Me (front left) with my 2 sisters and our friends in Thailand. (Fun fact: I ended up back in the same house with the same family during travels in my 20’s!)

I grew up in a low-income, love-rich family, and any money we had went into experiences rather than toys.

We made the most of every moment, whether we were cross-country-skiing, road-tripping across Canada, or living with friends in Thailand for 3 months. 

I loved being immersed in so many unique experiences, but being a sensitive child, I also went into frequent break-downs of overwhelm.

Small town life as a kid was pretty great: running down to the beach with my 2 sisters in Christina Lake, BC, playing in nature with neighbourhood kids in Sackville, NB, and cross-country skiing in Castelgar, BC. It wasn’t always easy making real friends through all the moves, but I had my amazing family through it all.

Me (right) with my sister and neighbours having fun in a warm, summer rain in Sackville, NB.

Me (back) with my sisters in Heritage Park, Calgary, AB.

I moved to Calgary at the age of 15.

My teenage years were tough on me, as I didn’t know how I fit in in a city. Here, I was often bullied for being too energetic, innocent, or “being too happy” (really!). 

I was feeling disconnected from nature and my true self.  I didn’t know how to have healthy boundaries and constantly sought validation from my abusive friendships. I often fell into bouts of depression where I didn’t see the point of constantly fighting through all the heaviness, or where life was taking me.

Me (4th from the right) singing O Canada with the U of C Chamber Choir in a stadium at the start of a Calgary Stampeders football game

After high school, I started to thrive more as my own person.

I volunteered around Canada with Katimavik, I performed with choirs in my university, started to salsa dance, and I explored 24 countries & learned 4 languages.

Coming from self-worthlessness into all this growth into greatness created a bit of an ego inflation. I still found myself in old habits seeking validation. I would solicit attention in all areas of my life, whether I was samba dancing on big stages, landing jobs where I would be praised, or joining dance circles that would be amazed by me.

About to Samba dance at a performace with the Brazilian Community Association of Alberta dance group.

When I suddenly developed health struggles, my life as I knew it came to a stop. I developed severe allergies to chemical fragrances, which meant no more dancing, social life, or conventional workplaces.

With my hunger for recognition, this was essentially an inner death for the person I identified as.

The people I had considered my friends faded away, but the interactions I had with all the amazing, loving people who stuck with me inspired me to be a better person.

I realized more and more that I didn’t need any gimmicks or tricks for people to appreciate me. I noticed that I struggled more whenever I was expected to fit into a box.

It was the perfect opportunity to get fully into my true self. I was forced to leave the preschool I was working for, and take a leap into being self-employed, something I had always craved but never went for.

Feeling free on a nature childcare excursion as a self-employed babysitter.

Enjoying a qigong practice in Grassi Lakes in the majestic Rocky Mountains.

My health was shaky and I was mostly bedridden, so I started focusing a more internal exploration. I dedicated myself fully to growing, healing, and cultivating wellbeing, at first through a variety of healers and specialists, and eventually through my own practices, like qigong.

Most importantly, I started tuning into the joy and the little moments, removing all the business and distractions, perhaps for the first time in my life. I started to feel a deeper connection to myself, others, and the world around me.

Capturing rainbow light at Grassi Lakes, Rocky Mountains.

Now in my early 30’s, I have a playful sense of wonder as I continue to find what balance means to me in my ever-changing life.

I have a meaningful relationship with someone who always reminds me who I am and shows up for me in big and small ways.

I value all the special interactions I share with anyone who comes into my life, and I love seeing the mutual progress and growth with the people I spend my time with.

We are all in this together, and it’s always a little easier when you find the people who can best support you through it.