Famous Last Words

I realized this month that if people asked me what I’ve been up to, they’d realize my life seems outwardly boring.

I’ve kind of retreated into a bubble of family, work, fitness, friends. It’s been really nice. I took the kids on a mini vacation to Banff. I’ve finally gotten a chance to explore this amazing place I call home and spend real quality time with my family. Everyone had a blast and we made some amazing memories. Also, I drove four hours by myself on a road trip and lived. I feel so much more confident about driving, which is nice. I’m really trying to get my work life balance in order, so that I can be mentally healthy and successful. So far, it’s working out okay.

My view from the hot springs

My family has always been my number one priority, but I always had to work ten times harder to support us so I wasn’t getting the time we needed as a family. Now, I’ve learned to balance those things so that I’m getting that quality time in, while also doing okay at work. Because I’m happier at home, I’m doing better at work. Also, because I’m doing better at work, I’m stress eating less. Thanks to better eating and intermittent fasting and Deadboys Fitness and Capital City Athletics, I’m down 10lbs in two weeks! That’s 1/6 of my goal! Tonight at the gym during the WOD, my working weight was my 1RM from three months ago! I’m getting stronger! Things feel attainable: success at work, success at the gym, happiness in life. I feel like the luckiest person; I have an incredible family, the best friends who are willing to run 10km with me, an awesome gym family, and a beautiful home. Life is dope.

Speaking of friends, my friends has inadvertently helped me set some long term goals of my own. One of my best friends is engaged! She and her awesome fiancé are getting married! I love these two; they’re just the best couple. They’re loving and patient with each other, and really changed each other for the better. I’m so happy for them and the next step they’re about to take. I used to think the perfect couple didn’t exist until I met them, but they are just so perfect for each other and I know they are going to have the most incredible life together.

But this means a wedding, even a small one. Six years ago, I got myself in shape because I wanted to look good at my friend’s wedding. This is no different. But, this time I’m not just trying to get in shape for the sake of wearing something. I’m getting in shape to wear this damn dress.

I bought this dress to wear to a holiday party with a guy I was dating at the time…and then broke up with because he sucked at communicating and I was sick of dealing with it (and then took him back again because why not date your own stalker…twice, you know, in case you were wondering about where my taste in men used to be like. Everyone is better off now, and there’s no hard feelings, but I need to preface that I got this bomb stress in the wake of some very stupid decisions). This beautiful wool dress (in size six) has travelled with me across the country, survived being put in the dryer and revived with fabric softener and warm water, but has never been worn. Ever. Why? The last wedding was a summer wedding. This is a winter dress. It’s four sizes too small right now, but I have two years to fit in this damn dress. The goal is that I can wear it around Xmas time. That’s 10 months to lose four sizes and finally take this baby out for a spin.

The other goal is that I am NOT going stag to this wedding. Fuck. No. I’ve gone out on a couple of Tinder dates, but I’m slowly but surely putting down my walls and getting to the point where I’m ready for a serious relationship. It’s been a long time and I’ve run away from good guys because I was so scared to get close to someone, because what if I do and then I’m ghosted again? Every time a guy talked about anything more than a casual coffee, I’d Usain Bolt out of there. You can’t get hurt if you don’t get attached.

Me when anything gets serious

The thought of putting myself in a position to fall in love with someone only to find out they’d never talk to me about what’s wrong, never be really honest, and then just cut me out of their life like I never existed was too much. But thanks to therapy, and really getting to know and love myself, I’ve been chipping away. Go on a few dates, not take rejection to heart, allow the conversations, and make sure to end things properly so everyone gets closure. And for once, I really like my appearance regardless of my weight. I’m comfortable in my skin, with my family and my job. I finally feel like a catch…most days. But loving oneself is a work in progress. But, I am not going to this wedding solo. I’m going to make myself more open to dating. I’ll work on reading signals better, because right now dudes, unless you walk up and say “Hi, I am interested in you. Would you like to go on a date?” I will not understand. I do not get flirting, or dating. Or any of it. But I’m gonna have to learn, so if there are any quality mans whisperers who would like to help me understand all of this, help a sister out. More importantly, I’m finally confident enough to actually engage with people like a human being, without fear of rejection or abandonment. I almost know my worth.

My life may seem boring, but it’s happy. My family is healthy and happy. I’m emotionally healthy and happy. I’m finally getting my body the way I want so I can rock the Lululemon 10k for the third time. I feel good about my job. I live in a beautiful city in a house I’m proud of. Almost all of the pieces are coming together, even if I only catch up with friends once every two months. All of the trying times and stress just prepares you for what’s next, and for me, what’s next is a really happy time in my life, with all of the things that matter most working out in the best way possible

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Daylight

Welp, its time for the holidays, which are the busiest time of year for all of us. Since I’ll be busy working and enjoying time with family, and ending the decade with friends, I figured I’d post my annual photo essay reviewing my 2019 (excluding photos of the kids). It’s been an eventful year; moved to a new home, went on some fantastic adventures, made new friends, and did a bunch of kick ass stuff! I hope you had a great year as well, and you achieved many goals and dreams. Enjoy the photos and hopefully I’ll have more stories to tell in 2020!

We saw Ariana Grande and it was the best day until we met Becky Lynch

Changed my look for the first time in forever

City and Colour!

Darkside

Do you hear that? It’s the sound of quiet.

My life always feels noisy. Between the loud music (speaking of music, I finally embraced streaming and got Apple Music. My world has changed for the better). But I’m always thinking, working, parenting, and obsessing about body image, finances, and trying to juggle what sometimes feel likes the whole world. It can cause a lot of noise in your head and that noise will make all the things I just mentioned harder. There’s a time talk about stuff, and a time to just be quiet and focus on each task one at a time. I chose this time to focus on quieting my mind and improving my life. When you’re trying to do a million things at once and still try to feel normal, eventually you just feel crazier. I desperately needed a reset.

I had a free week from work that was supposed to go to a vacation, but some much needed household repairs came first. I took this time to focus on my own mental health. I went to the gym. I worked out at home. I played a lot of video games.

But most importantly, I took a major step back from my life to be a parent and really look inward into how I can improve how I feel about myself. I’m back in that old pattern where I try hard, then fail, then gain more weight. I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to be the person who makes herself a priority so her kids see that it’s okay to take time for yourself to do what makes you healthier. I needed to shake up my life so I could really use fitness as a reward because I like myself, not feel like it’s a punishment for failing at weight loss. I needed to spend some time away from my world to reconnect with MHC and decide how I could really jump start the self love so I could get back on track. I never focus on me. It’s always my kids, my team, my boss, my friends, my mom, etc. but never “what does MHC want?” How can I become a happier person if I don’t even know what that means anymore? Truly I didn’t know. I talked a good game, but I’m always busy helping everyone else and feeling like an awful human if I couldn’t please everyone. The only person I wasn’t trying to please was me & that’s why all the things I love most were slipping away; fitness, job success, writing. So, I decided to do something to snap out of this repetitive cycle.

So I changed my hair.

I know it sounds stupid, but the first time I lost all of the weight and put myself in the happiest headspace I’ve ever been in, I realized I needed something I could control to get me started. So, I dyed my jet black hair blonde. It was a small, instant change that helped improve my self esteem. That change kick started other changes, which led to 100lbs weight loss. Ever since I gained some of the weight back, I’ve really just not liked myself. This made everything feel impossible. What was the point of working out? I just got fat again. Why bother dating? Working hard is important but feels futile because I’m just not good enough. I’ll never reach my time goal for my 10k because I’m too fat, and the list goes on. I was at the same crossroads I was before I moved to London, only moving to a random city isn’t an option because I love Edmonton and my house is the best. Maybe it was time to change up my appearance so I really love it and the rest would follow.

Seriously, look at this place. I still can’t believe I live here. It’s a dream come true.

It worked too! I’ve worked out 14 out of 20 days this month, either at the gym or at home! That’s a major change from previous months. I’m enjoying it again too. I’m enjoying work again after my week off. I’m connecting with my kids and my friends in a better way because I’m not feeling so down on myself. A long time ago, I let depression and the feelings of unworthiness and self loathing cost me some good friendships. But, now I recognize when I’m feeling like this and I’m teaching myself that it’s okay to take some space from the world and get to know yourself again and figure out your own needs, not the needs of everyone around you. I’m still learning that it’s not my job to please everyone; just do my best for my kids, at my job, and for myself. The rest, the weight loss, the successes, will all come if I focus on one day at a time, whether it’s one work day, one workout, or just one day of quiet, letting my body and emotions tell me what I need.

It’s Nice to Have a Friend

I wasn’t looking forward to my birthday this year.

Money has been tight because of some unexpected repairs and I couldn’t take the girls to the WWE event they wanted to go to. I know they just went to Summerslam but I knew they wanted to go for my birthday. I know kids don’t need to do everything, but I felt like I disappointed them.

Still an amazing night

I also just looked at my birthday as a bunch of disappointments. I thought I’d have found my partner by now, and I haven’t been on a date in two months. I thought I’d be at my goal weight and I’m not even close. I thought I’d have gotten the promotion I’ve been chasing, but I’m not there yet. I just felt like I’ve let myself down. I had set goals for myself, and I didn’t really hit them. My birthday just felt like the year of disappointment. But, I still look good, that’s a plus, right?!

Fortunately, I have some pretty awesome friends. My assistant manager and his partner planned an entire birthday party for me, and invited all of my friends. They spoiled me with gifts. We drank wine and played Super Smash Bros. Two days later, I attended a work event and everyone made it a point to wish me a happy birthday. My boss’s wife got me a piñata. It might not seem like much to y’all, but when you’re already feeling down, there’s something so amazing about all the people you love or respect taking a second to do something nice for you is such a cool thing.

Maybe I didn’t meet the goals I set for myself, but I’m still doing really well. I have a job I love. I’ve been working on some new articles. I have great kids and the best friends in the whole world. I must be doing something right to have so many amazing people take time out of their lives to want to celebrate with me. I’m not behind because I didn’t meet some imaginary criteria. All of this stuff will happen when it’s supposed to. Until then, I should focus more on gratitude. I’m so fortunate to have so many amazing people in my life and that I get to be their friends. I’m fortunate enough to live in a wonderful home with my amazing family. I’m fortunate that I can afford to repair things when they go wrong. Lots of others don’t have that luxury. Maybe instead of focusing on timelines and schedules, just keep working on what I want to work on and then be grateful for when they happen, instead of pressuring myself to get there and failing. Things fall into place better when you let them instead of forcing them to fall when you think they should. Trust the process, don’t obsess about the result.

One Thing Right

It’s funny how sometimes one thing can just snowball and really deflate you and destroy you…if you let it.

Shortly after I finished my 10k, I was feeling better than I ever have. I was feeling empowered and excited for the first time in a long time. I was starting to feel good about my body. I was really believing I could lose these pounds and look the way I wanted to. I was finally overcoming the dark cloud and pushing forward.

Then I was out with some friends and one of them was telling a story. During the story she said “there was no way I’d fit in it. She’s so big even YOU couldn’t fit in her clothes!” I remember balking at the comment and the friend was like ” you know what I mean, you wouldn’t fit in them because she’s really big, so I definitely wouldn’t!” But the damage was done. I had just talked to people about how I work out because I enjoy the work, only to be told that I looked fine and at my age, the window to find love was closing anyway, and finding someone would only complicate my life, couldn’t I just be happy as the solo friend? I realized that my closest friends don’t look at me as someone who loves fitness or is desirable or has great traits; I’m the fat, single friend. I make people feel better about their lives because they’re not the fat, single friend. I didn’t mind being the single friend, but when I’m just confident enough to really take dating seriously, being told that the window is closing so stop working out and accept your fate, solo loser, was a little off putting.

Suddenly, I felt like the “f” word was EVERYWHERE. That’s how everyone saw me; fat and old. I’d be at the gym, but I felt like there was a sign on me that screamed “you don’t belong. You are fat and old.” Even though my gym mates are super supportive, it was like a mantra now “fat and old. Window closing. Best days behind you. Fat and old.” I was my biggest fear; the fat old single mom that dies alone meddling in their kids lives because they are unlovable. I’d work late. I stopped running, because every step screamed; “FAT. OLD. FAT. OLD. NO HOPE. WINDOW CLOSED.” I stopped wearing makeup. I stopped trying. Even my work slipped. But it didn’t matter. I gained the weight back. I’m old and fat. Sephora doesn’t make enough makeup to fix that. Old. Fat. Old. Fat. Window closed.

I saved up all year to take the kids to Summerslam. I pinched pennies and stuck to a budget and used all my PC Optimum points for snacks. They had the best time, and met their heroes, Becky Lynch and Carmella. We watched Crossfit Jesus become the Master of the Universe from our nosebleeds. I felt like after a year of second guessing, I finally did one thing right.

Even then, I avoided photos on vacation, until the girls insisted I was in one. Then, a random Twitter user called me fat.

Even on vacation, old and fat followed. This was who I was. All those years I spent trying so hard to be a good role model suddenly felt pointless. Dating, which was never a big priority, suddenly felt useless. Sure, hundreds of people said otherwise, but I didn’t feel pretty, or even good about the fact that I saved up all year to take my kids to Summerslam and give them that memory. I just felt defeated. I came home and my washer broke. The repair is way beyond my budget. I was so depressed that I slept through my gym alarm…twice. When it rains, it pours, and I felt like a failure trying to balance work and life and something as simple as liking myself when I looked in the mirror seemed impossible. So I just stopped trying.

Carmella is the sweetest and I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise

But, life doesn’t stop when you’re sad. Life doesn’t end because you’re moping about. And kids still need good role models even when you feel fat and old and like you’re unloveable and unworthy. So, when today’s crisis (internet went down) barred me from open gym, and I had to do laundry at a friend’s house, I still went running. Was it a good run?! Hell no! I ran a kilometre. But I ran, and it felt good to run. On Wednesday, I’ll run two. Three on Saturday. I’ll keep it up until I get back to 5km.

I talked to my ASM about making sure i could leave on time to hit the gym. That’s the one place I feel empowered. The only person who tells me I don’t belong is me. That voice can kindly STFU ten times. Washing machines break. It happens. We’ll pull through. Daphne Zuniga got married for the first time at 56. The window doesn’t close. The only way it closes if you keep telling yourself you’re too old and fat.

It’s not going to be easy; when you feel depressed, it’s hard sometimes to shake off the negative self talk and push forward. But I know that to love myself, I’ve gotta invest in myself. Push past that voice that says I’m too old and too fat and do the work and invest in myself. The reason I was so happy wasn’t just because I lost 100lbs. It was because I was investing in my own happiness. My kids need to see that happiness doesn’t come from a relationship; a relationship comes when you are happy. I had a great talk with my boss about the quadrants of time management. I spend so much time trying to be in Q2 (important but not urgent) that sometimes I forget that Q1’s (urgent and important) happen, or Q3’s (urgent and unimportant). You gotta roll with the Q1’s so you can get back to Q2. Don’t panic, just push though. The washer will break. Money will be tight. A Twitter troll will call you fat. But I’m not old and fat. Or maybe I am. But I’ll work at it until I feel happy with my body. But most importantly, I’ll remind myself that I’m beautiful and work at my life until I believe it, because no one is gonna do it for me.

When I took this picture to show my friend the new colour, all I could see was wrinkles and thin lips. Now, I choose to think I’m beautiful.

Bridges

Second 10k in the books y’all!

I went a friend/coworker & we killed it. Our schedules didn’t allow us to train as much as we could. We didn’t finish as fast as I’d hoped, but we still worked hard and got our medals and Doughnut Party donut and banana and feel pretty good about ourselves. I was worried we wouldn’t enjoy it, but some other friends are gonna work towards a 5k race with us in the fall, and we’re going to go back next year! I’m so excited that my friends are getting invested in my weird fitness stuff. Maybe someone will finally want to Crossfit with me! No? Anyone?

We almost didn’t finish together. My friend got a cramp in her calf (maybe we should have paid better attention in the warm up haha). I noticed after 1.5km she wasn’t with me anymore. So, I turned around & found her. She gave me shit because I had talked so much about wanting to beat last year’s time, etc. But we signed up together. We should do it together. Maybe I’m missing the point of the whole fitness thing, but it was really important to me that we pushed ourselves and finished together. We would have funny stories (like when my glasses got all foggy from sweat and I couldn’t see) and a sense of accomplishment. Now we’re going to do something in the fall together, but more friends are coming. Everyone is going to work together to become better.

I’ve been very fortunate in my four years in the land of cows to meet some great people that I can call friends. Some of us work together, some don’t. Some I brought from Ontario because they’re the best. But the best part is, in their own way, everyone is super supportive of everyone else. It’s so freaking nice to be surrounded by positivity. My friends are supportive and always pushing me to be better. My coworkers are always driving me to get to the next level. My gym family keeps me motivated even when I feel like I’m too uncoordinated or out of shape to try. When you’re surrounded by the right people, you are elevated to become better too.

I have never in my life felt so motivated in both my personal and professional life and it’s because I have a great support system of friends and colleagues who challenge and inspire me. Last year, I finished the 10k and didn’t decide to do anything else. Now I’m training for another race so we can all feel accomplished together. It’s nice to know you’ve got great people in your life, who actually want to see you succeed. I’m fortunate because I have people like that here, back in Ontario, and even in cities I’ve never been to. If you don’t feel like your friends/family/coworkers are on your team and want to see everyone succeed, then it’s time to evaluate if they belong in your life, because everyone deserves a tribe of people who want to see you succeed just as much as you want it for them.

You Need To Calm Down

Ever just freak out about money?

I do. A lot.

I’m not gonna go on the internet and cry about how I’m a miserable broke asshole. Mostly because I’m not. I work hard and maintain an okay standard of living. I’m not going to buy a beach house any time soon, but I’m doing okay. However, I’m trying really hard to improve my credit, pay off one of my credit cards, reduce my debt to income ratio, and put myself in a better position. While I am fortunate enough to receive some child support, it’s often late for weeks at a time, and the dad doesn’t seem to care enough to make sure that he’s contributing. But it is what it is. The important thing is that the kids live in a comfortable home & that I’m taking care of things. I think we’re doing okay.

I always feel guilty about spending money on myself. I bought some new makeup and felt really guilty, even though I used my freelance money. But still, I always feel like money is tight and I’m not being responsible and I could do better with my finances. Then I’ll stress, like somehow my makeup collection is ruining me financially, despite my only buying stuff every six months or so. But I’m always guilty, like how dare I want something. The kids need stuff. New glasses. New clothes. Food. Lodging. Slushies. I’ve got to provide. Makeup doesn’t provide.

Also, for the ladies (& fashion forward gents), my makeup collection.

I think right now I’m stressing more because I saved up all year to take the kids on a legit vacation, and not just flying them to see their dad. We’re going to Toronto to check out the sites and attend WWE Summerslam, so my children can live out their dream of meeting Becky Lynch…and I can also meet Becky Lynch (& Seth Rollins) hahaha. It’ll be nice to use my vacation time for an actual vacation. But that means cutting every corner, scraping every penny to cover bills, which gets harder when you’re doing it on your own because you’re basically a sole support parent as your support payments are hit or miss. This means every penny is accounted for, and everything, from the hair appointment I cancelled to save cash to my granola bars for lunches, makes me feel like a shitty person.

I guess I feel this way because I’m the only person who has to think about the collective & everything is on me. I’ve got to keep the family going. I’ve got to make sure the bills are paid, the food is on the table. I’ve got to make sure that everyone is taken care of. I’ve got to fly the kids out to see their dad every year. I’ve got to make sure the car follows the proper maintenance schedule. I’ve got to keep everything together and I scrape and claw to get a vacation together and feel badly because that could have been used elsewhere. Because of this, I end up thinking that anything I might want is bad or wrong and I’m a horrible person for buying my cup of tea or buying makeup with money that I make outside of our budgeted income. I spend so much time worrying that I end up stressed out and exhausted.

What people expect from me

Am I the only person who feels like this?

Actually me

Maybe this is a sign from the universe that I need to be smarter with my money. I’ve already spoken to a financial planner about how to reduce my debt and really make my money work for me so I can feel more secure about my finances. Continue to do smart things like keep the deductibles for my auto and home insurance in the account with my insurance so I’m not caught with my pants down in an emergency. But mostly, calm the fuck down. It’s okay to indulge a little, just don’t be stupid. Stick to your budget. Put away savings. Plan your budget in a way that will help you maximize your earnings. Easier said than done, but I’ve mastered slowing down on my impulse buys. But most importantly, if I’m so worried about money all of the time, it’s up to me to make changes to feel better about my finances. Whining and sacrificing and panicking has never improved anyone’s situation. Nor has complaining and blaming everyone else. What will help, is actually taking time to make financial management a priority. I thought I did well, but I could do better, and I will be better, one nickel and dime at a time.

Guiding Light

Have you ever just felt “blah?”

Not good nor bad, just sort of meh.

That’s how I’ve felt this past month. I haven’t been pitching stories anywhere because I haven’t had the urge. I haven’t really exercised much, because I’m always exhausted. At first I thought it was jet lag, but it’s been a week and I’m still just blah. But my race is coming up and I ate nothing but crap for a week and I missed the gym, but I’m just like…meh.

I have no reason to feel this way. Work is going well. Life is good. Friends kick ass. Family is good. But I’m just kind of in a weird funk. The rain preventing me from going for a good run isn’t helping either. I always just want to go to sleep.

Even my attempts to run weren’t going well. I’d hear the pace say I was behind & I would just give up and quit. It was just so demoralizing that I felt like I shouldn’t be in the 10k or even doing anything except crying into an ice cream sandwich and going to sleep.

I knew I had to snap out of it because no one is successful living their life in a haze of meh. You’ve gotta find something to feel passionate about, even if all you wanna do is take a nap. There’s also the fact that how you treat your body impacts how it reacts. If you don’t take care of yourself, your body doesn’t want to go. I spent a week eating garbage food and doing nothing and then came back home to do nothing and eat garbage food. There’s been less meal prep and more Manchu Wok. I fought so hard not to become this person and yet, I’ve become this person. But the thing about this type of behaviour is that it sneaks up on you. One day you’re just a little tired. The next you think you’ll just catch up on sleep. Then two weeks pass and you haven’t seen your friends and you’ve worked late and missed the gym and you’re laying in your bathtub even though the water is cold and you realize maybe you aren’t doing okay.

Nothing really needs to be “wrong” in your life and you don’t necessarily need to be “sad.” Sometimes you just feel like your energy has been sucked out of you and that’s where all month except for the week I was away. I’ve realized that while I’ve talked about giving away too much and leaving an empty vessel, now I really am one. So, much like one of my best friend’s deleted FB to shut out some noise and focus on himself, I need to start doing the same.

First thing I did was make a hair appointment. You can’t feel blah after a day making your hair fabulous. My stylist is the best and I know my self esteem will jump 10 points because my hair will be fantastic. You might laugh, but small things will really help pull you out of the doldrums. Next, I forced myself to workout with Deadboys Fitness and get back into running. They haven’t been great, but I’ve got two weeks before the race, so even running every day should get me on the right track, no pun intended.

I asked a friend who is a trainer to help me push myself harder to get a better run in. It wasn’t the best time, but I did manage to get a solid time in while running on the trails. My next time will be much better.

I don’t know why I’ve been feeling so blah, but when going through a depressive episode, it’s up to me to pull myself out, just like it’s up to all of us when going through those times when we are down on ourselves and feeling like crap. Whether it’s through therapy, medication, exercise, or just focusing on a little victory each day, everyone can find a way to feel better. For me, it’s finding something every day to feel good about myself, whether it’s a good run, getting back to the gym, or a strong day at work. I’ve been wallowing in my low sense of self for a month now, and it’s time I snap out of it and focus on being the most bad ass version of me. That means getting up every morning, putting my confidence on, and working towards my goals.