I Surrender

love, wedding, bridesmaid kissing brideDo you ever think to yourself, what the fuck am I doing with my life and what do I even want?

My views on what is truly important in this life and what makes a person valuable have changed significantly since getting sick. I suppose this shouldn’t surprise me, as it is a message that one will often hear from someone who has gone through a near death experience, a life-altering accident, or terminal or chronic illness.

I never believed that I would be good enough if I couldn’t do everything on my own. It’s one thing to be independent, but its another to believe that you are not a valuable human being if you need help sometimes. I took this to such extremes that I put myself in scenarios where I was the main care-giver, house-keeper, and money-maker, responsible for my partner, his two kids (part-time), and my dog. It never crossed my mind to value what I was sacrificing. I believed that it was exactly what would make me a valuable person. I had people who needed me, and I was willing to do all of this for them because in my mind, that’s what was going to make me good enough.

What it really did was break me. Because while I was willing and sacrificing, it wasn’t appreciated. I was still reminded that without him I’d never make it. That no one would ever love me again if I left him. That if I couldn’t manage my 3 businesses, myself, and take care of him and his children (one with different needs as he’s on the spectrum) and my dog and our home – at 23 years old – he was sure to reinforce my belief that I wasn’t worthy.

What does it even mean to make it? Do you hit a certain number in your bank account and suddenly, you’ve made it? Made it where? To what? Do you get married, make and raise beautiful babies, in your single family home with a yard and a white picket fence and a dog and a mailbox with your family name on it and suddenly you wake up one morning and you’ve arrived?

I’ve been living in the illusion of fear for so long now that I forgot what love was.

Most of what I’ve done in my life has been for this illusion, this image of what I thought my life was supposed to be. I thought being a housewife was supposed to be for people who would be taken for granted in exchange for being able to rely on someone else for income. I thought disability was supposed to be for the dying, the completely disabled, or the lazy. I thought family was supposed to be a burden.

What the actual fuck was I thinking and who taught me that?

I thought that overcoming my endometriosis, depression and anxiety was about being stronger and pushing through, so life gave me panic disorder.

I thought that overcoming my endometriosis, depression, anxiety and panic disorder was about being stronger and pushing through, so life gave me a “new best friend”, who later turned out to be my rapist and gave me PTSD and vestibulodynia.

I thought that overcoming my endometriosis, depression, anxiety, panic disorder, PTSD and vestibulodynia was about being stronger and pushing through, so life gave me a mentally and emotionally abusive boyfriend who I let break me and that’s when I ended up with Lyme and co-infections.

I thought that overcoming my new diagnoses of borrelia burgdorferi, babesia microti, bartonella henslae, ehrlichia chaffeensis, rickettsia, west nile, coxsackie virus, Epstein-barr virus, parvovirus B19, and microplasma pneumonia, was about being stronger and pushing through, so most recently we’ve discovered that I have “latent Epstein-barr virus and persistent Lyme (borrelia burgdorferi) in round body form” with a “Fatigue Severity Scale score of 59 [which] is markedly elevated and consistent of a severe level of fatigue. As I have previously documented, I believe that her severe and persistent level of fatigue justifies her being identified with a disability and that disability is likely to be chronic in the context of her presentations.” (Excerpts from my most recent report from my Governor General Award-Winning Internist in Calgary, AB)

What if none of this was to teach me to be stronger?

What if part of my issue and my blockage in healing is my stubborn mindset stuck on the undying need to be better, to be stronger, to push through, to overcome everything on my own?

What if this was to teach me to give in, to surrender? To stop trying to control every little piece of my life and to give those pieces room to fall into place on their own; to learn to lean on people; to learn how to ask for and, more importantly, how to accept help; to not judge myself or others in their own struggle or coping mechanisms or ways of healing. To give up the image in my mind of what I thought my life was supposed to look like and to instead create a lifestyle that works with what is in the present; to understand that the people who taught me how to think and how to live are also just doing their personal best and they don’t necessarily have it right, or that what is right for them may not be right for me; to take action based solely on what feels right for me instead of letting what I think is right for everyone else impact my decision making; that sometimes the people whom we believe that we need in our lives are not really meant for us at all, and that although it is scary, its okay to let them go.

I have fought my life so hard for so long to keep to the image I thought I was supposed to have, only to now realize that maybe it’s not what I ever truly wanted at all.

This realization is a long time coming yet it also feels very sudden and unexpected. I pray (also new to me), that this is the revelation that gives me the confidence to take action and change the trajectory of my life.

I spent the last 6 days up north with some really beautiful people who make conscious decisions every day to love and support one another. My cousin just got married, and for the past 9 months for the first time in their 8 year relationship she has played the role of a housewife. She cooks for him, cleans for him, makes his lunches and he works his ass off and supports them. And they seem to genuinely make this work, because, get this – they both appreciate the other and everything they do, and they show it! Wow. Why did I not think that was possible?! I genuinely, wholeheartedly believed that that was not a real option for anyone who wanted to be happy or good enough. And I am so grateful to have been proven wrong because it is helping me to see that a lot of the views and beliefs that I have or have had in the past are super fucked up and weird and yet also probably very common.

I am sure that I don’t need to explain how I’ve been proven wrong about my past beliefs about disability.

Probably one of the hardest pieces of this realization is that all I’ve ever truly wanted is a family who is able to show how much they love and appreciate me; how much they value me. A family who wants to spend time with me, even if I am unable to do what they’d normally do. A family who wants to learn how to support me and to teach me how to support them. A family who not only wants to show up for you, but is able to, and does.

Maybe this family doesn’t have to be blood. Maybe it isn’t about the individual at all but about their willingness, ability and commitment to unconditionally love. Maybe, as I’ve witnessed recently, it can be one or two or three people who just commit to being there for one another and allowing each other to show up exactly how they are, however that may be. A few people who truly value one another, exactly as they are, and show it. A few people who never let each other forget how much they are loved. A few people who do the work – for themselves and each other. Maybe family doesn’t have to be a burden; maybe it could be the most beautiful and precious thing you ever have – perhaps its the only thing that is truly real and the only thing a human truly needs.

So this is me, surrendering, asking the Universe to help me trust, and praying that love catches my fall.

Thank you Kai, Cam, Cindy, Dustin, Ken, Brittany and Cheyenne for showing me how you unconditionally love each other and work together to support one another each and every day. Kai and Dustin you have built a beautiful, loving family for yourselves, DNA not required. Thank you both for showing me what love looks and feels like in my body.

To my high school self…

It’s my 10 year reunion in a couple of weeks…

I already skipped the SDSS one, but now my first ever boyfriend and his amazing fiance are convincing me to go to DSS’s and although there is a part of me that wants to go, I cannot believe how just the sight of certain people on that invitation list can bring me right back to my fearful, insecure, high school-self who never felt like she fit into her own skin and was sure that she’d never be good enough.

No dumb male bully could ever cause the damage that I did to myself spending time with mean girls and telling myself that they were my friends.

A local councilor asked me if I would meet with one of her clients, a high school girl who is having a hard time; My salon chair is currently full of young girls getting ready for back to school; I’ve been watching cheesy rom-coms on Netflix like “To All the Boy’s I’ve Loved Before”, and “Kissing Booth”, and debating on whether or not I want to brave the reunion. All of which lead to…

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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.

Something Slipped in your Drink? Why We Need #MeToo

This afternoon some friends and I ended up at an impromptu get together, where I asked one of my guy friends to grab me a cider, in exchange for me sparing him from my next, sure-to-come feminism lecture. Little did either of us know that the form in which he brought me my drink was about to spark an important one.

Ladies! When a guy brings you a drink that is either already open or poured into a glass, what is your initial reaction?

Men! Do you have any idea why this might worry someone? Because of course my friend – who logically I know would never do this to me (otherwise I never would have asked him to get me a drink in the first place) – thought I was paranoid.

He thought I was paranoid because a) he is not a woman and has never woken up with no panties on, next to a man, with absolutely no idea

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How to be happy

I wish that everyone would just be honest with themselves and others, about what truly makes them happy. If, instead of being taught to follow the lifestyle steps and patterns that society tells us is “right”, everyone was taught to find what makes them happy, and to build their life around that, the compound effect would have a vast, positive impact on the whole world.

Yes, we all need to make a certain amount of money to live on, we all have to pay taxes and be contributing members of society. I’m not saying that everyone should quit their jobs and live barefoot and carefree on the beach. What I am saying, is that if you are truly honest with yourself about what style of actions, behaviors, thoughts,

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Meditation; a game changer.

You’re talking to the girl who wouldn’t take yoga class because she’d burst out laughing during savasana – the meditative, still, yoga posture that always ends a session – out of the pure discomfort of being still.

The girl who would rather be doing burpees or mountainclimbers or deadlifting than rest day or yoga/stretch day.

It’s become clear however, that I’m not coming out the other side of Lyme the same girl I went in as.

Never would I have thought that I’d be paying money to sit with a group of people while

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My new dating profile

Releasing myself from societal norms and 300 characters or less.

We live in a world that is afraid to be seen. We hide behind computer screens and then wonder why we don’t have any real relationships. We don’t want to listen to other people’s problems because they’re too real and we don’t like having to face that kind of reality but then we wonder why we’re all alone in our own. All we want is a date, a relationship, but we’re too afraid of being rejected to ask anyone out on a date. We stay within our comfort zones of 300 characters or less and a few photos and talk about how much “fun” our lives are. No one wants to do the hard stuff so we pretend it doesn’t exist until we can’t pretend anymore. But when we finally stop pretending

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Juice Fasting and Social Media Detox!

I am on the end of day 3 of my juice fast, day 5 of my cleanse and day 3 of no social media or cell phone use (phone/text). My Facebook, Instagram and snapchat are all logged out and I’ve only used very minimal email for communication for the past 3 days, and only when necessary.

It’s been beautiful.

I’ve meditated, read, and detoxed. I’ve spent more time in complete silence than I probably ever have before. I went over 24 hours without speaking a single word to another person. I haven’t left the house besides the vet on Friday, and my only visitor was one girlfriend today.

The juice fast has been great, as has been the whole cleanse so far. It is 2 days of raw food, prepping my body for fasting, then 3 days of juice fasting (making your own juices as per their recipes not store bought), and then tomorrow will begin 2 days of easing my body back into solid food. I have to be very careful during this time to follow the meal plan strictly. In the first few days it’s easy to follow the meal plan because it’s new, but now that I’ve had 3 days without solid food and I’m nearing the end, I find myself really wanting those chocolate almond bites that are prepped in the fridge for Tuesday nights dessert! After a juice fast though, my body is not prepared to digest many foods such as leafy greens and I’m sure it’s not prepared to digest the fat from all the coconut oil in the chocolate almond bites that I want to eat!

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Balance

This weekend I did very little, because I chose to do little, not because my body forced me to. That’s not to say that I was bursting with extra energy, but I could have pushed myself to do more and I didn’t. I did a huge grocery shop Saturday, organized my meds, and attended a baby shower today. Besides that I vegged out and binge watched Grace and Frankie on Netflix (I’m going to be Frankie when I grow up LOL).

I ate chocolate and pho and cheese and crackers and drank tea under a blanket on the couch. Alone. Happily. By choice. My laundry basket is full, my dishwasher is clean (and full) and my kitchen is dirty. For the first time in a month. And most significantly, the first time in ages (a year? Maybe 2?) that it’s dirty because I’ve chosen to chill and binge Netflix and not because my body has forced me into submission.

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A letter to the person who’s about to give up their life, from someone who almost did.

As I was laying in a soul and toxin – cleansing salt bath this evening topped with some beautiful gifted Sage lavender bath salts and Sage analgesic bath salts, meditating to a guided meditation for awakening your guide, I was surprised to be feeling both the highest and best parts of myself as well as the absolute darkest shadows during the “who am I?” question.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by this at all as the light cannot be without the dark, but hey! I’m new at this.

I am still learning to ask myself questions and trust the answers. Frankly I am still learning to trust myself at all. At the end of the meditation when asking what I need to do, I intuitively recieved, “A letter from someone who almost gave up(died by suicide), to someone who almost did,” so I chose to trust that there is someone out there who needs to hear this right now so I am writing to whomever that may be.

I see you.

And deep in my chest, I feel you. I know you are hurting so deeply that you cannot possibly see the surface, let alone the light. I am seeing the light for you. I am feeling it for you the same way that I am feeling your pain and I am sending it to you. I am washing away your dark.

Life is worth it.

I promise you this from deep within my bones. It is worth it. My journey through the dark was about 14-25 years long, and now, I can finally say with honesty that it was worth it. I know that many people will read that and think they can’t possibly stick it out for that many years. I definitely would have said that, but I did it. Some people only have to sludge through the mud for a few months. No matter where you are in your journey don’t assume that because mine was that long yours will be too. It is likely to be shorter, it could also be longer; my hope in you reading this is that this article makes it a little bit shorter for you.

What I’m coming to understand I would have liked someone to say to me in my darkest days was, “I’m feeling it too, but we are in this together.” I, however, needed to feel unsupported in my outside world so that I would eventually be forced to turn inward, looking to my higher self and the energy of the Universe to carry me. It will happen if you let it. Ask for it, invite it in.

I cannot even count the number of times I’ve seriously considered killing myself. Mostly I was tired of hurting and I truly believed that the world would not only go on without me but would actually be better without me. I am now being taught how untrue that is, but that is plain and simple how I felt. Even when I grew a bit and learned different coping skills and got to a place of not being at risk to myself, I still was never happy. I was your typical, averagely miserable human being. Knit-picking at things that I realize now don’t effect me. Taking things personally that at their core didn’t have anything to do with me. Needing people to like me. Measuring my level of success on what was visible to other people. Feeling overall irritable all the time. In comparison to my below-rock-bottom depression and panic disorder, this is what I thought happy was! To be honest, I think it’s what a lot of the human race considers normal.

I can now say that was most definitely not happy, though it may be average.

I don’t know exactly what got me to where I am today. I imagine that it is a combination of many small things compounded – counseling, medical intervention, drugs when needed, supplements, family support, lack of family support, a whole bunch of not so great doctors along with a few great doctors (this is not to downplay the role of doctors in mental health, it is to express that I understand that you’ve probably had a lot of unfortunate doctors visits but to keep trying new ones because there are a few really good ones making a really big difference), naturopaths, energy healers, mentors, exercise, clean eating, salt baths, infrared saunas, lemon water, meditating, less t.v. more personal development reading, writing, mindfulness, learning when to say no, learning when to say yes, learning when to be “selfish”, and learning when to be selfless. Learning what boundaries are – not only the definition but truly understanding the concept in my life, and how to place them, was also more than minimal towards my healing.

I still have bad days, yesterday was one of them. I had treatment in the morning earlier than I’d normally be up, then continued to my first in person appointment at the Complex Chronic Disease Program, a clinic that says they treat Lyme disease but doesn’t actually have a good way of diagnosing us, nor do they have any lyme-literate doctors (theirs all quit, in my understanding because they weren’t allowed to properly treat), so instead they diagnose us with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and central sensitivity syndrome which are all illnesses with unknown causes and unknown cures. This does at least give patients grounds for disability and access to programs that will teach them coping skills and offer counseling, acupuncture, doctors and other supports. The point is, my life isn’t all rainbows and butterflies and in fact the truth is that I’m in pain every day, sick most of them, need about 12-14 hours of sleep per night and am not well enough to work as much as I’d like to or exercise or do as much socializing as I like or to be independent. I sleep more than I ever have, I am sicker than I have ever been, and yet I’m still happy. And I’m still telling you that it’s worth it to live.

Find what makes you happy and do it. Not just one thing but a million little things compounded. Find what adds a little bit of meaning to your life. It’s actually very simple, something either makes you feel good inside or it doesn’t. Sometimes we have to do the things that make us feel bad such as take that client that isn’t our favorite but we need to pay the bills, or visit that family member that really means well but drives us nuts, but wherever you’re able to, choose the option that makes you feel good. If you feel good while reading, read instead of watching tv. If you feel inspired after watching a documentary, choose one of those over your mindless TV show. If you have a favourite walk but you have to drive to it, drive to it. Do guided meditations for abundance and manifestations. Write down what you’re grateful for each day. Buy the flowers, or if you can’t spend the money go for a walk and pick them! I don’t care what it is that makes you feel good, inspired or energized, only you can decide what those things are, what resonates with you. It’s up to you and only you to find those things and to do them.

Do minimum one a day. It can be as simple as having your morning coffee on the patio. Start with one simple, easy to incorporate step. Just one is all I ask. Then over time as it feels comfortable and right for you, add in another, and another, and so on. It isn’t a race, there is no time limit. You do it in a year, or if you’re not ready you can do it slower and spread it out over 14 years like I did! You are the only one make that decision, and it doesn’t feel like it, but it is a decision to take these steps. You may not be able to decide how you feel, but you can decide what action steps you take. Choose one thing and start.

Whether you climb out of your darkness in a year or 30 years, I promise you, it’s worth it.