The big 4-0- A decade in review

 

When I thought of turning 40, my inner voice said “I want to be in the best shape of my life”…. And that manifested itself as looking a certain way that meant “the best” to me. What I’ve come to realize in the last 6 months is that what I SHOULD have been aiming for is to be in the best MENTAL shape of my life.

We live so much of our lives online. I do at least. I am there as a mentor, a businessperson, a private citizen, and as a voyeur. We watch others, we watch them watch us…it puts us into places mentally, physically and emotionally that 15 years ago didn’t exist. We compare ourselves, a lot.

In understanding my own struggles with being happy with whom I am, I am dedicating my online efforts to the truth – cool or not. I am dedicating this year of 40 to finding my spiritual, emotional, mental health, whatever you want to call it. Making the stuff between my ears make sense, lighten up and really LIVE.

2008 – I turned 30

October 2008 I turned 30 in Las Vegas. I was a jellyfish. I can clearly (ha ha) remember this.

I was hopeful, but jaded. I had a LOT of friends…who later turned out to be {mostly} horrible people. I was living with my fiancé in a condo in Yaletown, working my job in Commercial Real Estate, making money but working 7 days a week & all hours for people who didn’t really care about anyone really.

I had been moonlighting with my health & wellness business for about a year and was on the fence about where my heart was in terms of going all in or giving up.

My father-in-law was dying of Cancer, my fiancé was goalless, my friends were high or drunk most of the time……so I dove deeper into training & yoga to try and make some sense out of my life.

I started collecting certifications in Thai Yoga massage, Herbalism, Vegan cheffing….I needed to find my way – I was finally NOT a 20 year old anymore and to me that meant it was time to grow up.

2009 – I turned 31

This was a year of happy endings and harsh awakenings.

I was living in a great condo in Yaletown with my 2 Shiba Inu’s and my (then) boyfriend. I was working at a job I mostly hated but I was making a lot of money. And I thought that would make everything better.

I traveled to 100 Mile Ranch for our annual Thanksgiving trip, was also in Toronto Italy, New York and Hawaii to name a few.

I got married, for the second time

2010 – I turned 32

Grown up and ready to take on the world I decided I needed to have the house of my dreams. So, with a lot of searching and fighting with my husband, we found the perfect little blue house on Charles Street off Commercial Drive in East Van.  It was such a gorgeous home. Decorated with the original stained glass windows, interior renovation, yard, white picket fence and a steal at just $1.02MM.

This same year my husbands’ father died and that created a tectonic shift that we couldn’t ever recover from.

In my mourning for the lost family, the lost love I dove into things that could feed my soul. I pursued both my Permaculture & Herbalism certifications that year.

I held the first Halloween/birthday party at Charles street that year. My birthday has always been somewhat of a “thing” for me and I just love being surrounded by happy friends having a good time…with the help of some amazing witches brew that appeared on both years.

I did a great hiking trip to the Kootenays, completed an over night at Golden Ears summit, a snowy summer hike up the Lions, Cypress & the  Stawamus Chief.

I decided that in honour of my husbands father we should travel to China to see where his life began as a doctor.

2011 – I turned 33

This was a transitional year and my marriage was suffering. I thought that a fall trip to Spain & Morocco might ignite some lost feelings of the way life was when it was “good”.

This year was also a holding pattern for me. I didn’t realize that my husband would become a distant drunk. That I would grow to hate him, that everything I thought growing up was, for me, was a lie.

I didn’t have the ability to give anymore of myself to anyone. I didn’t want to work for the sexual predators I had been. I quit my “day job” and went full time into educating on plant-based nutrition and healthy living. I was so happy.

My husband was devastated by my choice to quit a 10 (plus) year career in commercial real estate. “But you used to make so much money”…was one of the last things I can remember him saying to me.  I was gutted by the lack of substance in my life.

2012 – I turned 34

The onset of  2012 was supposed to be great. A family trip to Russia & Scotland…but I knew in the fall of 2011 that my trip was shadowed with my impending split from my husband.

We had spent months living in separate bedrooms, working opposite schedules, having no days off together. Enough was enough after a year of alienation at least. I truly believe to this day I was used as a pawn to gain access to a trust fund. I think our marriage was a show of maturity to his ailing father.

By March I had filed for divorce. It was all too much. We agreed to separate amicably; I’d take less than my share in cash and our dogs. Nothing else. I slept on couches at friends houses on weekends to clear my head.

While the separation was happening I reconnected with my (now) husband Jeff. It was just good to talk to someone who actually gave a shit.. We had known each other for 10 years and though he was in Calgary and I was in Vancouver, we always stayed in touch.

I went to visit him at the start of April, with no expectations at all. We were both getting divorced at the same time and needed company we could trust and be ourselves with.

In July, after returning from Russia & Scotland, I moved to Calgary to get out of the sad place that Vancouver had become for me then. We spent my 34thbirthday in Waterton lakes at a cabin, played cards and hung out and hiked with the Sheebs.

2013 – I turned 35

We bought a house, together in Bragg Creek., the Canadian Rockies. We were part of a 100 year flood that devastated the rural Rockies and Calgary. I became a stepmother to Anastacia who was battling Cancer and finished chemo that year. We threw her a big party at an Equestrian Center that I planned.

We took an amazing family trip to Disneyland and California theme park.

We spent my 35thbirthday in the most incredible place – The Resort at Pedregal. We talked about life and goals and I decided on that trip that I definitely would NOT be having children.

We brought Frieda Montgomery Jane our beloved German Shepherd home from up north. My sweet angel Tetsuo was taken by something wild in December of this year.

I felt like a princess in a dream this year – we had everything we wanted.

2014 – I turned 36

We made a LOT of money this year in our business. We spent HEAPS of it on child custody wars. We were busy in business, in court, just really fucking busy and times were going by so fast.

We traveled a bit through Nicaragua, bought a few nice things but mostly worked SUPER hard and tried to spend time together as a family hiking , camping, snowboarding and quadding. Things felt STABLE and I just kind of leaned in and took on that life.

We spent my birthday at Capella resort in Ixtapa, Mexico.

2015 – I turned 37

This was the year I became fired up about bodybuilding contests. We traveled to San Franciso, made our first trip to Pittsburgh for work and we made a final trip down to Cabo to The Resort at Pedregal for my birthday, we spent Christmas in Panama as a family.

This was also the year that we arrived home on December 24th to -25 temperatures and started to let the reality of an economic collapse sink in. Our people were being laid off, we were bailing on an office lease, still embroiled in lawsuits and child custody woes, we were overwhelmed.

I’m still shocked we didn’t implode.

2016 – I turned 38

We really dug deep this year. January we spent 3 weeks traveling through India by motorcycle while trying to cling to what was left of the clients who were surviving the blows being dealt by the oil and gas industry.

We got engaged in Philly that year after a second recon trip to Pittsburgh. We were married in August at home in Bragg Creek  and let everyone know we’d made the decision to move to Pittsburgh Sept 30th.

We spent our Honeymoon driving from Las Vegas to Denver…hitting the “four corners”, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe bend, Aspen…SO many beautiful sites.

There were a lot of lawyers this year, for immigration and child custody. We had been fighting and swimming up hill for going on 5 years.

We drove across Canada. We saw friends along the way, parts of the country we’d never seen and parts we’d not want to see again any time soon. We spent a week in Montreal on an immigration delay that was intensely stressful and costly but, by October 17thwe were crossing the border at Niagara Falls to Pittsburgh.  I celebrated my birthday with no running water in a run down house we rented in the Hill District.

We traveled to Orlando and had a great time being kids at Disneyworld, sat by the sea and got really excited for the future of our business.

2017 – I turned 39

2017 turned out to be a pretty so-so year for business, which is always worrisome but we really pulled through alright.

We still had some major legal battles with custody but those were getting sort of stale and really poisonous and covered in lies. Anastacia contracted another Cancer during the winter of that year.

We traveled to Georgia and Vancouver for bodybuilding contests and to visit friends and family. I spent 7 entire months out of Canada – the longest ever in my life. We ran off to Cozumel for a week to recharge our batteries.

I decided to take a year off from competing that spring and aimed to enjoy my family and all the sights of the tri-state area.  I felt I was coming into my own…and I blogged all about it – which I’m grateful to have to look back on.

We drove my motorcycle 3000 miles from Calgary to Pittsburgh stopping in some pretty amazing places and some really gross places too.  In my opinion, Mt. Rushmore and Deadwood were the best part of that trip.

We went to Chicago for Riot Fest and my parents came to visit us in PGH.

By October we had to wrap up our next pack of legal plans to cross back into Toronto to apply for another Visa – this time for 5 years. Of course, it was a bungle and we were stuck in Toronto with our fur kids for nearly 3 weeks.

I celebrated my birthday in Toronto, downed a bottle of champagne at George restaurant. We got our Visa approval on November 1stor 2ndand were right back in the jeep heading home to Pittsburgh.

2018 – I turned 40

 Ahhh, this year.

This year we gave up the fighting. We had conceded to the child custody war, our legal tangles with the government for Visas was on pause for almost 5 years and there was some breathing room created.

Our renters moved out of the house in the spring and we decided to sell our house to cut down on liability and free up our cash. It was such an emotional undertaking but needed to happen.

We got in the jeep and did a two week family trip down to Hilton Head, SC and the Outer banks in NC while work had died down. We really fell in love with the countryside we were getting to explore. America is so vast and multi-dimensional I’m sure you’d never see it all in one lifetime.

In the spring my Granny died and we raced down to New Mexico via El Paso Tx, to try and sort out her affairs. It was sudden and she planned for nothing. That made for five days of sheer confusion. But New Mexico is absolutely stunning and we were happy to see a new side of life – the full time RV community. Wow what a shocking eye opener. You see, my Granny had been living in an RV for nearly 10 years I think – at first we were appalled, but then intrigued.

We went to Maui for a couple of weeks to meet up with my parents for a get away.

We headed back to PGH, put the pedal to the metal and started to win US clients over, not as quickly or as many as we would have liked, but there was real progress that we could measure.

Our friends came to visit in the Spring which was exciting. We went boating, sent a container of all our things across the border from Canada, sold our house, sold our things in Canada and started the importation process of our Jeep.

My parents came again in the summer and we went to D.C. to check out the city and catch the Stanley Cup parade.

After a summer trip back to Calgary and Vancouver we talked a lot about what our future was going to be. We felt locked down in PGH as a lot of our potential clients offices were located in Texas, Kansas, etc…we knew the cost of doing business development by plane was going to be far too costly to commit to.

We had to make some clear business and life decisions with the 4 years we had left on our visa as there are benchmarks we need to meet in order to be eligible for another 5 years.

After a few months of research, planning, consideration and dreaming, we decided to move into an RV. Since we had stopped the insanity of child custody we were free to travel full time to see clients, staff, complete field trips and adventure when we weren’t working.

In August we purchased an RV, we headed to Lisbon for our anniversary to celebrate and when we came back we headed down to Maryland (more than we wanted to) to pick up “Evgeny” our new home.

Now, here I sit,  on my 40thbirthday on the beaches of  the Dominican Republic reflecting on all that I’ve done over the last decade.

A LOT. By anyone’s standards, even my own. I’m totally uncertain how everything in life will roll out. I’m not entirely sure I haven’t lost my mind. But as death creeps closer every year I AM sure that I am living my life, balls to the wall and (mostly) loving every minute of it.

 

 

Client Spotlight – The Vegan Activist – With Leila H.

Drumroll please!

Introducing Leila Sleiman-Head. Friend, client, Vegan and Activist. Leila and I met through my participation in her event VegFest here in Pittsburgh. I signed up to be a presenter at the event and we hit it off. Leila, along with Natalie Fristick, put on VegFest annually in Pittsburgh as well as the fall fave VegFeast. These two also run Justice for Animals, a not for profit here in PGH. To add, Leila has been part of Scrap The Trap and helped to get the first ever Vegan night at PNC Park off the ground! Veganism and the MLB at Pirates stadium??? Yes, yes she did. Pfew – I’m probably missing a TONNE.

She’s a devoted dog mom to Cash, and hamster mom to Little Tom Cruise and is married to the talented musician Chris Head, guitarist for Anti-Flag a local Pittsburgh Punk act that is adored globally. Chris is a maker of some VERY cool hand crafted planters via their collaborative effort as Rustbelt Workshop. I don’t know where she finds the time, but she does and the world is a better place for it.

Thanks Leila for this candid interview and for all you do for the animals.

Love ya!

When did you first participate in a demonstration or activism and why?

I interned for Peta in 2005 as a way to “get out of the classroom” in college when I was attending ASU- I was MORE than happy to GTFO of college, fly to Norfolk VA, live in “the intern house” and ready for an adventure. I went into it not knowing what to expect, not knowing I would need to be vegan in the house (I was already vegetarian so figured it shouldn’t be too hard, plus I had other interns show me the way….). I was immersed in this HUGE organization, with hundreds to people dedicated to helping animals, delivering straw and houses for dogs in the winter, under covering horrible abuse situations, sending packets to companies who test on animals to suggest kinder and more modern ways to research….  it was all so foreign to me. I was asked to go on a tour 2 weeks, 25 cities- we started in Miami and looped back up and around to Norfolk. It changed my life.

How did you choose animal rights as your passion as opposed to other arenas like women’s rights, environmentalism etc…?

I started with human rights activism- I would protest the Israeli occupation in Palestine and any other worthy cause, women’s rights supporting planned parenthood etc. When I spent my internship at Peta I was horrified to find out the grand scale of oppression and suffering we are causing on animals- and it was SO easy to change that behavior, support other companies, etc. It just naturally became another worthy cause…and now I have gotten to travel all over the country with it. I’m a very lucky person to be able to live my passions and ideals.

What is the most challenging thing you have experienced as an activist?

You really put yourself out there as an activist- and it isn’t for everyone. I have had people try and prove you wrong at every turn- justification of the bible or another imaginary justification, etc. I welcome a good discussion. I’ve also had chicken nuggets, eggs, soda, etc thrown in my direction and been threatened with violence. It is very impactful when you think about how much you must threaten peoples “way of life” (consuming and causing suffering) some people just cant take it.

How do carry yourself during a demonstration? Have you ever been arrested or come up against physical violence?

Yes! In North Dakota at a circus protest a middle aged man raised his hand at me- I thought he was going to hit me, I quickly said “IF YOU TOUCH ME ITS ASSAULT!” Lol. I’ve had everything under the sun thrown at my group, things yelled out, etc. But you also have people giving you the thumbs up- honking, supporting you. And those who will stop and chat or take information that REALLY ARE OPEN and effected.

What are your personal reasons for transitioning from Vegetarian to Vegan?

My time at Peta opened my eyes- to the GRAND SCALE OF OPPRESSION AND SUFFERING. I thought I would go back to vegetarian after I left the intern house in 2005- I never did. Once you see the animals suffering, open your heart to empathy and compassion and see how easy a few changes in your lifestyle really are- there is no way I am supporting that. We can vote with our dollars- we can choose to support cruelty- or not. We can choose to be kind. I just absolutely under no circumstances wanted to support the industries that harm animals. Giving up dairy was a small price to pay. So what? Watch the footage of veal calves getting ripped from their mothers, from pokey things put through their noses so when they try to nurse it hurts and pokes the mother causing them to run away…. watch the screams of the babies getting torn away to suffer the mothers fate if a female or a cramped cage for veal if a boy. No thank you.

Can you tell us a bit about your time with PETA?

See above lol

How can the average human get involved and become an activist? How do you think they should choose which organization or cause to support?

There are so many great organizations doing great things, some right in your city, I urge everyone to do some research and volunteer their time- donate- collect items for animals in need, etc. Spend the day at a VegFest, commit to going vegan for 30 days, do not buy products or cosmetics tested on animals, to stop buying leather, etc.

If you had advice for any new Vegans, what would it be? 

Don’t be overwhelmed. Do your research, ask for help from others who are already vegan (stay off FB lol), and PREP. When I was vegan we had cereal with soy milk and PB&J, and until I found other things to eat that is all I ate. Now with the internet and online recipes its easier than EVER to eat healthier and find good vegan food for your family, purchase cruelty free products, etc.

What are your top 3, all time favourite Vegan spots to eat? 

Hard one! I am lucky enough to have eaten great vegan food all around the world.

Champs in Brooklyn, Mohawk Bend in Los Angeles, Chicago Diner in Chicago make the list. In Pittsburgh we have Onion Maiden and B52 Café which are some of my favorite food.

Any pet peeves you’d like to share with us about Veganism or Activism?

I don’t want to criticize so I will start by saying we need ALL forms of activism and all kinds of personalities in this fight. I do find that newer vegans are a little angry (as they should be), I don’t necessary feel that walking into a whole foods just to get kicked out is beneficial for the animals, I don’t like buying into the stereotypes that non vegans put on us. I prefer to surprise people with education and discussion. Some acts people do are more self masturbatory than helping in my opinion.

If you could solve ONE issue on the planet today, what would it be?

Factory farming. Its destroying the planet, its causing needless suffering and animal products are making Americans some of the most unhealthy in the world. If I could close my eyes and undo factory farming, I wouldn’t need 2 other wishes…

 

The last year of my 30’s & why I’ve decided to stop giving a F*&k!

Beach-side, the tropics. My safe place.

*Warning, explicit language*

Just a few short days before I enter into the last year of my 30’s I sit and think (as I usually do on each birthday) about the last year. I review my entire life as I remember it and ponder on what things are in store for my future. As a kid born in Regina, Saskatchewan to two teenagers with no big world experience things could have been far worse. I feel lucky to be able to be sitting where I am right now, and not at a cold and windy farm table in Saskatchewan somewhere. 

Me & Ronald McDonald on the Farm

To say the last year was stressful would be a gross understatement, an attempt to share all of it would take longer than I have the time to spare, not to mention the desire. This year, I think it would be more cathartic (the intended purpose of my bday blogs) to dish on the general areas of my reflection and hopefully inspire the reader to make changes that lead to a healthy, happy and fulfilling life.

With 40 fast approaching I’m ready to say Fuck It to so much that has had me so encumbered for so very many years. I’m freeing myself, finally.

Here we go!

Immigration and Entrepreneurship

September 30, 2016 we left Canada for Pittsburgh for a shot at a new life and new business opportunities. Impacted greatly by the Oil and Gas downturn, we decided to leave behind the flailing Canadian market (in part) and start up another Engineering office in Pittsburgh as well as focus on our other passions of photography, travel and fitness.

You can read all about our trip down south last year HERE. 

Our first weeks in Pittsburgh were distressing but I was so full of hope…as usual I blogged about my birthday experience. 

While this was equal parts hope and giant balls on our part, it was also strategic and by July 1, 2017 we had finally opened a storefront which holds our engineering firm as well as a small studio for personal training and photography. Luckily, Jeff has managed to finally find a worthy partner back in Calgary and we have been able to juggle both businesses as was required by our L1 Visa status.

Our humble little US beginnings the day we signed the lease!

6 or 7 months into our journey, I was quickly realizing that we were not going to meet the necessary criteria to retain another 3 year L1 Visa. One benchmark being the generation of revenues between 500k to 1MM in the first 365 days. Hundreds of hours of business development, several attorneys, two expired visas and one aimless road trip to Toronto with our dogs in tow and we are sitting waiting for the return of our passports so we can go home. 

This experience has cost us around $200K USD including about 15k USD for legal fees. At the end of the day, that’s what the start up and legal costs are to cross the border and essentially buy your way in to the US with your own business. We were given the sage and insulting advice to just “buy a pizza shop for $50k” to be a “shoo in”. Yes, because lawyer #2, we really just wanted to move to Pittsburgh, open a pizza by the slice shop and die.

We put together our own talents and managed to craft a package for the US Consulate that won us the maximum allowable entry time in our first shot at an E2 Visa. In 2 years we will be at the border again on some other “24 hours out of the country” bureaucratic red tape mission, but we plan on being settled in Central America before the 5 years is up cause, we have bigger fish to fry than engineering out of Calgary and Pittsburgh. 

Being your own boss and creating your own unique business is a beautiful experience. The highs and lows are quite simply,  soul punching experiences. It’s not like selling a house, car or product that exists on its own, or even contract work for anyone. In providing personal services as opposed to products or being a middle man, you’re literally selling yourself because what you’re providing is (to most) intangible. This means that the good days and bad days are “all your fault”. It’s how you choose to market your services, how good you are at your job and how creative you can be in tight times. It’s ALL YOU.

As a couple and business partners in so may ways, Jeff and I know that we will never choose to work for anyone again in our lives. We will never go back to living the 9-5 regular life. While the stress might kill us, we feel like our experiences on the day-to-day are genuine, real, felt and lived fully. We have freedom. The freedom to work from wherever we want in the world, the freedom to choose what country we live in, the freedom to say yes or no to any work that comes our way. The freedom to come and go as we please, never have to ask for a sick day and never, ever be dictated our days by anyone. Ever.

I will always do my best to stand up for my ideas and say Fuck it to convention. It’s not the easy road by any means, but it’s the path of freedom and at what could be the half way mark in my life, I’m not willing to give up any more precious time.

Kids and Cancer

I’m not entirely private about my private life. I know that there are others out there that can benefit from hearing about my struggles and what aren’t entirely unique experiences.

I chose to be with a man who had a child from a previous marriage, I didn’t know he had married a serial embezzler of the child custody payment variety. If there is one thing that has created the black spot on my life it has been this. Over the years I have learned to create healthy places out of the dark ones with an understanding that there will always be a cloud of lies and doom living over me as long as I let it. Now bring in the added fact that my step-child has been diagnosed with Cancer twice and the road stretches out even longer in front of me.

I never had my own children and never wanted them. Dogs are too damn much for me some days. But I made the choice to say “I do” to someone with so much baggage it’s hard to bear sometimes. On my 35th birthday I made the final decision to not have children. We sat in our private plunge pool at The Resort At Pedregal and I told Jeff that by the time the clock struck 12 midnight I would decide, and I did.

On that same trip, we decided that because Jeff was being prevented from seeing his child, before he signed any court documents finalizing any custody arrangements he would fight as hard as he could to attain as close to 50% custody as possible.

Read more about our battle from an old post HERE.

The last 6 years have been about laying out our financial status, education, lifestyle etc…for people to pick apart. They come after financial gain while we fight in the hopes that we would be able to be a part of my step-daughters life and give her the things she wasn’t able to have; the outdoors, pets, family nights with cousins around the campfire, life in the mountains, reading, good music and times that were valued not by their price tag, but by the priceless feeling it left inside you.

This, will always be worth it. We fought with time, money and energy we didn’t really have to give her balance and a chance at spending more time with us which cannot be hidden. We will never regret going through this turmoil but, in the end, we (and to a larger part me) had to say Fuck it.

Imagine having to defend the greedy claims of someone who made their money in a career of sleeping with married men (as well as getting impregnated several times and soaking the fathers of the resulting offspring) criticize your worth, abilities and income after receiving a University education and degree (or two)? Evil people like to project the worst parts of themselves onto others and that happened on a nearly daily basis through email for six years.

I have basically been barred from speaking about anything outright for years while watching this person spend hours per day stalking me and my husband on the internet, providing screen shots of our instagram accounts, Facebook accounts etc…and putting lies in sworn affidavits to the court system. Actual proven lies people, and THIS is the truly terrifying part of watching a child have to grow up in a house with no morals….it’s nauseating and gut wrenching. How I wish sterilization of “rotten apple humans”was a thing but, we all know sociopaths get around psych tests often.

Such an ugly person without morals bogged down my life and I let it happen. Such ugly people became a part of my life and I watched my step-daughter turn into one of them through no choice of her own. I spoke with a counsellor about it for a few sessions and they were blown away. I confirmed I did my best as a wife and stepmother, and I designed a structured way to say “fuck it” to that life without crushing anyone. You can only watch a car crash for so long before you have to turn away.

I made peace, I moved on as best I could.

The one great friend I made in all of this happens to be the mother of my step-daughters step-sister. In this relationship we were able to expose to each other both sides of the household and really, came to understand the utter lunacy in it all. The abuse in that house is at an incredible level including emotional and physical and the two of us, one day, hope to take all of our notes, emails, videos, pictures and court documents to create a documentary to help others in the same position fight for sanity and the true health and rights of their children. Thank you Marissa, you’re a strong woman and I know our friendship helped us both move on.

In leaving Canada and moving 3000 miles away from the centre of evil you can bet that the pressure in my body was relieved 100 fold. In finally finishing the court battle over money, it’s dead to me now. I have chosen to walk away from that entire horror show. Jeff and I are honest about it all and after a lot of gut wrenching discussion he understands why I just can’t be a part of it anymore. We did our best for 6 years to bring a happy, healthy and real life to Anastacia…it’s all being left behind now and we fear for her happiness and health, from a distance.

I felt obligations to be a parent of a certain variety, which were put upon me by over sensitive, soapbox loving 21st Century society and my own lack of balls.

We are not all the same. Our situations are not all the same; our desire to live and love does not come in one way, shape or form. If you’re given no choice but to fight the good fight, then one day find yourself ready to throw in the towel to retain your happiness and sanity, do it. You are the mother, father, stepparent, cousin, boss, friend that you are. If you aren’t intentionally hurting anyone, being greedy or selfish or crooked, go live out loud.

My freedom and intrinsic goodness will always be there for my step-daughter to see and learn and grow from. This should be the legacy I leave for her to understand, not one where I fought, for the sake of fighting or being right, was sad, lived with less for no reason, lived with lies and/or abuse.

Children should never learn to accept that as a way of living.

Fuck the people who judge, fuck the people who lie, fuck the people who cheat. I will stop living to those standards by engaging, I will live my one life. The truth always comes out in the end and if people would like to make my life decisions, they can pay my bills and take on all my worries too.

Holy matrimony

Ah marriage. For me, 3 times and I’m finally charmed. I still can’t stop looking back at the other two and shaking my head. I know now that I wasn’t surrounded by anyone who actually cared enough to slap me into reality with either of those decisions. But as of today, I’m leaving those thoughts in the dust.

I am in a relationship now where we can respect what the other person is going through, even if that takes a minute or twenty to digest and try to understand. That’s the best thing that I could ask for. I truly have a partner in life, and while it’s not always perfect, it’s not supposed to be. The point is to be able to live life your way and not resent your traveling companion for living the same way. When a piece of resentment comes up, we talk about it. We promised to never lie and, should another path cross one of ours that takes us away from each other, then maybe that might be the right thing. In our hearts and minds we are together forever. We are honest, happy and adventurous. We are sexually aware, affectionate and sensual people. We make our life about living hard and loving hard and 6 years in, I think it’s working out pretty well. Through thick and thin we’ve been together and better people would have broken up 10 times by now. We know we have something to cherish every single moment of.

The first day of forever after.

The first marriage I had was to a physically and emotionally abusive man I met and dated for almost 3 years before we were married. The first being a long distance relationship but this was where I was given the opportunity in 2002 to meet the love of my life.

He was a total piece of shit, destroyed my self-worth and made me fear going to sleep because someone may smother me with a pillow, made me scared of falling asleep on the couch while watching a movie because I’d get slapped in the face, yelled at and shaken to wake up – true stories. I had no idea how damaging that was and what that would do to me for years. I fought back, I yelled, one time when he was driving me to work in the morning and punched me (charley horsed) in the leg I spat a mouthful of chewed food in his face. I wasn’t an angel. I didn’t back down BUT in most cases, I really didn’t start or finish a fight.

I posted about this on Instagram, however brief HERE.

Which, then, leads me to my second marriage. 7 years together – that has to be a record for two people so fuelled up on drugs and alcohol that they didn’t know if they were coming or going. Not to mention the fact that he worked steady night shifts, I worked daytime work and we rarely were seen together unless it was at a club at 2am. Sometimes I’d have to set my alarm for midnight to get up and go meet him somewhere.

In the middle of all that and before we were married I became pregnant. My kid would be 10 by now. I decided not to keep it and that alone should’ve been a message enough to myself that I was in the wrong relationship. I never wanted kids BUT if I was to become accidentally pregnant now at nearly 40 with Jeff’s kid, you would bet that I would not make the same decision.

Eventually, going out and getting smashed became old news and I’d just be waking up to him stumbling into our back gate pissed drunk (sometimes pissing himself) leaving the doors to our 100K Mercedes wide open while it was filled to the brim with DJ equipment. He wasn’t a bad person he was just spoiled, selfish and directionless because he never had to have these skills.

Most recently during the long drive to the US in 2016, he went WILD after I was instructed by the bank to close an account I held (which in hindsight was a joint account for a mortgage we held together that he never changed) which impacted his mortgage payments. He actually sent threats and old video footage of me being wasted to my parents! More than 5 years after we split. He threatened to burn my things he still held….he threatened to “call my husband on me”….just a poor, angry, inept child. Still, I really hoped he would’ve progressed because by now he was a father to a child himself. I fear that kind of shit…. and can only laugh uncomfortably at his knee-jerk reaction of napalm death. So typical, and I’m so relieved I’m past that.

I chalk it up to the fact that through his own parents divorce he became a heavily damaged person and so was I by the time we met. The two of us together were like fuel and fire and though we didn’t fight a lot, we fuelled resentment and when his rich father died, he changed and became vacant.

When shit gets old its OVER. 

I documented my liberation with photographs.

There is just no time in life to stay in relationships that hurt you. No time to give people 100 chances. No time for therapy to try and “make it work”. If it doesn’t now, it won’t later people seldom change and if you meet one that truly has or can, you’re witnessing a miracle.

If you want to walk, walk. If you want to stay, stay. But mark my words; the choice is yours and caring about what your parents, friends or co-workers think of your life is an absolute copout. You create your own misery and happiness, which no one can judge you for if you don’t give a shit.

So what I was married twice before Jeff? I wish I could take that back but at the same time, I learned a lot and don’t regret the life lessons one bit…ok, maybe the asshole that beat me I could’ve skipped on before the real poundings started…..my point – Fuck it. It hurts to end a “thing” but when it’s damaging your being you have to go. NO questions asked.

Building my self-image and taking care of number one.

Winning feels really good, until you’re not winning anymore (inside).

I have to admit that while I believed that training hard for hours per day counted as taking care of myself, it really didn’t. I have largely been taking care of goals, but not myself in the way that I deserve.

I love to dance, did it my whole life and when I had to quit, it left a hole in me the size of a shotgun blast. This giant unexplored emotional issue is probably part of the reason that I turned to drinking and other things in my early twenties.

Once I woke up to the lie that fake friends and drugs/alcohol made out of my life I vowed to take care of myself, truly take care of me, before all else.

Well, guess what? I fell flat on my face on that one for the past nearly 6 years and I’m willing to admit it entirely. I have a problem with giving my entire self to someone else and forgetting all about me. I know that is true for so many. While there is nothing at all wrong with loving hard and helping out endlessly and enjoying watching other succeed, there is something wrong when you wake up every morning wondering what your own life’s purpose is.

I gave up my business when I left Vancouver for Calgary because of a few things; it would be too hard to kick off in a city I knew I would never permanently move to, it was more profitable to take a job in real estate management and acquisitions again at the time, then it was that we could afford for me not to work and to take care of our home in the mountains and all our animals, then it became that I was needed to monitor the volatility that was the admin/accounting/HSE divisions of our Oil and Gas Engineering business and then that never went away for three years.

I lost myself. I lost myself in being a wife, a worker, a 9-5 ‘er of sorts and while that sucked I thought that it afforded me a lot of awesome things like travel, freedom etc…what I think it really did was erase who I was, my dreams and made me settle for less. Our vacations have always been working vacations. Jeff never takes a day off, his attention is 50% at the best of times but that’s what entrepreneurs sign up for.

I blogged my first birthday away from Vancouver.

I found that bodybuilding put me back in a place that made me feel in charge of my life again and I slowly started to build the business of my dreams back up inch-by-inch, brick by brick. I’ve had to back away and say fuck it to the company that isn’t my baby and keep that at arms length too because, in all this, it was one more thing that could suck the life out of me and my marriage, no bueno.

It’s time to grow up and show up for myself, finally, at nearly 40.

Surfing Sombrio Beach.

There are beautiful things to speak of, thousands of them, but those feel like they need to be kept close to my heart and private right now. Cherished and loved for brining all the light into my life. I have friends, family, support and talents that I don’t give myself enough credit for. Most of all, I have grit.

I’ve been carrying all this negative shit with me for years. I’ve finally reached a place after 39 years on the planet where I don’t care about what anyone thinks of my life. I’m too old for that shit and I’ve seen way too much to keep my mouth shut. Cancer didn’t kill me and some humps in the road are not taking my happy days away from me. Fuck that.

I’m not a whiner, a sympathy seeker, I don’t internet stalk people or obsess, I don’t mope on and on about these things or obsess in unhealthy ways, but there is a piece of my life being stolen from me every day and these issues of my past are taking space up in my brain. I need to make space for new, happy memories now.

Today, I am going to celebrate the fact that I am able to recognize what change needs to be made to make my life a happy one, and that I have the ability to make those changes without regret. If I were at home (and not writing this from week 2.5 on the road from an AirBnB) I would start a fire and burn away all the negativity in some symbolic ceremony. Right now I’ll have to settle for hitting the treadmill harder than I have in the last while.

I’m choosing to acknowledge the hardships, maybe shed a tear or two about it and then press on. Unpacking the damaged pieces will take more than just hitting “publish” on this post, but it will be my daily intention to put my energy into things that are right, feel good and work for me.

So, I make my 39th year, the year of no fucks being given and no opportunities being left at the table…and hopefully that carries on for the rest of my life for, I only have one.

I hope for the same freedoms for us all.

 

XX – S

The art of the juice cleanse

Many times have I committed to a juice cleanse and never have I managed to document any of the experience for clientele or the general public. Because I have embarked on yet another cleanse I feel that I had the time and space to do this – because I’m not leading a group cleanse or making juices myself.

This time, I decided to go with a commercially purchased cleanse. I looked at several options before taking the plunge and took several items into consideration:

– what was the company selling the cleanse all about

– where were they located

– price & value

– ease of starting/receiving juice

I had initially chosen a company out of Calgary as this would be a place to pick up from that was easily accessible and had nearly 0 carbon footprint. Unfortunately, they took more than forever to return emails (terrible, spoiled Albertan vendors with no idea of the rest of the worlds customer service initiatives *steam*, this province is so alienated by the oil and gas industry) and when then did, they were not helpful, or cheery, with getting a cleanse to me outside of their prescribed days and times – even though I said I would pick up.

So, as it has been going lately, I decided to look out of province. Why? Well, their markets aren’t as inflated and their vendors generally care about having paying customers.

Enter “Raw Raw” Cleanse: http://www.rawrawcleanse.com.

It took me just 2 days and $200 per person for a 6 day cleanse to arrive via courier to my office. Tina, the proprietor was very helpful. We had a bit of a hiccup with juice types and after sending an email, I was assured the additional juice would arrive next-day (today hopefully) to get the sequencing of juices done right. Wow.

If you are interested in the juices I have been drinking you can find them HERE. 

 

DAY 1

The juice arrived at 10 am to our offices. It came packaged in a styrofoam cooler with cooling gel packs above and below the juice. The package also contained a juicing reusable bag, a note on the expiry, a 25% off coupon and a quick reference card for consuming the juices in the right order.

 

IMG_7804

The "how to"

Because I was ravenous, I opened up the cooler and immediately (took pics for all of you) then shook and guzzled my first “Clean Greens”. I’ll just put it out there, green smoothies are NOT my favourite, never will be. I understand their vital importance in balancing our vitamins and minerals, but they are sour, and so was this one.

Next, on my way to a meeting I grabbed the ginger berry. WAY more my style and super easy to drink with a lovely ginger taste – can’t complain.

I did a couple random circles around the office looking at trail mix and bananas, but I did not partake. Win. Next, Cool melon. This is where I learned I didn’t have any cool melon but double the almond milk variety. So I drank an almond milk one…it was great – a little extra nut fiber in there, but it was good. Cool melon – for real – on the way home I snaked a cool melon out of my boyfriends order. Simple, sweet and minty – I actually use the same recipe for watermelon martinis in the summer.

On the way home, I was feeling like I needed a nap. By the time I got home, I completely thought I would have one – except work got in the way a bit. I felt SUPER agro for about 1 hour, so I ate a handful of cashew nuts – raw ones. By the time I walked the dogs and puttered around with small chores, I realized I might as well just get on with it and do my day 8 of 21 Day HIIT challenge. During this 20 minute super workout I felt like I had OK energy and could cope with all the exercises without utter exhaustion.

I then used the next Clean Greens as a post-workout drink – it still tasted bad. I was in bed reading by 8:30pm and sipped away at the final Citrus beverage until I fell asleep. I LOVE this one. Spicy, citrus-y, deliciousness. At this point, I was feeling full and so far haven’t felt starving. I don’t think Jeff can say the same.

I fell asleep and was probably up around 3am. Not sure if the lack of sleep ability was the dogs or what, but it was a tough night.

DAY 2

Waking up was a bit hellish. I managed to get back to sleep by 6 am and slept until about 7:45.

Got out of bed, guzzled some water and had my first Clean Greens. I didn’t feel hungry at all, and I still don’t.

As I sit and write this I miss coffee. The smell, the taste and the buzz. Hoping that getting through my errands and a big dog walk will pull me into the land of the living by 11 am.

Stay tuned……………………….

I headed out of the house just after 10 am with my second (and favourite) juice in-hand to have a scoot through the country with my pups.  I took the dogs out for a walk in the woods and nearly left them there – woah nelly, settle down. A little bit more easily aggravated these days I have to admit. Hangry. By 1130 am I was still tired and now annoyed at my dogs.  Again, I drove home and thought I was going to crash heavily, and didn’t. Instead, I had a handful of cashews, brewed up an herbal peppermint tea and hunkered down to watch a very disturbing movie on Netflix. I hopped up for one of the many million pee’s during the movie and grabbed by third juice of the day for “lunch”. I have just taken the dogs out for another walk, wrote a letter and am now going to attempt my HIIT for the day: WORK OUT .

It is currently 7 pm. I made it through a HIIT and 12 minutes of a 20 minute spin – legs were far too tired – I also managed a bit of Yoga without issue.

I lapped up half a clean green for a recovery drink, with a small handful of cashews.

Literally a handful of cashews.
Literally a handful of cashews.

Let me tell you , my stomach was grumbling, so I had another cup of herbal mint tea and did some laundry. I think I may pay heed to the recommendation of “moderate” exercise. I don’t even listen to my own good advice.

I currently have two juices left and am feeling quite alert. Not aggravated, that was definitely a morning thing. Though, I have been fantasizing about food for the last couple of hours. Poor Jeff, went to his grandmas and she ordered a pizza. Ruthless day for him.

I would call day 2 a success……nighty night until tomorrow!

DAY 3 

Day three arrived. My sleep wasn’t nearly as interrupted as last night however, I still woke up a little tired. Getting the ball rolling on the day seemed a little less painless and I had no desire to eat or any hunger.

The work day was 10 hours long with no breaks, a few times I had to run to Jeff’s office to scarf down some almonds & cashews. Probably ate at least 3/4 of a cup of each throughout the day.

I thought about food all day. When I wasn’t stressing about something, I literally only thought about food. I had to plan a luncheon for tomorrow and ordered about twice as much pizza for 15 people as I should have. I could taste it.

I think today was the hardest day by far. Knowing it’s nearly over and hearing a little voice inside your head say “c’mon, just have a snack”……I’ve been beating that voice back all day.

There is one more drink to go before bed. I know I can make it, I think Jeff has at least 5 meals prepared for us to eat tomorrow – which is SUCH a bad idea when you’re coming off of a cleanse. Honestly – ease into it with soup and salads….or suffer the wrath.

The dirty bits: bowel movements still occurring however, not at the mass and frequency expected. I didn’t go at all yesterday, no urge either. Jeff wont let me talk about his poops in public. Sissy.

Overall, today I felt the most spacey I have and the most weak. I opted for a longer walk with the dogs instead of exercising at full out capacity.

Ok, I lied. I'm a workout addict.
Ok, I lied. I’m a workout addict.

I will say that removing meals does remove a sense of community and that is one part of the human culture that I quite enjoy. There is a certain void left in a day where there is no communion with others, a sharp empty space that only cooking and enjoying a meal can fill. That, is what I truly craved most in this cleanse.

To flake…or not to flake

Frosted flakes….nuff said.

 

Here I sit crafting this particular post because lately the theme around the wellness industry has been FLAKES. Loads of ’em. Making alliances and bailing at the last moment, looking to get something for nothing, failing to understand business relationships…the list goes on and on.

In being a part of so many of these {negative} experiences I realize that being direct may be difficult and I know that I’ve definitely been judged for it however, it’s all in the delivery – so make your decisions count and always make them from the heart.

“There are no regrets born of telling the truth – truthfully.” – Mark these words. 

I would like to share with you all some thoughts on when and how to flake (or not to flake), and what said flaking may be interpreted as by those who are the beflaken.

I also tend to make up my own words as they suit me……kind of like those people who say things like: Nucular, irregardless, expresso, expecially,excetera.

#1 – If you’re not feeling it – don’t do it. Don’t kid yourself, take one for the team or whatever you want to call it. Go with your gut, feel your feelings, be real. Letting people down is so much worse because then you know you’ve doubted yourself, leading to MEGA second guessing in the future which then leads to an emotional = Ugh. Don’t agree to meet someone for a coffee when you know you’re going to bail later. This usually leads to making up a lie or just NOT showing up. Not cool. Pull up your big girl/boy panties and decline gracefully from the start.

#2 – If you have questions – ask em. Just like your teachers (hopefully) taught you, there are NO STUPID QUESTIONS. If you are getting into something you’re unsure of, clarify it. Don’t join a movement, a fitness class or a congo line without knowing that you’re into it at least 100% of the way.

#3 – If you’re only in it for the money – get ready for some let downs. I don’t know how many times I get asked – “so how do I get paid?” or “what’s my share?” when talking about new business co-ventures like retreats or special events. I get it, we all like to make money. You need it for things like food, shelter, entertainment and other necessities. But if the first thought in your head on any collaboration is “when do I get mine?” you may be in for some rude awakenings. Money isn’t everything – there are experiences in life that may cost YOU physically, emotionally or financially…but in the end, you’re better {AND RICHER} for it.

#4 – If you are working in the health industry (or looking for a mentor who is)- be sure you (they) practice what you preach. Nearly every one of the health, wellness and fitness elitists I meet can’t keep up with their own labels let alone be a “guru” to people who are looking for a leader. A leader should be a shining example of a well rounded and functional person (faults and all). How can you truly provide knowledge, understanding and empowerment to others when you don’t empower yourself with those same things? Be aware. There is nothing more false than a person who stands on a soapbox professing to be the next best thing since sliced Ezekiel bread by day,  who secretly hates themselves in masked Facebook/Twitter posts by night.

Be true to you. Warts and all. It is more motivational for the world to see you as a real whole person than someone who is trying to be the next Ghandi and failing miserably. Be a leader, be a living being with feelings, failures and fears.

Summarizing, if you are about to get involved in a life journey that doesn’t feel right. Stop and ask yourself a few questions before giving the big thumbs up and flaking later. The last thing anyone (including you) needs to question is your own integrity, truth and self-awareness.

Harness your power to be real, and leave the flakes to the nasty breakfast cereals of the 80’s.

NAMASTE!

Becoming Little Miss Bikini – S3 Ep1 – What am I doing with my life?

Continue reading “Becoming Little Miss Bikini – S3 Ep1 – What am I doing with my life?”