The main feature that strikes me about Cea aside from her obvious celestial beauty, is how normal she is. That may be an ironic thing to say considering she’s written two best selling books that basically chronicle her life’s pursuit of being normal, “North of Normal” and “Nearly Normal,” but I wondered, how can you be so normal having come from such a let’s just say, not normal childhood?
And her childhood was definitely not normal. She went from living a transient life in Northern BC, at times living in a tepee, with all kinds of inauspicious characters who happen to be her family, to taking herself to New York at 13 years old and Paris at 15 to pursue a modelling career (in which she was extremely successful), and then somehow honing her craft into becoming an internationally acclaimed writer.
Sounds like some very bold leaps were taken.
I wanted to set up the interview where she does all her magnificent writing, on her couch, or her "stupid couch" as she sometimes calls it.
I happily plunged myself into the couch which was one of those big white overstuffed sofas that engulf you with lots of sensuous throw blankets and plush pillows. I felt the tranquil warm sunshine streaming in from the front yard and watched the reflections of the blue pool in the back yard dancing on the white walls. I could see how this calm and serene space inspired her, but for me, it was a bit too relaxing and we opted to sit in stools. She was more than accommodating as we got set up with a great sense of humour and fun.
Once we settled in, we chatted like two girl friends over a glass of wine. With refreshing candor, she revealed that she suffered from debilitating self doubt and low self esteem her whole life. To take in her beauty and the success of her career as both an internationally acclaimed model and writer, this seems unfathomable. But in contrast to her proclaimed self esteem issues, she had an equal measure of determination and tenacity. I mean real tenacity. I was aghast at how many rejection letters she's received from publishers and the harshness of some of the negative comments they felt the need to express pertaining to her talent. Where most of us would have assumed the fetal position, she refused to let that stop her. She was determined to pursue her dream to be a writer it no matter what it took.
With every risk I take, it builds confidence like nothing else in the world can. The more we can flex that muscle of being rejected, using it as a tool, the easier it gets.
Meaning is so important behind our work. One of the pivotal points in pursuing her dream was when she consciously changed the purpose of her writing from helping herself heal and making money to connecting with people, helping others and being of service by telling her story.
In order to do so, she had to become more vulnerable in her writing. She says that was her biggest risk and it changed everything. Suddenly people were interested in publishing my book.
Can we have an ahh haa!
I believe we all have a purpose here, and mine is tell my story so I can connect with people through my story.
And true to her word, Cea didn’t just publish her books and take a few laps around the swimming pool, she keeps up an arduous schedule of regularly travelling across Canada speaking publicly about some of her challenging childhood experiences, engaging with and helping other women have similar difficult conversations about overcoming shame. Connecting. She attends book clubs, goes to bookstores, libraries and pretty much any where women are who have read her book and want to talk to her. She also teaches a course on how to write a memoir. She lives her purpose.
She was also extremely honest, wise and self effacing about failure:
I’ve failed more than anyone I know, and I’ve seen success only because of my failure.
For me, failure is just wanting something and not doing anything about it.
What advice did she have for others who wanted to pursue their dreams:
Don’t give up, you never know when you are that close
There is growth in vulnerability
Don’t take it personally
Believe in yourself
How did you find that courage to be so open, so bold, so determined?
I don't know, but if I can do it anyone can.
I don't know about that Cea, but thank you for the encouragement!
Special thanks to the incredibly talented, creative, bold leaper Matt Bourne @mattbourne