Don’t take your tomorrow for granted…

On January 17, 2004 I got a phone call that would change my life forever. I had just gotten back to my parents’ place after a trip to Walmart with my sister where we had picked up some Valentine’s Day goodies for our fellas, and the board game Clue. We immediately cracked open our new (old) game, and headed up to my bedroom to settle in for an epic battle between Mr. Green, Professor Plum and Mrs. White (all the usual suspects). It was then that my phone rang. On the other end, all I could make out at first were guttural sounds, what sounded like an animal, or maybe…was it a human? It was, it was my fiance (at the time) calling to give me the most devastating news I would ever receive by telephone. Two of my friends had just been killed in a car accident.

I remember trying to breath, I remember staring at my sister and hyperventilating while I tried to regurgitate the most horrible words I had ever heard. I remember her starting to panic because I couldn’t get the words out and she didn’t know what was wrong. I remember her screaming for my parents to come help…I remember so much of that night, so vividly, it’s crazy. I still remember it with more clarity than I can remember what I wore yesterday – seriously. It’s amazing how our brains can hold onto the memory of trauma and at the same time, erase the memory of the pain that accompanies it. I suppose it’s how we protect ourselves from remembering just how very painful it is to have your heart ripped out of your body.

We never know what our tomorrow will look like. We all woke up that morning with very few cares in the world, and could never have guessed what the next 24 hours would bring. My friends left band practice that evening to head home for a rest (we had thrown a HUGE birthday party for one of them and my fiance just the night before), and we had plans to head out to a movie together later that night. Then there was an accident, a horrible, tragic accident, one that could happen to anyone at anytime. And with it, everything changed forever.

I write this post today to honour my friends who lost their lives thirteen years ago, at the tender age of 24. I also write it to remind myself how important it is to wake up each day and live life to the very fullest. To have fun, to love hard, to make mistakes, to go on adventures, to say what you’re thinking, to try something new, to get mad, to be sad, to do anything and everything you’ve ever wanted to do, because there will always be someone who has lost their chance to do those very things. The friends I lost were amazing. They LIVED. They LOVED. They were awesome guys, and I still miss them terribly. But as someone who is still here, still blessed with the opportunity to live a BIG life, I owe it to them to make sure I do just that – LIVE BIG. So much love and thanks to my favourite guardian angels – hope you are enjoying the big party in the sky ❤ XO

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Do good whenever you can…

Today was a pretty amazing day for me! I traveled into Toronto to see my eye surgeon after another 6 week healing period, and the little stitch that was holding my implant in place was FINALLY removed – YAY!! Not only does my eye look great (according to my doc), but aside from some pain from the actual stitch removal, the incessant irritation I’ve been feeling from that little bugger is GONE – hallelujah!! It feels so, so good to be ‘back to normal’ and to have all the fears I’ve had about my peepers over the past 3 months dissipate. All that’s left now is a final appointment in April, and I’m in the clear! I feel so incredibly fortunate to have been a part of the study that allowed me to have this very expensive surgery for free, and will continue giving gratitude for this roller coaster experience for a long (long) time to come.

About a month ago my sister forwarded me an article about a young boy who was diagnosed with the same disease as me (keratoconus for anyone who’s just catching up on my blog now), but sadly he was struggling in a very different way than I had. His case was more serious than mine, and his eyes were deteriorating rapidly. Unfortunately, his parents could not cover the $10,000 surgical fee, and they had gone to the press to spread the word about how procedures like cross-linking are not covered by OHIP yet. Reading this article was eye-opening for me, because before doing so I really didn’t understand just how hard it is to be accepted into a study can be, and here was someone half my age who was going blind and couldn’t get help. This realization jolted me back to reality, after I’d spent more time than I care to admit feeling a bit sorry for myself and some of the complications I’d be struggling through post-op. His ordeal did not make the discomfort or fear I’d been living with any less valid, but it nudged me back into the right frame of mind aka feeling incredibly grateful that I was selected for this amazing study, and that I live in a country where people will fight for our rights to receive free medical care.

While I couldn’t do anything to personally help this boy (I can only hope that the Globe & Mail exposure got him his surgery!), it reminded me that there are plenty of people out there that I COULD help! And so with the assistance of my friends at Soul Sessions, I was able to run a warm clothing drive for a local and very deserving women and children’s shelter in my neighbourhood throughout the month of December! Today was not only stitch removal day, but it also happened to be the day that this charity came to pick up all the donations we were able to collect through the studio’s amazing members! Hundreds of pieces of warm clothing, including bags of gloves, scarves and hats with tags still on them! This kind of generosity never ceases to amaze me, and my heart has been soaring all day knowing that so many people came out to support such a wonderful cause ❤

To come around full circle here, I really just wanted to write this post because I feel like we all have the capacity to make a difference in someone else’s life every day, through even the smallest gestures. Whether it’s giving the homeless person you meet on the street a few dollars, donating $5 to a gofundme campaign you believe in, helping your friend move into her new place, volunteering at an old age home, paying for the person behind you at the drive-thru, heck just smiling at someone can seriously make a world of difference to their day! To always remind myself that I’ve had a great day in spite of any hardships, I’ve picked back up a practice I started last year, and each night I take the calendar page from that day’s You are a Badass calendar and write down all the things I am grateful for. It’s pretty easy to give gratitude for all the good things we’ve experienced, but giving gratitude for things that have been challenging isn’t always as easy. Having said that, it is an incredible way to remind ourselves that there is good fortune hiding in every hardship we face, but that sometimes it just takes a little extra digging to see it 🙂 I’m so excited to continue doing what I can, where I can throughout the coming year, and can’t wait to hear what you’ve all been doing to make a difference in your own worlds too! Here’s to making 2017 our most charitable and gratitude-filled year yet! XO

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If you’re grateful, tell them…

I recently received a Facebook message from a woman who shares a mutual friend with me. It was a group message to about 10 women telling us how integral our friend had been to this woman’s life in 2016, and asking us to participate in putting a book together about why we love this special lady so much. And so I just spent a few hours putting together some words about how important and special this woman is to me, and I am SO grateful for the opportunity to share my feelings with her – something I could’ve done a million times on my own, but didn’t until I was asked by someone else. It really got me thinking – how many times have I thought to myself “wow, I’m so grateful for this person, or that person” and yet never found the words to say it out loud to them?! Too many to count, and I think that’s going to change NOW!

I’ve gotten much better over the past few years at thanking people for their support and letting them know what they mean to me (bending your friends’ ears ad nauseum during your divorce will do that to you!), but there are still so many times I’ve read about something someone is doing, or had an old friend do something lovely for me and not taken the time to express how amazing I think they are. How incredible would it be for someone fabulous in your life to know how much you respect them for the fight they’re fighting, or the light they’re bringing to other peoples’ lives?! To know that they have impacted your life while working their personal mission – that is such a gift.  As I write these words, I can think of at least 3 women who I know are doing great things (thank you social media!) that I will make a point of reaching out to with some kind words full of gratitude for their amazingness – how about you?! Who can you say YOU ARE AMAZING to today??

I think this will be one of my intentions for 2017. To make a point of telling people how wonderful I think they are ALL THE TIME. How brave I think they are. How strong I think they are. To let them know they’re not alone fighting the fight, or shining the light. Because at the end of the day, we’re all in this together, and if you’re reading this, you’re definitely in it with me. Let’s spread love and gratitude far and wide as 2016 comes to a close and a brand new year of hope and promise crests upon us. I can’t wait to hear who you share your gratitude with!! Don’t be shy, comment below or private message me – I’d love to hear your story of spreading the love XO