The Embodied Alchemy Podcast

It’s me! Dominique!

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Welcome to the Embodied Alchemy Podcast, I’m your host Dominique Cheshire. 

Embodied Alchemy started as a way to describe finding empowerment, and has quickly grown into so much more. Embodied Alchemy is about feeling the tough stuff and working through it. It’s about sharing our stories, speaking our truths, and hoping that there;s someone out there who feels it too. We are here together to celebrate our ups and our downs, because the tough stuff is where the magic happens.

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D: Today’s guest has been known to describe himself and this is a direct quote as I may look tough on the outside, but I’m full of unicorn colors on the inside. While I might be only just getting to know Nikita Curins, I can definitely attest to the sweet interior he has. As I’ve been continuing my own education in the world of movement, rehabilitation and accessible, safe teaching. There are a few people I’ve come to know who I feel are really making waves in this work. Nikita, who is a personal trainer, lifestyle coach, community builder, and overall lovely human being is one of them. He really knows his stuff and is someone I love learning from. He has known his fair share of struggles in the world of professional athletics and rehabilitation. So before I give too much away, please get cozy. Get your pens out because you’re definitely going to want to take notes. Nikita Curins!

Okay. When you’re ready, if you’d like to close your eyes, taking a nice big breath in through your nose and exhaling however you feel comfortable. Let’s do that again. Nice inhale in gentle exhale out. Stay here. Just pause. Resume your regular breath feeling where your feet are, your legs are, your pelvis, your breath moving through your body. There’s any extra little bits of tension in your shoulders and your jaw and your eyebrows. Please feel free to let them soften. You can open your eyes whenever you’re ready. Thank you so much for taking time out of your day, Nikita!

N: I really like my mug. I really love your mug. 

D: Well, it’s one of my favorites. 

N: So I have a, I have a unicorn monk. I kind of want to buy it from you I won’t lie. 

D: I got it for free. So I will, I would be up money if we did that. I, so we met, uh, like January or February, March, somewhere in there at an event in the city. We were both invited to come in as teachers. You were teaching the sweat fitness component. I was co-teaching the yoga stretchy calmed down component. 

N: Yes. I really enjoyed the music. You guys pick. Remember that? 

D: Yes. I wish I could say that was me. It was totally Melissa and I still steal her music cause it’s so good. Um, and we all had a really lovely chat after and we had all been given each other’s Instagrams and so it’s kinda nice to be able to see a little bit more about what we were all doing. And I very, very quickly came to learn that like, you know your shit. I think in the world of movement, whether it’s fitness, whether it’s yoga, whether it’s pilates, is that it’s really easy as a facilitator to get so excited about, okay, I’m going to teach classes and I’m going to move and change people’s lives. But there’s a lot of information to learn about bodies, especially multiple bodies. And those are healthy bodies. And a lot of times when people are movers in the room who like started to live their lives a little bit in the city. 

We’re talking about lots of people who work desk jobs, high stress, there’s a lot of injuries that happen. And because I come from a background of a lot of injuries, that’s something I’m really passionate about, making sure I’ve been educated in and I wasn’t sure what that looked like in more like fitness training world. And so as I started following you, I was blown away by how you talk about the body, how you talk about movement, how generous you are with the information that you share. And then I got to know a little bit more about your story and how you got to that place. And so I just feel very grateful that you’re here and that we get to learn more about you today. 

N: Thank you. Thank you for having me. I have a big smile on my face. 

D: Yeah. And the unicorn mug. So if you would like to introduce yourself a little bit and a little bit about what you do, that would be really lovely. 

N: Um, my name is Nikita Curins. I am, uh, ex professional basketball player and, uh, I’m currently a strength and conditioning coach, a performance coach, high performance coach, and I guess movement coach. I help people to improve their movement, uh, specifically understanding body awareness, what they need to do, help them overcome their injuries, created their workouts around the way that they can actually get better results. And at the same time, I concentrate on a mindfulness and kind of taking that to the next level to make sure that the movement is not the only thing they concentrate, but they can level up their quality of their life altogether by taking mindfulness and pairing up together with a aspect of the movement so they can actually live a healthier lifestyle. 

D: In a nutshell

N: In a nutshell, that’s pretty much what I do. Yes. But I started as a specialize in the movement first, uh, because when I played basketball, uh, at a young age, uh, I kept getting injured all the time and because it kept getting injured, I was just interested about, uh, like what can I do to make sure that I do not get injured or understand why I’m getting injured. 

And, uh, I went to Kinesiology at York university and I, but the reason I chose it as strictly it was my plan B, I was going to play professional sports. So the only thing I chose it for, it’s like, okay, let me understand how the body works better so maybe I can benefit myself. And uh, that’s how I got into it. But I didn’t really get like knowledgeable and passionate about the movement until I got my career. I had an injury where I had to put a metal rod in my hip. Uh, I have a condition called avascular necrosis. It was basically a vascular, a vascular stands for blood and necrosis stands for cell death. So at age of 21, I had to put a, I was diagnosed with a bilateral condition, meaning on both sides of my hips at the, and the femur bone where your, femur head is, uh, there was a pinched artery and, uh, my cartilage was deteriorating around my femur bones. 

So they told me if you continue playing sports, you’ll probably need a hip replacement. But for now what we’re going to do is we’re going to put a metal rod into your left hip because on the left hip you have greater deterioration. Plus, uh, you have a torn rec fem muscle partially, uh, from like, I used to play like four or five hours a day practicing. Right. So, I had probably poor biomechanics and certain levels, certain muscular imbalances that I, I didn’t know much about and I didn’t train properly. And, uh, so that was like devastating. It’s actually, I went to see a doctor down the street right here at the sports medicine clinic. Uh, and, uh, I got lucky with my operation and other stuff from a perspective of, I actually, the doctor was a sports physician and I trained his son basketball so I had some connections. 

So when I did my MRI he sped up the process. If you don’t guys don’t know, like to get an MRI takes three to six months, they can put you on the waitlist. And then sometimes like if you tell them you can come at anytime at night, that will get you much faster. Like I got my MRI within two days because I knew the person. 

But basically they told me you have arthritis as a young person. So, if you continue doing pounding, running, jumping, you will need a hip replacement by age of 30. And I broke down crying. I didn’t like I walked away and didn’t know what to do. I never had a plan B and next four years probably were the toughest years of my life. 

D: Um, thank you for just jumping right in and sharing that, so I was about the same 21ish and before my 22nd birthday I really felt invincible, especially when you feel like you’re so close to that moment where all of your dreams are about to come true. And I think, I think it’s fair to say as a female, people would expect me to be really emotional about it. And I do think it’s important. And one of another reason why I’m so excited to have you on is because when we’re looking at how this affects everybody, not just me as a female, as a dancer, but like a man and on a basketball trajectory, that’s a huge, that’s a huge loss to feel too. And to share your vulnerability with that. I really appreciate that. 

N: Um, thank you. Uh, the thing is now I’m way more, like I tell it, I was just like, it’s who, who I am, what happened. It’s part of me. It, uh, I rarely ever cry about it now, but I was bawling my eyes out cause like, I didn’t know if I would ever make it to NBA, but everywhere that I played in Canada, I would walk in and within the first five minutes people would know like, this is the guy who was better than anybody else on that. And I genuinely believed it. And even if they thought I wasn’t, then I had to prove myself I would be able to do it. And I just had such an immense amount of confidence, you know, if you put on like the best dress you have and you walk in and you can tell like everybody thinks you the hottest shit in the room. 

Like everywhere I would walk in, I would feel like this, but just knowing that how good I was and it just like I didn’t think that I would do anything else. I truly knew that I was good. I would be able to make money this way. And uh, it’s just what it did to my mental state. Like the amount of confidence, even like, yes, I didn’t know maybe would I have any other skills or whatever else, but it’s just the amount of confidence you go from like 300% to all of a sudden dropping to like zero and you really don’t know. I was identifying myself with an athlete in my whole life, so I couldn’t, and this was the hardest change to make until actually maybe like three, four years ago, maybe five years ago, to where I didn’t know who I am without being an athlete. 

So if I’m an athlete and you and I cannot train and then, then who am I like, what am I capable of doing? And when it was taken away, I’m like, well I’m nobody then. And then the process of learning off of that. I’m so much more than an athlete and I’m a human being and an I, I can deliver on these different things and I have these different skills and talents. That’s something that was very hard to learn. And it was very painful for me. And then I went through about two to three year depression where I almost walked out at a university because I was silly enough, I decided to take a class called a psychology of injuries. 

D: Why do we do this to ourselves?

N:  And I thought, and I thought by taking that class, I’ll be able to learn how to overcome my own injury. Right? So it’s like psychology of injuries or something along those lines. And instead there we kept talking about how every athlete would have make it back and what happened to them and what they had to deal with. So I became, uh, became my worst class. I ended up getting an half in a class because I stopped coming and I just was too late to drop it. And that was a very difficult year for me and I really didn’t know how to deal with it. And the, one of the biggest mistakes that I made is that I kept going to physiotherapy and uh, I was started to get better, but then I got T-boned in a car accident and when I got T-boned, uh, my body just got stressed out so my injury got even worse. So I kinda bounce back. And so that initial state and I had to, my physio was fully paid off, so I kept going two, three times per week, uh, in the beginning. 

But, uh, what ended up happening, I wasn’t getting any better. And then my physio ran out and then I have to start paying out of my pocket and I wasn’t getting better and I was spending $1,000 a month out of my pocket and I only realized that for me to get better, I had to learn how to move better. So I basically what I did, and that was my biggest mistake. I took my responsibility and put it on somebody else. I said, I’m going to go to physio, physio is going to fix me. I’m going to go to massage therapist, massage therapist is going to be fixing me, but I didn’t do what I didn’t do. And what we all should do in any single situation is like what can I do to get better? And until I learned that, I only learned it when I ran out of money, I learned that when I ran out of money because I had no money to spend and I was like, I can’t afford physio anymore, so what am I going to do? 

Like be miserable or am I going to, so I started learning more about but I was already a strength and conditioning coach but, and, and I was able to fix others but I wasn’t applying some of the things that I knew on myself nor I was going into depth. And I started taking courses from different people. Uh, joined mobility and flexibility, lower body, upper body facial stretch training, stuff like using the fascia, how to understand it using functional range conditioning, what you can do at the joint level and just starting to understand how the body works together, at the joint level at the global level, at the fascial level and then implementing those things in and day out, day in and day out. And literally I did my ability training and like I’m a huge uh, advocate for telling people. Like I know I lift some heavy weights as well and I love lifting heavy and I like training as an athlete and doing explosive stuff. 

But if you don’t have a prerequisite of the range of motion and the strength at the joint level, the small things, you will never be able to do the cool things that you always want to do or you will, but you will compensate and it will cost pain. And literally by working three months in a row, three, two, I started feeling so much better and I didn’t have to go and I started paying only for once a week for the therapy. Not six months later I was able to do things that I was never able, like almost never was able to do. And I started dead lifting without touching any weights for six months. I went back and within two weeks I was dead lifting almost 400 pounds. Uh, and at that weight I was like 175. 

Right? Then I was able, because there were no restrictions in my body and everything was moving so smooth. So the energy transfer between the muscles and the fascia were so smooth that I never had to worry about how I was gonna move. So I was able to recruit more muscles. I was able to recruit fascia more efficiently. Right? I was able to use that and it just felt amazing. And then I just kind of continued learning more and more and more and I got really passionate about it cause I figured out if I can make sure that I’m not in pain then and I know a lot of other people probably experienced the same thing. So you teach that to them. You give them a tool to learn what they can do for themselves and not be in pain. 

And because a lot of people, especially in the culture of nine to five and the sitting and laptops and phones wound up spending too little time moving into much time slouching and being in the flexed position, so we complain about pain and some people don’t even know that they’re in pain until you tell them to do something and they’re like, Oh my God, I didn’t even know I couldn’t do it because they’re just so used to being non-active. So when you start showing some people and you’re like, open them up and give them something to do as something smaller, they could change their life completely because their fascia carries feelings, fascia carries energy and fascia carries pain as well, right? So when you decrease the restriction in fascia and then you also open up the muscles and fascia together, all of a sudden people feel like, Holy cow, like I feel a hundred percent better, right? 

Like you’re, you know, headaches. If you have migraines and you have a nine to five job, a lot of times it comes from a tired neck muscles, tight trap muscles, right? Potentially chest muscles, right? So if you do certain movement, all of a sudden you don’t have headache, you don’t have headache, you might have, uh, you have better performance at work, you have better performance of work you also might have better relationship because you’ve, we’ve become more attentive when another person is talking, right? So treating your body with respect and actually investing time into not just lifting weights, which is an old conventional way, but actually learning how to improve your body and like learn about your body and master your body. It’s something that becomes incredible. That’s why if you take a gymnast, right? The gymnast is pretty much a Yogi on steroids, right? 

Because they all have to be flexible, right? But at the same time, they train a little bit different because there’s just more progressive overload, but it’s just the way of training, right? So it’s a different way of understanding your body and being aware. And I think not enough,invest time and we just go to a typical like, Oh bro, let’s go lift weights in the gym or like for girls the same thing, I just want to have a nice butt and a narrow waist. Right. And a lot of times when you go do that, people don’t understand that if you don’t have good ankle mobility, like you’re not going to, you’re probably going to get knee pain when you do some of the exercises and if you don’t have a good hip mobility, you’re going to end up getting some kind of pain as well. So, 

D: And I just wanted to clarify for anyone who just heard that and it was a little bit taken aback, so you have an intake form when people want to work with you. And so these things that people are asking for when you’re looking at like physique, it’s not just like your opinion of it that’s literally like that came from what you get most frequently on an intake form is like those are the things people are looking for. Right. I just wanted to make that clear that that wasn’t like this is the way everyone has to look. No, no, no. You have a process. And of all the things that people say that they’re looking for, those are the most, the most common. Yeah, 

N: it is, is the typical S is a stereotypical thing that everybody will ask based on the propaganda that they hear. Right? So like I will kind of look this way, like what her name, Kylie Jenner or whatever her name is. Right? So it was like make me look like this or I wanna I like a guy’s like, can I have big shoulders and big chest? Right? But that might have a lower back pain. Right. And a lot of times I tell people, okay, the looks will follow, but let’s fix the underlying issue of what’s going on in your head. What’s going on in your movement. Are you talking properly to yourself. Do like, is it a positive or negative self talk? Do you have good relationships? Do you breathe properly? Right? Like people don’t even pay attention if they know how to breathe and that could cause pain in your neck and costs tie traps, right? 

So it becomes so much more than that. People just don’t want to put in time. They want like through a quick three months fixes, uh, which, and you can get really good results in three months, especially if you follow the nutritional protocols and what not. But if you want to create a long lasting change, it’s like changing any habit and changing a habit does not take 21 days. It’s a complete lie marketing, uh, to get your attention. Exactly right. That’s actually, there’s a study that shows, uh, how that whole thing came about. There was a, um, a surgeon, plastic surgeon, and he noticed that all his clients started to get accustomed to their new nose within 21 days. So the marketing girls took this and ran with it and just started saying, it takes 21 days to build a new habit because your body, your brain starts to adapt. 

But when they did an actual study and extrapolated the data, it took between like 21 and 286 days or something like that. I don’t, don’t quote me on the numbers,

D: But it’s not 21

N:  right then. So usually when I work with somebody in creating long lasting results and actually changing that forever, uh, anywhere from four to eight months, depending on how much weight they need to lose, uh, what issues are, how much pain they’re in is usually the process where they build the habit and they can sustain the habit. Now, it depends whether they have a push in accountability, but it’s way more than what people believe. And I just don’t think that we treat ourselves with enough respect because then we claim it. We have a busy life. And it’s unfortunate because in the end, if you cannot show up to work, you can provide for your family, right? But if you don’t have your health, that’s the reason you cannot show up to work. And if you like in pain, usually people go like, I don’t have money, or I don’t have time to take care of my body until it’s in paid. Right? And when you cannot get out of bed and you’re like, Oh, all of a sudden you have $1,000 out of nowhere to spend on yourself. But before that you bought a Gucci belt or a Gucci purse or whatever else was important. 

D: I um, one of my favorite quotes I actually, I actually heard this year, um, was that if you think wellness is expensive, try illness. And, and also to be clear too, before we started recording, you and I were both saying, you know, it’s tricky when we’re in this field and we’re, we’re really excited about encouraging other people to take care of themselves, that sometimes we have to be mindful that we don’t slip as well. So there’s nothing about, about this world that makes us better. We’re still susceptible to the same things. I think that it’s just we have so much more information and we see this play out over and over again. I know that I see it in clients myself, especially the ones that I’m seeing regularly, that they come in and they’ve been spending thousands of dollars on physio treatments, on massage treatments, on pain, and then that pain medication makes them like mentally feel really not totally there and they decide to instead spend less than what they’re spending on that. Ans instead on coming in and working on their mobility and it ends up being a lot less expensive over time with a much better quality of life. 

Um, in my opinion, and I, and I’ve seen it work all the time, is that I believe people need to invest into their, invest their time first into executing on daily basis and to something small. So my advice would be if you can find 20 minutes every day is better than three times per week because you will build a habit. Building a habit is more important than being in the gym for three times per week. So 20 minutes every day is going to build a long lasting change and you can perform the same five exercises as long as these exercises smartly developed for you to make sure that you feel better, whether you have a low back pain or hip pain or a shoulder pain, it doesn’t really matter, right? Because the consistency is one of the most important factors in making a change. 

Uh, if we talk about long lasting difference in the health besides like 20 minutes our stuff and people spending money on let’s say on um, pills or anything else like that, it’s actually creating mindfulness and taking time to themselves to actually think properly and then plan out their workouts. Whenever I talk to a lot of different clients, and I train like from athletes to models, right? It’s managing the stress level. I probably would be one of the biggest thing. You manage the stress level and you will be able to lose some weight and you will be able to decrease your inflammation right away. But to manage the stress level, you need to look at your sleep, right? Because if you don’t, the stress level is a cortisol just releases. And if we talk about women, when you release more cortisol, you also release more estrogen than if you do that, then women start feeling puffy and bloated, right? 

But you can decrease that by decreasing the stress level. Two ways to decrease stress level, get better sleep and at the same time go into a deep sleep. And at the same time you want to make sure that you increase them mindfulness, which is simple breathing or if you can meditation practices. Uh, and I believe the fitness industry altogether is now at more of a gray area to what actually works and what doesn’t. And I believe if you follow like the cool, um, pages where it’s like very, everything is very intense and it’s very shiny and you know, girls show, let’s say mostly like get their clients with a butts and like stomachs and the six packs and the guys always topless. That’s not always the sustainable way. It’s like what we’re all, it’s like looking at the Ferrari and like, Oh, I want to fit right here so I’m going to go like, it’s a shiny object but it’s never will deliver longevity. It’s rare where a person talks about longevity and combines looks, there are some really good people and, but it’s like maybe 20% of an industry. Everybody else is mostly concentrates on making money and providing you like this a cookie cutter stuff or like they advise that everybody followed for a long period of time and you need to ask the right questions because you want to create a lifestyle. You don’t want to create a quick fix. 

N: So one of the things that I think, well I shouldn’t say I think that I have seen you do so, so well, is you do this really fabulous job of knowing that you care so much clearly about, I’m like literally seeing your eyes light up. It’s cool, I love watching people talk about what they’re passionate about. It’s really cool. Um, but you obviously know what you’re talking about and care deeply about education for yourself and your clients, but you make it fun and you make it feel like, okay, this is your goal. You know, your goal could be to grow your butt or it could be to lose fat or it could be, have to have a better quality of life. Whatever the like broader goal is that you can see all those little deep steps along the way. You do a great job of making it feel accessible and fun. 

And I know you work in different fields, which we can totally get into later online and individually, but I know you do group classes as well. And so I’m wondering knowing, uh, how you feel about body mechanics and seeing some of the stuff that you do. How do you feel about group fitness? And if people are like, okay, look, I would love to be able, I would love to be at a place where I can afford someone to do all of this, you know, money can be, I understand. So maybe group fitness right now is the only thing they can do. Do you have any recommendations on what people should look for in the instructors that they’re going to see or the types of classes that they’re taking and just generally how you feel about that overall? 

N: Um, so this is a no way to tell that some of these facilities are not good facilities. So it’s a disclaimer. But yeah, 

D: I’m so excited for what’s about to come. 

N: Um, so I’m going to use like, and I like them, but I want people to understand that there’s a different level of fitness, right? And you need to understand and you need to check your ego, uh, before you think you’re an intermediate and advanced or a beginning, right? Because a lot of beginners thing, they’re intermediate and a lot of intermediate things, they’re advanced. Then when you really look on their mechanics, uh, the advanced could be they know a lot, but that doesn’t make them advanced. If you don’t know how to move in there. One thing that I want you to concentrate on, if you have two left feet when it comes to movement, and if you, if you cannot dance, right, most likely, you probably don’t move that well because you don’t have that ability to spatial ability. And you need to understand that everything that like, if you’ve not never played sports, you’re also most likely a beginner when it comes to working out because you’re not aware of your body in space. You don’t have kinesthetic, uh, properties. 

So if you are at the  beginning, you know that you’re a beginner. You want to stay away from any kind of Barrys, uh, treadmill, orange factories, uh, have F45, for a good reason because you’re going to probably over time getting injured, you will lose a lot of weight. Walking and tracking you amount of steps you do per day will also help you to lose weight. But so if it comes to the classes, if you would begin a stay away from any super, super high intensity, more than 20 people per class type of thing, because you’re not going to get a feedback one-on-one feedback, you need to be working where there is at least some kind of form correction touch. And when you go say like, Oh, go to the classes, if somebody’s standing 15 meters away from you and says, push your bud back, it’s not a form correction. If there’s no hands involved is probably no, it’s, you’re not getting farmed corrected because you not understanding on at that high pace to understand what actually happens is very good. 

D: And wait, can I side note?

N: Yes.

D:  But if someone’s touching you, they should always ask permission first. 

N: Uh, according to you. Yes, absolutely. Uh, I personally, I’m bad at that. Uh, and I, and I’ll be honest, I don’t ask permission in a class. I tell them in the beginning of the class, that’s, that’s what I do. If anybody feels uncomfortable, they have to tell me. 

D: That’s fair though. That’s still asking permission 

N: because I don’t have time in the class, cause I want to make sure that you get the results that you want. 

D: I just think as we were talking about this and I think it’s a good conversation to have because they know, so safety, trauma, awareness, all that stuff. This is why I think group class conversations are so fascinating because depending where you go, I’m totally on the same page with you with F45 and Orange Theory. Again, like, I’m so sorry. I know a lot of people that I care about love these classes and it’s by no means to put it aside. But with the conversation we’re specifically having about body mechanics and correction and awareness, I’d literally been, um, myself in an orange theory class. I had a friend who was teaching and I went to support her and there was someone doing an exercise. We both very clearly knew, it was very clear she was going to destroy her back the way she was doing it. 

And I got up and I went to my friend, which is like, in hindsight, was really very egotistical of me, but I was like hyperventilating. And I was like, did you, I just, she’s going to really hurt herself. And this lady who I knew who was teaching class was like, I know, but that’s just how they’re going to do it. And I was like, this is fucked. So I think it’s important to know, right? And like, and like you said at the beginning touch is important too. And you say at the beginning of your classes, look, and it’s true when you have a group of people, sometimes you’re like, I just need to move you so that you’re working in a safe way. And I’m, I’m also talking and giving instructions and I can’t say two things at the same time, but you still give that notice at the beginning of the process. Look, this is, there’s probably going to be some hands on corrections. You have to let me know because otherwise I’m going to go in versus just being like, I’m going to put my hands on your hips from behind and not tell you. 

Okay. Done. I’m off my soapbox now, 

N: but let’s summarize. So the easiest way to know. So first of all, there’s the three types of trainers and coaches, right? And I’ll break it down. So first one is super knowledgeable who doesn’t care. The second one is a person who really, really cares and there are a lot of them but just doesn’t have enough knowledge. And a third one is the person who cares and is knowledgeable. So wherever you are, there’s maybe about 10% of people who cares is knowledgeable and majority of people in the other two. And that’s the biggest issue with the fitness industry altogether because the marketing is what gets people clients. So a lot of people just market whatever they’re good at and people just get the false understanding of where do you need to be. That’s one thing that you need to understand. 

So when you go to these classes you need to figure out does this person actually care and are they knowledgeable. The next thing is when you take a class in my class, I always ask two questions; what is your intention of getting from this workout? If your intention is to come break a sweat, you can go to any classes like soul cycles on whatever cause you’re going to be breaking sweat. If your intention is to get better at certain things at cardio, you can also go to spin co, soul cycle, quad cycle, whatever else. But if your intention is to get better from your perspective, build muscle, lose body weight, create a healthier lifestyle and not to have tight hip flexors and quads, and then probably being a a spin class is not the best for you because your hips are going to be fucking tight and then you need to understand it. 

So the first thing would be before you started your journey, you need to ask, what is my intention? Then the next time when you show up to a class, doesn’t matter what class it is, you need to know what is the objective of the class. If you don’t know what is the objective of the class and if your objective is just to sweat, you once again need to learn what actually has happened because there’s so many other ways to sweat, right? If your objective is to be part of a community, you need to realize that your objective, it is part of a community, but it subconsciously might be like, but I also want to get results. So in the end you’re going to have to decide whether community is more important or results are more important because a lot of classes out there that build amazing communities, which are absolutely incredible and we need social aspect, just don’t deliver results. 

And the third question you need to ask is that, am I feeling it? Where am I supposed to be feeling it while I’m performing a fucking exercise? Because if your coach is not, or fitness instructor leading it and you don’t know what exercise you’re doing and you don’t know what exactly you’re performing and where you’re supposed to be feeling it. And then you’re supposed to be feeling it in your butt you, but you feel it in your neck or in your left ear, then you’re doing something wrong. And you should probably ask yourself, well, should I voice myself? And if you feel like you too intimidated because it’s too big of a room where it’s a dark room or the structure is too far, then you’re in the wrong group. Those are the three things that you need to consider. 

So what is my intention to get out of workout, right? What am I actually doing and am I feeling in the area where I supposed to be feeling? And an instructor has to communicate that which, because a lot of people, the way of classes, that’s what people choose. Now the next thing and which is the most frustrating thing that comes in my opinion is that I have a lot of people come in who are bloggers specifically and bloggers like to advertise for an other different classes because they have a very favorite teacher who’s maybe really, really good and they jumped from one class to another class and another class. And I’m pretty sure a lot of people do that. Uh, and the problem with that comes in if you have a specific goal and you put the goal, you wrote it in a journal, you put it on a wall or whatever you did and you go as I want to make sure that my low back doesn’t hurt and I want to lose body weight. 

And you go into the classes that are not aligning with your goals. Like I’m going to go do boxing. Boxing is not going to help you with your lower back, but it’s good for my mental health. Then you’ve got to check yourself again and see like what did you write on the paper? Was it actually true? Is that your goal? So you need to figure out what your journey is and then make sure that you’re aligned. Classes if you go into Barrys, which is, I would say if you’re an intermediate to advanced is amazing. Like I hate running, so I go to Barrys. Then I have friends, uh, who are teaching the classes. I’ll go take their classes, but I don’t consider Barrys a real workout. I consider it so my cardio workout, because I’ll go after Barrys, I’ll go do another workout because it’s more of a cardiovascular and I never, and I concentrated on muscle, my connection. 

So, but I don’t lift heavy enough weights. But the point I’m trying to make is that if you are a class person, decide what facility you go in. And then in this facility talk to them, what classes should I be taking if I have this issue? Like a lot of people take animal flow and I like kind of a flow and I know people who teach animal flow, but if you have a hip flexor issue then you need to make sure that the teacher who teaches you an animal flow creates the whole flow around opening up your hips and majority of the times is not going to be the case. 80% is going to be spending in a hip flexion, which is going to tighten up your hip even more. So it’s what questions do you ask when you go into the fitness and are you actually getting benefit from the classes that you’ve taken and if you taking four or five different classes or three different classes, are they aligning with what you want to achieve? 

Because in the end you’re going to get frustrated if you’re not seeing results of a certain period of time where you end up, okay, I’ve been going for three months, I’ve been taking classes and yes, I’m noticing some results, but all of a sudden I pull a quad and my knees are hurting, my elbows are hurting, and all of a sudden you’re like, why the fuck am I doing this? And it becomes frustrating and like, what am I doing wrong? And then you start doubting yourself and then it becomes a mental battle, which is way worse. I’d rather you not lose five pounds and then have healthy mental state, then lose that weight and then be mentally unhealthy because it’s going to be so much worse for you. So when you go to fitness classes, you have to figure out what is my goal, what are my intentions, how would work? And ask as many questions as possible and then decide. But if you would begin it, high intensity shouldn’t be the way to start. If you can do something with high intensity maybe once per week, but if it’s like three, four times per week, high intensity, you’re definitely gonna end up getting injured or over time feeling certain type of things. 

D: I really appreciate your conviction and passion explaining that cause I feel the same way too. And I think especially in Toronto with things like class pass and competing studios, there’s sort of this culture especially I feel like because uh, attendees can leave reviews. I feel like I’ve had this from studios before where they’re like, just make sure everybody’s happy. Make sure like suddenly one person, you at the front, it’s your job to make sure everybody is doing everything well and you cannot physically give 100% of your energy to a class because chances are you have to teach another class that day and another class. And so I, I believe it has to be at least 50 50 where I’m offering something. And as an attendee you have to be willing to at least listen, maybe not take it. Maybe you’re like, you know what? I don’t want to do that today. 

And that’s fine. But like that exchange of as a person showing up, you have to be accountable as well for the choices that you’re making. It’s not, it’s not somebody else’s responsibility. And that’s such a reflection as well as what you were saying about your recovery process, that it wasn’t until you were like, I’ve been going to someone else to get better, but I have to do it for me, that that change happens. And so I think it’s really interesting, these little decisions that we can make in what seems to be different compartments of our life actually are all completely connected and are completely related. And I appreciate how much you talk about mindfulness because mindful movement is so important for our body’s safety. And I’m wondering if that’s something that you innately had in you because you were an, is that something that you were taught through your basketball career or is that something that came through recovery?

N: Well, I believe I have a little bit of a, like an innate ability slash talent. I concentrate on the details. Like I see things like even let’s say in my clients, and this is an example, but uh, my client will get a haircut and I will notice her that she got a haircut. I will compliment it. She’ll be like my boyfriend didn’t notice it then you did. Right. So because for me to be good at the coaching and the movement, I have to see things to pay attention to details. So I’ll know that what shoes you wore yesterday and will compliment a girl in the shoes as well. Because I know like, Hey, I also like beautiful shoes and I know people take pride. So paying attention, details matter. Like that’s super important. I don’t think I was as detail oriented until I got further into like studying movement and understanding it more. 

But I always had that innate ability to see it. And, and I believe like whenever I teach my class barefoot and because I want to make sure that, and it’s not a yoga class, it’s a lifting class, but what you should be barefoot for it because people have issues with their feet. So I want to strengthen their, uh, dexterity of their toes and the arch because a lot of people have flat arches and people really, they cannot fix their feet when you don’t  have proper movement. People don’t want to spend time because it’s not sexy fixing their feet. 

D: Honestly if people are like, but my toes and I’m like, yeah, let’s work your toes. 

N: Exactly right. So, and I’m not saying that’s what you should be doing all the time, but you can incorporate into your training for like 10 minutes every day or what we do in the class, we just do the whole class barefoot. Right. Which allows you to create a better balance and whatnot. And I love yoga or when it’s done properly with the proper teachers cause they will know how to load. Not every teacher is the same obviously. Um, but I just kind of fell into like I understood how important the details are because when you train professional athletes and when you play professional sports is that small detail is the difference between comming first and second versus scoring and not scoring the goal. Right?  Recruiting certain muscles like locking out your elbow versus not locking out the elbow that really, really matters. 

And when you want to lift heavier or be faster or do certain things, you really gotta pay attention to the details. And I believe in the industry is just completely overseen. And, uh, I tried to bring in it so my class, and I don’t know many trainers that do even like it’s just, there’s no intention before every single class. Like people don’t tell the same stuff that I was setting up. Like you got to bring and tell people the responsibility aspect of what we’re talking about. Similar to until I started to take responsibility for my actions and everything that is, there’s a quote, ‘The reason where you are is the sum of all your choices.’ 

As simple as that, everything that happens to you is your own responsibility. Don’t blame your ex boyfriend, ex boy, girlfriend, the money you lost, you fucked up. You take the responsibility to not your boss. There are things that are happening, but it’s always your responsibility. As soon as you start understanding that everything that happens is your responsibility and you have nobody but yourself to blame, it literally will change your life. And I believed that people need just to take more responsibility for everything that happens and it’s super hard. I’ve been there, I’m out of there and I talk to people and I constantly push people and it’s very uncomfortable conversation and people cry and that’s okay. And because if you stay in a comfort zone, you never going to grow. Right? So, and as cliche as that sounds, sometimes we need to cry. 

Sometimes we need to get into arguments. I’ll tell you this much. So, and this is where was a breaking point for me. So I had an ex girlfriend, uh, and part of my story is I was dating somebody who was sexually abused by a stepfather and through her teens, right? So I was not only carrying my weight and uh, when I was going through my depression, but I was also carrying her weight and I was completely broke down. And this is where it was a complete meltdown. We were leaving class and she called me out. So she’s like this five, five cute curly hair light-skin girl,  me at that time,185, or whatever it is, like tried to live, still kind of not feeling the greatest. And she called me out, she said, well, got into big argument and she said, you’re using your injury as a crutch, you gave up. And she just like, she let me have it. Like she screamed at me. She’s the only girl who could let me have it. By the way, at the time, I would never let anybody speak in the way she spoke to me. Like she literally leveled me with the ground. I was so upset. I took off my shoe and threw it at her head. 

D: And this is like on campus?!

N: on campus like nobody, like I really, and this is like, and I realized how low of a moment, cause like I would never raise a not like my arm on, on a girl and never done anything like that. Right. But I was so, but I took off and I try and I aimed at her head. I missed, but I was so upset. I remember that day till that moment, because that was the day I started to train again. I started to play basketball again. Whatever I could do. It wasn’t pain, but I was going through it every single day. I was stretching more. I was doing my exercises, I was started studying more. I started, I started my marks starting to go back up and university. And I still remember that moment. But the thing is, if she never challenged me, I would have been still miserable. 

I still would be in that space. How low it had been blaming everybody else because I was blaming everybody else because like, Oh, why did it happen to me? Why didn’t happen to somebody else? And that’s why it’s super important. And recently I traveled to, so Lululemon, uh, have this thing they have, it’s called sweat grow connect and it’s called the Huddle. And they took influential people from all over North America and they flew them down to New York and I got lucky enough to be one of them. Uh, thank you very much for that experience. And it was a three day. There were ex NBA  players. There were rappers, trainers, people who do incredible things in the community. And uh, we worked out together. And then we shared our stories and we talked about certain things. And I can’t disclose some of the stuff that we were actually, talking about because it’s a private information, it was very vulnerable. 

But I’ll tell you this much, that grown ass men who are 200 plus pounds,6’8, 6’5, women, everybody cried sharing their story. And when you heard what these people went through and what they ended up doing with their lives, I looked at my shit and I was like, wait up. Why am I complaining? Like these people doing way more with way less or they achieved way more with way less. So whatever you think you’re going through, as long as you take responsibility. And there’s always two ways. There’s always a choice. There’s a choice to bail and there’s a choice to take it to the next level. And if you choose to surround yourself with the people who support you and you want to be a lot like that, you’ll be, you’ll end up getting to where you want to go. Because these people went through some serious things and, grown men.. 

And I’m not saying women didn’t cry, but I want to make a statement because we’re talking about the whole mantra thing. But the grown men broke down and cried about a circumstances, but they would talk about how they creating a charities and funds and all this stuff. And you go like, wow, really, and I’m complaining about broken foot or broken hip or when person went through like five concussions and couldn’t walk right? So it just puts things into perspective and you start becoming grateful for what you have and what you can do. And I think we just don’t do enough that, uh, and that’s the, and that’s the bottom line. And I think we just need to put ourselves in a room with more people that you want to be like, if you want to be rich, put yourself in the rooms with the rich people. 

If you want to be healthy, hang out with healthy people. If you want to be happy, hang out with happy people and you’ll start noticing that it’s rubs off. And everybody creates a list. Two columns, one column, people who inspire you, people who you should feel happy around, people who really you can’t wait to see and then create another list. Honestly, another side create a list of people who drain your energy and I don’t care if it’s your mom, brother, sister, if it’s your boyfriend or girlfriend, if they end up being on a blood sucking energy, sucking side, you have to figure out either how to have a conversation or kind of slowly eliminate them out of your life and hang out with people that you really, really enjoy and you really look up to. And you’ll notice that if you man up and you did that step, it doesn’t matter what circumstances you have, there’s always a solution. You might not know it, it might take you a time to figure it out. But if you put yourself in your, truly be in a position where you have, Hey, I believe I can change, it will change. 

D: I just first wanted to apologize for laughing. I’m sitting here and, and knowing you like in this little bubble that I know you and it’s so hard for me to imagine you being so angry to do that. So made me giggle

N: It’s fine because listen, I was so angry that I was like, it’s not like me. Like I, I would never do that then. Uh, but it just got me so mad because she was so right. I knew she was so right and it was just a scream for help. And when I did it, I was like, as I walked out, first of all, I said, I can’t believe that I threw at somebody, and somebody that I love, uh, and that time and I apologize the same night. And then like I just started a new chain reaction of things. And like, there’s certain elements that happen in our lives where we don’t know what actually happens, but it just elevates us to the next level. 

D: I, um, once I was like out of the hospital, able to like function around people…. My uh, so I was raised in a household where it was very like we follow the rules, we do the rules, the rules exist to make us all happy, keep us all in place. Even though like now as an adult I can see that my parents are complete hooligans in the best possible way. They like really wanted to instill that in us. And maybe three weeks, maybe a month. After all of my, like major stuff had happened and it was really settling in. I was very angry as we all would be. And so I had a friend that was like, I have a carton of eggs. We’re going to wheel you into the car. We’re going to go throw egss at shit. And I remember telling my mom, cause at that point I was like, literally my whole life has disappeared. 

Like no one, I can’t get grounded. I can’t even walk. Like what are they going to do? And so I remember telling my mom like, so-and-so is pulling up with their van. We have a carton of eggs, we’re just gonna go throw eggs at shit. And my mom was like, have a good time. Not on people, but like we did and we just like, threw them at random things. My friend who ended up driving and was like, you guys are having so much fun. I’m missing out. And so she went to throw an egg and it hit the top of the car on the inside and then the fun was over. But so there’s sometimes value in throwing things just not at people. Um, I really wanted to, to share something that you had shared with me before we started recording. So a lot of what you’re doing right now is very focused around women and the community of women. And I think that that’s really cool. I’ve said to you before, I have an issue with male people telling me what to do movement wise with my body, but you are a person who I would take that from for sure. Um, but you have a very cool future thing that you would like to create. And I was wondering if you wanted to share about that yet. 

N: Um, so yes, I do work a lot with women and I have the community that I created is called BGW workout. So I do BG workout, better glutes workout, then I kind of, uh, work with a lot of women and I love working with women and I believe, uh, like women are more receptive to feedback, which is absolutely amazing. Um, men are not. And uh, so actually because of that in the future, I’m not doing it yet because I’m still building BGW. Uh, but I believe the vulnerability aspect when it comes to men is lacking significantly. And, um, I will be creating this community called the gentleman’s collective, um, I got the idea a while ago, because I felt like maybe sometimes you see in the movies that you know, these guys hang out every single Friday and it’s so realistic and they play hoops and then they have no problems. 

And I wanted to create something for men to become better human beings, become better men for their wives, girlfriends or whatever, and also feel supported. Similar women build an incredible community for each other where they support and push themselves and I guess it came a lot from inequality over time, but men usually do not have an outlet to open up and be vulnerable and share their experiences and sometimes they don’t want to talk about issues that come into their household so they don’t want to bring stress and talk to their girlfriends or wives and spouses and they just kind of hold it in and over time it might become an anger, resentment. Not every men, not every guy has a solid group of friends because they fell into a relationship and kind of drifted. And I know when we get older and we kind of take a path of being in relationship and our partner becomes our best friend, sometimes we drift off a lot and just creating a support and I believe it needs to be done for both women and men and in all dynamics of partnership and they’ll all dynamics of partnership. 

But I decided to do something closer to the summer or like may April potentially to where be concentrating specifically on guys meeting up, like doing some sports stuff and then like around talk where man could actually be vulnerable. Learn how to be a real gentleman, learn about how to be a better human being. Learn how to be a better man and a friend and a spouse, right? To make sure that it just continues. Education and personal development. You know, I’m wearing this hoodie, Do More Be Better and it’s kind of something that I live by. So everything is in that learning opportunity and I feel like man could really step up and get rid of their ego. Learn how to be vulnerable and the real strength comes in a vulnerability because you become so much more emotionally intelligent and emotional intelligence is where it’s actually add because it’s allows you to communicate and build tribes way more efficient. 

D: When you were going through your rehab process, you’re 21, I think you said, and all of this came crushing down into you and then you had to go through your recovery journey. Did you feel like you had that support? 

N: No, I had, I had no support. I mean, I had some friends show now I’m like, but that’s what I realized. And over time you realize even now when you were, I can talk to your body, you probably have a couple of close friends, but they are on a different path. And because they’re in a different path, they don’t understand what you going through. So they cannot relate. So sometimes you meet a stranger who understands you better. You become so much closer because you’re on the same path. Like I have right now, we’re really close friends. She’s a female and her name is Ashley and she’s actually, she is my client. But we became such close friends because she is on that spiritual journey. She did Ayahuasca and uh, she’s just, I just want to level up so, whenever I tell her let’s do something, we just do things together and it’s random. 

And when she asked me to do something, I’m like, yeah, cool. Because we just feel that compatibility and energy where like we just as friends want to do things that other people don’t want to do. And it’s rare when you find somebody and I didn’t feel supported whatsoever. I mean my parents didn’t understand what I was going through. My friends didn’t understand what I was going through. So that’s why I was a lonely space. And like people will come in and be like, how are you doing when you called ? Right. But unless you like know their needs, there are definitely a need for groups and coming out. And that’s why maybe like AA is so successful and others, the groups for posttraumatic stress disorders was so successful because you share in your understanding that you’re not alone on that path. That’s why thank you very much for having this podcast because whoever will reach in to know, hear the stories though, understand that there are multiple people who actually got their shit together and ended up doing very successful things after going through an injury or whatever. 

D: That’s truly why this came to be. It was for me that are, I mean, very similar. I was lucky that I do feel  in a way that my experience happened for a lot of good because it really very quickly became clear who were friends that were deep like soul bone friends and who were friends that were just superficial surface friends. And I feel very grateful, a lot of the deep, true, best friends that I had before then were those people during that and are those people now as well? 

Yeah, and I feel that with, I feel very lucky that I, that I had that because I know that a lot of don’t or even without having had something traumatic happen, right. Just in day to day life. Um, and that community is so important and I appreciate that. It’s something, it’s trickier for me as a female because I do feel that sense of community immensely. I know there’s sometimes still the stigma of girls can be catty with each other and and bring each other down. 

N: I don’t either. I honestly, no I think it’s the best time to be a female is right now. 

D: Yeah. I feel I feel uplifted by all the people and inspired by all my female friends and that’s something that I have chatted about with my boyfriend and I have that curiosity about him and his friends cause they feel like that doesn’t as organically as exists maybe. And I don’t necessarily feel like it’s fair for me to comment on that cause I don’t know. But so for you to talk about it is really is really cool. 

N: I witness it on both sides because I work so much with females. I actually don’t have too many male friends from that perspective because I work with so many with females. But the guys that I do with were they all pretty much taking the same path of personal development. So it’s easy to be supported even from the distance because like, uh, two of my closest friends, a PhD in education and they created a non for profit organization for marginalized communities, right? So to be at that level and making a change, you have to be emotionally involved and, uh, you know, put in work and you understand what support means and go through certain traumatic experiences. So I’m lucky enough to have, even though they might not be so close with me, uh, is the people who are willing to make a leap is just, people don’t prioritize it enough yet. 

And I feel women are just way better at prioritizing that. Let’s call it a girl time, right? Or girl, girl social time. Right? Um, we like guys don’t like, yeah. Like, cause a lot of people have a stigma. Like, let’s go to a bar, get some drinks, right. When it’s sometimes having a healthy conversation is, that’s all that you really need to feel support and be able to overcome. Uh, but I think, so the thing is back in the day and, um, uh, cave men- We were building tribes. The capacity of a tribe is about 150 people because after that it becomes a nonmanageable to know every single person. So based on the research and the books that I read, like that’s what we, and we all seeking the social interaction and we all know that people who even smoke and drink, if they have really good social life, they live longer than the people who feel excluded. 

So the idea is to create the support system and that’s why the tribes lived for longer and they hunted and gathered whatever they did. Uh, because of the communication, because of the community, because of, uh, you know, being so involved in each other’s lives and being supported and because it releases a different hormone. So there’s a different hormones that were released based on, uh, whether we are a part of a community or we do things on our own. And in the end when you release serotonin, right, is being a part of the community. Right? And we don’t always release, release that hormone if we’re not, and that we feel shitty on the inside. It explains why during Christmas, a lot of people feel lonely even though it’s all happy. But even they feel like their relationship with their families and not, not the greatest or their friends or they’re like, you know, they recently got out in a breakup. 

I’m happy for you, but I’m suffering right here in silence. And that’s why I bring in something together. It’s super important. That’s why I did like, tomorrow on Friday we’re going, I invited, I felt like some of the girls from my classes, they were going through some stuff and I said, why don’t we all just go to the Christmas Market and I hang out and drink mulled wine and hot chocolate and just be like together. And so you understand that other people cared because other people do care and other people do have love for you is just sometimes you don’t see it because you don’t interact enough or you don’t feel supported, but other people really do think highly and sends you the love on daily basis and they think very, very well about you. You just need to make sure you put yourself out there or you speak up or create something. So I decided to be a leader in that space where I’m like, Hey, why don’t I do something? Because I know if I feel it, either people feel it too. 

D: I feel like I could talk to you forever and I feel like you have so many amazing things coming up in the future, so I’m hoping we can sit down and get some of that stuff is happening. I have two questions for you. So if someone has been listening to this and whether they are injured or not, but they’re like, I want to do what Nikita’s doing, I want to start getting into training. Do you have any recommendations for people about like, okay, you’ve decided you want to be a personal trainer or a fitness whoever.. do you have training programs that you’ve either used and loved or that exist now that you recommend with everything that you know, if someone is like, yes, I want to take this path, I’m curious, where would you start them off? 

N: That’s a little bit of a tougher question because I learned everything from being in the physiotherapy for like 12 years. So every single time I was in physiotherapy I would ask questions. So everything that we’re doing, I’m asking, I’m already have the same background so I’m just like, I’ve got this vast amount of knowledge. Like some of the physiotherapist basically say I’m a hybrid between physiotherapists and a trainer I because I know so much and I implement the stuff that they teach, 

D: Would you ever create your own training program for people because I would love to learn from you. 

N: There is something that we were going to be working this year where I will be creating something like an online course from the, some of the basic things. And it’s like I work with some trainers and I currently teach some trainers as well, like I’ll be doing more seminars, but if you want to like really look and learn certain things there are some good books. So Kelly Starrett- Becoming A Supple Leopard. That’s a great book to read about mobility. Um, uh, I’ve taken a course by Agatsu (Joint Mobility Course). Mobility of flexibility is a great course to take, uh, taken a course for from uh, FRC Functional Range Conditioning. Just to understand what is a full body tension and the kind of how to implement it. So I would say FRC. Uh, Agatsu Joint Mobility, and Kelly Starrett books. You can also look up Glute Guy (Bret Contreras)

He has a book, his name is Bret Contreras, so like you would understand, but my biggest advice would be take everything with a grain of salt and develop your own system and understanding of stuff. You also can go to a Darby (Darby Training Systems) a school of like there’s a power lifting or some of the basic courses that they teach. And a one more course would be a thing that they called the Foot Collective. They talk about feet, right? So like if you do any combination of these things, that would be really, really good. It will make you understand more of what the body’s about. And then later on you can get into like Anatomy Trains, which is a myofascial lines and stuff like that, which you do need to understand. But I would not jump in into it right away. 

D: Totally. It can be, if you don’t already have an understanding of the system, it can feel like too much. Um, so we know where you’re potentially going in the future. People who are like, yes, let’s do it now. BGW  what is it? We’re going to take it, it is happening. 

N: So you can follow @bg_workout. It’s an Instagram page. Uh, we currently rebranding, but there’s a lot of content on it already. And we’ll be releasing more content. Uh, actually have a trainer who’s coming in from Alberta to work with me for the next three months to provide you guys with more value. Um, besides that, I teach classes at Lululemon. The Attic at Spadina and Queen 

D: In Toronto. 

N: Yes, in Toronto. Uh, I teach it twice per week, Monday nights and Saturday mornings. And on Saturday mornings I actually do something really cool where it’s an hour and a half class and I teach mobility and I teach the typical class. Plus once per week I bring a guest where we do like either meditation or we talk about, uh, we did a safe circle before and I’m actually gonna bring a shuffle dancer to teach people how to dance. So it’s kind of like just building, 

but I do specialize, uh, on like if a typical class is concentrating more on how to wake up your glutes, how to understand that if you squat, you want to feel it in the glutes, quads and hamstrings, not only in quads. If you have certain issues, should you be squatting or deadlifting? So unilateral movements and there’s a lot of feedback. So that would be like my main class. And uh, I also do a coaching one on one and online coaching.  And if you follow either @bg_workout or my personal Instagram, @nikita_pntgn, you’ll be able to see the links, click on the links and you can sign up to whether you want to get a free assessment or audit of your health or you just want to come into the classes. 

D: Do you have anything final you want to leave people with? There’s a little nugget of Nikita that they can take home with them. 

N: As I said before, I would say the first thing that you need and the most important thing you need to concentrate on as everything is uh, everything comes from you. So you got to take responsibility for everything that happens. There’s a great book, two books that I give to all my clients to read. One is called Man Up by Bedras Keuilian. It is just very real. It’s like a CEO of a fitness franchise, and the company who almost had a heart attack or I can’t remember heart attack or anxiety attack and he changed his whole life. And another book is by Dr. Joe Dispenza- Breaking The Habit Of Being Yourself. So those two books are really good one and they are completely polar opposites, but they will literally start a new journey on the right path. And another one I would say be very mindful of how you approach your fitness journey. Ask the right questions for what you want to accomplish, who you’re working with, and are those people, are those classes that are right for you? And don’t just rush in and just do your investigation. Just because somebody said somebody is good. Even if somebody says I am good, don’t believe them. Go try it out. Then only then make a decision on your own.

D: Thank you so much for all that you shared now, and all that you share all the time. Anyway, check out Nikita’s Instagram if you haven’t already. There’s so much that you shared just on there, that’s unbelievable and I really appreciate you being here. Thank you for your time. 

N: Thank you very much. It was my pleasure 

D: Unicorn mugs forever! 


Dominique: Um, I was going to ask you if you wanted to, and I don’t know if I’ll keep this or not. I was just thinking it would be nice for us if you wanted to just do like a breath together. 

Sharon: Amazing. Yeah. So great. Yeah,

D: okay, I’m going to take us through a nice deep breath in through the nose and however you’d like to exhale nose or mouth. Just noticing wherever your feet have landed, feeling the floor or the chair, feeling that rootedness through any point that’s connected down, allowing our energy to settle within this really rooted space. My intention today with you is to just.. glow this conversation. I’m really excited to share the amazingness of holotropic breathing, and you and this whole journey. Whenever you’re ready, just gently opening your eyes.

Hi! So first I just, I feel like I’ve said a hundred times and so grateful to be sitting here with you and your beautiful space and thank you so, so much for having me in today. I’ve been so excited about this conversation and seeing you again. We met in may at the sound work experience in Prince Edward County. And we, I feel like we had this beautiful conversation near the end of our time there where I really got to learn about the work that you do and it’s sort of stuck with me and marinated with me throughout the rest of the year. And when I was putting together my list of who I really wanted to talk to you right out of the gate, you are like right at the top. So thank you for making time to see me today.

S: Well, it’s a pleasure and it’s an exciting time for you to be involved in doing this and it’s um, it’s kind of essential. I think that we have an opportunity to talk about some really important things that are available to people to be able to do and explore and, and be part of. This is great.

D: Oh, I’m so excited. Um, would you like to share a quick little bit about what all this exciting things are, these exciting things are?

S: Well, I think there’s a lot that’s currently available, but my, um, passion and commitment is being to something called holotropic breathwork. And I was drawn to it by sheer accident. I like to say I was, um, I have four children and I was sitting at a dentist waiting for one poor child to have a tooth filled and I was looking through various magazines and I pulled one out completely randomly. And as if by accident it flipped open onto a page and it was talking about a workshop that was taking place, um, in the U S in the Berkshires, just outside Boston. And there was something about it that just, I felt in a strange way that I had to go and I’d never been pulled in that way to really anything. So I go home and I think about it and then a couple of days later I say to my husband, I really want to go to this workshop.

I’m not sure why. And he looked surprised cause I had actually never taken time away, really from the family. And then he sort of graciously said, go, whatever I can do to support you, get ahead. And so I ended up at a workshop that was totally transformative, not just for me, but the 140 people that were in the room with me. Um, and, and this was a holotropic breathwork workshop being run. Um, its founder Stan Grof, who’s a bit of a legend, um, in the community at large. Both he’s assigned his background in science. He was a scientist. He led research into, um, LSD for many years and this, this holotropic breathwork came out of, um, his experiences with expanded states of consciousness and in many respects does a beautiful parallel of what, um, experiences mitigated by a psychedelic. Do we just do it ourselves? 

D: Yes. What really struck me when I was chatting to you about this was I had an experience that, I don’t know if it’s specifically in the holotropic world, so I’m excited to learn more. But, um, I was in Guatemala and a breath therapy workshop had been offered and I was there specifically because I had some layers I wanted to shed and it had been recommended by another friend to me that I, that I do this breath experience. And one of the things that the leader, it was over the course of a few days and the woman leading the workshop, one of the things she had said was that as she came into this work, she felt like, like there were all of these beautiful ways we could expand consciousness. And she had been off traveling the world, she’d been in Thailand and I believe India and, and working in the worlds at these different things and come home.

And there had been an opportunity where friends were like, Oh let’s, let’s create a, our own psychedelic experience. And it was like sort of an anecdotale story. But she then went on to say, she’s like, you know, it’s funny, we all did the things and I was like, Oh is this not how you’re all living all the time. Cause this is just the state I’m in all the time. And I remember thinking how hilarious that was as she was talking about it. But then after I lived the experience of going through with her specific exercises and feeling that expansion, I was really like, Whoa, this is extremely powerful work. But I also think very important and anytime I think there’s something exciting happening, lots of different bandwagons want to be open to it. And one of other than chatting to you and being in your presence, one of the things I’m also really excited about to start to work on knowing more about is how do we do this safely, effectively, so that we’re really allowing ourselves to have the experience that our bodies are capable of having without stepping over boundaries. Um, because I do think as, as we get excited, little pockets pop up and, and it’s, it’s important to know that  world properly. I think. Um, I’m curious to know is sort of just struck me as you were sharing with this world stepping in and seemingly randomly opening page. Have you been at all interested in energy work or spiritual exploration or anything sort of within that scope of what we can access before or was holotropic work sort of your gateway into, into how much there is?

S: Holotropic breathwork was the door opened for me and I’ve witnessed that door open for many others. It is, um, it, it seemed something that was impossible and very foreign and almost, uh, sort of scary. Um, you know, we live in this world of consensus reality and so the notion that there might be something beyond what we experience every day, uh, was just impossible to comprehend and is I think until you’ve had a, something like a whole entropic breathwork experience. Um, the thing about the holotropic breathwork is that it is, um, day long, um, which I think helps people really own an experience. I think if you go in and come out, it’s easy to dismiss it. Um, we are trained for a minimum of two years now, if not more, to support people in the processes that they go through. And some people have, um, very simple, generous, but simple experiences and other people have much bigger experiences, um, that require really thoughtful and careful support. And the holotropic breathwork community has been trained, uh, to support those as well. So it’s, it’s, I think it’s important and I think it’s important that we do this work in community. Um, so that we, um, don’t feel that we’re isolated because it can be very isolating.

D: And so you were at the dentist, you had this moment of, I have to go, you went and all these years later or now on the other end of the spectrum where we’re really offering that support. So I would love to know after that one experience, how we got where we are now.

Well, first of all, I mean, it might be helpful to describe what the experience was because it seemed absolutely ridiculous at the time. So, you know, here I am, the, the workshop was taking place at a place called Kripalu, which is a main major healing arts center. It’s the largest one in North America. So there were hundreds of workshops going on that one weekend. And I originally thought that there would just be a few people, you know, I was astonished when people from around the world had shown up to do this work. Um, and Stan is this huge, generous, um, compassionate human being. I mean he’s, he has, his presence is huge. Both, he’s very tall and broad, but his energy is very present. And he, uh, got up and described how we were going to lie on the floor and breathe in a rapid succession, um, until something surprised or changed for us.

And I thought, Oh my God, if anyone at home knew what I was doing, they would, you know, cause immediately, and I was just, I was just again, this totally foreign foreign experience for me. And um, and holotropic breathwork is done in pairs. And so at one point, you know, the 140 people who have not found a partner. So, you know, let’s say at least half of them stood up and I, you have to find a partner in this group. And that was threatening in itself. Um, and what I’ve discovered since is there’s some beautiful organic symbiology that seems to happen, how you find your partner in these scenarios. Um, and I found, um, a lovely gentleman who had flown in from Chile who had come to do this work and, and immediately he had children about the same age as mine.

And immediately there was kind of sort of a comfort level. So I offered to go first and he, he offered to sit. And as I laid down on the floor. It’s done to music. There’s first a relaxation and then, you know, the say in a moment the music will start and the music started. And I honestly felt as if the music had scooped me up and was taking me on a journey. And it was the most astonishing experience because I could hear noise of people around me who were equally being, we’re joining in one way, shape or form. And, and there was laughter and there was crying and, and, and there was sense of movement and so forth. So my journey was profound three hours long. I experienced, um, I experienced the birth of my children. I experienced, um, a sense of having touched something that I at the time described possibly as God. Um, and I came back and I thought, wow, you know, like, and when we shared at the end of the day, everyone had had profound experience. There was not one who, some who did not have something that awakened in them or shook them or changed the way they saw the world. And I knew at that moment that this was for me, something that I wanted to be involved in, profoundly involved. 

D: It’s almost like a, like you were experiencing the births of your children, but then you were also being born too into just re experiencing life. So how do you go from having this incredibly transformative experience to then getting back on a plane and going home? How does that transition? How does that work? How did that work for you?

S: Well, that’s a really critical question because I think, um, you know, it’s what do we do with our experience? That’s true. You know, if we have a great dinner or we, you know, have a great exercise class, you know, what do we do with that? And I think, um, for me, I wasn’t psychotherapy at the time. I was actually training to be a psychotherapist. So I had a, a good, um, support network that I could go and, and be part of. We’re very cautious in holotropic breathwork to say, be careful who you share these experiences with for two reasons. One because, um, they can, um, make you feel awkward, but I think more importantly, they can diminish the experience and they can make you believe that what you experienced was ridiculous or inappropriate or whatever. So I think increasingly that’s less the case. And secondly, as we build a community which is thriving now in Toronto, you’ve got more and more people who are connected to these experiences.

So it’s not as isolating. But what I came home with perhaps was the aspect of sitting.I had sat (the holotropic experiences) three hours from morning, enough to noon. So one person breathes and, one person sits for that period of time. And the aspect of sitting is interesting because you realize very quickly you have no idea what is going on inside someone who is, they’re jetting. And um, you know, my partner was crying profusely and my immediate reaction was, Oh, I got it, I got it, comfort or help or whatever. And when he came back he said, wow, I was, I was crying with joy. Right? So I had no, you realize you have no concept, you have no idea of what’s going on. And so this notion of coming back into the world and being present without trying to fix and that began a jet, a different journey of parenting, a different journey of friendship. Um, one that I still struggle with, but um, but one that I, I think is, is really critical in, in a, in a very convoluted and confused world.

D: I have so many questions. I mean, to start kind of where you left off. I so resonate with what you’re saying about you can see someone having an experience and through your lens often we see crying is sadness. But in the truth, that person was actually having a really joyous moment and taking that information and integrating it into everyday life is so I feel so different cause there’s, it’s so hard to watch the people you love be in pain and although it’s always a journey. When you came home, did you feel that immediate recognition as well of like, Oh, I see this behavior pattern, maybe I should step back? Or was it like over time re noticing and re learning?

S: It was like first of all, coming back after the first breath work. I think coming out of there was so much that you are, um, that you’re coming to terms with the, your, you know, your, this isn’t, this is like seeing a movie for the first time. Right? It’s like, wow. Um, and um, and you are profoundly changed, you know? And so I think in answer to your question, it’s ongoing, right? It, it’s, it didn’t, didn’t happen. Didn’t happen immediately or easily. I have done now, uh, close to 50 holotropic breathwork largely because I wanted to understand the experience in as deep a fashion as I could. And I wanted to be part of other people’s experiences and as a profounder away as I could. And each time the work happens, there’s a little bit more of you that comes forward in a meaningful way. Um, so it’s a process. It’s now it’s sadly, it’s not a one stop shop. And as we know,

D:Oh I used to think that would be so nice if there was like, Oh yeah, I do this thing and then it’s done and it’s over. But now I’m really starting to recognize how sweet journeys can be. And it’s kinda nice that it’s not only one time cause every time you do something that’s a little bit different, a little bit more, which is hard for me as a person who likes to get things done very quickly and check off my list. But I’m starting to enjoy the process a little bit more. And I think that’s what a lot of this work is, is it’s processing. And as we learn, we’re also, it’s not like we’re stuck in a moment in time either. We’re always evolving. And so that work is always going to change every time. So how long, between your first holotropic experience and your second one?

S: Well, immediately I tried to find someone locally who offered it in Toronto. And um, and I, at the time there really wasn’t, um, it was hard to find someone, you know, you want someone who’s really certified, who knows their stuff. You also have to look for, you have to do it in a triad, meaning that there has to be a facilitator, someone who sits and someone who breeds. And so, uh, trying to find someone who would come with me to do this was, uh, was a bit of a challenge I have to say. And in the end I did find someone, um, just out in King city who was offering holotropic breathwork at the time. And I did three or four, uh, really powerful sessions, um, in, you know, in a small group and then quickly realized it’s the big groups. It’s the larger groups where you really, um, yeah, it’s just, it’s like, it’s, there’s such an energy that’s present with a group of people doing this work that it’s, it’s a whole different ballgame in essence.

And so, so then I started to travel extensively to find the spots, particularly in North America, but lots of places in Europe as well that offer it. And then that became fascinating cause you’re meeting people again from all over the world and recognizing that it didn’t matter where they were from, everyone was having an experience of one sort or another. Um, and, and consistently, like it wasn’t, it wasn’t sort of just Stan had been doing a workshop, so experienced this happened. It didn’t know that wasn’t the case that holotropic breathwork has, um, powerful experience. It’s no matter where, where on the planet you, you are.

D: Is there anywhere in the world specifically that this seems to be where it’s happening or is it really this global community growth? 

S:cWell, I like to think Toronto is really beginning to be, um, where it’s, it’s happening. Um, and Canada in general. Um, traditionally it’s been out of the US and still has a large, uh, sort of community, um, of elders and so forth who hauled that work. But, um, I love the notion that Canada has something very special to offer this work. Um, I think we have a, a beautiful openness in general, um, in, in this very crazy world. I think Canada has something really unique, so it’s building strongly here. And so it’s exciting to be doing this interview at this time and, and to be talking about the potential that exists. Yeah.

D: That’s so interesting. I feel like when, when we’re talking about things that are maybe not so traditional, it often feels like they’ve been rooted somewhere really far away. And even though I’m very new to this, to know that there’s this very powerful opportunity for people coming out of Toronto is I feel a sense of pride about that. That’s very cool.

S: I mean, our time, I think in some respects, our time is now and, and it’s, it’s wonderful to be in that position at this time, Canada. Yeah. Yeah. That’s really an important spot. 

D: And so as you’re doing more and more of this traveling, more, getting involved in the world more, are you still continuing psychotherapy or at this point, are they, do you find that they work together or have you really started to send your focus to the holotropic world? This is my own, I’m curious.

S: Well I think psychotherapy has a huge, um, uh, talk therapy I should say has had plays a huge piece in, in, in trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together. So I continue to do talk therapy. Um, I am committed now to, um, doing a meditation daily if not one, two. I find that that somehow connects me to, um, that field of consciousness that I experienced some holotropic breathwork. I feel that there’s kind of, there is this sort of quantum field that Einstein talked about that exists just beyond the no one field that we live in. And that access to that field comes through, um, expanded States of consciousness, um, and, and, and sitting quietly is where we get to them. So, um, so that has been the richness of my journey has been that in order to keep the holotropic breathwork experiences alive, I have committed to sitting not in a full holotropic experience, but just sitting in that sort of meditational space.

D: Mm. And I think that’s an important point too, that it’s amazing to make space for these bigger experiences to happen, that it’s equally as important to find something every day that helps remind you or stay connected to that. And it doesn’t have to be a big thing. It can be, even if it’s just five minutes where you just sit with yourself. I mean it would be amazing if we had more time than that, but sometimes that truly is all you have is five minutes. And I love, thank you for, for bringing that up as well, that the little things are just as important as the big things to keep the momentum going and to keep that experience supportive, supported, I should say in your, in your body to a point. Do you decide this is something I want to be more involved in and begin to train? And knowing it’s a two year minimum process that you have a lot going on already. What was that process like to want to kind of evolve to that next layer of the breath work?

S:  It was a big step and I think, um, really challenging. I had, you know, four young children while they were close to teenagers at that point. And, and I, I really felt that there was a need for me to step out beyond the boundaries of, of parenting. I had, I was blessed, you know, I had had, um, sort of a, a really rich experience in, in business. I’d been the vice president of two companies. I had four children and I had a beautiful house. I had a happy marriage. I had, you know, in essence ticked all the boxes that anyone could ever wish to tick. And yet I knew that was something more and more essential. And so I approached my husband, uh, who had seen huge change in me and sort of said, I’m really thinking of pursuing this on a, on a bigger level.

And he said, I cannot be part of that journey. So there was, um, there was a real moment of hard truth where we looked at each other and he said, is this important to you? And I said, yeah, that’s really important. And then he said, then we can’t stay married. So that was, that was a really, um, distinct and important choice that I made. And, and really through everyone around us into chaos. I mean, here we were, right? We had, we have and have continued to have a really meaningful close friendship. And I consider it his generosity in his ability to step aside and say, this is not my journey. This is not, I’m not into this stuff. Um, and you need that space. So I have to step outside that and give you that. And so that is in essence, I mean six years of really working through stuff and then the separation, uh, and in the end has happened, which again I think indicates, uh, to the people who know me how important I feel this work is that I would not ever have stepped away or outside, um, a traditional, um, situation and role model, um, to just do something that was, that I didn’t feel had something of merit and of critical importance.

D: Did you find in that process, in your practice that that was an important part of working through all of that decision making and how did it help?

S: Yeah, I mean, I think very much. I think, you know, the, the, the quest for the self, you know, who are we and what are we, um, had been defined up until then by the life I was living and, and everything that I had. And I think I realized that somehow I was missing the point, right? And it was a really radical awakening. And yet what I see now is more and more people feeling like they’ve missed the point. And so I just feel somehow maybe I was a bit ahead of the bell curve, that there is this inherent sense within us that we’re missing the point that this cannot be it. And, and so I began to appreciate that in many respects we are spiritual beings having a human experience. And by that I don’t mean religious or whatever, but there’s an aspect of us that I feel we’re able to touch in that other field that is so inherent in who we are that when we come back having touched it, we’re beginning to be the hole that we’re looking to be.

D: Thank you for sharing all that. I’m like, yes. Yes. It’s interesting too, cause I, um, the more texts that I, I’ve been exploring and reading, there’s this overall theme of no matter what so far anyway, but whether it’s religious or spiritual context, everything has this theme of right now is considered like the dark age, but not a dark age in that like we’re all going to suffer the dark age and that we’re all starting to realize that there’s more. And so it’s so interesting that you say that because I feel like that myself and I feel like that with the community I have around me personally because those are the people I connect with the most. So those are the people I have these conversations that the most that I do feel like there’s beyond just maybe the small group who, who are often questioning anyway, but there is this overall global community sense of, wait a second, we’ve been doing this and what’s happening, and I have been leaning into this idea of like, okay, yes, maybe something can be called dark or hidden, but that really just means it’s the journey to the discovery and journey to the light.

And that’s the process again of that’s where the learning happens. That’s where the excitement happens. And it’s also I think important kind of in conjunction with this, that there, there is no real failure, that you are either achieved the thing you looked for or you learned from it. And that I think is inspiring too. I mean, especially going through difficult experiences where as you expand, it means maybe outgrowing the spaces that you’ve created. But knowing that none of the, the growing means that there’s a failure, it just means more, which is such a cool relieving I think idea.

S: Yeah. I mean I think that’s beautiful,  because what I experienced time and time and time again was like coming up against the dark side, the shadow side aspect of myself that I hadn’t, uh, wanted to explore and look at and I was kind of being pushed into doing that. Um, so, you know, um, I had  a difficult childhood that, I hadn’t wanted to look at. Um, and the holotropic experience held space for me to be able to do that and then took talk therapy to get me through that. And I will say that I had more dark nights of the soul then I thought was humanly possible survive. Um, you know, we have this notion that there’s one night, one dark night hit the soul. In other words, we fall into one deep depression that seems a movable, that we feel that we cannot carry on, that the world is an impossible place to live in.

And then we come out the other side and, and you know, we are awakened into a brighter light. Um, and, but for me that was, that was many, many, many falls into what felt like very dark, deep holes that I was worried often that I felt maybe I wouldn’t come out of. And I think that’s part of the work we’re being asked to do is to go to that shadow and sort of playing ourselves in the shadow to be able to wear that, to say, yeah, no, I’m human. Right? And coming out of that means that we’re less triggered every day by things that are happening because we’ve dealt with someone saying to us, as a child, I don’t like your dress. And when someone as an adult says, I don’t like your dress, it doesn’t, it doesn’t bring you back all the way through the other experiences that you’ve had. So you don’t connect to it anymore. It doesn’t mean what it used to. And that’s, and then from that you can live with a greater sense of peace.

D: And it’s interesting too, especially I have been working with a therapist on inner child work myself. And it’s so interesting what comes up that you wouldn’t even necessarily understand unless you’re in these sort of alternative mind spaces that they can even be connected, that it’s something you’re even holding onto. But then when you take the time to go there and, and like hug that version of you, it is. So, it’s so true. You’re saying you embrace that shadow, you kind of let it, you wear that skin for a moment, but with the information that you have now as an, as a more human experience lived person. And it’s so true. I’ve, I mean, I’m nowhere near as much experience as you have had in 50 holotropic and diving the world. But even the little pieces, again, those little things that I’ve done, it’s unbelievable how transformative they can, they can be, which is amazing. Um, okay. I’m gonna circle back.

S: Right. I’m just going to add to that, which I think is kind of interesting is I think you begin to touch an aspect of yourself as sort of higher wisdom and knowledge as Sage newness. Um, and, and that becomes the meat and potatoes of everyday life and, and so there is a huge payoff for it and it’s difficult as it is. There is this sense that you are connected to a wisdom that’s greater than your own. And that I think it’s really helpful

D: and I love that, that greater wisdom, although greater than our own, it’s still within us, which is an incredibly, I think empowering experience to connect to that. It doesn’t have to be an external thing that we really do have so much within us. I’d love to know, I know we’ve kind of really beautifully went over your experience that for anyone who’s like, okay, I’m hooked. I want this experience. I, what is it? Can you maybe walk us through what is it like to, you decide to come to a class, what are we wearing? What is the space like what, how exactly do we go through that process as a breather and then maybe we can touch on as a sitter as well.

S: Lovely. I’d love to do that. Um, so I immediately, I find when you walk into a whole introvert breathwork, uh, community, um, there are caring community people who are there to who just see you. There’s no, there’s like, there’s no expectation of who you have to be or how you have to be. We have people who show up, um, you know, who’ve had a sleepless night because they’d been totally panicked and they’re worried they’re going to fall asleep, you know, when they lie on the floor. And then there are people who are, who have done all sorts of journeying using all sorts of substances who show up and, and imagine that they have seen and done it all. Um, so the first is, it’s just showing up and, and, and often we find people register and they start to have dreams or what we call synchronicities, where, um, a synchronicity is when something happens outside of you that you feel is related to you.

So a classic one that I’ve often had is I’ll think of someone and a piece of music that I relate to them shows up somewhere. I’ll be in a store or, or on the radio or whatever, or a book will open and I’ll be thinking about something in a book will open on that page. So people often experience once they’ve signed up for these workshops, that there’s like this, this lovely window that starts to open for them and, and, and they start to have dreams that many of them, many people just don’t have time to remember their dreams. We know we dream every night, but so often people come in in some strange way. Um, the cosmos has prepared them for their journey. Um, we, uh, everyone sits in a circle and everyone, we explain the process. So basically as I described earlier, you will, you pair up with someone.

Um, they’re the processes. Three hours of breathing in the morning and three hours of breathing in the afternoon. And mats are set up around the room and you choose a spot that feels the best for you. And we invite people to bring blankets and eye shades and pillows, whatever makes them feel, um, the most sort of comfortable. And um, we then come around, anyone who’s facilitating comes around and checks in with whoever’s breathing. Um, and then we do a brief relaxation and then the music begins. The music is a critical part of the experience. It is divided into three components. The first is powerful sort of call to action music. And it’s fascinating because it really does seem to harness the breadth for people. And I actually think the breadth is a bit of a misnomer because people get, because we call it holotropic breathwork, people get all caught up and how they’re going to breathe.

Is it going to be in through the nose or out through the mouth and how long, three hours of breathing. And so it actually is an incredibly simple process. It is just breathing deeper and faster in a sort of circular emotion with less space between the inhales and the exhales. And this is all guided as it is and it is done. You engage initially very much in the breath because you’re very aware that you have to be breathing. But often people find that as soon as something starts to happen, which can happen very quickly, but generally within the first 20 minutes is that they can let go of the breath and you do not have to breathe in that rapid circular motion for the whole three hours. It’s sort of like a wave where you comes in on you, you haven’t experienced, you breathe, something comes into your consciousness and you, you enjoy that before, uh, you need to breathe again.

Um, the experiences are probably worth talking about because they’re many different experiences there. There are several categories of experience. So the first you can experience anything that you’ve experienced in your current lifetime. Many people, um, experienced their actual birth, which is fascinating because it’s actually perhaps the first trauma we ever experienced was the, um, the second is the transpersonal realm, which is the, the realm that is just outside or known an experience where we can feel ourself as one with the universe or can feel ourself as a tree or a plant or anything that does not involve ego. Basically where ego is not involved. Um, personal life experiences are, um, sometimes expect or seem to be experienced. And again, we say we, we seem to experience them. Cause of course we can’t be certain that we have had this post life. But many people, um, recount how it suddenly feels like it was a past life experience. Some people just experience physical, physical, um, things in their body, whether it’s some, you know, twitches or spasms or, um, some people feel need to move, some people feel that they do. So there’s a range of experiences. And, um, and we understand clearly from all the holotropic breathwork sessions that we’ve witnessed is that there is this inner healing wisdom that brings forward on the do breathing. Um, what is going to be most supportive to someone moving forward in their life. It’s interesting.

D: A lot of the things you’re describing, I have also heard be described when a sacred plant medicine like Ayahuasca and of that world are being used. Um, and so I’m wondering, any thoughts or comparisons as to those kinds of experiences? Um, I know for what I have learned about sacred plant medicine ceremonies is sometimes there’s, um, some cautions if you, you ha not to have had certain medications within a certain period of time if, you know, you’re prone to certain kinds of anxieties or addictions, that kind of stuff. And because they seem to be very similar physical experiences. Um, I’m wondering if there’s anything like that with holotropic and then comparing the two.

S: Well, interestingly enough, people who have had sacred plant experience do show up at holotropic breathwork experiences and many of them are surprised at the power of the experience of the holotropic experience over the plant. Um, it seems that when the experience is not mitigated by something, when it is your own breath that directs the journey, that the experiences that much more powerful. And, um, so I will say that there is, there is a compact, very strong comparison between the two. There are very few contrary indications to doing holotropic breathwork. Um, what, uh, we are always, we do ask people to complete a medical form so we have a clear understanding of what conditions they might have had previous and what medications they’re on. But by and large, other than sort of major cardiovascular illness, um 

D: Is pregnancy okay?

S: Pregnancy and early pregnancy is fine and it’s actually been beautiful to, to watch a woman who was four or five months pregnant and how, I mean, we supported her hugely through the process. Um, and so that was, that was really, uh, a beautiful, a beautiful thing to sort of be part of

D: Cause that’s nice to know that, you know, it really can be, as long as you have a support system around you to support you through stuff, which I know community is a, is something you’re very passionate about. And I would assume that’s sort of why is because you have these profound experiences and you’d mentioned at the beginning that, especially if it’s your first one, you can kind of come out and, and maybe want to share it, but then also have to have data hold back a little bit so that it doesn’t get demeaned in any way or taken away. And so I can imagine why you would want to start building that community outside of just breathwork experiences in the city.

S: Yeah. So we actually, I mean it has really stemmed out of the holotropic breathwork community itself. And what we’re now saying to people who have done a breathwork, um, is we’re looking to put together events periodically throughout the year that people, even if you never plan to breathe again, if you’ve had that experience, um, you know, come and be part of it. And I think, uh, that just supports humanity in this, in this whole experience because it is a human experience that we are going through right now. Um, and I, I agree with you that we are living in, in a time of great transition, great change, um, and that these are all things that we need to come together in a community to upsetting and be part of. And holotropic breathwork is just one of several very important ones that I think are available.

D: And I think that makes sense to saying that the very, very bare minimum requirements are this triad of a facilitator, a space holder in a breather. And so then if as we transition into being the sitter, I can, I can hear the people, some people I know in my head being like sitting for three hours Dom, like what do I do for that whole time? So I would love to know what that experience is like for the person holding space for the breather.

S: I think it varies and I think it depends on whether you breached in the morning or not. Um, so I think first of all, the notion of being present for some people is easier than others. And what’s lovely is in, because you are sitting as a group, you can see other people sitting and you can get a cue from other people as to how to sit because some people just haven’t got a clue. They’ve never sat, Oh, so you know, what does that look like? And so, um, what I had seen is that people learn so much from each other in this kind of setting. Um, it depends on the, the uh, the experiences. The sitter depends also on how active your breather is. So some breathers are very quiet in their experiences and they look like they’re first asleep for the period of three hours that the music is going on and you were sitting, other people are moving around and need a lot of support. And so a facilitator will come over and work with someone who’s moving and then, but tries to engage the sitter in supporting that person as well.

D: What does that support kind of look like? 

S: Obviously not restraining them but just like making sure there’s blankets, making sure blankets are around and pillows and um, yeah, and just generally really beautifully holding space for whatever is going on. So that person who in whatever their physical experience is an emotional experience feels completely safe. She has complete permission to do whatever they need to do. Um, so I, I think often the music is just what keeps people sitting to the music is such, um, so engaging typically that people can sit through the period of time because the music is keeping them engaged in the process. Um, and we actually, sometimes people come as couples and we recommend that you do not breathe as a couple. Yeah, I mean we, we, we never say don’t, but, but the notion is how difficult it would be if you are partnered with someone. And we have seen situations where, you know, a partner is having a really hard time and as a sitter you have to, you have to honor it is their process and you cannot fix it.

Um, so I think it, I think it, it’s sort of, it’s, it’s, it’s varied, but whatever it is and whatever you take there’s value in every ounce of every minute that you’re involved in any kind of this work. And so often it will, it might bring up things that are happening for you too, that you, that you, um, are needing to address. So the notion is you show up at a Holotropic breathwork. There is this inner healing wisdom that says, I’m here. I want you to be, well, I want your psyche to be well, well done. You’ve shown up to do the work and now you have to let go of the egoic self that does not want to be seen to be lying on the floor. Either. Could be, you know, in a group, you know, with fear that I might cry. And what will people think if I cry? Letting that go and letting this inner healing wisdom that so wants us to be well to come forward and, and to do its work for us. 

D: So do you ever have people, is there ever, I should say, is there ever a possibility that someone can go too far in an experience? Has there ever been a situation where you kind of have to facilitate bringing them out of it a little bit? Or is it really just it is what it is?

S: Well, often in the one day workshops it’s, it’s not an issue, but people, there are workshops which are two or three or four days in length or five or six days a month. And that tends to be where people have the, the really meaty experiences, right. And actually really are in the process for the duration of time that you are there. You are being supported by this community to really let you seep into whatever it is that’s coming up for you. Um, but in the one day workshops they tend to be, um, think you, people tend to be able to come in and out of the holotropic state very easily. And in fact, even, you know, whenever you’re in a holotropic state, you have the ability to come out of it at any time largely. Um, so when people need to go to the washroom, you, you have the ability to, you know, get to a washroom and, and get back. You’re accompanied by your sitter. So you are aware, you’re still aware that there is another dimension of reality that’s really there. You just sort of sit often in two different places at once.

D: Is there, um, like a bookend to the whole experience? So we were saying that the breathing experience, and I would assume it’s the same morning and night. It starts with the or afternoons, right? Starts with the relaxation to get into it. Once the two sessions are done, is there anything final that happens at the end?

S: Well, there are a couple of things. So, um, after you done your breath work, you’re invited to draw Mandela and um, and actually in, in Toronto what we do is at the end of the session we come around and we’ll hand you some crayons and a piece of paper. And before you’ve even stood up, we say put down on paper, anything that comes to you, it might be part of your experience or it might be something else all together. Um, so those are interesting pieces because they become sort of the take home piece that you get to have at the end of the second breath work. We always have a very generous meal because the notion is that you want people to be grounded. 

And then we come together as a circle. Um, we invite people to bring the mandalasif they want, but we ask people to share what their experiences were briefly. You know, we don’t need the full, you know, storyline, but what people experience when they share is that there is another sense of ownership that comes forward and it’s not unusual to find people who’ve had similar experiences. And I will value what you say because the color is what I have learned. So there’s a real sense at the end that you are a bit of a tribe and that you are coming back as the tribe and sharing your experiences. So it’s, that’s pretty cool.

D: Yeah, I really enjoy, I really enjoy group experiences after shared experience that I think even if, so for example, for me, I, um, I’m very comfortable now sharing about my experience through being in an accident and what that looked like and I’m comfortable sharing it now. But three years ago I definitely wasn’t, but I still wanted to participate in the community and I think I got a lot from hearing about other people even when I wasn’t specifically ready to share. And like you’re saying that even that piece on its own has some very potent qualities to how it can help. I’m wondering why three hours as you’ve said it, I’m like, Oh yeah, okay, three hours, three hours. But why three hours

S: Thank you for asking that question. So it’s actually really important. And when you’ve experienced it, you’ll kind of see why. So the psyche has to go out and come back and three hours gives you a chance to have the full experience of going out and the safety and certainty of coming back. Anything less than that is not considered a holotropic breathwork experience. And so it is this, this enormous body of time we consider in this world that we live in. It’s actually small in comparison to the body of knowledge that’s out there for us to be part of. And so it’s really, um, meaningful to, to, to have that three hours and the music changes very distinctly. So the first is the call to action. The second is this breakthrough music, the, you know, the Epic movie music, which people typically touch big emotional on or big change on and then coming back this gentler music that brings us back to ourselves and who we are. And many people find that the biggest experiences are in the quieter music, that it isn’t the driving, you know, call to action. It isn’t the breakthrough, but it is in that quiet, peaceful coming back into oneself. That one has these profound understandings and experiences. So it’s rich and it’s worthwhile.

D: And so as we’re considering, cause we’ve mentioned it together, we’ve mentioned it a few times as we’re starting to look at how do I do this safely? Anything that’s under three hours, not consider holotropic and probably maybe not a good idea to do it any way. What kind of other things is where as this world is growing, especially in Toronto, do we want to make sure people are looking for, to make sure that if they want this holotropic experience, I mean obviously they should come to you and the community, but outside of the three, what else would we say to be really mindful for when you’re looking to find this practice? 

S: Well, in the Holotropic experience really it’s, as I said, it’s better if it’s done in community. And, um, I, I tend to say come to the bigger groups and come to tr, you know, come into the city and take the time and be part of it here. Not because I think I’m I or the group of us that run it and to hold her any better than anywhere else, but because I think we are better equipped. We’ve got more people, we’ve got a beautiful facility, we have extra support if needed. Um, and so I can, I can, I can know, I can say safely that, that people will be well held when they come to us. Um, I have become increasingly concerned by, um, people who, you know, are going out and, and really experimenting. You know, ayahuasca every second weekend and it’s sacred. This is sacred medicine. This is sacred work. And, and this notion that, you know, particularly with the, with the psyche and you can be blown apart and, and coming back together is, is an intricate business. And so I’ve grown concerned that people just shortcut the, coming back in and, or in some respects building kind of super egos where I can go and do an ayahuasca, you know, ceremony, you know, every couple of weeks. Cause I, you know, I have the capacity. Um, it really is not about that. Right. I think using your intuition and your common sense are two critically important things that you need to keep in mind. I think, you know, just think about it carefully, you know, really do your research before you step off that diving board because it is a diving board. Um, and, but don’t be shy. So there’s a balance between, between doing it and then being terrified and not doing it. I think we owe it to ourselves to do something, whatever that is, you know, from my perspective obviously because it doesn’t involve ingesting anything and because it’s community days, I feel that holotropic breathwork has a really valuable place in that. But I’m don’t pretend to for a minute to think that there are equally valuable things that people will discover. Just as I discovered holotropic breathwork, it came to me. Right. I think when we are supposed to do something, it’s sort of, it shows up for us, you know, we’ll keep, you know, whether it’s, I don’t know, um, whatever it is you keep you running into it, posters, ads, people talking about, and you all of a sudden realize, Oh, okay, this is something I should be doing. 

D: So as far as facilitators go, um, I’d love to know just sort of quickly what the process is to become a facilitator. So then when we’re doing this investigation and as maybe you’re shy, but want to ask questions to make sure it’s a safe space, what kind of questions do you want to ask other facilitators as far as what qualifies them to be able to hold the space?

S: Have they been certified by Stan Grof

D: and it’s that, that’s like the only one?

S: Yes.And in that, in that lineage, in that training, um, you have been put through your paces, turned upside down. You’ve had to create music. You’ve had to, um, um, sort of create opening ceremonies and closing ceremonies. You’ve really, you’ve really had the full enchilada in terms of what needs to be done to do it well. And it has to be done over a minimum of two years. Um, most people take longer, um, to, to do it than that, but, but two years is the minimum because you really have to have done your work in order to be able to hold space for others. Yeah.

D: If people are, well I shouldn’t say if as people have listen and just are like jumping out of their skins. Excited to find this experience in Toronto. Where can they find you? Where can they find holotropic breathing in the city?

S: Well actually I shouldn’t limit it just to Toronto because it is available in other cities across Canada, across the world, across the, but also so in Canada it’s the holotropic breathwork, Canada, um, site that people want to go to. Um, and that gives all the lists, all the workshops that are taking place across Canada. It’s, they’re posted on a regular basis. It’s rather fun cause you get to see other workshops that are taking place in other places and you might decide, Oh, I like go to Montreal for a weekend and do one there. I’m going to be at NBC and I might want to do one there. So that is, that’s, that’s the offering and that’s where you can find all the facilitators that are being trained

D: After traveling everywhere. Do you have any city internationally that you’re like, Hmm, yeah, I like to go there when I’m traveling internationally.

S: I think the place, the spot that really resonates for me is in Spain. Costa Brava cause you are right on the ocean and it is the bender terrainian and you are, you actually breathe. And then I actually wear my swimsuit under my whatever I’m wearing and I literally peel off whatever and go into the water and there’s this incredible sort of, there’s just this incredible sort of sense of joy and, and being in water. So we say part of integration really is, you know, water hot salt bath, great for integration. Um, continuing to journal and write painting even if you don’t normally paint it, get some paints out and just have fun with it. Um, walk in nature. Um, I personally have, have always, since I started to do holotropic breathwork had a little what you would term as an altar but a little place that I bring something of me to on a regular basis. And um, and so that’s become a beautiful way to integrate this work as well.

D: Before we sign off, cause I, I really feel like we could probably continue chatting over breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I already feel like I still have so many questions that I would love to sit down with you again in the near future. Hopefully. But as we’re closing off today’s chat, is there anything that you really feel like you want people to go home really knowing or that there’s anything calling you that you  want to final thought it out?

S: Well, I think first of all, thank you for this lovely opportunity and for opening a door that is so beautiful and essential for people at this period of time. I just invite people, particularly as we begin, you know, a new decade, which is really hard for us to embrace, is really for us to really start to open new doors, to think about the world in a different way, to explore possibilities, to understand that, you know, more is yet to come and that we are part of an evolving story that um, consciousness has a different place where it can go for all of us. And it’s an exciting, it’s an exciting journey.

I think if, if there was one word to describe, I think how I feel right now in this moment, but also about moving in to this new decade is exciting. It does feel really exciting. 

D: Thank you so much for your energy, your time. I’m just, ah, I’m just so grateful and I really appreciate the work that you do and the commitment you have to your work and your community and yourself because it, these experiences truly only happen in grow when the people running them really care and it’s, it’s so clear that this is so important to you and that you care and I can lead to come and do it myself.

S: Well you, the door is open every, you know, all the time and, and again, you know, if you need, obviously if you need more stuff and whatever I can do to support you in this incredible journey that you’ve taken on, it’s like, it’s just


Look you’re glowing! Like you said you wanted to like, like glow through the whole thing!

D: Oh, that’s so funny.


So I really wanted to create this kind of like a sneaky bonus episode for you, but I’m going to be honest. This is like maybe the fourth time I’ve tried to record it and weird things keep happening. 

Like the computer will just stop recording, just like full on stop or I had fully managed to it and then I saved it, exited out, came back into it and the whole thing was gone. So I don’t know what the universe is trying to tell me. Um, maybe it’s trying to tell me to go to bed, which like I would love to do, but I feel like I can’t do that without doing this. So let’s hope that everything aligns this time and I can share with you, um, because I’m really excited to be coming on here, just myself again. As much as I love interviewing, um, it’s kinda fun to talk to you myself. So tomorrow’s episode at our regular scheduled Thursday, 8:00 AM launch is with Sharon Graham who is part of the holotropic breathwork community in Toronto. And I interviewed her after meeting her at an event last year in may and she was speaking and describing the experiences she was having at the facility that we were and I was just so captivated by the way that she was describing things. 

Then the languaging that she was using, I was like, okay, this lady has seen some shit. Like she is talking in a way that I’ve never heard anyone speak before. So we stayed in contact and I learned more about her and what her experience is and that’s how I heard about holotropic breathwork. So if you’ve never heard of holotropic breathwork before, essentially what it is is it’s a style of breathing, um, held in a specific facility. There’s like certain things you have to have in order to run it properly and safely. Um, and it’s a three hour experience of breathing and it has been compared to taking ayahuasca, it’s been compared to shamonic journey, um, just because of the intensity of the experiences that people have. So it was of course right up my alley of something I’ve never done ayahuasca I’ve never, um, I’ve done like “shamonic healings”, but I’ve never worked with, um, uh, professional, real shaman. 

Um, but I have done breath work before, so I was really, really curious about the experience because it has also been, it’s tied with psychedelics in therapy and I think it’s a very interesting world to be exploring. Um, especially thinking about like my own trauma and my own recovery and how unconventional things really helped me. And breathwork was one of them. So the first time I ever did any sort of breathwork experience, I was in Guatemala and I was taking a course. I was, um, on Lake Atitlan, I was there for a month and part of the meditation center that I was at, part of the offering was that there were different classes and courses you could take. So there was a workshop offered and I think it was maybe four days and it was specifically breathwork. 

And I, my friend Val, I was about to say, I had a friend as if I haven’t already spoken about Val on his podcast, but my friend Val had been there a few years before me and she was like, look, if the facilitator is there, you have to do the breath work because it changed my life. And I was like, girl, you know, I’m into it, so I’m gonna do it. And so basically it’s, I think it was four days and I believe it was anywhere from an hour to like two and a half hours that we were in workshop a day. I can’t quite remember. Um, and it started off very simple. It’s all based around yoga principles of breathing, and she just simply called what we were doing, a Kriya breath. Kriya basically means cleansing. There are different things you can do to provide kriya for your body and spirit and soul. 

Uh, so that’s all I really know it as. And the first couple of days were just like basic types of breath that you would learn in class or at a 200 hour experience of teacher training. And then it built to this specific patterning. And the intention of the patterning is that you breathe really intensively for a short period of time. And then the very last round of breath you hold your last breath in and you do a mudra that closes off your eyes, your nose and your ears. So you’re sort of blocking off the senses. And the idea is that like after doing this a certain amount of times, the amount of oxygen that’s circulating around through your body and into your brain can allow you to have sort of like trippy experiences if that’s what you want or if that’s what your body wants. 

So the first couple of days that we did this, I kept getting to a point where I felt that like dizzy feeling like the spins that you got. The only other time, Oh my gosh, probably I’d be the only other time that I’ve ever really experienced that was with concussion or like drinking when you’re drinking and get the spins. So it took me a little while to feel comfortable with feeling that and knowing that I was totally safe. And the second last day that we were in workshop together I went and I, and I was committed to the experience and I was ready for it. And when I did the lock I fully traveled back in time to a different, to a different time. And I was reliving this memory that my body had had but that I had not, I don’t, I didn’t personally remember, but obviously my body remembered this experience where I was in the hospital and I was unconscious but I was listening. 

But I was also conscious ‘cause I was listening to the nurses and the doctors talk over me about me and I could hear the hospital beeping. And it took me a second like I fully remember remembering this experience and working through the process of ‘I’ve been here before, but where am I? I can’t really see anything but I’m hearing my name, I’m hearing them say Dominique Cheshire, these are her injuries, this is her age’. Um, and then I realized it was a memory from the hospital and the facilitator I guess like I, it was on the outside clear that I was having this experience cause I don’t actually know physically what my physical body was doing. But she did come over, she put her hand on my back or my head or something and just sort of like brought me back into the space. 

And I remember just feeling like, Whoa, what the fuck just happened? That was like trippy AF and then the next day it was our final day or final series together. And I didn’t go back to a memory. I had like a vision experience and I haven’t talked about this a lot I don’t think on the podcast. In fact, I’ve barely talked about it to people. In my life, but I used to see things like all the time. I’m like, I mean I guess visions is the way that, that you, the word that you would use. But I used to get visions all the time, especially when I was a teenager, cause I think that’s when I was sort of like most vulnerable to these experiences. And definitely in the past year that skill has sort of drifted away. And I’ll get to that in a second. But, um, I had this vision and it’s a vision of something I have seen before. 

And so that was really cool to sort of have that confirmation. So that was my, the only previous experience I had with breath work, and I loved it. And so as Sharon was describing holotropic breathwork, to me, I was sort of like, okay, yay. This is very much something I’m into and interested in. And I’ve sort of dabbled a little bit and had a really great, albeit a little freaky, um, experience and I definitely be open to doing this again. So when I interviewed her, um, there hadn’t been an opportunity for me to go take a holotropic breathwork experience. So tomorrow’s interview is really focused around what holotropic breathwork is, how Sharon got into it and what her life has been like since, as well as like participating, how, how you could participate. But I really wanted to be able to do it myself before we launched that episode because I wanted to be able to share my own personal experience with it. 

So I recorded with her, um, I think just before Christmas and then I had the opportunity to take a workshop just at the end of January. So I was like, yes, this is perfect. I’m so excited. Let’s do it. And I knew a little bit about it because obviously I had interviewed her, but it was very interesting going in myself. So it’s a really long day. I had to be at the facility, which was downtown Toronto at 9:00 AM and we finished just after 7:00 PM. You get paired off with someone and that pairing is completely random. You’re welcome to attend with someone, you know, but they recommend that you don’t actually partner up with each other for the experience because if you already know that person, you might be inclined to want to engage with them when maybe what they need is not to have anyone engaged with them. 

So it’s better to go with a stranger. So we all arrive, it’s not a particularly big group. I think maybe there was like eight to 10 of us, um, and there was two facilitators and so we all arrive and we sit in a circle and they sort of do like a pre experience chat so that everyone can kind of be on the same page with expectations. And there was a woman sitting next to me who is older than me, um, and I loved her vibe and anytime she was engaging in conversation, she just like really cracked me up. And I just felt like this is the woman that I’m supposed to be working with today. And as they were talking about it, they were describing the roles. So you partner up because you have a breather and you have a sitter. Each person gets a chance to be both roles. 

And that’s what kind of makes the day so long. So each breath work session is three hours long. So when you’re a sitter, you’re literally just sitting there for three hours making sure that if the breather needs anything that you provide it for them. And then you have a break for lunch and then you swap. So it’s another three hour session and whoever didn’t breathe in the morning breaths in the afternoon. After both experiences, you have a chance to color, especially if you were the person breathing. It’s a nice opportunity to get more grounded and um, have something tangible that represents your experience. And at the very end of the day, we had like a share circle. So some of these events, there’s like hundreds of people that attend and you kind of have to break it up into much smaller groups. 

But because we were such a small group, we kind of all got to stay together, which is kind of cool. So they start by talking about really the responsibility of the sitter. Because when you’re in the, in the breathwork, you’re just in the breathwork, right? You’re not focused on anything else other than your experience. And that’s only if you’re like conscious of what’s happening. Cause I guess for some people they’re, they’re really not. Um, but if you’re the sitter, your job is to keep the breather safe without interfering in their experience. So that can go from if the breather feels like they’d like some water, you pass them some water because as a breather, um, they offer you an eye cover so that your eyes can stay close so you can stay in your, in your kind of own little personal bubble so you can’t see anything. 

So the sitter will give you water if you’d like. Earplugs, if you’d like, blankets.. if you need to go to the washroom, the sitter is essentially your guide for all of those things. If you as a breather are having a more aggressive experience. I’d actually, I don’t know if aggressive is the right word. More active, I should say. So an example they gave is that one person started having a full on temper tantrum and wanted to like hit their head against the floor or hit their fist against the floor. So instead of stopping them from that experience, they just put pillows around them to make sure that whatever body part they were hitting wasn’t actually hitting the floor. And of course there are professionally trained facilitators there to like really step in when things get a bit trickier. Um, really your job as the sitter is just for the basic stuff like blankets, earplugs, bathroom, and if it gets more out of hand then there’s a professional there. 

So that was interesting because it was pretty clear when we were in the circle that most of us had been there because we wanted to do the breathing, but they were saying to us like the mediators were saying to us, you know, it’s actually often the sitting that’s the most profound. And I was sort of like, I mean I’ve sat, I think the longest I’ve ever sat in meditation is an hour, but that was like an intentional meditation. I haven’t sat and just like been bored in, I really don’t know how long.We have phones, I have a computer, I have books to read. I have work to do, I have coloring books, you know, like I haven’t sat and done nothing because even meditation is something I haven’t sat and done nothing for three hours in, God knows how long. 

So I decided to be a breather in the afternoon and let my partner be this sitter or let my partner be the breather first because I just felt like, I don’t know what kind of experience I’m going to have. I don’t want to have that experience and then be really tired. I also kind of wanted to see what would happen. And so our group was a particularly tame group, there wasn’t a lot of really intense activity, which is so interesting because holotropic breathwork has been compared to journeying and ayahuasca and whatnot. And those are pretty physical experiences that generally tend to happen. So I was ready for this to be a very physical, um, like scene for three hours and it really, really wasn’t. There wasn’t a lot of movement. My breather barely moved at all. Um, which was really interesting for me to just kind of have to sit there and, and just be there if she needed anything. 

And really that was it. My job was just to be there and not do anything, which I’ll circle back to. Um, so that was like, that was an interesting experience to have to sit for three hours. There’s music playing because the music follows a very specific rhythmic pattern. Um, which is kind of interesting cause you can just sit and listen to it. But yeah, three hours of just sitting there. So then in the afternoon I was sort of like, okay, you know, leading up to this experience, I’ve only ever really heard super, super intense things. So I wonder what’s going to happen for me. It’s no secret that I am a nightmare to sleep next to. I talk in my sleep, I shout in my sleep, I teach in my sleep. Sometimes I move around in my sleep. I’ve gotten up in my sleep before. 

So given that that’s a normal occurrence for me, I was sort of like, I wonder what’s going to happen here. And so I got down, I got cozy and you are guided through a little bit of breath, but it wasn’t anything at all like what I thought it was going to be. So basically you start by inhaling, exhaling, inhaling, exhaling, and there’s no real pauses and you kind of pick up the pace of that as much as it makes sense for you and you breathe as deeply as quickly as you can. And so I started getting that sort of like dizzy experience again and I was lying down. So I was like trying to fight it, trying to just like go with the flow. But my body was like, no, I don’t want to go there. So I was like, okay, I’m not going to like force myself into feeling dizzy. 

So I didn’t breathe like that for that long. And it wasn’t guided for a very long time either. It was only guided for maybe like five or 10 minutes. And then I just sort of fell asleep and I moved around a little bit just cause I had had some stuff going on with my back. So lying on my back wasn’t super comfortable, but I, other than that I really didn’t move that much, which was surprising. So three hours and I, I know that while I was asleep there were things that I was experiencing. Like I was experiencing messages and I know I was seeing things, but I didn’t remember any of it when I came back into the world. But I really felt like, I dunno, I just felt like my body was humming, if that makes sense, in kind of a different way than it had been before. 

And they tell you in the sharing circle that you do after where we were listening to everybody’s experiences and they tell you that it’s not uncommon to spend the next week feeling really, really psychically sensitive and to want to make huge life changes. Like there’s people who come out of it and are like want to get a divorce and quit their job and move across the country. And so there they recommend that you don’t do anything big like that or have any big conversations like that. Okay. But I was like, well, there’s nothing in my life that I feel like I would do that with. And I, on my way home as I was heading back to the apartment, I was thinking like, you know, this is very interesting. I don’t feel like I had a hugely profound physical experience, but something feels different. Like I feel like something has shifted. 

And when I got home, um, it was just me. I was the only one home for a little bit, Tigor had had to go to his family’s house. And so because I had slept for three hours, I was like not tired at all. And he came home pretty late and was pretty tired himself and was trying to stay up with me and I was just like, honestly, go to bed. It’s totally fine. And so he went to bed and I stayed up like much later than I ever usually do. And for no reason at all. I had this thought of what if we broke up and then I thought, no, that’s weird. Why would I think that? I don’t, that’s not at all something that I think that I want and okay, it’s been a busy month and I know that I feel kind of funky right now, but that’s nothing. It’s nothing at all. 

And so the next morning we woke up, it was like any old morning, we got breakfast, we were sitting on the couch, we were chatting and then we kind of got quiet and it was like within a split second the energy changed and I, I didn’t feel, I didn’t feel that different. I just felt like, I just felt like when I was doing the holotropic workshop, I felt like the reason I went to sleep was because the powers that may be needed me to not be conscious in order to make the energy changes, if that makes sense. So we’re finished having breakfast, we’re chatting, and then it goes quiet and then the energy in the room just totally changes and kind of out of nowhere Tigor tells me that he wants to break up, which came as a total shock and surprise. 

But then also I’m like, that’s so wild. I, I had this thought last night but didn’t say anything and obviously it was an incredibly emotional day and was an incredibly emotional week because I got my stuff out of the city as soon as I could and I had to figure my life out because we lived together. All my work was in Toronto. A lot of my friends are in Toronto. My podcast was based out of my apartment. My interviews are based out of my apartment. This was the week that the podcast was launching and so it was a very messy emotional week, but the undercurrent of it all felt like it was what was supposed to happen. And I really feel like I had such confidence in that because of being at this workshop, because it really did feel like that experience of sitting for three hours of having to be a, be present for someone without interfering with someone to be sitting there knowing that the time is going to pass. 

Um, and there’s not a lot I can do about it other than just sit in it and then eventually it’ll be my turn. Right? Like that’s how I felt when I was there. So, so I felt like that whole week, that whole experience was basically just just coming from that. And I genuinely, when people would ask, even like two weeks later would ask, are you okay? I was like, yeah.And I mean, I want to be very mindful to anyone who knew us or knew him and I don’t know what has been said outside of what I’ve shared with my personal friends, but there’s no love lost. There was nothing intensely tragic in our relationship. There was no abuse, there was no infidelity. It was loving and sweet and intentional and thoughtful. And I think it can be all of those things and maybe still not be right, which is a really scary thing to say out loud, but, but having a day where I got to just like be in my woowoow, made me realize that I really haven’t done that and that my, my intuition and my passion for astrology and tarot, and energy work and metaphysics and all of these funny little quirks that I have are things that I had been kind of dimming down over the years because I didn’t want to or I didn’t feel like they were an essential part of what made me happy. 

And now that I’ve had some time, I’m realizing that they totally, totally are like totally are. And that if this hadn’t have happened, maybe I wouldn’t have had this experience. Breathing felt like something changed and then never ever followed up on that, you know? And so I think it takes a lot of bravery to ask for what you feel like you need or needs to happen. Even if you know it’s going to cause a bit of pain and suffering. And so I’m really, really proud of him for initiating this whole thing, knowing that it was going to be messy and it was messy kind of. But then it also like everything in my life anyway, just sort of worked out. And I’ve used this analogy a few times for people where I feel I kind of feel like Moana and not just because I want to live in Hawaii, but, so if you haven’t seen Moana, the gist of it basically is there’s this girl who knows that she has purpose and just has to believe in herself. 

And so she builds a raft or finds a raft, finds a little rafty, and  heads out onto the ocean even though she doesn’t know how to, how to sail. Um, and just decides that she has, she knows she has this purpose and she doesn’t necessarily know the details, but she just knows that this is what she was born for. And so throughout the movie, there’s all these little anecdotal things where she falls into the water. So like either just by falling in herself or her travel companion throws her in and it’s this cute little like animation of the water that always scoops her up and puts her back on the raft. And that’s how I feel. I feel like I’m just on this raft and not raft in a like, what’s that a Tom Hanks movie when he’s like lost on an Island, not like that. 

Like a purposeful raft, a life raft. And I’m on this current and I don’t necessarily know exactly where I’m going or how I’m getting there. And I don’t necessarily have all of my tools just yet. But the more that I believe in myself and the more that I come back to all of these things that I love, that aren’t for everybody, I recognize that like talking about the planets and how the planets and your tarot reading and how your energy work together is not for everybody, but it’s for me, it puts tangibility to the things that I feel and I just know, um, can you tell that I get excited about this and I, and I also feel like that’s what purpose should feel like purpose should feel exciting and bring you joy. And then there’s joy in your purpose. 

And like, I feel like I have that back a little bit and not that it was ever taken away from me. I let that go and I need to sit for myself now. You know, like I need to do that three hours set of not interfering, but letting it happen and knowing that I’m supported and knowing that if I need to go to the bathroom, someone’s going to guide me there, you know? But I, I really feel like that whole day of breathing was like prep for this huge change in my life that I didn’t even facilitate, like physically, purposefully, intentionally. I feel like it’s something that just knew that it was going to happen. Like just the timing of it is not an accident and that’s when it was supposed to happen. And so yeah, I mean I would love to do it again because I mean it was a small group in the middle slash end of January, so it was like a sleepy winter solstice time anyway. 

And so I would love to do a version or a workshop in another place, maybe another country where it’s warmer. So maybe like spring, summer and there’s loads more people. Um, cause I’m just really curious about what the energy of that would be, but I just, I, it was really fascinating. It was really fascinating. And again, like I didn’t have a hugely physical experience, but I believe that the experience I did have was way more energetic. Like so energetic. Like I fell asleep and it was like zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom. Like all of these things were like, okay, she’s asleep, let’s figure this out right now. Like, we have three hours, let’s align all the stars. Let’s agree that there’s going to be some painful things, but the painful things are going to lead to better things because like, honestly, if I have this space right now to like really come home to myself and, and love up on all the things, I love that it just means that if I’m fortunate enough to be in a relationship again, that it’s only going to be better.

And like that’s exciting. I feel excited about that. And yeah. Yeah. That was my, that was my experience. And I, um, I mean, I definitely, I recommend going if you’re curious, but I would say that it would be unfair to put this massive pressure on the experience to be like a shamonic journeying experience, like an Iowasca experience because then you’re sort of already creating something that might not be exactly what your body wants. Um, but we will be talking about all of that stuff more tomorrow on Sharon’s episode and I just, I’m so happy I could come on in and share my personal experience with you beforehand so that you kind of have an idea on what it is and what can happen and how things can happen. Um, and this scale that things can happen on because it can be so, so, so different. 

Okay. I’m so just grateful. I’m so grateful always to be able to get to do this and to get to share and I hope you enjoyed it. If you’re curious at all, even after listening to tomorrow’s with Sharon and curious about like, like holotropic breathwork personally, if there’s anything that is left lingering question wise that doesn’t get answered between the two episodes, please feel free to reach out to me and let me know. Um, the best way to make sure you don’t miss a single second of excitement is to make sure you are subscribed to the podcast. So I super recommend making sure that that’s happening. I’ve been getting so many amazing sweet messages from people in my inbox. Please keep sending those to me. But also, if you have something really kind and awesome to say about the podcast, please feel free to throw that in the reviews. Um, it’s pretty cool to be able to see with each other what everyone’s thinking and feeling and sharing. I hope that you loved it. I will see you tomorrow. I guess you’ll hear me tomorrow again and maybe I’ll do more of these. It’s kind of funny talking by yourself. I have a mirror across from me, so I like every once in a while, keep like gazing over at myself. I hope you have an amazing rest of your day. I love you and I’ll see you later.


Dom: Do you want to like just take a moment together and just take a nice big deep breath in. Deep breath out. 

Carmen: Yes. I love it. 

Dominique: Okay, let’s do it. So I’m going to close my eyes. You can close your eyes if you want to. I won’t know and let’s just take a second to be like, wow, you totally made it. We are here, we are talking and if you want to place a hand on your heart, you can just start to feel whatever surface it is you’re sitting on. If your feet are touching the ground, where are your feet touching? If your tailbone, if your pelvis is sitting on something, can we imagine that that’s getting really nice and heavy emerge as dropping in with our breath to the center of our bodies, knowing that all of the chaos will still be there. But right now it’s about you and your story. 

Let’s take a nice big breath in together and exhale it out. When you’re ready, you can open your eyes.

C: I loved that!

D: I feel like after I do those that it’s almost like I’m coming back and like restarting a little bit. Thank you for taking time to, to sit with me, to be Skyping with me. I, from the moment I met, you have been so excited about getting to know you better, more personally as a friend, the amazing work you do as a business woman and also your incredible story independently. So for anyone who is not super aware who I’m talking to you, I have the absolute pleasure of being with Carmen Darley today. We met, we’ve met a few times, but the first time we met was in October at a Toronto business babes, which is a collective we’re both a part of. They were holding a retreat in Prince Edward County and we were both there. And at the beginning of the retreat, we started by going around the group and sharing what we do. 

And Carmen started talking about her work in painting and with all of the really cool stuff that she does in the art world. And I was like, Ooh, I’m like curious. I want to learn more about resin.. What even is that? And I was sneaky like on Instagram as you were introducing yourself. And I was like, Holy crap, this beautiful. So we initially connected there and it was at that point you shared a little bit about what your journey has been and and how you got where you are and then we connected again at another business babes event in the city where you were actually on a panel, which was even more enlightening as to just how intense your journey has been and how intense your journey is now. 

You have been a busy lady with all of the amazing markets. Anytime you’re in the city and you see a popup market that is, is hosting Carlipaintings. Please go cause it’s probably the only one worth going to. And now we’re sitting down to chat about just how she got here. So welcome Carmen!

C: Thank you so much for having me Dom. It’s like such an honor and all of the stuff that you said about, you know, being able to connect and meeting you. I knew there was something really special about you as well. Um, the minute we started talking, I’m like, Oh my God, this girl is not only super cute, but she’s like so sweet and you know, some people that you meet, you just, you just feel it. You feel that they’re like pure at heart and like they were just a pure person. So I was like, when you asked me about a podcast, I’m like, hell yeah, like down for it. So I’m very excited myself, um, to be here and like it to open up this new decade with you and some of the amazing people that we both met, um, from that retreat is pretty amazing I think.

Like, can you believe like we’re just like starting a whole new decade, like no more twos and ones, but now it’s like twos and twos, right? Like 2020, 2021, you know, like, I think that’s pretty cool. But anyways, thanks for having me. I’m so grateful. And the little like breathing exercise that we did earlier was amazing. I love doing all that. Sometimes we forget about those things when we’re like on our day to day, like we wake up and then we go, go, go, go, go. Right? Like I literally forget to breathe sometimes. And that is a big part of, you know, what I want to focus on in 2020 is like being present. Um, and so this podcast I hope can reach, you know, your audience and my audience and anyone that wants to hear more about living in the present and, and like being mindful and just like enjoying the moment and like self care and mental health being one of the biggest ones that I want to really focus on this year.  

And, um, you know, sharing time and having time for people and like people you love and like, um, because I feel like in 2019 I absolutely did not do that. I was either burnt out, sick or burnt out, busy or just like busy but not complete, you know. So I’ll talk a little bit about that. Um, but being here is definitely, um, an honor and also an accomplishment for myself because I feel like by being, um, open and sharing my story and you know, I’ll go all into it. But by being open and sharing my story, I kind of was able to, you know, connect with people like yourself and many more just like people that struggle probably with the same things, right. Are so afraid to speak up and talk about it because either it was, you know, it’s too shameful or it’s not part of the culture or um, you know, it might ruin reputations and people like people worry about the perception that others will have on you and stuff. Um, so I really want to focus on talking about that. Um, uh, but before that I will start a little bit on how this all came about and I’ll keep a short, cause I tend to like..

D: Oh, don’t keep it short. So for anyone who is familiar with your work under Carlipaintings, I think this is a nice time to just really quickly, and I think you’ve done a very beautiful job of sort of separating two things that are of each other. So CarliPaintings is your brand for all of the art that you do in the work you do through art, but you have another account called that shatterproof lifestyle. And so I think as we get into your story and please spare no detail. People can fast forward if they want to, but they won’t want to because your story is so engaging and you’re right.. I think that for a lot of people it’s something that maybe they haven’t found a voice for or are at that comfort level yet within themselves to discuss. And so to hear your, your whole story is just an honor for me too. So that shatterproof lifestyle is your platform where we, where we get to learn more about how you kind of came to be in this, in this portion of your life. And so if you want to dive in, we’re ready!

C: All right. So how, how did this all start? So actually back, so the business started in 2016 and it started off with my big idea of, you know, sharing, um, having these free workshops for anyone who is suffering from addiction. And I’ll get, like, I’ll get into why I started that, but I think this is kind of like the preamps to why CarliPainting started. Um, and formerly CarliPaintings now, Carly D Paintings and Creations. Um, and there’s a story behind that. There’s always a story behind it. Um, anyhow, uh, so 2016 was when the business started. My first market was Kensington market art fair. Um, it’s pedestrian Sunday in August. And there, uh, I started selling my artwork, abstract paintings with motivational and inspirational quotes. So if you go to my Instagram, um, you’ll be able to see some of the older posts that have, you know, these cute little drawings and abstract paintings, but everything has like a purpose. 

And one of them that’s like really popular is called ‘May All Your Troubles Be Bubbles’. And so with this little girl blowing bubbles and the bubbles turn out to be like this abstract, beautiful, colorful painting and there’s a quote that says, may all your troubles be bubbles. And that’s kind of to to like remind you that no matter how bad the day is, like it can be better and just like kind of blow your bubbles, blow your troubles in like a way. Right? Um, so that’s kind of how my first art pieces started. The business started with going back to that big bright, bold idea where I was like, okay, let’s have these free workshops and anyone who is suffering from, you know, their day to day stressors, things that make them unhappy, they can drop in and take this workshop and do paintings with me at that time. 

Paint night was like super huge. So I was like, instead of having like something that people have to paint, um, which can be stressful. Actually, I’ve been to a few of those and a lot of my friends are like, Oh my God, I’m so stressed though, painting what was given to them. And I was like, honestly, you could paint whatever you want. You don’t have to paint what they are giving you. It’s just like the whole point of this is to like extend your creativity and be around people you love and have fun and have a few drinks and just do whatever. Right. Anyways, at that time, you know, I didn’t really know anything about running a business. I didn’t really know how a workshop would work. I didn’t actually know anything, but I had this idea and then I talked to my husband (then fiance) about, and he’s like, honestly I think it’s an amazing idea, but sorry to like burst your bubbles, you know, to kind of give you like a reality check.

He’s kinda like, just like, how would all of this work out? Like how would this, um, come about? Like where would you start? Do people know you who, what are the types of people that like, you want to come to your workshop? And I’m like, I know already I want addicts. He’s like, yeah, but you know you have to, you know yourself that you won’t just pop in in a workshop and start painting for like for someone that you don’t know. And I was like, okay, you know what, you’re right. And so that’s why I was like, I need to start somewhere. I need to build a brand, I need to know what I’m doing, I need to know my goals and my audience and like really make this an impactful and why I wanted to do all this. And why this big bold idea came about was because I am a recovered, I was a recovering alcoholic at that time and I still, I feel like as an addict you’re never out of it. 

Like I know that’s so crazy or you can take it negatively to say, but the reality is once an addict, you always have it as a part of you. You just learn every single day to be a little bit stronger and you learn, you know how to cope with it. So like it’s always an inside me to, you know, reach for the substance, reach for a drink. Like, those are, those are my fast go to solutions, but now it’s like, okay, well how can I, you know, think of ways to think outside of drinking or like, um, I think of ways to not continue the urge to want to smoke or like smoke weed or something like that. Right. So, um, but anyways, like I’ve been a, uh, an alcoholic, like now I can say it, but even every time I, even though I say it now, but every time I do say it, it’s like I still get this like, heart burning sensation.

Like, like, yeah, I was, um, anyways, uh, so it’s all started back when I was a teen. Drinking was kind of like fun and games, right? You know, when you go to house parties and whatever, have fun with your friends, and then it turned into something that can easily cover my insecurities. So like, I would drink and I would feel so good. Like all of a sudden I’m not insecurity anymore. All of a sudden I don’t care what I did, right? Like I don’t give a shit and I’m not that person. Like, I’m a responsible person. Like I’m a very caring, loving person. But then every time I drank I’m like, well, you know, whatever, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what my parents’ standards were. They wanted me to be, you know, first-generation doctors, lawyers and something professional. But it doesn’t always work out that way. 

So I hid my emotions a lot and drinking allowed for me to like kind of subdue that. Right when you drink you kind of like go into your own world and like you don’t really feel anything. And so that kind of like led to more drinking and the more you drink, the more depressed you get, the more depressed you get, the more you drink, the more you do that, the more anxiety you have because you start doing things irrationally. And so, you know, I went through my fair share of not very proud things that I’ve done. Um, being with different guys. There are like broken relationships and like just doing things that are not something that I would do when I, if I had a clear mind. And then what hit me the most was when I got my first DUI in 2007 and I felt like I hit rock bottom at that time because you know, all my, you get stripped of your privileges, which is like driving and like being able to go places and travel around and drive to different, you know, provinces and just like live your daily life. 

And I realized that, you know, like all these things that I’ve been given, um, is such a privilege, you know, and, and just one day of, of like a mistake, it could be all gone. And that goes with a lot of things, right? Like that’s why we have to be very careful and, but that’s actually not as bad because I did get sober after like for a month after that time and I was like, Oh my God, like this is good. Like I got this and then guess what? I went back to drinking and smoking and like doing drugs. And, um, but I think what really hit me the most was like all the broken relationships that I had between 2007 and 2010 because I was like, I don’t care. Like if things could be stripped away, I just started blaming everybody and like, um, you know, this is what happened to me because of society and like it was not me, but at that point I was drinking so much that it became, and I think like a lot of addicts can attest to that, who are recovering or are listening to the story and probably going through that where they’re like, you know what? 

Like I do blame people but I don’t want to, but I can’t help it. Right. And it’s, it’s just part of it. Um, and then 2010 after everything, after all my like intervention for myself and thinking I’m so like, great, um, I had a second DUI, so that was no longer a slap on the wrist. That was literally like down the hole. Like, you know, that’s when I hit rock bottom. I lost all my friends because I was so ashamed of myself. I decided to cut myself out of everything. All I did was go to work and drink. That was the two things I have ever done 

D: When we talk about the work that you’re doing professionally and in business, it’s all creative work, but at the time are you working creatively with paint or are you doing something else? 

C: So at that time I was working full time, so my background has always been in um, corporate financial. So I’ve worked at, um, financial institutions. Before that I was like manager for like Spence diamonds and just like pretty reputable companies that I’ve worked for. Um, you know, my roles held really, like I was held accountable and I had a lot of responsibilities. So at work it was like this one side of me. And then outside of work it was another side. So I felt like I was living and then to my parents it was another right. And to my friends, it was another, it’s like I’m true, I’m like me, but wearing these different hats. And I think we all do that. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just you have to be so careful when substance is involved because all those things get heightened in a way that can be uncontrollable. Right? So I think we all wear different hats no matter what we do in life. And like when you’re a manager at somewhere and then you hang out with your friends, I’m sure it’s going to be different because you have a certain perception and like a certain portrayal that you need to, to put out there. Right? So I think that’s fine. I think it’s just more because of the alcohol. It just like hindered everything. And I’ve always been a very creative person. So, um, I’ve won like calligraphy awards in Chinese school, um, piano, like, you know, on the creative and it could be like creative arts or music. I’ve always been in band. Um, I’ve always illustrated, so I’ve always drew things and like I love arts, but it was one of those things where, you know, in a Chinese culture it was something that’s not like, it’s almost like frowned upon right back then being first-generation, being Chinese. 

It was more like, well, you can be an artist and starve, um, or you can find a decent job if you’re not going to be a professional, like a doctor and lawyer or accounting, you can find a decent job and earn a decent living and just, you know, kind of be normal. Um, so I never pursued arts, my high school career was all math and science and then I went to university for psychology, um, bachelor’s of science. And then, um, after that I started working. And so I’ve always been creative but never been allowed almost to go that extent of what, where I am now, where I’m like creating every day. 

D: Do you feel like not having that outlet maybe influenced using substance? 

C: Yeah, I think so. I think like if I had focused a little bit of um, more on piano, right, like kind of not steered away from that or like on the music side of arts or um, continued a little bit on, you know, painting and maybe even went to school for the arts.

I think it allowed for me to express some of the emotions that I, that I bottled up cause like at near the end of the alcohol, like alcoholic phase, I started balling up even more emotions where then it starts to make a lot of fuss in a bad way in your mind. And so now one of the ways that I cope is I literally like will start painting. I don’t think about anything. I don’t like the minute I want to drink, I just grab my paint bucket, grab any brush I can find and I’ll like find a canvas, which now I, it’s like I have an abundance amount of canvases back then it’s like, Oh my God, now I have to go to Michael’s and buy some on campus and got to figure it out how I’m going to pay for this. 

Right. But now I have a lot where I can just reach out to and that’s kinda like my coping mechanism now. So I think creativity has saved my life a lot. And I know it sounds really cheesy, but my husband did too. He, um, you know, after I, after 2010 going back to that when I had my second DUI and I just fell flat completely, you know, now at this point, lawyers were involved. Um, massive fines were involved. All my savings were gone. I was living at home. Like I had no money. I had no job. I mean, I had a job. Um, but I was very scared to lose the job. Um, because of everything. Um, all I did was go to work and be drunk because I couldn’t handle what I’ve done. And so if I had started, I think being able to cope a little bit more and have an outlet and that goes with like going to the gym.

It doesn’t have to be painting, right? Like it can be going to the gym or like doing other things that you truly love that’s not gonna consume you. I had an eating disorder when I was much younger where I would eat a bunch and then throw up and be super skinny and it’s just like, I think it’s just a predisposed thing that I have where maybe I lack confidence at the time and like I didn’t know how to manage it. Um, but yeah, creativity and knowing what you love to do the most and just go for it is, is a big, big thing to like kind of steer yourself away from these like traumatic experiences. And, sorry, so I lost my..

D: So we have our second, your second DUI. You were talking about how it totally kind of consumed your life. And so is it at that point that you were like, okay, for real this time or, um, where did it go from there?

C: Well actually it went even more downhill from me at that point. I was like, you know what, this is, this is, this is my fault. Um, I, you know, this is my second DUI. Like I took accountability, but I still wasn’t able to truly believe in that. And so I always say, you know, you have to commit to admit you have to commit to it fully. And like, those are some of the key takeaways that I, I wanna you know, um, kind of repeat later on when we like are near the tail end of the podcast is committing to admitting like sincerely admitting to your faults and not just saying like, yeah, well this happened to me. So, yeah, sure. I’m sorry. But at the end of it, I still feel like, um, you know, there were other people to blame. Like, why, why was it that, you know, other people would drink and drive, why didn’t they get caught? 

Like, how come I got caught? Like I only did it a couple times. Um, which I knew was not the right thing to do, but like again, when you’re not thinking clearly, you don’t, you can’t put two and two together. Um, and then it went even further downhill because of all the broken relationships I had. Nobody left. Um, because I decided to cut my friends out, I felt like they weren’t there for me, which they were, it’s just like, to me it’s like, well, you should be like, lending me money and like, you know, helping me do these things. And like, no, that’s not how it works. Like that’s not how life works. But at that time I didn’t think that either. Um, so broken relationships, no accountability, no money, because I’ve spent it all on lawyers. I spent it all on my fines, like car repairs, everything, and all I had was like, my job. 

And more alcohol because that was the most accessible thing that I can get. Right. They’ll still be able to just around the corner and my family. So at that time, my parents knew, um, but they’re like, you know what, you made a mistake, we accept you for who you are. But you know, parents, they still nag. Um, so I drank more, like I continue to drink more and more and more and to a point where it’s like I would go to work hung over and I would drink until I pass out at night. So from, you know, work time, like work hours, I’m at work. And then after that I’m drinking like, I don’t know, close to a bottle and a half of hard liquors. So spirits, any, anything I can get my hands on. Um, and it got to a point and, and just dating like random guys, like just, it was reckless, it was horrible. Um, and then one day I, after the DUI, actually, and I think I mentioned this to you and I want to touch on it, it really hit me was when I was in the drunk tank in jail for the night. And they’re like, you have one person to call, you can have any, like you can make one phone call, who are you going to call? And I was like, Holy shit, I just came from like this huge club. I felt so good. I have all this attention, people that were gonna be there, like who are like my friends apparently. 

Um, and I had like so many things surrounding me. All the, the drinks, the alcohol, the party, the fun, like things that I ran away to go to. Um, I had no one to call. Like I had nobody. And at that point I was like, Oh my God. Like I must like, this is not who I am and I must be doing something wrong. But even at that point, I was like, well, they’re not there for me cause they’re, you know, they’re X, Y, and Z. They’re just like, they’re assholes for not being there for me. And like, still that mindset was, it’s not on me. Right. And that’s why like the biggest thing, and I keep repeating it, is like committing to meeting everything that you’re accountable for everything that you’ve done wrong and like just facing the facts. But, uh, in 2011, um, after all the DUIs, the drunk tank and all that stuff, broken relationships, um, my first like thought of suicide came along and that was the darkest place that I’ve ever been in, in my entire life where, um, I think I was probably pretty drunk at that time at home. 

And I called my girlfriend and I cried to her and she’s like, you know, and this is a girl that I haven’t  spoke to in like ages. I just called her out of the blue and we’re good friends now because we reconnected. But I called her and I was like, you know, I’m so ashamed of everything I am. So I’m such a loser, like, you know, I feel so bad for what I’ve done to you and other people. And then after the call she’s like, you know what? I think you need to sleep and like sleep off your alcohol. When I was like, no, I’m not drunk. She’s like, no, you’re clearly like hammered and I, you know, you don’t, you never admit it when you’re, when you’re in that state. 

And then I remember just sitting in my parents’ kitchen with like a paring knife and I was like, literally, I could just stab myself in the heart right now. And all of this will end, all of this will just be over and I don’t have to deal with any of this and, and everything will be fine. Everyone will move on and I won’t have to hurt anyone anymore. I don’t have to hurt myself anymore. And it’ll be okay. And then either I passed out or a fly, like I remember seeing a flash of light and then I passed out and I woke up and my pants, my mom came down early in the morning before she went to work. And she’s like, why were you sitting there like, why were you laying in the kitchen with a knife? And I was like, Oh, I had no idea. What do you mean? 

I was like, Oh, I probably was just trying to cut up a fruit. She’s like, I hope you’re not doing something stupid. I was like, Oh no, no. I would never do that. Like, but in my mind I was like, Oh shit, I, I literally try to kill myself last night something happened and it didn’t end up following through. Which at that point I was like, okay, this is something really serious. Like I don’t want to give up like opportunities to fix other people, not fixed, but like opportunities to show other people that this is not the way to go. Like, um, that’s when I kind of got up and said, Oh my God, it was a, it was a knife with a red handle. It was one of those pairing knives that I just stared. I was like, Oh my God. Like, I couldn’t believe that that would like, I, it could, I could have not woken up like that was it. 

And I think my thought around that was like, okay, I need help. I need help. Like at that point I was just like, okay, this is, this is enough. Like, and I was like, okay. At that point I was kind of like buzzed still and I was like, okay, if I was to die right now, I would have so much debt from my parents. I would like so many things on explained, um, all the stories and like I would leave this perception of me that’s like irresponsible, dumb drunk, like some idiot, first-generation child that like is a complete disgrace to the family and that’s what I’m going to die with. Like really, like that was what last night could have been. And so then I was like, okay, no, I need to change this around because I’m better than that. Like I’m worth way more than, than just like being dead after two bottles of rum, stabbing myself and um, being in my parents’ kitchen.

Like that’s not how I want to go. And so that was when, um, 2012 came, still was drinking but very like still drinking and still like living that life and but in the back of my head I’m like, I need help, I need help. And that was like the lead to like, okay, I need help, let’s like try to not drink as much and like, cause I learned a lot about like harm reduction, um, how to like cope. And that’s when like some of the creativity started coming out as well. And then 2013 was when I actually went to the psychiatrist and got medicated and got help. 20 February, 2013 and I relapsed about over 10 times. And finally three years later, long story short, 2013 is when I started to get help. 2016 was when I actually stopped. So you can imagine three years of meds, depression, ups and downs and like uphill battle, um, trying different medications.

But I was always on this, um, drinking medication where it’s like if you drink on the medication then you actually get sick. And I’ve learned so many ways to trick that drug and to not take it for, you know, 48 hours and then like sneaky drink and you know, I always get busted cause I smell like alcohol. But yeah, that was kinda, that’s kind of like the story of Carmen and why I’m out in this world and why I’m still here and, and I decided to share the story because I felt all of the shame, you know, like, um, and I didn’t take accountability and that’s one thing that I feel like we shouldn’t, no matter what it is, be it like eating disorders or like any type of issue. Like don’t be ashamed to share it. That’s kinda my second takeaway is always talk about it. Talk about how you feel. I know it sounds like, Oh my God, it’s so cheese Moe’s,

D: Oh my gosh. Okay. First of all, cheese moes, love it. But just taking a second to sort of soak in this story that you just told is like, I’m so grateful that you’re here and I’m so grateful you’re, you’re sharing and doing the work that you’re doing that I, so from my perspective talking about my story, there are days when I can talk about it where I’m like kind of detached from it. I’m like, okay, yeah, it’s this thing that happened and whatever. But the days when I really get into it I’m like, I almost feel like I don’t really even remember being that person. And it’s so interesting how like through life we can have these very intense experiences, but then on the other side of it, it’d be like, I can see the lessons, I can see the learning, I can see how it got me where I am now. But like, Holy crap, that was me too. 

C: Yeah, it’s so true. What you’re saying is so true. Like that was me. And I think that like for me, for some people, you know, they, they go through the drinking and then they can control it. I’m  predisposed whatever it is. Sorry, my dog shaking.

 Um, but, um, I just, my psychiatrist told me, she’s like, if you don’t want to be that person anymore, which I probably still have it inside of me. We all have our like, you know, thing, but it’s like what brings out the worst of me is alcohol. Right. And so I don’t touch it anymore. I’m on my third year of sobriety. 

D: Congratulations!

C: Thank you. And it’s crazy to think that in two months, so 2010 February 27 on my mom’s birthday was my second DUI and you know, February 27, 2020, I’m probably running a workshop to have them (addicts) be there and just like if they want to talk about their, their life, sure, whatever. If they just want to keep quiet and do some resin, that’s fine as well. But it’s like, that’s the third thing that I want to really, you know, talk about as a takeaway for this podcast is like what next? Right? Like there’s always like, what next? And it made me feel like, crap, there’s two options. Am I going to continue and figure out why? Because I see potential or is it absolute toxic and I’m just going to like completely step away. Right? There’s like there’s always that choice that you can make and like when there’s potential, so much can come out of it. Right? But you don’t think that until you really, really dig deeper and talk about it. 

D: And I think you, you danced on this, which is so true. When we’re feeling shameful of something that we’ve done, whether we’re able to commit to admit or not, it’s hard to feel like you have something valuable. Like I feel like Holt feeling shameful and feeling valuable don’t really go together. But then when you have these ideas, like you had said about how from the get go of starting your business, your intention was to offer workshops. That’s so valuable. But then the people that you want to attract, you kind of have to meet as like everyone has to meet where we are and so then you don’t get to the valuable without the shame. So it’s like so interesting. Yeah, it’s, yeah. 

C: Oh, interesting. How like the universe, you know, comes, comes like around like that, right. It’s like you don’t experience the sunshine and the warmth until you hit that or like what they say. You don’t see the rainbow until it rains like until after it and all that stuff. So it’s exactly what you said. Like from all that shame and all that guilt, it was like I felt so like, Oh my God, I’m the most useless piece of shit in this world and I have nothing to give back. All I can do is hurt people. And like I went through that for a long, long time until I’m like, no. And I think it was like through that um, suicide attempt or or whatever you call it, maybe I was never going to do it and that’s why it never happened. Like who knows now and it doesn’t matter. 

But I think it was through that where it’s like, okay, that’s enough. Like beating on myself and feeling sorry for myself and feeling all ashamed and like being so overwhelmed with it is serving nobody like that. Like it’s serving nobody. If anything it’s like deeper into the hole and you’re right. Like all the valuable stuff came about. The, when I just decided to change my way of life, decided to keep the people that I truly admire and the expires me close to me. Right. And like really fostering those relationships and like that’s how they gave value to me and I gave value to them and it was like a bit of back and forth and bouncing ideas. And then you know, as you go along with your business, you meet people and you meet good people and you need not so good people. I never say bad people, but I feel like people always have good intentions. 

It just might not be, you know, something that’s matching on the same level as your agenda. So it doesn’t mean that they’re bad people. There’s good people and there’s not so good people for your agenda at the time. But like I would never say like, Oh yeah, that person was like a piece of crap and like whatever. It’s just, it might not be a match for you at that time. And it’s okay because you learn something from it. You learn what not to do and who not to be when you get to a certain point, 

D: But was the, if you don’t mind me asking, how, how did this process go of like, having had this moment being sort of corporate Carmen who was living all of these sort of altered lives to then getting, like really committing to the creative side and the expression and then Kensington market and then where you are now, how did that all sort of flow through? 

C: So, um, basically from that day on about, you know, the big bold idea of the workshop, I decided to build the business. Um, at that time I was working full time in the public sectors. So I did a career change after everything that happened to me. And that’s a bit of a life changer as well, where I decided to focus a little bit more on healthcare, um, providing, you know, help and health for the citizens of Ontario, like, and for Ontarians and improving their health care and this health system. Um, so at that time I was doing full time corporate work and building, this was my side hustle. Like my hobby side hustle, where I would paint, bring it to art fairs and sell it. And how I came about with the certain collections was, you know, it needs to be motivational. There has to be an intention and purpose behind all my art pieces.

They’re all originals. And I really just let my psychology and business background take over. So the marketing aspect, the branding all came from work experience and then the creativity was more about, you know, how would it be psychologically attractive and what, like would it be meaningful and valuable? Everything that I do and my why is always to make sure that I give out something to the world that would add value so that you can leverage the tools that I give you to maximize your potential. So even as simple as the abstract art illustration and paintings, literally it’s a tool that you can take home because it’s colorful and it’s enjoyable. It brings you joy. It also has that little like reminder every day. Um, may all your troubles be bubbles, you know, the um, I think the other one was from Maya Angelou, which is ‘no one can dim the light that shines within’. 

And then, um, the more grounding one is the little, the tiniest Oak was, sorry, the littlest, the biggest Oak was once a little nut. And so year one was infiltrating, literally I was at every market selling our for, you know, a pretty affordable price. And at that time it was kind of frowned, frowned upon. And that’s one thing I want to say. Like for all the new entrepreneurs out there, do what you like, do what you believe in and do what makes you feel good. Like you know, your product, you know what it’s worth, you sell it at what price you feel like, obviously don’t sell it for like way lower than market. But you know, I think a lot of times you’ll get feedback from different people as to how you run your business and similar to raising a baby, it’s yours. Like your business is your baby.

You can run it and raise it however you want. Right. So that’s just a sidebar. Um, so I infiltrated the market. That was my goal. Year two was 2017 when I kind of put a halt to everything. I was working full time at that time and, um, I was doing this part time, so going to markets, I also got married that year and then I was pregnant immediately. Actually during my wedding I was already a month pregnant. Um, so I had, I got married and got pregnant like right away, had the baby right away, so I didn’t really have much time to focus on anything. And, um, you know, the blessing is that with my baby girl, um, Stacy D, which is her little pseudonym, just like Carly D, her name is Anastasia. Um, so soon after she was born I went on mat leave and that was when I really want to focus on building the business in 2019 and 2018 was all about foundation meeting and right people doing the right things and just paving the path for what’s to come in 2020. And so, um, when you asked me about, you know, my goals, am I there yet? I am close. So 2020, uh, the big focus is on workshops from January until April. Um, there will be a series of workshops that’s going to take place and tickets are either on sale now when this podcasts launched, uh, or it’s going to be on sale in the beginning of January for the entire series. 

So they’re all at different places, but they’re all going to be experiential. So there’s an opportunity to have some snacks. Um, do a bit of photo taking. I’m big on the instance and so worthy areas or memorable areas. Um, so there’ll be decorations and everything and they’re going to be, um, at very specific locations, um, in collaboration with, um, one of them is Roselle and CO’s, so they’re actually a vintage China, um, rental company. So they have all these beautiful China’s that they rent out for like high tea and stuff. So the workshop will take place there. Um, it’s pretty intimate. It’s most workshops are from six to eight people and that’s what I want, right? Like I want the workshops to be engaging. I want people to talk to, chat, to meet friends, to meet accountability partners. 

And I think, um, in the beginning I wanted it to be like solely for addicts or people who are struggling with addictions. But I feel like as a recovered addict myself, it’s not something that people want to talk about immediately. So they don’t, I don’t want it to, I don’t want to brand the workshops as if you’re struggling with addictions and you need an outlet, please come to my workshop. Like I didn’t want it to be like, have that messaging or connotation. I kind of wanted to be like a normal workshop and whatever goes on in the car. Lady workshops stays in the car, lady workshops. Right. I love that. But kind of like, you know, just opening it up for anyone. Like not just people who want to talk feelings and emotions by people who want to talk about mom or business or whatever. Arts and crafts and creativity. So it’s kind of open right now. 

Um, I did, um, secure a partnership with Ontario shores, so that’s a big win. So what Ontario shores is, is a, they’re based in Durham. They’re one of the largest, I believe, mental health hospitals in Durham. And they have an inpatient unit. They do everything from eating disorder to addictions, mental health, inpatient, everything. And um, I secured a partnership with them. And so when it comes to the specific, um, workshops or events or initiatives that I’m building with them that are more mental health, um, related, I’m going to work with them on, on it. So there you’ll find more like mental wellness kind of events where, you know, paint and create and like mental health as well, that type of thing. And then probably a few other ones that are not as heavy probably like literally just go in, chill out. So it’s definitely all coming together. Yeah. So that’s the workshop portion only

D: Hey, can you believe that you’re, what, like three ish years going into 2020 into your business and like there’s this amazing partnership developing and you’ve been published, you’re sharing your story. And I’m just like, Oh my God, Oh my God, Carmen! Do you take time in your day to be like holy crap?! 

C: Yeah. And it’s like, you know, you always celebrate, you should always celebrate your small wins. Um, I am totally guilty of not doing that because I’m like and tell I’m on Oprah, but that is so not true. Like, first of all, I’m never going to be on Oprah. I mean come on. But you know what I mean? Like even the smallest things, like, honestly, looking back, my first market when I sold my first painting, I celebrated that. Like, I literally happy dance in my booth for like a good five minutes and now it’s like, Oh my God, this year I think I’ve sold over 6,000 coasters and it’s like over 6,000. And that doesn’t include, you know, some of the ones that were given away or part of sponsorships, um, uh, things that I, you know, donate to and, and such. 

So I’m like, yeah, I think from being in that kitchen, no, from being in jail that night to being in the kitchen close to like killing myself to being here. I don’t know where I would be with though. Everyone around me and you know, my parents, my husband like meeting you, you know, like you helped me talk about the story so comfortably and um, you know, sharing your story and I was like, Oh my goodness, your story is crazy. Like it’s an, it’s not a mental, it’s not a mental thing. Compare. Like mine was more like mental and like physical abuse, more like, but everyone has their own story and I always say we all share the same chapters in a book, but all our stories are so unique and different. We all go through life like being such a bubble, you know, you, you just walk across someone, you have no idea what their day’s like.

You have no idea what they’ve gone through. Right. So like that really puts into perspective of how I see things in the world and how it changes my perspective. Not to be like, Oh my God, the glass is always half full. Everything is, you know, great and Daisy and everything’s amazing. No, it doesn’t work that way. But like I do see another side into all and some of the negative things that’s happened. If I didn’t go through what I went through, I’ve never met you and I would never be sitting here listening to your inspiring story of how you bounce back physically and like how you really like use that to create this podcast and share that with the world. Right. So yeah, it’s so amazing. And so like, I think it’s a big celebration for all of us. And the third thing that I really wanted to really, you know, hone on and um, kind of like a takeaway for our listener is no matter what you do, it’s always like giving back. 

Um, you know, that’s kind of my three core things, like through my journey. Those are the three major things like commit to admit,  talk about your feelings and always trying to give back somehow. It doesn’t have to be monetary. It doesn’t always have to be like big bang value. Like, Oh my God, I like introduced her to this person and look where she’s at now. Like it’s nothing, absolutely nothing like that. It could literally be like, Hey, I bought you a coffee. I’m downstairs. I’ve left it like here for you. I like come down and pick it up or like, um, I donated $2 at the grocery store today and that’s it. Like you don’t have to do it every time, but you know, like small smell things and being a partnership and volunteering for all the organizations that I did, it all goes back to, um, being able to give back because I got so much, like I got so much from everyone else that like, there’s so much to get right. Like it’s always about paying it forward. So I think, um, celebration is definitely a must for 2020 all your accomplishments for, for everybody. Like I think it’s still the early in the year as you guys are listening to this podcast. So there’s so much more months to celebrate and um, I think it’s, it’s really exciting. I can’t wait to see like hopefully some of you guys at my workshop.  

D: Yeah. Yeah, 100%. I like, it’s funny as we’re chatting, so my, um, my boyfriend recently through the months has gotten more and more into, into painting and he does design stuff on the computer. But so I’m like talking to you, but behind me are like all of these paintbrushes and canvases and so talking to you, I’m like, okay, I need to paint. And it’s okay because I have them right here. You kind of did this for me, but I want to ask, um, officially ask anyway. If there’s anyone listening who sees a part of themselves in your journey, if there’s anything you could say, aside from all of those amazing, amazing initiatives you shared of your, your three things and commit to admit. But if there’s one thing, if someone needed to hear it right now that you could share, what would that, what would that thing be?

C: I would say, um, no one will believe in you more than you ever will. So does that even make sense? What I’m trying to say is know your worth. You’re worth way, way more than you think. Um, at this moment, if you are going through any type of hardship, be it, you know, trying to get past, you know, losses or business fails or you know, personal, um, eating habits, you know, weight gain, weight loss, whatever it is, that’s like a struggle or a challenge according to you. And I say that because everyone is different, right? Um, really dig a little bit deeper and go into the three things that I talk about right? Where it’s like commit to admit if you have a problem or not. If you do, then you need to take the necessarily steps. Um, talking about it is very, very important because that’s when you start to realize your worth, that you worth so much more than what you are in your struggle at that time. 

And you are worth so much more that you’re able to collect all these, these emotions that you felt, and I say that in the nicest way, like not everyone gets to experience certain emotions that some of people that go through the struggles experience, right? Because it’s, it’s everyone’s different. Um, so because you had, I can say opportunity, I don’t know. Um, yeah, you can because you’ve had the opportunity to feel these, these fields and emotions. Like you now have a chance to be like, you know what? I felt it, I understand it now I’m going to turn it around and make it valuable and that’s how I can give back and not like immediately switches from any type of shame, guilt, whatever, into something valuable, literally like shit into gold. Like what’s that like? Literally, what’s it? 

I feel like, um, is what I can, is what I can say to you. Like you’re probably, if you’re going through a really tough time right now, it’s not going to be easy, but really like digging deeper and sitting down and doing some of the activities that um, Dom specializes in, which is like, you know, the breathing, the physical, the mental, um, the, the like body and with the physical aspect of it and like just calming down and slowing down your, you’ll really be able to kind of figure out, um, mentally what you can do with all these experiences. Yeah. 

D: If people are really, cause I know they will be excited about following you. We know that shatterproof lifestyle is your more personal account or has it changed? Tell me where can we find you? 

C: Um, you can find me @carlipaintings, Um, that’s my home decor art account. Um, so a lot of my day to day is what I share through there. Um, #thatshatterprooflifestyle, my whole focus and intention on that is to share my lifestyle, like open up my life, um, to the world, but not take away from my art. So that’s why I decided to open that. Um, and it will be more on, um, coping mechanism, more like mindfulness and like, you know, maybe some, and when we like if we can collaborate and write a post or like do something in terms of like how you, how your mind is so connected to your body and your movement. Um, so like stuff like that, right? It’s more like health and wellness slash addiction slash business. Slash. Lifestyle. And that’s why I called it the shatterproof lifestyle. Um, the description of why I named it that is there, but I’m just gonna pull it up quickly. I know I should have this memorized, but there was a billion things on my mind. I can’t remember what I did like an hour ago. Oh yeah. It was in traffic. 

Um, so, um, the posts on the shatterproof lifestyle after like, I think it’s like the second post is basically like, we’re not Bulletproof, cause not, we’re not fighting a war. We’re not unbreakable. Cause then we can never mend if we were never broken. And that goes back to if we never felt these broken feelings and struggles, we would never know the glory of what we’re like valued at, right? Like how valuable we are. And so what shatterproof means, it’s like figuring out our surroundings and situations and continues to learn and adapt so we can proactively make better choices to avoid undesirable situations. That’s what shatterproof being shatterproof means. It doesn’t mean that you don’t feel anything. It’s just means that you will take what you’ve learned and what you felt and literally turn it around so that you become more shatterproof. 

Amazing. Kind of like, I’m super excited about it because I’m going to be posting a lot more and like literally opening up my life and like my day to day to through that account. Right now I’m kind of just, you know, with the Christmas season and stuff. Um, the painting account, the home decor, the Parley painting account is still a little bit more active. Um, being that it has more followers, but I don’t like the audience. There is more like artists and not lifestyle. So like artists around the world are looking at my work or like following me for inspiration or um, you know, different, it’s just a bit of a different audience. Some are interested in the life but the lifestyle. But um, yeah, that’s kind of where you guys can find me and email DMS. I’m open to all of that. I answer every single DM myself. I answer to every question. I face time, I do whatever to help you. Um, if it’s art related, I literally call someone from Alberta the other day and she’s like, it’s not caring how runny it is lady. Cause like she saw my tutorial on YouTube, I art resin and then she’s like, I try to dad, I’m like, okay, you know what, let me just call you. And so like she showed me what she did. I’m like, Oh my God, it’s gorgeous. I’m a little bit jealous. So like here we are pumping workshops but also just being a general cheerleader for everybody. 

D: I was going to say, and I am like so cheerleading you from my couch and I can’t wait for all the amazing things for the new year. And I again, I’m just so grateful for taking time to, to chat with me and your vulnerability of sharing. I know that there are bits and pieces and weaving throughout that I think we can all relate to in some way or another and having that vulnerability to come out and share. It’s just so, so wonderful. So thank you so much. And maybe we’ll just have to do around two cause I feel like we just have so much to talk about all the time. 

C: No, I love it. I love it. Well I can’t wait to come and see you and um, hang out and do all the great things that we’re going to do. It’s going to be so good. It’s so good. I love it. 


Dominique: So I’m so excited to have this morning the absolute privilege of talking to Anna and Lindy of love powered co. I first came across you both at a Toronto Business Babes event. It was their mom event, I think that was in June. Now, my gosh, it feels so long ago. And it was the first time I’d ever really seen affirmations in like a tangible card form. And I was like, okay, this is kinda cool. Like I can dig it, this is rad. Although I’m not a mom myself, I worked with a lot of women and so it just, it felt really amazing to be in a space where there was this beautiful combination of like, yes, we can celebrateall of the ways that a woman can be powerful. Uh, and so that was fun and it kind of resonated and I was like, Ooh, yeah, I want to see what’s going on over here.

And then you are again at another Business Babes Toronto event at the end of October. And that was one event where, um, I felt like there was a little more sharing of where, the cards came from. And I resonated then again on that level because I hadn’t even really realized how much I had been using affirmation myself until I heard someone put words to what the experience was. And so then when I was like, okay, I have to, I have to create a platform and share all these amazing people I’ve met. You were like the first on my list so thank you so much for taking your time this morning. If you would like to introduce yourselves and love powered co, I would love that!

Lindy: Sure. Well thank you for having us. And what a beautiful introduction. I’m Lindy and this is Anna. And together we co-created a company called love powered co. We launched it in August of 2017 and how we came to the idea was, as you mentioned, um, you know, you never saw an affirmation in physical form in a card. And Anna and I, I mean when we met, we were fast friends, but we almost immediately knew we wanted to be in business together because as we got to know each other, we had really paralleled backgrounds and similar histories in terms of schooling and work experience. But, um, but more than that we realized that both of us were on pretty serious personal development journeys. And one of the best practices that we were both wildly obsessed with was doing our affirmations. We came to doing affirmations in very different ways, but in both circumstances we noticed these beautiful transformative benefits that were really empowering and impacting our lives in such a beautiful way. 

And being moms, as we were talking one day we were saying, you know, these affirmations that we’re doing, and we were talking about how amazing they’d been in our lives, how amazing would it be for our kids? And so we started to look online for what was available in terms of affirmations for kids. And they were few and far between. And what was available was mostly downloadables that you could print off from Pinterest. But more than that, it was what was available. It was not something that either of us would purchase, it just didn’t speak to us. So I started doing affirmations with my kids, but I was making them up on the spot. And I was just saying at one point to Anna like we need a tool, we need a tool to help guide us. And there was one moment when we were sitting in Anna’s basement, we have a picture of it. 

I love going back to this picture ‘cause it was such a pivotal moment. That was the day we had our kids running around. It was like 2:00 PM probably on a Monday. We were drinking a bottle of wine cause mom life, you know, we were talking about well if we’re looking for this and if we’re craving this and if we can’t find what we’re looking for, then obviously there’s a hole in the marketplace and who better to fill it than us. And so essentially that’s where the idea of love powered was born. And that was in November, 2016 from there we launched in August of 2017 so less than a year later to watch this shift in consciousness and be a part in it. You know, it’s been amazing.

Anna; And I will add what I think Dominique said at the beginning though she was like, I was practicing affirmations but I wasn’t, I didn’t label them affirmation. Right? I mean we’re talking to ourselves all day long, right? There are you know, 50 to 70,000 thoughts that go through your mind every single day. So it’s that we’re doing it but we’re just not Googling it as an affirmation as you witnessed.

D: I love how, um, I love how with your deck you took the time to put not just like a quick little slip cause I feel like a lot of card decks do that. Whether they’re Oracle cards or angel cards or whatever cards it is. I feel like there’s sort of this like little side paper that falls out that’s like, Oh by the way, this is how you do this. And I don’t know if anyone ever really uses them, I know I pretty much don’t. And like, Oh yeah, the intention behind that was obviously not important. That’s why it’s so small. So I’m not going to put intention into it either. And I loved how the first thing when you open your jacket, all of these beautiful cards of, you know what to say to yourself. It can be really stinking and hard sometimes to think of something to say to yourself especially that’s nice. 

Especially if you haven’t actively been thinking about that. So to have like a double sided card that has these things that you can start with I think is such a beautiful way for people who maybe don’t still know what affirmation is or know what they are but feel like it’s so outside of their comfort zone, they’re not sure where to start. I thought that that was beautiful and that it wasn’t just like a quick extra side note. It was this first thing you see and it’s just as beautifully laid out as all of the other cards. Cause I think that that the energy behind that then really gets the momentum going. Like I’ve been pulling my cards everyday and I always get goosebumpy like yeah. And if I’m, I’m not sure, I’ll look at that deck too. And I have a pretty regular practice and so I really appreciate that. That was something you had thought about.

A;  Why don’t we start with you choosing your power for the day. So what is the number between..

L; she has her own deck

A; but you’ll choose from ours!

D; Okay I’m making a pick. I’m going to pick 14 today. I’m feeling 14 

A; I wonder if yes. Can you read it? So what’s your power?

D; Confidence is my power. Oh, I’m feeling this part today. Okay. I am confident. I am powerful. I am fearless. I see every challenge as an opportunity to expand and grow. I am confident.

So I wanted to ask, um, because I love that this is where your journey has taken you, but to take a step back into how this became something that was so important in your life. And I know a little bit about your stories, but I would love if you would each wanted to share why this became so important and what your journey was to get here if you, if you feel comfortable.

A; Hm. Okay. Um, so for me personally, uh, so I would like how far do I take it as far as you want to go? So I mean, if I look back in terms of affirmations and when I really started practicing them unconsciously was, you know, I was raised in an immigrant family, so I came to Canada when I was six years old. Um, so I say Disnay, not Disney! So my accent comes out once in awhile. Um, so I came to Canada when I was six years old and my parents worked really, really hard to kind of provide a future for my brother and I. And so, you know, this work ethic and this, um, I guess this determination and this drive was instilled in us, both of us just from my young age. And so, you know, you’ve got to work hard for, um, to achieve something in life and so forth. 

And so I was really working hard, studying hard to go to university to go to a great university, then get a great job. So this was kind of my conditioning. And so as I was going through university, I would self-talk and self empower myself. And I remember even, you know, earlier in high school when exams were coming, I would talk to myself, you’ve got this, you’re going to do amazing. And, and you know, for as long as I can remember, I would talk to myself in an empowering way. I also, you know, did track and it was like, okay, you’ve got this, you can do it. You can cross the finish line. Like I remember talking to myself and when it came, I didn’t label it just like you though. But when I became a mom, the transition from being a full time entrepreneur to being a mom was extremely difficult for me. 

And I realized that I had stopped that positive self talk and it was hard. It was, it was a rough transition. And then as I consciously began practicing affirmations and speaking them to my daughter, you know, you can fall asleep, you sleep peacefully through the night, um, and speaking these comforting words, you’re safe. Um, I realized, okay, this is working not only for her subconsciously but it’s working for me and calming me and just bringing me myself back to a peaceful state. And so, you know, it kind of happened where I was practicing affirmations and then consciously went back to them when I became a mom and it was an in divine timing that I connected with Lindy and she was doing affirmations with her kids who are young at the time as well, making them up on the spot. But um, how she got there was, it’s a little bit of a different journey 

D; I was just gonna touch on something, something you said that is a theme that’s been coming up as I’ve been having more of these conversations and that I feel like in athletics, although there are lots of stuff and that are maybe on the darker side in that route, cause I came from a dance background that was my athletics for most of my life. Um, that, that conversation of saying things to yourself, I feel like that happens there a lot. And it’s maybe not same thing, not called affirmations but they talk a lot. I remember like having coaches come in and be like, visualize the thing you’re doing tonight, visualize your body doing this. I used to create a persona and that persona could do all the things that I felt weren’t my strengths. And it’s so interesting cause then that scale like lives in a way that nobody really questions it. It’s like really something that they encourage in one area of life. But then in another it’s something that feels a little foreign. And so I’m wondering as you’re talking about having this innate ability to say things to yourself, do you think that came from, from the athletic side cause you were already doing it there or was it something you just started knew how to do because you were like, well I got to do it.

A; I don’t think it’s, I mean I was doing track at a high level at some point and so I don’t know, I don’t remember coaches saying that to me, but I remember in those specifics like I would do a hundred dash. I remember like focusing on something, visualizing the night before, you know, getting out of the blocks and sprinting and crossing that finish line first. It’s something that athletes practice, but why not everybody?  Totally need to become mainstream visualization and manifestation and affirmations. Like I’m pretty obsessed with the fact that it is becoming so mainstream. And you know as you were saying that I got the massive, like massive goosebumps because I have an incredible product idea that I have not even told Lindy about, and I remembered it this morning cause I remembered it at the conference and then I remembered it this morning and as you were speaking I just had like goosebumps all over my body.

D; Yes, 100% I feel like the goosebumps, like that tingly feeling is something magic is happening. 

L; The first quotes we looked at when we were researching affirmations before we got started. Um, one of the first quotes that I absolutely fell in love with was Muhammad Ali. And it’s this, “It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things become, things begin to happen.’ And I would just remind myself, yeah, so you’re talking about sports and that whole world of athletics and everything, but I agree. Why not everybody? 

D; Yeah, no, totally. Yeah, totally. And it’s so interesting that I feel like, I feel like there are a lot of things that happen in sports that can sometimes maybe be like what outside of sports would be considered potentially like woo woo, but in that world it’s like, no, no, no, this is what we do. And I know that I have friends when we talk about like sports stuff, it’s so interesting to see like, Oh my gosh, I had these practices here, but it almost felt like because there are two different spaces, I can’t do it here in like real life. And so I really, again, that’s what’s so lovely about your deck is it’s so accessible and it doesn’t feel like you have to be anything other than a human being to pick them up and want to use them. 

L: Which is great. That’s true. And I mean, if you even think about high level performers in any regard, people themselves all the time, I mean you have to get over that hump of, if you have that voice inside of your head saying you can’t do it, you can’t do it. Well guess what? You’re not going to be able to do it. So at some point these high achievers have discovered whether they’re consciously talking out loud about it, how to overcome that negative voice and you know, and replace it with an empowering one. You’ve got this, you know, in the working world, I remember in, you know, I was working in, um, a marketing job that was very, very intense and I had to replace the negative with the positive all the time. Like I, to get my head straight, it’s about mindset. 

D: So is that where your journey with affirmation came from? Thank you for that lovely little transition for me. It was where your journey started, in marketing or did it start before that and then lead up that way? 

L: Yeah, it was before that and as you said, like in the sports world, it’s very like empowering and a part of it. There’s no woo in that, but I grew up in a household where you know names like Eckhart Tole and Williamson, and A Course In Miracles. All of these practices and spiritual beliefs were a big part of my parents’ lives. My mom was on this quest to discover why we’re here, what we can do, when we’re here to live our best lives, all of that good stuff, and so she was introducing me to the idea of many of the different things that I’m now practicing. When I was quite young at the time, it was too big for my little mind to take in. However, now I realized that subconsciously I was being taken in, I was learning and she was planting these seeds. That actually blossomed into probably a big part, what love power it is today. But back then when I was six years old and she would say, talk to me about affirmations or talk to me about, you know, what you think you become. I’m like, okay, what? But, um, it wasn’t until I was in my teens and twenties that I suffered from pretty intense anxiety and uh, I was put on medication. The medication didn’t work. It actually did the opposite effect for me. Um, that was my experience and um, it made me more anxious. It made me more fearful of the world. The medication that I was on kind of enclosed me and made me feel like I couldn’t go out and be myself. It took a lot of my personality away, so I realized, okay, medication’s not going to work then. I’m not going to live in this state of constant anxiety and fear of having a panic attack when I’m in public. I cannot live that way. So I need to learn different ways to overcome this without the medication. So at that point I went back to affirmations because a lot of where my anxiety stem from was this deep rooted belief that I wasn’t good enough, but it was the negative self talk would turn into this runaway freight train and I would just panic. 

It would start from, you know, you’re not good enough and then it would turn into this whole like, like a worth level. Like you are unworthy to the point that I just couldn’t function. And so I had to go back and start looking at this stuff. My mom had been teaching me so, so many years ago and affirmations was a really big part of my healing journey. And so that’s when I was like, this is, this is a big part of my life. So when I would be in this negative self talk, kind of runaway freight train, I got really good at becoming aware of it and stopping it in his tracks and replacing it with the positive. And so it would take me out of the panic in the moment. It would take me out of the anxiety in the moment. But I realized the more I was speaking these empowering words to myself, the more I actually started to believe it. And that anxiety, I mean I, everybody has anxiety. We live with anxiety like at a small amount because you know we’re human and that’s part of it. But when it takes over your life, it’s a problem. So I was able to change it from being a problem to making it normal. 

D:And it’s not just if I may be so bold, not just normal, but then like into this beautiful mission for other people to also experience that joy in their journey to, 

L: well, thank you. 

D: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for sharing. And as you’re, as you’re both talking about, these are these moments, I definitely resonate. I’ve totally been in that environment too where I realized the way that I’m talking to myself is not, is not the way that I want to be. And I’m interested with this, this exploration of of children and even though, I mean I have said that I don’t have children myself, but I sometimes I think about like, okay, well if I had a child in front of me or if there was a child in front of me saying the things to themselves that I’m saying to myself, how would I react to that? And I sort of then turn it into my own inner child, which is also I think a really powerful thing to do. That was a huge thing for me was imagining like, okay, if I were to literally see these words on paper that I’m saying like how would I feel and how would I feel if someone who was little with saying that to themselves. And so I’m wondering as you both had these experiences and revelations of like, okay, I want to make a change. Do you remember the exact moment that happened? And do you have a practice now that, I mean of course affirmations, but like maybe even if you have any rituals that you kind of go to is like how you start your day to kind of set it off on a really nice tone or when these things come in. Cause I’m sure being, being people who are speaking and sharing and being really vulnerable.. I feel like vulnerability also comes with this territory of wanting to make sure that you’re filling your own cup up. So I’d love to hear about any rituals or moments or practices you have to support you now through that growth.

L; One of our cards that we actually put in, um, the deck in every deck is, um, one of the best practices that we use to shift our state. And the reason being is we were thinking about, cause yes, this first deck that we created was loved powered littles for children, for parents to do with their kids. And we were imagining the typical parents life in on a weekday. You know, rushing from work, picking up their kids, getting them activities, getting dinner made, homework, and then being like, okay, let’s do your affirmation. Not really the state that we want to be in when you start this beautiful practice, right? So the card is all about breathe, move and gratitude. And whether you practice one of these things or all three of them together, or a couple of them. This for us, breathing, breath work has such powerful transformative benefits, a gratitude practice and moving your body to really just get that energy flowing and you know, the negative energy dissipating it, it changes everything. It really changes everything. So in a moment of fear, worry, self-doubt, self tech sabotage, or just funk, you can practice one or all three of these and I promise you by the end of it you will come out of it. 

D: I love that. I definitely, yeah. So I primarily like my schedule is kind of funny in and out and every now and then my boyfriend (him and I live together). He’ll work from home. And so that’s totally my practice too. Or if I can feel myself getting frustrated, like pick a song. 

It’s usually like something poppy and upbeat and I’ll put it on and I’ll like just rave, like rave for however long the song is. And I had, I was, I as you’re saying this, I’m laughing because I totally remember a day where I was like, I totally forgot he was working from home and I was like, yeah, I need to do this. And I was like, Taylor Swift, let’s do it. He slid open the door. And he’s like, are we, are we okay? And I’m like, yep, just shaking it off. That’d be great movement. Just like wiggle it out. Um, this being a practice that was so prominent in your own lives and now having families, having partners, have you, how have you navigated this with them as well as it’s something that your partners were practicing before or something you introduced and, um, how has that, that navigation been?

A: Um, I feel like my husband and I we started this practice of, of personal development together at the same time. So it’s been great because I’ve seen couples be really torn apart when one person’s on a heavy development and discovery journey and the other person is not. Um, so I feel grateful for that. But as you were asking the question, I was kind of thinking like, how do I implement this with my kids? Cause my kids are quite young, like we’re still in the tantrum and super emotional base. And Lindy was saying it never goes away. I’m like, thanks. But you know, I have highly emotional girls. Um, I have a Pisces and Pisces tend to be emotional and beautiful and uh, you know, and I’m witnessing her now try to, as she’s in a tantrum where she’s being super emotional to take deep breaths. 

And so before, she would cry hysterically to the point of puking and that was kind of our thing. I’m like, I have a daughter and she’s a puker, but now she really calms down and is taking breaths and is doing that by herself. And it’s so magical to witness and, um, and dance parties always solve everything. So, you know, if you put on some music that they love and you start tickling them, it escapes right away. So you know, you have these tools as moms as well. And what we’ve talked about also is by the, it’s majorly important to feel what you’re feeling and allow them to go through you and not stifle it. So that’s another thing that we talk about in our households is like, yeah, kids, kids are, they’re really learning how to self regulate at this point. We can’t talk to them as if they are, you know, our age and they understand how to come out of it in a moment. 

They need to go through it. And so, um, we’re big on letting them feel their feelings, feel your emotions, like we are all human and then also being vulnerable ourselves, ourselves. So if we’re feeling emotions, not hiding that from them and showing them, Oh well we’re perfect and we’re never mad or sad or angry or upset, no, and we’re human and we’re going to go through those emotions. But these tools that we have can help us because nobody wants to be in that state. Nobody wants to be in that state of suffering. But the tools that we have and that we practice really help us to get out of it more quickly. So yes, this is an emotion that you are going to feel because you are human. But we have these best practices, these tools that we can use so that it’s not, we’re not feeling it for a day. We’re not having a bad day. We’re having a bad moment.

D: I can imagine having the opportunity to have these skills as parents and then implement them and knowing that eventually they grow into their own human beings. That as you’ve been taking your practice and implementing it with your kids, has it changed or 

and, or grown from watching them? I’m sure like watching how, what you, what worked for you and your mission is now the seeds that these young people are going to carry with them. How does that feel?

L; Very, very cool. It’s very cool to watch them do their affirmations and also the, the journey of it. You know, in the beginning we have a question at the bottom of each card that says, for example, if it’s, I’m courageous at the bottom of the day. Can you remember a time when you were courageous? How did that make you feel? So it gets them to start thinking, okay, I do have this quality in me because you know, I, I experienced it at this point so maybe I don’t feel it right now, but I can go back to it cause it is in me. And in the beginning when you’re asking your four year old , she still calls it ‘creageous’. 

Can you remember a time when you were creageous and she’ll say, you know, in the beginning the answer was always bogus and hilarious and it just makes you laugh. Something clicks over time because you’re explaining it and you’re giving them examples. If they can’t think that, well I remember when you were courageous because we did this and then they’d go, Oh, okay. And I remember that one moment with the courage card in particular where she said, I was at the cottage and I didn’t want to jump in the water. I was on the cliff and I was very scared, but my cousins were there so I felt that I could do it. And they encouraged me and I jumped in the water and I was like, it went from, can you remember a time when you were courageous? Oh my friend Samantha and I held hands. I’m like, okay, great. But just watching them start to really understand it on a conscious level and then also the beautiful vocabulary that they’re learning, the fact that they know these words of empathy at such a young age or abundance. It’s very cool. Yeah, very cool.

A:I know, and I’m just thinking like my, my almost four year old is like manifesting parking spots for us, whenever I’m in the car so we can park please. 

D:It’s interesting, like I, as this journey continues for me and as things change and shift and grow, almost feel like, like growing up or becoming older is really about going back to the seeds and confidence and just like total like bad-assery that I felt as a child, like at four I think I was like, why do I have to pick one thing to be when I grow up? Like I want to be all of the things and probably president of Canada (becasue  at the time, that’s what I thought it was.) And um, and also with that and a pilot probably. And also I don’t want to work for anybody I want to work for me. And you know, and I think as the, as we go through the human experience, there’s all these things that we kind of either consciously or unconsciously pick up. And then now I’m 27 now and I just sort of feel like, I kind of want to go back to that when I was like four. And I just felt like it didn’t matter if I didn’t know things, I was just going to do it anyway. 

A: That’s a good mindset for sure. 

L: And also they are, yes, they are just so naturally confident and naturally, uniquely themselves. They’re not trying to be anybody different. They’re not. They are the ones that are, so we’re, we’re teaching them how to stay that way essentially, as opposed to getting boxed in is like, 

A: You know how parents complain about, Oh, when I asked my kid what, how school was, they say fine and good. What I’ve realized it’s because they’re fully in the moment. Like when she’s with me in the car, she’s not thinking about school anymore. So it’s like, you know, I’m trying to get out of her how her day was, but she’s just here with me now. So I don’t really anymore. Like we have different conversations on present conversations cause they’re so mindful and they’re present and you know, they’re not thinking about the past or the future. And so we kind of try to get them to talk, think about the past and future. Yeah. Yeah. This was a big aha recently cause I’m like, fuck, she’s just here now. Like let’s just enjoy.

D: That’s so interesting. I feel like, and that’s one of those like habitual things that we pick up. My parents always asked me, how was your day? you’re so right. It’s kinda nice to, to not even, that doesn’t even matter. Like, cause we’re right here now and yeah, I have all my plants. This is all I want to talk about now. Um, I, okay, so, so exciting about chapters as very like dreaming big because hello. We totally can. Where else do we see things going? Are we going to, when are we going to be on best friend Oprah’s show?! 

A: We’re ready. We feel like we’re growing too while we’re making friends with all the Oprah producer. So that’s a work in progress. I don’t know when, but it will. Um, so Indigo is exciting. We’ll be in top five stores across Canada (amazing), but we’re planning some product launches for spring 2020, dream collaborations with other incredible companies though it’s going to be an awesome year. 

D: Amazing! Oh, I love that so much. I’m so excited to see what all of the amazingness that comes out and again, I feel so grateful to have be able to have these conversations. And it’s interesting when you, when you do this, when you, when you do this work in self-love of, of taking time to really consciously think about yourself, I feel like you just start to not see anything else. Like I feel like I always, I now get to have so many of these uplifting conversations and that exists because, because people like you exist. I thank you so, so much for that. I just am so happy. Where can people find you? Where would you like them to go?

A: Well we hang out lots on Instagram, so we have obviously our business feed or consciously curated feed designed by Lindy and created by Lindy. And then you can find the real behind the scenes of building a business, building a startup and you know some of our family life on stories on our website is 

D: Amazing. Everyone’s going to go there right now and go on all of the things. Thank you so, so much for your day. I hope you have a fabulous rest of your day today. Rest of your week, your weekend, and hopefully we can connect soon. Yes, please do. I would love that. 


Dominique: Okay, so first I just want to again say thank you for taking some time out of your day and, um, a little background for anyone listening, to how we met. So you were at the Prince Edward County yoga festival with your Pure Balanxed shirts, and I am such a sucker for festivals and markets so I had actually had in my mind, like,“Iam going to look around. I’m gonna appreciate and send love to everyone that’s there, but I don’t want to buy anything, because I always buy things.” So, my friend and I, who was with me, were walking around, there was some beautiful, really cool things that people had created and, obviously, you were there with your shirts. So we came over and we just had a quick chat, you were busy with lots of people around, and I was looking at them and I was just like“I feel like I’ve never felt, like, the texture of a shirt like this before, it feels so comfy.” And I loved the cut of them, and then I saw the“Empowered”[design],and my sort of over—umbrella term for what I put my business under is Embodied Alchemy and empowered living, so I couldn’t believe there’s a shirt there that said “Empowered.” Then I’m going, like,“this is basically just a business expense, I’m not even paying for this, really!” And then I noticed the tags as well, so for anyone who’s not familiar with Pure Balanxed products, there’s a tag – and Allie will totally explain what that’s about – and when you flip the tag, at the bottom there’s a word of encouragement and these ones said “I am strong.” So I’m looking at this shirt like“I don’t think I’ve ever met a more perfect product, a more perfect brand, to ever want to bring on board for me.” Then I was like,“noDom. You said you weren’t gonna buy anything.” So we continued walking around and the whole time I’m walking, I’m talking to my friend about these shirts and she was like“DomI think you just need to get one.” And I was like“yes,you’re absolutely right I do.” So we came back, chatted a little bit, picked up the shirt, and sort of carried on with the festival. And since then it’s something that I wear all the time, I tell all my friends about, I always have an extra little smile whenever I’m wearing it because I do often look down and I do read the tag and I do catch the“Empowered”on the chest, and I really appreciate how those little simple details have genuinely impacted my life in a really positive way. So thank you for creating this amazing brand!

Allie: Yaay! You ever wear it?

D: Yeah! Honestly, all the time. It’s like,[laughter]like, I did put it in the wash for today because I was like“Oh,I’ll just wear it—I’ll just wear it again!” But then I was like“no,it—it needs to be washed.”[laughter]Um, so if you don’t mind – cause I feel like you tell your story so beautifully yourself – I would love if you wanted to go in to sort of … Pure Balanxed is where we’re at right now, but how you got there and what your journey was to get there.‘Cause you have quite the story. 

A: Huh. Yes! I will start from the beginning. 

D: Alright!

A:Yeah, so basically, I’ll start my story from when I was younger. So growing up I was an athlete, so for most of my life I kind of lived in the athlete world. So I was a swimmer, so I had a routine from the age of, I dunno, nine to twenty-one. I just kind of followed that routine where I knew I had swim practise at the end of the day, and as I got older it got more controlled and swimming became more important and kind of took over my life, and that’s kind of everything I knew. So I knew that, um, that was my identity, that was what I did. I went away to school in the States for swimming, um, and then became a Division One athlete in through there. I also was kind of struggling through some mental illnesses but didn’t really have any knowledge about what was going on or what they were, so growing up I didn’t learn much about mental health or mental illnesses, just because, I would say, in that era – so for people who kind of wanna get that in their mind, I’m twenty-six now, so a lot of people may relate that they didn’t have a lot of knowledge with mental illnesses or mental health growing up, as we still kind of have stigma today. So I didn’t really understand what was going on. I thought it was just kind of like, that this was me and this was how I was gonna live my life so that was that. As I got older, things started to get worse and I got pretty good at keeping things to myself and then also I got very good at numbing out my emotions, so I lived kind of, um, I want to say in the darkness, but also kind of not in the darkness. I learned how to really numb everything out. So whether that be through, um, exercise, I went through a period where it was from alcohol, um, I went through a period where – I won’t say a long period, but kind of mixed in with the alcohol where I was, like, playing around with drugs, and then it kind of took over to food and exercise once my swimming stopped. I’d always, obviously as growing up as an athlete you’re always just stuck into the routine that you are doing exercise all the time, twenty-four seven. That’s all you do. It’s like your job, right? So when I stopped swimming, I retired and I was twenty-one. I kind of didn’t know who I was. I lost my identity as a swimmer, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life, I felt extremely lost, and at this time I was struggling with anxiety and depression but didn’t know it, and then also an eating disorder and also didn’t know it. So once I finished school I decided that I wanted to move to Boston. At this time I was living in Kentucky, I just kinda had in my mind that I wanted to live in Boston [both laugh] because of whatever, but I didn’t realize that it was actually terrible![laughs]I’m not gonna say it’s that way for everybody, but for me it was terrible because I didn’t know anybody, I dunno, it’s a big place to live and an expensive place to live if you don’t know anybody or don’t really necessarily want to be there. Like, I wanted to be there but I also didn’t want to be there. I just thought that it was what I should do. So I went and moved on to Boston, did an internship for a fitness studio while also working at two other fitness studios. I basically had no friends so I was very isolated, and at that point I kinda had a feeling that something was wrong but I didn’t do anything about it just yet, I couldn’t afford to go see a therapist, I didn’t have any insurance or any thing so I just- yeah. I just kind of fell into the trap that all I would do was work out and it would make me feel better. I kind of started to control more about my food and everything, and then I kind of just spiralled from there. I went back to Kentucky and then I moved back home, I lived in Kingston Ontario, and then that was kind of — I say my rock bottom. But I also want to make this clear that you don’t have to hit rock bottom before you receive help. It’s really kind of pushed in society today that we do have to hit rock bottom and then life will change and become this magical thing, but that does not have to be the case. It was for me because I thought that was the case and so that was where my eating disorder took over. I went through the process to get treatment and here in Kingston it is a really hard process, meaning that we don’t have a lot of support. We have a part-time out-patient clinic, which take anywhere from, like, I would say a month to three or four months to get in, and even there you need a lot of dril—uh, drive [laughs] ‘drill’ [both laugh] drive and will to want to get better to be there. So if you’re at a point in your illness where you don’t really want to receive help and you’re kind of getting pushed to be there, it’s probably not the place for you. I learned that after about a year and a half, and then realized that I needed to go onto something more intensive, meaning I had to move away. So that process started, and that took, I would say, from October to June. So what is that? Ten months?

D: To get into a more full-time clinic?

A: Yeah.

D: Ohh.

A: By the time you get—you have to get referred by your current doctor or NP, and then that takes, I dunno, anywhere from a month or so before you actually get an appointment and then that can take another month, and then you just keep going back for appointments to be put on the list, and the list is basically first come first served. It’s not based by your illness, so the person who is number forty on the list may be sicker than number three, but that’s just the way it works. So I was waiting for eight months before I got to go, and in that time I would say I kind of, like, realized that I needed to do this, but I think that if I had started the process earlier I probably wouldn’t have done it or I wouldn’t have been as willing to accept the help. Yeah … so that’s the process, and I was in Toronto, so I had to move away from my family. I had to find somewhere to live. I also had to stop working, um,[laughs] it’s like [continues dramatically] and then! and next!

D: Yeah! No it doesn’t—this is one of the things that I feel like is so important, just as you, sort of, were saying that something that’s really important to you to—t—to let—make sure that people know  is that you don’t have to wait until rock bottom to get help, and one of the things that I feel really passionate about through my own process is that there’s—it doesn’t—there doesn’t have to be, like, an end point. Like, as we’re telling our stories, and as we’re hearing other people’ stories, knowing that it’s like, one step here and then one step here and then one step here and it’s less about there being, like, [continues in perky voice] “okay,and then I was done and it was better!” and that’s the end, and more about each step along the way is potentially a learning opportunity, potentially and opportunity to gather another tool and really it’s just about still continuing forward but continuing forward with just more things, like, more tools in your tool belt to help you as opposed to just marching forward to the end. I have a few questions for you about what you’ve said so far if you don’t mind me quickly interjecting.[laughs]So, I just wanted to just sort of touch on what you were saying about being an athlete and also growing up at a time where you felt like there wasn’t as much conversation about mental health. So, I’m twenty-seven so I’m totally in that bracket as well, of looking back I can now see patterns that were totally indicating of mental health stuff going on, and eating stuff, and all of that whole world, but there not really being a conversation around it. And I think that my parents, looking back at some things, some comments that they made to me, were curious, or wanted to start that conversation, but didn’t necessarily know how. So I’m wondering when you sort of took a moment to recognize that “something’s not right, I feel like I need help,” and then – not even just with the part-time out patient but also when you decided that,“noI really need something more,” did you feel like you were taken seriously? How did you navigate that—  [laughter]as she smiles! How did you navigate that conversation? I think when you’re an adult — and I mean adult not necessarily at, like, eighteen or grown up, I mean the you’re no longer, kind of, subjected to the people that are around you, you can kind of make that decision yourself. At twenty-seven, now, I don’t live at home, if I need to go make a doctor’s appointment or need to go somewhere, I can pretty much do that myself. But when we’re still in our early twenties or teens or even below teens, you’re really dependent on the people around you, and, yeah. I would love to know how that conversation went for you if you’re comfortable sharing.

A: Yeah. Yeah, so, well I’ll first of all say that I had no knowledge about eating disorders as well. I kind of got into the thick of it, so, you can kind of understand that my parents also didn’t have very much knowledge, um, because there is very little education and awareness about eating disorders. We are getting better about mental illnesses and mental health, but eating disorders is still a really hard topic to, kind of, drill into people’s minds and to understand. So, when I was first learning about it and raised that I was pretty sick, I actually wrote a letter to my parents and basically just, like, said things like“ifI don’t take this seriously I will die,” blah blah blah blah blah, from this kind of perspective, like, I didn’t feel like I was getting taken seriously, but it wasn’t just from my parents it was also from, like, my doctor. My doctor didn’t really have very much understanding. I mean, she was great to, like, refer me to places, but even then she would take my weight and be like“oh you’re at a healthy weight, you’re fine.” But like, mentally, and from many other behaviours, I was not okay, so I would just be like “oh my weight is fine, I’m fine, but I’m really not fine, so like, what’s going on?” And even if I would lose weight it would still be like,“oh your weight is in a healthy range, so you’re fine.” So things like that. So you’re getting the wrong validation. And … even … I dealt with self harm, and that was something else that my doctor kind of brushed away. I told her about it and she didn’t—nothing came out of it so I was like,“oh there’s nothing wrong with this.” And so I had created this belief in my mind that, like,“this is not a terrible thing, this is not bad,” and even when I was going through treatment for my eating disorder, like, I wasn’t allowed to do that, there was no way, so I didn’t understand how bad it was, like, I didn’t think it was something wrong, and they were like—so yeah. So, things like that, you get little comments along the way, um, but no, it’s definitely a lot of people don’t understand what eating disorders are, even friends. I lost a lot of friends through the process because they didn’t understand, um, and I got a lot of comments of, like, “why can’t you just eat?”“why can’t you just do this?” Or like, I think that, I mean it is a mental illness but it is also a physical illness, and when you’re living in this world where you’re so controlled by something else even though you’re trying to take control of your life, you actually not controlling your life, you’re being controlled by this, like … I wanna say, like, demon inside your brain. Everything else in the world doesn’t matter. You’re focused on losing weight, controlling your food, and you’re kind of—that’s your main focus, that’s your goal in life so everything else is kind of just a blur and you may have a conversation with someone and then a month later you won’t remember it because it’s just, like, it doesn’t matter. So it’s very—I don’t know if I’m answering your question or not but— 

D: No, you—totally. You totally, totally are. And I’m gonna ask you one step further, and you’re always welcome to be like “that’s enough, Dom.” But, so given that you had this resistance along the way which, even though mental illness is something that I do thing is getting more and more attention, and I—I think at this point you kind of can’t exist in a twenty-nineteen world, especially in Northern America and not hear—almost like it’s a buzzword, right,“mental illness.” I mean, it’s a great buzzword to have going around so that there’s more awareness, but it is a little but of that. So, even though at this time you’re asking for help and getting resistance, there … you kept showing up for yourself that way. Like, you obviously kept feeling like,“something is still wrong, something is still wrong,” and, um, it’s amazing, as you’re telling this story, or telling your story, um, just, like, I can hear that, that continual desire to, like —“no,I feel like I want help.” And so, just a huge congratulations to you for that part of you that was still really ready to hold on because I think — I can imagine there’s a lot of people where that piece just sort of fades away, and for you it didn’t … and, um, yeah. I just wanted to say that’s — congratulations![laughter]

A: Yeah, I, uh, I definitely believe that I had—I don’t—I mean, I obviously didn’t give up fully, but I was ready to give up fully, and I had a little piece of hope left in me, and I really told myself that when I went to Toronto for my treatment that that was kind of like my last straw. I was like,“okay I will try this, and if this doesn’t work then I‘m done.” But, obviously it worked. 


A: No. Yeah, I obviously had some hope in me, knowing that—I did—I do wanna say I had some really great people that supported me and my parents were amazing, like, I wouldn’t be here today without them. They were a big piece of why I’m still living, but, yeah, no, it’s true. I mean, I think also an important thing to remember with mental illnesses and especially eating disorders is that people can force you to go into treatment, I mean like, people told me things over and over and over until they’re blue in the face but the second that you realize that you want to change, and the second that you want to get better is when your treatment will actually start.

D: Yeah.

A: Because you can be in treatment doing the motions, going to the groups, going to the appointments, but if you’re not doing any work on your own, or if you’re not trying to change outside of that then you’ll just be stuck in that same cycle. So when you decide“okay,I actually want to get my life back,” or “I don’t wanna be in this illness anymore” or“I don’t wanna be controlled by this anymore,” that’s when your actual treatment will start. So, they do say that eating disorders take, I think, five to six years to actually recover from, and when I first heard that I was pretty, in a, like in a state—I didn’t care, I was angry at the world, I was like“screw this, I’m never gonna recover, I’ll just live like this forever, it’s fine.” But now that I’m kind of, like, past that stage, I do understand why that’s the truth. I think when people first start to explore the recovery journey, hearing that it can take five to six years is really overwhelming and really scary, and you’re just like“well,what’s the point?” But I think that once you get over that hump and then into, like, the—the gritty part you truly understand why it takes that long. So, yeah,

D: So I have one more little expansion on something that you said, and then I would love to get into your experience in Toronto and how Pure Balanxed came from that. But I think you made — you made a really important point in that when you were showing up to these appointments with your doctor and getting weighed, you were being sort of written off as “oh you’re still in a healthy weight bracket, you’re fine,” whereas mentally there was a lot going on and the process you were in to be at that weight was actually nota. very healthy process. And I think it brings up a really good point that the way that you look is not necessarily an indicator of how healthy or how sick you are, and I would love your thoughts on that, on how just because someone is maybe not with a feeding tube or not, like, real real skinny, it doesn’t mean that they’re super sick, that could be the way they are, but it could also — it doesn’t also mean that’s the only thing that illness looks like. 

A: Yeah. Yeah, so, that I think is the biggest problem with eating disorders is that there is, from the beginning, I mean we can talk hundreds of years ago, that we’ve kind of been displayed this image of you’re either very malnourished, so you’re very thin, and there is, I think, through media, through movies, um, this notion that you’re in the hospital and you’re connected to a feeding tube and that is kind of what anorexia looks like. Then from the other side of the spectrum, you go look at binge eating, which is you’re overweight and you can’t control your food. So that’s kind of that, or I guess bulimia could tie into there. There’s so much grey area. So what’s really annoying about treatment for eating disorders, and eating disorders in general is that it’s all taken from your BMI. So your BMI is your Body Mass Index? Yeah—  

D: Mhmm, yes.

A:—soit’s taken from your weight and your height and that’s how it’s measured. But, that can actually show, like, how sick you are on the inside, so yes, like, maybe your weight can determine— So for me, my weight determined that I had A-typical Anorexia, which is basically the exact same thing as anorexia, except that if I weighed two pounds less I would be considered to have anorexia. So, for someone who has an eating disorder— for me, it played over in my mind, in mind, in mind, that I didn’t really have an eating disorder because I didn’t have that label of“anorexia.”So in my mind, or, like, my illness was like“you’re not sick enough, you shouldn’t be receiving help yet, you—you haven’t achieved the goal of getting anorexia, so you’re not set on that.” So as someone who’s a really competitive person, that’s already kind of drilled in my mind that I’m not hitting that—that stage, so, like, I’m not sick enough yet, I shouldn’t be in treatment, I don’t need to be here, dah dah dah dah dah. But for someone on the outside, you can’t tell if someone has an eating disorder. I am probably — I don’t weigh myself anymore but — so I don’t know what weight I’m at today compared to a year ago. But if someone saw a year ago, two years ago, just randomly on the street they probably wouldn’t have known that I had an eating disorder because I wasn’t, like, extremely thin, and that’s usually the case. People see people who are extremely thin, they have, like, barely any body fat on them, it’s all like, bone, and it’s like“oh,that person must have an eating disorder,” but, like, anybody can have an eating disorder. They don’t discriminate by body weight, by age, by gender, by race, so I think that’s really what we kind of need to hit home is that yes, your doctor is going to measure you by your weight and they’re gonna determine what your eating disorder is or if you have an eating disorder, but I think that’s where if you know something is wrong, you need to challenge it, and you need to go see someone like a psychiatrist or, um, someone who really specializes in eating disorders,‘cause they’re gonna have way more knowledge than a general doctor who maybe just learned about eating disorders for a week when they went to school, right? There’s very little education for like general doctors and family doctors. I think that’s why a lot of people are trying to hit home, like, especially through media and anyone who is kind of, like, an eating disorder advocate I should say, is that, yeah, they don’t discriminate and you can’t really tell from the outside if someone has one. So, yeah, I hope that answered the question.

D: No, it did, thank you. I think it’s just—it’s important to … it’s important to hear, I think, more than anything, you know. You can’t tell from the outside and I appreciate and I’m really grateful for you sharing you know, it did feel like this label was a goal, and it’s interesting how a system that we really want to believe is designed to be set up to help us in that kind of a way when you’re looking at the way that mental illness can flip things around, in that kind of a way it’s sort of almost becomes a challenge. It almost becomes a goal when it’s put, that label, you’re not labelled this until you’re at this number, and the way that that can sort of manipulate the way that you’re looking at your health. So I really appreciate you sharing that. We’re gonna get into it a little bit more as far as wait times and stuff, but at this point in our journey, in our story, you have moved towards Toronto. Did you say you’re at Credit Valley? Or did I just know that? Yeah, Credit Valley?

A: Yeah, Credit Valley hospital, so that’s just in Mississauga. Yeah.

D: Yeah

A: So that was about, I wanna say with traffic and everything it was about, like, a three hour drive from my house here. And like, I live just outside of Kingston so, yeah.

D: And then, that, I can imagine, is hugely different. Part of the reason why you went ‘cause you’re going from part-time outpatient to then being in the hospital all day every day, so, um, if you’re happy to speak to that experienceI would love to hear about it.

A: Yeah, so, yeah. I went from part-time outpatient, which, at that point before I went to treatment I was … I wanna say I was barely engaged in treatment. I was kind of just hanging on and waiting. I was seeing a dietician every week just to, like, get me to that point basically, to get me somewhat nourished before I went away. So yeah, the process to get there was a long process. Like I said, it took about eight months and then basically they tell you “okay we have a spot open next week.” You kind of just have to be ready to go once they have the spot open, and Credit Valley only has twelve spots open at a time, so that means that is for day hospital and for inpatient. Day hospital is typically, like, seven to eight weeks long, and then inpatient could be anywhere from, I dunno, like, four weeks to three months to four months to five months depending on that person’s journey. They go from day—no, inpatient to day and they have a transition program. So you can just imagine how long—why the wait times are so long, because there’s only twelve spots to offer all the people that come to Mississauga and Credit Valley, and we think about Toronto as a huge place, so it’s kind of ridiculous that we only have like, that many spots. Where I live in Kingston, there’s nothing else from Kingston to Toronto and then Kingston to Ottawa. And the reason I didn’t go to Ottawa is because their wait time initially was twelve months and Credit Valley was only supposed to be three months, but it took eight months. So, anyway, that was the wait time, yeah. So I went from basically having a lot of control on my own and not really having anybody watch over me, to being in the hospital for like eight hours a day, um, and being extremely controlled, meaning, I—Yeah you basically have people watching you all the time. You have — you can’t bring anything in, and like, in general, I as away from my family so I was staying somewhere that was completely new. I was on my own, which was really hard, and a lot of the people who were there at treatment were local, so they could go home to their families at the end of the day, or their families could come visit them, where I was like, obviously, I was three hours away so, like, my parents couldn’t just come see me every day, which was really hard at the beginning. I just remember the first day, it was really hard, and yeah, I went from from barely anything to all day intensive to—and I thought it was torture at the beginning. I was like“thisis ridiculous.” I was completely controlled, everything was, like, you’re in a routine, but I lost a lot of luxury that I had in my life before, like movement I couldn’t do. I wasn’t allowed to exercise. And I tell a lot of people that and they’re, like, mindblower about that—

D: Yeah.

A:—but me, I’m like, that’s the way it should be. If you have a really unhealthy relationship with exercise and also your body is really undernourished or malnourished, and you’re also trying to recover it’s like, you can’t do that at the same time. Something I learned is that if you—well first of all, once we get to the treatment place, the main goal, number one goal, is to re-nourish your body. So they call it“re-feeding”which I think is like, a terrible term ‘cause it sounds terrible. And it is terrible,’m not gonna lie, it’s really painful. Basically, any — what happens is once you go in you get put on to a meal plan, and everyone’s on the same meal plan, pretty much depending on your weight. And so, you could go from eating very little to having to eat three meals a day, I wanna say, like, three snacks, and your body is obviously — doesn’t know how to process food anymore. So you can just kind of imagine the difference that your body has to go through, I mean, I wanna say both physically and mentally. So at that point we get put on a lot of medication just so we can handle it mentally and physically. So yeah, thats kind of that. I mean, you’re in—you’re doing therapy, like, all day long. Your mind is challenged all day long, your body is challenged all day long. I just remember, like, the first week being extremely exhausted because I was just—I just remember crying all the time, being exhausted, like, everything was so different, and I feel like I’m just going off the train of thought right now … 

D: No, no, no! This is perfect, you can keep going.

A: So, yeah, so that’s kind of like the process that I went through. Something else that I kind of had to go through was that once you get to these intensive programs, you have to strip away all the behaviours that you had before. And I don’t want to use the word“bad,”I just want to use the word“unhealthy,”so things like — actually I’m not gonna use all the words‘causeI feel like that’s triggering. So any behaviour that could be linked to your eating disorder you’re no longer allowed to use while in this treatment facility because that would be considered — I mean they just call it a behaviour in that we consider it that you’re not, like, kind of like, treating it properly, or that you’re also not, um … I am blanking …[laughs]

D: No, I understand what you’re saying, and I appreciate the wanting to play. It’s something that I try to be really mindful of too about using language in a way that’s really supportive and doesn’t, like, triggering is a great word, so thank you for verbalizing exactly what you were thinking![laughs]

A: I know, like you’re, yeah. So, basically, I dunno, it’s just, like, a huge change and anybody who’s gone through it can understand that. But it’s also something that you—it’s very individualized and you can’t really—it’s very hard to explain. It’s also something that you just kind of experience right there and then and you’re kind of just like, I always feel like you’re just thrown into the fire and you kind of have to deal with it. But what’s rally great is that everybody who was there, who is in the same group as you, is also dealing with the same thing so you all become very close and you support each other through it because you’re truly, like, all dealing with the same thing. 

D: And so this is where the idea for Pure Balanxed came from. So I would love to hear about what it was about being in this space that sort of led you on this journey to thinking about clothing, to starting it, and then where it—how it’s evolved.

A: Yeah! Totally! So I always loved clothing, I’m obsessed with clothes, and even growing up I was obsessed with, like, brand names and anything kind of like that. But I also had a huge, I want to say comfort, for anything soft. So, like, it started with blankets, like, if I feel a soft blanket I automatically buy it because I’m just like“that’s comfort!” And, like, as I’m learning more about kind of, like, grounding techniques and how senses and everything, like, tactile and feeling is a huge grounding technique, so that’s why our tags are so important because our tags actually are woven tags. So that means they kind of have like a — I’m actually wearing a shirt right now so I’m feeling it right now.

D: Yeah![laughs]

A: Our tags are very soft. They’re kind of like a satin kind of? I want to say, like, silky satin, so they feel so nice! So that automatically, once you touch that, your mind is kind of getting triggered into this place where you’re already starting to, like, calm your body down. And maybe that could be through breathing, or through if you’re doing meditation or anything, that’s kind of helping that. So, anyway, before I go on and lose how it started! So, I already loved clothes, I kind of through my journey I wanted to somehow create T-shirts that would help people, and I thought that I would do a non-profit first and then just have T-shirts that would go with it. But then when I was in treatment, I kind of felt that I was lacking a couple of things just because I — once I was in treatment you weren’t allowed to bring any, like, any things from the outside in. It was just basically like, your body, you had a binder, you had like a pencil case and then you had you and what you were wearing, and even then there was kind of restrictions on what I could wear and what I couldn’t wear, so I just — and I needed something that I could hold on to and have with me when I was feeling, like, really in distress and everything. So I just remember, like, shopping kind of later on through my treatment process to try and find clothes to try and, like, bring me comfort but also that I felt okay wearing while I was kind of going through this whole re-feeding process and this recovery process, because obviously my body was changing and I couldn’t wear any of the clothes I had before without getting triggered. So, I just remember shopping and I couldn’t find any flowy clothes or any T-shirts that were just flowing and weren’t tight and sticking to me. So I was like, ok, from here on I’m creating flowy clothes. And by the term flowy I just mean clothes that are both comfort and have that softness to them, but also don’t cling to our bodies so that we can just wear throughout any day depending on what we’re doing, and that also can fit various body types. That was kind of where that came from. And then I always kind of had the vision that I would have something printed on the inside of the shirt that would be kind of like a positive affirmation so that while you’re wearing your Pure Balanxed—or, your shirt or whatever, you have that piece with you. But then the tag kind of started—came from when I was in treatment‘causeI was like“well then I could have this tactile thing,” and like, that’s something that you can kind of feel and play with and it’s right there with you where you don’t have to think about bringing something else with you because, obviously you’re going to be wearing clothes all the time so why not have that right there. So that’s how that kind of tied in to everything. I actually already had the name Pure Balanxed for like, a longtime, I was playing around with, like, what I wanted to call—if I did go into business, what I wanted it to be called, and I got so stuck on the word“pure”that I couldn’t get rid of it. And then, I have always been kind of obsessed with the word“balance,”but while I was trying to find something for“balance”I was like,“ithas to be different because everybody uses the word balance.” So Balanxed is spelled with an X instead of a C, and the reason for that is the X represents the unknown. Obviously, through my life journey I feared the unknown. I wanted to change — I didn’t like change, I wanted to be able to control everything, which is a good reason for my eating disorder because I was so scared of everything that was coming forward in my life that I knew that if I just controlled what I ate and what I did in that moment, that was kind of an easy piece to, um, hold on to instead of worrying about what I was gonna do tomorrow or a year from now or anything. I think in our society we’re so scared of change, and we’re so scared of the unknowns, but I kind of—we’re kind of moving in towards a direction, we are moving in towards a direction of finding comfort in the unknown because the unknown is — we can’t avoid it! It’s going to happen. But yeah, we don’t know what’s happening tomorrow or moving forward but I think that we all, as women especially, go through the same journeys and the same, um, struggles, so why not do it together? So that’s how the whole name started and then, yeah. That’s the big reason behind the tags. Yeah. We started with women’s T-shirts and I just started with plain T-shirts, printed my logo on them and then got the tags made and our first tags were“Iam strong,” and then we kind of ventured into kids clothing, which is really cool, with our “just be you” message because I think that’s so important for children growing up. Their tags even have more, so they have, like,“Iam loved,”“Ishine,” and“I am kind.” Then we have more women’s stuff coming soon with new tags which I am really excited about. Yeah, Pure Balanxed started — we’re still in year one, but I guess by the time this airs we’ll be over year one!

D: Yes, yes! 

A: But, thats my whole reason to starting it and we—yeah. Eating disorders are obviously very close to my heart, same with mental illnesses and mental health, so we do give back. So, a portion of our sales for our women’s clothing give back to NEDIC. Which, they’re actually based out of Toronto Ontario. It’s the National Eating Disorder Information Centre. They basically provide resources to communities about eating disorders, but they also have an online chat program and a toll-free call line. So that’s what we give back to, is their .. oh i’m losing what it’s called … basically to their online chat program and their call line to basically provide more volunteers and more jobs and everything so that we can keep that running because that’s something that wasn’t there when i was kind of struggling, so i think that’s so important. It’s anonymous, so anybody can hop on there and seek help and then get directed to professional help as well which is really great, so yeah!

D: Ugh! It’s just, when you look back at how your timeline has sort of unfolded, so, yes! We’re recording right now but it’ll–by the time this comes out it’ll be over a year and you’re not that far out from finishing treatment, am i correct in that? About a year ish?

A: So it was a year the end of August that I came back home, so i would say that’s when I finished intensive treatment, but, um, I don’t know, I feel like treatment continues on like even though it —

D: Totally.

A: Also, like, something to remember for treatment, you don’t have to be in a hospital to receive treatment. Your treatment could look like seeing a therapist, seeing a dietician, just like privately. I think that’s something really important to remember as well as everyone’s journey is different, everyone’s treatment process is different, everyone’s recovery is different, like, you can’t compare or measure your own treatment or recovery to someone else. I do actually remember when i first started treatment, i used to follow people on instagram who were kind of going through, or had gone through, treatment already who were in the recovery process and someone told me, they were like: “you can’t recover unless you go to an inpatient facility” or whatever, and i was like “okay?” And I do understand that and i think it’s true for some people, but I don’t think that’s true for everybody and I don’t want people to have to think that they have to reach a point where they’re ‘sick enough’ to have to get to that point where they’re like “now my treatment is starting.” I think treatment can happen at so many different levels, so I hope that if anyone is listening to this and they’re kind of in that process where they’re trying to receive treatment or in the process of thinking about going to treatment but don’t think they’re ‘sick enough’ yet, there is no ‘sick enough’ because your eating disorder will tell you that, like, you will never be sick enough to your eating disorder. You could be on your deathbed and you’re still not going to be ‘sick enough.’ So I hope that can resonate with someone because that’s definitely something i needed to hear, and i think people need to hear it over and over again for sure, yeah.

D: yeah, just like on repeat. We’ll cut out that part and just like, put it in an hour podcast of just that! 

[both laugh]

D: I can, from knowing more about your story, I can understand why supporting an easily accessible program, like calling and anonymous online stuff, being important, given the wait times that you had and dare I say lack of support that’s available in Kingston. So you mentioned some timelines a little bit but i would love to hear really quickly so that people know that this process is not always immediate. You were talking about, um, especially with outpatient-or, no-yeah! With inpatient having to go- having to wait a lot longer than you initially said. But i think it’s important to recognise that even-especially for athletes. I was an athlete, I was a dancer, and it became almost normalised that each of us would have really weird eating patterns and we would just keep going, so it stopped feeling like what we were doing was a disservice to ourselves and it just felt normal. So i would love to know a little bit more about your opinion and your experience on the support that’s available locally. You can totally speak to Kingston if you’d like, but also really letting people know that when you make that decision, or when that extra bit of hope sparks you to say “yes i do want help,” to know that – as much as we would love for it to be an immediate process – it’s not always an immediate process. I would love to hear that from you.

A: Yeah, totally. Yeah, so I think I mentioned that the process for me getting into Credit Valley from when the first referral went in was, yeah, like ten months. The reason they got me to do Credit Valley was because the wait time was, I think, three months. So, they referred me just to that program because that was going to be the quickest wait time. There actually is somewhere else in toronto, it’s called Homewood. That is a quicker wait time, but it also costs thirty thousand dollars a month. So not many people can afford that.

D: Yeah.

A: Typically the only people that go are people who have insurance, and at this point I didn’t have any insurance. Actually, I did have insurance through my job, but it didn’t cover anything for eating disorders. It didn’t cover anything–it probably had the general like, I don’t know, so much pay goes towards- or like, I don’t even know how insurances work anymore cause i dont have them! 

[both laugh]

D: Same!

A: Yup! Like, you get so much deducted for, like, therapy or something like that, right? So there’s nothing for facilities like an eating disorder facility. I actually had a lot of friends in the States who went through eating disorders treatment and their process is a lot faster. I remember having a friend who waited six weeks and then she got in to her treatment, and they have facilities like … everywhere. So it’s like bam! Bam! Bam! And your insurance covers it. But in Canada it works very differently because it’s through hospitals, so it’s covered through OHIP. So, most of the time you don’t have to pay for the actual treatment but, like in my case, i had to pay for where i was staying. So that’s why it can take so long because there’s very limited eating disorder specialists. There’s limited therapists. There’s a limited amount of room. Where i was, the eating disorder unit was in the psyche ward, so you’re kind of–which i kind of understand but also it’s really scary because you’re thrown in there with them and i mean, there’s security everywhere and i mean it’s just insane. You go from–i mean where i was for my outpatient it was just like, you go to a hospital, you go to a unit, and then that’s where it is. When i went to credit valley, it was a whole different experience. But yeah. The wait times are insane. I can only speak for Ontario because that’s what i had to deal with. I don’t know what it’s like for the rest of Canada. Basically, yeah it can take anywhere from i would say … i mean it could’ve changed now but i don’t want to say it’s changed, i want to say it’s probably longer because i think more and more people are trying to get help as we learn more about it. So it could probably be anywhere from six months to a year or longer. I mean, yeah. It’s really disheartening. Especially, in Kingston we also have very limited private therapists that you can see. I was told that we only have one therapist in Kingston, and we’re not a small city. I don’t know the population off my head. We’re big enough where we should have one more, or more therapists that specialise in eating disorders!

D: Yeah!

A: And i think that what people don’t understand about eating disorders is that they’re such a complex illness that you need to seek help from someone who is specialised in eating disorders. Through that, someone has to have gone to school or gone through a program where they learn just about eating disorders, otherwise they have very little understanding. And that’s kind of where I like to push about different mental illnesses is most therapists have an understanding of like, PTSD, depression, anxiety … there’s something else … like, bipolar, those kind of illnesses. There’s a lot of understanding for it because they’re the “biggest” ones, and most people understand and have gone through school, and have learned about those. Especially when you try to go to–like, i know in Kingston, like, we have local facilities where it’s a lot cheaper to go seek help, but the wait times are extremely long. But they don’t cover eating disorders. So if you’re trying to get an eating disorder therapist, you’re going to pay more towards the two hundred for a fifty minute session. Which, also, if you’re really sick you can’t work. You don’t have insurance. You can’t afford to do that, which is kind of where I was at especially when I came back from my treatment. I had to seek out an individual therapist and i had to stop because i couldn’t afford to do it anymore. I couldn’t afford to pay, I don’t know, i think it was like one-twenty to one-fourty every week or two weeks. I didn’t have a job. I didn’t have any insurance. I didn’t have any EI coming in anymore so I couldn’t afford to do it. So I think as much s we love having free healthcare here in Canada, it can also be really tricky for things like this where the government doesn’t put enough attention and enough money towards resources for mental illnesses, especially eating disorders.

D: Mmmm. Thank you for sharing that, and you’ve set me up for a really lovely transition here! [laughs] So thank you! So you’re working in–your business now is in fashion, it’s in textiles. If you’re comfortable sharing, I think it would be really important to recognise if you have any tools in place right now, whether it’s therapy, whether it’s, like, we had chatted a little bit before about … you were using essential oils, fabric–if you have things in place right now to, as you’re being busy in your business life, how you’re supporting yourself so you stay on this trajectory of being in a healthy space.

A: Yeah. I think it’s still a huge challenge, like, I think for anybody, kind of learning. So, I would say from–so with your eating disorder that is your coping mechanism, that is how you cope with life. So you cope with life through your behaviours there. Obviously, through recovery and through treatment, all of those coping mechanisms are gone, so you’re kind of stuck learning to live life in a whole new way. You basically have to relearn how to live life. I think that’s something that only people with eating disorders can understand, and only people who have started their recovery and treatment can understand. A big thing about treatment is that you have to learn new coping mechanisms. So i would say, like, yeah, touch and feel is a huge coping mechanism for me. I did use essential oils before, like while I was–before I went into treatment, but i couldn’t use those in the hospital so I had to learn new ways of using coping mechanisms. I mean, I still use oils today and I still definitely diffuse them here and there, but they’re not as main of a coping mechanism now as they used to be, just ‘cause I learned something new. But I would say my-this can’t be a coping mechanism for everybody but for me i am really fortunate with my job, so i am also a nanny. So I find a lot of joy being around little ones, especially i have a huge little passionate heart for babies! 

[both laugh] 

A: I basically spend my days with a one year old, and i’m really fortunate and i know one hundred percent that it’s, like, the universe is guiding me through this because that helps me stay on track. It helps me with my meals, it helps me to eat lunch. It helps me without having to like, have this whole “i have to eat lunch at this time and this time,” like, once i feed the baby i have to feed myself. I can’t be sick or I can’t be falling back into restricting or anything like that if I’m trying to look after three little kids, it’s just impossible. So I’m really fortunate with that, and that really does help out with balancing my running Bure Balanxed and also, i mean it’s a lot to have two jobs, but it really does help out with balance because when i’m with the baby i can’t really be full-on focused on Pure Balanxed just ‘cause i can’t, it’s impossible! [laughs] If you’re with a baby you can’t also be on your phone on instagram all day, it doesn’t work like that! So that really helps with balance. I definitely have gotten better at speaking more about how i feel and my emotions and just letting myself feel things instead of trying to numb out, which i think is really important. Um … i’m trying to think of what else i do as coping mechanisms … I also am getting a lot better at learning when i need to rest, and when i need to–i mean it’s really hard to take time off, but also learned that if i dont my body will just shut down and it will tell me that it needs to take time off.

D: Yeah.

A: Which is something I obviously ignored forever because growing up as an athlete you don’t take time off. So I think that’s something else that really helps. I also, i don’t know, i’m trying to get more into, like, meditation and more, just kind of taking time to kind of, like, rewire my brain that way because obviously for a long time it was very negative and all the thoughts in my mind were not very healthy or very great for setting up my future and what i wanted my future life to look like. Things like that are really great. I don’t know, there’s probably a lot more. I also think that it’s so individualised, i mean, things i used as  a coping mechanism when i was through treatment i don’t necessarily use today. I’ve found new things. But like, for things that i used then for people who are through treatment and need something to do: anything using your hands is great! I learned to crochet, I would colour, I would … i forget what they’re called … they’re books you can like, draw lines on?

D: Like a bullet point journal kind of thing, where you connect the dots.

A: Yeah, like anything where you can use your hands. I mean, crocheting and knitting is amazing because you’re using both hands and you can watch TV at the same time. Um, ‘cause like, that kind of pulls your mind away from all those thoughts and everything and destress. So that’s just some things.

D: Do you have a process for what meditating looks like for you? This is just me being nosey now [laughs]

A: Yeah. I don’t–so I don’t meditate as much as i would like to. I need to get better at it. But I have found some meditations through Youtube. I also have … like, I mean, you can get on instagram and find all those people who are all about it, and they can refer you to a lot of meditations.

D: Mhmm!

A: I actually have been doing this course by The Balanced Blonde, I don’t know if ..?

D: Mhmm! Yup! I know her!

A: Yup! So I’ve been doing her course Waking Back Up To Your Soul, and her meditations are amazing. They’re like twenty minutes long and i probably cry every time cause i’m just like–and I’m someone who can’t just sit down and meditate for twenty minutes, but if it’s a guided meditation i think they’re so much better. I know there’s an app, Headspace or something, that a lot of people like. But I also love to go for walks, and i love to listen to podcasts, and i love music. I love being by the water, I find that is very calming. Which,I think we’re so fortunate in Ontario that we’re by the lake, that we can go walk by the water. So things like that I would consider my meditation, but yeah.

D: I love that. I think it’s always nice to hear from real, like, real on-the-earth people what meditation is to them. That’s something I’m really passionate about advocating for. If you feel like you need mindfulness just do something that makes you feel mindful. It doesn’t have to look like sitting on a cushion in Tibet. It can be whatever works for you, so thank you for sharing these things, and I will check out that Balanced Blonde and link it as well, ‘cause it’s nice to support each other! In real life time you have this going on, but in podcast world time it will have already passed, but you’ve already started expanding beyond T-Shirts to then more clothing options, and events are also something that you’re also sparking lots of passion about, and finding comfort in the unknown as I believe they’re called. I’d love to know more about your idea for that. Yeah. Just chat away about it! 

A: Yeah! So! We will have already done our first event, which is so exciting! So, for a long time, even when I was sick with my eating disorder, I was trying to figure out why this what happening to me and I was so angry at the world, I was like “why why why why why.” I kind of always thought I want to be able to share my story, I want to be able to share with people, and I want to inspire people, i want people to kind of be in the same position where I was and see that, like, your life will change. You’re not stuck in this same spot forever. I always thought like “wouldn’t it be cool to talk and share my story in front of people” and blah blah blah. So anyway, and then once I started to get better and I was like “I’m gonna somehow organise an event,” but I never thought I would actually do it. You know when you have those things in your mind and you’re like “I just want to do this one day,” but you’re like, I never will. I always knew that when I started Pure Balanxed (yes, our main focus is clothing), but we are a lifestyle brand, and there’s more to life than just clothing. I believe that community is huge, and I believe that as women we tend to believe that we’re alone in our lives sometimes. I know for me I felt so alone for so long, that I know how scary and sad that is, and I don’t want anybody else to feel that way. So that’s why I created our events ‘Finding Comfort In The Unknown’, which is basically our tag line, which I came up with from the beginning (and is what the events are called).

So yeah! By now we will have done our first event, and I call them a ‘speaker social’, It’s just a three hour event (for our first one). We have amazing speakers, sharing on different areas in life as women. The first one is in Kingston which I’m really excited about to keep it local. Our mission is to keep doing these events, and take them to new cities and new places… SO if you’re listening and you want us to come to you let us know! That’s something else that’s under the umbrella of Pure Balanxed. When I think about it sometimes I’m like ‘Okay, this is crazy’. I feel like I tend to go to the negative first before the positive. And I think that we kind of live in this world where we’re so quick to go to negatives about everything, and it’s so much harder to think about the positive. 

So when I think about the first year of business I think everything should be about money, and success should be about the numbers that you hit and the sales that you hit, instead of everything that you’ve accomplished. So sometimes I have to work really hard to think back to think about everything Pure Balanxed has done in the first year. I would say most clothing brands don’t decide to do womens, childrens, and run events in the first year. So when I think about that I think “okkaaayy this is kind of crazy” but I think it’s really cool that we’re getting our brand across there- we’re clothing but we’re also so much more. We;re creating a really big community that I hope can grow across the world.

So yeah! First event would have been done by now! Which is insane! I’m like manifesting in the feeling after the event (which is really crazy!) January we will have launched our new womens line. We’re expanding, we’re not just doing tshirts and crews anymore, we have like a full on outfit for everybody. So we’ll have new jogger pants, new crews, new tshirts. And then we’ll be heavy into our spring/summer production which is going to be a whole new look for the brand, which I’m really excited about. And umm, we’ll probably be working really hard on our kids line. We’re going to be .. I mean, I’m going to say this now and hope it doesn’t fall through, otherwise I’m going to look bad! We’re going to do something big for pink shirt day, with our partner Friends First. Pink shirt day for anyone who doesn’t know is for antibullying. So kids wear a pink shirt for, I think February 27th in Canada.. I don’t know how far wide it goes. It’s basically their message of saying no to bullying! So we’re really big on antibullying for kids, because that really is just not fair. 

So that will be coming up, and if you’re local I’m sure you’ll be seeing those tshirts everywhere. Umm so yeah! That’s what you’ll be seeing soon.

D: Oh my gosh, I’m going to have to flip through my calendar and be like, “we’re going to have to talk in January, we’re going to have to talk in February, we’re going to have to talk in March.. I’m just going to take up all your time” because I could literally talk to you forever, and I mean I’m looking at you because we’re face to face via camera and you just have such, just, you radiate just this beautiful energy. It really does feel on my end like such a privilege to be able to hold space and have a platform to share. You are creating all of these amazing things, and it feels like.. You can really feel how much from your heart it is. I think that, actually not I think, I KNOW that is why I came back that day and just had to buy your shirt. You can feel the love that goes into the product, you can feel the support that you really want to cultivate for your community and it shows in wanting to create events, in wanting to create all of these amazing things. So thank you for wanting to hang on to that piece of hope, and using it to create this unbelievable life and future, because it’s only going to keep getting bigger. For you and for the rest of us who get to watch and celebrate you! 

A: You’re so sweet!

Both laugh

D: Thank you! Where can people find you, where would you like them to go?

A:Yes! So, you can find us on basically every social media platform, I would say instagram is where I live primarily most of my life. So @purebalanxed, and then we’re primarily online right now, That is our online store which has everything about our events, our blog, more about our story. You can see all of our products there! We’re also on facebook as Pure Balanxed. If you want to know more about me just as a person, you can find me on instagram @alliejeanduff, yeah! That’s where you can find us.

D: (Squeels) I’ve already been a little bit of a stalker, so I’m just going to continue to do that with you, following along with all of these amazing things. 

A: Also message me! If you have listened to this and want to chat more just slide into the dm’s, I’m the one that runs instagram so its me there. I love hearing from you so dm me! 

D: I would love to do another chat because I feel like we have so much to talk about- being a woman in business, running your own business, because I feel the same way. Anytime you see a dm slide from @domchesh, that is actually Dom Chesh, actually sliding in to your dms saying thank you, or reaching out about something. So yes! Reach out to Allie! Thank you so so much for taking time out of your day to chat, I’m so excited to see where all of this goes, I’m really hoping to make it up to Kingston to see you, and I hope you have a really fabulous rest of your day! 

A: Thank you! Thank you so much for having me on and sharing my story, I’m so excited!

D: Me too! Alright take care! Bye!

A: Bye!

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Okay, here we are. I am sitting on my chair, cozied up, taking deep breaths because I really want this version of my story to be the most real that I could possibly share with you. I’m pretty sure this is true for most people, that the further away we get from events in our life that we’re really, really happy or really, really painful, the harder it is to sort of revisit what that felt like, and not necessarily because it’s hard emotionally, although that’s true, too. But the further away from these things we get, um, just the less real they feel. So I am here today to sit in all the realness for you and for anyone who’s new to me today. I really hope that this gives you a little bit of insight into my story, into what I’m about and that there’s something in here. Especially if you’re going through a really tough time this hopefully resonates. There’s so much magic in our stories and there’s so much magic in the tough stuff. And it might sound crazy to say this now, and I can’t believe I would have ever been saying this, but I’m actually really grateful for all of the shitty things that I lived through. As shitty as they felt at the time, they have brought so much light into my life, and truth into my life that I never would have had the pleasure of having if I hadn’t have lived through that shitty stuff. Please. At least take that away.

That the things that suck when we’re in them, the darkness that we can feel the helplessness that we can feel is temporary. And we are beings of light and love. And if you can find a way to make it through and it doesn’t even have to be gracefully because universe knows we just need to make it through. There’s so much for you on the other side. And on that note, I kind of want to set the scene here for you. So my whole life I identified as a dancer my whole life was dancing specifically ballet. Um, which is kind of hilarious now because I’m very short and I grew up dancing Ballet. I feel like I was on the cusp of the time when there was still this conversation around what a dance body looks like and what companies want to hire you based on what you look like.

So I was a dancer and I took that very seriously. I worked super super hard and being that person who wants things to be perfect, I had a lot of anxiety, not just around dance, but in school, in life in general. I was always at, like, a 10 on the stress level, and I didn’t really have tools to manage stress and anxiety. They weren’t really something we talked about in my family. It was very much the British way of, like, suck it up and get through it. And so I kind of got to a point where I just felt very overwhelmed, and very stressed and that manifested itself in stomach aches. I was throwing up all the time for seemingly no reason. I wasn’t chronically ill in a way that was tangible. But I was just throwing up all the time, which now I understand brain-gut connection, I understand that they’re so intensively interconnected that what you’re thinking and what you’re feeling are directly related to each other. And so I was in this period of life where I was sick all the time, my intestines were inflamed. I weird reactions to food, and that sort of continued on through this journey. So that’s sort of what was happening for me. physically.

As I was getting further and further into dancing, I started to get little pockets of pain. I still have this, actually, but, um, I get this part on the inside of my knee that swells up, and I couldn’t do anything to calm it down. I was in physio all the time, and then that created more stress because I was injured and I wanted to dance. I was falling behind,and sort of became this big circle where I had anxiety that people weren’t talking about, and stomach issues, that nobody could tell me why they were happening. I was in and out of the doctors. I was on and off of medication constantly. Nothing was working, and I had a chronic injury that nobody could fix. My parents were paying for treatment and nothing was getting better, which was just causing me more anxiety. So I decided at 16/17 to step away from the dance world because I just felt like I was falling apart a little bit and in a way I started falling apart kind of differently.

If your whole life has always been movement and your whole identity has been as an athlete when you don’t have that anymore, it’s really tricky to sort of feel included. I found it really tricky to integrate back into high school life. I had friends, but I didn’t have a strong social group. I knew how to talk to the people in my dance world, but I didn’t really feel like I had the skills to communicate with my peers. I wasn’t really into social media. I wasn’t really intoboys. I never really felt pretty. I didn’t really wear makeup. I didn’t feel very good. I actually had a terrible relationship with my body because of dance stuff and then also I felt like it was my enemy. I just I didn’t feel very good and so by the time I got to grade 12 I was like, I need to be out of here. I had had a boyfriend, we broke up and I did not know how to handle that very well at all. And I was just like, I need to I need to not be here. I could care less about university. I was a very good student. I worked very, very hard and I got into some very competitive programs, but I really felt like I needed a year away. So I saved up my money. I found an organization to travel with and with no worries not a care in the world, made my way down to Bogota in Colombia, which at the time when I went was not something that people did! They had just started trying to promote tourism. And I didn’t speak a lick of Spanish. My dad actually pretty much insisted that I dye my hair. I I am not natural. I am naturally blonde, not so blonde anymore. But I was still fairly blind at the time, and I had to dye my hair dark. Butat the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you’ve got blue eyes in a country where that’s not as common, you stick out.

I found a lot of heart here. I saw a new way that people were living. It showed me how much privilege I had in my life growing up in Canada and in a fairly wealthy area of Canada. And I was approached while I was there to see if I would want to run a dance program. And I was sort of, like, what? I came here to get away from all of that stuff. Like, people here are teaching English. They’re building houses, they’re helping families and you want me to teach dance program? I mean, yeah! So I did. I was taken to the school, And they actually did have an art room there, which I didn’t even expect. Like a little art studio room. And apparently a volunteer a few years before me had come in, had tried to set up a program. The Children loved it. Teachers loved it. But then when they left there was noone to continue it. So, me being there, they were wondering if I could help sort of re bring it to light and fill that gap.

So here I am not really speaking very much Spanish, actually. Pretty much know Spanish, 18 having never been in another place of the world like this. And I’m like, Yeah, sure, I’ll do this. So I figured out that there was pretty much no organization at this school. And so I created a time slot and I created a list. And onlyChildren who were supposed to be in the room at that time slot were allowed to come in. Now, I wasn’t saying no to Children. I was just trying to establish some order. I would teach a couple of classes and we decided to put together a routine for the kids. And the day that I ended up having to leave happen to be International Dance Day, which was unbelievable timing, Super crazy. So it was perfect and there was a lot of things I learned while I was there, and I think I’ll save all of that for another another pod. But basically it rekindled this love of movement. I was watching these kids who really didn’t have very much still have so much joy. And that really, really reminded me of the fact that we are so lucky.

And this is what it’s about. Movement is about feeling good. It’s not about what my body looks like. It’s about being free and laughing and enjoying it. And I was like, Yes, I’m inspired. This is what I want to dio However, I had already agreed to go to university. My parents had already paid some money for that, so I was like, All right, I’ll give this university thing I shot. I’m pretty feeling pretty inspired anyway, and I’ll just, like, join a dance team or something. Within literally a week of being on university. I was like, No, no, no, no. This is not the place for me and it was tricky, and I think that It’s something that a lot of us go through when you’re in a world you know, growing up through high school, you can kind of do the things you want to do. I had my structure of school and I had my structure of dance and I could do both. But it does feel trickier as you get older to continue doing that. It does feel like at a point, people are asking you well, which one and now, however many years later I can see that you don’t have to choose. You can be everything that you want to be. But at the time, I felt like I had to choose. And so at this point, I haven’t really been dancing for about two years. But my heart is just dying to get back into it. So I reached out to some contacts who I knew in the dance world to see what they did post secondary. This is where I was connected to The School of Toronto Dance Theatre.. Perfect for me. I live just outside of Toronto, so I did a little bit of dancing, a little bit of training, got back into physio Some of the issues that I had before were coming back up. But I thought, you know what? Fuck it. I don’t care. I’m just gonna keep doing me. And that’s important to know because this is sort of a theme throughout my life as I feel things that are kind of bringing me down. I go through that whole Western process of in and out of doctor’s offices on and off of medications, getting blood tests, not feeling like anything’s working. I get to a point where I just feel like fuck it, this is what I want to do, so I’m gonna figure out a way to do it. I’m just gonna do it my way with what feels good. So I auditioned for STDT during their summer camp AND by the grace of God, I end up getting in. I really appreciated this about them because I have seen the dancers that come through their program, and I know I was not at that level when I auditioned, but I am so grateful that I got to go to the school.

And so I begin this new life, this life that I that I thought that I really, really wanted. Living in the city, living with roommates, dancing all day, creating all day and then going home sleeping and doing it all again. But very quickly all of these little ISMs that occurred before start coming up again. I wasferociously ill in my digestive system. I was constantly having spasms, constantly having back pain, and nobody medically could tell me what it was other than giving me medication. I ended up not finishing the final performance because I got pneumonia, which I think was like 80% to do with where I was living cause our landlord turned the heat off, which now I know is illegal. At the time, I did not, um, but also because I had so much anxiety and my immune system was just down. And when we’re feeling stress, when we’re feeling anxious, our immune system goes off line because our body is just in fight or flight survival mode. So I spent that summer started being like Okay, Do I want to go back into this? Do I want to keep dancing? And my answer was just Yes. I want to create I want to move. This is my life. This is everything I’ve always been.

And so I go back to STDT, prepared for round two of school. You have to be invited back. to, continue through the program which I was!

Here we go, round Two Fresh perspective. I’ve learned my lessons,away we go. Sure enough it happens again – I’m constantly ill. I am miserable. I am rail skinny and I’m supposed to be happy. I’m doing the thing I’m supposed to be loving and looking back again, I can see that that environment was not a healthy environment for me to be in. I don’t think it was very healthy for many of us to be in, to be honest, but I kept doing it and actually, by the time I got to the end of my second year, I started to realize this. I started to realize, Oh, the pain that I’m feeling the stuff that I’m feeling is more than just sickness, and I’m tired of going to the doctor. So I ended up connecting with a woman that I had met through work who was an energy worker. And I’ve always been fairly spiritual, I grew up pretty witchy, pretty woo woo. Nothing else medically has worked. She and I started to work on protecting my energy, protecting my boundaries, being in my own bubble, not taking on other people’s shit, recognizing these signs that can come up in our body as a way to get our attention and not think of them as the enemy, but rather think of them as an alarm bell of love.

And so I started to sort of hone to this intuition a little more intentionally, which allowed me to finish my second year on a really good note. I actually finished really strong and so excited that I had said no to things that weren’t working, started to listen to my intuitions, started to build up my toolbox of how to handle anxiety, how to handle feelings of unworthiness. Of making sure that I was giving my body what it needed to be able to work optimally. And we had a kick ass couple of pieces of choreography to finish the year off. At this time I’m like living my best life, I’m like yes, I survived my second year, I started thriving through life. I’m dancing and actually loving ot I’ve made new friends have started to explore these other versions of myself that I’ve always repressed and I’m feeling really, really good.

And so on a very hot day in June I am with some friends. I’m at their house and there’s no air conditioning because landlords are shitty to students. And so half of us are on a second floor balcony. This is where I start to not really remember. I don’t know what I know and what I’ve been told. But from what I’ve been told I was talking to a friend and she and I were arranged so that I was against the railing and she was facing me. And I do remember hearing a sort of a crack and this moment of ‘Oh’, and then that’s kind of it.

And so what has been filled in for me is that where I was standing was right at the intersection of the balcony railing and the the wall of the house. And for no reason that we can tell other than no maintenance and being a crappy landlord, the railing started to give away. And because I was right at the intersection where it was connected, it peeled away from where I was first. And so all I remember is this feeling of hands underneath my back, I could not remember for a fair while what happened. But I remembered these hands. And so what happened was that I was falling backwards. And if I had landed backwards onto concrete steps, I for sure would have broken my spine.I would have smashed the back of my head open. Um, most likely I would have smashed into some internal organs, which would have left a lot of internal bleeding, and the likelihood of me dying was really high. But what I remember is falling and feeling hands on my back and feeling really supported. I remember feeling like I was being guided, and when I came to, I was sitting up and I was very confused. I couldn’t really see anything. I couldn’t really understand why everyone around me was panicking. And I remember just feeling like I need to go to sleep.

I’m really overwhelmed and my head really, really hurts. And I just need to lie down. I was told later that my friends that had been standing on the balcony watched me fall. A few of them almost went down as well, but had that extra split second to be caught. They watched me fall. They watched me hit the steps. They watched blood pool around my head and they watched me lay there. And it all happened very quickly. Um, there was some very quick response from the people around me. They ran through the house saying, Call 911 ran downstairs and I was told that there was this moment when the girls who who came outside were about to open the door, and had this moment where they looked at each other and we’re sort of like we might be finding a dead body, we don’t know. But they opened the door and I was sitting up, And who the fork knows how I got there. But I did. My whole forehead was completely open to the bone. So there was a lot of blood, a lot of blood. My nose was broken and there was a lot of damage through my body. But at that time we were all just like Holy crap, I’m awake. So 911 was called. I think the police came as well. I’ve know I spoke to the police at some point because they have a report, but I don’t remember that. All I remember is feeling like my head really hurt. And this is what adrenaline does. Adrenaline supports our body so that we don’t feel pain. And I didn’t understand. And I’m being put in a neck brace. I’m being put onto a stretcher. I’m being slid into an ambulance. My friend is with me and I can’t understand. Once the the loudness and the chaos and the busyness of everybody around me had gone, I started to feel immense amounts of pain… like I had been hit by a bulldozer..That then ran back over me. And the thing that I am most concerned about is the pain in my foot. I remember just thinking I don’t care if my face is shattered. I don’t care if I never looked pretty ever again. I care that I can dance. I care that I can move. I cannot have a broken foot. I will not. I will not stand for that. It’s not possible. So I started to sing because I felt like I needed to sing to distract myself, and I started to shake my good foot. At the time, I just felt like I needed to shake it because I needed to distract the pain to something else. And now I know so much more about trauma and how trauma exists in the body, and it is so good for us to shake.

When I got to the hospital, I was taken straight to trauma, and I just remember being on the table again. I can’t really see anybody in. I’m being asked questions, and I’m joking and I’m laughing because there’s so much adrenaline in my body, I have no idea. I have no idea the condition that I’m in and so I’m singing and I’m laughing and they have to cut my clothes off. And I’m upset because I was wearing my favorite underwear and my favorite shirt. Actually, I think somebody else gave me their shirt. Anyway, I’m put under and at this at this point in time, my parents have been contacted. When they were told that I had been taken to emerge, they were sort of like, well, why? for a cut on her head? because, obviously being in so much shock themselves, my friends were unable to articulate exactly what had happened. And they were just like, ‘No, you need to,You need to come’. By the time they got to the hospital, I had already been taken in for surgery and they were approached by this priest, or minister? whatever knew that they were? They went up to my parents and said, ‘You know, if you need any counseling or support, you’re welcome to come to the chapel and I will be there’. And my parents were sort of like, ‘Well, why doesn’t she just have a cut on her head?’ At which point they were told No. In fact, the accident that I was in only happens a couple times of a year in the city, and the rate of people walking away is pretty much zero.

There’s usually extensive brain damage. There’s usually internal bleeding, there’s usually damage to the spine, or they die. At which point my parents are like ‘what the flock is going on, What the fuck happened here?’ And so at some point I come out of surgery, I start to wake up, and I’m on high painkillers, really high painkillers. And I know that I’m on intense pain killers because the moment they start to wear off, I can’t help but scream. I had a severe concussion. I broke my nose. My forehead been had been split completely open. They had said that even if I had no other damage, with the amount of impact to my head, they would have had to put me under just to sew it back up. I had damage down the muscles of the right side of my spine. I had whiplash and then just impact trauma down my whole right side, down the back of my right hip, and I had shattered many, many bones in my left foot. None of them punctured through, but they had all shattered. And so I had to stay in the hospital. I think we were there all night because I had to be cleared to take my neck brace off. All my clothes have been cut off. I didn’t have any underwear. I don’t have anything. And I they finally tell me I can leave. And I remember making this joke to the nurse, like all I have is a hospital gown. You cut off all my clothes. I don’t live with my parents, they didn’t bring any clothes for me. I don’t have anything. And so they gave me some mesh Hospital undies and the guy who’s working the front desk gave me his shirt. I don’t remember the ride home. I just remember overall this whole period of time, feeling very overwhelmed and very confused. My dad carried me in to my sister’s room because her bedroom was on the main floor, so it was easiest to get to, and that is where it pretty much stayed for months. I was in such extreme shock. It took a couple days for me to really understand how much pain I was in. They gave me medication to take home. I was given Percocets and I took them for about a week, and I just had this feeling of I want to feel the pain that I’m in, which sounds like some kind of sick punishment to myself. But it wasn’t. I felt like I needed to know exactly what hurts, where it hurts and how bad it hurts if I’m ever going to get better. If I can’t feel what’s going on, I can’t make it better. And as a disclaimer, I don’t recommend that method. I highly recommend that if you have had any trauma in your body and you need medication to work through it, please take it. Please. And so I go about 7 to 10 days with this medication, I’m still in my little delusional bubble about what happened. Any time I go out in public, (which wasn’t a lot) I get a lot of looks from people. I get a lot of alarm from people and that sucked. I didn’t understand why people were looking at me a certain way, and I didn’t understand how shocking I looked to people because in my mind, I was just thinking about getting better and that this is my life and suck it up. And this is what I feel like right now.

I remember my mom and I going shopping. We went to our local mall because I needed to buy underwear. I remember people actively staring and it was sort of around this point that I started to recognize Oh, this isn’t This isn’t just an average accident. This isn’t the way that most people look. I don’t look the same. I was getting a manicure with my mom and we were sitting in the spa chairs. It was a small place and this woman walked in, took one look at me and across the room yelled, ‘Oh, my God, what happened to you?’ And I was mortified, so embarrassed that I looked this way that people felt called to say things out loud, which is really ironic because I actually didn’t care. It was said to me many, many times, you know, like, you are so lucky. It is near never that people walk away from an experience like this and you have. And I actually genuinely felt that. The thing that I was most upset about was that I couldn’t dance. Was that I had spent all of this time building these tools to get through school, to thrive through school, to live my biggest life and I felt like that was all gone.

My mom, it’s a freakin angel. She would rub vitamin E, and all the essential oils all over my face. She would take care of the scars that were gross, that I couldn’t do myself. I had a really hard time bathing because I wasn’t allowed to get my forehead wet while the stitches were in and my leg was casted. So I had to do like a weird mermaid bath where I had to have my head supported and because I had had whiplash, I couldn’t do that. So I ended up just cutting off my hair because it was way too much hassle to try to take care of. One of my mom’s friends is a hairdresser, so I would go to her once a week and have her wash my hair for me, which I really appreciate it.

At the beginning, we were really focused on my foot. I went in for the first surgery to input metal plates and screws to bring all the bones together. I was told, ‘You know, you’ll be lucky if you regain mobility’. But this resilient, stubborn Dom energy that I have was like ‘I’m a dancer and and I wanna dance again. So let me be the boss. Let me decide how this is gonna go.’ The first four months I wasn’t able to walk at all. And I will tell you how quickly your muscles deteriorate when you don’t use them for that amount of time. I literally watched the muscles in my left leg soften into nothing, which is also really hard when your whole identity has been movement and strength.

To watch these parts of your body wither away without feeling like there’s very much you can do about it… is really hard. At this point, I’m between surgeries, I’m not really capable of walking but desperately looking to do something. I start rolling out my yoga mat and breathing into the little bits of movement that I can do. Little bits of stretching, putting my hand over my head, over my heart, over my hips, over my foot, every place that that was hurting, which was pretty much my entire body. I’m just saying I love you, which I now know is a Reiki practice. But at the time, I just felt like this is what I need to do. I had friends that would come and just lay down and hold my hand or bring me soup..they would bring me movies which I was so grateful for. But when September rolled around and everyone had to go back to their lives in school, I was sort of left alone. And this is where I’m very grateful. Like this is where the gratitude starts to come in even more because this is when I started Pilates. I remember calling the studio and the owner kind of knew what had happened because I had a really good friend who worked there and had told her a little bit about me. She was like, ‘Okay, we’ll set you up with privates. Let’s see what we can do’. I remember getting to the studio, opening the door on my crutches and they’re just being stairs. I remember saying to myself, ‘Is this a fucking joke? How am I going to get up these stairs?’ and in that moment I just decided, ‘well I just have to do it. If I want to get to the top, I have to climb the stairs. And it was not pretty and it was not graceful. I had to scoot on my bum. I had to drag my crutches behind me..but I did it and I got to the top and I began.

This is here it really all began. . My (now) dear friend Val was my teacher and we laugh because our paths have crossed so many times, and this was one of those moments where I didn’t really know her. She had just become an instructor and bless her, I was one of her first clients in her Pilates career, and I was battered. But we had a really good time together, and I found so much value in just being able to move my body.

At this point, you know, I’ve been eating as best as I can, but my body’s in full on recovery mode. I’ve put on a little bit of weight, but I don’t care. I just want to move my body and so I start. I start practicing pilates three times a week. I start building some strength back in my leg without any kind of weight bearing. Eventually, I’m cleared to start walking so I can start adding more movement, more weight bearing, more mobility.

My ankle is stuck. It’s been held in a cast for months. I start working on range of motion and slowly, but surely I start to get into this new weekly life of having Pilate’s three times a week, moving on my mat, doing my laundry, cooking. This is when I become vegan and creating this little routine. I go to therapy once or twice a week as well. I can’t quite remember, and my whole life basically becomes recovery in all kinds of ways. I did energy work. I was super mindful of what I was eating, also because I had brain damage, it took me a really long time to be able to do simple tasks. So following a recipe was like a daylong event. Bless. At the beginning, I was also on crutches so I couldn’t even really carry ingredients. I had to scoot on my bum around my kitchen and Oh, God, it was such a time. And yeah, my my life, my routine becomes appointments and routine and sleeping and processing. And and I start to get better And the speed at which I started to improve was unbelievable to most of the doctors that I was seeing.

Not my energy worker. She was like, ‘Well, yeah, duh we’re doing the work. Of course you’re getting better’. I had a surgery on my scar because it was huge and massive. And just for the health of my skin. I needed to, cut it back open (not as deep, just superficially), kind of back open and then brought back together so it could heal in a more healthy way. Technically, the procedure that I had gets performed twice. But after the first round, my plastic surgeon was sort of like, Holy crap, this has healed unbelievably well, How did you do that?

And I knew.

I’m doing therapy. I’m moving my body. I’m eating well, I’m being mindful when I can. I’m breathing. And I’m also very sad and very much going through PTSD. But I’ve built habits around me to give my day purpose. Because if I didn’t have a purpose, if I didn’t have these appointments, I had to show up to.. If I didn’t have have these things every day that I felt like I needed to do, I probably wouldn’t have gotten out of bed and I probably wouldn’t have recovered. To be honest, I would probably still be stuck in that zone of sadness and sickness and pain.

I have a second surgery on my foot, this time to take out all of the metal implants (which I was told by my surgeon is very rare). But they take it out, for me.

I’m literally just remembering this now. When I was waiting for surgery one of the surgeons was talking to me and he had at the most recent x ray of my foot up and he asked me, ‘Do I drink a lot of milk now?’ Sidenote I cut out dairy when I was 16 and before this whole situation happened. I’m now in to being 22 so I haven’t had any dairy products for What is that 6 years? And I’ve been vegan at this point for about six months. So he asked me, ‘Do you drink a lot of milk?’ And I say ‘no. Why?’ he goes, ‘Oh, because your bones are very strong!’. I remember taking that as a bit of a win. Like, Oh, sir, I’m gonna remember that anytime someone questions my veganism.

Anyway, So this whole first year of my life is based around appointments and the physical stuff and the mental stuff. And I was seeing my psychologist pretty regularly, and I was being asked questions that I couldn’t understand. And again. Now, in hindsight, I recognize she was asking me about the symptoms of PTSD. But what gets really, really tricky is having brain damage and then being asked questions that you don’t quite understand. Like I was not giving the answers that were true, but not on purpose. I wasn’t trying to lie. I just couldn’t put together all of the information.

But this is sort of my little moment of I knowing that recovery can be expensive. It is expensive. I know that when we’re looking at getting help, finances are a factor and I also know I am so privileged that my family were able to support me through this. But I will also say that you need to find someone who’s qualified to work with you, your case. She was able to help me a lot because she specialized in my specific issues.

The thing about PTSD and PTSD induced anxiety is that that shit will come out of nowhere. You can be doing all of the work, you could be feeling your best self, have the best day, and all it takes is one thought, one noise. I am still learning about triggers that I didn’t know that I had. I’m just well, more we more equipped now to handle them so that the attacks don’t last as long. But at the time, I’m going through this whole process. I could be in a spiral, not breathing on the floor for, like, hours unconsolable for hours. I am so lucky that I was surrounded by so much love, because in those moments where you’re on the floor, where you feel like you can’t breathe, where that the world is crumbling around you and you were fighting to breathe, having a support system that doesn’t even need to say anything that just pulls you in close and holds you really tight and allows you to live through its processing in your body.. and then keeps hugging you once it’s over. And never once judges you for those moments or thinks that you’re crazy is the biggest grace you can give yourself. And so I really worked hard to find different avenues of product of processing PTSD and anxiety in my body. That looked like movement that looked like crying, taking breaks (even though I’m still not great at that).

But taking breaks when I can feel the overwhelm happening, reaching out to friends, using things that make you feel good every moment of your day is an opportunity to show yourself love with your time with the people you spend your time with. Brushing your teeth, moisturizing your skin and body, eating good food, putting things in your body that make you feel good, reading content that inspires you. These are all ways that we can consistently give ourselves love. I’m not perfect at it, but now, when I’m covering my body in a essential oils, I am saying, ‘I love you and you are perfect’ and ‘thank you’.

Essential oils were a huge part of my recovery. I had a really hard time sleeping forever. I still do now sometimes, but at that point in time, there were times I would go days without sleeping. Actually, there’s a company out of Quebec that makes products out of pine needles. And so I got a little pine bomb in a little pine pillow, and I would kind of squish them, and then I would just inhale them, which was really, really, really helpful for me. As I started to, learn more about essential oils and find essential oils more readily available to me, I would keep oil’s on me and smother myself in them if I started to feel anxious or alone or like an attack was coming on. Like all of these things, essential oils were my go to because they were so easy to carry around and knowing that these episodes, these moment can appear out of nowhere. It wasn’t always available to me to get up and move, but it was always available to me to pull smell out of my bag. So that is where that is love for essential oils really, really, blossomed.

As the years went on, there was a whole lawsuit involved with this as well, and it’s a story for another day. Once it ended, I didn’t know what to do. What do I do if my life isn’t about just surviving and has the opportunity to be about thriving? What do I do now that I don’t need to have appointments all the time? How do I fill my day? How do I work? What am I passionate about? I can’t dance. What do I do if I’m not a dancer? I’m so grateful that because of this process I got into teaching. This is when I started to teach Pilates, and now I teach yoga and also barre and I have met amazing people. I worked out of a Physio Clinic which is where I really fell in love with working with people who were working through something. So whether that’s pregnancy, an injury, pre op, post op anxiety, wanting to feel good, moving with a purpose has never felt more important to me. Moving for your health has never felt more important to me.

I met my current boyfriend. I hope same boyfriend in the future. And that was something I never thought would be possible. I didn’t think that anyone would want to put up with the attacks. That anyone would understand the emotional swings, that anyone would want to take on supporting me, believing in me and loving me, which he does. I don’t live at home anymore. I moved out a year ago. I never, ever thought I would be able to do that. I never thought I would be able to not only work but work in a world where I can support myself. I cannot work full time, and I did not want to go on government assistance. That is totally me and my own stubbornness. And I often think what the fork did I make that decision for, my life would have been so much easier if I had. The further I get from the explosiveness of this experience, the more I really start to understand what my passion is. My why is all the things I’ve lived through. The anxiety and the stomach upset, the injuries. I just figured it out myself going through this experience where nobody could have imagined I would ever have this as my future. You know what I mean? Nobody then would ever have predicted that I would be in the place I am now. I had to believe in myself. I had to believe that I deserve a big bright future. And I am so, so passionate now about making sure that any person who feels like they’re in the thick of something, whether it be a tangible physical thing, like an injury or an accident or a new experience, or whether it be something that’s manifesting more mentally and emotionally. That the moment we’re able to be in that stickiness and also look at ourselves with love is the day that the magic happens. I remember the days when people would look at me and be alarmed, and I remember the days when I would show up to Pilates class and people think Holy Fork, this girl is in a cast, her face is split open, but she’s moving. And if she can do that I can do the thing that I need to do!

I was never a public speaker. I had such anxiety. I also felt very ashamed of my story for a while. I felt like I did this to myself, and now I feel like I can say maybe I did. Maybe I did manifest this for myself, but it wasn’t for shame or punishment. It was because I was meant for something huge and the learning happens when we are in the pits of something. And I know I know there is nothing more annoying than being in a really tough spot and someone saying, ‘Oh, there’s a silver lining here’ or ‘oh, there’s a purpose for this’. I wanted to punch people in the face when they said that to me. Even though I believed that I wasn’t at a point where I could hear it and implement it.

But now I am. And all of this passion has come from this experience and it is truly my greatest desire to share these stories of the tough shit we have been through so that even one person can hear it and maybe recognized the stuff that they’re in. That the hopes and dreams that they have for themselves, that maybe they don’t even know yet our 1000% possible. And I super passionately believe that we are the change makers of our lives. We are the agents of our lives. And yes, I can. It was really the decision that I wanted to take my health into my hands, my future, into my hands that has led me here. And so sharing that, sharing the tools that got me there is already such a privilege. And I’m so grateful for you listening. For everyone along the way and for this amazing, bright, brilliant, huge future that we get to have together.

Thank you for being here with me. Thank you for continuing to be here with me. I love you so much. And I feel your love too. And I hope you have the most brilliant beautiful day. Thank you so much for joining me. Thank you for holding space for my story. I can’t wait to hear yours too. If you loved this and there’s someone in your life who you know could benefit from hearing this, please share this episode. I would also love if you loved this episode, to like it, to subscribe to it, to leave five stars so that we can build up this community as much as possible. If you want to follow me on Instagram, I am @domchesh and the podcast has its own instagram as well, which you can get to @embodiedalchemy.pod. I can’t wait to share all this goodness with you, but for now I love you and I hope you have a great rest of your day. I love you. Bye.


My heart is literally bursting with all the amazing stories about to come your way. There are two main themes throughout the embodied alchemy pod.
The first is personal stories of resilience. Athletes, musicians, everyday people in our communities who have come face to face with challenges. Their paths have not been easy, but they all decided to make something beautiful out of the chaos- redirected their energy to a new, beautiful path.
The second is with people who are dancing the line of eastern and western traditional practices. They are curious, intelligent, amazing humans, who I am confident will open up your curiosity too.
Please know that all of these conversations come from a place of love, especially as we’re dealing with intense, potentially triggering topics. If at any time you need to take a break from listening to take care of yourself-please do! You are ALWAYS welcome to reach out to me with any feedback for support.
I would also like to acknowledge that this podcast is recorded primarily in Toronto. I would like to acknowledge the land we are meeting on is the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg ((ah-nish-naw-bek)), the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee ((hoodt-en-oh-show-nee)) and the Wendat peoples and is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. We also acknowledge that Toronto is covered by Treaty 13 with the Mississaugas of the Credit.

Our first official episode will be launching on Thursday January 30th, check in for updates on instagram @embodiedalchemy.pod and follow along with me, your host, Dominique @domchesh

I’m so excited to be on this journey with you! I’ll see you back here on Thursday January 30th for episode 1!

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