Let’s Celebrate

It’s about time I did a Happily Now post. There has certainly been no shortage of reasons to be happy. In particular I want to talk about Friday, October 4th. This day in general will forever be one of my absolute favourite days as it is my husbands birthday!

This birthday was particularly special as it was the first birthday we got to spend together for him. The previous year distance separated us. However, this year not only were we close in proximity which was amazing BUT it was a milestone year for him.

Clearly, I couldn’t let this day pass by without doing my part to make it as memorable as possible, and to be honest planning his birthday was BEYOND fun! I started a month and a half before the big day and it was well worth it!

You gotta love Pinterest, this is the site where I found the idea that sparked and ignited my own interpretation of a gift… or rather gifts.

Allow me to share the end result with you in case you are looking for birthday gift ideas for someone special in your life. May I say, for the record that giving brings unimaginable joy and I am not referring to expensive gifts, rather, thoughtful gifts. The type of joy I felt on his birthday was priceless. Throughout his entire day I felt full to the brim with love and joy as I watched his sincere excitement throughout the day.

So the gifts…. I am not sure if you’ve ever come across the idea of 12 gifts for 12 hours. Each hour for 12 hours from when they wake up to the evening when they are ready to go to bed essentially. What makes it more special is that you open the gift on the minute that they are turning in age. For example my husband turned 35, so we opened his gifts at 9:35 am, 10:35 am 11:35 am and so forth for a solid 12 hrs. This is the idea the pinterest gave me and I ran with it and added my own touch.

My own touch:

For each gift I wrote a clue as to what might be wrapped. Something unique and fun. For example, one of his gifts was a car flag to hang from the rear view mirror, this particular flag is special because it is the flag of his home country Zimbabwe. Generally a Nicaraguan flag has hung in our car, because that country represents a part of my heritage and the car we drive was mine prior to marriage. Thus the flag remained the same when the car became ours jointly. So my clue was as follows “Time to change things up…. REPRESENT!”, not a clue that one can guess the answer to right away BUT as soon as he opened the gift it made sense and we had a good laugh over it.

Another gift was a touque for his favourite soccer/football club; Liverpool. The clue attached to this gift was, “I never met such a committed man”. My husband will literally wake up at 4 am to watch a game. Commitment my friends – that is some serious commitment.

Essentially, the clues went a long with each gift. The gifts varied in prices from a package of $2.50 shotbloks, to a deck of cards with 52 reasons why I love him, a photo album filled with pictures from our past year together, a bag of his favourite chips (that I introduced him to when we started dating) up to a nice pair of Nike trainers. The fiscal value of the gift does not matter, what matters is the thought behind the gift and ideally being as creative as possible.

He opened his birthday card at 9:35ish with his first gift to kick off the day. I made us a glorious batch of pancakes to enjoy. Let’s just say we are definently pancake people. Waffles are lovely, BUT pancakes are life.

We both took the day off, which helped with the fact that I had wanted to record him opening his gifts. He had no idea there would be a gift for each hour, so the fact he had the day off was perfect.

I gratefully recorded each hour when he opened his gifts and at the end of the day made a movie compilation. I love making movie compilations so that we have it to look back on and share with family who couldn’t be with us. I’ve always wanted a reason to use my video camera and I can definitely say that since my husband entered my life it has been used LOTS. Side note: That was another gift for him – a movie compilation from the beginning of our relationship.

For his cake I baked him a cheesecake. A Reese’s Pieces peanutbutter and chocolate cheesecake with an Oreo cookie crust. It was my first time baking a cheesecake BUT I think it was a major success. My husband loves cheesecake, peanutbutter and reese’s pieces chocolate. Thus the cake was inspired and brought to life for those reasons.

It was a memorable day in my books, and I’m pretty confident my husband felt loved at the end of it all which is all that matters. 1 gift or 12 gifts I know he would have been happy, I just l wanted to make it EXTRA special, which is fitting because I’m sure if you follow my blog you can tell I’m a little EXTRA as is.

Definitely a win in my books; I would highly reccomend this gift idea for your loved ones birthday if you are looking to shake things up. And if you can, I would favour doing the clues as well, a little extra work BUT it is so fun to listen to the guesses and see the reactions as the open the gifts.

Not my usual day to post, but I wanted to share this part of my life because my husband and marriage bring me happiness. There was a time where I thought being in a healthy, happy relationship wasnt attainable. It was a fairy tale – fictional. But my friends, my relationship is real and it is the happiest story I’ve ever encountered. I’ll probably right another post about my first year of marriage because the big 1 year anniversary is on the 13th of this month! Crazy!

I think I’ll try to still keep to a Friday post this week if I can manage, Friday will be the day of my 28th birthday – so we shall see if I can find the time.

If not, it has been a blast being 27!

– Steph

Take A Good Look In The Mirror

Who do you see yourself as? This is a loaded question BUT I think it is an important one that we need to ask ourselves.

Lately, I have been asking myself if I am the person that I want to be when it comes to both the inside and outside package? And if I am that person, can other people see it for themselves as well? Personally, I am starting to feel like I’m getting there in certain regards – yet in other areas not quite so much.

The topic I want to focus on with respect to the above noted comments begins with the what we see on the outside. This may at first seem superficial, but I can assure you it goes much deeper than what our eyes merely see – so please humor me and see where I am taking this post.

In short it is fair to say that my blog has captured my journey working on my mental health. This should come as no surprise given the name of my blog and to be honest I feel like I am actually on the cusp of becoming the physically and mentally stable version of myself that I have strived to achieve for over the past 6 years. Great news, right? Perhaps even fantastic news. Yet, there is a part of me that has not reflected this change and it is who I am looking at in the mirror, literally.

How we choose to dress, how we choose to style our hair, how we choose to groom ourselves – makeup or no makeup, shave or no shave? This has all been on my mind lately, not in a vain way but in the sense that I had to ask myself if I was whole heartedly presenting myself in a way that I felt showcased to the world who I was. My personal brand so to speak. Does my outward appearance reflect how I feel about myself inwardly? Never underestimate the power of a good outfit or hair cut. The psychological impact that our outward appearance has on our lives is immeasurable and should not be taken lightly.

Have you ever heard the phrase that you should “dress the part” or perhaps “dress for success”? Let’s be clear when I say that I am not suggesting you go out and buy a $2000.00 power suit to make you feel better about yourself – what you spend on your clothes or grooming has absolutely nothing to do with what I am talking about in this post. What I am saying though, is that part of our identity is how we outwardly present ourselves. Please let me emphasize how important it is to not neglect this very crucial and critical part of our identity (speaking from experience). Our objective should be dressing in a manner that allows us to take pride in our appearance and feel the utmost confidence.

So lets have some real talk about personal style and the impact it has on our identities – I’m emphasizing it’s importance, but to be honest at this point in my life I’ve come across a hard pill to swallow (which doesn’t happen often because I take tons of pills) – ladies and gentleman I do not have a personal style (it is presently a work in progress). Say what??

Believe it or not, I have changed since my early adolescence and early 20s. I have grown. I have evolved dare I say matured and yet I took notice that my wardrobe has remained the same and does not reflect this change. Perhaps, this is not a big deal for most people, but I think there is more than meets the eye (pun intended).

Next month I will be having my 28th birthday and as I am sure most people do, I was reflecting on the woman I have grown into the past year. When it came to my outward appearance, I concluded that I was jipping myself. Where had I gone? When I was in my earlier years I would definitely say I was a diva  – I loved me some glam on the daily BUT when I took attendance the past few weeks I realized that the young diva I once knew and loved had indeed retired and left the building. Not in a bad way, I just finally admitted that I no longer felt as diva-esque or connected to that version of me. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this particular fact, it just means that I’ve changed – and yet the clothes I have been wearing contradicted this.

Having personal style, or perhaps to be more clear: a sense of self with how we appear, is a big deal. Not tiny, not insignificant BUT MUCHO GRANDE. Personal and may emphasize personal style helps us to feel more comfortable in our skin no matter what shape or size we are (more on this point later…). It grants us the ability to “hold our own”, a wee bit more then if we were just wearing any old thing with no rhyme or reason.

I’ve always strived and generally maintained a personal style, marching to the beat of my own drum from a very young age (I was in fashions class all through high school, fashion was in my blood). I dressed and felt killa’ confident in what I wore – I did not dress for society; to fit in with people or get their approval – or “likes” as is a plague in our present society. However, on this recent journey of self-reflection I realized that my essentially non-existent style was the makings of the past year(s) at a minimum. I have been swaying with no direction, I have been trying to fit into the versions of myself from a time when I did feel confident with my aesthetic, but that shoe no longer fit. For example, I have been wearing pieces this past year that perhaps I felt confident in 5 years ago but presently they cause me to feel insecure. Note: insecurity = what we don’t want.

Example time.

I previously wore lots of patterns and colours, is there anything wrong with that? Not at all, but what I’ve noticed is that when I recently paid attention to how I felt while looking in the mirror, I can easily say I feel more comfortable in natural tones and muted colours – cream, beige, brown, black, grey, soft pinks, greens and blues. If I am drawn to a print or pattern it is usually subtle and delicate rather than bright and bold.

My former style, when I owned it as I mentioned before was more diva-esque, bold, bright and dare I say loud. It was more on the street fashion side of things, however today in stark contrast the look I envision for myself and that I am working to achieve is more subtle, classic, timeless and at best chic.

Fun tip, a strategy that is helping me rediscover my style is words. I ask myself, what words do I want to emulate? This is a question you can ask yourself if you were like me drifting with no real direction for your aesthetic. When you have a handful of words see if they coordinate with one another or if there are any outliers and if there are maybe ponder the question, why? See if the words compliment your current wardrobe. I don’t have the answer for you, but I assure you that as you refine your words and zero-in on the look you want to achieve it won’t seem as daunting of a task, especially if you are like me starting from scratch.

My goal and objective as I enter a new year of my life is to invest in myself. I want to be more intentional when I take care of my outward appearance and pay attention to the fine details. A little off topic but another example of self care is that I started doing face masks once a week for the past 2 months and it’s amazing how such a small effort can impact your appearance and your frame of mind so drastically. A face mask people!! And I make this face mask from 2 kitchen ingredients in my kitchen, so you can guarantee I am not paying for this mask with my unborn child.

Anyways, what now? As is the case with any ambition, it requires work and effort. So, that is exactly what I have been putting in. Last weekend and week, I purged my wardrobe – clothes, shoes, belts, bags, sunglasses. Literally everything that I own was assessed and if the piece complimented and coincided with the aesthetic I am trying to achieve I kept it. If the piece did not align with who I want to present and represent myself as, it was placed in a pile to donate. I was cut-throat and brutally honest with myself. It is fair to say that my wardrobe shrunk dramatically, which at first scared me as I am used to having tons of clothes and accessories ** confessions of a former shop-a-holic ** I formerly had a walk in closet crammed full of things and now I have all my clothes fitting on a single bar holding very few select pieces.

The fear I initially felt was soon won over with a sense of accomplishment and peace. My vision was coming to life. My wardrobe was actually starting to reflect who I saw myself as. I can proudly say that it now contains pieces that I love and I know make me feel comfortable and confident when I wear them.

My wardrobe is not complete, let’s be clear about that (this is not a one-day feat), but it is going in the right direction. My focus will be to add to my collection BUT add with more intention, rather than buying a piece because its on sale. I want to ask myself if it compliments or detracts? Take a moment to think about the shift of perspective that your mind just had by reading the word “collection”, rather than clothes. Saying “collection” automatically makes me feel like my wardrobe has more umph and should be taken a bit more seriously and is worth investing in.

I have been researching articles and watching YouTube videos for inspiration and ideas on how to navigate more effective shopping. I want to invest in my collection a.k.a wardrobe and when I say invest, I mean buy timeless pieces. I also want to do my best to avoid fast fashion. I want to steer clear of spending money on pieces that can be worn a few times and then look shabby thereafter. I want to buy pieces that are made from good material and actually pay attention to the labels and dang-nab-it – dry clean if it says dry clean.

Going back to the concept of investing, you do not need to shop at high end stores to have well-made pieces. I am all for thrifting; I found an amazing Jones New York blazer for $8.00 that looks like a million bucks at my local Value Village. I dry cleaned it, pressed it and it looks like new. The blazer was a win, but let me remind you that the purpose of my shopping now is for quality not quantity – don’t get sucked into buying more because the price is right. I don’t want to be in the habit of buying something just because I like it in the moment. In the past I have literally bought something and then “had to” buy 3 additional different items so that I would have something to wear it with. Ummm?? No. How is that being friendly to your pocketbook?

Rewinding a bit, I want to clarify why there is a gap between my budding style now and the one I refer back to when I felt confident in my early adult life. I am turning 28… what happened to my style between 23-27. That my friends is the age bracket where I really feel like I lost and essentially let myself go. I was going thru school, I graduated and then I was working I was working on my health – but what of my exterior? I did something that I want to advise you not to do and if I could go back and talk to my younger self I would say as follows:

Weight does not make you or break you. You do.

After I started a certain medication, I gained an easy 40 lbs very quickly… welcome my ages 23-26. I lost my confidence, I felt terrible about myself and in frustration I threw in the towel. Don’t throw in the towel! I lost any desire to try and wear anything aside from gym clothes (even when I wasn’t going to the gym). When I would get ready for work, I would wear anything I could that I felt hid my weight and it didn’t have to necessarily be something I liked; whatever was baggy enough. I honestly, didn’t like who I saw in the mirror and rather than trying to work with what I had – I just stopped. I stopped doing my hair, I stopped wearing makeup, I just stopped caring about who I presented myself as AND my confidence suffered because of it.

Fast forward to when I was able to lose some weight, I was then trying to fit into clothes that I formerly wore and formerly felt confident in BUT as the long post went on to explain that just didn’t jive. I had mentally changed.

I just wanted to put it out there – style is not size specific and confidence is not reserved for petite waist-lines. I never want anyone reading my blog to feel insecure, that is not why I blog. I have always had a severe distortion when it comes to my weight and the value I place on my self because of it. At the end of the day my mantra over the past few years has been progress not perfection.

I am presently 20 lbs heavier than I would like to be BUT I feel beautiful. I feel confident. I feel great in my skin. I feel like I am putting my best foot and face forward regardless to my size and I am proud of who I see. I have noticed a huge impact on my mental health from just taking the time to care how I look – it has made me stop and take notice of myself and love myself a little more because I matter. The number on the scale doesn’t (as long as you strive to be healthy).

This journey to curate my wardrobe and aesthetic is exciting. I feel like I’m really paying attention to who I am in my entirety. I am taking in to account my lifestyle, my medications, my sleeping patterns – literally everything. Is it realistic for me to wake up and do a full face of makeup? Maybe for you, but for me that’s a hard no. Nor would I want to. Part of this fun journey is discovering how I like to wear my makeup – again. For now I’m thinking more minimal, while still looking polished and put together. Hair… that’s another story. My goal is to create a signature look that I can do with my eyes closed.

Let’s face it, I have bipolar. I have lows. I have days wear putting a look together is too much effort let alone having a shower or doing my hair. So, what I am trying to do is combat those days (or weeks) by putting in the effort now; curating my wardrobe, makeup and hair – so that I can pull together a look from top to bottom without trying on the days that life is a bit too much BUT please note: I will never surrender my sweatpants, there is a time and a place for all things my friends.

Long post with a lot of different avenues, but I hope you were able to see the bigger picture– care about how you look on the outside because believe it or not it dictates a lot of the inner voices we hear on the inside. Love yourself whatever size you may be and know that you have your own identity and that is priceless.

– Steph

Busy Was My New Drug

I once read an article that stated some people are addicted to being busy. Prior to reading this article I had never considered busyness as a form of addiction, yet this concept is something that has stayed with me for years and has really been hit home as of late. Have you ever considered “being busy” as an addiction? I don’t think that it is a topic that most people look at with concern. But I think perhaps we should…

I’m fairly confident I have lived with this particular form of addiction on and off throughout my life, and for the past few months we could say it’s been in full swing. I have kept myself preoccupied with tasks and activities Monday – Sunday for the last few months, and with each new addition to my calendar I felt a sense of empowerment.

Alas, that feeling came to an abrupt halt last week when I realized I am not okay; when I acknowledged that my mental health was/is not okay and there were one too many straws on my camel’s back so to speak – and it broke.

Being busy – it is what I have always strived for. When I think of being successful, my mind looks to that of someone who is busy (bizarre I know!) For as long as I can remember I have always enjoyed having a schedule and the more that was scheduled the better I felt about myself. Let’s say that the older sister in the sitcom Even Steven’s was a role model with all her colour coordinated notes, calendars and day planners.

But why? Why am I so addicted to being busy, especially as of late? This was a question I had to seriously think about and it finally hit me after a couple conversations with different family members – being busy is a way that I prove to myself I’m “okay”, that I have my life together. The more I do, the more “stable” I am, BUT being busy everyday till late into the night – that’s not okay my friends.

Responsiblity is good, diverse activities are great, but there has to be a balance and I threw that out the window the past few months.

My mental health has not been okay and no matter how many things I kept adding to my to do list or calendar nothing was going to change that fact it was only going to worsen it.

At this point I have taken a step back, I’m regrouping, refreshing and re-establishing a routine BUT ensuring it is a healthy one. It’s been a week of doing nothing essentially aside from going to work. I’ve just been relaxing, thinking about how I am going to proceed with my mental health in mind, while enjoying leisure activities. If you don’t think you can over-do it by doing things that you enjoy, I am hear to tell you, you are wrong.

I work Monday-Friday 9 am – 5 pm, each day I would come home from work which takes me approx 20- 30 mins (I pick my husband up on my way home) I take my dear little dog for a walk for a good 35 – 60 mins, eat dinner with my husband and then if it was a Monday or Wednesday I would head to aquafit classes, Thursday guitar lessons, Friday date night and Saturday spanish lessons and Sunday I attend church and up until 2 weeks ago I would be teaching a class every Sunday. Mind you, in-between lessons and classes throughout my week I would be practicing my guitar, studying spanish, calling family who live far away from me, playing with my dog, reading books and obviously socializing with my husband when he wasnt studying or at work. It may not seem like a lot, but from dusk till dawn I was busy and I was even going to the gym during my lunch hours because I couldn’t find enough time in the evenings.

I’m not bragging to let you see how busy I managed to make my life BUT rather I’m trying to illustrate how we can be doing good things, fun things, but be suffocating our mental health. I was robbing myself of a peace of mind, constantly in go-go-go mode, not taking the time to think about how I was actually feeling. I was so busy trying to do so many things that nothing was being done properly. Quality not quantity.

I am an addict to being busy. It’s a mental game I often play and lose because again, I’m fixated on the ideal that being busy equals having a successful put-together-life.

As of late I realized I wasn’t enjoying anything anymore, everything I was doing was merely a check off my list. The passion that I was seeking was being buried and I was lacking luster.

I have been more stressed out and trying to fill a void with the lack of medical support I have in the city I currently live. I was trying to convince myself that I’m perfectly fine because I was doing all these things and clearly if I wasn’t fine I wouldn’t be able to manage as well as I was. Right? I was trying to convince myself I didn’t need the medical help that I haven’t been able to find, because I could do it all on my own.

Frankly I couldn’t and I can’t. I am all about being self aware and I can admit that I was ignoring all of my red flags that things were going downhill.

So what have I done aside from pull the chord on my extracurriculars? I changed my pharmacy. Random statement, but powerful. Since moving to my new city I have used a pharmacy a couple blocks away from where I live – they have literally made an error everytime I’ve gone in to pick up or pay for my medication, whether my medication was the wrong quantity or wrong price or whatever other thing you could imagine. Stressful is an understatement BUT because of the location I stayed with them for almost a year! No more my friends! The other week when I called myself out I googled the highest rated pharmacy in my city – is it as close to me as the garbage one I’ve been going to? Nope, but when I went in they talked to me like I mattered, when I gave them a prescription to be filled – no errors and they knew who I was when I came to collect it. Did I instantly feel a sense of relief that I didn’t have to stress over errors and lack of concern towards me and my medication? You better believe it!

Next I booked an appointment with my psychiatrist, she didnt want to see me for 7 months, well guess what??Thats too bad for her – I need to feel like someone is aware of me and have a check in, so I bit the bullet and booked an appointment. She didn’t even give me the right medication from my last appointment so that needs to be fixed and I can’t just put my head in the ground and pretend like it will fix itself…like I was planning on doing. Yikes!

Lastly, I attempted to find a councilor AGAIN. I have talked with 4 different councilors and/or psychologists, no connections, for the most part I found them to be quite wacky and weird. I don’t think anyone will compare to my old doctors but maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised (mental health is not a priority in this particular city) but I am trying to make a comeback for my mental health and take the burden of being my own pharmacist, psychiatrist and psychologist off my shoulders. I met with someone last Saturday and she seems to be…….. nice. She didn’t talk over me, or imply she knew what I was thinking or tell me what I was thinking. She listened and was aghast at the treatment I’ve been offered here or lack there of.

I can’t do it on my own, I have a loving family from afar and a husband who supports me and without them and him I would be no where near as capable as I am to manage my health BUT they are not my doctor(s) and I don’t want to burden and exhaust them (especially my husband) with things that medical support are there to do.

I have been walking a happy path this year BUT I also think I’ve been more stressed than I needed to be and that was my own doing. Positive attitudes are great being actively engaged in our lives is awesome but there needs to be balance and honesty with what we can handle and what we can’t.

I couldn’t handle certain things and tried to compensate by killing myself over being what I considered ideal. I neglected my mental health and dismissed my feelings trying to be what I thought was the epitome of success in order to be considered stable in a city where I feel more vulnerable than I have in a very, very, very long time.

That is the truth my friends, long post but I hope it made you think about how you occupy your time and what busy means to you. Don’t drown yourself – make changes even if they are small, sometimes that’s the best we can do.

– Steph

To Blog? Or Not to Blog? Let’s Shed a Little Light

I was talking to my sister about my blog, and the question I posed was “to blog? Or not to blog?

I have been at this blog for nearly 5 years, highs and lows and in the middle – it has all been recorded.

I’ve felt less inclined to post … as you may have noticed. I’m not sure why exactly. I’ve always enjoyed the creative outlet that my blog provided. The insight I’d unveil as I created my posts.

Marriage and moving has been an incredible journey, I’ve learned so much that you’d think I’d be a bountiful fountain of content. Alas, I’m a dry well.

I feel guilt, is that reasonable? Guilt of not blogging ‘ it’s as though I’ve put so much effort into my blog, babied it nurtured it and now I’ve left it high and dry.

What gives?!

Aside from that blurb I do have some insight to share on this post it’s not completely a tangent on my lack of commitment to my blog.

I have gone camping with my husband twice this summer. Both times in beautiful locations. We packed our gear and one particular piece illuminated my mind… pun intended (just give me a moment). A flashlight. Perhaps a lantern is better suited for a title, but it’s still like a flashlight. (Now do you get the illumination pun)

Anyways. What are flashlights for? Simple question, with a simple answer – they allow us to see in the dark.

A flashlight we could dare say is like a tool, it helps us do something. It helps us see.

So what am I getting at? Let me tell you.

Have you ever been in pitch black darkness? To the point where you can’t even see your hands in front of you? As I was walking from the showers to our campsite one night it was just that, pitch black. I had my lantern, but this is where it gets good. My lantern was on, it was giving off light BUT depending on where I held it I could either see in front of me a few steps OR I could literally still see nothing at all in the darkness, it was just a light with no illumination of my next few steps.

So what does this mean to me. We can have the tools. We can have medication, therapists, supportive family and friends BUT if we do not use them properly it means nothing. We will be in darkness despite the light they offer. We can have the tools to a happy, healthy life but if we do not use them properly it’s as if they are not there at all.

This all came from a flashlight.

My life. Where I am in my life, the sense of peace I feel in my life, the sincere love and joy I feel in my life I know it’s because I used the flashlight that I asked for. I asked for the flashlight when I was in darkness, I didnt just expect it to appear. I asked for help, I accepted help and when given that light I adjusted it so I could see in front of me rather than nothing at all. I used the tool, I didn’t just hold it aimlessly.

What do you want? What do you want in life? What do you want to achieve despite your diagnosis?

Now, what are you willing to do for it? Are you willing to take medication routinely, struggle through finding the right medication when it seems as though they are all dumb with side affects. Are you willing to go to therapy for a short or long long long time. Are you willing to be open and honest with your therapist and make sure that you have a right fit with your therapist and don’t just settle. Are you willing to cut toxic people from your life, server toxic relationships? Are you willing to sleep a healthy amount of hours even if it means cutting fun nights short because you want to regulate your sleep hygiene. Are you willing to excercise your mind and body?

What are you willing to do? What effort are you willing to put in consistently to obtain a life of stability?

None of my stability happened overnight, read my blog – it’s been years! Years of grinding not giving up. Changing the batteries in my flashlight over and over and over again, why? Because I was in thr dark for years and I wanted to see in front of me, my future. I wanted my future illuminated and the only way it was going to happen was by using the tools given to me and to ask for more tools along the way.

To blog? Or not to blog?

I vote to blog, it just may not be every week. I don’t want guilt surrounding a hobby of mine. If I post a few weeks in a row great! But if I post once a month, so be it. I enjoy sharing my insights and I hope that they can touch at least one soul and give them some new perspective. This blog was about sharing my journey, walking my path to happily ever after. And I am still walking, this journey is not over its just in a different chapter.

I hope you have enjoyed my story thus far and continue with me as I march ahead.

Light your world up by properly holding that lantern. Use the tools that can help you see a bright and happy future.

– Steph

We Have A Winner

I think I can say SUCCESS!

I’ve found my sweet spot in terms of medication and life. I did what I said I was potentially going to do. I adjusted some medication around (sort of with the consent of my psychiatrist, but in all honesty she doesn’t take me serious. She said I could see her in 7 months…. okay then).

I’m taking lower doses of the sleeping aids, yet I am sleeping. Better yet, I am waking up alert and full of zest. I feel rested and I feel alive. No more haze. I am focusing energy on the gym and I think that is helping with my sleep.

I’ve got a few goals going in terms of my active mind. I am trying to take baby steps into a consistent routine of reading, studying and learning. I dont want an idle mind. An idle mind is a dangerous mind AND I feel like there is so much potential to tap into if I try.

I’m no genius, but I do love to learn and apply myself – at least that is what I was always like before and I am trying to get back on that level. Actual I want to get to that level and then surpass it.

My sister asked me if my husband has seen my “I can do everything and anything” mode. I laughed and replied “yes”. I talked with my husband and he told me so long as my “everything and anything” mode is seeking to improve myself he is all for it and will support my endeavours (within reason). I have to say the last few weeks I’ve had a million ideas swirling in my head of what I want to do and how I’m going to do it, what classes I need to take etc etc..

However, I think I am doing a good job at telling myself “you can’t do it all at once”, although I want to take on a lot for the sake of learning and personal betterment – I am trying to pace myself so that I don’t burn myself out.

Catch yourself before the fall, walk before you run. Set a pace and keep it and then if you get comfortable pick it up a bit more and then a bit more.

Presently I am studying classical guitar, I would also like to add classical/folk music voice lessons… I want to commit and focus on my Spanish and IF I commit to self study, my husband and I talked about the prospect of me talking a class at the university BUT I need to be committed. This was my plan after my initial impulse was to enroll in everything at once…. but then I was like hold up, lets take it down a notch.

There are other areas of study I want to dabble in but I will break that down in another post. Think modern renaissance woman…. if that gets your mind going then you are in the same boat as me.

I love opportunity for improvement. For growth. To reflect.

I’m grateful I self-checked, and saw a problem with my haze and complacency with the medication in my life.

Be self aware my friends. If something feels off, take initiative to find a solution to fix it – if you don’t, who will? You have this life, I have this life, let’s not waste it.

– Steph

An Almost Life Crisis

Holy cow!

So much has transpired since my last post.

First off, why I didn’t post…. for the record I had every intention of posting at least once per week since my post on the 17th, but the earth fell from underneath me (I am not really someone to have pretty written posts… I am however leaning towards this idea because I have lots of ideas swirling and it would be good to fall back on when “life happens”.

So how in the world did the world fall from beneath me? Let me tell you – it started with my baby. My furbaby. A little piece of my living and beating heart, Nutmeg. My husband and I went camping over the May long weekend. Nutmeg was super happy to be on our little adventure and was running around and barking as per usual. Everything was perfect. (my health has been on the rise so it literally was one of those perfect Kodak moments).

We arrived at our campsite Friday and left on Sunday. We had Monday off, and had just wanted the extra day to relax at home rather than be on the road driving back before work the next day.

Typically Nutmeg sleeps in the bed with us, but on Sunday she was out like a light in her kennel, so I let her be. Everyone went to sleep. Everything was normal. Everything was fine.

Monday rolls around, I go to Nutmeg’s kennel to pick her up. (Her kennel is like a large play pen with a dog bed, food and water and a pee pad at the end. Lots of space. As soon as I swooped her up she let out a cry. It startled me and at first I thought I pinched her with a nail… but then… I went to put her down on the ground and her back legs gave way underneath her and she couldn’t stand or walk. Long terrible story short, we went to emergency did an x-ray and they said it had to do with her vertebraes “intervertebral dog disc disease”. I spent the entire week following that visit crying. Nutmeg was so weak, unable to stand, unable to walk, unable to do her business without being held up. It broke my heart, however there was a light. My vet said that after 6 weeks of crate rest she should be back to normal, how this works? I have no idea BUT I’m not going to argue. She is still warbly when she walks but from the first day this transpired she has come leaps and bounds. She is definitely improving.

I am so blessed to work where I work, they let me keep her in my office until she was at the point where she could be left alone. Incredible.

This was more of an update post, but I have posts in the works now that my mind isn’t completely consumed with Nutmeg’s health and life.

She was my only priority and the blog plans, life, it was put on hold.

I hope everyone is doing well.

At this point I am doing well.

One day at a time.

– Steph

Lose Your Mind Or Shape Your Mind

I have to say, this week has been a success so far.

I thought I would make things easier for myself and re-read one of my favourite novels “Blackmoore”, a timeless romance (highly reccommended). I feel like I’ve accomplished something just by the chapter a day I’ve done each night, which is a huge mental success. After I finish this novel, I will try a non-fiction book, to give myself some new insight hopefully.

Then on to the next one, on to the next one!

Let’s talk about the gym – I’ve gone everyday this week and twice on Tuesday and Thursday. I do weights for an hour and then on the Tuesday and Thursday evening I go to a boxing class for an hour. I am loving it, while at the same time feeling super frustrated that I’m not as good as I’d like to be. But hey! Everyone has to start somewhere, I’m eating some humble pie.

I have reduced my sleeping pills, only taking 75 mg of the quetiapine and 50 mg of Trazodone. I have to say, I am surprisingly sleeping. I haven’t tampered with any other medications, all the doses are as is. Perhaps its the serious workouts kicking my butt, but I am sleeping thru the night and feeling more alert when I wake up. Also, SHOCKINGLY, I have woken up 30-40 mins before my alarm goes off a few times this week. Sure, I stayed in bed but that is unheard of!

I am keenly optimistic that if I keep engaging my mind and body; exhausting it throughout my day, that I will be able to continue to sleep in the night taking less medication WHICH will hopefully allow me to be more alert when I get up in the morning and throughout my day.

Bipolar is mental. Literally, I feel as though it’s this mental game that you need to know how to play to keep up with it. Medication is a necessity, as is therapy, but the self-talk, the self-check, the self-motivation to do better and be better – it’s all mental. You either lose yourself in your mind or find a will power to shape your mind instead.

I was losing the battle to my mind as of late. It may be too soon to say I’ve won, but I feel like I am on the right track again. Just when you think you had it all figured out, there is a set back, but never forget that the set back has the power to launch us forward with momentum if we let it.

Here is to being launched forward and shaping my mind rather than losing it!

– Steph