Ever since I was a little girl, I loved to cook and bake. I used to pretend that the kitchen was my restaurant and I even made my own menu and would charge my parents for their food. I liked to make cookies out of cheese slices until I got old enough to actually use the oven and then I would make the most disgusting burnt sugar cookies with sprinkles! I never actually knew how to follow a recipe at all, measure ingredients properly and I would never preheat the oven (hence the burnt cookies). Luckily since then I have learned a thing or two.
I dreaded school days. In fact, I hated school. I never did belong and always felt different from day one. I still feel that same way whenever I am in a crowd. The only thing that I liked about school was band. In grade seven I took up the clarinet and got really good at music. I guess I had a natural talent for it and it became my obsession for the next 6 years. I played in the school band, but also got accepted every year into the provincial honor band for Manitoba and played many concerts. When I turned 17, I tried out for the National Youth Band of Canada and got accepted to go to P.E.I to play there, but didn’t end up going because of my circumstances at the time.
Growing up I spent much of my time playing outside in the yard or on the beach, bike riding and swimming in the lake since we lived on it. I loved swimming and would spend hours and hours in the water, only to come out to get something to eat and then go right back in again. My parents also had a business in the hotel in town which had a pool in it so we had access to swimming there too. In the wintertime I would swim at the pool with my friends at least twice a week.
When I turned 13 wintertime was also a time when my dad would take us downhill skiing. Every Friday night in the wintertime a whole bunch of kids would get together from school and go skiing or snowboarding. Those nights were my favorite. I just loved to be outside and to get away from home for a while, breathing in the cold crisp air and being under the big open night sky.
At the age of 14 (almost fifteen) I got pregnant with my first ever real boyfriend. I was young and thought that I was in love of course. I guess I will admit that I also thought that having a baby would be the answer to my problems (as I am sure many young girls do). I wanted to be a mom and never thought to not have the baby. That meant dropping out of school and so I worked on grade 9 and 10 at home while I was pregnant and had Autumn. I never let the pregnancy stop me from doing things and living life. I even still played in two band programs, even though I was a pregnant teen. I also never let what people thought of me get me down. I was always a wholesome and intelligent girl and I knew in my heart that really what I was looking for was love.
I guess from there I missed a lot of normal development as I had become a mom now and my life had completely changed from that of a normal 15 year old girl. At 16 years old, I moved out on my own with my boyfriend and just before I turned 17, I became a single mom, living on my own and raising Autumn while still finishing up school. My relationship with my first boyfriend was not a wholesome one and I went through some things that I wish I never had to. I suffered a lot of damage because of it and the abuse that took place in many forms.
During the day, Autumn would go to daycare and while I went back to school to get my education. I knew that I had to do it and never wanted to get behind my grade or I knew that I wouldn’t go back. It was one of the hardest things that I have ever done. If I felt I never fit in from day one, you could imagine how I felt then. Other students really looked down on me and were judgmental of my life. I had only one or two friends, but still we were worlds apart. All I could think about all day long was when I could finally go and pick up my daughter and get home. It was a hard and depressing time to feel so lost and lonely.
During the summer when I was 17, I got a job at one of the local grocery stores in town where I met Craig. We didn’t know each others age. He looked young for his age (41) and I looked and acted older as I had already had a one and a half year old daughter. We were drawn to each other on a deep level, but to both of us it seemed ridiculous. Me, because I never had high self-esteem, especially after having had a baby, broken relationship and a body change since becoming a woman, and him because he had assumed that I was way too young for him (even younger than he had thought) and that I wouldn’t be interested.
That summer passed and I quit my job to go back to school again, though I never forgot about Craig. I would still see him when I went to the store and there was always still a deep attraction between us. One night in December there was a Christmas party in town and I went with my dad for company as he was the town photographer and was taking photos for the event and I was lonely anyways. I saw Craig there and we got to talk a bit. At the end of the night he had asked to walk me home. I said yes.
For a few months we hid our relationship because we lived in a small gossipy town and I was afraid what people would think of me, but after a while I just knew that I didn’t need to be afraid because for once in my life I was doing something that felt right and brought me peace and happiness, even though to others it seemed so totally crazy. Both of us felt the same way about each other and we knew that we just had to be together.
The next few years were among my darkest as I battled letting go of a lot of who I was to grow into who I needed to be. One of the biggest battles I faced was that of religious fear and fear of God. I grew up in a Pentecostal Christian faith and that instilled a lot of fear in me of not being good enough and of being an unworthy sinner. Even though in my heart, I felt that I could discern what was right and wrong, my head and what I had been taught to believe consumed me and I lived in so much guilt and fear for years and years to come.
I was put on antidepressants, which really made things a lot worse for me and also led me to gain over 40 pounds in just a few short months. I never wanted to leave my house and battled many demons at that time. I let my thoughts and fears consume me and things had taken a turn for the worst. Lucky for me, Craig was still by my side through it all and there would eventually be light at the end of it all, although I couldn’t see it yet.
At 18, I graduated high school with honors and distinction and got engaged to Craig. We moved away to another town and life began all over again. I felt that I now had a chance to be myself (whoever that was) and to live my own life. Slowly, I was changing and letting more and more of my fears go. I was finally able to develop more naturally and start rediscovering who I was after giving up so much of my life to my daughter. I was also pregnant again with Kesa.
After Kesa was born, I started losing weight. This was when I also got addicted to losing weight. I went from 237 pounds to 140 pounds in a year. Most of that weight came off on its own, but as I was losing, I felt like I wanted to lose more and more, so I began exercising excessively and really watching what I ate. At first it seemed healthy, but the comments from people and the feeling of being liked for being thin and beautiful fueled me to want to be thinner and thinner. It then became an obsession and I had met a new demon, bulimia. I struggled with bulimia for over 2 years, binge eating and purging the calories in whatever way I could, until it almost took Craig and my girls away from me. That is when I decided to stop and to try and get some help.
I thought that a support group would help me, but it was only just focused on food and calories/what to eat etc. I felt that I was really at a loss and that there was no help for me. Inside I knew that this whole eating disorder had nothing at all to do with food. I knew that it was about being lonely and not belonging, a feeling that I had had ever since I was a little girl. The eating disorder was a form of control and a way for me to abuse myself for not being good enough for anyone or worthy of being loved. It was a story that I could tell myself again and again, that I did not deserve to be loved. That was my story, but that was not the truth.
One day while I was in a bookstore looking at books about eating disorders, I found a book called It’s Not About Food. I knew I had to buy that book because I knew that was the truth. That book changed my life. I was finally able to separate myself from my thoughts and fears and recognize that I was not my thoughts or feelings. It enabled me to get in touch with a deeper part of myself, my true self and finally get to know and be me. I discovered Thich Nhat Hanh and mindful eating through that book and learned about meditation and connecting with my higher self.
I finally felt peace and as though there were some people out there who understood what I did deep inside and were not afraid to live it. I read many books by Thich Nhat Hanh, Marianne Williamson and Debbie Ford, which changed my life and spoke to the deepest part of my being. I was inspired to let everything that I had been holding onto for so long go and drop my thoughts, fears and plans go and finally live from my heart.
From that time of breaking open and release, I went vegan for ethical and spiritual reasons and felt even more peace in my life, as though a huge weight had been lifted from me. I desired to do away with selfishness and selfish desires and live my life not just for me, but for others. I stopped trying to be what everyone wanted me to be and what I was taught that I should be and instead began to discover who I really was, even though it was completely terrifying. I began blogging as a way to continue my journey discovering who I really am, living from my heart and hopefully connecting with others who wish to do the same. I have had three different blogs, but this one has been the most honest. This blog is my place to be me, all of me and share who I am with the world.
Today I am a 23 year old happy stay-at-home, homeschooling, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby-wearing mindful, yoga-loving, nature-loving momma to three daughters, living simply and appreciating the little things. I don’t have many desires, except to live comfortably and peacefully. Aside from being a mom, I am also a vegan. To me that is a big part of who I am. It is very sacred to me as it is not so much about the food (although I have never felt healthier in my life), but about allowing the compassionate, loving nature inside of myself come forth and spread into all areas of my life. Making that one decision to go against what didn’t feel right to me, even though it was the normal thing to do, helped me to stand up for more of what I believe in and allow the voice of my inner truth become even stronger.
Sometimes I just feel the need to write. I don’t often feel that I get the chance to with being so busy these days raising three little ones. This morning the girls are still in bed and I felt the urge to just sit and write my heart away. Maybe some people will think differently of me now that I have shared such things, but this is apart of who I am and I have finally learned that it is OK to be me and to accept all of who I am. I believe that everything that has happened in my life was no accident. Each decision that I made and each circumstance that I faced in the past has molded me into the person that I am today and that there is no shame in any of it, nor any need for regret. I am learning to do away with the lie in my head that I have believed for so long; you are not worthy of love.
My journey is not over, each day I hope to continue to live and to learn, to follow that voice of compassion within me and to share my innermost self with the world. I have learned that fitting in was never truly what I wanted. I only wanted to be loved and that I could only really feel love once I began to love myself. It didn’t matter what anyone told me or showed me, I couldn’t hear it or feel it because I didn’t want to let go of the belief that I wasn’t good enough. I had no other story.
Today I continue to live and create my story. I don’t know what it will be, but I feel that it will have many exciting chapters. I am still on a journey of self-discovery and finding out who I am as an individual in a world that praises conformity at the cost of freedom, peace and happiness. Nothing is permanent and there will always be ups and downs in life. I have been through so much already, I wonder what is yet to come.