One of my favourite EVER pieces of art (5 mins long)

A Youtube screenshot of Christa Couture and bekky o'neil's movie How To Lose Everything: A Field Guide. An illustration of two women kneeling

“This is what I know – first your heart will break…

You will start by staying in bed. Being awake is the first and hardest thing to get through. You may ache every minute of the hours in between the relief of sleep. The ache will overwhelm you at times. The ache will press on your chest so hard it will be difficult to move. The ache will shake through your body in uncontrollable sobs. The ache will numb you to all feeling. The ache will want to break things. The ache won’t care what does break.

Try to wait.”

The first time I read those words, in early 2020, I was in my home office, tears streaming down my face.

That quote is the opening of the final part of the final chapter of How To Lose Everything by Christa Couture — writer, musician, broadcaster and, co-incidentally, my co-parent (which is how I got to read such an early copy). The rest of her book is a memoir, each chapter about a loss she experienced (cancer; amputation; abortion; death; death; divorce; more cancer — she’s had a few). She is a INCREDIBLE storyteller; she has this gift of being able to show you these really, really hard things, in a way that doesn’t pull you under. One of the reviews of her book talked about how the reviewer didn’t want to read the book at first — too sad. But when they did, they found that it “is actually uplifting.”

The part I want to tell you about today — the part that starts with that passage above — is not the part where she’s telling stories.

right now, your not having clicked display images is denying you a picture of BOOBIES

That might seem like a strange choice, given that I’m supposed to be writing here about how to tell stories. But it’s because this passage — on the page, and on the astonishingly beautiful animation that has just been released on YouTube — does the MOST IMPORTANT thing that our stories do. The thing that I think about every time I even talk about this passage (and, inevitably, cry).

It says, to the right people, the four most powerful words in the English language:

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One of the best (and SURELY the most ridiculous) days of my whole life: A REPORT

Muttering under my breath, I’m talking to myself.

“Don’t miss this, Marsh. Don’t spend the time spacing out, planning how you’ll tell people about this experience. Just BE here.”

I smile and wave. 40,000 people smile and wave back. Most of them are cheering. For me.

I’d been waiting two years to be invited to a ceremony. It’s the final part of getting your Canadian citizenship. And “ceremony” is a pretty grand word for what it usually is: forty people on Zoom, everyone in their own house, muttering their vows into their laptops. In early June, I was finally offered a date for the following week: 1:30pm on a Wednesday afternoon — when all my people would be at work or school, so I was probably going to be alone as I crossed this milestone. O well. 

Except…I couldn’t make that date. I was going to New York (for the launch party of Laura Belgray’s brilliant and soulful and properly laugh-once-a-page-or-more memoir “Tough Titties”). Given that, as part of the proceedings they make you cut up your Canadian visa card (which I needed to get on the plane home), I had to choose between the ceremony and the NYC trip. Nervously, I chose the trip. Three days later, the Citizenship Office called and offered me a new ceremony. In person… 

on Canada Day… 

on the field at the Rogers’ Stadium, before a Toronto Blue Jays baseball game. 

I KNOW!!!!

On the Big Day, we spend the morning…

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In 11 days, 40,000 people will be watching me speak into a microphone (!!)

Something happened (slash is about to happen) to me and I cannot stop laughing about it. I laugh at least 6 times a day. Especially and literally EVERY TIME i tell someone about it (which I’m doing a LOT). So I want to tell you.

Two weeks ago today, I got voicemail from an unknown number, that sent me into a tailspin. When I called my voicemail, the lady’s message said,

“Hi, I don’t know if this is the right number, I’m calling from Immigration Canada about your citizenship ceremony. I will call back later.”

Immediately, I panicked. What if she doesn’t call back???…

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Everyone that I tell this idea to FREAKS OUT ABOUT IT

A few months ago, I got the kind of email none of us ever want to receive.

I opened my inbox to see that my beloved friend Karen Ward (and mentor, I’ve learned SO much from her) wrote to me to say, “I have cancer.” Ugh.

Endometrial. Early stage and treatable, thank the GODS, but still requires major surgery and also radiation. OOF. On top of this, she’d just been through six months of Long COVID. Like me, she works for herself, so the financial worry is no joke. I immediately messaged her on whatsapp:

“I know everyone says, ‘if there’s anything I can do’, but if there IS anything I can do, please tell me.”

She and I don’t live close enough for me to go round her house with meals or hugs. She said,

“Just send a support pony when you can.”

She was kidding, but I immediately ordered her this one.

I also offered to run her a GoFundMe. She was a little reluctant to do one at first, until a few of us convinced her, “Karen, you are ABSURDLY generous. Maybe it’s time to just… receive..?”

Eventually she capitulated and let me and our friend Sara Smeaton run it. But I suspect something about her not HAVING to be involved opened up her creative brain and, while she was away from the admin part, she came up with what I think is one of the best ideas I’ve ever heard.

You know how people have baby and wedding showers? Karen was noodling on the fact that we somehow are fine to ask our friends for money when we’re experiencing those big high milestones. But when it comes to injury and illness, it feels so much harder.

Why???? it’s SO effed!!! And actually, people LOVE to help people they love. So she came up with this idea…

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The most perfect pitch email I’ve ever received: a breakdown of what she did right

Bracing myself, I open my email. And there they are: rows and rows and rows of unread messages, with subject lines like,

TRACK
NEW MUSIC!
MADE IN CHELSEA – MUSIC?
BAND FROM THE SOUTH
NEW MUSIC FOR TV

It was 2013 and I’d spent a few years doing the sexiest-seeming job I’d ever had: choosing music for big TV shows and movies.

I say “sexiest-seeming” because it was honestly a lot of me sitting around in my underwear on my bedroom floor, surrounded by scraps of paper, feeling stressed out, and making suggestions to directors who then, half the time, went with one of their own choices anyway.

But TELLING people “I choose music for big TV shows and movies” definitely elicited the kind of impressed response that made it feel worth it.

A downside of the job was my email inbox. By 2013, bands were already learning that one of the only ways to make money as a musician was through getting your music “synched,” as they call it. As someone who loves new music, you’d think I wouldn’t have been so bummed out by getting sent so much of it. The problem?

The same problem that EVERYONE being pitched — whether it’s for a music supervisor or a big deal podcast host or a journalist or publication editor — has:

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What some of the most annoying people in my life have taught me

As he starts talking, my heart sinks. I’d chosen him specifically because I thought he was different from the others. And yet… here he is, doing the same thing they all do.

I’ve been going to a boxing gym on and off for a few years, but I only started taking it seriously this spring. To be clear: I have zero interest in ever boxing anyone’s face. But after a life coach I’d worked with suggested that I find a way to express some, shall we say, negative emotions I was experiencing  — in a way that wouldn’t damage any of my relationships — I got back into classes.

I’m now going two to three times a week, and I fugging LOVE it. I have a running joke that boxing classes are my new girlfriend. When I’m in them, my internal monologue is usually THIS IS THE BESSSSSSSSST I WANT TO BE HERE FOREVVVVVVVVERRRRRR (I mean, those times when it’s not “wait! Was it jab-cross-left hook-right uppercut? Or jab-cross-right uppercut-left hook?” — I have horrible short-term memory for the sequences). When I’m not in a class, I am counting the hours until the next one, or feeling excitement when I see it on my calendar. When I’m rolling my wraps back up after a class, I think, “Soon, you’ll be back on my hands, under my gloves!!!!” This week, I was out of town in a different city. Driving around, I saw the sign for a (different) boxing gym and my heart LEAPT, in the way that only reminders of a crush can inspire.

I love everything about the boxing classes. Except for the Bro’s At The Boxing Gym…

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My friend had a good idea for when you’re in a dark place (CW: suicidal ideation)

a hand reaching towards the surface of a body of water and the reflection reaching back up towards it

This is a blog about a time I experienced suicidal ideation — where you know you’re most likely not going to kill yourself, but you wish you could — and my friend came up with a way for me to tell her what was going on, without having to directly tell her.

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Working with people virtually? Here’s how to stop disliking them

In my 20s, I had this roommate I couldn’t STAND. She and I just seemed to be cut from a different cloth, and I found everything about her irritating. Most annoyingly, she’d NEVER buy the toilet roll!! It got to the point where I would roll my eyes every time I heard her come home.…

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The addiction I can’t shake. And the great CANADA LEE.

I stopped taking recreational drugs in my mid-twenties. I found them fun, but I didn’t like that it took me so long to recover. I don’t drink booze very often these days; I do enjoy it (I am Russian *and* British), but I don’t enjoy the three days of being so tired I want to…

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The most ridiculous public thing I’ve ever done (My story for the Good Life Project podcast)

Marsha proudly posing with her plastic medal- she won the MARSHATHON

A few years ago, a conference I was going to asked us to pitch an “inspiring story.” I thought, ​What the heck have I ever done that’s inspiring…???​ ​But then I thought, Oh, I guess there is that one thing, that I barely talk about because whatever, but I ​suppose​ someone ​might​ think of that…

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