Remember that time we used to blog?

WOW.

We literally took forever off.

Okay, well not literally. But it sure feels that way. Our last post is dated October 8 2015. Last year. Almost 8 months. That sounds ludicrous as I type it, but it almost seems further away than that somehow.

Tonight, I can’t sleep. Sometimes when I can’t sleep I try meditation, or I read, or attempt to wake up one of three of my pups to tell them I can’t sleep, or I stare into the abyss until I drive myself absolutely mad and can’t stay in bed any more.

So tonight I can’t sleep and this is where the not being able to stay in bed any more part kicks in and I found myself here in front my keyboard wanting to write, but not wanting to work at one o’clock in the morning.

We’ve been talking about our blog, our baby, a little bit here and there in passing, and a lot more lately in focus. We get the odd message too now and then from some of our loving readers (Hi mom!) that say they miss our posts. I figured, what better way to try to write my insomnia away than by writing a post committing us to it again?

We have had the most CRAZY, INSANE, OVER THE TOP break though. SO much has happened in the past seven-ish months.

I know each of the sisters would prefer if I not spoil their pool of blog post ideas as they are probably the most full they’ve been since we started; also I know that each piece of these past months will require and deserve their own posts.

So YES, we’re back!

However, each of our lifestyles have shifted in new ways, presenting new challenges – it is time for a change for us as a Sisterhood with this baby of ours. (Side note and just because I am a proud sister and AUNTIE again – there were literally babies during our break!!! We will for sure see posts from Jacqui and Kim regarding said babies – promise)

We’ve figured out a way that we can try to do it all – we do love our little community of readers and miss writing about our lives, and our thoughts and our ‘things’ that we deal with by sharing. We loved how connected it made us feel to each other too.

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While we’re not quite set on a ‘schedule’ just yet, writing will happen! Keep an eye out for our posts – check out our Facebook page too if you’d like! Hopefully we’ll be seeing a lot more of each other.

There – I think I can sleep now.

Hope you all have the best Friday! I will for SURE need the most coffee ever.

~ Toni

 

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How to survive weird work hours

Along with having pretty random jobs, I have also had pretty random hours for shifts.

At one point doing school portraits full-time and working at a gas station part-time I would be up for hours on end and sometimes days with only small naps in between – and let me tell you, that doing an overnight in any kind of work is hard, and requires certain key things in my opinion. So I give you my…

Four Must Do’s to Survive Weird Work Hours!
1. You must find something to keep you AWAKE: I am talking caffeine people! I know this one is pretty self explanatory, but honestly, I used to go for the energy drinks, and still in a pinch I will pick one up if I really need the boost, but you can crash with energy drinks, especially if you are not used to drinking them. Coffee. Tea. Whatever is your thing? DO IT. Keep those beverages coming!
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2. Sustenance to keep you from the overnight shift hang-over: The first time you EVER do an overnight your brain feels so funky the next day, I find that you can counteract some of the funk the next day by drinking plenty of good fluids and eating healthier options throughout the night so your brain doesn’t feel quite so bad. You may be depriving your body of sleep and depriving it from a routine that you have been in pretty much your whole life, you should not deprive it in other areas when it is in it’s hour of need.

3. Always have a task: The trick here is to not think about the fact you are up, you think about what you can do next. I find I can process and do more things in the middle of the night than throughout the day if I just stay on task and keep moving.

4. Have some awesome people to work with: Whenever I worked overnight at the gas station, my boss would be in super early in the morning, and she was awesome. Even the guys delivering fuel in the middle of the night were awesome. At one point I even started recognizing the middle of the night regular customers. It helps that even in the job I’m in now when I work evenings, I still get to hang out with some awesome people.

Now these are my must do’s when I work weird hours, what are some of yours?

~ Andreah

Monkey Muffins

Last week I was on vacation with Cody’s family, and man do I need a vacation from that vacation!

It was so relaxing, and I ate everything, and drank…everything.  Driving home on Sunday was hell because we were stuck in traffic for HOURS! And when we finally got home all I wanted to do was make a home cooked meal and hit the hay. After a much needed 12 hour sleep, I woke on Monday refreshed and antsy. I wanted to do something, I needed to do something.

It wasn’t that I didn’t have a to do list – like any one when they come back from vacation, with the unpacking, and the laundry and the mentally preparing for returning to work.  To be honest I was looking forward to getting back to our regular routine. In order to assist with getting back into the rhythm of things, I decided I was going to make muffins for my muffin (aww ?.. no? ew?) to have for breakfast for the next week. I took a traditional recipe and made it my own. They are peanut butter and banana muffins!

Ingredient list: 

2 Cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar

1 table spoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup of chunky peanut butter

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 eggs

3/4 cup milk

Before you start getting messy pre-heat the oven for 375 degrees F, then go over to your mixer and talk sweet to it. Let it know you are going to use it, but its going to like it. Whoa – did it just get a little spicy in here?

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Look at that bad ass bitch!

In a large bowl add all your dry ingredients starting with the 2 cups flour.

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Then the baking powder (note I used magic baking powder, you can only get this from going to your local witch or wizard, and trade them your magic beans for this! Don’t tell them I told you!)

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Then the brown sugar. I used dark brown sugar, because Julia bought it for me and it was in my pantry. Also she told me that it has better flavor than the light kind.. who knew? Now you do!

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And finally the salt! (for all those wondering, my nail polish colour is called pool party, I highly recommend this sassy splash of summer)

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Mix the dry ingredients together until blended, and combined. I didn’t take a picture of this because I am only one person, and give me a break. If you need a visual then you don’t belong in the kitchen!

Next add all your wet ingredients into your mixer bowl in order to prepare them to make a delicious baby with the dry ingredients!

First comes your chunky peanut butter. I used chunky because I like a little bit of a surprise when it comes to my PB&J, but please use smooth, regular or which ever kind you would like.

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mmmmm chunky!

Next comes the oil, vegetable oil. Nothing fancy.

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Dos eggs (dos means two, I learned this from my grade 10 Spanish class where I was named Eva – but according to  my niece, Dora is a great Espanol tutor)

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Add your milk. Fun fact: Cody is lactose in tolerant, so we never have milk in the house. We do however have cream, so I used 1/2 a cup of milk and then the rest of the required amount I used water. Which you could totally use cream for the whole amount if you are not worried about calories. (Also how about we agree on not telling him that I used milk in this recipe…K? K!)

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Then your ripe banana’s.  I got mine out of the freezer so they look especially delicious. Why did I get them out of the freezer you ask? Well because when I buy Banana’s I always buy enough that some will go ripe, and then I freeze them so when Cody or I have a craving for Banana bread I can bust out these bad boys and be a freaking super hero!

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Once all your wet ingredients are combined, then slowly add your dry! I did get a picture of this, because I became a photographer for a moment, and then pulled a muscle, and cut that shit out!

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Once everything is combined, add your liners to your muffin/cupcake pan. I like to tell my muffin mixture it is about to get thrust into adulthood so its not a surprise when they are put into the fiery inferno that is your oven, but hey – to each their own! Just don’t blame me when your muffins are all dry and not delicious because you decided not to give them a little warning.

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Pay no attention to the messy oven…

Now set your timer for 25 mins and relax… I like to crochet or annoy my dog with my love and affection. Or you could clean up the mess you made, but cleaning is for chumps!

After your lovely timer rings and sings the songs of peanut butter choir – run, don’t walk to your oven. GET AN OVEN MIT FOR THE LOVE OF GOD and take out your Monkey Muffins!

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm….. 

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Now… the secret to ANY good muffin is…Nutella! Mmmmmmm and enjoy!

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~ Jacqui

Instructions:

In a large bow, mix together the flour, brown sugar, baking power and salt.

In a separate bowl beat together the peanut butter, oil, eggs, milk and bananas.

Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients until just moistened.

spoon the batter into 12 large muffin tins. Bake for 20-25 mins, use a tooth pic in order to confirm that they are cooked all the way through.

Go with the flow

It’s been so long since I’ve written a post, I feared I would have forgotten how to, or that it wouldn’t be as easy as I usually found it.

After staring at my screen for the past 4 hours, I know this to be true. It is good to be back, but a little strange after our mini-break for all things wedding, new-job and regular family chaos mixed in.

So bear with me, I may be rusty.

I’ve had these past few months off from work in which I’ve had to face down my own ego on quite a few occasions. There was a lot of swallowing my pride and observing my natural patterns to find areas where change could take place. I was stuck and getting unstuck isn’t always the easiest feat, but much like being determined to run a half marathon without really training (more on that later), I was determined to use the blessing of time to my betterment.

Throwing myself into my practice was the thing that saved me, I truly do believe. Saved me from my demons and gave me permission to be kind to myself about where I was in life. Learning to let go during class, to be present, mindful, to slow down in my daily life, to live in the moment and accept what it brings and work with it, no matter how the world presented itself to me. I could go on and on about the lessons I’ve learned in the hot room, dripping in sweat, breathing through the movement of the postures with ease or at my edge filled with effort, really forcing myself to internally scan where I needed the most of my self love.

The one thing all of these lessons has had in common though, is that the more you go with the flow of life, the universe if you will, the easier a time you will have.

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I do not mean that you will not struggle. I do not mean you will not hurt, ache, cry, or feel heartsick at any time. I do mean that you will find greater ease when you let go, and go with the flow.

I do not mean you should not pursue your passions or goals and things that set your heart on fire with relentless thirst. I do not mean that you will get everything you think you want, when you want it. I do mean you will have a greater chance of finding the REALLY right path if you do. You will be where you are meant to be, truly.

It’s the act of tapping into synchronicity – the more you pay attention to the little directives, signs and signals you’re being shown regularly, and do your best to quiet your ego and its hunger for centre stage as the main driver, the flow becomes more apparent, your path more clear. And I know from experience that the more you listen for the signals the stronger the frequency becomes. The more you pay attention, the more sense everything eventually makes.

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Growing up, and (let’s be honest) even into my early adult years, I learned a lot of tough lessons the very hard way, by being my own worst enemy and pushing my own plans and agenda on my life. Pushing so hard to get to where I thought I ‘should’ be, where I was convinced I belonged, what my ego told me I wanted, needed and could not live without. Life has a funny way of letting you get only so far and then shutting you down before redirecting you – in my case, always with great force that taught me a lot about putting yourself back together after you’re busted apart for regrowth and redirection.

As I look back on these lessons, I can see if I had applied even a bit of what I’ve learned about synchronicity through yoga, the harm and pain would have been notably less. I am sure the scars from those events would have healed quicker too, maybe might not be so apparent today.

I heard recently that the true act of yoga itself is not in the hot room and really starts to transform and change your life when you begin to practice what you learn on your mat in your life. In all of your relationships, in your employment, in your head with your running commentary to the world and ESPECIALLY to yourself – even in line at the grocery store. The conscious act of slowing down, breathing, actively quieting your inner monologue and literally going with the flow of your day, or the flow and direction of your life, can make or break the kind of life you have.

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As it unfolds in front of you, accept it as if you had chosen it, do what you have to in order to change what you’re able, but for the most part relax, be still and try to work with it.

~ Toni

The girl with bad skin

I have started, stopped and erased the beginnings of this post about 5000 times and I still am not sure I want to write it.

You see, no one wants to admit to or highlight their flaws, especially ones that have been dealt with and endured for years by being masked as best they could be so the whole world wouldn’t notice. But I figured, there just might be someone else out there that needed to hear this, needed to relate, needed to not feel so alone, so here it is.

Up until about four months ago, you could not have paid me any amount of money to leave the house without applying a skillfully placed mask of makeup to cover up the skin on my face. You could not pay me to wash my makeup off when just relaxing at home for fear of my fiance not finding me attractive. You could not pay me to not wear makeup when working out, even though I knew how silly it made me look. You could not pay me to go on an early morning road trip without wearing makeup or go to the beach without making sure my skin was perfectly covered up, making me more high-maintenance than I ever wanted to be.

You could not have paid me, because I had severe adult acne and I HATED the way my face looked and felt.

While I always thought I had ‘bad skin’ because of the joys of puberty and chose to wear makeup from grade 8 on, I had no idea what bad skin was until I turned 26 and all hell broke loose. What used to be one or two blemishes, turned into cheek-fulls, a jawline packed and temples covered. My face was consistently swollen, red, and in so much pain. I wore my hair down 99% of the time so I would be able to somewhat shield my skin from onlookers’ eyes as no matter how much makeup I put on, the texture and surface of my skin was still a mess and I was convinced it was all people could see when they looked at me. I carried myself differently, almost always with my head down so others could not see on first glance what my face looked like. I felt like I was known as the girl with bad skin.

On top of how it made me feel about myself, I hated how it made Michael feel when he would forget and grab my face to kiss me and have me pull away with tears in my eyes from the pain.

It didn’t matter what I did, what latest, greatest product I used that promised to heal me, no matter how much money I wasted trying to figure out how to find balance in my skin, nothing worked. I had used every product imaginable, been poked, prodded and burned by micro-needling and laser therapy that was supposed to be a miracle treatment (it wasn’t… far, far from it!), fiddled with many natural remedies and sat in my dermatologist’s office more times than he or I care to admit, bawling my eyes out about my skin and how it was affecting my life, my confidence, and even my desire to plan our destination wedding. The very thought of being on a beach with my family and friends and having to get up early every day to cover up my face so no one would see the mess of my skin was giving me anxiety. I wanted to be carefree, relaxed and completely easy going that week, not worried about how my makeup was holding up so no one would see my real face.

Jacqui and I at the Jays game last summer... even with makeup and a filter you can see it.

Jacqui and I at the Jays game last summer… even with makeup and a filter you can see it.

I had had enough. I was 28 years old and should have been long grown out of this stage in my life. I thought crazy things about why it wouldn’t go away, like it was my karma showing on my skin for something I’d done in the past, or that it was my body punishing me for choosing not to have children. Crazy, crazy things!

This past October, I again found myself in my dermatologist’s office, in tears, desperate to fix it. He tried, unsuccessfully, to convince me it wasn’t that bad, at the very least not the worst he had seen and asked why I was so upset. I responded, “You clearly have never had acne in your life, nor do you really understand how much pain I am in, how much my skin hurts, stings and throbs all day.” His sheepish expression told me that he hadn’t really been putting himself in my shoes, and that he definitely hadn’t ever experienced any sort of skin problem before. He reminded me about the option of Accutane, but not until the spring due to some of the more dangerous side effects that can be magnified in the winter months. I had always been dead-set against going on such a controversial treatment, but I was desperate. Devastated that Accutane was the only available option left, I told him I would try it. To carry me through until Spring, he prescribed me a topical treatment that shared some of the same properties as Accutane and suggested I look again at some other areas of my life that could be contributing to my flare ups.

Shortly after that visit I lost my job which reduced the stress level in my life significantly and meant I didn’t HAVE to put makeup on everyday. I made the decision with Michael to go back on the pill to see if the hormone regulation would help. On top of that, I cut most dairy from my diet, increased my daily water intake, started sweating without makeup on at Moksha and religiously used the prescribed topical treatment day and night. I stopped picking and poking my skin and let it be as often as I could.

Slowly, but surely I started seeing fewer new blemishes and the old wounds healing, and every day noticing a bit more skin that resembled a face I could love and less of a face like Freddy Kruger’s. I was so happy that I wouldn’t have to take Accutane!

I don’t know what specifically, or what combination of steps taken was the key, but present day, my skin is the healthiest it has ever been. So healthy in fact that I rarely even have to think twice before I leave the house fresh-faced and makeup free, something I had only ever dreamed of being able to do. So healthy that people who have not seen me for months can’t get over how great my skin looks. So healthy that if I told you I used to have a face FULL of acne only a few months ago, you would not believe me.

I wear my hair pulled back in braids or a bun all the time now, walk with my head held high and my face proudly on display for anyone to see. Don’t tell Mike, but I even got hit on at the grocery store the other day, makeup free, something I never thought in a MILLION years would happen.

No makeup selfie for the first time EVER.

No makeup selfie for the first time EVER.

But my favourite thing about my new, healthier skin?

Michael touches my face all of the time now – to kiss, to caress, just to love – and it makes my heart so happy it could burst.

It’s made me realize even more that the people that love me, for me, are not fooled by the misconceptions I have about myself and can look past my flaws even when I’m unable to separate myself from them. I’ve also been reminded that you should never give up on being an advocate for yourself. If I had not pushed back with my dermatologist just one more time, I highly doubt my skin would be where it is right now.

My skin is not perfect, nor will it ever be. But for now, I’m enjoying my new found freedom and confidence in this skin I’m growing into, and learning to love it regardless of its problems and issues… kind of like me.

~ Toni

The Roomie Awards

I have lived in a lot of different cities, and in those different cities I have had a lot of roommates, I counted it up and in total I have had a whopping 18 roommates. That is a lot of people I have lived with that aren’t family.

So I am going to give Roomie Awards to the people I currently live with! I live in a house with Joe and three other people, so I sat them down and had them nominate each other for things, and when we all agreed, here is what we came up with:

The winner of the BIG CHEESE/CHIEF AWARD is… Justin.

No I don't know what is happening behind the tree.

No I don’t know what is happening behind the tree.

It tends to be that whenever we are sitting around with nothing much to do, Justin comes up with stuff. He also is the main person of the house. He tends to also be like the big brother of the house and is always there to lend a hand when needed or just help out.

The winner of the SMEAGLE AWARD is…Ponee (a.k.a. Josh).

Isn't he a strange one?

Isn’t he a strange one?

Josh is a little strange, a little weird, and sometimes really annoying, but he knows this and owns it. Josh can also be really helpful and a good guy when the time calls for it. He also takes the guys harassment on a daily basis, and doesn’t really care that much about it.

The winner of the HYPERACTIVE AWARD is…Hanna.

She's so Pretty!

She’s so pretty!

It has been said that if we got a hamster wheel big enough, we could run the house off her energy. She is an awesome girl, an amazing friend, and just a little *cough* a lot *cough* crazy energetic! She is an overall amazing person, and a real best friend.

The winner of the SPEDCIAL AWARD is…Joe.

Handsom isn't he?

Handsome isn’t he?

I did not nominate Joe for this one, and yes the ‘D’ is really supposed to be there. Joe has the uncanny ability to get himself into the weirdest of situations, which makes sense as he did ask me to marry him!

The winner of the FUZZY/DINGO AWARD is…Cleo!
Cleo is the house puppy. She is adorable and crazy and is always up for snuggles.

The winner of the JELLY BEAN/BUG-EYED AWARD is…me.
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This one was a weird description, but I am going along with it. Hanna said that I should get the Jelly Bean award because I am so colourful and random. Justin says that I get the Bug-Eyed award because I always have an interest, I am always doing something, and it is never the same thing. Ever.

I have had so many experiences living with people of all walks of life, and this one is just a new adventure. With all new good people…even if they all are slightly crazy.

~ Andreah

Authenticity

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the importance of being authentic.

It may have to do with my beautiful circle of friends growing once again as I slowly meet more of ‘my people’ by living more like how I feel inside, regardless of what other people’s opinions, judgments, or expectations are. It’s amazing what you attract when you like who you’ve become and know that the right people will love you and stick beside you, the wrong ones will eventually drift away.

It may have to do with realizing the toll my recent employment took on me and being able to reflect on how down it made me – the lesson being that I do not want to ever feel that way again about a job.

It may have to do with the added free time I have had to actually slow down and enjoy life a bit while I am off – not to say it has been a walk in the park to not FREAK OUT about not having a clear direction set out for this next chapter, but Michael and my Tuesday day adventures have been pretty fantastic and plentiful.

One of our many adventures <3

One of our many adventures ❤

It may be my unquenchable thirst to learn, to see more than what we are provided easily in today’s western culture when it comes to news, health, way of life – this bubble we’ve grown accustomed to because it’s comfortable and familiar, filled with distractions from what life is supposed to be. As I grow, my soul desires to be more self-sustaining in all areas of physical life and the knowledge to do so is just as accessible, if you just look for it. There are big plans for greenhouses, chickens, a bit of land and a tiny house for Michael and I.

Whatever the trigger, I feel as though our society is losing their authenticity. I feel as though too many people are acting, playing a role, presenting something they do not authentically feel to the world. Too many people worried about how their lives look, and not enough concerned with how they feel at the end of the day. Bigger houses, newer cars, the latest phone, more money, more things, less love, less touch, less authenticity.

I felt this way when I over-heard antidotes from two young women at a local coffee shop, of the strategic moves being made to secure a second, third and fourth date – covering off the silly things they were pretending to like or be interested in to seem more attractive to the potential mate. I found myself wondering if that is really how some people find a life-partner, or if I’d stumbled upon a more (thankfully) rare breed of singleton. Would it not be more advantageous – if the goal truly is to shack up with a life-mate – to be purely authentic from the get-go?! Okay, okay, maybe not allll of the crazy cards at once, but at the very least being straight about who you are, what your interests are, where you came from, where you’re going, where your heart lies and having the confidence to know that you’ll be okay whether or not the stranger across from you likes it or not. Wouldn’t you rather the person who loves you for life know YOU, all of you, the dark and the light in you? I don’t know if I could trust a love that didn’t know and accept the whole package. I feel we need more authentic love.

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I felt this way during an interview where the interviewer seemed surprised at how many questions I had prepared. I let him know that I prepare for all of my interviews by making a list of all the details that are important for me to make a good decision in where to invest my time and talent. It opened a conversation about the shocking number of candidates that they have interviewed that did not understand it is as important to interview the company you’re applying to as much as they interview you; it helps to ensure the company matches your requirements as well or it will be a waste of both the company and employee’s time. I know I am a good self-advocate that can land a job by selling my skill set and experience, however I know first-hand the importance of being authentic in your work and wanting to make the best decision for your life goals. You give up so much of your life to your work, I believe you should somewhat love your life’s work. I feel we need more authentic work.

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I felt this way when I began to get more involved in the Moksha Yoga Cambridge community and had multiple ‘aha’ moments with the beautiful souls I have met there. The ‘aha’ of my soul as I recognized so much of myself – my true self – in them. That second family feel that reminds you that you’re not alone in the desires you have for the world, your communities, your family, friends. It made me realize that by living more authentically and searching for those outlets that feed my soul, I have in turn started to attract the kinds of people, opportunities and lifestyle I have been craving my whole life. It also made me realize how rare it is to find what I have found, that many people will never allow themselves to be open enough, vulnerable enough, and authentic enough to let who and what is meant for you, find you. I feel we need more authentic lives.

Amen!

I feel if we all followed our hearts a little more, learned to trust the universe a little more, searched for knowledge a little more, and especially lived a little more authentically, there would be a lot more fulfilled and happy souls in this world.

~ Toni

Take a chance on me!

You know what I want more of?

Chances.

I got an interview a couple months back and the way I got it was because I asked for a chance and although I didn’t get it, I knew I would have rocked that job because of that chance. Because in all honesty I don’t have very many credentials, I don’t have tons of experience. I am what some companies would call ‘a risk.’

That being said, I am now employed!

I have a good job. I have a job that is new, and something I have never experienced. I have a job that pays better than I have ever had, and a job that I think I may actually enjoy. It is an office job, and it is so far, so good.

They took a chance on me, and I have to thank them for that.

I have been in training, and flip flopping between knowing my stuff, and completely blanking on what I am supposed to do, but I know with some time I can get it, and I can do it.

That being said I am being thrown on my own tomorrow. I am going to go into work, sit down at my own desk (I HAVE A CUBICLE), and do my job.

MY CUBICLE!

MY CUBICLE!

I am so terrified I may mess something up, but I have been assured again and again that they all started out this way, that they all were a little hesitant at first, and had no clue what they were doing. I barely believe it, but I get that it is only my 9th day, and my first day on my own, and that I will make mistakes. I will mess up, but I also know that I can rectify those mistakes. I can make what I do count, and I can do my job to the BEST of my abilities, I just need to take the chance.

-Andreah

You don’t want kids!? But…

Every time I say, “I don’t think I want to have children”, I tend to brace myself for the response and reaction I’m going to get. The responses are more times than not less than desirable. The statement is usually met with negativity, judgement, or the instinctive reaction of trying to convince me differently.

Over the course of my long-term relationship with Michael, I have compiled a list of the most common responses I hear – we call them ‘but-responses’ – and they generally sound something like this:

1. But, having children makes your life fulfilling!

Firstly, saying something like this makes it seem as though a woman who chooses not to reproduce leads a life that is lacking something…well, really, that’s exactly what you’re saying. Yes, the choice is non-traditional; however, it should be accepted that it is a choice and not a requirement to create life – something I think should be explained to more women. I do not need to give birth to know that I have an incredible life and on top of that, I am going to experience so many different opportunities that some who choose children as their adventure might never get to experience.

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2. But, you’ll change your mind one day, trust me.

Well, trust me then. I’ve felt this way for the better part of my adulthood and for as long as I can remember to be honest. I have never had the burning desire to make mini-me versions of Toni and I feel more strongly about this choice now, with where I am as a person, the life I forsee myself living, than I ever have. It seems to get stronger the more birthdays I see, the more Michael and I grow together as a team, and our blended-family grows more in love. It’s not necessarily my mind that I’ve made up, so much as listening to the silent pull in my heart.

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3. But, what will you do when you’re older?

This one irks me a bit…and then makes me wonder if that is really a reason people have children – as a retirement/old age plan. I have a hard time with this one usually, and I have to really force my filter to stay in place and be kinder than I would like to be. I usually point out that there is no guarantee that your children will be there for you in your old age as it is all in how you get along and treat each other that matters – not just that you’re family.

4. But, you would make such a great mom!

Thank you! And not to toot my own horn, but that’s what makes me such a kick ass step-mama and auntie. I’m a mama bear for anyone I love, and it seems to come pretty naturally. I also love being an influential person to the children in my life, but not having it rest completely on my shoulders. You know, that whole “it takes a village” mentality? I’m one of the villagers that will always be there as a support for my babies from other mamas. I love being that person for my sister’s babies, my step-babies, and my friends’ babies – the person who shows up for them all the time as a teacher, mentor, guide and friend.

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5. But, it’s what’s natural!

So is nudity, but it’s illegal. In all seriousness though, just stop judging what you don’t know. Statistics prove that even if I did want kids, there are still a ton of chances that I might not be able to conceive, carry to term, survive the birth, and have a fully healthy baby, etc. etc. the list can go on and on. Determining what is right for my body and my life is what is natural to me. Let’s all remember too: at the end of the day, I’m the only person who has to live with and answer for my choices.

I know many women who are choosing not to have children of their own, each armed with their own reasoning, each reason as personal as the next. Please try to remember to support each other in our right to choose our own path for this life – what is right for you is not what us right for everyone. So next time you hear a woman express her choice not to have children of her own,  instead of one of the above cringeworthy but-responses, celebrate her choice, thank her for being true to herself and maybe ask “why?” without judgement – the answer just might surprise you.

~ Toni

Finding the beauty in the breakdown

In the grand scheme of life’s available disasters, losing my job this past November is really not that big of a deal.

Really.

It was just a job.

Just a job at a very terribly run company.

Just a job with my department being managed by the type of woman I loathe. The kind of woman that feeds the reputation that generalizes how terrible women are to each other.

It was just a job.

Then why did I completley lose my shit?

I let a terrible employer take advantage of my work ethic and then make me doubt myself on a personal level. Why had I been such a pushover, and why hadn’t I walked away?

A friend of mine pointed out that it could be like a bad relationship – you loved it at one point and it stopped serving you long ago, but you don’t want to be a quitter – you want to fix it, make it better, get the joy back. Sometimes the work pays off and you find it. But then sometimes you end up sacrificing a bit of who you are and the things you need to actually live, the real important things, like moments with family and friends, and missing your workouts that keep you sane and then you STILL lose.

Cheryl Strayed

Cheryl Strayed

I think it was the fact that it didn’t matter what I did, the outcome that came would have been delivered whether I wanted it to or not, or whether I worked harder or not.

I hated that I couldn’t control it.

I crumbled.

The months following were very dark for me. I had built a certain ideal of what my life should look like by now and I struggled with the very real reality that not only had I followed the wrong path, I was completely fucking lost, with no sense of direction and not a thread of hope in sight for understanding why.

I had chosen a career path that I thought I wanted.

I took time between high school and college and worked to get a better understanding of what I was good at and what I liked.

I went to school for three years at Conestoga College, hustled my ass off, got grades I had never dreamed of, accolades from my professors that enjoyed me being in their classes, got bumped into the co-op and advanced diploma program and landed a job all before graduating year.

I was set.

I worked in my field through from entry level to management and back down to events. For 9 years I put my everything into working in a marketing department at a Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 job that always meant 9 to 7, 8, 9, and sometimes (read: usually) even later nights and weekends. I took pride in what I did and what I had the training and skill set in. Safe to say I loved it at one point.

This is what I had been told my whole life success looked like: sitting all day in a stuffy office with some people that I really loved and some I would never dream of spending my energy on if I wasn’t literally paid to.

Please don’t get me wrong, I met some very important people in those offices – people who still mean the world to me, even if we’re not as close as we once were. People who taught me valuable lessons in life about love and following your heart and not letting anyone stand in your way when you want something. As with all tales of hurt, it’s only a waste if you don’t take the lessons and hold onto the blessings that were provided while in the struggle. It’s only a waste if you let your heart become bitter from it all.

So this was the path I was on, with the stuffy offices and the life revolving career that I thought I loved.

And then I was let go.

Three times…in a row.

Each for a different reason. Each with a different feeling of relief, grief or shock. Each being delivered in a different way, facing a different person doing the letting go.

Each horrible in their own way.

I had never been fired before.

What was wrong with me? Why did I keep picking these companies with failing positions and horrible management? Was it me? Was I not good enough at what I did?

Then I asked myself why I was letting it define me as a person? Why was what I did so attached to my identity?

It’s the first thing a person will ask you when first getting to know you – what do you do? As though that is the most important aspect of who you are to determine if you’re a person of value to know. What happened to care of community, interest in heart and soul, work-life balance? When did what I do become so important to me and whose values was I adopting? When did the bottom line become so much more than the people who helped you get there? When did a pay cheque determine who I was inside, and what I could do for my community?

No wonder I was so lost.

It’s just a job!

It didn’t mean I wasn’t still a kick-ass employee, an awesome co-worker and team member and it sure as hell did not mean I as a person was worth any less.

It was just a job.

Personally when I’m lost I take council.

So off I went, having lunches with mentors and coffee with friends. Getting to know me from their eyes again, having them ask me just the right questions to get me to think in the right way, to seek the answers I so desperately needed.

It helped a little for sure. Having one mentor ask me in particular to close my eyes and think about what a perfect day off would be to me definitely kickstarted the journey. I sat, at first feeling rather silly closing my eyes for such an extended period of time in a crowded sushi restaurant, but then I let go and saw getting up early while it’s still dark out and taking off for a sunrise hike in the Escarpment, catching the top before the sun really peaks onto the horizon, while sitting and drinking my coffee. “Now, in that feeling you feel doing that, lies your answer,” he responded like my very own inspirational bumper sticker.

Great. How the hell does one make a living on a feeling?

And then on a whim I returned to Moksha Yoga Cambridge for a Friday night Karma class.

I’d attended before and always liked them, but this time I felt a deeper connection. Chantal, the amazing soul who lead us in practice, had began the class by reading the following perspective-snapping verse:

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It hit me then: why was I wallowing over a job that had literally been stealing my life from me? Working 60, sometimes 80 hour work weeks, feeling empty inside…that was not a loss. I had gained.

By the end of class I had finally settled into a place of peace, where my brain was quiet, my mind was present, there was not a worry on my shoulders. My whole body humming from the release.

I had let it go.

I decided to sign up for their introductory month and attend as many classes as I could to get a real taste.

About two weeks in, I practiced with Wendy, co-owner and teacher at Moksha Cambridge. It was a particularly rough day where I hadn’t exactly felt the desire to leave the house, but knew I needed it. I sat in the parking lot right before practice and swallowed back tears, self-talking my way into calming down and getting my butt into the studio.

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of practicing at MYC you will know the second you step in that door that it is an impossible place to have a heavy heart. The smiles from the front desk, and warm welcomes from the regulars that were starting to recognize me helped me to shake a bit of the worry off my shoulders.

Throughout class, I connected to my practice in ways that I had only aspired to before. I experienced two breakthroughs in positions where I really had to trust in order to open up and by the end had tears of relief streaming into the sweat that dripped off me and onto my mat. I had experienced my first “Aha!” moment.

It was incredible.

I didn’t know how or why or what just yet, but I want to help people live their lives like this. To remove stress from their lives, the weight off their shoulders, to find balance, harness the power of peace and acceptance and to live in the moment – this moment – because it’s the only one that really matters, that we really have, ever. You can plan and predict and decide how you want your life to be as much as you want – but at the end of the day, if you’re ignoring your heart and ignoring who you really are, God and the Universre will find ways to re-direct you when you’re lost until you ‘get it’. If you’re open to it. If not, you will just keep hitting the same challenges over and over again until you are.

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I still don’t know how, or why, or what just yet, but I know that yoga, specifically Moksha, is going to play a huge part in it and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.

~ Toni