Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Redifining Beauty?

This August I had the pleasure of having my four year old niece Lexi over for a sleepover. You can learn a lot from a four year old.
While she was getting dressed that morning she says; "I have a cute bum." "I have a cute belly."

"Who told you that?" I asked her.

"I just knowed."

Miss Lexi Lou

When relaying this to my 91 year old Grandmother a few weeks ago, she said; "Well someone must have told her that."

It got me thinking. Maybe someone did tell Lexi she has a cute bum or belly but she owns it. She declares it is true. I think we are born knowing what the best parts of us are. We LEARN what others think are the worst or less desirable parts of us are. Then we own it and declare it as true. We forget we ever knew what the best parts of us are.

It's a fact that babies are drawn to beautiful things. Why do you think they love necklaces and hair so much? They also don't know it's not polite to stare yet, so if you catch a baby staring at you, it's because they think you are beautiful. You know whom thinks I'm beautiful? My nephew Thomas.
Down the line we then have to RELEARN what our best parts are. Learn what they are by our definition and not anyone else's. I have been trying to learn this for a few years. The journey started with photos taken by Julia Busato. I wanted to love the body I was in, realizing that my body would never be the same was it was in that moment.

Beautiful right? And can you believe that I thought I was fat then? That's kinda screwed up. I wish I was still that size. At the moment I weigh more than I ever have and I'm not proud of it. But I also know how I got there and not all of it was in my control, depression will kill the love you have for your body, it will make you just not care. It will make you turn to comfort food in excess. It will make you eat to fill holes that are not satisfied by food but you need an instant fix and one cookie turns to 6 and you still feel empty.

Now that I am feeling better and being treated I can take action. I'm seeing a dietician in two weeks and I can't wait. And it's not about weight loss. It's about loving this body that GOD has given me right now. When you love your body, you want to take care of it, put good things in it, move it about to keep your heart healthy. That means drinking half my body weight in oz, taking the stairs at work, at least 150mins of exercise a week, wearing clothes that bring me joy and not just cause they fit, enjoying chips on Friday nights ONLY, lots of fruits and vegetables and allowing myself a cookie or two once in a while without feeling guilty and only eating if I'm hungry. And I bet the weight follows.

In the mean time I have to define the beautiful parts of my body for myself. No one has to tell me I have pretty eyes or sexy legs or a f***ing fantastic rack, I just knowed.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Joy is....

It's been awhile since my depression confession. I'm not sure what has kept me from writing but I think it has to do with the fact that despite the hopeful tone of my last post, life has been hard. These last months have been filled with lots of hard work and lots of change. There has been lots of dark moments entwined with joyful ones. In fact I had one of those today. You see, I've felt so good lately and it really surprised me that I started to cry after getting a call about a play I had auditioned for and did not get. It didn't take me long to realize it wasn't about the play at all but about a lie I have been telling myself since the very first time I was picked last for a team (and every time after) that I am unchooseable. I mean that is the pattern in my life, last picked for teams, not picked for plays, not picked for friendships, and certainly NEVER picked when it comes to men. There is a scene in Grey's Anatomy, season 2, I think, when Meredith and Derrick are stuck in an elevator (it's about halfway thru the season after Addison arrives and Derrick has to pick) and Meredith pleads with him and tells him to pick her. It's a powerful scene and I have often felt like she did. Clearly this is a lie and something I'll be talking about in counselling this week. ;)

That's not what I came to write. I came to write that despite of that, despite bad days or moments, during recovery there can still be lots of JOY and this summer was filled with it. I wrote this list to remind myself of all I do have, because I do have a lot. I want to share that list with you, to give you hope today if you need it.

JOY is a baby shower for an old friend.

JOY is feeling safe and secure in the house where that shower was held.

JOY is kisses from Thomas. He really does give good ones, all over your face.

JOY is singing my heart out at our end of the year choir show, alone and killing it.

JOY is drinks and food afterwards.

JOY is a brand new nephew named Lochlan.

JOY is watching my sister grow as a mom.

JOY is hearing her tell you, that Loch is lucky you are his aunt.

JOY is a really good book club book.

JOY is only really books you want to.

JOY is cuddles with Lochlan.

JOY is picking out a birthday gift for Thomas.

JOY is listening to Hanson.

JOY is thrift shopping for vintage items.

JOY is a very old quilt.

JOY is yoga.

JOY is spending a whole Sat shopping downtown.

JOY is a pool party at the home of a co-worker.

JOY is serving table 1, at the soup kitchen.

JOY is joining H at the piano.

JOY is my bible study family.

JOY is singing with a grand piano.

JOY is exploring antique stores.

JOY is flee markets.

JOY is a shadow named Lexi.

JOY is playing paper dolls.

JOY is conversations with my brother.

JOY is campfires.

JOY is feeling peaceful.

JOY is jumping waves.

JOY is Lexi giggles.

JOY is watching the sunset with my Dad.

JOY is a Backstreet Boy, living room solo dance party.

JOY is garlic spread.

JOY is a needle and thread.

JOY is planning a baby shower.

JOY is a harvest table found by a co-worker.

JOY is 10 dollar chairs to go with.

JOY is exploring the area where I live.

JOY is vintage jewellery.

JOY is a house, full of  sisters and cousins.

JOY is making Grandma a perfect ice cream sundae.

JOY is two little girls playing dolls in my spare room.

JOY is a sleepover with Lexi.

JOY is choosing NOT to go in the haunted house.

JOY is a working sewing machine.

JOY is textiles.

JOY is making pillows out of vintage hankies.

JOY is a really ugly yellow chair.

JOY is spending an afternoon on the farm house porch.

JOY is Zumba.

JOY is a sacred place to write, with like minded souls.

JOY is discovering Nate and Beth.

JOY is really cold swims in Georgian Bay.

JOY is having the best sleep ever.

JOY is lovingly prepared food, enjoyed together.

JOY is home.

JOY is top down days.

JOY is ice cream sundae dishes.

JOY is being certain that I will be okay.

JOY is farmers market flowers.

JOY is drive-in movies.

JOY is finding a second or is it third, church community.

JOY is younger cousins.

JOY is vintage suitcases.

JOY is being certain that true love is meant for me.

JOY is yummy ice cream with a friend and a walk on the beach.

JOY is having Thomas climb into your lap to finish his bottle and Lexi cuddle in.

JOY is homemade strawberry, chocolate, and salted caramel sauce.

JOY is spending the afternoon at the beach with your best friend.

JOY is the candy store.

JOY is pretty dainty rings.

JOY is new (to me) clothes.

JOY is hugs from co-workers.

JOY is gazing at the stars when arriving home really late from work.

JOY is every child I care for in the hospital.

JOY is learning form those children.

JOY is paying someone else to cut the grass.

JOY is cornflowers.

JOY is sunsets seen from Recovery room.

JOY is feeling hopeful.

JOY is healing.   

Friday, January 2, 2015

2014 reflection - a confession

Happy New Year everyone! Now is the time to reflect on the past year.


I hesitated  to write this post b/c isn't all babies and adventures - although there is some of that but it is also about my struggle this year. A struggle that I carried with me all year - and maybe before that. A struggle that I didn't have a name for, until two weeks ago when my DR told me I scaled mild to moderate on the depression scale. I also don't want to make this post a pity party, because it is not. You might think WTF, she has a blessed life and I'll admit that I do. It's not about that, it's about a chemical imbalance in my brain that I can not fix on my own. If two of my lovelies Anne Theriault and Melody Ross have taught me anything this year, it is sharing our stories are important. Someone out there might need to read this, so this post is for them.


The year started with a kick in the pants from a friend whom told me I wasn't putting myself 'out there' enough when it came to dating. Man, I was mad at him but he was right. So I did what he suggested and the result found me with a really nice guy. A guy that I could see myself falling in love with some day. And while he could see himself maybe falling for me someday, he just wasn't ready and we decided that we'd just be friends for now. I'll admit, I was sorely disappointed. And I discovered, I was still carrying around some pain left over from some long past relationships and I had the opportunity to work thru that at the time.


This is when I first noticed something wasn't quite okay. You see I didn't realize how much stress I had, until it was gone and then came back. The guy I had been spending time with made me feel at peace and content and worry free and we had fun together. He was a great hugger, which is a huge stress reliever for me apparently. Even though I didn't share all my stress with him, I felt like I could. I felt the burden of the world lift because I could share it with him if I wanted. I felt safe. So the stress went away. And when he went away, it came back with a vengeance. I felt like I was on high alert all the time, at work, at home, everywhere. I didn't feel relaxed ever, and I never felt peaceful.


Over the last couple years I have learned a lot about myself and what I need to do to make myself feel okay, so I worked my way thru The Walk by Brave Girls. My take away from that is; we are all BELOVED and each day I should go out in the world and act as if I'm beloved and treat everyone as if they are beloved too. In doing this, I think, I hope, I have become more gentle with other people - I'll be the first to admit I can be judgy sometimes. It has certainly helped with my interactions with my patients, for which I am grateful. However, that gentleness didn't quite transfer over to myself.
What I bring to the circle
I also participated in #100happydays. Which I'm sure kept me from falling into a black hole. I wrote about it here.

Getting ready for a music video shoot.

Nick Carter....my boy and his guitar.

During that time, I went on an amazing adventure to New Orleans. It is a place I have wanted to visit for a long time. I felt good there...I'm pretty sure I was a Southern Belle in another life time. I loved learning the history; creoles, slavery, the civil war, jazz, pirates, voodoo, witch craft and vampires. It was like being in France/Spain but I didn't have to leave the continent.  Occasionally, I wished for a particular male companion but I actually enjoy travelling by myself. My schedule, my agenda. I got to see nearly everything I wanted and more and have made a list of places I want to visit next time. On the way there I stopped in at The Museum of African American History and learned that we are all descended from a single female in ancient Africa; mitochondrial DNA proves it. Making us more the same than we think. I stopped in Nashville and stood on the Opry stage, there are no words for this. I toured the grounds of two very beautiful plantation homes, Laura and Oak Alley. Both very different in appearance and how they treated their slaves. It was a good trip and I felt good when I came home.

Me in New Orleans


Oak Alley

I finished up my fourth palliative care course and only had one and my placement to go but decided to take the summer off. I had plans, lots of them.


Then something bad happened at work. A patient I was looking after, got really sick and there was nothing I nor the DR could do about it and she died. I think this is when hole started to open up. I believe this b/c the same week, my sister had friends visiting from overseas - girls I had met before and absolutely adore and had been excited to see - and all of a sudden, I didn't care if Katie included me in their activities or not. That's kind of messed up, particularly since I love those girls so much.
Katie, Charlee, Lily and Lucy at Sauble Beach.

 My nephew Thomas was born and it felt anticlimactic. He was born the same day that bad thing happened at work and for awhile they were linked in my mind. I should add here, now I think he is the bees knees and I think he thinks that about me too.


I developed a stomach ulcer that would not go away. My migraines became worse, when normally they are better in the summer. I couldn't wait for the summer to be over and I had a fun summer, one of my oldest friends got married and I did lots of fun stuff. I rode a horse for the first time, my Nana turned 80, my Grandma turned 90, there was a family reunion on my Dad's side and I got to become good friends with my cousins James and Alex.


The beginning of fall saw me in Montreal for CNTC Arbonne, with a few members of our team. I explored and listened and showed up. I felt like I belonged, like I mattered. I came home inspired, knowing I wasn't quite ready for it all yet but with plans to get me ready. That inspiration didn't last very long. I felt unhappy, I told my Mom I was unhappy. She told me I was okay, that I was doing okay.
Best view in Montreal
I felt disconnected from everything. Except for one thing; that guy and I were still hanging out a bit and I felt like he tethered me to the earth. Which I realize now is completely unfair. We started to hang out more and I hoped it was going to go somewhere but if I'm honest I knew it might not and when I came home from my amazing trip to North Carolina (you can read about that here) he told me he didn't want to date me anymore.
Nags Head Beach

Big black ugly hole. I admit, I can be melodramatic sometimes (you might want to stay away from me if I have to work nights), I tend to worry but I am usually able to pull myself out of it. I know how to deal with my stress, what I need to do to alleviate it but none of those things were working. Work was stressful, so I applied and got a new job -which I'll have had for 3 months by the time I start it. I was angry. I had worked so hard to find out who I was and it didn't appear to make a difference. I didn't want to do things I didn't want to do -like work or laundry. I didn't want to do anything I loved to do - like yoga or choir or scrapbooking; it's taken me way longer to finish my New Orleans scrapbook than it should have and the only reason I went to choir was b/c Tara picked "Shake it out" by Florence and the Machine. Which I sang for this lyric "And I am done with this graceless heart, tonight I'm gonna cut it out and then restart. "  This was how I felt...told you I could be melodramatic. I literally had to drag myself to do stuff. And I think I ate my feelings too.  I hated the palliative  care course I was taking and I hated the instructor. But my Mom kept telling me, "at least you are getting out of bed, at least you are still doing stuff. You are coping." But I didn't feel like I was. True, it could have been worse, I could have been staying in bed all day - I know someone whom that is a reality for - but forcing yourself to do things you love? That isn't a life either.


So I kept my unhappiness to myself. Who would care anyway? What was the point anyway? I began to scare myself a little.


Then one morning, I went into work and one of my co-workers asked me if I was okay. She had noticed that I hadn't greeted her the way I normally do. And I told her I was stressed all the time. I didn't want to be at work and I didn't want to be at home. And I started to cry. The other nurses at the nurses station all hugged be and told me they loved me. My co-worker said; "You need to see your DR." Finally, someone noticed what I had noticed. I wondered if I might be depressed but then reminded myself that I had just broken up with someone I really liked and maybe I was just feeling bad about that (disclaimer - the break up did NOT cause my depression). But if I was really honest, it had been going on long before that. Finally, someone validated what I had been thinking myself. I made an appointment that day - though it was 3 weeks before I could get in and I called EAP for some counselling.


While I waited Hannah Marcotti offered a course on sexy selfies, so I did that and found women whom had the same struggles as me.


I invited my niece Lexi for a sleep over and crafted with her all weekend.
Lexi playing with my vision board words.


The counselling sessions have helped me identify some of my self destructive behaviour - like isolation and under sharing.  Something I hope to work on this year. My best friend cried the other day when I told her b/c she wished she had known, so she could have been there for me.


It has only been two weeks since I saw my DR but already I feel better. I might have had no control over this happening to me but I can take responsibility for how I handle it now. I can't do it alone and that is okay.


I spent the last day of the old year with family, most importantly Lexi and Thomas.
Thomas and I at Pizza Hut.

Pure delight, Miss Lexi on New Years Eve.

I write this b/c it is important to know that depression can happen to anyone, even someone with a pretty blessed life - like me, like a few other people I know. It can also take many forms, from mild to severe. If not looked after mild can go right to severe in an instant. It is okay to ask for help, it does not mean you are broken. For some reason depression has a bad rap but it shouldn't. Does it make you think Robin Williams was any less brilliant or less worthy of a good life? It actually makes me love him more. If you think you aren't okay, you probably aren't. Please reach out, please ask for help.


My word for last year was trust. I have learned to trust my journey, this is only a small part of it. This year my word is hope. They say "it's always darkest before the dawn" so I am hopeful for a better year.


I hope you learned a lot last year and it wasn't too painful. If it was, here's to a better year for you too!

You are beloved.