When I sat down to write this post, I didn’t think it would be so long. But it’s well over my 2,000 word limit. It’s almost a short book. To think it started off as a “cooking tip” post and then blossomed from there. It’s a long read – but look. There’s pictures. This is my “everything you might need to know about me” story.
Cooking is something that has really grown on me over the years. I first got into cooking back in 2009-2010 when I lost 70 pounds in a six month span. I contribute that weight loss to cooking extremely low carb meals and cutting out foods that I love like bread and pasta.
I remember one guy I was dating, Leo, yes I’m naming you, made fun of me and called me “ridiculous” because I wouldn’t keep bread in my fridge. I told him if he wanted to spend the night to bring his own bread. Let’s just say it was a short lived relationship!
Hiking was my life!
I managed to keep the weight off for three years! I hiked through the mountains. I learned how to box in a gym. I enjoyed activities like cardio kick boxing and aqua fit classes at the pool.
I was performing concerts at the church. I was dating again – several guys over the years. I traveled across the country by myself from one end of the country to the next. A solo trip to Halifax, followed by a trip to Vancouver. in 2013 – the year my mum died.
Here is a photo of me from 2012 – at my thinnest – I had gone from a size 22 to a size 12. That’s ten dress sizes. That’s like a whole person. I wore this dress once for a concert. It’s still hanging in my closet.
My skin had cleared up. My hair was shiny and glorious. My hormones were in check. Like almost to the day when I could predict my cycle would hit.
I felt good. But then in 2013, mid mountain hike – I felt something in my knee go “pop”. I had to sit down on the plastic tarp my ex packed for me in my emergency kit. The ever paranoid soldier he was about personal safety. But it came in handy.
Turns out I retore a ligament in my left knee. An old injury from when I was a teen from hypermobile joints. One that would still plague me to this day.
A few months later, I was sitting in my doctor’s office crying. I had been sick for three months and was missing a lot of work. No matter what we tried – I wasn’t getting better. At all. We tried everything from hormone medications, anti-depressants, sleeping pills. You name it – my doctor and I tried it. I saw every specialist. I went to a sleep clinic. I saw my hematologist who wound up saving my life – more on that later.
Insomnia and sleep demons
And during that time, I had two episodes of sleep paralysis, that I will share with you in another post. It was the scariest thing that I’ve ever had happen to me. I thought I was going to die on the second night it happened. I was “visited” by a shadow being without a face. I would later learn that this was what doctors called a hallucination caused by sleep deprivation or sleep paralysis.
We never did find out what was causing the illness. Ever since my hike in the mountains, my body would go into spasms that would keep me awake and in severe pain all night long. I went weeks without sleep. And then months.
Sometimes I’d grab a power nap during the day. Only to wake up and find myself standing in the bathroom with no recollection of how I got there. Other times I just laid in bed crying because nothing stopped the pain. Then came the hot flashes.
I wanted to die
In the middle of December, I remember standing outside in -30C weather with a t-shirt and thinking “this feels good.” I knew something was wrong.
I went back to my hematologist in November-December of 2013 after being off work for three months. At the time, I was working an executive position at Alberta Health Services making – a decent wage. I loved the money. I loved the work we did in Addictions and Mental Health. But the job itself – the people – were not great people. There was a lot of bullying and toxic behaviour in the office that stayed with me.
My hematologist took not one, but FOURTEEN viles of blood from me one afternoon. I actually passed out from it in the lab. He called me back the next day and asked me to meet him at the hospital.
He said my iron was so low that I needed an iron infusion. And that’s what was causing most of my issues. I went into the hospital as an outpatient for FIVE WEEKS of iron infusion treatments. You read that right. FIVE WEEKS.
Who knew that low iron could be so damaging.
Turns out my “healthy” low carb diet, wasn’t so healthy at all. I lost the weight much too fast. Once I started eating normally again, I put ALL that weight back on. And then some.
By Christmas time, I was starting to feel more like my normal self. While I had gained all that weight back, I was finally getting sleep. The nightmares stopped. The depression magically seemed to disappear over night after the first treatment.
By second week of January, I was ready to return to work. I had run out of benefits and while I still had some recovery to do, I was bored and restless at home. And then the worst possible thing happened.
Death in the family
My mum died on January 23, 2013 just weeks after her birthday. The only mother I had ever known. She had been sick for so long with pulmonary fibrosis of the lungs and was on oxygen for over a decade. I watched her slowly die.
Two weeks before I was to return to work. I found myself saying goodbye to my mother in the hospital. It broke my heart in pieces.
I would later write a book about the experience in 2017-2018. I published it under a different name. I shared here in this blog when I was writing under a different name. But I pulled the book from the stores. I knew my family would shame me for sharing the story publicly. I wrote about grief often. I was even quoted in an article. But I struggled with writing under a fake name. It didn’t feel right.
And so the book sits. In my draft folder. With no readers. I want to publish it again. But fear the backlash. Mum wanted to be a writer. My one regret was not spending enough time with her to help her do that.
Life changing decisions
Not long after the funeral at which I was asked to play “Wind Beneath My Wings” for my mother – I went back to work part-time. Things started to get worse at the office.
I was only supposed to work 50% of my job for three months which meant being in the office from 8:30 to noon. They wouldn’t let me start later – there was no such thing as “flex” time. And working from home was not an option. Despite the fact that I was one of their best workers. And only weren’t they flexible, they wanted to split my already 50% time between two managers – two teams that did very different work.
This was the government’s way of saying “you’re just an admin, you can job share, you aren’t that important.”
One day as I was leaving work, I heard the “big boss” screaming and yelling at one of the directors from behind closed doors. I heard him say my name. I listened for a few moments. I went back to my desk. Packed a few of my things. And never looked back.
The next morning, I submitted my resignation and took out a pension payout. The effects of the bullying lasted with me for a long time.
I took a few months to contemplate what I wanted to do with my life. I had money to travel. I went to Halifax for a week. I loved the ocean. Then I went to Vancouver to record an album in a friend’s home studio. It was quite the experience. And quite the whirlwind of a weekend.
Halifax was a nice little town. Everyone was super friendly. I went on a whale watching tour, the Titantic tour, saw the Titanic graveyard, visited museums, and just wandered around the docks. I also witnessed a tropical storm brewing from Peggy’s Cove – what an experience that was. My flight was delayed a day and I got food poisoning – the trip home was interesting to say the least. But I loved the east coast. And I would go back in a heart beat.
Vancouver was a completely different experience. The city is large. Busy. Expensive. But there was lots to see and do. My favorite was the tour with my friend Michael and of course, visiting Stanley Park.
But come September 2014, money was running out and I knew that I had to go back to work. So, I joined a temp agency and went back to government contracting which led me to work at First Nations Relations. I loved my short time there – almost a year. The people were wonderful. The days flew by. And the location was ideal. But in the world of contract work, nothing is ever “permanent”. And with my health issues, I needed benefits.
“It’s not you, it’s me.”
And somewhere during this time after I moved into the condo where I am now – the timeline is fuzzy – my ex that I was seeing on and off – broke things off permanently. He gave me the “it’s not you, it’s me. I’m in therapy for my PTSD. You’ll find some great guy to date” speech – while holding me in my bed after some “adult” time. Yeah. That actually happened.
I have been single ever since. And I’m okay with that decision. I’m a better person when single. One less thing to obsess over. As my ex told, “I over thought everything and it exhausted him.”
That was the military guy that I had reconnected with in 2010. Five more years I gave him. And that was how he ended things. I haven’t seen him since. And I’m so over it.
Yes. Military guy. I have a thing for uniforms, okay?
Growth and Transition
In November 2015, I was called for an interview with the government for a position in what was called Human Services (Children’s Services). I passed the interview for a front line position with flying colours. I was put on the “hire immediately” list – thanks to carefully selected references, which I had a long list to choose from. I’ve had – a stellar career in the admin field.
I was called almost weekly for interviews for various positions. I kept saying no – that I was happy where I was. Until I got a call from someone who would become a friend and mentor. I was hired almost on the spot during our first meeting.
I joined a small team that focused on Stakeholder and Community Engagement and I loved every minute of it. We worked on consultations with the disability communities. I worked over time. I got to travel. I was valued. But then we were moved to another department on another floor. We got another boss. And things… changed. As they always do.
Learning from the Elders
While I loved the work we did – our focus changed to working with Indigenous communities. And that part – I LOVED. I loved meeting with the elders and learning about protocols and the history. But with that history also came politics and sadness.
Eventually, the work just became too stressful and – heartbreaking. We worked on the Sixties Scoop Apology and Ministerial Panel on Child Intervention. There’s just some stuff you can’t help but take home with you. Many nights, I came home crying. All I wanted to do was sleep.
I went to St. Paul for a week to learn about residential schools and it left me heartbroken and sick – as the group participated in pipe smoking ceremonies all week.
Weight Gain. Depression.
I was doing well for weight in 2015-2016. I had dropped down about 25 pounds and was on the right track. But then I started getting sick. Again. By 2017, I had ballooned right up again. I won’t say my heaviest weight because I’m ashamed of it.
I traveled to Montreal in 2018 and Toronto in 2019 – and let me tell you. At the weight I was at, travel was hard. I should have stayed home. But the Montreal trip – was a once in a life time experience that I couldn’t pass up as I got to attend an organ festival. Here’s a pic at a concert in Notre Dame.
The lard works in mysterious ways
Weight is so hard to lose. It’s so easy to put on. Just one weekend of pizza and pop is all it takes. But it takes months of hard work to see any progress. Factor in my age and a bum knee with arthritis – and yeah. Things are difficult.
I was doing so well in January-February. Then COVID hit. And the depression and anxiety came back. As did some of the weight. It’s a freaking yo-yo and it’s exhausting.
I’m still off work for the summer. I’m waiting for medical appointments. But day by day – I’m getting stronger. Therapy is helping my mood overall. Yes. I’m in therapy now from all of this. And it helps. It’s mainly just good to have someone to talk to. Especially with all that is happening around the world.
I’m working out daily. I’m still struggling with sleep – insomnia is a bitch. But my energy is pretty good most days. I’m just trying to stay healthy and avoid anyone who might have COVID.
We’re living in weird times right now.
My music career has suffered because of my weight struggles. I refuse to appear on camera simply for the size that I am now. Even when I was thinner, I had issues with being filmed. I preferred being the one to hold the camera. But never wanted to be on camera – which when you’re aiming for a career in film music – that’s a problem.
I’m slowly getting back into recording and have new music on Spotify and Youtube. I retired from stage performance in 2017 when the depression got really bad. I had some terrible experiences volunteering for local festivals – bad management – and dropped out completely. Other than the church, I was just about ready to quit music.
That’s what led me to other hobbies – cooking, artwork, and this blog. I used to be really great at photography too when I was in better shape.
To write or not – that is the question
Someone from WordPress support asked me last month if I had ever written a book. I have. Several actually. I have tons of drafts and unifnished stories sitting on my harddrive waiting for me to come back to them. But writing books is so difficult. You change one small detail and it can change the entire story.
I may write some cookbooks if I can get enough material but I need an editor for that. And money.
I do know one thing – I love writing. I’ve taken professional business writing courses. That was my goal – remember? I was going to take writing courses through work and move into communications. But that all fell through when budgets were slashed for training.
My mum was the writer in the family. She wrote family newsletters every Christmas that people ranted and raved about. She wanted to write her life story down for the grandkids to read. I’d love to write one for her. But – it’s not my story to tell.
So, for now – I have this blog. My little piece of history. My piece of me for you to remember me by years down the road when I’m long gone.
As a single person without kids – this is something to pass the time. I can meet fantastic people from around the world and share my stories with them.
Why do I write? It’s therapeutic. Like music, it’s cathartic release. It’s helped me through troubled times.
If you have read this far, then I thank you. You are the reason I’m here writing every day. Sometimes more than I should. Sometimes I delete posts only to restore them later. I guess that’s a writer’s privledge.
I know things are crazy in the world right now. You may not feel like reading every blog out there. But I will continue to try and put out amusing content for you to enjoy. And maybe even teach you some things I’ve learned through my life. I shy away from talking about things I’ve learned like paranormal research, or the occult – but it’s such an obsession of mine that I want to share that with you too.
I’m still debating on whether I should write an autobiography or not. I have lots of stories as a church musician to share with you. Perhaps that will be my summer project.
This photo is from 2018 – before I got really sick. I was doing pretty well. And my hair was awesome.
For now, I’ll leave you with this…
Each and everyone of you matter to me. Every comment. Every positive thought. Every interaction we’ve had. Regardless of where you are in the world. How old you are. Or even the color of your skin. Every follow is appreciated. I’m working on following back some of you.
Know that you matter to me. And you’re the reason I’ll keep writing.
Thanks for sharing this journey with me.