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Owner, "MAP Wellness" - a culinary nutrition and wellness company. Writer. Passionate cook, raw food chef, reiki practitioner, yoga teacher, and LIVE WELL educator. ​do yoga. enjoy good food. run. plant food. cook. savour wine. read books. buy good food. love. grow your energy. find peace. enjoy food. have passion. skip. eat food. do yoga. listen to jazz. have presence. be present. bike. read. see. hear. be. live. love.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Grace. The word. Not the name.

The last time I saw my dad alive and alert was on April 23, 2011.  My family had gathered at my sister's place in Milton for Easter brunch, and I arrived with Cava in hand, and fear in my heart.  At that point, I can admit that I was not visiting mom and dad as often as I should have been.  Dad's ALS was progressing quite rapidly, and I was in a massive state of denial...in my mind we would still have him for another year at least!  My work schedule was going to allow me to spend the 2 months leading up to Christmas (this Christmas) living at home, getting in some real quality time.  As much as I had convinced myself that dad was not going to leave us anytime soon, I was also completely terrified.  Each time I visited, it was such a shock to see how much dad's appearance and demeanor would have changed since the last time, how much weight he had lost, how much more distant and worried that look in his eyes was becoming.  


That's Daddy & I enjoying Easter bubbly.
 
Yes indeed, that Easter was a reality check.  I was totally floored while watching my pops, his usually strong and athletic legs, now so skinny, pushing his walker around the house, a goofy smile on his unknowing face.  It was after only about 3 hours, that I decided I needed to get out of there.  I was wigging out.  So I left. 

I left, and felt terrible.  My family was upset.  They knew I should have been spending as much time as possible with dad, as that time was so, so precious.  But he was just so weak...and it was once I left that I finally began to really know.  And knowing was the scariest step in the process.  It was one of the hardest days I ever had in dealing with dad's diagnosis...

The definition of the word "grace" is as follows:
1. elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action.
2. a pleasing or attractive quality or endowment.
3. favor or good will.
4. mercy; clemency; pardon: an act of grace
6. the influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or
strengthen them.

I like the last two.  However, if we were to refer to definition number one, on that day in Milton, I did not act with much grace at all.  No, I acted in quite the opposite way, stumbling away from the challenge that was my family's reality, running from my fear, and then allowing the guilt to torment me wholly.  And I couldn't go on like that anymore, I needed change. 

It was on the Go bus ride back into the city that I officially decided on what my newest tattoo was to be.  I want to live a deeper, more intensely graceful life, one filled with love, personal growth, and honest forgiveness.  I have also experienced some real mercy from the universe, and it was the strength of spirit that allowed me to survive my darkest of days.   So to sum up my new motto for living, the very next day I made it permanent with that one simple word.  Close to my mind, close to my heart, and close to my soul.  No more excuses, right?


2 weeks later, I left the province on a cross-Canada tour with the TV show that I was working with at the time.  I was gone for almost four weeks, arriving back in Ontario that same week dad was admitted to hospital with the bought of pneumonia that would eventually take his life. As circumstances mercifully allowed, I was able to make the trip to Exeter to be by dad's bedside until the end.  I was blessed to be able to say my goodbyes in person, even if he wasn't awake to hear me.  He did manage to open his eyes and see all of his girls surrounding him with love just as he took his last few breaths, and then he was gone.  Mom says she is pretty sure he waiting for me to arrive before he let go. 

Thank God I made it to the hospital.  And thank God I was there for Easter brunch.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

We made it. Christmas 2011.

I was feeling weak last night - Wednesday December 28th. 

Don't get me wrong; the holidays have been wonderful, a complete delight.  This being, after all, the first Christmas we had to celebrate without Dad.  It was hard, strange, new...but still quite magical.  A while back it was decided that mom would not host the family this year, as we wanted to "mix things up" this go round, so my sis Bronwyn took on the task, and did so with ease.  Squeezing five adults and three kids under seven years into their house built for five was a challenge at best (sleeping arrangements were reminiscent of childhood camp!).  But waking up to a house full of joy, love, and pure unadulterated excitement made it all so worthwhile.  The pile of gifts that arrived under the tree come Christmas morning was enough to spin the kiddies' heads off their tiny little flannel PJ'ed bodies.  Santa had been quite generous.  No bother that the "wake-up call" us adult folks had to endure was for 6am; with coffee and tea, and smiles galore, there was no thought of oversleeping thus missing the fun!  After a leisurely round robin of gift opening ceremonies (a family tradition - everyone takes their turn!) we sat down to a yummy breakfast, followed by plenty of play time and then a huge turkey (tempeh for me!) dinner.

Christmas Eve storytime!
On our Christmas eve outing to a local holiday"lights legend" - tacky fun!

Not exactly a Christmas like any other before, but it was precisely what we all needed.  Different, new, normal.  The new normal.

Of course we thought often of Dad, or at least I know I did.  We missed him, remembered him.  Cried for him, longed for his laughter at the dinner table.  We quoted him, retold his jokes, and recalled moments from holidays past.  But mostly, we just loved him.  And felt his presence, raising a glass in his name, for he was there, as far as I could tell, that little Pearson spark in all of us.

So, it turned out to be a magical Christmas afterall, as we got to spend it with those we love; all healthy, happy and bright.  

*************************************************************************

Now back to Wednesday.  By this point I was at mom's house, having departed from my sisters early on boxing day to head to my hometown for some quality time at the old homestead.  

 Mom's tree

Yes, on Wednesday I got hit.  Knocked down a little.  I got sad.  After a long haul of fight, my mind, heart, and body gave out.  Over the course of twenty minutes, two events, and a momentary lapse of sanity, I fell from grace, branches and twigs smacking me in the face all the way to the ground.  I was on the floor, or more literally, the bed, feeling hopeless.  And really crying.  

It only lasted a few minutes, however.  Somehow, miraculously, I came out of it fast, and OKAY.  I had quickly cycled through the standard icky ego feelings of guilt, fear, embarrassment, resentment, grief, and pain; felt sick to my stomach and heaved in sorrow...but I KNEW I was going to be fine, that I would get by, no matter what.  I was okay, right now, right here, and nothing could change that.  Even while dealing with the usual shame I feel about certain interactions with my family, having just had one of those minutes before...even with having just heard some heartbreaking news...even with my sudden spiraling into a dark place of grief over my father's absence...I stopped the tears, and managed to pick myself up.  Of course, a perfectly timed appearance and hug from my mommy certainly helped (how do they DO that?  Show up at JUST the right moment???).  And I think Dad gave me a pretty special gift of strength that day to boot.

Yes, on Wednesday, I learned that I really did have some control.  I just let my heart and spirit steer me on.  Pretty neat-o.

Us Pearsons are a strong breed when we need to be.  Just look at my mom, sisters, Aunts, Uncles, and Grandma.  If I even began to tell you their stories, you would hands down agree.  We DO deal with whatever the universe shuffles for us from the deck of cards called life.  And everyday, we do it with a little bit more grace than the day before.  Yes, we got through this Christmas, the one "they said" would be the worst.  And we did it mindfully, beautifully, and blissfully. 

After all, my Daddy didn't raise no fools. And he didn't raise no wussies neither.



Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pins & Points

Ever try acupuncture?  I started doing it in late August of 2011.  Wow, is it fabulous!

I had only a handful of friends who had ever done it, and I used to be quite skeptical when people told me that it had helped them lose weight, quit smoking, feel happier...But, in the last couple of years, I think it is quite obvious that I have really opened myself up to a whole new realm of opportunities, and with that, an arsenal of weapons within my stadium of self healing.  People go to acupuncture for their own very personal reasons; I was to the "point" that I was willing to go to any length to receive some reprieve from my insomniac tendencies. My inability to sleep through the night really began in early 2010, and slowly became more and more of a health concern and plain old bother as time crept on.  By the time dad passed away, I was waking 3 to 4 times each night, and then my body would jerk into consciousness no later than 5am most mornings, no matter how late I hit the hay the evening before.  

I began searching for a reputable studio to try out this ancient Chinese medicinal cure, and found out that it was not cheap!  To hit any one of the new "holistic" treatment centres in the downtown core, I was looking at upwards of $80 per visit.  Yowzers.  And then one day, while out riding my bike through Roncesvalles Village, I came across a sign for "community" acupuncture treatments.  Said sign was out front of "The Herbal Clinic & Dispensary", and the gorgeous scents of all things natural and pure lured me inside.  As I soon found out, there were a couple of certified acupuncturists from the neighbourhood offering "sliding scale/pay what you can" treatments in the back room of the store, and so instantly I was sold.

My first treatment was divine.  I biked on over one sunny afternoon, and upon arrival, slipped my $20 cash in to the envelope with my name on it, and took a seat on one of the 6 or 7 crisp-white-sheet draped cots.  Naomi was the wonderful woman who then greeted me, asked many questions about my health history, current state of affairs, and emotional wellbeing.  She took my pulse, looked at my tongue.  Then she went to work.  I think I probably had about 12 pins in me that first time, 3 of them stuck right in my forehead and scalp.  Talk about a WEIRD sensation, that initial decent into "acu-nap" bliss.  I konked out completely for over an hour, while yogic chanting and meditative music lulled me in and out of what I think must have been the deepest sleep I had had in months!  I left that day feeling overwhelmingly serene and at peace.  I was officially addicted.

Currently, I try and go for my acu-naps at least twice a week.  I used to go because of my inability to sleep and to treat the associated headaches and fatigue that came along with that.  However, since mid-October when I began getting up at 3:30am to head to work for my new gig, those issues have really taken care of themselves.  Now, I go in an effort to get by every day with a level head.  Lord knows, it has been a long road; a rough 16 months, and heaven forbid I erupt into chaos once again.  I have had needles in all my limbs, had my ears "bled" to release tension, and have found a new avenue to explore in my trip to personal euphoria.  Now, my new acupuncturists Daryl and Ash treat me to release anxiety, ease my underlying grief about Dad that is a constant low hum in my mind, and offer to work on anything and everything I ask.  Just yesterday I was feeling bloated in my belly, and anxious about the impending holiday ahead, so I got pinned specifically for that, and I also received "ear seeds".  This was something I had never really heard much about until a dear friend mentioned them a few months back, and so I jumped a the suggestion.  "Ear seeds" are just as they sound - little seeds from the Vaccaria plant, that are adhered to the inside the upper ear, and then act as a pressure point for self treatment.  Daryl referred to them as my "reset" buttons, so I left the studio armed with a seed in each ear, and the ability to squeeze them as needed to ease my antsy ways.  Delightful!  
See that little black dot? That's my RESET button!  

So, if you have ever thought about acupuncture, even if just for a second, I encourage you to give it a go.  It really has changed my life in ways I never imagined.  If you are interested in checking out one of the Community Studios I visit, let me know!  Just leave me a comment and I will put you in touch!

Thanks for reading, and happy holidays!

Friday, December 9, 2011

"When I have..."

Wandering home from my local LCBO (that just so happens to be the huge & beautiful Summerhill location), I got to thinking, and thus, decided what my newest blog post should be about.

As I walked up the long sloping hill of Yonge street, between Alcorn Avenue and Balmoral, I reflected on what an amazing stroll it was, through such a pleasant and welcoming neighbourhood.  Not only is the Summerhill LCBO only an eight minute walk from my new apartment, but there is also an abundance of fancy foodie shops, grand restaurants, superb home decor stores, and plenty of coffee houses nearby to cozy up in for tea.  My hot yoga studio is around the corner, there are two grocery stores within a stone's throw, I can see the subway station from my balcony, and I can walk to my workplace in under 25 minutes!  For the first  time in all my years living in Toronto, I am one hundred and fifty percent completely and utterly happy with where I live.  Not only do I adore the 'hood, but I just plain love my new flat and all that I have furnished and designed within it.  Sure, there is a lot I could still do to make it "homier", but it is perfect as is, and I love it right now.  I have moved a total of 13 times in my 11 years in Toronto.  Consistently, I would move and then soon begin to long for something a wee bit better, bigger, cooler....I figured that "only when I have" a better flat, my life will be perfect.  I had developed a bad case of the habitat "when I have's".
I have also come to realize that I am really into my job.  Like, really.  I have been plugging away at my career in TV for years, and almost from day one I was already striving to do the next thing.  Once I got comfy in one role, I became unhappy, needed change, got miserable, and looked for new work.  Once I nailed that perfect gig somewhere else, the cycle would begin again...get good, get sad, get resentful, leave.  Eventually I worked my way to the "top" as far as I was concerned, as a director in live TV news at the ripe old age of 27.  Pretty great, right?  Well it didn't take long for my high about that position to wear off either, and I quit that too.  Once again, it was my "phoenix years" rolling around and kicking my butt that finally snapped me out of it.  After dabbling in various fields outside of TV in 2010, and taking on only freelance and contract work for most of this year, I finally landed the role that saved me.  In September I started a full time job on a new show that launched in October.  The team is outstanding, the hours are great (if you like getting up at 4am), and I get the pleasure of working alongside a few colleagues that I met way back at the start of my career; back before my yuck cycles had even began.  I now go into work with a huge smile on my face everyday.  The role itself is a bit of a step back from what I am truly capable of, but it is FUN.  Stressfree.  With people I love, on a show that makes me laugh out loud.  Every. Single. Day.  It's pretty great.  I love it just fine, right now, because I have it right now. And I don't need anything but this moment.

I have lived for my "when I have's" for thirty years.  I have been in a perpetual state of anxiety about the future.  When I get those jeans, nab that boyfriend, lose those ten pounds, learn that dance move...I will be happy...
I have always had this sinking feeling that I was waiting for something.  Something to happen, something to change, something to make my life perfect.  But my life IS perfect.  I have a life after all,  and every single second is beautiful and precious and needs to be acknowledged and given great attention.  

Wow, I wish I had known this when I moved to this city at the age of 20.  I'd have had a lot more compelling stories to tell I am sure.  Living with tunnel vision really wasn't much fun.


Just another perk that comes with my new job; cute celebrity chef encounters!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Gift

If you have been reading my blog for a time, you would have read about my routine experience with colposcopy (a procedure used to screen status of cervical dysplasia), and also my recent concern surrounding my doctor's recommendation for me to undergo LEEP treatment to rid my body of the pre-cancerous cells.



Well, today was the day for my scheduled LEEP and I am happy to report that after all of my grief, anxiety, worry, and planning, I no longer require it.  I have just returned home from my "procedure" appointment at Sunnybrook Hospital, a visit that has had my tummy in knots, and mind racing for days, and I am still trying to fully absorb what went down.  

Earlier, I was just settling into my clinic room, when the nurse arrived and began looking over my chart.  She flipped the pages back and forth with a funny look on her face, scanning the notes over...and over... and over.  I began to panic...was she reading some bad news?  Was there full blown cancer in my body?  What was up with my biopsy taken last visit?  Was this LEEP still a viable option??  

Well....what came out of her mouth next was the real surprise; both my biopsy and pap taken had come back negative.  Whaaa?  Both?  So, like, zero bad-DNA?  

Yup.  After what seemed to be a million minutes, my doctor finally entered the room, glanced at my chart, and with a shocked look on her face, told me that I was free to go.  No bad cells, no procedure.  Doc said she was genuinely happy to be able to give me the great news, as she rarely gets to do so; and merry early Christmas to me!  I like to think that maybe I had a real part in my healing; through some proactive life changes and positive spirit. 

And there we have it.  I am free and clear.  Literally!  At least for now.  I head back again in 6 months for yet another followup, but that is just fine by me.  So friends, here's to living a balanced life, a diet full of super-foods, a splash of red wine, lots of hot yoga, & a bucket full of love.  Here's to health.  Happy Holidays!!


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Holidays

I love the holiday season.  I really do.  I become a wee bit of an over-the-top joyous-jolly-jolly-merry-merry-type as the days leading up to the BIG DAY get "X'ed" off the advent calendar.  I can't help it.  Growing up, my family's farmhouse was always a festive place; a gift in itself to anyone that had the pleasure of stopping by anytime after November 28th.  You see, our family always had a rule that we would not put up Christmas decorations until after Dad's birthday passed.  We celebrated that event, and once Dad was another year older, it was time to really kick off the season.  Sort of like how Thanksgiving is the festive jumpstart for most people; ours was Pops' natal day. 

The house would be lit up form the outside in; huge floodlights splaying glorious rays of red, green, and beige light onto the cream brick, a beautiful silhouette of the pine tree on the lawn cast onto the exterior of our home, and warm shadows onto the floor in the "special" front living room.  There was always an artificial tree, adorned with one of many "themes"; be it "retro" (many Papier-mâché ornaments, classic reds & greens), blue & while bulbs with beads and bows, or red birds & holly....with the one constant of my mother's sugar-starched crocheted angel, always perched atop the plastic pine.

There was the Crèche; the homemade wooden nativity stable and delicate figurines.  The felt stockings carefully labelled using glittery paint in mom's cursive.  There was also a plethora of vignettes all over the house; collections of nutcrackers & angels, greenery and poinsettias on the shelves, scenes of merriment on the walls, tables, & every nook and cranny imaginable.  And, the house always smelled of Yuletide joy...whether from a gingerbread scented candle burning in the bathroom, or mom's Christmas cookie baking extravaganza going on in the kitchen.  It was the most welcoming home in all of Christmasland.  I swear.  You could not help but be completely and utterly engulfed by the love.  

Oh, and the traditions.  We had so many of them.  I could write forever......

I love the holidays.  I really do.  But this year is going pretty darn different. I suppose it is time to embrace some new holiday normals.  So here we go; Pearson Christmas 2011.  Let's see how this rolls out.


Niece Afton & I last year at mom & dad's in-town home

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Mind- A wonderful thing.

I made a promise to my father on his birthday.  My gift to him.  It has been only four days, and already I have faltered on my pledge.   Today I will recommit to Dad. 

Funny thing is, I dreamt of him last night; several different dreams, and woke up crying once.   I think that partially, it was my mind recalling my promise, pushing me to re-evaluate my situation, and reassuring me that I can, and will, overcome this mountain that I swore I would summit.  I also like to think that my father had a little something to do with his visit to my unconscious mind as well. 

So thanks dad, for giving me that extra kick in the butt I obviously needed.  XO

Monday, November 28, 2011

2 Dates

November 28th.  This is my father’s birthday.  That was the very first thought that came to mind when my alarm jarred me awake at 3:45am this morning.  Dad would have been turning 64, and man oh man, is he is dearly missed.  We know he is in a better place, he wouldn’t want to be here still and be sick,  and I can say that this date will forever hold deep meaning for me.  I adore what my sister so lovingly posted online this morning; “happy birthday Dad, I hope you are golfing”.  I bet he has gotten in a lot of rounds since he left, explored many greens. Tomorrow will, after all, mark exactly 6 months since we lost him.  November 29th.  Two very different anniversaries, back-to-back, each with their own slew of mixed emotion. 

******************************************************

REWIND: Last year about this time, we threw an “open house” in honour of my pops, celebrating his life with friends and family, and all the apple pie you could eat (pie was my Dad’s fave desert for as long as I can remember; although when asked if he wanted cake or pie if given the option, his answer was always simply “YES”).  Anyway, the party was nice.  There were some hard truths to face, a few tough moments, but lots of laughter and reflection and love.  Age 63 is not usually an occasion to be formally celebrated with a big shindig, but I think my family knew that it was to be one of Dad’s last. 


 
That’s me and dad on birthday open house day.  He was having a hoot!


FAST FORWARD:
I called my mother as soon as I knew she’d be up today.  I wanted to tell her I love her, and I wanted to wish daddy a happy birthday; if he was alive I'd have called, so I was just keeping with tradition.  I knew it was going to be a tough day for her; she sounded low; her voice weaker than usual.  She plans on marking the day by heading up to a meeting at the ALS support centre she utilized regularly while my Dad was alive, cake in hand.  She will toast to dad’s life with other folks who share her pain about the terrible illness, and can relate to her sorrow surrounding a very premature loss of a loved one.  I think that’s great.  Even though mom’s trip down the Lou Gehrig’s disease trail is now over, she continues to support and help educate those who are just beginning, or drawing to a close, their own journeys.

It is so strange living without my father.  Every day, I am reminded at least once that he is gone and that there are so many events that I am going to miss having him around for, moments I won't get the chance to share and celebrate with him.  I am sure mom feels the same, but I bet she also just misses the simple everyday stuff; waking up side by side, sharing decaf coffee over the morning news, having that person there to help latch a bracelet, a kiss goodnight every evening…

The pain is just so tremendous and I don’t expect that to fade anytime soon.  Someone said to me when we lost dad back in May, “the moment your father died, your reality, your universe, was completely altered.”  This person said that I would be forever changed, a different person.  That is so entirely and absolutely true.

I miss you Dad, happy birthday to you, and I love you so damn much.



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Different Reason to Celebrate Friday!

I walked into work this morning, and it could have been a dreary, cold, and wet trip.  Prior to leaving my flat, I took a step out onto my 17th floor balcony, only to hear the pitter patter of freezing rain, accompanied by the intense howl of a Northern wind.  But, I decided that with my big round umbrella, and a cup of home brewed coffee, I could make it work.  My half hour jaunt down a deserted Yonge street at 4am was actually a super great, centering, and peaceful way to start my day.  And much to my pleasure I received a bonus on my blackberry to make it even greater! An amazing horoscope prediction from astrologer Phil Booth:

Scorpio- Wednesday, November 23, 2011

You have only a short time to get from where you are now to where you want to be, before a major shift in your circumstances takes place. The Partial Solar Eclipse will bring you a glimpse of how things could be in an ideal world and what measures need to be instituted in order to get there. You’ll suddenly become aware of how easy it is to be truly happy.

So, I am am SUPER stoked for this coming Friday - can't wait to see what the Eclipse brings!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Brain Tumours....

....they suck.  My family has learned this first hand this past year.  As if learning of Dad's double whammy diagnosis of FTD/ALS wasn't enough, we were dealt yet another blow in early 2011. I am sure that the way the events unfolded in my world was very, very different than how it happened for my other family members', namely my eldest sister Bronwyn and her hubby Kevin.  I cannot even begin to imagine how they experienced all of it...

For me, it all began as just another Thursday evening...it was February 10th.  I was leaving my then therapist's office downtown, and turned on my phone to check my messages.  Mom had called.  Immediately my mind went to my father.  Oh God, what had happened to Dad?  Had he fallen?  Had he choked over dinner?  Was he in the hospital?

I hopped on the King streetcar. I dialed.  Mom answered almost straight away.  Her words - "Are you sitting down?  You need to pray for your little nephew Bryn right now"...

I fell over.  Three kind strangers on the trolley helped me off the floor and into a seat.  I began to cry.  Mom continued on to tell me that Bryn was currently at McMaster Children's Hospital in Hamilton being prepped for BRAIN SURGERY.  What?  Huh? Bryn was only six years old...this does NOT happen.  I traveled home to my Parkdale flat and sat for a bit.  What was the universe doing to my family?  Why were we being punished?  I called a couple friends in a foggy panic.  I had a bowl of soup.  I phoned my sister at the hospital for details, hopped in my car and was off. 

I got to the hospital around 10:30pm.  By this time, little Bryn had been in surgery for about two hours.  I ran into Kevin in the hallway, and he smiled and greeted me.  He led me to the waiting room where Bronwyn was reading quietly.  Clearly, they were both in tremendous shock.  They both appeared so calm.  They told me the story of the day; that first thing that morning they had brought Bryn in for a routine eye exam that showed swelling on the rear of his eyeball.  That led to an immediate trip to the ophthalmologist, and then the emergency MRI in Hamilton that concluded the need for immediate surgery.  Bryn had a tennis ball sized tumour growing on his brain.  And so there we were.  In brain surgery.  In under twelve hours.  We waited.

******************************************************
I remember at one point Bronwyn telling me that she was feeling guilty that she was not worrying about Dad at that moment because she was so terrified about her eldest sons health. Does that sound crazy?  Well it's not.  That is just the way my family was functioning at the time.  Constantly concerned; divvying up the nurture; feeling consistent threat; trying to spread around what strength and love we had left to give.  Kev and I reassured her that her only focus need be on her baby boy.  He needed all the support and positive energy we could muster up to help get him through.  We prayed.

*****************************************************
Shortly after 3 o'clock in the morning, Bryn's doctor entered the waiting room.  The surgery was complete and Bryn was doing well. We could see him.   THANK YOU.  

Wow, what  a terrifying, amazing, heartbreaking, and inspiring sight it was to behold.   There he was, my wee nephew, all wired up and swollen, being pumped full of painkillers.  But he was alive.  And Bryn’s first words?  Can I have a popsicle now?




It has been a long road.  Bryn was home by the following Monday, and minus a few blips that sent him back into the hospital for safety (minor infections, dizziness) he has thrived.  He has a titanium plate in his skull, and a large scar up the back of his neck, forever branding him brave with all he has been through.  In May, my sister announced that Bryn’s team of 14 doctors had given him the go ahead to return to being a "normal boy"; he was allowed to again live a life that included swings, soccer balls, outdoor recesses, phys. ed class, and all the things he had to shy away from while healing.  Although he has permanently lost most of the vision in his left eye due to all the pressure put on his optic nerve from the growing tumour, he continues to be super-optimistic as he sports his new protective glasses with confidence.



So where are things now?  Well, just in August Bryn had another MRI that did show more “spots” on his images that the doctors cannot identify.  They could be scar tissue, more tumours, or cysts……but the only way to know for sure would be to go back inside of the little guys skull to biopsy.  We all agree that he’s been through enough for 2011, so now we just wait to see what next years now-routine MRI brings.  And in the meantime we continue to pray for our little angel, the soon to be seven year old Bryn Douglas George.  

I love you Brynner, you're our little fighter!!!


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Feeling pretty

If you know me well, you may have at some point noticed a razor thin scar that runs horizontally across the upper bridge of my nose, right between my eyes.  And even if you don’t know me very well, I am sure that you have certainly noticed the space between my two front teeth.  These are part of who I am, things I am proud of, things that I feel no shame about.  Now.

I think that through my previous posts, it is clear that I have maybe had more than a few issues with self esteem throughout my life.  As a teen I was overly concerned with appearances, obsessed with my weight (I could never be too thin), and was determined to “fit in” at any cost.  I wanted to live up to that image that bombarded us as teenage girls, printed in YM magazine, shown dancing on MTV music videos, embodied in the "cool" girls in school.  It was that Kate Moss model-waif thin, gorgeous to the max, IDEAL.  All teen girls strive to that image of perfection at some point I think….and quite a few of us take it over the edge; to the extreme; will do anything to be pretty.

I was a cute kid.  With my bright blonde hair and big green eyes, I was a stress-free, giggly, happy little gal. As I got older however, I began to notice things about my appearance that were less than desirable in my quest for excellence.  Some might have just called them quirks, but I started to resent these physical traits.  These traits had been lovingly passed down to me through my genetic bloodline, and helped make me who I am – a Pearson and a Donkers. 

But as I saw it, the big gross mole smack dab between my eyes and the massive space between my two front teeth were mistakes.  Ugly.  If I wanted any chance in hell to be beautiful, we needed to take some serious action.  I think I was only in the tenth grade when I had cosmetic surgery to have that hideous mole removed.  It was an in and out procedure, with a plastic surgeon in London Ontario.  His name was Waldo.  And, I think it was about the same time that I underwent a dental frenectomy operation with my dentist, that involved removing a bunch of gum tissue from my upper jaw in hopes to bring my front teeth together.   

Well, now I have a scar, and a space.  No mole, but the  frenectomy clearly did not "take".  And for that I am now grateful.  I embrace my space, as it pays homage to my roots.  And heck, people even tell me they like it.  :-)  And you know what else?  I am finally beginning to think that I am pretty darn great.  I love my body and all that is does for me.  I love that my legs and lungs can run 5K with ease.  I love my stretchy yoga limbs, that sometimes don't want to bend as far as they did the day before.  That's cool.  I love that some days I am tired and don't feel like wearing make-up.  I am just fine with my sun spots,  and I recognize all of my various scars from cooking, working, skating, and just plain being a klutz (I come from a long line of fantastic clumsy folks!) as signs of a life lived.  I adore my intense emotions, sometimes introverted tendencies, and new found need for spontaneous cries.  I feel how I feel, and am learning to BE ok with all of it.  And you know what else?  I finally feel real pretty.  

A while back I had a photographer friend take some sassy pics of me.  I was 29 and feeling almost awesome enough.  So, now that I really do feel the love, I want to share them.  These are a couple of my faves. 





Tuesday, November 15, 2011

ED: an ugly affair

I have lived with ED for many years.  Since I was about 14 years old.  ED is a terrible roommate, taking up much valuable space and precious time, and is an active force in dissolving delicate love and light.  As much as I have fought with ED, ED has also been a source of comfort and release, and has been very hard to let go of.
I borrow use of the name ED from a dear friend, who also referred to the unwelcome sidekick in her life in the same way.  ED is what I am choosing to call my Eating Disorder.  I have suffered from bulimia and anorexia since my early teens.  ED tormented me the worst in high school....and the result made for a fragile young girl sometimes of skin and bones, with not only a terrible relationship with food, but also very ungracious and raw interactions with my family, friends, and with my very own spirit.
I am 31 years old now, and do not consider myself recovered.  I am merely coping.  My disordered eating has been a part of my world for so long, that I sort of forget what it is like to have a one hundred percent healthy relationship with food.  Yes, I have spent many years learning all I can about nutrition, have major passion for my time spent in the kitchen, and pride myself in the ability to choose the best fuel for my active body.  I am very, and acutely aware of what I consume, and how it makes me feel both physically and mentally.  However, I am not naive about ED's power, and have fallen victim to him in the darkest of times over the years.  ED has been a welcome distraction when things have felt out of my control.  But, this year, I am resolved to kick ED out of my life completely, wholly, and forever.  Moving forward, he will no longer be squatting illegally on my land.  You see, I had an encounter with ED earlier this year that just left me too damn scared to keep him hanging around.
**********************************************
January 25 2011 - ED had been with me for about 16 years on and off by this point, but only really surfaced to knock on my door at the worst of times.  I had gotten pretty good and locking the door, latching the deadbolt, and ignoring his pleads for entry. But in January of this year, I was unable to keep him at bay…
The super bad stuff that made up my aforementioned phoenix years” were just getting rolling,  and I was weak.  I was having a really rough time moving on from my breakup with my ex-fiancé; my relationship issues had a strangle hold over me, and I was feeling not good enough, not smart enough, and just plain blue.  I had just recently been discharged from my nine month bankruptcy, but was financially strapped and panicking.  Dad was not well, and my family was worried.  I was starting my life over and felt really alone and completely out of control.
So ED showed up and kicked my ass.  The long and the short of it?  I ended up at the emergency room of St. Joe's hospital in Toronto, on a morphine IV drip, with a 7 inch long spatula lodged in my esophagus.  The pain was excruciating.  I was in and out of consciousness.  I was there for 24 hours, and after the procedure to remove the blockage, my heart rate was at 39 beats per minute.  My body was in trauma the nurses told me.  I was stoned up, and felt like I was living a bad nightmare.  The good doctors then pumped me full of electrolytes, fluids, and more pain relievers, and waited for me to rebuild my strength.  After hours plugged into the heart rate monitors, a couple of ECGs (electrocardiograms), and some gentle words from my discharging ER doc, I was released. 
This was the turning point.  I could not, would not, ever, let ED take me down like that again. In all my years battling the disease, I had never gone so far as needing real medical assistance.  Even when I hovered at my lowest weights, even as I ruined my tooth enamel through constant vomiting in high school, as my bones were grasping for all the nutrients they could sponge up from the little food I was keeping inside of me.....I had never let it get this bad. 
And it will never happen again. Ever.

I felt like death. I looked just as terrible, no?

These pictures are meant to serve as stern reminders for me.  I took them so that if I am ever tempted to let ED take over again, if I am ever feeling too battered and weak to fight back, then I can look to them to shake some spirit love back into my world.  No need to let ED be my abuser anymore. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Morning Motivation

I went to see an astrologer named Phil Booth this past October  (www.boothstars.com).  It was an enlightening experience, that gave much insight into some how’s and why’s that I won't go into today.  Ever since that day, I have been receiving Mr. Booth's daily horoscope emails.  I have to say they have been pretty bang on.  As mentioned in a previous post, Phil informed me during my visit that "Pluto" had been kicking around in my charts for years now, wrecking havoc.  Well here is today's forecast, and I am very pleased to say the least:

Scorpio- Monday, November 14, 2011
Posted: 13 Nov 2011 09:00 PM PST


A brand new era of success is dawning. After a long period of doom and gloom that brought the demise of many cherished dreams – you will begin to see your worries and concerns start to diminish. All that’s required of you is to resist any temptation to dwell on the past. A friendly sky is more than willing to help you out in every way possible.
 


Happy Monday to me, and to you!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"Leep"s and Bounds

There has been a whole lot of junk going on in my life the last while, and as a result I have been a bit neglectful and careless in certain areas of my world.  There is one specific thing that I have failed to give much love & attention to.  This one thing is centered within myself, an event that goes on inside of my very own body. 

I have spent the majority of the past two years fighting then accepting, grieving then overcoming, and forgiving then moving on from various external hardships.  All the while, I have also been monitoring a batch of icky bad DNA living inside of my own body that may one day lead to cancer.  They call it pre-cancerous dysplasia.  Sounds pretty, huh?

For over 2 years now, I have been visiting Sunnybrook hospital's colposcopy clinic in six month intervals.  Here, my wonderful doctor has been analyzing my "icky cells" to see how they change; too much change equals cancer potential.  Because I have this dysplasia, I am now required to take the trek up to the hospital twice a year, or risk the chance that the cells may mutate into cervical cancer unbeknownst to me.  Each time I visit I am reminded of the alternative, a procedure they call "LEEP" treatment, or Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure for Abnormal Cervical Cell Changes.  Also sounds fun, huh?  This procedure consists of the numbing of my lady parts, and then the cauterization of the bad cells using a thin, low-voltage electrified wire loop to cut out abnormal tissue.  Ouch.  All this, and then I get to wait for at least a week to feel like myself, and another 3 to 5 before I can resume regular activities like exercise, swimming, and , *gasp*, even sex.  In addition, there are also a few more gory side effects that I am not going to get into here.

Well today, didn't my doctor look up at me during my routine exam, and say..."this doesn't seem to be going away.  Might I strongly suggest we book you in for a LEEP procedure?".  I nodded in agreement, never one to disagree with my Doc, and I am headed back up to Sunnybrook again soon.  How soon?  In four weeks. In early December I am scheduled to have my insides electrified.

I had a hard time dealing with this today.  Mainly because this "issue" has been something that I have sort of sidelined for the past two years.  I haven't really given myself the time to think about it much, to worry, to feel what I need to feel about my own body creating potentially killer DNA.  It's weird.  And it made me a bit sad this afternoon.  But, like all things, this too shall pass, and I know that plenty of women go through this exact same process at some point.  I know of one girlfriend that has been doing her six month exams for some eight years now.  And guess what?  No cancer!     

So this is where my road has taken me, and I plan to do the LEEP thing in four weeks, and deal with the aftermath as it comes.  All this bearing in mind that I could get a call at anytime from my doctor to say I am no longer eligible for the treatment.  You see today I had a wee biopsy done and if the results do come back dodgy, then that's when I suppose we will have to pull out the BIG guns. But the Big guns means the Big C, so I am actually praying for the LEEP.  Who knew that THAT would happen?

Anyway, that's my story for today, and I guess the message I want to get out there, is go to your doctor!  Have your annual physical!  I have been doing mine consitently for YEARS and have managed to kibosh a suspected breast lump, bone density issues, and now have a choke hold on cervical cancer.  So my final words?

Please plan prevention.  Don't put off your Pap.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Real.

I just read over my previous blog entry.

It feels great to let out some secrets.

I have no shame for once in my life, and damn, it feels good.  Cheers to that.




Saturday, November 5, 2011

31 years old. 29 & 30 were rough.

This blog serves as an outlet for me as I continue on my path of healing.  I had considered 2010 reining champion of the "worst year of my life" awards, until 2011 rolled around. Now I think I will just refer to the combined time period as my "phoenix years"; years in which I was knocked down, beaten, and thrown into the flames, only to shake off the ashes and be re-born as a stronger, healthier, and more blissfully aware women filled with love for life.
  
There are many things that I plan to write about on this website, plenty of stories I plan to tell, and secrets I intend to share.  However, as I have mentioned before, I am not doing this in sequence.  I am not telling my tale based on the real chronological timeline.   There is no "order" to my blog..... I am writing about events as I need to so that I can move on from them and heal the wounds one by one.   

So for context, and until I get around to writing about everything, I thought I should give some background.  The following is a list of just some of what really "went down" during those years, and what's lead me to where I am...."write" now:

******************************************************

December 3, 2009 - I file for personal bankruptcy after a lifetime of careless spending, an eating disorder that cost me thousands over the course of 13 years, and my never-ending need to fulfill foolish, unnecessary "wants".

February 2010 - Dad is diagnosed with FTD. 

April 2010 - I get engaged to the love of my life!

July 2010 - After months of fighting, my miserable ego devours my relationship and my engagement falls apart 3 months before the wedding.

September 2010- I hit rock bottom spiritually, mentally, emotionally, financially.

October 2010 - Dad is diagnosed with ALS.

January 2011 - I admit myself overnight to St. Joe's hospital for 24 hours after a serious relapse in my bulemia.  My heart rate was at 39 BPM.

February 2011 - My 6 year old nephew undergoes emergency brain surgery to remove a tennis ball sized tumour from his brain.

May 29, 2011- My father loses his battle with FTD & ALS and life is forever changed.  I have lost my daddy.

*************************************************************************************************

Of course there are many details left unsaid here, plenty of pain unexpressed, loads of emotional baggage left unpacked.  However, this simple list serves as a solid reminder of where I have been, what my family has been through, and where I have managed to arrive.  It really does take a massive spiritual beating to allow you to see the light.  I am not thrilled to have gone through what I have, but I am pleased I was able to make the best of it, and really come out swinging.  It is like they always say; God, or in my personal preference, The Universe, only deals out to you what it knows you can handle.

Well I handled it.  Barely.  But here we go, on the up and up, and I can feel my trajectory gaining momentum everyday.  I was told by my astrologer this past month that Pluto has been hanging around in my charts for a few years now.  Pluto represents transformation, destruction, creation, regeneration, healing, renewal, power struggles, and upheaval.  I was also told that he is not leaving my "house" anytime soon, and that I should expect more grief and wreckage.   But you know what I say?  Screw you Pluto.  The light has my back.




Saturday, October 29, 2011

October 29, 2011. We lost Dad 5 months ago today.

I visited my Father over this past weekend.  Well, I visited his graveside, and spoke to his spirit that I know is always around.  I do “visit” him often, asking for his presence in the everyday, while at home in my apartment, on the subway, walking down the street, looking for an answer to tough questions in my life….. It’s funny how different it is when I go to the cemetery in Exeter and try and do the same.

It makes me very sad, but also angry.  It is really only when I go his grave site that my anger and frustration about his death really “get” to me.  As my mom and I spoke to once again on the weekend, Pops really is in a better place now than if he were still with us here on Earth with his illnesses.  The ALS and FTD were only going to get uglier, the reality harsher, and eventually there would be pain.  Dad was never really in any physical pain while with us, and for that we are all so, so, grateful. 

Dad's resting place now officially has a headstone.  PEARSON.  1947----2011.  Optimism, Courage, Humour.  It is not pretty, I have to admit.  It is a gorgeous marble, the etching is precise, the wording as we requested.  But what it represents is an ugly thing, and I don’t think I will ever grow to like it one bit.  Mom was less than enthusiastic the first time she saw it too, unhappy with the placement of the text, the size of the fonts….One thing we both agreed on however, was that the extraneously long dash that they put in between Daddy’s birth and Death dates was fitting.  Here’s why:

The week of Dad’s funeral was a tornado of happenings.  I think my whole family existed in a fog, a surreal blur of 24 hour days blending together with a combination of wine, exhaustion, visiting family and friends, and condolence cut meat tray after condolence cut meat tray.  One rock solid figure during that time was our funeral director Colin.  He was, and is, an amazing young chap who guided a group of Type A, mourning women through the steps required after a loved one’s life ends. We really got to know Colin during that brief period, and he us.  The day of Dad's burial, Colin read a poem to our close family during the casket closing.  He said he thought it really spoke to how Dad must have lived his life.  Colin didn't know Dad when he was alive, but got real insight after witnessing the past weeks' events; hour long waits for visitation, lineups out the door, jovial laughter and remembrance, Nylons blasting through the speaker system, a life-size cardboard cut-out of John Wayne standing on guard in the funeral home, Dad's convertible parked saucily on the homes front lawn..... This is the poem:


HOW DO YOU LIVE YOUR DASH
by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning…to the end.

He noted that first came her date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth…
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own;
The cars…the house…the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard…
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left,
That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real,
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger,
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect,
And more often wear a smile…
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy’s being read
With your life’s actions to rehash…
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?


I loved this. It moved me.  It brought me to tears. Again.  It is so perfect and so real.  My Father LIVED his dash.  He really did.  And he inspires me to do the same.  To really live.  So, as a reminder, I now have what I affectionately refer to as my "Daddy dash".  It's a permanent fixture on my arm, and a permanent mantra for how I plan to live my life.  I will live MY dash.  Thank you Pops, for all you have taught me and everyone else you have touched in this world. I love you.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

It's Autumn!

So I had a very brisk bike ride into work this morning.  Brrr!!

However, I found myself peddling with a huge grin on my face the whole time.  The crisp scent of fall filled the air as I rode down Yonge street in the wee hours of the morning, before anyone else was awake, the only other vehicle on the road, the Blue Light Bus.

I am pretty happy right now, and grateful for all that I have.  There is no reason to live in history, or re-live past pains when there is so much to be content with NOW, and to look forward to in the future. 

Late yesterday afternoon I received word that, YES, I had been formally accepted in the Meg Telpner Culinary School starting this spring.  The essay worked!  And as I plan this next venture on my own, another exciting opportunity  has revealed itself!  Look for my “nourishment centre project” in the future as well; a collaboration being dreamed up with the help of a dear friend and fellow hard knock survivor.  This of course, is just one more thing to be happy about.  I am also thrilled to have a great job, amazing friends, and love to spare.  This is it. 

Happy Thursday to all.  Peace, Love.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

An essay.

I decided a long time ago that I needed to create an alternate career in the wellness world.  As the following essay states, this idea has been rumbling deep inside of me for a long time, and I am taking yet another step towards my goal.  I am applying to be a student in Meg Telpner's "Culinary Nutrition Expert" course in the Spring of 2012.(www.meghantelpner.com/).  I was required to send in an essay explaining why I want to be a student of her craft, and how I planned on using my newfound nutritional knowledge.  I wanted to share it:
My Essay:
Why I want to be a Stellar Student of Meghan Telpner’s School of Culinary Nutrition
By: Meghan Pearson

Why do I want to be one of the very first students in Meghan Telpner’s “Culinary Nutrition Expert” course?  Well, I share the same name with her.  And I spell it with the proper “H” insertion as well.  That “H” is a rare thing, so I think this is just plain meant to be!  Not enough proof?  Okay, well here goes...

I have spent the last ten years working in the television industry here in Toronto, knowing deep down that my true passions lay elsewhere; in the kitchen, and at the yoga studio.   I have a very intimate relationship with food, having battled bulimia and anorexia for many years.  It is sad to recall how much I despised food back then, and now I savour every morsel I consume, and cook for others with love as often as possible.  I also found a gorgeous relationship with yoga while going through some very low times in my life, and together, proper nutrition and physical attention has really improved my entire universe exponentially. 

Once I really acknowledged that I was meant to work in the culinary and health worlds, I decided to take most of 2010 off from “the Biz”, and instead explored my options.  I took the Can Fit Pro Fitness instructor course in order to get a taste of what it would be like to teach group exercise, and also took a job as head office manager with the vegetarian restaurant chain “Fresh Restaurants”.  These were “it”.  I knew I wanted to further explore how I could flop my career, and decided to move towards a final career goal of wellness cook and yoga teacher.  Obviously in order to do this, I’d need proper certification, and to do that, I would need some cash.  So this is where I am today; working full time on a morning TV show in Toronto (that I LOVE!), making the money I need to take your course!
My hope is to develop a personal wellness business to help women like me source the balance they need in life, and feel good from the inside out.  Having battled and beat up on my own body for so many years, I know the importance of feeding your body and soul with all the best possible ingredients you can get your hands on.  I spend hours in the kitchen currently, cooking elaborate vegetarian meals for one, and never fail to plate a pretty pile of food for myself, even on the busiest of days.  I have an uncanny ability to store any food related factoids in my brain, and have a ridiculous culinary vocabulary that I suppose I developed during my many hours spent in front of the Food Network.  Now I don’t even have cable, but I do know that the television industry is a stressful one, and I hope to keep my connections in the field, and have already began to recruit potential clients to help get on the wellness wagon with me next year.  

I love food.  I love my food processor.  I love my knives, my cutting board, my mixing bowls.  I love thinking about the future and it including me being able to prepare and share my delicious knowledge gained from your course with the world.  Heck, I love the simple idea that I will have even a small sampling of Meg’s amazing knowledge in my repertoire.  I am ready to commit to this, and will be Meg’s mini-Meg supreme.  Top of class.
Thank you for reading, and hope to see you soon!
Meg Pearson
:-)