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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.

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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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-fiancĂ©; 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:

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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.

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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.