Little Rebel

I’ve always had a little bit of rebel in me, just the teeniest tiniest amount, but enough to want to be different and not follow the crowd.  I remember as a kid I would wear baggy t-shirts when the other girls would wear dresses, I listened to rap when everyone was listening to pop, I got my tongue pierced before it became popular, and I would always be nice to the kids that were bullied even if it was in a cowardly way where no one would see. I thought caring about clothes and hair and make up was superficial and that poetry, peace, and justice were important. I remember being about 11 and staying up all night with my best friend talking about world problems and brainstorming ways we could help solve them – haha! In high school it got harder and harder to nurture that little rebel in me and so I just gave in and gave her up. It was surprisingly easy but it’s been a struggle ever since.

You see, I don’t want an alcoholic for a mother. I don’t want my brother & cousins to suffer from addictions.  I don’t want to be frightened from a loud & sudden sound like the crack of my mother’s cheekbone connecting with my stepfather’s fist. I don’t want to have to count how many glasses of wine I’ve had in fear of losing control and blacking out. In this way, I want so badly to be different so I end up just being the same as everyone else.

I get lost in the trends, in the materialistic wants, in the workout obsession & clean eating phenomenon, in the status updates & Insta likes… I let myself get completely wrapped up in it all but it’s just a front, a fake, an armour I put on to cover up the fragile me, the broken me. I read somewhere once, that when you’re feeling lost, or questioning your purpose in life, to think about someone you want to be a role model for, someone you want to inspire and to think about what you want that person to learn from you.  For me, aside from my girls, it has always been my niece.

She just turned 9 yesterday and has been through a lot in her short life.  She has this way about her though, this kindness, this gentle courage to always to do the right thing. She reminds me a lot of myself as a child and in a lot of ways she inspires me.  I started thinking about what it is I would want her to learn from me and it woke me out of my pretending-to-be-someone-else state. Do I want her to care about how many squats she does or the calories she consumed? No. Do I want her to value her self-worth on the amount of likes she gets? Hell no. Do I want her to follow the crowd and not stay true to herself? Double hell no.

I want her to love herself and her life no matter how crazy it becomes.  I want her to forgive those who have hurt her and to always remember to forgive herself too.  I want her to be brave, speak her mind, and always tell the truth no matter how hard it may be. I want her to wear her scars proudly and without shame no matter how painful.  I want her to keep that kindness, that innocence, and that gentle courage to always do the right thing.  I want her to always stay true to herself, to be who she wants to be, and do what she wants to do.  I want her to be happy being different from the rest. I want her to find that little rebel within and never let her go ❤



Petrichor; the smell of rain

Six days before the anniversary of the Fort McMurray Wildfire I sit on the sidewalk in front of the house I grew up in and watch in a paralyzing daze as the fire fighters run in and out and around my family’s house putting out the flames that consumed it.

I was coming for dinner.  My Dad had been working non stop nights and my step mom invited us over for something to eat before he went to work.  When the flashing red lights of the fire truck, ambulance and police cars blocked off the entrance to my street stopping me from turning in I knew.  I didn’t know what exactly, but I knew it was my family they were there for. It always was. My heart dropped and I turned the truck around and sped to the back entrance where I found more flashing lights – it was blocked from both ends.  I started to panic. I parked the truck, the two girls in the back and ran ahead a little.  I saw my uncle’s truck parked and my suspicion was confirmed. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think. I ran back to the truck. Then I ran forward a bit again. I couldn’t leave the girls alone but I couldn’t think straight enough to take them out. I must have went into the truck, opened the door, shut it and walked towards my house and then back about 4 times before I talked myself into just getting them out of the vehicle and bringing them with me.

I was trembling as I inched closer to my house. Please let everyone be okay. Please let everyone be okay.  I saw my Dad. Then Angie, my step mom. Thank you, I thought, my stomach still tying into knot after knot.

“It’s gone, Alyssa” my stepmom said walking up to me.  “It’s burnt. It’s gone.”

“Fuck off” I replied, “No, it’s not”

“I’m sorry, Alyssa, I tried to call you. It’s gone. It’s burnt.”

I stared blankly tears welling up. I shook them off. This is not happening. It’s not fucking happening. It can’t be. I look around. My Dad is talking to a fire fighter, the neighbours are bunched together standing on their lawns taking it all in, my uncle and aunty are walking towards us now.  There is so much commotion but it is silent at the same time like watching a film with no sound.  My mind wanders to the first time we stepped foot in our house. I was 11 years old and my parents had just bought it. I was upset we were moving to Thickwood, I didn’t want to leave the Timberlea area. Angie thought it would be fun to spend the night in our first house before we actually moved in (we never lived in a house before, only apartments and mobile homes) and it was so much fun! We had no furniture, it was completely empty, but we ordered pizza, chased our dog, Peanut, around our new big house and slept in our sleeping bags on the living room floor…

My heart is sinking, closing, figuring out how to put up yet another wall around it’s tender flesh. This feeling is all too familiar.  I hate it. But I’m comfortable in it.  Used to it. It’s sickening.

I’m trying so hard not to become bitter over the loss of my parent’s house, the house I grew up in.  There are so many reasons to become bitter and I have to admit there is still an anger inside me about it all. I can list a million reasons why it is unfair, how it shouldn’t have happened to us, how my parents have worked so hard and been through way too much to have this happen to them, but since the wildfire last year that claimed so many people’s homes in its rage, I am humbled in the fact we are not alone.  The kind words, the phone calls, the text messages, the support we’ve received from family, friends, organizations,  and complete strangers is remarkable.  I love Fort McMurray, my family, my community… we are a different kind and I am beyond proud to call this place my home.

In my quest to keep my heart from closing off completely, I am trying to feel. Feel it all. Feel to heal.  And search for God, for joy, for meaning in the little things.  Yesterday,  after it rained I took the girls out for a walk in the Birchwood trails.  The sun was shining through the misty air.  It was hot and cool at the same time.  The grass was drying but the soil was still wet and gave off that sweet earthy smell just after it rains, my favourite smell of all. I closed my eyes and breathed it in.  It was all so beautiful. The contrast between hot and cool, damp and dry.  Mother nature has it figured out and God always gives little glimpses of hope if you look close enough. There needs to be this balance between forces. There needs to be a storm before a rainbow, despair in order for joy, heartache for happiness.  And so, I wait patiently for the light to come from this darkness ❤








Back to the Basics; A Letter to Myself

Slow down. Take a deep breath and get back to the basics. You stumbled too far off your path but it’s okay, you know your way back.

Trust yourself. Deep down you know what you need to do.

Staying true to yourself is the hardest thing you’ll have to do but it is so worth it. So unbelievably worth it.

You are growing and learning more about who you are and what it is you are meant to do.

Be easy on yourself.

You can’t know everything all at once. It doesn’t work that way. And it shouldn’t. Life is more exciting this way, I promise.

Trust in God. Remember to pray. And, make sure to give thanks EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Get back to the basics, love. It’s okay not to feel okay, but I know you are ready for a change.

You know what to do.



Usually, the advice we give others is what we most need to hear and listen to ourselves.  I have been ignoring my needs and swaying too far away from where I am meant/truly want to be.  I have been too interested in others lives and not putting in the work for my own life. I have forgotten to look within, to ask for help, to dance when I feel like dancing, to rest when I feel tired, and as a result my body, mind, and energy have been suffering.  Time for me to get back to me. Time to get back to the basics.






Just Another Manic Monday

She’s crying again. Ellanor. She’s teething, I think.

I pick her up and let her nurse but after a couple sucks she’s doesn’t want it anymore and is back to crying. I bounce her. I walk around the living room doing half lunges trying to avoid stepping on the crayons and blocks that are scattered through out the floor from yesterday’s tantrum. The neighbours probably think I’m crazy. She cries louder. I bounce faster whispering “shh…shh…shh” over and over.

Malakai hands me the remote. She wants Barney – again. I’m so sick of Barney. I try for Daniel Tiger instead, fiddling the remote in one hand, bouncing and shushing Ellanor in the other. The intro song to Daniel Tiger comes on and Malakai hits the floor with a smack. Her tiny two year old limbs mimic thick spaghetti noodles as she cries her famous words “no, no, no”.

Please, Lord, not today.

It’s okay, I remind her, it’s time for breakfast anyway. I put Bee back down and give her something to chew on. That should keep her quiet for at least 3 minutes. I step over my flailing Toddler and go into the kitchen where I grab my coffee cup, nuzzle it in my two hands – it’s still warm – I close my eyes and down the entire thing like a swift shot of vodka. Breathe in,  breathe out, step over last nights macaroni + cheese stuck to the floor, rummage through the dishwasher to find a bowl because why would there be any in the cupboard where they belong? Why would any be clean, even? I rinse out the cleanest dirty bowl I can find. Fuck it. Good enough. Pour some yogurt in there, plop some blueberries in and breakfast is served.

I pick Malakai up off the floor though she wriggles and kicks and continues to protest with the most annoying “noooooo” in the world. I fight her into her chair, buckle, click – I win. She screeches and throws the bowl of berries + yogurt across the table. I smile and calmly tell her breakfast is important and remind her she’ll be hungry later if she doesn’t eat. How I managed to stage a sweet, patient voice frightened me. Who was this person?

Ellanor’s had enough now, she’s crying yet again so I go and pick her up, throw her on one hip and walk back into the kitchen. Malakai is kicking the table and repeating “no,no,no” but I just ignore her and open the utensil drawer, pull out a spoon and dig into the tube of yogurt on the counter. I stuff my mouth, swallowing gulps, ingesting as fast as I can before walking and bouncing my teething baby to sleep.

Finally, Ellanor is heavy in my arms and I unbuckle Malakai from her high chair and help her down. We go into the living room and she is horrified to find Daniel Tiger still on. Slam. Her body hits the floor again. Ellanor wakes up from the sound and I am now an outsider looking in. I watch myself as I walk sedately over to the television and turn it off. I hear more crying but I don’t know where it’s coming from. Both I assume.

I sit down on the couch, pull out my boob from my robe and nurse Ellanor back to sleep. Malakai climbs onto the couch letting out muffled whimpers through her hand that’s crammed in her mouth. Her face is red and wet with tears and I feel my eyes swelling and burning. But I don’t cry. Instead, I sit motionless, baby sucking on one side, two year old curled up in the fetal position, her little arms wrapped around my free one on the other side.

I stare blankly at the piles of clean clothes that lay wrinkled and unfolded on the dining room table and briefly I wish that I was somewhere else. Someone else, even. Oddly, I remember what we tell kindergartens at school to do when they get upset – blow bubbles. I blow hard forcing an exhalation that’s followed by a deep inhale.

I try again.

And again.

I am 5 years old. I am sitting here. Self soothing. Comforting others with no one to comfort me.

The flashback and self pity hit me hard and my chest tightens. I want to escape. I want to run away. I want to drink an entire bottle of wine and get really really high. But then, as if God had finally seen my invisible white flag waving viciously in the air, my mind was silenced by the silence.

No more crying. No more whining. Not even a sniffle. Just pure, sacred silence.

I check to see if Malakai had fallen asleep but I see her eyelashes glitter. She gets up momentarily, repositioning herself into my body and then tilts her head back and up so she can see me. I meet her teary-eyed gaze and she smiles. My chest tightens again but this time it’s my heart mending, not breaking. She snuggles up, gives my arm a long, hard squeeze and gently kisses my wrist. A knowing feeling washes over me. I kiss her on the top of her head, close my eyes and together we breathe in the stillness.

Everything is going to be okay. 

Hands Free Living

One thing I have always been concerned about is this loss of connection with the people sitting in front of us from being over connected to people a million miles away.  Social media/the internet/texting has always been a double edge sword for me.  I wrote about it before, here. Since Malakai was born I vowed to show her the importance of real human-contact relationships as well as being present in this ever distracted world of ours. But how could I possibly do this if I myself was so dependant and very much addicted to this distracted way of living? I couldn’t! I would be a total hypocrite. Like when parents tell their kids not to smoke in between inhalations of their export A golds.  And so, not knowing how to approach this, I do what I always do when in doubt – ask Google. (A very positive side of the double edge sword 😉 )

I started reading this book that google recommended (thank you, Google <3) by Rachel Macy Stafford called Hands Free Mama about a month ago now and have been practicing (TRYING to practice) her weekly intentions of living a “hands free” life. Basically a Hands Free way of living is throwing out any distractions that cause you to lose sight of what really matters in life such as favouring your phone/computer/work/to-do lists over your relationships with the people around you.  BINGO – this is exactly what I needed!!

I bought a cute little basket specifically for our phones that sits in the kitchen by my coffee pot and our family rule now is that the phone goes in the basket during every meal time and no matter if it rings we ignore until we are finished eating together.  I gotta say, I was the one that initiated this – telling Nick everything I was reading in the book – and he totally jumped on board and has become even more vigilant than I am with this rule!  Which can be annoying when he’s reminding me to put my phone away when he used to be worse than I was with it!

A few other things we’ve been trying is zero use of the phone while driving (this has been surprisingly easy), putting the phone away (in the cute lil basket) when someone is visiting, and not going on social media when the girls are awake.  This has been super hard for me but this book asks you to reflect on each attempt at living hands free and to count the things you would have missed if you were distracted by your phone/to-do list etc.  such as your child’s smile as she/he stacked that one last block atop a swaying tower, the look of excitement on your child’s face as she/he slides down the slide, an intimate talk with your husband/friend/brother/sister that could have been ignored except you noticed the look on their face that day and were present long enough to ask them what was wrong and to truly listen.

These moments are so simple but so important. It’s the little things that make life so incredibly great, isn’t it?!

Yesterday, we were at the indoor play park and there was a mother of three that was on her phone the entire time.  Her children were older, but they were begging for attention with “look-at-me”‘s and “mom-mom-mom”, and at one point the youngest even slipped hitting the back of her head so hard it echoed through out the place and both Nick and I were completely shocked when we glanced over at the mom, who did not even look up from her phone once, and watched as the little girl picked herself up holding her head and walked over to her mom to tell her what happened.  Now, I don’t know the woman’s situation and quite possibly that could have been me a few months back, but it just filled me with so much sadness and anger that I know with all my heart living hands free is the right thing for me and my family.

If you’d like to join me on my hands free journey, order the book or see if your library has it and we can talk about all the ups & downs along the way together! Or if you’d like to do this on your own, feel free – I am rooting for you!

Just a warning – this book will stab you in the heart with all it’s truth and make you feel guilty asbut it’s the truth that sets you free, right? And, I wanna be free! Hands free! 😉





The Scariest Thing

 “One of the scariest things in our lives is actually doing what we know we want to do.”

-Cheryl Strayed


I’ll just come out and say it. I want to be a writer. I am a writer. Except that I don’t write. Not for a long time now. And you may be thinking well you are writing right now, are you not?  Yes. But not what I want to write. I want to write novels, and screenplays, short stories, and maybe a TV series one day. I want to write poetry –oh, how I miss you poetry. I want to write a memoir.

Don’t get me wrong, I love writing for my blog and I am SO thankful for following my heart (for once) and pursuing this as a creative outlet. It’s helped me get back to me and that is why this throbbing of the writing I’ve longed to do is causing chest pains again. 

I was soo scared starting this blog. But, eyes closed, breath held, I jumped in with two feet and I’m so glad I did! Now, sticking with this theme of staying true to me, being the best me I can be and paving the way for my girls to live life bravely and full of heart, I must do what I really want to do. I must put pen to paper and write. I must, as the fierce, bold and talented writer, Cheryl Strayed said, I must “write like a motherfuker” 

And, so, that is what I’ll do.