October 18, 2019

Real Talk - It's Not "Pretty" But Who Decided What Pretty Is?

I saw this quote on instagram the other day: "remember, you are in control of how you show up in the world. i hope you choose to be big and not shrink for the comfort of others. give yourself permission to take up space, and bloom wildly without regret." - alex elle

My greatest fear is that I won’t be heard or believed and yet I don’t speak my truth for fear of others anger, thoughts or judgments. This was a mind blowing revelation to me. - And this is slowly changing and I’m so proud of myself - It was a hard realization for me because I thought I was an honest person who was genuine, and while that’s true in my love for others it has not been true in my love for myself. 
Nor has it been true in my opinions, views on big topics or when I need to speak up for myself or stand strong in my decisions or intuition. I am learning that I matter and that the way I respond to things is valid. That my feelings are valid because they’re my feelings (thanks Grant for giving Care that gold). I am learning that my intuition is actually most often right and I now regret when I don’t act upon it or when I  let others sway me. 

I can be strong. I can be weak. I can be consistent. I can flip flop. I can feel bliss. I can feel pain. I can feel blah or discontent and not feel shame in that. I am learning to (work on at least) accept negative realities while still finding hope and pockets of joy. 

This sounds uplifting to me now as I read it but in all honesty it has been hard and painful. And it still is. Cuz as much as I wish I had already learned and applied these things and could tell you how amazing life is when you’re truly you and feel no guilt or shame in who that is or how she speaks, lives, mothers and acts; I am not there yet. 

I’m in the hard parts, the ugly parts. I’m learning things about me that aren’t pretty, some are sad, and all require hard emotional work. Thank you counseling, digging into self and soul, the enneagram and worship. And if I'm being honest, most days I feel too tired to continue. but I don’t give up because that moment when I  when I told someone no and gave no unnecessary explanation just to make sure their emotions were fine, I felt free. 
Because in the midst of a rough day of parenting all wrong and crying 8 times before lunch, I also managed to enjoy some time with the kids and show them what an apology looks like. The enjoying of motherhood hasn’t come easy for me (that’s another post for another day) and the guilt and shame is staggering. So to feel some enjoyment during a rough day and being able to recognize the guilt and work on it has been huge. 

I don’t give up because even in the midst of an argument or an open discussion/debate, I now check in with myself and make sure I believe in what I’m saying and that it’s true to my feelings and my person. And then I continue on, altho roughly as learning to state my opinion is tricky and I’m so new to it, and then I feel confident after that I stayed true to myself. I heard me. I believed me. So it no longer matters to me as much if you haven’t. It will always matter somewhat because that’s still important, but it doesn’t crush me and take away my breath all the time anymore, just sometimes. 
I don’t give up because even though doubt and confusion are scary, asking questions and digging into the doubt is powerful and necessary in order to find Truth and to believe in something and to believe in you. 

So even though most days I still have a few good cries a day and drop a few serious swear words (Nighttime Stephanie has stuck around in a few ways lol) and even tho most days I still wonder what my purpose is or if I’ll ever quit failing at all the things, I also now have a quiet voice that timidly and courageously speaks up.

 It whisper shouts and tells me that crying is therapeutic and swear words are expressive (away from my kids lol) and that purpose is to be found along the way over and over again and often by surprise or in the mundane. that quiet voice also reminds me that failure is only determined by me and I can choose whether it’s “failure” or growth or failure AND growth. Like I always tell my 5 year old “you’re in charge of you”. And I choose to keep going. To keep learning, to keep leaning in to my negative emotions so I can walk through them instead of hiding them. I choose to keep crying and screaming and laughing. I choose to keep loving and rocking children at night (sometimes while crying because shiiiit i am so TIRED) and telling my family and friends “No, this is who I am now”. I choose to keep learning who that is. I choose to promise her that one day I will feel that amazing love and connection to her and in the meantime I will relish and respect her and the process. <3

as always, thanks for listening and I love you guys


the lighting was amazing. husband called me out; got a text that said 'quite taking selfies you're gonna be late lol' but you know, as lizzo says "fresh photos with the bomb lighting" lol 

my daily life. usually one, often three, children touching me at once and demanding my attention

i love this one so much. i am learning just how often i have not seen my potential just because I am a girl. its been hurting my heart but freeing at the same time. time for change.

read this twice <3

real life. bad lighting. the swollen eyelids are almost ever present. it me.

this is the one!

April 29, 2019

2019; The Year of No More Bullsh*t

It has been so very long since my last post. Life has been happening, I guess. I am in the mood to write today; could be because it’s 1:12 in the morning and everyone is asleep and it’s finally quiet. I haven’t totally decided what I want to write about, which is unusual. Normally I have something I want to say or need to share an update and so it’s easy to sit down and spit it out. Today is different. I feel unsettled inside, I feel the need to create but have no outlet. I feel like I want to do some self-reflection but don’t really know where to begin.

I’ve definitely been doing a lot of learning about myself in the last while. Since my post a year ago about being rescued from my Black Hole - part one and part two - (thank you for coming to get me, Jesus) I have been searching. Both for the Truth about who God really is, as well as who I really am. Trying to understand how I could be loved without doing something to earn it is just something I really haven’t grasped yet.

 I’ve been getting really into the Enneagram. It’s a complicated personality test that assigns you a couple of numbers or types you are like. But it also describes you in your levels of unhealthy and health, describes your relationship with all the other number types and gives you very specific ways that you can work on growing yourself healthily. I LOVE IT. You can take the free, quick test here for a start if you want. It has been SO fascinating.

 I am a 2; The Helper. This means that I’m.. you guessed it, HELPFUL hahah And when healthy; generous, loving, and people oriented, and not healthy; people pleasing and possessive. I love everyone and would basically do anything for anybody, but have trouble setting boundaries with that, don’t feel appreciated if you don’t take my advice, and care far too much about whether you love me or not. 2’s have an issue with pride (can’t even type it in me form, have to say 2’s ha) and have to be careful that they don’t use their helpfulness as manipulation to make people need them so that they feel loved. Their (my) deepest fear is that they are unworthy of being loved.

The test gives you three numbers that you are most like, then you read through the numbers on the https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/ under the nine type descriptions and see which of the three resonates the most. The second that I read the deepest fear of a Two, I knew that was me. And I could immediately see many instances where that has shaped me and my relationships with those that I love.

I’ve always known that I place a lot of my worth in my productivity and what I’ve given others. I honestly don’t know exactly what it is that I really love about myself that isn’t tied to what I think others would love about me. I see it when a friend is going through a hard time and I want to be there for them.. I’ve had to watch myself long before I found the Enneagram (thank God I did, now I get it ha) about why I was being there for them. Was it because I truly fully cared and wanted to be with them, help them carry their pain.. or was it because I wanted to be considered their best friend or was the best at being their friend? Now I know that 2’s always want to be the best. The best at whatever they’re doing, the best friend, the best everything. And it’s so that they feel they are worth loving. This is so sad to me. But while reading through it I was proud of myself that this is something I recognized in me a long time ago and I am usually able to check myself and my heart motivation before I do things and make sure it’s right, or change it so that it is the right motivation.

I’ve been working on talking to my body lately. Sounds strange, I know. But we talk to plants and they grow, our language to our children is so important for their development, and the bible states that the power of life and death is in the tongue. So I figured it’s about time I quit thinking a million shitty and average things about my body and start speaking good things to it, out loud. This will tie in yet to the top stuff, I promise. So whenever I’m showering, or just randomly when I remember throughout the day, I’ll place my hand on my stomach - because this is a part of me that has been the biggest change in the last few years. One of my biggest insecurities. So I grab it, I’ll even squish it around sometimes and just say “I’m so proud of you, body. You’re working so hard to keep me healthy and strong. You’re so cute. And no matter what I feed you, which vitamins I forget to take or what life throws at you, or how little sleep my kids let you have, you just keep pushing forward. I am so thankful for that.” Once I’ve said those things I truly AM in awe of what my body has all been able to do. and still. 
So then I was surprised and delighted to find that after I said those things, I could GENUINELY say to my body “I love you, body.” This has been life-giving to me. 
After doing this for only a couple of weeks I already noticed a change in myself.

I am no longer sucking in my stomach when I am walking down the street and run into people that I know. I am no longer nervous about the fact that while I am talking to someone my stomach fat has popped up out of my jeans and I’m no longer “tucked in”. I think a bit more before I eat that fourth handful of chips. (not always, work in progress). I find that I want to exercise, I want to help my body with all of the hard work it’s doing for me. I suddenly just couldn’t care less that when I sit I most definitely do not have a small roll, it’s a decent one. But I actually often don’t even try to make it look like I don’t have it. I do have it. Right now, that’s me. I’m fat. That word shouldn’t be scary or shameful. It’s descriptive, it’s true. And although I am not a healthy fat person, many are! I am an unhealthy fat person, whose disease affects weight gain in particular and whose weight affects the other health problems in particular, so I AM trying to lose weight.

 BUT that doesn’t mean that in the process I can’t just be comfortable with who I am. And even love my body. truly love it. I can empty my mind of all those extra worried thoughts. I can wear cute clothes. I bought a crop top a few weeks ago, the day that I wear that this summer, and I WILL, is the day you will know that I have completely come to love my body in full. Not because it’s a shirt that shows a bit of my body part that I’m insecure about, but because it’s a style that I’ve loved but haven’t worn because I decided I couldn’t wear it because of what people would think. And partly because I felt that I wasn’t skinny enough. It is very exhausting to dress the way that you think others will approve of while trying to be yourself and in an industry that doesn’t really make a whole lot for your size.

So I decided that this was the year that I start to care more about what I think. Not others. I’m too tired for that. I too often let that dictate not only what I wear, but how I act and what I say. So I decided that my 2019 mantra was going to be “no more bullshit.” If I’m not saying how I’m feeling if someone has hurt me, or if I’m not stating my opinion on a matter that is very important to me, I’m actually being dishonest. I read that somewhere and it rattled me to my core because honesty is very important to me. I’m not being true to me, and why is that? Because if I don’t try to be a version that seems “perfect” of myself then someone might not love me? Every single one of you will have a different idea of what ‘perfect’ is anyways, that’s a lot to try and be and do. and none of you have asked that of me anyways! And who cares if someone doesn’t think I’m best?! I NO LONGER DO. well, a tiny part of me, sometimes a bigger part of me, still does. Hahahaha damn it, 2.

BUT anyways, this year I am trying to learn how to speak my mind, obviously still respectfully and kindly because of course, but I’m trying to learn when I know that my soul hurts if I won’t say it. And I have been finding that when I have the courage to do this, I feel very seen. Very heard. By myself J and turns out that this is one of the most liberating things that I can do for myself. I’m always so desperate for people to believe things I’m saying and to see and hear me. there’s a saying I heard once (on the Ellen show but I don’t remember if she just quoted Portia or if Portia quoted someone else lol) “it is wonderful to be loved, but it is profound to be understood”. I feel that so deeply. And I have slowly been learning in the last year that this doesn’t have to just mean from another person. I am learning to understand myself. I have a very long way to go, but this is it. This is the path I need to be on. We all need to be on a version of it. I am a person. I matter. You are a person, and you matter.

I feel like when I speak my mind, I’ve got my own back. I supported me. And sometimes when I am by myself later I feel kind of like clapping for me ha and giggling. Even if I know that maybe someone won’t see me the same anymore. I did it! I really did it! This is maybe sounding like something you can completely understand cuz you feel this one too, or maybe you think I sound like I’m waay off the deep end. You’re probably not a 2 then.. lol but you probably have a strong sense of self and I say wooop! You do you! I’m on my way there too J

SO. Wow. Coming back around now..  lol since I started talking to my body like that, I realized I need to be doing that to my mind as well. It deserves thanking. I see that as a different piece of me. It deserves all the recognition. And this will include more than just thanking but also some rewriting of some toxic thoughts I’ve had and always believed about who I am and why I shouldn’t think I’m worthy of love. *The brain detox by dr. caroline leaf is extremely good at helping with that:brain detox  She literally teaches you how to rewire your brain and your thinking. I need to be doing this, even just normally not in a program form, all the time.*

 My mind is amazing. It does so much. I need to thank it, and I need to speak life to it. I need to remind me who I am, which right now is a lot of things and definitely is a person who is learning who she is. I need to remember the good things about me that I like, not because it’s what makes others like me. Do you see the crucial difference between the two? For so long, I just didn’t. this is amazing. I’m like getting pumped up as I’m typing because I’m an external processor and I’m literally having epiphanies as I write hahaha

I might as well start now. (also, this is seriously just for me. I don’t need validation from anyone, for once hahaha not until my husband reads it and I make him tell me these things are true right?? HA no no…)

I like me because..
-I am an optimist. it helps me get through, and it gives me so much excitement and anticipation.
-I am hopeful. Similar, I realize, but without that.. I’d have no joy. And no belief. But belief also creates it so… interesting circle there.
-I like me because I can be pretty funny. When I’ve slept enough and taken my iron. Hahahahaha
-because I’m always looking for ways to up my game on the parenting side of things. I want to know what’s going to be a healthy way of doing things for my kids so they grow up knowing they are loved no matter what, and that they want to be kind.
-I like me because I'm fairly I’m self-aware, and becoming more so. I genuinely like to learn about myself and see how I can change things. One of these things would be that I have a hard time hearing negative things about my character and apologizing and fixing them .. so I’m working on that ;)
-I like me .. hmm.. this is actually harder than I thought. Which is good.  I’m learning to see me as me, not as someone for others to like.
-I like me because I have very deep emotions. Sometimes I’m embarrassed by them or feel like they shouldn’t be, or that others won’t understand them and therefore won’t believe them, but I’m learning that I’m thankful for them. That it’s enough that I know them. Everything is felt richly and I’m learning to work with the negative ones and accept and move through and then I’m able to feel the positive ones even MORE fully.
-I like me because I’m fun. I’m up for anything, unless it’s illegal or too high off the ground. Ha
-beCAUSE I follow the rules. I used to hate this about myself. Why couldn’t I just relax?? Be like other ‘normal’ kids and teens. But you know, I have nothing that I look back on and think.. I wish I had broken that rule. And I also have nothing I look back on and think oh shit I wish I hadn’t broken that one, cuz I didn’t. HAHAHHA and I’m ok with that. I am me and that’s just that. Love it or leave it people haha (although I am now ok with knowing we have broken the hotel limit of the amount of ppl per room.. HA)
-I like me because.. my hair. That’s it. All I got about that one. I will never stop talking about my hairdresser. Ever. Hahaha not a personality trait I realize but honestly, I used to not like my hair either. What a waste of time and emotion, not liking so many things about oneself.

So here’s to 2019! The Year of No More Bullshit. The year of becoming more genuine, not because I’ve been “fake” before, but because I’ll truly know me. And I’ll know what genuine looks like for me. The year of becoming more self-aware, more self-loving and in turn being able to love others more truly.  A version of the Enneagram or someone writing about it (not sure) states that a 2 deep down, truly has just forgotten that they are loved in Christ, that Jesus loves them. . not because of what they do but literally just because. Imagine, an unconditional love. Your productivity, your ‘likeableness’, your knowledge, your things you do to ‘earn’ love, doesn’t affect the amount of love at all. My goal is to really get that. Something that pure can only be genuine. Can only shape me for the better. There will be no room for any more bullsh*t.

I’m ready; Let’s see what 2019 Stephanie looks like. Who Stephanie really is. I'm excited to get to know me. Thanks for coming with me <3

me, life: 

Yes, I put this one first because it’s the one where I just saw my hairdresser and this is what’s gonna show up on facebook. Pride *shakes head at 2’s greatest sin but does nothing about it*

that's a legitimate face i made when i thought the wind was going to blow me off the play center HA

my baby (twin B)

instagram vs. reality: marriage edition

my girls (Twin A and big sis)

sister <3

my workout buddy, 3x a week, sometimes haha

we live for walks

when the 4 year old is the photographer

we do this before bed every night, with baby boy jumping all over us ha

we clearly rock at selfies 

middle of the night look; courtesy of the twins 

looooook at him aaaaaaack;ajgja;ldsf;lskdf *heart eyes*

i am not tall

watching daddy play hockey!

alright, i saved this one for last. honestly just because i knew maybe some of you wouldn't have made it this far. and it's still a better angle than real life because i'm just nervous. but this is me. and my beautiful, squishy, fat stomach that i've hidden for so long. i follow a woman on instgram (@thebirdspapaya) and she made a post about her body as well and said something to the effect of how once she had shared it for the world to see the shame was gone. the thing she'd been hiding now couldn't be hidden and suddenly she didn't need to anymore. and that's what i want. no shame. there's no reason. i have no reason to hide. i am not my weight. i am so many things. (the @iweigh movement is good for that too). i don't need comments of any kind about this, unless you want to share something with me personally, because this is just for me. and i'm scared, and i know that's why i need to do it. i know when i hit publish i will feel that shame lifting. i dont need to hide me and now i don't have to. 

September 16, 2018

Health Update (super original title)

This is just a health update! first some stressful/negative point form notes yay lol then some explanation and a bit of good news too.

Things I already knew:
- I have hyothyroidism
- I have Intracranial Hypertension
- My iron is low
- I need to lose weight in order to fix the second one (which is difficult with the first one and being an emotional eater)

Things that I now know after numerous doctor appointments:
- All the above are still accurate
- I've now been diagnosed with chronic anemia
- my spleen is enlarged
- my liver is enlarged, and not working well
- there are fatty deposits on my liver but no lesions (so no wound, ulcer, abscess or tumor)
- my blood is breaking down too quickly; my blood cells are not living as long as they should.
- i have an upcoming ultrasound to check for uterus cysts and to check my ovaries.
- the reason my face has been going numb could be because of the low iron or anxiety attacks; I am leaning toward a combo but it definitely seemed anxiety related (this is a new level of anxiety for me.. that's a whole 'nother blog post)

My doctor thinks most of these things are caused by the low iron and the hypothyroidism. She is hoping that by taking iron, losing weight and continuing my current dosage of meds that my body should figure itself out for the most part.

She is referring me to an Internal Medicine Doctor and testing me for some autoimmune diseases. Hopefully that's just to rule out the major things. They also want to figure out why my liver is enlarged.

To say I'm a bit freaked out would be accurate. I don't enjoy going to the doctor or having blood tests done and it's basically all I've done the last couple of weeks, with more to come. I just want to be better and to be healthy. I want to focus on my family and enjoy my motherhood. I want to go to the doctor and hear some good news.

But most of all, i just want to be at peace.. not matter what the circumstances. Working on that through prayer and some very real conversations with the Father today. <3

My symptoms are all over the map. Exhaustion, muscle spasms, sharp pains, liver pain, nausea, headaches, anger, hot flashes, chills, mood swings, anxiety attacks, 16 day periods, did i mention exhaustion? lol
HOWEVER.. I have been working on myself. About 1.5 weeks before my appointment that told me all of these things (around Aug 16), I noticed a shift. I have mostly stopped stress eating. My exercises and advice from my counselor were working without me noticing. We then went on a week long trip with gas station food and fast food.. then came home and it was chaos and kids and dr appts and now it's today. And somehow I've only stress eaten three times in the last month. This is insane for me. And one time was with an apple so it was great for me ha I have lost 9 pounds and my mind and my insides already feel better.

I have been drinking iron right out of the bottle and taking multivitamins, vitamin D and a liver cleanse pill. I can actually get out of bed in the morning almost right away and when the kids go down for a nap I don't sit the entire time. Things are changing for me.. it feels like in the right direction.

This makes my thought processes a little more complicated as I am noticing some improvements but know that I still have impending specialist, ultrasound and blood test appointments. I'm anxious but I'm hopeful. I'm afraid but I feel like maybe I don't need to be or maybe I should be more. It's confusing guys. lol

I'm basically just updating you all as a number of people have been asking me lately how I've been doing. And it actually feels good to have it all typed out instead of just thinking it all and having it fly around my head.

In order to be able to stay off medication for the pressure surrounding my brain, I have to lose another 17 pounds by the beginning of December . Those pills are something I never want to be on again due to the side effects I felt after using them for only 6 days. I have noticed a shift in how quickly I'm losing weight and it's definitely a mix of the fact that I'm eating healthier options (altho I've done this before with almost no results) and no stress eating and my blood tests showed that for the first time my thyroid levels are perfect (on medication, so we got my dose right this time yay!). I am extremely grateful for this. The rest is up to me and I finally feel like I'm doing my part. The rest of the rest is up to my body and Jesus.

I would 100% love to ask you for your prayers. Specifically that I am able to have the energy to keep on working on myself, that I will be able to keep the fear and anxiety under control and of course for healing. Thanks for being with me.

I am still tired. But I am moving forward.
love you guys.

August 01, 2018

Birthday Adventures


I get so excited about it every time. We've had a bit of a busy last while, hence the reason these pictures are from March haha oops. BUT this was a milestone for me as I was really happy that I remembered some of the tips my sister taught me (check her out here: Carrie Lynn Unger Photography) #shamelessadvertising .. and applied them. Most of these pictures actually turned out how I was imagining they would! ACK! personal win! ha 

We had a full 2 day, 1 night weekend together in March for both of our birthdays. My birthday is in December so we were a bit late but I mean, twin babies. That's always why. ha It was thee perfect weekend; we each planned a day for the other and we hit the nail on the head. We actually ended up both planning surprise drinks with all of her friends (they're also my precious winnipeg friends hehe) for each night for each other LOL they kept both secrets well and were good sports with spending both evenings with us haha it was a blast :) 

here is our adventure


quick photoshoot on top of the hotel - cost us another $2 in parking haha worth it.

I conquered a lot of fears to get here; elevators, heights & parkades. It was a rough few minutes man

hotel view - we were blessed with a free night :') it was magical.

a morning swim

tattoo: a jack pine that I drew from the street we grew up on together. I have the same one on my arm <3

tattoo: perfect love casts out all fear 


I took her to this stunning greenhouse (thanks to a friend for the suggestion)

I wish I didn't kill plants :'( I want them all.

We took a look at Pepo Ceramics and lot.15 <3


and finally got a tour of our cousin's business! He creates and hand makes beautiful clothing: Commonwealth Mfg

on my bucket list; climb a fire escape. again with the heights but I did it!


She found a plant baby :)

we just cannot resist mirror selfies

she took me to the CONSERVATORY :') it was perfect.

pure magic.

also, cutest model alert

I shot black & white film for my first time! I have quite a bit to learn but i LOVED it. 

it makes everything look like a totally different world


It was the most perfect weekend and I want to go back, all the time :) 

Love you sister shrub.

Ps. I am always open to tips/critique/advice for film! I do the very basics right now ha Also, location suggestions! Preferably outdoors or abandoned hehe