Weekend in the Woods

& Lyme Prevention Tips

I just had an amazing weekend away at Campbell Bay Music Festival on Mayne Island, BC. It was an incredible weekend spent listening to great music with the most beautiful people on breathtaking farms and in magical forests. Seriously I walked into the field and couldn’t help but think, “these are my people.”. We walked around in bare feet and sat on blankets in both the light of the sun and the moon; we swam in ponds and walked through the woods and sat in the forest. It was everything I love and more (minus the makeshift outhouses!).

For most of my life I have gone on getaways like this and not thought twice about the possibility of ticks. I wouldn’t have even worn bug spray because, in my own words, “the chemicals in that shit have got to be worse for me than anything I could possibly get from a little bug”. Naivety at its finest folks! Of course I can remember hearing the odd thing about ticks and Lyme disease but I honestly just didn’t think that it was a big risk. To this day the only tick I have ever seen in real life is one from my friend’s freezer that she pulled off her dog a couple of months ago – on Mayne Island – so it never used to cross my mind that I would get Lyme disease or that I’d ever been bit by a tick. I thought that if I had been bitten by a tick I would know, because I believed that I would find it lodged under my skin or something gross like that. Oh man, was I ever naive.

It took me a while after finding out the cause of my life-altering health concerns to feel comfortable being barefoot in the grass or to sit in the grass or walk through a forest or to garden. I know some Lyme survivors that are so filled with fear that cannot even walk through a grassy field, they need to take the paths. I am a person who needs nature in my life and I cannot sacrifice my well-being and the healing I receive from nature out of fear of being bit again. Therefore, I had to come to a place of educated awareness and safety rather than my past states of naivety, then fear.

Before living through Lyme I never would have tucked my pants into my socks while hiking, worn bug spray, or even done a proper tick check. I simply didn’t know better.

I know that there are people out there who push the bug spray or the tick checks or the prevention and education of Lyme hard and can come off as being paranoid sometimes. Though I do my best not to be that way, I am guilty of it too and that’s how I know that it stems from genuine fear. Fear that someone else might have to go through the same thing we have. Fear that we could have somehow prevented a friend or family member from going through it if we’d only educated them a little further. Fear, simply as a suffering human being, not wanting another human to suffer in the same excruciating way. I would not wish Lyme and co-infections on anybody.

I know that Lyme can be contracted in backyards and parks in my hometown of Ladner, BC, but when spending a weekend on the Gulf Islands in the woods and farm fields, I took a reasonable amount of precautions. Not because I’m crazy and paranoid or can’t sleep at night for fear of being bit, but because I’m not naive anymore and I understand my risks.

Did I wear socks up to my knees or my pants tucked into them? No. Obviously not. It was a beautiful sunny festival and I wanted to have fun and not look like a total dork. I did however use bug spray every day – the chemical-shit-storm kind with deet, even though I’ve gone almost 100% natural with all of my body and cleaning products. I did sit on a blanket instead of directly on the grass or forest ground. I did do full tick checks each night before bed. I did throw all of my clothing and towels straight into the dryer before they went in the wash or touched anything else in the house. I did vacuum the laundry room where dirt from my clothes fell and could have left poppy-seed sized ticks hiding.

This probably sounds extreme to some people – at least it would have to me pre-Lyme – but it honestly was so easy and has minimized my risk factor significantly. Of course there is always going to be the risk of being re-infected due to missing one, or being bit while at the festival and never finding it, or even of one latching onto me after I got home from within my own yard, but at least I know that I did what I could do to prevent this for myself – especially, but not limited to, during a higher risk situation like this weekend. My memories from this festival can now hopefully continue to be ones of beauty and healing, rather than one of, “I really wish I’d just put on the bug spray”.

Embracing Natural Beauty – 11 Years in the Beauty Industry

So here’s the thing.

I love my natural curls (finally). I love the natural creases around my eyes that will one day be deep wrinkles. I love my natural grey-white hairs (though I do have way more of them than I think I should for 27!). A lot of my life in the beauty industry has been about covering up that natural beauty, changing it in some way because it’s not pretty enough. When that change is solely because you as an individual want to look a certain way for self-expression and to look the way you feel, then I love everything about that. Why shouldn’t you get to look exactly how you feel you want to look? And why would anyone other than you, have a right to an opinion on that? They don’t. They may think they do, but I’m telling you, they don’t. Don’t ever listen to anyone’s version of beauty but your own.

As far as I’m concerned, if I am happy and comfortable with my appearance, be it my hairstyle, hair colour, makeup – or lack there of, piercings, tattoos, choice of shoes, length of my eyelashes, and someone decides to judge me based on said appearance, then that’s on them, not me.

I’ve finally learned to truly embrace my curls, and not in the I’ll blow them out and re-curl them nicer kind of way. I’m talking the leave the house with wet hair because if I fully diffuse them dry they’ll frizz and ABSOLUTELY NO ONE touch them ’til they’re dry! kind of way. For those of you who don’t have experience with naturally curly hair, it’s frizzy, it is never a perfect curl, there’s always some rogue curl sticking out somewhere along with that one weird piece that is frustratingly straighter than the rest. It’s messy. It requires product. It’s also incredibly easy, fun and sexy once you develop a positive relationship with it. I can remember when I first started hair styling, working in a salon where I was encouraged to basically be the exact opposite of who I am. No matter how long I spent on my hair it wasn’t good enough. My natural dark brown curls were definitely not going to cut it but of course I still wanted to be a naturally thick, straight-haired, blonde with a tiny waist and large chest back then anyways. Oh and obviously I wanted a thigh gap too.

This August will be 11 years in the beauty industry for me, and yet I’ve never thought of myself as being in the beauty industry so much as the people industry. I love making people feel beautiful. I love helping people look the same on the outside as they feel on the inside. I love helping people achieve whatever look they want the world to see. You know what 11 years in this industry has taught me? Everybody’s idea of beauty is different. And I think that that is a gorgeous thing! Because it means that no matter what you look like, there will always be people who think you’re ugly. There will also always be people who think you’re beautiful. So instead of trying so hard to look like something you’re not (unless that’s what you really want of course!) why not just embrace exactly who you are? Wrinkles, muffin top and all!

For the first time in my life this winter/spring I got acne! I’ve always been blessed with decent skin and I hated the feeling of people seeing the acne but I still didn’t bother with anything more than a BB cream. I don’t know why I didn’t go to the trouble of covering it up more, I guess because knowing it was visible didn’t stop me from doing or being anything I wanted or needed to do or be. I used to always wear at least a little bit of makeup, not over the top but I was a definitely not leaving my house without mascara kind of girl. Then when I got sick I didn’t have the energy to do it anymore, and now I’ve gone so long without worrying about it that I actually really like how I look without it.  Do I feel an extra boost when I put a little more effort in for a night out? Of course I do. Do I feel the need for that on a daily basis or do I feel less worthy or less pretty when I look like my just-out-of-bed natural self? Absolutely not. I love my just-out-of-bed natural self! And even better, it’s so easy and who doesn’t want a little extra time before their morning alarm?!

If you follow my blog regularly then you’ll know that I got my septum pierced a couple of weeks ago at Brass Eagle Tattoo and Piercing, Ladner Village’s own, new, professional tattoo and piercing parlor. I love that there are new businesses coming to town stirring up little old Ladner’s perception of beauty. Although I’ve never exactly fit society’s standard view of female beauty – my purple hair, undercuts, naturally darker tones, a few small to medium tattoos and a couple different piercings over the years – I’ve never been too far outside the lines either. Almost every image I’ve shown the world has been just enough outside standard beauty to still be considered socially acceptable. In my experience once people have gotten to know me their initial judgement of my purple hair (or whatever else it may be in regards to my appearance at the time) fades fairly quickly. When I got my septum pierced I knew I might be pushing that boundary a little further than I have in the past. I do believe that septum piercings are making headway and the adorable, small, classy jewelry that are now available for them moves mountains in that regards but I understand that my septum piercing could potentially push some people’s comfort zones. It has actually become a very interesting social experiment for me as many people who told me not to do it, have ended up liking it. And many people whom I didn’t consult with – for knowing they don’t like them and, to be frank, for not caring that they don’t like them – have felt quite comfortable telling me that they do not like it. As if that is supposed to mean something to me. Everyone has responded with either they thought I’d always had it, or they hate it. Which is hilarious to me that, as my little brother pointed out, it either looks so natural that it must have always been there, or that it bothers someone so much that they really dislike or hate it. This just shows that everyone’s view of beauty is different, and that someone else’s opinion of what looks beautiful on you, has a lot more to do with them than it does with you. In which case, why doesn’t everyone stop trying to be beautiful to other people’s standards and just try to be themselves?!

I have a confession. I love the natural grey-hair movement. I love that women all over and of all ages are embracing their natural grey hair and totally rocking it. I’ve been finding grey hairs in my head since I was 16, so maybe that’s why I don’t find them to be a big deal. But also, I’m only 27 so no amount of grey hair is going to make me look old at this point. Older than I am? Sure! But lets be real. Even a full head of white hair is not going to make a 27 year old look 95. Therefore, I do understand that my perspective may be different than yours, but the point is to embrace exactly what you feel most comfortable and happy with. As a hairstylist I’m not really supposed to like that. I am supposed to be convincing you to colour your grey because then I can make more money off of you. I hate that. The way I see it, no amount of work or money is worth me convincing you that you aren’t beautiful exactly how you are. In fact, I see so many incredibly fun and gorgeous ways to enhance naturally grey hair that I’m not worried about it because I am sure that many of my clients who do stop colouring and go to their natural grey will end up wanting to do totally different colour services to add flare and personality to their natural colour. Even if they don’t, the holes in my schedule from less colours will only be filled with other incredible clients, and that’s great too because if there is one thing that I know for sure, it’s that I am not ever going to base my business on making someone else feel like they are not good enough, not wealthy enough, or not altered enough, to be beautiful.

So to any and all of you who are concerned with being pretty enough, don’t ever forget that everyone’s version of pretty is different. Rock yours and let others rock theirs.

Peace and Love.

Dear Doctors, there’s something you need to understand.

Dear Doctor’s, there’s something you need to understand…

I believed you every single time you misdiagnosed me.

I believed you when you told me I had chronic fatigue syndrome.

I believed you when you told me I had anxiety.

I believed you when you told me I had depression.

I believed you when you told me I had PTSD and Panic Disorder.

I believed you when you told me I had Central Sensitivity Syndrome and that there was no known cause or cure.

I believed that you would have told me if the Lyme testing wasn’t accurate.

I believed that you would have told me if my test came back positive. (Note for the public – did you know that your GP is legally allowed to tell you that your Lyme test came back negative when it came back positive? I didn’t.)

I believed that you had my best interest at heart, not a political or private agenda.

I believed you had my back.

It’s funny to me, that after all this time of advocating in the mental health world and understanding how many gaps there are within the system, that it hadn’t crossed my mind that those gaps are in the general medical system as well.

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How to talk to your struggling youth about mental health.

Through my positions as a youth with lived experience in the child and youth mental health world and advocating over the years, I have been asked by several parents how to talk to their children who are struggling. I can’t imagine what its like to be a parent of a child with mental health struggles, but I do know what it’s like to be on the other end of it. I’d like to think that I’ve grown and matured enough to have some kind of an idea of how to help them, but the truth is, its hard. And what works for one child and parent is not necessarily going to work for the next. There are however a few common parent-child situations that I hear most often, that I feel I can comment about.

Obviously the advice in here is based on my own life and the stories I personally hear from youth, parents and professionals, and by no means do I believe that this even begins to cover the vast spectrum of family dynamics or mental illness.

When your child says that they are experiencing something, believe them. And by “believe them” I don’t just mean silently believe them while telling them that they’ll be fine. No child or person wants to feel depressed, or

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Self-care is a septum piercing.

So today I did a thing – to my face – against all my friend’s and family’s advice (besides 2) – and it made me think about self-care.

I have seen a flooding of internet posts on self-care in the recent months, even more so in the last week with the recent tragic Hollywood deaths by suicide, as well as many equally as tragic deaths by suicide that happen every single day to people’s families and friends and coworkers and lovers all around the world. But did you know that the media isn’t recommended to talk about suicides because there are studies that show that this can trigger other people to end their lives too? I don’t know where I stand around that one because to be honest I haven’t read the studies, and I have mixed feelings surrounding the obviously complex pro’s and con’s surrounding the balance between raising awareness for a continuously-rising suicide rate, the risk of triggering someone else who’s already struggling, and the feelings of the deceased’s loved ones. What I do think we need to talk about though, is how to better take care of ourselves, each-other and our communities so that possibly, we can help keep our people healthy and happy. The scope of mental health is so vast and there is still so much that we don’t know. Maybe you are perfectly healthy as it is, both mentally and physically and don’t need any help ever, but let’s face it that’s not the case for most people. Which is why I love that self-care is becoming trendy, but I want to tell you that it’s not all about pedicures and bubble baths with a glass of red.

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