Gratitude feels like this

There was rocks and rain being thrown inside the truck yesterday. I couldn’t stop feeling wet and getting lumps stuck in my throat.

I’ve had some rough days. I’ve had friends tell me that they don’t believe my symptoms are real. I’ve had many change the subject immediately after asking how I’m doing. I’ve had some people straight up ignore me when I’ve asked them directly for something small (simply sharing a post – nothing more). I’ve had people talk condescendingly me towards me for not wanting to try a remedy without discussing it with my physician first, telling me I was giving up or not willing to get better by trying different things. It wasn’t that I wasn’t willing, but I wanted to ensure there was no (or limited) risk that my doctor might have known about before trying it. If he felt there was no harm in trying, then I’m all for it. I’ve had people mute me on social media because they’ve said they just don’t care.

Some of those things  I can chalk up to not being about me. Some of those things are limiting factors on the other person’s end, or awkwardness towards the situation, or just not knowing what to do or say. Those are things I understand, and I have no problems with.

But some of the other comments, actions and inactions hurt, and they were difficult not to take personally. I managed it, eventually, but that initial reaction felt like an icy cold slap to the face, and it stung when it came from a small handful of people I have known for a long time and I thought cared. That they didn’t is actually ok – they have things of their own to worry about, and they have their own agendas. Me expecting them to look out for me is my problem, not their’s, and I don’t typically expect things from others. I was (and still am) feeling extra vulnerable, and was grasping onto things that weren’t mine to hold onto. (I’ve let those things go. I was feisty, nervous, sad and didn’t fully have awareness of my overabundant emotions at the time. I’m human.)

But then, everything changed. And those small handful of people who I had allowed to drive me deeper into a downward spiral are suddenly muted by the huge outpouring of love and support from so many others, and from some people I don’t even know.

Seriously, universe, you have some amazing people in you. And as much as I often question the direction of humanity, this lesson has taught me that there is more kindness than there isn’t. There’s been tears and feels, but they’ve been good (if not complicated) ones.

It’s been weird for both my husband and I. Admitting to needing help is hard enough. Especially publicly. Taking help is a whole other matter. As mentioned previously, I’m one to give things away. I love it. So when people have been buying product, I’ve been wanting to give them gifts with their order, as I always do. Jess, the superhero who has taken over selling my products, has slapped my wrist numerous times for that. I gave her complete control over all of the inventory, selling, discounts and everything associated. And she’s been rocking it, without the discounts. She’s selling things better than I ever did.

We’ve both shared that we’re better at selling other people’s products than our own. At markets, I’d sell my neighbours products easier than mine. It was fun, and they were appreciative. They’d be quiet about their product, and strike up conversation a little, but wouldn’t want to be pushy with sales and allow the customer to browse. I’d pop my head over, grab my favorite product from the table (which would change with different customers) and start asking them questions about it, and commenting on the things I loved most about it. I was also sincere about it, which I truly believe made the difference.

Most of the time the customer would buy one of whatever I was oohing and aahing over.

I excel at retail sales when I have fun with them. At the sports store I used to work at, I’d focus on the customers in front of me, and not focusing on making specific sales. I worked the quietest shifts, but always had the highest sales, because they were my focus, no matter what they were looking at. My specialties were the people on a budget – because I could relate the best with them. It was amazing how much some of the other associates took advantage of people, and it never impressed me. We got commission at the time. I’m glad that practice has been ended since I worked there. The managers loved those associates for selling the high ticket items, but then they didn’t have the highest average sales.

“They are so cute, and anything has to be more comfortable than these. Where did you get them?”

I remember one elderly gentleman had come in to pick up his shoes he had on hold, and I couldn’t help but pry. He was there to purchase the newest, greatest Nike Shox, which retailed for the great deal of $299 at the time. The associate that had helped him previously convinced this man that these shoes would help his knees stop hurting while he was in the garden. The man was on disability and in pain, and he was desperate for relief.

They were basketball shoes, meant for a basketball court, with crevices in the soles where dirt could pack into and compound, rendering the “shox” useless once dirt got embedded in there. He obviously had crippling arthritis in his hands, and the work to clean the shoes in order to keep the dirt out from those areas would add to the list of things he shouldn’t have had to do.

I downsold him to a reliable, comfortable, supportive pair of $60 New Balance shoes, and gave the associate the sale for those.

Oh dear, did I ever cause a kerfuffle. The other associate complained to management, who had to reprimand me for stealing a sale even though I didn’t take it myself. The associate was also reprimanded for the unethical sale. 

I didn’t make friends there. Apparently ethics doesn’t belong in retail sales, and I’ve always tried to live up to a strong code of ethics for the benefit of others. I could not in good conscious let that man pay for those shoes without feeling guilt, and to this day I do not regret my decision to downsell him those shoes. He came back to see me personally and thank me, as the shoes actually did help reduce his pain while in the garden. This was the kind of thing I worked for. 

I had the lowest amount per sale, however the highest total monthly sales for my department, because there were customers that refused to see other people due to my honesty. They simply wouldn’t deal with the other associates in my department, and would ask for me specifically. The managers had to deal with fires often from disagreements on fairness. No one could control who the customers wanted to buy from, however, and there was nothing that could be done about it. I was always on time, I didn’t steal sales from other associates, I found associates to pass customers to in other departments and I treated everyone fairly. I was isolated from the others, but it wasn’t a big deal to me. I was there to work, not to make friends, which wasn’t the same attitude that many others had. I didn’t mind.

When it came to my own products, however, I was no different than those other quiet handmade vendors. I’d converse, talk and answer questions, but didn’t want to come across as over zealous, so didn’t push sales. And I’ve never done so poorly selling products as I did my own.

That’s not to say I did poorly, mind you – but I didn’t have the same exuberance about it as I did selling other people’s products.

It was never for lack of confidence in my products – while sure, I’ve made a few mistakes and bumbles (seriously, what company doesn’t), I’ve always loved the things that I’ve made and have been proud of what I’ve  done. I think the issue lies more in the self, in asking people to pay me for the things I do. As much as I’d try to talk myself up that I’m worth what I ask for, I think deep down, I didn’t believe it myself and it came across that way. Or, not that I wasn’t worth it so much as just wanting to enjoy what I was doing without worrying about the monetary aspect behind it.

Which makes for TERRIBLE business practice.

I was quiet yesterday, and my husband noticed. My feelings were strong – and confused. I was elated by the outpour of support from so many people, while dreading taking their generosity, while grateful for it, while sad that those I thought would be more supportive disappeared, while humbled and embarassed, but proud of reaching out instead of falling into further trouble. I was also glad to have the thought of business off my mind, while sad to be letting it go.

Emotions are complicated and hard, man. But I’m ok. I’m more than ok. I am so, so blessed to have such amazing people in my life.

But gratitude and love win. Every time. And that’s how I’m feeling right now.

Plus exhausted beyond reasonable comparison. The last few weeks have taken alot out of me, and I don’t feel like I’ve given myself the proper chance to rest and catch up. And the more tired I am, the less I sleep, and the worse it gets. And today I’m definitely in a huge energy deficit, and I’m just staying in bed. I’ll take a break from that to do a small yoga practice and move some blood and tissue at least a little, but I don’t think I’ve got much else. And that’s ok. I don’t have anything I need to get done today, and nothing pending, and anything that’s on my to-do list can be put aside for another day.

This is where my boundaries and self care kick in. I’ve pushed myself here and there, mostly to see how my body would respond. It’s little experiments to know how far I can go and what activities I can do. Sadly, it’s not nearly what I’d have hoped for, but I’ll take what I can.

My MRI is on Saturday, which is faster than anyone expected. If the MRI comes back with issues, I’m being sent to a neurologist. If it comes back clean, then a rheumatologist. 

We’re narrowing things down, finally, and I’m looking forward to finding a better normal than I’ve had recently. It’ll still be awhile, but it’ll come. I have faith.

But in the meantime, I feel so grateful for everyone who has helped us, and I’m excited for the day that I can pay it forward again.

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Awkward Conversations

“Krys! Oh my god, you look SO GREAT!” she said, gesturing down my body with her hands and eyes. It stung, but she had no idea.

I get it. A couple of years ago, I was over 220 pounds on my little 5’3″ frame. I hid my lumpy shape under hoodies and oversized t-shirts. I lived with the shame my grandparents’ words implanted in me from a young age. “No one wants to see a fat woman. It’s not so bad for guys, because they can get away with it more. But people really want to look at pretty women, so that’s what all women should strive to be no matter how much they have to change to achieve that attraction. Walk with a broom under the arms, walk daintily in heels, spend the extra time to trim the frizzy hair so it doesn’t show, eat less even if you’re hungry, cover your face entirely with makeup because it’s naturally too red. Don’t show your real face to the world, because the world won’t love it the way it is.”

That shit stays with you for a long time, especially when drilled into you when young, and even when other people try to minimize the impact of it – it doesn’t change the fact that my emotional well being wasn’t based on anything healthy growing up. It’s what I knew, and trying to change that takes work. That path had deep treads, and finding a new route doesn’t come with a map. It’s work (but it’s worth it).

It took a long, long time to break away from those limiting beliefs, but I did. Mostly….. there are still smoke tendrils trailing behind me. But I still didn’t feel good about my body or health, and my self esteem was suffering as much as my health. So I started to focus on my health, and that’s a story that’s recently been underway. I worked hard, reduced the pain I was having as well as my pant size and was feeling so great and healthy. My yoga practice progressed a long way and I was feeling fit, confident and energized. Until, one day, not so much. All of the energy I had been enjoying was suddenly in a negative and I’ll never forget that day when I realized that something was very, very wrong, and it has progressed downward from there.

“What’s your secret? Are you doing the keto diet?”

The questions seem to be harmless, but I can’t help but feel like people are not really paying attention to the bigger picture.

I hear how great I look frequently from people I see, and on Instagram and Facebook like it’s something to celebrate and something I should be proud of, but this time I’m not really happy about it. This time, my weight loss is from being too scared to eat anything for fear of razor blades tearing up my belly, or exiting too quickly to be of any benefit. It’s from the loss of muscle mass from watching Netflix and as many golden buzzers from Britain’s Got Talent as I’ve got the happy tears to share in those people’s moments (trust me – they are unending). It’s from eating from a limited selection of food that doesn’t make me feel like having a night out in my bathroom.

I have become anorexic. (Not to be confused with anorexia nervosa, keep in mind. It’s definitely not voluntary. I love food, but it’s not a thing I can enjoy like before without horrible consequences.) It started during my final week of yoga teacher training in June and has progressed to the point that I’m struggling to keep anything in my system long enough to absorb nutrients.

That was a hard lump to swallow and to admit. For someone who loves food, this isn’t easy or fun, and it’s an adjustment that I’m not used to. Hopefully I don’t have to get used to it  for long. I’m looking forward to enjoying meals again.

I’m fitting into smaller clothes. My ribs and hips are starting to make an appearance. My cyst can be visibly seen in my abdomen when it feels like looking out from it’s nest in my hip. My hands have become skeletal. My skin is becoming parched and papery. My hair is becoming dull and is breaking easily, and there are days that I have twice as much hair fall out than usual. Yes, I still have bulk, especially in my lower extremities, but it’s soft and disappearing more quickly than I’d like in a way that I don’t want it to.

My eyes …. the thing I’ve always loved most about my physical appearance… they’re tired. I remember wearing red eyeliner under the thick black raccoon shadows in order to create a bit of a darker, creepy look during my high school goth days, and now I don’t need makeup to recreate that. It’s just part of the look, now.

Hm. Maybe I have a career lined up?

Ha. No. Kidding.

But damn, I’d save alot of money on eyeliner!

What’s my secret?

It lies in hiding the shaking in my legs when I’ve been standing too long. In making it to the closest place to sit down before my vision goes completely black. Or, at the very least, a wall to lean against while my vision returns. The secret is in keeping my hands warm enough that I can grasp a pen without my hand seizing. It’s finding a position where I’m in a little bit less pain (which doesn’t go away) so I can concentrate better on whatever it is I’m doing. Sometimes it’s getting comfortable enough so that I can just do nothing, because moving hurts and motion creates waves of nausea. It’s going downstairs to do something and forgetting – over and over and over again until I actually get it done or forget about it entirely. It’s asking for help when I can’t keep up. It’s in dressing up a little to pull attention away from the rest of me. It’s learning how to breath in a way that doesn’t cause my heart to race and my vision to blur, despite the intense breath work learned during yoga teacher training that I can’t use right now. It’s in keeping things short and sweet. It’s learning to listen really closely past the constant screaming in my ears that spikes frequently and drowns out sound for a moment. It’s in speaking more slowly to give me time to find the vocabulary that slips away like a dream after waking. It’s in pulling my shoulders back long enough to look strong, when the truth is I’m ready to collapse. It’s in learning to say “not right now” to things I really want to do.  It’s in letting my fear over my situation rage on occasion so that it can rest again later. It’s in drawing boundaries and letting people know when I’m overwhelmed. Which is often.

Maybe the secret isn’t much of a secret at all. The “secret” is letting people see what they want , and in letting them say what they do without correcting them. Because does it really matter? I feel terrible, and I believe it’s easy to see… but maybe it’s not? Maybe it’s easy for me to assume that simply because of the way I feel. But that’s not what people want to see, or draw attention to. Is there’s really a harm to them or to me in simply accepting that compliment?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I really don’t believe there’s any harm in it. Perhaps even more harm to us both if I draw attention to it and make things more awkward than they already are.

Perhaps my physical degradation actually does look good to them. Or maybe they only see that one detail because it’s the most obvious. Or perhaps they do see what’s going on and just want to make me feel better.

It doesn’t make me feel better, really. It kind of brings my attention back to how I feel, which is a constant anyways. But what does matter is that they are there, and they care. And THAT is what makes me feel better. And THAT is what I choose to take out of it after an initial knee-jerk reaction in my head that screams “WHAT?!”

 

I choose love and gratitude. Always.

 

 

A Day Off

It’s not often that I truly take a day off of everything. A day to sit. Binge watch movies. Eat junk food. Ignore the dishes and any responsibilities on my plate. I can’t actually remember the last time I had a real day off. I’ll say I’m taking a day off, but then just sneak in that one thing. When my husband calls me on it, I just smile sweetly and own it. What I get done today is one thing I don’t have to do tomorrow, right?

That’s a bad excuse to ignore my own needs, and sometimes what I really need is downtime.

The last couple of weeks I was supposed to have off in order to focus on visiting friends and family and get a big dent in my studies, but it didn’t happen that way. Which is typical, but I was ok with it. I saw people, but absolutely no homework got done and all of the visiting and food choices made me tired. I’m a creature of habit, afterall, and I’m completely off my normal schedule and routine and have been eating terribly. Which all tires me even faster.

Yesterday I decided to just nope. I barely moved. I snuggled into a blanket with my sick husband next to me and binged watched movies and napped. I didn’t practice any of my normal healthy habits. I didn’t keep track of my food intake. I didn’t clean or even cook. I took a full, complete day off of all things and responsibilities except to feed the animals. Anything else just wasn’t on my radar.

I’m going to be completely honest with you – and I want you to be honest with yourself as you read.

I had always been the queen of excuses. It’s the way I was raised and it’s just what I knew. I was raised thinking that I needed an excuse for anything I did, any decision I made and everything I may be questioned about. I took a lesson from my parents, who always had a reason for their actions, especially when I knew that the reasons they gave others weren’t the same reasons I knew they had. I couldn’t just be and live. This goes for things I did, as well as those things I didn’t do. Didn’t want to go to the gym that day? I wanted to buy something I couldn’t realistically afford? I wanted to ditch my responsibilities and go play? I failed to meet a deadline or expectation? I had an excuse for everything and I managed to believe they were all good ones. Most of the time I was able to convince others that they were good excuses, too. It all depends on your own conviction, and if you’re convinced that your reasoning is sound then nothing will change your mind on the matter. Nothing – except for you.

I would be blamed or questioned on anything I did, so I was always armed with an answer. It used to be that when I wanted a relaxing, lazy day off, I had to have a good reason for it. But that reason would always be legit – I didn’t actually lie. But that doesn’t mean it was necessarily a good reason for anything – but it was a reason that made me feel better to have. Either I was sick or my leg hurt or something something. I’d find a reason to justify my day of nothing so I wouldn’t feel guilty for not getting anything done. My reason was more for me than for anyone else.

Why would anyone else really care that I achieved nothing in a day? That was an insecurity of my own and a somewhat irrational fear of judgement from others. The reality is that no one else really cares because they have their own things to focus on and their own excuses to make for their own choices. This was an insecurity I came by legitimately, but it’s not one that I needed to keep in my life. I’m happy to finally be able to shrug off some of these insecurities, including that one.

There’s always something to do, always someone to answer to, always something to look into or learn or buy or make or clean or fix or change or move. Sometimes you have to look beyond the reasons you give for something and find a counter argument. One of the things I hear from people the most is how they can’t find time for something important to them – but most of all for themselves.

Can’t? Or won’t? You get to make your priorities, and if you don’t make yourself a priority, who else will?

I don’t have time for me. I have to cook, clean, answer emails, feed the animals, clean the fishtank, renovate the basement, pay the bills, get the kids to school, go get groceries, make bread, paint a portrait, go to my other work, learn kung-fu and save the world. [Insert anything I else probably missed, too.]

I have spoken with many people about this, and am always able to find holes in their argument. And that’s because I had to do it with my own argument, too. I know the excuses, the reasons and the fears. The biggest thing holding any of us back is our own way of thinking and the choices we make in order to keep our excuses legit.

List those things you want to do the most, but don’t feel you have time to do. Then make a list of absolute necessities that need your attention in a day and assign a time frame to each of them. Add up that time and see what you have left. (And if you are surprised at how much time you have left and you don’t know where that time goes, take a look at your phone app history.) If there’s no time left for you to fit in something important to you, maybe it’s a good time to reassess your daily tasks. Your priorities are what you make them to be, and I don’t believe that there is any reason in the world that you can’t make time for yourself, unless you don’t want to.

That’s when the question changes.

Then the question is: What is it about yourself that you dislike so much that you can’t find a reason to spend time with yourself, for the sake of it instead of for the need of it?

That’s a big, sometimes messy answer to find, and a hard truth to face.

But let me tell you. There’s nothing quite like taking a day off just because I want to. I don’t need a reason or excuse beyond that. There’s nothing quite like making choices because it’s just what I want to do, and not because of any excuse I feel I need to make. I didn’t take the day off because I was tired, deserving, sick or entitled.

I just wanted to. And THAT’S power of decision making that I’m glad is finally in my control.

Today is still a day of nothing. I had leftover pizza for breakfast, I’m watching cheesy movies while I type this and a cup of hot chocolate with rum before noon with nibbles from Terry’s Chocolate Orange. These are old habits that I never do anymore, and I just wanted to live them today. Tomorrow I’ll be purging sugar from my system again with healthier food choices, I’ll be up early to practice my yoga poses before making a high protein breakfast for my dear husband and I before heading to the gym together. All good habits are game on again tomorrow, because that’s also what I want to do. I get to make that choice, and despite what others think sounds like a pretty miserable way of being, I actually enjoy living that way. I feel great with my routine and those habits I’ve formed, and I love having the ability to make these choices. But today I’m enjoying a day of blissful, lazy irresponsibility. I have no excuse for it, nor do I need one.

Whatever you choose to do, enjoy every moment of it for whatever reasons you decide to do it for without feeling the need to justify it!

See you next year!

In kindness and loving breath,

Krystal

 

Heal and onward

I had a series of journal entries to write in order to help me heal and move on from a recent series of events that have hurt me deeply.

But today, I’m realising that I just don’t need to write them. I’m doing ok, despite a pretty deep hole I felt I was in last week. It ends up it wasn’t as deep as it felt.

I have my faults, weaknesses and insecurities. We all do. I’m aware of them. I welcome them. I embrace them – just long enough to start letting them go. It’s hard to admit when there are aspects about ourselves that we don’t like – but that’s part of growing and moving forward. I’m glad that I have them – or, at least, that I’m aware of them – so that I CAN work on letting them go.

I used to be a different person. I used to be a people-pleaser. I still have some of those attributes. I would (and sometimes still do) delve so much into my work or into volunteer work that I was suffering for it. Close friends voiced their concern, and I shook it off. I was fine. I was. Really. But…

……no, I wasn’t. When did I have time to live? I was so tired, so much of the time, and wasn’t able to see anything except my responsibilities. Those friends were right. I was pushing myself too hard. And for what?

That was a good question. What WAS I looking for?

I did a lot of thinking and came to many realisations. I kept myself busy because I had no direction. I had no self worth. I worried about what other people thought of me. Reasons upon reasons that I never really acknowledged. I found something I loved and delved into it so much that it became more work than it was fun – but it kept my mind off of the things I didn’t know how to address. My sorely lacking confidence. My secret social anxiety. My desire to “fit in”. The love and approval of people I admired.

I’m just one more person in a world of people. I was already successful in some ways – but not at living. I was failing that. I didn’t need anyone else’s approval except my own. I was already loved SO much by the people who voiced those concerns to me, as well as others who didn’t see the harm in it. It was time to deal. It was time to face my problems. It was time to admit that my struggles were preventing me from moving on. I didn’t like my mindset, so I made the conscious decision to start changing it.

And then I started creating boundaries for myself. I stopped allowing people to treat me in ways I didn’t deserve. I allowed myself to breath. I let go of some of the responsibilities that I didn’t need to take on – because I had taken on too many where the workload could have (and should have) been shared. Or there was work that just wasn’t necessary. I approved of my choices and my decisions – I didn’t need it from anyone else. I even started to actually love myself, instead of just saying that I did. And those things I didn’t love, I started to focus on and change. And I realised that the issues I’ve grown up with, the issues I’ve carried around – they were all getting dealt with by proxy just by making those changes I needed to make for myself. I was making boundaries for myself, which is something I’ve never been able to really do before.

And some people knew it, and used my new self-improvements against me. I can’t lie – there were some things in me that shattered. Nothing that can’t be rebuilt, though.

And this is all new to me. I’m still not at all used to it, and I feel like I’m walking on shaky new legs. And every time I speak out, my voice feels weak, I feel overwhelmed and my core is shaken. I am able to apologise for the wrongs I make, but I’m no longer apologising for the things I feel right about doing or saying. I’m standing my ground.

Have I made some mistakes?

Oh yes. There’s no denying that.

But I’m human. While this is the way I am now, I’m forever working on creating a better me. While I may not get forgiveness for those mistakes by some people, it’s ok. I have my thoughts on the reasons why they can’t forgive, and it’s not really because of something I did – it’s something they did, and can’t face. It’s not about me, and never was. That’s their journey. I’m forgiving myself and moving on, and doing my best to be the person I love. Sure, I may slip now and again, but I can’t beat myself up forever over it – I just need to remember to breathe deep and remember to do better next time.

And I will.

And in this thinking, I’m remembering to treat myself as I would treat anyone else.

It’s not only about the kindness you offer to others, but the kindness you can offer yourself, as well.

-Krystal

 

Everyday Heroes

When you ask a child who their favorite hero is, you’ll most likely hear answers of the Marvel universe. Don’t get me wrong, Thor and Iron Man are awesome (and can I mention hot, too?), but they’re just not realistic. Gods have better things to do than save puny mortals, and rich men aren’t looking out for the better of mankind. It’s a nice dream, though.

There are people who surround us that have more powers than they are aware of. I’m so thrilled to have been able to hang out with some of my own heroes this weekend. And I’d like to share these amazing people with you.

CathyMy aunt Cathy is someone I looked up to when I was little (and still do!). She was fun, flexible, lived outside of the box for as long as I could remember, and laughed SO easily. I was in absolute awe of her belly dancing career, which is so much different than the paths most of the family would even consider, nevermind pursue.  And that has never changed. She has an amazing smile that lights up the room and when she starts laughing she drags everyone with her. She’s infectious, and I’m glad to report that there is no cure. There are some things this world need more of, and it’s real people, living real lives in real time. She rolls with the punches and helps anyone who asks for it – even when she’s struggling herself. Her heart is so huge, and anyone who has known this woman in any kind of capacity is lucky to have her in their life. She doesn’t realize how much of a positive influence she has on this world just by being herself and by smiling. She stands up for what she believes in, isn’t afraid to rock the boat when there’s a snake on board, and is the first to jump in and help patch the holes. She’s not afraid of learning and living, and she has been such a strong influence in my life and I couldn’t be more grateful to have such a strong, positive person to look up to.

NicpatNicole and Patrick are part-in-parcel. I’ve known Nicole since I moved to Edmonton in 1999. Our boyfriends at the time introduced us to each other, and it was instant soul sister cake mix – the only ingredient missing was music. We clicked dancing to a Nine Inch Nails song together … or was it Tea Party? Hm. That part seems to be fading, but I feel that it was “The Perfect Drug” by NIN. While the boyfriends are long gone from our lives, we’ve held strongly to that bond and have grown together in our own ways. Ours is a path that was meant to cross. She’s fun, opinionated, insanely smart and an incredibly talented artist and writer. She has always worked hard for everything she has wanted to do, and lives the way she wants to. She’s inspiring and empowered and has been one of the most grounding but encouraging influences I’ve ever known. After she met Patrick at a poetry meeting, my very first knee jerk reaction at meeting him was not exactly a good one. He had reminded me SO much of a terrible ex  boyfriend in some of his mannerisms and stature that I had to shake off that impression before imprinting a new one.

It took all of maybe five minutes, if that.

rowanThe pair of them are amazing, positive and life-filled people who experience everything and want others to do it with them. They are open, inviting and welcoming. The warmth they share is contagious and you can’t help but fall in love with both of them. I am so, so happy that they found each other – they work so well together with their lifestyles and compromises. Very recently, they’ve expanded their influence to create the leader of the Universe, who is already learning about cognitive abilities and how to form the perfect bowel movement (which many people haven’t mastered after 60 years). Nicole and Patrick have  broadened their art to collaboratively create Baby Rowan, who will one day rule the world with kindness and super Ninja skills. He’s my newest hero-in-training, and damned cute at that.

DaveAnd then there’s my Wookie. His hands are large and stained and rough. He often has crazy hair and a wild beard, he’s large and has a deep growl.

And he’s the softest, warmest and gentlest human I have ever known (all fuzzy jokes aside).

David has a large part in saving my life. In my 20s I had a lot of struggles and personal growth that I needed to do. Where I was too intense for so many people, he loved me. Even when I didn’t want it, he loved me. I fought against it tooth and nail. The reasons are numerous, but they were my own insecurities. He has always been calm and understanding, and he’s a rock to many people. Myself included. He has helped keep me grounded and safe when everything around me fell apart, he took care of me when I broke my knee, he encouraged me when I felt the most discouraged and he’s always there for a silent, loving companion whenever I need it.

And even when I don’t.

David’s love is reciprocated by everyone who knows him. He is a hard man to dislike by anyone. He has a cheery demeanor (after his morning coffee) and loves to adventure and explore, but also to relax and just be comfortable. We work amazingly well together, which is a rare thing for me, and he is compromising, kind and generous.

I’m not rich nor famous. I go camping in a tent. I rarely have disposable funds and have to budget carefully. I don’t drive a fancy car (truthfully, it’s a rust bucket that’s super reliable and has great gas mileage, and I’m just not ready to give up on it yet!), I don’t own a trailer, I don’t travel out of the province often and I can’t afford to open a shop of my own.

And that’s all very ok with me – because I’m the richest person in the world.

I love my tribe, and they mean the world to me.

We can all be heroes, for more than just a day. Be good, be kind, be someone you can look up to, so others can look up to you as well.

What is “Ugly Soap”?

I confuse many people when I call my soap “ugly”.

What does even that mean?

Ani DiFranco has a wonderful song that sings to my soul, and is relevant to the story behind my ugly soap. Check it out.

When I was making a batch one day, I was cutting it thinking, man – there sure is some pretty soap out there. Mine’s not so pretty. The inevitable happened, and I found myself singing “Not a Pretty Soap” to myself. It became a bit of a joke, and I lovingly refer to my soap as “not a pretty soap”.

This isn’t a bad thing, though. What this is, is my reality.

I grew up under intense pressure. Lose weight, do my hair, paint my nails, be prettier. Some encouraged nicer clothes, while others told me to do what I wanted – except when I did, they’d mock me. I didn’t fit in at school, no matter how hard I tried. I was the fat kid in class (even though I actually wasn’t, looking back), I was insecure, I was strange, I was the teacher’s pet.

So I stopped trying. I started doing the exact opposite. I was already isolated, so I further isolated myself. I started finding friends in that isolation – others who didn’t quite fit in. I tried to give the impression of having self confidence, but it was the last thing I had. I was an insecure, confused teenager growing up, and had a long, long way to go and many obstacles to overcome to finally find the real confidence to live in my skin, and be happy.

How is that different from anyone else?

It’s not. And that’s a problem. Except, you see, I have finally found that confidence where so many others haven’t. Or think they’ve found it, but either want it badly enough that they try that much harder or don’t want others to know that under that exterior strength…. they’re just as unsure about themselves as everyone else.

I have many customers who buy a bath bomb or soap, and comment that they’re saving it for a special occasion.

That day is today. There is absolutely no reason that you can’t celebrate yourself RIGHT NOW. Stop waiting – stop putting yourself last – and please stop undervaluing yourself. Treat yourself always. What you perceive as the perfect day to spend time with yourself has long past. Find that time, learn who you are and learn to love yourself as much as others do. You ARE loved, you are appreciated and you ARE beautiful. Isn’t it time for you to know that?

Everyone has a kind of art. Some people sing. Some dance. Some paint, play, capture moments, create accessories or furniture or poetry or so many other opportunities to shine. My art is here.

No, not my soap or any other product I create.

You.

I don’t need to make you beautiful – you’ve got that nailed on your own. My art is helping you feel how beautiful you already are, and helping you feel comfortable in your skin. I want you to take your clothes off RIGHT NOW and stand in front of the mirror, accept your imperfections that no one else really notices, and look deeper. We don’t live in magazines, and the true beauty is your raw, natural self. There’s more to anyone than what a person sees of themselves. The beauty that you can’t see, others do – so put some trust in them, and in yourself. There’s no reason for anyone to feel uncomfortable with what they’ve got, or with who they are. We all have a path, we all have obstacles, and I want to help you overcome whatever you can – one layer at a time.

So strip down – run that water – and go enjoy the moment. Right now is all any one of us has got – and if we don’t enjoy it now then we may never be able to again.

K's Comfort SoapMeet K’s Comfort Soap – it’s ugly. It rices due to the essential oil blend in it, which makes it seize and gloopy and terrible to work with. But….. After it’s set and cut, it’s actually not as ugly as originally thought it might be. It has it’s beauty, artistic patterns, swirls and marbling. I don’t do much to do that – I just mix it. The soap works its own magic.

What I do, however, is mix it with powerful ingredients for you to love. Herbs and clays and essential oils that cause this to be one of my best selling items, because it works so well for so many people. It helps tone while moisturizing, but gently pulls away the unnecessary oils without overdrying.

There are a multitude of soapmakers that are discouraged when their swirl isn’t perfect, or their pattern ruined or the colors not quite right. While I admire the skills of these artisans, I do not have the same idea in mind. I want to make something that is good for your skin, health and soul. I want you to use it for what it is – which is soap. Nourishing, natural, old fashioned soap made by hand. It doesn’t look like food, it doesn’t have jewelry in it, and the colors are simply a fun side effect of the ingredients used, but I don’t add colorants for the sake of making my soap more attractive. Your skin doesn’t see – but it does feel. And it deserves to feel as amazing as you are – so why would you undervalue yourself so much?

 

You are worth so much more than you give yourself credit for. It’s time to cash the cheque!

 

I Am Enough

The information provided is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to test, treat or diagnose health problems or diseases. This information is not meant to be a substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional.

Non-Gender Bias

I have many requests and questions regarding men’s products, and wondering which items are geared towards men.

Truth is, they are all geared to whomever likes or needs what.

These products aren’t sex-dependent, and there’s no reason men and women can’t use the same items. While some may be better for oily skin, and others for sensitive skin, there is no gender bias here.
If you like lavender, you are welcome to use Lavender soap or butter or lip balm. If you like orange, great! Use Rugged Orange. If you have extra dry skin, try the naturally scented Saccharine Dreams, which has a rich chocolate aroma that comes from the cocoa butter.

It doesn’t matter if you are male, female, neither or both.

Rugged Orange is aimed towards extra-grubby people. Gardening? Welding? Grease monkey? Don’t worry – we are well aware that grease and dirt is also sexually unbiased. Being a former welding apprentice myself in a heavy duty mechanic shop, I am familiar with grease under the nails, soot in the pores and the horribly drying cleaners in a mechanic’s washroom.
Soap
We ALL deserve to feel good in our skin, and it’s my job to make your skin feel good.

‪#‎humanism‬ ‪#‎notaprettysoap‬