On Genealogy: MY ROYAL CONNECTION to King Louis VIII of France

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I always thought I was special, a Princess you might say, and now I have a little weight behind me to back it up, my 24th great grand-father was King Louis VIII of France. And this discovery, has just set my whole genealogical dig in a whole new wild direction; an astronomical connection all the way back the the Plantagenets (The House of the Plantagenets), the royal dynasty that ruled England for over 300 years.

I came across this discovery as I followed a line on my father’s, paternal side down the Rancourts (see below for exact linage), I was following back my great gramma Angelina Mullen’s line – I don’t even recall how I ended up at Louis VIII, bypassing all of the previous royals.

In all honesty, I knew very little about my 24x GGF. From what I’ve researched Louis VIII the Lion (aka Louis VIII le Lion) (5 September 1187 – 8 November 1226) was King of France from 1223 to 1226 (only a short 3 years). Louis VIII was born in Paris, the son of King Philip II of France and Isabelle of Hainaut, from whom he inherited the County of Artois at Palais Royal, Paris, France.

As I mentioned above, Louis VIII was the son and heir to the great King Philip II, a man who was able to, with the help of his frail yet competent son, to substantially extend royal influence within France.  

In summer 1195, a marriage between Louis and Eleanor of Brittany, niece of Richard I of England, was suggested for an alliance between Philip II and Richard, but it failed. It is said that the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI opposed the marriage, and that its failure was a sign that Richard would name his brother John as heir to the English throne instead of Eleanor’s younger brother Arthur of Brittany, whom Richard had designated earlier as heir presumptive.

On 23 May 1200, at the age of 12, Louis was married to Blanche of Castile, daughter of King Alfonso VIII of Castile and Eleanor of England, the sister of King Richard I and King John I of England. The marriage could only be concluded after prolonged negotiations between King Philip II of France and Blanche’s uncle John.

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Born to wealth, Blanche of Castile (1188-1252) took the reins of leadership early in life as the wife of Louis VIII and later as co-regent during her son, Louis IX’s, minority — Blanche proved to be a good, strong willed leader, keenly adept at dealing with her male counterparts.

Blanche was born on March 4, 1188 in Palencia, Castile, an area that is now part of central and northern Spain. She was the daughter of King Alphonso VIII of Castile and Princess Eleanor Plantagenet of England. Her grandfather was Henry II of England, her grandmother was Eleanor of Aquitaine and her uncle was John I of England. This rich lineage prepared her well for a place on the throne of France.

Louis VIII succeeded his father on 14 July 1223; his coronation took place on 6 August of the same year in the cathedral at Reims.

Meanwhile in 1215, King John of England was forced to sign the Magna Carta stating that the King was not above the law of the land and protecting the rights of the people. Today, the Magna Carta is considered one of the most important documents in the history of democracy. After King John had been forced to sign the Magna Carta, the nobility was still mistrustful of their King, thinking he would appeal to Pope Innocent III for aid in regaining what he had lost. Having failed to control John, the barons took an unprecedented step and decided to overthrow him. The English barons rebelled against the unpopular King John in the First Barons’ War. England needed a King, but who?

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The barons needed a strong, experienced man and of royal blood; they looked across the English channel and found one in Louis VIII.  He was after all the son of the French King Philip Augustus (II), AND he was also a direct descendant of William the Conqueror (OMG, another exciting find and one that I need to research!) and married to King John’s niece, both of which gave him a passable blood claim to the English throne. But more than this, he had the resources to mount a campaign, the men to run it and the skills to win it. He was renowned as a brilliant warrior and was known to be honest, just, moral and a man of his word – all the things that John wasn’t.

On 14 June 1216, Louis captured Winchester and soon controlled over half of the English kingdom. But just when it seemed that England was his, King John’s death in October 1216 of dysentery, caused many of the rebellious barons to desert Louis in favour of John’s nine-year-old son, Henry III.

With the Earl of Pembroke acting as regent, a call for the English “to defend our land” against the French led to a reversal of fortunes on the battlefield. After his army was beaten at the Battle of Lincoln on 20 May 1217 and his naval forces were defeated at the Battle of Sandwich on 24 August 1217, Louis was forced to make peace on English terms. In 1216 and 1217, Prince Louis also tried to conquer Dover Castle, but without success. The principal provisions of the Treaty of Lambeth were an amnesty for English rebels, a pledge from Louis not to attack England again, and 10,000 marks to be given to Louis. In return for this payment, Louis agreed he had never been the legitimate king of England.

He returned to France, where he dedicated a majority of the rest of his life to crusading for the Catholic cause. Teaming with the Englishman Simon de Montfort, Louis battled against Count Raymond VI of Toulouse, and then his son, Raymond VII, and their religious sect, the Cathars. After nearly ten years of sporadic battles, and huge victories and losses on both sides, Louis arose victorious and extended royal power further into southern France. His biggest accomplishment during his short reign was the conquest of the county of Poitou, which had long been under English control. One could not have expected more as a general and leader than what was received by Prince, and then King, Louis. 

While returning to Paris, King Louis VIII became ill with dysentry and died on 8 November 1226 at Château de Montpensier in Auvergne.

The Saint Denis Basilica, just to the north of Paris, houses the tomb of Louis VIII. His son, Louis IX (1226–70), succeeded him on the throne. Queen Blanche concluded the crusade in the south in 1229.

My Lineage:

LOUIS VIII – KING OF FRANCE 1187-1226

24th great-grandfather

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Robert I (Count of Artois)

Son of LOUIS VIII – KING OF FRANCE

(Robert I 25 September 1216 – 8 February 1250, called the Good, was the first Count of Artois, a Prince of France, and the fifth (and second surviving) son of Louis VIII, King of France and Blanche of Castile. On 14 June 1237 Robert married Matilda, daughter of Henry II of Brabant and Marie of Hohenstaufen. They had two children: Blanche (1248–1302)[ Robert II (1250–1302), who succeeded to Artois).

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Robert II (Count of Artois)

Son of Robert I de France (Count of Artois)

(Robert II September 1250 – 11 July 1302, was the Count of Artois, the posthumous son and heir of Robert I and Matilda of Brabant. He was a nephew of Louis IX of France. He died at the Battle of the Golden Spurs.

In 1262 in Paris Robert married Amicie de Courtenay (1250–1275), daughter of Pierre de Courtenay, Seigneur de Conches, a great-grandson of Louis VI, and Perronelle de Joigny. They had three children:Mahaut (1268–1329), Philip (1269–1298), Robert (born 1271, died young).

After Amicie’s death, Robert married twice more: first, in 1277, to Agnes of Dampierre (1237–1288), heiress of Bourbon, and then, on 18 October 1298 to Margaret (died 1342),daughter of John II, Count of Hainaut. After Robert’s death, his daughter Mahaut inherited Artois, but his grandson Robert III unsuccessfully tried to claim it.

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Pilippe I, (Count of Artois)

Son of Robert II (Count of Artois)

(Philip of Artois 1269 – 11 September 1298 was the son of Robert II of ArtoisCount of Artois, and Amicie de Courtenay.  He was the Lord of ConchesNonancourt, and Domfront. He married Blanche of Brittany, daughter of John II, Duke of Brittany, and had the following children:Margaret (1285–1311), who married in 1301 Louis, Count of Évreux, Robert III of Artois (1287–1342), Isabelle (1288–1344), a nun at Poissy, Joan of Artois (1289 – aft. 1350), married Gaston ICount of Foix, in Senlis in 1301, Othon (died 2 November 1291), Marie of Artois (1291 – 22 January 1365, Wijnendaele), Lady of Merode, married in 1309 in Paris to John I, Marquis of Namur, Catherine (1296–1368, Normandy), married John II of Ponthieu, Count of Aumale.

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Marie of Artois

Daughter of Pilippe I, Count of Artois

(Marie of Artois – born in 1291, was the fourth daughter of Philip of Artois and Blanche of Brittany. John’s second wife was Marie of Artois (later to become Lady of Merode). They were married in Paris on 6 March 1310, confirmed Poissy, January 1313. John granted her as dower the castle of Wijnendale in Flanders, ratified by the Count of Flanders (his half-brother, Robert III) in 1313.

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Marie of Namur
Gräfin von Vianden
Dame de Pierrepont
1322 –
before 29 October 1357
Married firstly, in 1335/36, to Henry II, Graf of Vianden, son of Philip II, Graf of Vianden and his first wife Lucia von der Neuerburg. Her first husband was murdered at Famagusta in September 1337.

Married secondly (1340, dispensation 9 September 1342) to her father’s second cousin, Theobald of Bar, Seigneur de Pierrepont, son of Erard of Bar, Seigneur de Pierrepont et d’Ancerville (himself son of Theobald II of Bar), and his wife Isabelle of Lorraine (daughter of Theobald II, Duke of Lorraine).

Marie gave birth to two daughters, Yolande and Elisabeth. When Theobald, died (between 2 August 1353 and 6 July 1354) he had no legitimate male heir, thus his daughter Elisabeth became the heiress of Bar-Pierrepont.

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Yolande de Bar

Daughter of Marie of Namur

(Yolande de Bar (b. c. 1343 – d. c. 1410)  married before 1360 with Eudes VII, Sire de Grancey, Louvois, Pierrepont. Yolande de Bar, dame de Pierrepont, and Eudes VII de Grancey, chevalier, councilor and chamberlain of the king of France, probably married between 1350 and 1355

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Jeanne de Grancey -1422

Daughter of Yolande de Bar

(Jeanne de Grancey, dame of Louvois and of Pierrepont, and Jean II de Châteauvillain,
seigneur of Thil, Châteauvillain, and Marigny, married about 1372

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Marie (Dame de Louvais) de Chateauvillain 1380-1423

Daughter of Jeanne de Grancey

( Marie de Châteauvillain, dame of Louvois, and Amé de Sarrebruche, seigneur of Commercy and of Venisy, married 27 September 1396)

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Robert I de Sarrebruche

Son of Marie (Dame de Louvais) de Chateauvillain

(Robert I de Sarrebruche, lord of Commercy, and Jeanne, countess of Roucy and of Braine. Jeanne de Saarbrücken (born de PIERREPONT) (she is a descendant of Henry III, king of England), married around 1414-1417 at Braine)

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Jeanne de Sarrebruche 1436-1492

(Jeanne de Sarrebruche and Christophe de Barbançon, seigneur of Canny-sur-Matz,
married about 1463)

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Francois Seigneur De Barbancon De La Ferte

Son of Jeanne de Sarrebruche

(François de Barbançon, seigneur of La Ferté, and Françoise de Villers, dame of Montgobert, probably married between 1490 and before 26 May 1507 (and not on 20 October 1511 as reported in several publications)

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Maguerite (Dame de Montgobert) de Barbancon 1490-

Daughter of Francois Seigneur De Barbancon De La Ferte

(Marguerite de Barbançon, dame of Montgobert, and Robert de Joyeuse, count of Grandpré, married 15 July 1519)

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Francois De Joyeuse 1507-1597

Son of Maguerite (Dame de Montgobert) de Barbancon

(François de Joyeuse, seigneur of Champigneulle, and Nicole Françoise de Beauvais,
probably married between 1530 and 1540)

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Jean (seigneur de Champigneulle) De Joyeuse 1540-

Son of Francois De Joyeuse

(Jean de Joyeuse, seigneur of Champigneulle, and Nicole des Ancherins, dame of Cierges and Bantheville in part, heiress of Sivry, marriage contract 31 December 1561, married January 1563)

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Louise De Joyeuse 1562-1616

Daughter of Jean (seigneur de Champigneulle) De Joyeuse

(Louise de Joyeuse, dame of Sivry, and Charles de Longeuval, sieur of Ormes, seigneur of part of Sivry and of Walicourt, married about 1581)

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Antoinette De Longuevale 1581-1639

Daughter of Louise De Joyeuse

(Antoinette de Longueval and Guillaume Couvent, married before 1601, probably at or near Épieds). The Couvent’s were non-armigerous (i.e. did not bear heraldic arms, did not have a coat of arms)

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Anne Couvent 1601-1675

Daughter of Antoinette De Longuevale

(Anne Couvent and Philippe Amiot, married about 1625, probably at or near Épieds (Aisne) Picardy). The Amiot’s were non-armigerous (i.e. did not bear heraldic arms, did not have a coat of arms)

Anne Couvent came to New France from Picardy with her husband Philippe Amiot / Hameau and two sons, Jean and Mathieu, in 1636. A third child, Charles, was born in New France. In addition, her nephew, Toussaint Ledran, the son of Louis Ledran and Charlotte Couvent, also settled in New France. Many Canadians and Americans descend from one of the Couvent sisters and thus from royalty.

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Mathieu Amiot 1628-1688

Son of Anne Couvent

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Catherine Ursule Amiot 1664-1715

Daughter of Mathieu Amiot

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Marie-Françoise Duquet dit Desrochers 1699-1743

Daughter of Catherine Ursule Amiot

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Charles Alexandre Rancourt 1729-1774

Son of Marie-Françoise Duquet dit Desrochers

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Louis Rancourt 1807-1847

Son of Charles Alexandre Rancourt

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Olive Rancourt 1847-1895

Daughter of Louis Rancourt

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Bridget Angelina Mullen 1887-1976

Daughter of Olive Rancourt

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Benjamin George Richards 1916-1977

Son of Bridget Angelina Mullen

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Patrick James Richards 1954-2014

Son of Benjamin George Richards

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Tina Rose Richards

You are the daughter of Patrick James Richards

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So it seems my royal lineage stopped with the marriage of Antoinette de Longueval and Guillaume Couvent. She came from the family of Louise de Joyeuse, dame of Sivry, and Charles de Longeuval, sieur of Ormes, seigneur of part of Sivry and of Walicourt. Guillaume had no coat of arms. Why would have Antoinette marry outside of royalty, was it for love? The end of her familial dynasty? More research to be done …. I will be writing a whole different blog on Anne Couvent and her famous lineage – stay tuned!

Also interesting that I am related to Louis VIII in another way via my dad’s line via Olive Moore’s line as follows:

Louis VIII le Lion, roi de France is Patrick James Richards’ 25th great grandfather, therefore my 26x GGF through this line.

Patrick James Richards
 

Benjamin George Richards
his father

Ambrose Richards
his father

George Howard Richards
his father

Olive Moore
his mother

Roger Moore
her father

Dudley Moore, Sr.
his father

Jedediah Moore
his father

Jonathan Moore
his father

Sarah Moore
his mother

Sarah Pinney
her mother

Edward Griswold, of Killingworth
her father

George Griswold, of Kenilworth
his father

Roger Griswold
his father

William Griswold
his father

Roger Griswold
his father

Joan Griswold (Stockley)
his mother

Joane Stockley
her mother

Thomas Wells
her father

John Welles
his father

Thomas Welles
his father

Eleanor Alianore de Mowbray, Baroness Welles
his mother

John de Mowbray, 4th Baron of Mowbray
her father

Joan of Lancaster, Baroness de Mowbray
his mother

Henry of Lancaster
her father

Blanche of Artois
his mother

Robert I the Good, count of Artois
her father

Louis VIII le Lion, roi de France
his father

I also find it insanely interesting that my family lineage forms part of the world’s most renowned plays! To think that William Shakespeare’s play The Life and Death of King John, has my actual 24x and 25x great grand fathers.

I think it may be safe to say that The Life and Death of King John which dramatizes the reign of John, King of England, his son of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine and father of Henry III of England

My Family Tree of Characters in King John are Blanche of Castile – John’s niece, King Philip II  King of France and Louis who is called Louis the Dauphin — ironically, I lived in Dauphin, Manitoba for 2 years.

Synopsis:

King John receives an ambassador from France who demands with a threat of war that he renounce his throne in favour of his nephew, Arthur, whom the French King Philip believes to be the rightful heir to the throne.

John adjudicates an inheritance dispute between Robert Faulconbridge and his older brother Philip the Bastard, during which it becomes apparent that Philip is the illegitimate son of King Richard I. Queen Eleanor, mother to both Richard and John, recognizes the family resemblance and suggests that he renounce his claim to the Faulconbridge land in exchange for a knighthood. John knights Philip the Bastard under the name Richard.

In France, King Philip and his forces besiege the English-ruled town of Angers, threatening attack unless its citizens support Arthur. Philip is supported by Austria, who many characters believe to have killed King Richard. The English contingent arrives; and then Eleanor trades insults with Constance, Arthur’s mother. Kings Philip and John stake their claims in front of Angers’ citizens, but to no avail: their representative says that they will support the rightful king, whoever that turns out to be.

The French and English armies clash, but no clear victor emerges. Each army dispatches a herald claiming victory, but Angers’ citizens continue to refuse to recognize either claimant because neither army has proven victorious.

The Bastard proposes that England and France unite to punish the rebellious citizens of Angers, at which point the citizens propose an alternative: Philip’s son, Louis the Dauphin, should marry John’s niece Blanche (a scheme that gives John a stronger claim to the throne) while Louis gains territory for France. Though a furious Constance accuses Philip of abandoning Arthur, Louis and Blanche are married.

Cardinal Pandolf arrives from Rome bearing a formal accusation that John has disobeyed the Pope and appointed an archbishop contrary to his desires. John refuses to recant, whereupon he is excommunicated. Pandolf pledges his support for Louis, though Philip is hesitant, having just established family ties with John. Pandolf brings him round by pointing out that his links to the church are older and firmer.

War breaks out; Austria is beheaded by the Bastard in revenge for his father’s death; and both Angers and Arthur are captured by the English. Eleanor is left in charge of English possessions in France, while the Bastard is sent to collect funds from English monasteries. John orders Hubert to kill Arthur. Pandolf suggests to Louis that he now has as strong a claim to the English throne as Arthur (and indeed John), and Louis agrees to invade England.

Hubert finds himself unable to kill Arthur. John’s nobles urge Arthur’s release. John agrees, but is wrong-footed[ by Hubert’s announcement that Arthur is dead. The nobles, believing he was murdered, defect to Louis’ side. Equally upsetting, and more heartbreaking to John, is the news of his mother’s death, along with that of Lady Constance. The Bastard reports that the monasteries are unhappy about John’s attempt to seize their gold. Hubert has a furious argument with John, during which he reveals that Arthur is still alive. John, delighted, sends him to report the news to the nobles.

Arthur dies jumping from a castle wall. (It is open to interpretation whether he deliberately kills himself or just makes a risky escape attempt.) The nobles believe he was murdered by John, and refuse to believe Hubert’s entreaties. John attempts to make a deal with Pandolf, swearing allegiance to the Pope in exchange for Pandolf’s negotiating with the French on his behalf. John orders the Bastard, one of his few remaining loyal subjects, to lead the English army against France.

While John’s former noblemen swear allegiance to Louis, Pandolf explains John’s scheme, but Louis refuses to be taken in by it. The Bastard arrives with the English army and threatens Louis, but to no avail. War breaks out with substantial losses on each side, including Louis’ reinforcements, who are drowned during the sea crossing. Many English nobles return to John’s side after a dying French nobleman, Melun, warns them that Louis plans to kill them after his victory.

John is poisoned by a disgruntled monk. His nobles gather around him as he dies. The Bastard plans the final assault on Louis’ forces, until he is told that Pandolf has arrived with a peace treaty. The English nobles swear allegiance to John’s son Prince Henry, and the Bastard reflects that this episode has taught that internal bickering could be as perilous to England’s fortunes as foreign invasion.

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My mind is blown!  Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to trace my heritage back to a King, more less a whole line of significantly historic Royals on both sides of the channel – the French and the English – my family is steeped in so much rich history. 

I cannot wait to get exploring more — King Phillip, King Louis XI and Blanche’s family, King Alphonso VIII of Castile and Princess Eleanor Plantagenet of England. Her grandfather was Henry II of England, her grandmother was Eleanor of Aquitaine and her uncle was John I of England.

(photo header: King John of England in battle with the Francs (left), Prince Louis VIII of France on the march (right). (British Library, Royal 16 G VI f. 385)

Urbex: Abandoned Farm House, North Wellington

It’s been 3 months since I last posted. It feels good to be back to be posting again, thank you for being patient with me, as I worked through the new world as we know it.

If you’re a follower you know that one of my favourite pastimes is exploring abandoned buildings/relics. While in British Columbia (BC) I explored a 102 year old abandoned mining smelter in Anaconda, BC and the abandoned tipple of the No 7 mine in Greenwood, BC. I’ve explored old barns and sought out remaining relics of a wool company. This hobby of mine is referred to as urban exploration (urbex). The unspoken rule of urban exploring is “take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints”.

On my latest urban exploring trip I was up in Wellington North (off Hiway 6 North). It is quite amazing just how many abandoned places are in that area.

This place was a gem of a relic. Some of these homes have been empty for decades. I wish I had more information on this house, I’d love to go to the Land Registry Office and find out who owns it and understand why it’s been sitting abandoned and dilapidated. Why did they leave? Why did they leave their possessions behind? If these walls could talk … this old house …

 


Exterior Photos: Barn and Silo


Interior – Kitchen


Interior – Living Room


Upstairs – staircase 

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Are any of you fellow urbexers?

Namaste 

T xo

COVID-19: Turning a Breakdown Into a Breakthrough

COVID-19 Week 8 Update.

Never one to stay down, always one to turn a breakdown into a breakthrough.

This time is no different!

If you’re a regular to my blog, you’ll know that my 12 month adventure of a lifetime all over South East Asia (SEAsia) has been “postponed” due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.  Everything changed literally overnight for me, I was set to depart on March 18, 2020 and the Friday prior our Prime Minister had halted all non-essential travel outside of Canada and Vietnam (the country I was starting my adventure in) had closed its entry to Visa On Arrival, which I had.  So, 4 days before I was set to take off and start a year of sightseeing, exploring, soul searching came to a screeching halt.

I had resigned from my job, rented out my condo and sold my car! See that blog here.  Ummm, what the actual heck was I going to do?

I was able to find temporary accommodations until the end of April and then … I was back it again, looking for a place to stay.  It’s difficult during COVID-19 …. not a lot of landlords have openings, folks are not moving as they usually would (due to fear of contamination or lack of money due to losing their jobs due to COVID-19) additionally, there’s not a lot of interest in short term rentals.  ENTER MY CORONAVIRUS MOVE to British Columbia (BC)!

At the end of every break down there’s always an opportunity for a break through, the key differentiator is … DO YOU SEIZE IT?  I’m usually one to not stay “down” for too long – I stay  in that moment for a short time (I don’t live there), and then plot on.  It’s MY life to create.  

WE can create opportunity and happiness just as easily as we can create misfortune and misery.  Use that super power you have … CHOICE! 

And I did just that!


Opportunity Knocked

I’ve always wanted to live in BC, even if for a just a short stint.  I’ve been three times and fell in love each time. I can see why folk decide to make this their home base.

  1. I spent my first time on Vancouver Island, traveling through Courtney/Comox, Uclulet, Tofino visiting my cousin and her family.
  2. I also spent some time in Windermere and Invermere at the radium hot springs and at friends trailer on the Lake Windermere – mixed that in on a trip to Calgary as they are on the Alberta border.
  3. My last time in Beautiful BC, I spent in Richmond, Vancouver and Squamish – see my adventures from that trip by clicking here.

Opportunity created!  Now to seize it! I rented a chalet on Big White!

I initially had the intention of driving, I had a whole week long adventure planned to drive out West with my pooch and then changed my mind and booked a flight (pooch is staying with an awesome friend).  The thought of driving was daunting, I just bought a new (new to me) vehicle and didn’t want to take it on its first real trip across the country in case something happened. However, the biggest thing is that I’d have to cross 4 provinces to get to my destination and the COVID-19 pandemic brings the unusual presence of police and government checkpoints to several of Canada’s inter-provincial borders, adding to restrictions on movement in a bid to slow the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus. So far, 8 provinces and territories have set up such checkpoints and travel restrictions.

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ENTER BIG WHITE MOUNTAIN …. tucked on the west side of Canada’s Rocky Mountains in the heart of the British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley lies Big White Ski Resort and I am fortunate enough to have rented a chalet on it for the next 2 months! YAY BABY! I imagine a lot of what I’d love to do while in the Okanagan Valley will be limited due to coronavirus, and I’ll still be able to take advantage of nature, secluded trails, the outdoors, and hiking – which are all free and do not require close proximity to others.


I’m Off … 

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Nothing really to mention about the 1st leg of the flight, smooth, no turbulence — I mean other than each passenger and crew member HAD to wear face masks at ALL times during the flight (unless you were eating or drinking, obvi!).  There was no food service – when you got to your seat it was pre-prepped with your food and two bottles of water.  Upon boarding you were provided with a disinfectant wipe, so that you could wipe down your seat – and we were practicing physical distancing in the plane – passengers were not sitting side by each.  Confused though, as that was all thwarted the minute we all got up and stood in the aisle waiting to deplane.


Arriving in Kelowna … 

Flying over the Rocky Mountains at night sucks – you miss the awesome view – and it is spectacular.  Major turbulence and air pockets on approach to Kelowna (we were flying into rain),  the last 10 mins were arm rest gripping!  Even the Flight Attendant said the to the Captain once the doors were open “Whew, that was a bumpy ride!”.

BC is on of the few provinces in Canada that are not mandating mandatory interprovincial quarantine – they only ask that you respect the standard COVID-19 rules – stay 6 feet apart and practice social distancing.

I’m starting my 2nd full day here on Big White – it’s sunny and there’s still snow!   The panoramic views are stunning. Today I plan on taking a hike around Big White (with a mask and not surrounded by people) and do my first real trek for the month of May.  Earlier this month, I created and launched My Better Life May 2020 Fitness Challenge.  Whereby participants set, crush and supersede any fitness goals they have set for themselves during this COVID-19 pandemic — over the whole 31 days in the month of May 👏🏻.

With the Prime Minister and Premiers starting to talk about reopening the economy – some of the COVID-19 restrictions may be lifted in the upcoming weeks.  Sure, this is not 12 month adventure of lifetime all over SEAsia AND it’s still awesome … opportunity seized — where I had no home, I now have a place to call mine for the next couple of months. I embraced the uncertainty.  Uncertainty is where new happens!  


Uncertainty is your personal pathway to opportunity. It’s the environment in which you grow, experience new things and produce new, unprecedented results. Uncertainty is where new happens ~ Gary John Bishop – UnF*ck Yourself


Photo:  views from my terrace at Big White 😍

Tell me, I’d love to know … what’s something uncertain you embraced recently?  

COVID-19: Day 19 … How Long is this Gonna Last?

How are you fairing during the COVID-19 pandemic?  Have you ever seen anything like this? We’ve gone through SARS (2002-2003), the Swine Flu (2009-2010), Ebola (2014-2016), MERS (2012 – present) AND nothing of this proportion, this magnitude.

Have we ever witnessed anything quite like what we’re living through with this pandemic?

I’m now at day 19 of physical distancing and 24 days since I haven’t been able to leave for my year long adventure to South East Asia.  I’ve been fortunate that I was able to rescind my resignation from my employment and stay with my daughter for a short period (until the end of this month). Things are still feeling topsy turvy, no real stability and what I am able to do is roll with the punches — it’s just what’s so and I’m unable to control what’s happening nor the outcome. All I can do (like all of you) is make the best of the current situation.

As we all know by now, Novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease which causes respiratory illness (like the flu) with symptoms such as a cough, fever, and in more severe cases, difficulty breathing. I found myself with a sore throat and a cough a few days ago my mind quickly went to “is that you Rona?” –  nope just seasonal allergies – it’s amazing that my mind immediately jumped to coronavirus though – it’s been top of mind for weeks and it’s pretty much all we see plastered all over the news and social media outlets.  

These are most certainly unprecedented times. Things we have not experienced in our lifetime.  I’m a huge documentary nerd.  I’ve been watching docs on The Spanish Flu (which actually did not originate in Spain), the SARS outbreak and other really interesting pandemics. What I got present to, is that just as I am watching documentaries on the Third Plague and the Smallpox epidemic, some day future generations will be looking back on the COVID-19 pandemic and watching documentaries on precisely what we’re living – present day!

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In Canada and local communities these are some of the things that are making headlines.  This is not my list in totality, I added to and amended some.

-Gas prices are down to $0.64 in Kitchener, Ontario!
-All schools are cancelled until May 4 2020.   I don’t see kids going back till September
-Social distancing measures in place – STAY HOME!
-Tape on the floors at grocery stores and other essential service stores to help distance shoppers 6 ft from each other.  Cashiers are working with gloves, masks and behind plastic barriers.
-Limited number of people allowed inside stores, causing huge lineups outside the store.
-Non-essential stores and businesses mandated to be closed.
-Parks, trails, entire cities locked down. Children’s outdoor play parks are closed.  City of Kitchener is implementing $750 fines for those not obeying the laws.
-Entire sports seasons cancelled.
-Concerts, tours, festivals, entertainment events – cancelled.
-Weddings, family celebrations, holiday gatherings – cancelled.
-No church services.  Pope delivered Good Friday service to an empty church.
-No gatherings of 50 or more, then 20 or more, now 5 or more.
-Mandate to not socialize with anyone outside of your home or let others in your home.
-Shortage of masks, gowns and gloves for our front-line workers.
-Shortage of ventilators for the critically ill.
-Panic buying sets in – people hoarding toilet paper, disinfecting supplies, paper towel, laundry soap, and hand sanitizer.
-Grocery shelves are bare when it comes to certain products.
-Manufacturers, distilleries and other businesses retool so as to make visors, masks, hand sanitizer and PPE for front line staff and essential workers.
-Government closes borders to all non-essential travel, calls Canadians home.  Makes it mandatory to self isolate for 14 days under the Quarantine Act.
-Fines are enforced for breaking the rules.
-Stadiums and recreation facilities open up for the overflow of COVID-19 patients.
-Daily press conferences from Prime Minister Trudeau.  Says this is our new norm for the foreseeable future or until a vaccine is found!
-Chief Medical Officer, Dr Hinshaw, gives regular updates on new cases, recoveries, and death tolls
-Government incentives to stay home – emergency employment benefits for those who’ve lost their jobs or are asked to stay at home due to COVID-19.  Currently 5.08M people are receiving the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).
-Barely anyone in the street or on the roads.
-People wearing masks and gloves as if it’s our new norm
-Essential service workers are terrified to go to work.
-Medical field workers are afraid to go home to their families.

This is the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic, declared March 11th, 2020 (and started in December 2019 in Wuhan, China).

COVID-19: My 12 Month Trip of a Life Time Was Canceled, I Quit My Job, Sold My Car & Rented Out My Condo !

In the words of sexy hotness, Matthew McConaughey, “alright alright alright”.

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted … so I just want to bring you all up to date on the current lay of the land -> the status of my year long adventure to South East Asia, the COVID-19 pandemic and the world of social distancing.

What a crazy time we are living in at the moment! COVID-19 has turned our world into 4 walls and a ceiling.  Hundreds of thousands are infected, thousands have died and the whole world is living in a circle of physical distancing and a certain degree of fear. We’ve started hoarding hand sanitizer and toilet paper!  Some of us are following the rules established by government and others continue to act like this is not the global pandemic that it is.

I live in Canada, the province of Ontario – I live in a community in South Western Ontario called the Region of Waterloo – which is comprised of the cities of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge and the townships of North Dumfries, Wellesley, Wilmot and Woolwich.  Region of Waterloo Public Health has reported another 26 cases of COVID-19 in the region, bringing the total to 58.

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Canada is making unprecedented use of the federal Quarantine Act in a bid to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting tonight at midnight, all travellers returning to Canada are now legally required to go into self-isolation for 14 days rather than simply urged to do so.

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Emergency alert from the government sent to our phones

I’m currently held up at my youngest daughter’s house while I wait for coronavirus to become a thing of the past.  I was supposed to leave on my year long epic adventure all over South East Asia last Wednesday.  Not gonna lie, I was crushed.  I spent the better part of 12 months prepping, planning, plotting and organizing.  I had plans to travel to 12-14 different countries in 12 months — Vietnam – Phu Quoc and climbing Mount Bà Đen, Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia – climbing Mount Bromo volcano (in Java) and relaxing with both of my kids in Bali.  I was going to spend the month of July in Japan and had plans to attend the Summer Olympics with my friends Linda and Mark (and their kids) – I was going to climb Mount Fuji. Northern Thailand was on my list prior to heading over the New Delhi and meeting up with my friend who is supposed to be flying over from Canada – we’re supposed to spend 4 days in New Delhi and then fly up to Nepal to climb Mount Everest Base Camp – from there I had more plans to spend time in India, head down to Sri Lanka and then I wasn’t quite sure.  I am hoping that I’m still able to do the last part of my adventure.  

I sold my car, rented out my condo, resigned from my job and put all of my worldly possessions in storage, ready to take off and live a year of a lifetime – only to have that all change 5 days before my departure date!  I was CRUSHED!   I went with it, I allowed myself to feel whatever it was I was feeling – upset, anger, fear, disappointment. I lived with it for a bit, didn’t make myself wrong about it and then I was ok.  It took 6 days.  I am able to stay with my youngest in her townhouse until the end of the month. I was able to rescind my resignation from my job and I was able to postpone my flight for a $69.00 fee and get reimbursed for my travel insurance.  

After I got complete with that,  I decided that if this was happening and it is out of my control, I’m going to come out the other side ready to set my world on fire.  I don’t have to sit here and mope.  I can do all of the things that I’ve been wanting to do – here, now.   My new favourite saying is a Buddhist saying, “Relax, everything is out of control”   

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SO ….. 

I enrolled into two courses 1) The Science of Well Being through Yale and 2) Leadership in 21st Century Organizations via the Copenhagen Business School.  If you’re looking to take some continuing education courses to further your career, your life, your well being – consider taking some courses, here’s the link to a bunch of Ivy League Schools Edx courses which are FREE!

I also decided to face one of my biggest phobias head on … finances, stocks and investments. Ask my financial planner how much the word “taxes” sends me into a downward spiral.  I never file my taxes on time, ever.  I’m decent with money, and that’s thanks to the trust and faith I put into my planner.  So, just like I’ve been tackling all of my fears head on this past year (remember when I jumped out of a plane in September? Or when I did the Polar Dip in January?).  Last November I took Phil Town’s Rule One Investing Course.  What’s Rule #1?  DON’T LOSE MONEY. The best investors in the world use this rule to invest with certainty. I learned how to not just invest in stocks, and rather invest in a wonderful business at an attractive price to generate consistent returns.

What did I do after I was so gung-ho post-course?  Nothing, I did nothing with it!  I did what I always did when something is out of my wheelhouse and frightens me, I ignored it.  Enter the novel coronavirus and event-driven investing, now is the time, markets are low, so I decided to tackle it once and for all (I mean I have nothing else to do than catch up on 5 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy – which is getting really awesome btw – I’m at Season 11 ep. 10).  I set up my brokerage account and talked to a couple of friends who invest and trade and off I went.  I’m trying to remember 2 things — 1) I don’t need to be an expert to invest like one and 2) Don’t lose money.  

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Photo by Lorenzo on Pexels.com

I’ve popped into some free concerts that musicians are hosting.  I’ve joined a Being In Communication: Time With a Landmark Forum leader call with Forum Leaders who are keeping the community connected.  I’ve had daily Facebook Messenger calls with my oldest, who lives in Vietnam, she wakes me every morning with a new song she’s learned on the ukulele, I love this!  I take extra long walks with the dog and binge watch my fave shows that I’ve long ignored.

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While we’ve been sequestered, the world continues to spin, people are living and sadly dying (this breaks my heart) and no matter, the sun comes up and the sun goes down. The earth is starting to heal itself – the canals in Venice are again running clear and there are minnows, dolphins have returned. Forrests and plants are regenerating. COVID-19 has decreased air pollution. The ozone layer is starting to repair itself. There’s an unlikely beneficiary of coronavirus: The planet.  Is this the earth’s way of dealing with what we’ve chosen to ignore?  

Many are binging pandemic like movies: Contagion, Steven Soderbergh’s strikingly realistic portrayal of the modern world scrambling to contain the fictional virus MEV-1. Outbreak, inspired in part by the AIDS epidemic.  Stephen King’s “The Stand,” Michael Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain and Max Brooks’s World War Z, have proliferated on social media as of late. In a time of real crisis, many of us are spending our time watching fake crises.  Why?  We’re living in ONE RIGHT NOW.  I’m a documentary nerd. I prefer fact over fiction any day.  I’ve been watching documentaries on past pandemics, the plague, the Spanish Flu (which contrary to popular belief did not originate in Spain). The 1956-1958 Influenza Pandemic, the 1968 Flu Pandemic, SARS and H1N1.  What really lands for me is that as I’m researching these past pandemics, what we are living through right now, at this very moment, will form part of the future generations history.  Just as I’m watching and reading about pandemics in the last 100 years, future generations are going to be watching, reading and learning about the 2019-2020 novel coronavirus COVID-19 global pandemic.  

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Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I tell you bizarre times …

Where in the world are you and practicing social distancing?  How are you occupying your time? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be Stronger Than Any Excuse You Sell Yourself!

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I love this quote, it’s simple and it’s truth.  Don’t think about it, just BE IT.  Most of us spend too much time thinking and not enough time doing.  We spend more time being bystanders in our own lives and not enough time on the court making a difference in our lives or the lives of others.  

Just to clarify, I did mean “sell yourself” in the title – not tell yourself.  If you’re telling yourself a “reason”, an “excuse” or your rationalizing something – you’re selling yourself on it.

(ADDENDUM: I’m going to add this little caveat here.  I received feedback from 1 reader who felt it wasn’t enough for me to omit that this wouldn’t apply if you have a health (physical or mental) condition. She felt I needed to state it up front, and that without doing this my blog message is, “thus, ableist by omission”. So, I’m stating it …. upfront).

I started today’s blog with the particular quote above because mental toughness played a large part of something I participated in this past weekend.

I started passively hobby “hiking” this past Fall.  I say passively because I would hike 10 kms, leisurely with my dog, at no particular pace with no particular goal or destination.  I just wanted to be in the great wide open. I used quotes around the word hiking because I’m not sure my strolls would be considered hikes.

In mid-January, I came across a post on Facebook.  It was seeking participants to trek 1 of 3 different distances — The Pioneer (10 kms), The Optimist (28 kms) and The Full Trek — trekking non stop from Cambridge, Ontario to West Montrose, Ontario. 65 kms of non-stop trekking during the most unforgiving of seasons to explore the impacts of rapid development on our community and on each other.

The organizer was Waterloo Region Crossing.  In 2018, three members of a female-founded clean technology company trekked for 20 hours non-stop in the dead of winter with the intent of raising awareness of the risks of exposure for homeless citizens, while raising funds for The Working Centre. In 2019, the event was scaled to 100 participants. They completed the journey as a group in 19.5 hours of non-stop trekking and collectively fundraised over $45,000. EVERY DOLLAR went to The Working Centre, and is being used to build a first-of-its-kind transitional housing and medical facility to serve the most vulnerable members of the Waterloo Region community.  This year 111 of us participated. 

Now, this is an organization I can get behind, these are my kind of people.  People who see a need in the community, find a way to contribute and ACT on it.  Not sit there and think about it – they ACTED.  And, because they saw what was possible, people around Waterloo Region are better for it and people like me have the opportunity to know themselves as someone they weren’t before.  Tessa and Ashley, I have such a huge respect for you, thank you for all you do for our community, for your passion to make our community a better one.

…. so, now I have the option of 3 hike lengths – 10k, 28k or 65k, which one do you think I chose?  If you chose the 65k, you chose correctly.  

Now, before signing my friend Miranda and I up for this adventure, remember, I hadn’t walked more than 10 kms at a leisurely pace.  This was really me showing up as someone who is playing big at life!

A few days before the trek, I started having a bunch of different thoughts flooding my mind:

❓ What did I sign myself up for?
❓ Should I have opted for the shorter distance?
❓ What if I’m not able to complete it?

And while I let those thoughts float in, I didn’t let them sit there, they had no place holding space in my mind AND they didn’t jive with what I was out to accomplish.

My challenge this past year has been to be a BIG, STRONG, BOLD YES to life – in so many respects.  I’m no longer holding myself back for fear of looking bad, of not succeeding or afraid of just being who I was born on this earth to be – ME!

This was no exception❗️I could have chosen a shorter distance, one that I likely could have completed and been proud of , and then … I dug deep and went one bit further. As humans we’ll take the “easy out”, the path of least resistance, if we give ourselves the choice (burn your boats, people 🚢 ). So, I opted not to, I really wanted to see what I was made of.  AND, what I know about me – who I know myself to be, is that I always achieve everything I set my mind to. 🆘  I’m not just a yes to life, I’m a HELL YES to life 🆘

Before the trek, I did 2 practice hikes – 1 was 14 kms and the other 19 kms, my schedule did not permit me to squeeze anymore in.

(fast forward)

…. I tell you those last few kilometres really mess with your head. The sound bit in my head was something like “𝙾𝙼𝙶 𝙸’𝚖 𝚜𝚘 𝚜𝚘𝚛𝚎, 𝙾𝙼𝙶 𝙸’𝚖 𝚜𝚘 𝚝𝚒𝚛𝚎𝚍, 𝙾𝙼𝙶 𝚖𝚢 𝚏𝚎𝚎𝚝 𝚊𝚛𝚎 𝚋𝚊𝚛𝚔𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚊𝚝 𝚖𝚎, 𝚌𝚛𝚊𝚙 𝚜𝚝𝚒𝚕𝚕 𝟷𝟶 𝚔𝚖𝚜 𝚝𝚘 𝚐𝚘” AND the more powerful voice in my head said “𝕐𝕠𝕦 𝕘𝕠𝕥 𝕥𝕙𝕚𝕤 𝕝𝕒𝕕𝕪, 𝕪𝕠𝕦 𝕖𝕗𝕗𝕚𝕟 𝕘𝕠𝕥 𝕥𝕙𝕚𝕤!”.

I did it. I pushed myself to the Covered Bridge in West Montrose and completed what I had set myself out to accomplish (with the help of some super awesome trekkers chatting me up along the way, motivating me).  Were there times I wanted to quit?  Yep.  Were there times when the pain in my hip flexor would have been enough for me to stop?  Yep. Could I have stopped at kilometre 50? Yep.  And,  I kept going.  I did it anyway.

Without detailing every ache, pain, sore muscle/joint, cold limb and lower extremity stiffness, I’ll just say that I completed 68.79 kms in roughly 17 hours and 20 minutes (as per my UnderArmour App).

I woke up feeling super pumped for having crushed my goal earlier in the morning, and super sore, my muscles totally seized and it felt great – that’s the price of hard work 😓

Listen, when I registered I truly didn’t know if I was going to physically and/or mentally accomplish my goal. I had NEVER trekked this far in all of my life, not even close and I’m not physically active, nor fit.  I just said I was going to do it, and I did.  I literally did COUCH TO 65 KMS in 2 practice treks. And, what I do know for certain is I would never have accomplished it had “I” chosen any other distance other than the 65k.

That brings me full circle to the quote I started my blog off with.  The intent of this post isn’t for me to be all braggadocios (although I am proud of myself).  This entry is to highlight that you can always be your word, even to yourself.  I gave my word to myself that I would get to the finish line (unless I had a medical event stop me).  Mental toughness and grit got me there.

𝗦𝘁𝗼𝗽 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗮𝗯𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝗵𝗼𝘄 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗰𝗮𝗻’𝘁 𝗱𝗼 𝘀𝗼𝗺𝗲𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗴. 𝗦𝘁𝗼𝗽 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝘀𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝗯𝗲 𝗶𝗻 𝗮 𝗯𝗲𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗽𝗼𝘀𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝗻 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗰𝘂𝗿𝗿𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗹𝘆 𝗮𝗿𝗲. 𝗦𝘁𝗼𝗽 𝗯𝗲𝗹𝗶𝗲𝘃𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘆𝗼𝘂’𝗿𝗲 𝘀𝘁𝘂𝗰𝗸 — 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲’𝘀 𝗮 𝘄𝗶𝗱𝗲 𝗼𝗽𝗲𝗻 𝗹𝗮𝗻𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗹𝗲𝗳𝘁 𝗔𝗡𝗗 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗷𝘂𝘀𝘁 𝗵𝗮𝘃𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝗱𝗲𝗰𝗶𝗱𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝘁𝗮𝗸𝗲 𝗶𝘁.  𝗕𝗘 𝗔 𝗬𝗘𝗦 𝗧𝗢 𝗟𝗜𝗙𝗘!

Consider what that may look like for you? What kind of things would move that have never moved before? What kinds of opportunities would that create for yourself?

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My Superpower in this instance was sticktuitiveness.  EVERYONE’S superpower is CHOICE!    

I’ll leave you with this quote from one of the participants, Jim – who was this year’s Maple Flask Winner – the person throughout the trek who shows leadership and motivates other trekkers. It’s so true, I have now caught a (another) glimpse of the capability within myself.

The people who made it possible are back to their normal lives. Pretty sure they are not the same. I salute Sydney, Tim, Miranda, Amy, Alina, Tina, Marie and the others who came out for the training hikes. You made the trek better for everyone else. 𝒴𝑜𝓊 𝒽𝒶𝓋𝑒 𝒹𝑒𝓂𝑜𝓃𝓈𝓉𝓇𝒶𝓉𝑒𝒹 𝒶 𝓁𝑒𝓋𝑒𝓁 𝑜𝒻 𝓉𝑜𝓊𝑔𝒽𝓃𝑒𝓈𝓈 𝓉𝒽𝒶𝓉 𝓂𝒶𝓃𝓎 𝓌𝒾𝓁𝓁 𝓃𝑒𝓋𝑒𝓇 𝓀𝓃𝑜𝓌. 𝒴𝑜𝓊𝓇 𝓅𝑒𝓇𝒻𝑜𝓇𝓂𝒶𝓃𝒸𝑒 𝒽𝒶𝓈 𝓇𝒶𝒾𝓈𝑒𝒹 𝓎𝑜𝓊𝓇 𝑒𝓍𝓅𝑒𝒸𝓉𝒶𝓉𝒾𝑜𝓃𝓈 𝑜𝒻 𝓎𝑜𝓊𝓇𝓈𝑒𝓁𝒻 𝒶𝓃𝒹 𝒽𝒶𝓋𝑒 𝒸𝒶𝓊𝑔𝒽𝓉 𝒶 𝑔𝓁𝒾𝓂𝓅𝓈𝑒 𝑜𝒻 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝒸𝒶𝓅𝒶𝒷𝒾𝓁𝒾𝓉𝓎 𝓌𝒾𝓉𝒽𝒾𝓃. 𝒪𝓃𝑒 𝒹𝒶𝓎 𝓎𝑜𝓊’𝓁𝓁 𝓇𝑒𝒶𝓁𝒾𝓏𝑒 𝒾𝓉 𝓌𝒶𝓈 𝑜𝓃𝓁𝓎 𝟦𝟢% 𝑜𝒻 𝓌𝒽𝒶𝓉 𝓎𝑜𝓊 𝒸𝒶𝓃 𝓇𝑒𝒶𝓁𝓁𝓎 𝒹𝑜”.

~ Jim Goetz

In a World Where You Can Be Anything, Be Kind!

There are people in the world who are not as fortunate as we are. They are plagued with instability, mental health issues and deserve to be treated with respect. They’re human.

I’m not sharing this story to highlight myself, just to show that one little thing can mean the world to someone.

I was at Shopper’s Drug Mart (a pharmacy) downtown in the city that I live. There was this man, he was struggling … talking to himself, was loud and screeching … people were starring at him and made faces when they walked by him. The lady who worked at the store wasn’t sure what to do, she was about to call security.

The gentleman walked up to me and asked me if I knew him to which I replied I didn’t. He went on to talk about how he had lost his muscles and he couldn’t find them, he was quite upset about this. I didn’t ridicule or tell him to go away. I talked to him as I would anyone else.

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I was in the milk section (looking for almond milk) and asked him if he wanted a chocolate milk as I heard it was good for muscles and he’d have his muscles back. He said “yeah, yeah that might help right?”. They were 2 for $5.00 I offered to buy him 2. He then asked “is it ok if I have 1 of these instead Miss?” point to a Top drink, I told him “of course” and we went to the register and I paid for his drink.

I asked him if he was going to be ok for the rest of the night and he said he would cause he could find his muscles now. It’s really that simple. We just need to be kind. He just needed to be heard and respected.

When we went up to the register to pay. I said to the lady “I’m going to buy this gentleman’s his drink”. He thanked me and left.

As he departed the store, the cashier said to me “that’s very kind of you to do that”, to which I replied “we should all be kinder and gentler to one another”.

Can we all make a deal to be kinder and gentler?  Kindness counts.

“Be kind, don’t judge, and have respect for others. If we can all do this, the world would be a better place”.
~ Jasmine Guinness

My Journey Through The World of Functional Medicine Pt 2

Today we venture into part deux of my journey to restoring good health. Since I last updated you, I’ve received the results of two things:

  1. the blood work that my medical doctor requested to investigate my level of fatigue i.e. I have had significant anemia in the past and he queried my thyroid function.  
  2. the results of my fecal test – my urinalysis results should be back next week.

I met with Dr. Binning earlier this week and I’ll update you on that in a moment.  

First, what I want to acknowledge first and foremost is that I genuinely believe that medical doctors all enter the profession with good intentions (to help people) and end up battling a system that doesn’t set them up for success. It’s not their fault that the system only allows for 11 minute appointments or that they only get paid for one concern so they only want to treat one concern per visit – which prevents a wholistic medicine approach.  1 issue per appointment isn’t conducive to treating someones HEALTH (in my humble, non medical opinion).  

I’m not against conventional forms of medicine – at all – I feel that there are things we absolutely need medical doctors – like acute/trauma care – that naturopathic or functional medicine cannot begin to address.  In this instance I’m addressing my non-acute, non trauma CHRONIC conditions.  

Ok, so now that I’ve addressed that, let’s delve into the results of my stool test shall we?   It feels rather personal sharing these results with you – and in doing so what I accomplishing is sharing not only the results – but also the information – because what I learned from these results essentially presents us with an opportunity – when we have information that we didn’t have previously we can create change – everything that I learn here is actually a positive (even if the results aren’t great) because that’s an opportunity for better health.

Results Of GI-MAP DNA Stool Analysis

Pathogens = none (yay!)

8 virulence factors for H Pylori = none (yay!)

Bacterial Flora:

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Most are low, one is high – indicating dysbiosis = so, there’s an imbalance in my gut.  So we want to look at can be driving that imbalance – which could be as simple as poor dietary diversity (vegetable fibre – which is odd because until last week I was vegetarian) or not enough or something can be suppressing the growth of healthy bacteria – these bugs all all live off these fibres and if they’re not getting them they can’t grow.  

Overview: insufficient levels of good bacteria and poor mucosal health – these bacteria are all there to protect us, they all serve a purpose, so important that these levels are improved — all of this leads to a healthy gut and healthy immune system.  My AKK MUCI (abbr) is just above the acceptable range.  Phyla Microbiota essentially again saying “Hello! Not bacterial enough growth!”  Is something suppressing that growth?  Is another bug coming in and screwing everything up and taking all the resources or are there really no resources to begin with?

Opportunistic Bacteria: 

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Streptococcus – remember that HUGE rash on my face that my MD diagnosed as peri-oral dermatitis and gave me an antibacterial cream and antibiotics for?  If you missed it – you can check out part 1 of this series here.  This makes a lot of sense!  This is something generally on skin and mouth – if there’s an overgrowth we need to start balancing this out.  

** I’ve left out some of the other results – which are within the normal range **

Intestinal Health:

These levels are look normal – and nothing can be further from the truth.  That’s where the benefit of knowing your patient inside and out, and basing it solely on them and not a “range” comes into play.  This I find interesting.

By way of background until last week, I ate a 95% vegetarian diet. So my steatocrit is at a 7 – the limit <15% – if someone is eating a lower fat diet – that number is high then – why would this be so elevated?  If they’re on a high fat diet that number might be ok – ideally we don’t want to see a number here – we want it as close to 0 as possible.  So what this is saying is that fat is leaking out of my digestive system, I’m not absorbing it and it’s showing up in my stool.  

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Elastase-1 – is at 261 – results show “normal” however it should be in the 400-500 range – even higher.  What this is telling us is that my pancreas isn’t making the things it should and releasing them well (insulin and digestive enzymes).  

B-gluconatodase level is at a 2042 – which indicates normal here – and this can’t be further from the truth.  When your body is exposed to toxins, even the waste of the bacteria that live within you or event the waste of the byproducts of my own metabolism (of every cell) creates waste – my body has to detoxify these things through the liver – not going to lie here – I need to revisit that Dr. Binning sent me on this — something about binding, neutralizing and that that enzyme cutting those two things from each other and frees that toxin to go back into circulation and cause more havoc.  We’ll talk more about this at my follow up appt once I get the results back from my urine test. 

Secretory IgA – 90% of your immune system exists in your gut — this # should ideally be at around 1000 – not high enough – the decrease in this number can be caused by chronic infections or chronic stress – they will just deplete this.  The anti-gliadine is at 55 showing some insensitivity to gluten.  
 
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Zonulin – marker for leaky gut — so I’m pretty close at 99.1 – definitely don’t want this number going up and higher that’s for sure!  
 
So, that’s a really great first step with Dr. Binning – I’m super happy about getting these results – because now I know where we can move forward in the betterment of my health.  We have an appt scheduled for December 27, 2019 to go over my urine results and then we can overlap all of the results to come up with a treatment plan that’ll be aimed at getting me back to good health and function.
 

Results Of Anemia and Thyroid Testing

My interim GP had requested blood work at my request last month as I had asked him to refer me because I was dragging my butt.  I have those results and my Hemoglobin and Hematocrit levels are low and my ferritin is at a 5 (which his the low end of normal reference range (5-272 — how is that even a realistic range??). My Thyroxine Free is at a 10 – and the “normal” reference range is from 9-19 – which again is at the low end of norm.  
 
 
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I have an follow up appointment scheduled with my interim GP to go over the results – he’ll likely recommend that I recommence iron tabs.  As an aside, have you ever taken iron pills?  When I was severely anemic a couple of years ago, I had to take 4 at a time and it wreaks havoc on your GI tract, if you know what I mean 😉  

As an aside, I had a brief conversation with a medical doctor I know, last week about these results, and his response was “you’re barely anemic!”.  This is what frustrates me about the medical profession at times.  That statement hit me in the gut.  I’m barely anemic?  That may well be based on these results – however, why am I dragging my arse?  Why can I hardly function?  Why can I hardly make it though a day without napping?  I know my body, I know what normal for me, I know how I’m feeling and I know where I’m struggling – I wish MDs would put more emphasis on their patients words (I know this is not true of all MDs, I’m just pointing out that this is a common theme I hear regularly throughout the course of my job as a disability claims specialist).  

 

Conclusion

I won’t be commencing anything until I get my final results back from Dr. Binning and together we come up with an appropriate plan.  My body is clearly deficient of other nutrients so I want to balance out my who body and gut biome.
 
All of these tests are starting to come together to give me a clearer picture of what’s going on in my body and why I’m feeling how I am.  
 
I can already start noticing little changes in how I feel just by eliminating gluten and dairy and reintroducing meat to my diet (organic).  Some days I don’t have the need to nap (although it is a bit of a struggle still). 
If you’re interested in reading my first blog in this series you 
can find it here:

https://mybetterlifeca.com/2019/12/01/on-health-the-world-of-functional-medicine-pt-1/

For the last post in the series, you can click here  —>

https://mybetterlifeca.com/2020/01/11/my-journey-through-the-world-of-functional-medicine-pt-3/

Meet The Person Responsible For Your Life

I’ve seen a lot of buzz on the internet lately about some version of the post below – some positive and others negative – and neither are right or wrong – it’s all a matter of perspective and opinions depending on how you view the world.

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I am of the belief that as individuals we are ALL responsible for the quality and outcome of our lives.  Each and every one of us has the opportunity to create the life we want – we are not destined to live out the life we inherited.

What I invite you to consider as you read this, is that you have a say in your life.  You create your life.  Your life is your creation … consider what your life would actually look like for you if you designed it.

I’ll use myself as an example – I grew up in very humble beginnings – parents divorced when I was the age of 5, not the easiest of childhoods, grew up in social housing – we didn’t have much in the way of any luxury, never took any trips (unless it was to Quebec to see my dad), my mom didn’t drive – so we didn’t have a car.  I didn’t play on sports teams (unless they were through school).  I had my first daughter at the age of 18 (just a month shy of 19) and for all intents and purposes I should have been a statistic (based on the life I inherited), And, I’m not.  I made that choice early on in my life – my life was going to be exactly how I created it to be, regardless of growing up in a lower socio-economic environment, regardless of having a difficult childhood, regardless of having a baby at 18.

I moved out of my mom’s place and lived on my own (I was determined to create my own life).  I took a year off school to raise my daughter, then enrolled in College.  I went to school, raised a baby solo (was a full-time student and mom) and I worked part-time as a cashier a Canadian Tire to make ends meet … I was 19 years old.  All I kept thinking to myself was “a new world for me would look like having a car and a stable job so I can provide for my child to give her the life I never felt I had” I also thought “what my life would look like would be happy, calm, and to be the mother I knew I was capable of being in site of being a young mum”.

Looking back now, I didn’t understand why I thought that – I just knew that I was responsible and accountable for how the rest of my life played out – no one else was to blame – not my parents, not my life circumstances nor my childhood … nothing !  If my life was going to be successful (and we each have our own personal varied definitions of success) I knew that it was up to me.  It’s easy playing the victim of circumstance – of your past.  What’s hard, takes guts and is super confronting is really taking on your life in a new way that alters the course of where your life would have normally ended up – your “probable future” – and my probable almost certain future, if I had not taken action, would have been a teen mom, on social assistance, living in social housing and I would have probably been content living that way , beause it’s what I knew.  I would not be being the powerful, strong, determined woman that I know myself to be today.

Folks, who you ended up being is not who you are – it doesn’t define you — it’s just the way you turned out in the matter of life.  Putting yourself on the line for something whether it be good grades,  change in attitude, thoughts, behaviour, progress, accomplishments, relationships, careers  etc…  is not comfortable and it’s not easy.

I remember seeing online, a few months back, a video of a kid who was studying under a street light.  I recall thinking to myself “wow that kid has some serious dedication around his studies to do it under a street light!”  The story is that a CCTV camera captured the boy doing his homework under a street light pole in Peru. Victor Martin Angulo Cordoba, had to do his homework on the streets because his mother could not afford to pay the her bill and he wanted to make sure he made good grades (video here).  That’s what I’m talking about – doing what’s necessary, regardless of circumstance to get things that matter to you done — he could easily have not completed his homework and that would have been easy and understandable.  Instead, he found an alternative and while not ideal, he did it anyway – he did something that was “unreasonable”.

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You cannot create a powerful life and live within reason – they just don’t mesh — if you continue to function in a world of reasonableness, the same things will occur … you’ll live groundhog day over and over again.  How many of you have experienced that or continue to experience that?

IF you want something in life – go for it.  The most successful people got to where they are because they worked hard to overcome their obstacles and never gave up – even when the odds were stacked agains them.

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Excerpt from the book UnF*ck Youself, Gary John Bishop

Take in the last paragraph of the quote above from Gary John Bishop (I’m so excited because I am seeing him and Tony Robbins and Rachel Hollis and more on October 30 2019).  100% truth!  You don’t have to have want to create something that is ground breaking.  You don’t have to want to turn the earth on its axis.  Consider that you changing one thing in your life that’s important to you – not only changes your life, it also changes and enhances the lives of the people around you.  Consider that me changing/breaking the pattern in my family resulted in a different life for my children and my grandchildren etc. 

Consider that WE ARE WHO WE ARE BECAUSE WE SAY WHO WE ARE — you are your creation – your life is your creation – who/what are you creating yourself to be?

I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you want to make the world a better place
(If you want to make the world a better place)
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change

~ Michael Jackson