yeah, I'm pretty sure none of you expected me to go the bon-bon route (wine, maybe, but not bon-bons).

2012 so far has been a year of tying up loose ends, shedding the excess, putting things in place, getting ready for the next frontier.  I had great visions of all the loose ends and excess and place-putting being done by now, but... hardeharhar.  That's not how it works, Lyssy.  Still... while I will always have lots of stuff on my to-do list, the big and overwhelming things are finally out of the way.

     I have cleared the space
     It's time to take my place
     Open up my youth
     Stand up and be the proof

It is embarrassing to realize how long ago I wrote that song...  Earlier that year, at our annual girls' night Tarot reading, I was given the Ace of Wands and the Ace of Swords.  The creative spark meets the valiant sword of truth and justice.  I knew exactly how it was going to play out, what I was going to do with these two energies.

I just didn't know how many years it would take.

You see, for decades I have had a dream that I wanted to make a reality.  The Katie Project, named after a song I wrote in a rare 17-year-old moment of clarity.  Music had saved my life, and I was going to pay it forward by using music to help save others.  The Katie Project was going to use music to help my fellow survivors of childhood sexual abuse -- to give them a means to speak their truth, to reduce the stigma and taboo of the subject, to open up a dialogue and an awareness, and give people the tools they needed for self-healing.

In late 2005, I was given the means to get this project started.  Or so I was told.  In 2006, that means was stolen back.  For two years, my original abuser's co-conspirators played a cosmic game of monkey-in-the-middle, and even when the ringleader died, it turned out systems had been put in place (one might say illegally, if one were allowed to declare such things) in perpetuity to prevent me from speaking my truth, let alone realizing my Katie dream.

What Oz and his side-twits with the greed-coloured glasses didn't realize was that I had some awesome (I hate the mis- and over-use of that word as much as you do -- these people are truly awesome) co-conspirators of my own.  AND I keep impeccable records.  (When you've grown up with a family of gaslighters, you learn to collect every shred of proof you can.)  Really, freakingly impeccable records.  People make fun of me for having two over-stuffed filing cabinets and a basement full of file boxes.  Well, I get the last laugh, darlings -- never try to tell lies to or against a chick with two over-stuffed filing cabinets and a basement full of file boxes.

Battle ensued.

It would be nice to say that our side won.  Let's call it a Pyrrhic victory.  Let's just call it over.

     I have cleared the space
     It's time to take my place
     Open up my youth
     Stand up and be the proof     

And so...

The means are back.  Not just as a promise, but in my hot little hands, as Mom would say.  Almost seven years later, I can finally get back to creating the Katie Project.

Yes, many of you have seen the website (, pathetically stating "we're still waiting for seed funding, please be patient" for seven damned years.  Well, I haven't quite gotten around to fixing the website -- will do so before any "official" announcement, I promise.

But to you, my friends and followers, allow me to officially declare:


It's been a long journey, it's been a great fight, it's taken a great deal of energy.  But from now on, the energy gets to be a POSITIVE kind -- moving forward, rising out of the ashes, creating a healing, loving, caring energy for all who need it.

To all those who asked if I'd finally be sitting back and relaxing again -- nope, sorry.  :-)

But this is different than those other projects I've been systematically putting aside -- this is where my passion lies. This is what my passion has been looking forward to since I was a little kid, wondering why there was nobody around to protect me, and vowing that I would never let that happen to anyone on my watch when I was a grown-up.  I'm still going to be busy as hell -- probably even busier than usual -- but I can assure you, I will be happy and satisfied, and feel like I'm making a real difference in the world.  I never wanted to be a victim, I refuse to identify myself as a victim.  I am a Dragon-Slayer, damnit -- bring 'em on!!!

To all those who were worried I might be neglecting my creative side -- nope, don't worry.  :-)

That's the beauty of it all, it's going to force me to be more creative -- and, as it seems now (explanation below), it's going to push me in creative directions I haven't attempted before.  Avoided like the plague.

It's not entirely selfless, trust me.  :-)

Now, the one very sad side-note to this story is: just as the battles were coming to an end and we were seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, one of the co-conspirators who had stood by our side through the battles since 1993 died unexpectedly.  Not even 24 hours before the end.  He was a dear old friend who had offered to help me set up the charitable foundation arm of the Katie Project when it was time.  Now that he is no longer able to do so, I am searching for someone with similar expertise in creating charitable foundations -- if anyone has any suggestions, I would love to hear them!

It sounded like this could take some time, what with red tape and all, but once all the Sword's t-s are crossed and the i-s dotted, the Wand will be sparking up and lighting the way forward.

Although the Wand might be getting a head start.  In part to make good on a deal I struck with all those horrible nightmares a few months ago, in part because of a conversation I was silly enough to have with a friend and strong Katie collaborator, in reference to said deal...

You see, my initial vision was to kick off the project with a collaborative CD, raising awareness, funds, etc. -- songs of truth, but also of hope and healing.  That's still part of the plans.

But there's another part... a part that it seems I need to do on my own.  Whether I want to or not.  Because both my nightmares and my friend have vowed to kick my ass if I don't.  :-)

And so... here I am... saying it out loud.  There's a book I promised to write.  Yes, after all these years of my mother telling me I should be a writer, I'm actually going to call myself a writer.  Of course, my mother is probably not going to like this book, and will probably take back everything she said in the last 40 years about me needing to be a writer.  But I'm writing a book.

It has already started.  I am writing a book.  I have no idea what publishing company in their right mind would ever publish a quirky dark comedy about child abuse, but neither my nightmares nor my collaborator seem to care what a publishing company would want.  She's already ordered a box set for YRAP (note to board: don't fire her, she hasn't actually signed a contract, if the book sucks you don't have to buy it, I promise!)  Not only that, but she's asked for a whole series of other books to be written on various subjects near and dear to the issues -- they might not all have the same humour as the original, or maybe they will, I'm not sure.  But it seems they're needed.  And it seems I'm writing them.  Yes, it seems I'm a writer.

Happy now, mother?  ;-)


1.  Battles are over, I can return to my normal programming
2.  Normal programming is pre-empted for my life vision to be fulfilled
3.  If anyone knows a good lawyer who can help with said life vision, please get in touch
4.  I'm going to be spending a lot of time on a computer
5.  If saying all this out loud makes me lose all that creative energy, I'm going to be really pissed
6.  Zehrs had better stock up on a lot of mac & cheese and the LCBO had better stock up on Rioja -- Lyssy's gonna be needing some comfort food
7.  If anyone knows someone who would like to publish a dark and twisted side-splitting comedy about child abuse, please send them my way
8.  Sorry for keeping you waiting, especially Lisa (I know, I just saw there was a message from you on my cell, I promise to hit "upload" and call you back right away) -- but after the number of false starts I'd had on the Katie Project before, I wanted to make 100% sure it was going to work this time, before having to recant yet another announcement
9.  I don't really have anything else to say, but really like the roundness and completeness of the number nine, so wanted to keep as much good mojo going as possible for myself, lest #5 fall into place

There you have it.  I can't back out now.  Even if my nightmares took pity, I know you folks won't.  :-)

None of them can ever hurt you like that again, Katie.  You are a frikken' Dragon Slayer.  Lace up your combat boots and grab your sword.  We're going in.


  1. So.... what can I do to help?

    and.. congratulations.

    sorry for the loss of your friend -- sad yes. but you are carrying on -- and that is good.


    1. Thanks, Louise!

      Well, I'll definitely be picking your brain when it comes time for publishing. :-)

      A friend of mine last night suggested a scheduled critique group, but... I'm not sure I want to go that way. I think I'd try to edit too early. This might be one of those barf-it-up-now and edit-later projects.


    2. I tend to agree with you -- write first. (gotta let the barf out) and then, edit -- early editing limits/stops the creative flow is my experience.

  2. I look forward to the Katie Project, Alyssa. So happy you are back. We don't know each other personally (though I'd like to), but I love your wit, wisdon and creative brilliance and I love being connected to such a person as you. A person who can (obviously) surmount a lot of adversity in life. I know what that's like. I've done some tilting myself, and not always at windmills.

    1. Ah, yer too kind, Ian! With all my touring, I'm sure we'll meet in person some day soon -- in the meantime, enjoying having you as a cyber-friend!

  3. Hey Alyssa,
    This is the first time I've read your blog and your mother is correct, you are a writer Alyssa. Your book will be amazing if your blog is any indication. I would like to be in line to buy a copy once you've published it. I have been published both through the traditional method and self-publishing. I prefer self publishing because I have creative control over the cover, the contents (for good or ill! lol) and the profits are all mine. THey are quick to print them up and they look great. They are available as paperback, hardcover or ebooks which are very popular now. The covers are glossy and the page paper a good quality. Check out I'd be happy to share what I know with you. It isn't much but its free lol. The only draw back is marketing though I found my trad pub only marketed to me anyway! I am not a great self-promoter. I tend to buy copies then give them away. Needless to say I'll not get rich this way but I have so many interests this is more a hobby anyway. You aleady have a good fan base and they will support you get the word out and word of mouth - greatest marketing method of all. I don't know the published stats on abuse and it pained me to read it had happened to you, but I know there are more of us than what is recorded. Sit down in a circle as women do - and you'll find more than half have experienced some form of abuse in their life. It never should have begun and it must end. You are brave and strong and your Katie project is going to make a huge difference in the world and the lives of those who have and continue to suffer.

    1. Thanks so much for all that info, Beverley! I do happen to be a control freak, so self-publishing might be the way to go. ;-) I'd definitely want to hire a publicist, though -- presuming they have those in the literary world. After so many years doing my own publicity in music, I seriously don't want to go through that learning curve again...

      The most recent stats I've heard have over 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 5 boys being sexually abused in some way (includes both long-term and single-occurrence) by the time they're 18. The boys' stats have risen sharply over the last few years, but I'm thinking that's likely more of a reporting issue rather than an occurrence issue. Either way, definitely far too many of us. And a lot of them think they're alone -- part of why I insist on having such a big mouth. :-)

      Everyone has their own path of healing, not everyone is in a safe enough place to speak out. But I've gotten to a place where I can speak up, so I feel it's my responsibility to do so, for those who can't. I still think it's a pretty amazing miracle that I am where I am, so I want to pay it forward wherever possible.

  4. An agent is a great idea for this special project. They have all the connections you need as your reach would be globally not just locally. Did you have a Katie's House in mind as well? Something like Gilda's house is for cancer? The stats are staggering aren't they! And these are for the ones we know about. The ones who have to courage to speak up. You will be the voice for the ones who can't.

    1. Aha! You dream big, too. :-) Would certainly be wonderful. Will start with what I know, though, and see how it grows.