At Transformation

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A few years ago, I went through a period of transformation.  A time where I was forced to do some intense soul searching and dig deep.

I had always been Tina daughter, Tina sister, Tina wife, Tina mom, Tina worker.  I had spent years defined by those roles, as many of us do, that I didn’t even know who Tina was!  I mean I loved being those things, but, after separating from my then husband, someone at that time I had been with for 16 years (since we were 16 years old) I was now single, and raising my two girls pretty much solo.  You’d think that since I became a mom at 19 that I’d be out partying and getting a little crazy (I did do that, it came a bit later).  But that wasn’t what I chose to do immediately afterward.  I spent a lot of time in those following months, staying in alone on weekends, reading, watching chick flicks, enjoying a glass of wine, reflecting and searching the world wide web for anything on how to do me! After all, who was I?  What were MY interests?  I didn’t even know – most of my interests were my kids interests or my exes interests.  What made ME happy?  What did I want from MY life?

17990691_10155030908085168_9023561088869871015_nYou know when you’re stuck and it feels like your life is a disconnect that a good self help/discovery book is where it’s at.  Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert was the beginning of my transformation.  I followed Elizabeth through her pleasures in Italy, her devotion in India and love in Bali.  Although tempted, I skipped the mounds of pasta meals but started to meditate and get acquainted with Hindi mantras,  heck I wanted to do the whole Ashram thing myself.  I listened to Alanis Morrissette’s “Thank You India” on repeat.  The book touched me so, to the point that I got Om Namah Shivaya tattooed on my left hip as a constant reminder to myself to honour The Divinity That Lives Within Me, to Bow to Shiva My True Identity.

I was on a roll … and I loved it.  I picked up a great Riesling and then picked up every single Robin Sharma book on the market!  Chapters loved me lol.  Discover Your Destiny.  This book gets you hooked at the first line … “You are far greater than you ever dreamed of being.  And, no matter what you are experiencing in your life right now, trust that all is good and unfolding in your best interests.  It may not look pretty, but it is exactly what you need to learn for you to grow into the person you have been destined to become”.   Wow!   I couldn’t put it down, all I wanted to do was keep reading to watch the choices and decisions Dar was going to make and how I could apply these lessons to live my highest life, and be my authentic self — I wanted a life of authenticity.  My copy is dogeared beyond belief and I still refer to some passages and quotes from it to this day.  Heck, for a few months afterward I kept it in my purse, and when I had a moment or needed to take a break, I’d open up one of the dogeared pages and and read from it.

Here’s a  link to a free excerpt of Discover Your Destiny:

http://www.robinsharma.com/product-samples/pdf/Discover-Your-Destiny-1.pdf

I’ve read most of his books, I find him to be a truly inspiring human being! Truly magnetic! He’s the kinda guy I’d like to morph into a little gnome and carry around in my pocket and he’d spout out inspirational thoughts throughout the day like,

“Hey Tina:

•Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow ~ Helen Keller

•Live life to the fullest, and focus on the positive ~ Matt Cameron

•Change your thoughts and you change your world ~ Norman Vincent Peale”

If you haven’t read any of his powerful books, I’d encourage you to give some a try. They are life changing!  (oh and if you believe in serendipity – I got a chance of a lifetime to see the one and only Robin Sharma as keynote speaker at our Arbonne Canadian National Conference in 2013 – talk about destiny! – whoop whoop!)

I was on my way – I was feeling good, I was getting in tune with moi and I was discovering that I not only liked me, but that I loved me.  That me and only me was in charge of my life and destination. Personal growth starts simply by becoming a better version of your former self everyday.  Step one successfully accomplished (well at least acknowledged – personal growth is a lifelong journey!).

Screen Shot 2017-09-15 at 10.16.02 PM.pngNext, I was going to tackle getting out of my comfort zone – life begins at the end of it don’t ya know!  Most people live their lives in their comfort zones, afraid to change, afraid to step out of the comforts of their norms, their regular routines – that are safe, where they know all of the rules of the game.  I realized that we set these limits ourselves and that we keep ourselves locked in because we typically dread what lies in what we don’t already know.  I admired folks who shook the status quo, who took chances, who weren’t afraid – I admired the people who jumped!  I didn’t need to stand on the sidelines and admire … I could jump too!

Shortly after, I stumbled across a poem that I saw posted by George Strombolopoulous, I forget what exactly he was posting about, but I think his mom had this poem by Edgar Guest hung in their house.

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Authenticity, integrity .. this poem struck a chord with me so much that I tattooed the last six lines on my right ribs.

I started redefining my norms, what was possible — becoming authentic is an individual mission, I mean how can we be who we truly are if we spend our time and attention being something we are not for the purposes of the approval of others or being fashionable for instance?  I started by listening to my inner self and kicking my fictional self to the curb.  I found that my life was simpler when I was more peaceful inside, when I made the right decisions for the right reasons.  I decided to end friendships that were not healthy, started surrounding myself with people who were supportive and likeminded, and started making a plan for the next chapter – following my own compass.  I had some friends who were definitely instrumental in helping me through this transformation (shout out to Stacey and Selena), friends definitely helped.

I ended up getting three more tattoos – I’m now a walking billboard for positivity and growth.  And, yes – when I’m by the pool or at the beach, people will stop and ask to read me lol.

Hey, listen, I’m not here to preach that because I am striving to be a truer version of me that my life is perfect, it’s not, no one’s is … it’s filled with just as many challenges as everyone else’s, life will continue to throw us curve balls, but I’ve now learned that it’s how we deal with those challenges that determines the quality of our lives.  I’ve really forgotten this lately … but thankfully life’s a journey and I can continue to make strides. Tomorrow is a new day.

~ “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten” – Tony Robbins


Let’s All Get Cozy With Our Local Shop Owners

One of the best things about living in a small town, is the charm and quaintness of unique local shops. I have a few staple favourites, but my fave is most definitely Style Mercantile.

This cozy ma and pa joint is owned and operated by Karen and her husband Derrick, who opened Style Mercantile in November of 2014 and have recently relocated to a larger space in order to showcase their amazing pieces and hold workshops.

The mercantile offers a selection of home decor items and quality furniture pieces at affordable prices.  I have to say …. I. Am. In. Love. With. This. Place! She certainly has a knack for transformation.

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This store does not lack for anything: great decor, ambiance and selection of one of a kind items.  The customer service is excellent (they take pride in getting to know their clientele on a first name basis). I typically enjoy a speciality tea or coffee as I browse, complimentary of course 🙂

They have a 5* rating on Facebook and I can certainly see why.

Karen reinvents vintage pieces who have long lost their lustre using a paint that requires NO sanding and NO priming. That’s right people, NONE!  Just clean and apply!  I call it “miracle paint”.  We’re in the process of redoing our entire kitchen using this product.  I chose a simple, clean look,  but, this product is perfect for antiquing and distressing anything!  Yes, anything!  Wood, MDF, plastic, metal – ANYTHING!

Afraid of a DYI project?  Not to fret, Style Mercantile hosts a variety of classes to help bring out your inner antiquing Goddess (or God if your hubby dares join you). Karen teaches the different techniques and applications and offers suggestion on colour combinations.

I attended one of the Fall classes last week.  I was lucky enough to sneak a spot in, due to a cancellation. The classes sure are popular, she offered 7 classes and before I called to register, they were all sold out (mental note: book on day one in order to secure a spot!).

I am amazed how I was able to turn a plain, unfinished pine wood box into a truly unique flower box, adorned with beautifully matched handles.  It was a nice afternoon out, a great way to meet new people and enjoy a Chai latte.

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If you’re interested in more Style Mercantile check out their Facebook page.

Beyond how much I totally crush on Style Mercantile, I want to highlight the importance of shopping local, and why we all should:

  • Local Character and Prosperity: In an increasingly homogenized world, communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character have an economic advantage.
  • Product Diversity: A multitude of small businesses, each selecting products based, not on a national sales plan, but on their own interests and the needs of their local customers, guarantees a much broader range of product choices.
  • Customer Service: It’s truly impressive to think about the amount of time, commitment and labor these individuals contribute to make their businesses both come to life and stay alive amidst the big box store generation. Their personal commitment to their business certainly helps in their efforts insofar as  customer service – they are directly involved cultivating repeat business.
  • Support yourself: Several studies have shown that when you buy from an independent, locally-owned business, rather than a nationally-owned businesses, significantly more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers, and farms — continuing to strengthen the economic base of the community.
  • Invest In Community: Local businesses are owned by people who live in this community, are less likely to leave, and are more invested in the community’s future.

Before moving to a smaller community, I was as guilty as the next guy for not showing love to the locally owned business.  But now, I choose to shop locally to support people’s dreams.  It makes me feel in a small way, that I’m doing my part.

~ When you support small business, you’re supporting a dream!


Farewell Bright Lights, Big City!

One of the biggest decisions I made in the betterment of myself shaking up the status quo.  Having grown up in a decent sized city in South Western Ontario all of my life, I decided to move to The Big Smoke (a.k.a. Toronto, TO, Tdot, The Six – ok well you get the point!), population 6,054,191.  At that time I wanted fun, excitement and a change from what I thought was a boring, same ol’ same ol’, mundane life.  Millions enjoy living in Toronto, it’s an amazing city. It has bright lights, culture, history and diversity.

It was a blast for the first 2 years, Toronto is a great, vibrant city with so much to see and do, high end restaurants, cool bars, top of the line lounges, great shopping, tons of concerts, sporting events, live music, comedy festivals and a lot of amenities are 24/7.

Like I said, it’s all great … in the beginning.  It’s always fun being new to someplace … I remember when I would drive home after being out of town (which was quite regularly as the majority of my family and friends were still back home) and see the CN Tower lit up in all her splendour and think “wow, I still can’t believe I live here”, and honestly, I thought that till the very end.  I loved my house, a cute little 1000 sq ft two story I scored while the market was still relatively low and sold 5 years later for a pretty decent return on my investment (less the cost of renovating). Like most houses in Toronto it went into a bidding war and sold over the listing price.  I had a large backyard (with a pear tree, raspberry bushes and a massive hydrangea bush), which is very hard to come by (especially in Toronto, not one of its boroughs), I had 3 car parking, when most houses in my neighbourhood had permit street parking.

The reality of living in Canada’s second most expensive city set in after a short while, that is, once the novelty starts wearing off and you have to pick up your big girl pants!  Things you don’t know like: there are two land transfer taxes when buying a house in Toronto, the cost of housing is through the roof (purchase or rental), you pay for your garbage bin and you have to pay for extra garbage bags if you go over your limit.  The traffic is insane, it’s not uncommon to take 45 minutes to drive 10 kms.  Downtown is filled with a ton of one way streets.   There’s no parking and no stopping in the core between certain hours or you’ll get towed (yep, got towed one day after a live taping of The Social at Much Music), Event parking is a great price at $25.00.  If you don’t have the IMG_4957luxury of having parking at your house or your condo, the cost of a parking spot can cost you as much as $15k to $100k.  Congestion and construction are crazy, and there are so many road closures in the summer for either construction or some type of community event (Taste of the Danforth, Salsa on St. Clair, TOLI, Corso Italia to name a few).   Factor in the crime rate and that the cost of living is more expensive making it difficult for about 90% of the average Torontonians to live day to day,  I felt it was time for a change –  for my peace of mind and for my poor pocket book.  One of my favourite sayings is “the first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are” (unknown).  Pretty basic right?  I recognized that I wanted something different; I wanted contentment and financial stability.  Ironically, the quest for that change unfolded after a drive to Home Depot that should have taken me 15 minutes took me an hour and a half!

If you don’t like where you are change it!  You’re not a tree ~Jim Rohn

Enter Dauphin, Manitoba.  Population 8,200.  After what seemed like little or no discussion, my fiancé and I decided to lose the stress and get a better bang for our buck and move to his hometown. Some people said we’d have been better off throwing a dart at the map.  It really wasn’t a difficult choice to make.  I’ve always been a big believer Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 9.59.33 PMthat we are the creators of our own destinies.  If you want something; make the choice to make the change to make it happen.  Period.  You have to start with identifying your WHY.  My why was tranquility, less stress, putting ourselves in a position for financial success, and getting the most out of our lives (I learned the hard way that it taken be taken from you in the blink of an eye, but that blog is for another day).   Before moving here, I’d never been, never visited and didn’t know much about it.  But, I did know that it was a huge downsize from my 6 million neighbours and that I didn’t have to spend hours driving to the beach (yes, Toronto has beaches, but, you don’t actually swim in them, they’re more for tanning and people watching!) and that within 30 minutes I could be at one of the most beautiful places in Canada (Clear Lake).  I’d get to be surrounded by the great outdoors, and it was nestled between two small mountain ranges (what? I had no idea the prairies had mountain ranges!) – the Riding Mountains and the Duck Mountains. So,  we loaded the contents of the last 5 years of our lives into a moving truck and set off on a new adventure.

It’s been 13 months since our move and, other than adjusting to some small town idiosyncrasies (like things closing at 6 PM and not being open on Sundays), it has been a change that I would strongly encourage people to make if you’re on the fence on whether or not to do something you’ve been debating about … whatever the change, whatever the reason.  The first thing people we meet say when we tell them we’ve moved here from Toronto is “why on God’s green earth would you do that”?  and I get it.  But, we all have choices to make every single day. Life is all about choices — choosing to feel blessed, choosing to feel grateful, choosing to be thankful, choosing to remaining the in status quo or choosing to make the decision that you need something different and to create a more fulfilling life for yourself.  We tend to seek happiness, when happiness is a choice.  I consciously chose happiness and went with it.  I figured “you can always go back home, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain”.  I thought,  what if we fall? but quickly replaced that with what if we fly?

We’ve settled in well to our little community.  We’ve met some really great friends.  For the most part, the folks are friendly.  We can get anywhere in about 5 minutes (8 minutes if the train rolls through town).  We have a much better work-life balance.  We purchased a 2500 sq ft home for a fraction of the cost, the cost of living is much more reasonable, we volunteer, we go on hikes after work, go to one of the lakes on the weekend, take a lot more trips now than we ever have and … we even spend time doing nothing!  Heck, this year alone .. I’ve kayaked,  snowshoed, cross country skied, and saw a real bear, moose and bison all for the first time and I read 9 books!

It is possible to have what you what out of life, you just have to be gutsy enough to challenge the status quo and chose to live YOUR best life.

Although I’m still feeling much love for the Tdot, we are quite enjoying our new life.

Welcome to my Blog

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Hello and welcome to my blog!

I never really thought about starting a blog much before recently, I mean … what did I have to say or offer that would add anything of value?

I’m not an expert in decorating; I just have an eye for it.  I’m not the June Cleaver of mothers, but I am the mom of two driven, successful young women.   I can speak to topics such as coming up through the lower of ranks of the socioeconomic class, being a teen mom, losing a parent, becoming an empty nester at the age of 42.  I can highlight some of my trials and tribulations and more importantly about how I created a life for myself that I am content with (happy = fleeting, content = stable).  It wasn’t much before a friend of mine said “you should write a book” that I gave some serious consideration to blogging.

My goal, really, is to provide and share some of my experiences and insights and create dialogue.

I welcome your comments, questions and ideas about what you’d like to chat about.

Namaste,

T xo