Can You Feel My Heart?

Happy New Year everyone!

I don’t know about y’all, but I’m pretty excited for the new year. I’m so excited for new adventures, new changes, kicking ass, setting new goals. It sounds magical. The holidays were amazing. I spent lots of time with family, held my annual holiday party with some great friends, and my store did really well! Lots of things to be excited about as we head into the new decade.

I even won some kick ass ski passes at work! Raising money for Stollery Children’s Hospital is my favourite part of my job. I love it so much. There’s something so awesome about knowing I’m helping the community in some small way. Normally I recuse myself from participating because I’m the captain of the charity program. But I threw my hat in the ring because our Stollery representative insisted, and because I really wanted to win them to take one of my best Alberta friends snowboarding because she loves it. I knew that this trip would mean a lot to her, and I got to do so much good for Edmonton children. Now, she and I and another friend who won the other passes are going on a super fun snowboarding adventure!

Related: I have never ever been skiing. Or snowboarding. Or anything winter sportsy. In fact, I have actively rejected winter sports. So, I may die.

That’s where I’ll be found

But I’m pretty stoked. I haven’t gone on a kid free trip in years and it’ll be nice to spend time with my friends. There will be female empowerment (or getting drunk in a hot tub with Prosecco) and possible death on a mountain. So fun! But then while we were in the group text, someone mentioned they should all bring their SO’s. Everyone has a significant other. Everyone…except me.

So, when I pointed this out, I was offered up some coworkers (which I would never date a coworker again) and the prospect of a random dude. All jokes of course. Also, for my friends to find the most “quality mans” on my Tinder and set us up. After all, I wasn’t gonna find a guy on my own. Then I realized that all of my friends had recently cracked the same joke about when was I gonna meet a quality mans because I’d been alone FOREVER. EVEN MY 10 YEAR OLD SAID SHE WOULD GET MARRIED BEFORE I REMARRIED! I just felt very small and sad, to the point where I cried at work a little bit. Is this how people see me? The loser who can’t get a plus one? The forever alone cat lady? The completely repulsive loser who is unloveable?!

I was heartbroken. Sure they were joking and it’s still a girls weekend, but it really stung. I never log into my Tinder because I just forget. The only place I go to other than work is the gym and I’m either working out or chatting. I haven’t had a love connection. Almost of my friends are paired off. I’m just that weirdo at the singles table with no dance partner. It was the first time in years I had considered settling for the first guy who messaged me online just to have a partner. The last two times I felt that way it ended up horribly, horribly wrong. But, the whole universe keeps asking why I’m not with someone, which translates into “what’s wrong with you? Are you too fat/ugly/crazy to land a man?”

I don’t like that feeling, like I don’t have any worth or value unless I am happily paired off. But that’s how I felt last night. Like my failure to meet someone and my refusal to settle for Mr. Whatever was ruining everyone’s fun. I even contemplated skipping the ski trip and giving them the passes so they could have super happy couple time. Their trip shouldn’t be ruined because I suck at dating. I ruined it by being single.

However, it was New Year’s Eve so I split a bottle of wine with my best friend and hashed it out. She reminded me that this is the first time I’ve really loved myself without conditions (partner, weight loss, etc) and because of that, I’ve built a solid career, moved to a nice home, learned to drive, and all of the things I refused to do for years out of fear and insecurity. This is the time in your life where the universe brings love to you, which is what I’ve said all along. You’ve just got to be open to finding it. So instead of being upset over something that was unintentional, open up your mind to the possibility of that all encompassing, healthy, Jack Pearson sort of love. It’s what I want and it should be what I get.

Which brings me back to the ski trip. Old MHC would have declined to go and let everyone have fun without me, I decided to be honest and tell people that this line of commentary hurt my feelings and I will meet someone when the universe says so, not some random so I have a plus one while skiing. And because my friends are the best, they apologized for making me feel like a third wheel, even if I did promise to let them fix me up a time or two (they’ve decided my “type” is the male equivalent of my best Alberta friend, so a sarcastic, snarky, borderline mean weirdo with an engineering degree that likes to argue about stuff. Or there’s always the “hard working Conservative Oil Man” that my relatives suggested, with whom I would argue with about everything until one of us died).

A moment of silence for the Conservative Oil Tyler

2020 is going to be an incredible year. I’ve committed to 300 workouts, and I’m running my third 10k. I intend to participate in another CrossFit Open. I am going to learn to ski. There’s a ton of opportunity at my job to learn and grow. My kids are growing and becoming amazing young women. There is so much to be excited about, which is why I’m going to focus on all of those things. The more I grow as a person and become the best version of me, the more likely love will come. Also, I look super cute and I’m in love with my darker hair. I won’t let one missing piece destroy my whole outlook. After all, missing pieces always turn up, but not until you open your eyes and are ready to find it.

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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.