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I'm Cayla. This is my Story. Chapter 3.

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I'm Cayla. This is my Story. Chapter 3.


I am driving through back country. Dusk is falling, but there is still sun peeking above the horizon and it casts a soft glow around the entrance of the parking lot I begin to pull into. As I slow to a stop in front of the church, the stones underneath the tires ricochet off the bottom of the car. Clink clink. clink clink.

I round my back and peer through the windshield and I see her running towards me, waving. She stops on the way to say goodbye to someone, turns, laughs, continues running.
Wait- I think I should re-phrase that. She's actually not 'running'. She can't keep her composure when she runs and she gets too embarrassed so she just sort of quickly shuffles her feet with her arms pinned to her sides instead.

As I'm waiting for her to shuffle to the car, I am reminded that we were just in this parking lot a few months ago when she grabbed my hand, concerned.

"I have squishy sides", she said.

"Feel them".

She took my finger and poked it right above her pant line and in hindsight it's all so ridiculous because she's tall and blond and beautiful and we can't go anywhere without someone being completely enamoured by her.

She's excited to see me. She's just returned from three weeks in Europe and she says she has photos and stories. She opens the door, throws her overnight bag in the back, turns to face me.

"How was Europe?", I say.

Her eyes sparkle, then widen right before she smiles mischieviously. She lowers her voice.

"You're going to have to burn my journal if I die", She giggles.

My left arm is draped over the wheel so I push her leg, hard, with my right.

"Don't joke about stuff like that", I say.

I switch gears, she buckles up, I turn the car back onto the road.


Months have passed. It's 4am. I am lying on my back in complete darkness, immobilized.
I feel both everything, and nothing.

Earlier that evening I frantically search through my dresser for a medicine called Rescue Remedy.
Six drops under the tongue are supposed to help calm panic.
I finally find it underneath a bundle of socks. I unscrew the lid and throw it on the floor.

I drink the entire bottle.


The next night everyone in the house is crowded around a tiny tv to watch the evening news.
I feel a flash of anger wash over me as the reporter starts talking. He reads out the news of her
accident like a grocery list; two sentences on a flashcard.
I grab the blanket strewn across my legs and clench my fist into it until my knuckles turn white.

She is more than just two sentences on a Goddamn flashcard.

I blackout.
I come to.
I blink.

The only other thing I process from the newscast is a photo of her car with the driver side splayed open.
There is blood running down the window.
 

 

7 years later I finally call Andrew to ask for the intricate details of what happened that day.

I hear him exhale heavily into the phone. "Are you sure?" he hesitates.


The sun is shining, she leaves the house first. She is going home to study for our Psychology final.
The sun is so strong the rays block the bus that is coming, so she turns right in front of it.
They are only minutes down the road so when they see the accident in the distance, it takes a moment to register.
It's her.
They pull up and run over to help.
Tim is so overwhelmed by what he sees he leans over and vomits in the ditch.

This is the part I make Andrew tell me.
What did she look like?
Was she conscious.
How much blood was there?
How bad was it.

When my brain recounts this part of the story, it is never able to land on the actual horridity of it.
I instead, always seem to focus on two mundane details.
I sometimes wonder if this is the only way I am able to process what happened as a whole.

She is wearing sparkly lotion on her legs. That's the first one.
They see it underneath her hospital gown when she is hooked up to life support.

That morning she eats toast for breakfast. That's two.
Her Mom find the crusts on a plate when she returns home to her empty room the next day.

Sparkly lotion. Toast. Accident. Blood.

Tim is vomiting in the ditch. Andrew is holding her in his arms. They are waiting for the medics.

"Do you think she was gone at that point?"
I am holding wine in one hand, driving my fingernails into my knee with the other.
My eyes well over.
My breath hitches in my throat.
There is a long pause on the other end of the phone.

"I'd like to hope so", Andrew says.

She was wearing sparkly lotion, she ate toast, she made one wrong turn, and if I think about it too long it overtakes me.

I drive out to visit her grave and I kneel in the dew covered grass in front of it, alone with my head in my hands.
I scream out a one-sided conversation. I am angry at her for so many things.
I hate the way you run.
Your shoes are in my closet.
How could you not see a bus?
Who eats chocolate in the morning?
My chest heaves up and down when the memory appears and as the dew begins to dampen my feet, my knees, my elbows,
I close my eyes and see her smiling, holding her mittened hand towards me with a mars bar nestled into the center.


The night after I drink the rescue remedy my brain repeats like a broken record.
I just want to see you one last time
I just want to see you one last time
I just want to see you one last time

It is a plead that comes from the bottom of my soul, from the centre of my grief.

She visits me in a dream, she is surrounded by beaming white light. We hug and I feel her squishy sides and it is the last moment I have with her that feels real.

In an effort to frantically search for closure, I print off every email she's ever written me, every msn conversation. I paste them hastily into a scrapbook and when I put them in chornological order I realize something, drop the notebook, stare at the wall in angst. She always told me she loved me whenever she signed off, except for the last email she wrote me one month before she died. In that one, she said "Bye".

I don't think there is a word in the english language that exeplifies the feeling of wanting to Crawl out of your own skin.
If there was, I'd use it.
But that feeling is there, and it's real, and nothing makes sense and if I could run away from the pain, I would.
But I can't.
And I don't know what I'm doing.
And I don't know where she is.


She visits me in my dreams still, only now there is no talking.
Just her.
Strong wind.
Bright light.


That's it.

 

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Meet Holly. This is her Story

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Meet Holly. This is her Story

On the evening of April 15th, 2014, I got the call from my dad that my sister, Christine, was gone. It is the one moment in my life that I will never forget. I remember every detail down to the moment where I collapsed to the floor as though all the strength left my body. All I could do was pound my fists to the floor and scream "No! No! No!"

Words cannot express the type of pain that shoots through your heart; reaching every inch of your body, or the amount of disbelief that overtakes you.

 

For the rest of my life, I am without my sister. How could this happen? She was young. She was successful. She had a 5 year old son. She had so many friends and family who loved her. She was beautiful and kind, and witty beyond belief. How could she possibly take her own life?

 

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I had a bad day at work. I came home, made dinner, fell to the couch with whatever crappy dinner I made for myself. I put my feet up and took a breath. Then my phone rang. I looked at the screen to see who was calling. It was my parents. Ugh. I did not want to talk to them. I did not want to talk about my day. I wanted everyone to leave me the hell alone. I let it ring. I wasn’t going to answer, but a feeling came over me that told me I should. With zero enthusiasm I answered. My dad said my name with a quivering voice. I perked up, wide eyed. I knew something was wrong, and then there they were; the words I never thought I would hear, ever.

“Holly <my dad sniffling>…Holly <my dad bursting into tears>…I’m so sorry. You’re sister killed herself this morning.”

 

“Killed herself”. What a fucked up concept. What a completely unbelievable thought. Did she kill herself or did she kill the pain? How could she go through with it? Why didn’t she talk to me? It’s her birthday in 9 days. We had plans. How could she? How long was she suffering? 1 million questions ran through my mind that night, the next morning, the next week, months later, years later even to this day 4 years later. I had never lost someone so close before. You hear about suicide all the time but words cannot express the all consuming feeling that clings onto you and reaches deep into your soul after the unthinkable happens. Suddenly your entire world comes to a halt. While everything freezes in time, your mind still manages to go 100 miles a minute; going over all the times you meant to call and didn’t. All the times she seemed upset and backed out on plans and you didn’t dig deeper to learn why. Why did it take this to realize the extent of her pain? Was I too caught up in my own shit to notice? Was I selfish? Did I not ask enough questions? Did I not show her enough support? Did she know I loved her and looked up to her? Did I tell her that enough?

 

The most difficult thing to do after losing a loved one to suicide it to not blame yourself. I think because we are never prepared for it, it leaves us with so many questions. We will never know their final thought. We will never know exactly what it was that caused them to end things at the moment they ended it. The only thing we can do is grow from it. It feels selfish at first to move on and build positivity through something so shattering, but it’s important to remember that grief still happens in between it all. Grieving is crucial. Nobody is ever better off avoiding the feelings of losing a loved one. Things will never be the same. There will always be that empty spot at the dining table at Christmas. Every year that passes will still mark birthdays and anniversaries. You cannot avoid something that is so blatantly in front of you, every day. All you can do is embrace it. Learn from it.
 

Christine enters my mind in some way every day. I embrace the thoughts of her because I loved her and always will. I choose to remember her because she deserves to be remembered. I tell stories about her because she was alive and she deserves to live on. Her son will want to know all about her one day and it’s my duty to be open to that, for him. Keeping her memory alive is far better than pretending her life and death didn’t happen. It was all real so pretending is not an option.

 

I’m grateful for what Christine has taught me. I know now how important my own mental health is. I need to take care of myself. I need to be open with my feelings and talk when things feel overwhelming or confusing. I need to pay attention to others and what they’re going through because they are likely to feel a lot of the same things I do. I need to be an ear for them. It’s time we all start to ask questions. Even when it seems like someone isn’t hurting; talk anyway. It's amazing what comes to the surface when you open up. I don’t know why there’s a stigma attached to something that effects each and every one of us, but it’s time to kick it to the curb. We have all seen what poor mental health can do to those around us, so it’s time we all support one another. Everyone deserves to be seen. Everyone deserves to be heard. Nobody deserves to live a life chained to the burden of mental illness.

 

To help fight mental health stigma, join me at #AxeTheStigma on June 16th at BATL Kitchener, 69 Agnes Steet.

This is for Christine. This is for all of you. You are here and you matter.

https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/axe-the-stigma-tickets-45244681059

 

Email: axe.the.stigma@gmail.com

Instagram: @axe.the.stigma

Twitter: @axe.the.stigma

 

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Meet Gillian. This is her Story

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Meet Gillian. This is her Story

As the Move to Heal Project begins to unfold, I've found myself reaching out to a lot of people that I have met at different points in my life.

Someone once told me that the energy you put out will attract similar energy, and as time goes on I am beginning to believe in that whole-heartedly.

I met Gillian and her friend Marisa filming the Food Network a few years ago, and both of them still continue to inspire me to be the best version of myself.

Below, Gillian shares how she began 2018- committing to do yoga every day for 365 days- and how it is helping her find clarity + surrender amidst the heaviness.

 

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I recently surrendered to the mat.

 

December got heavy for me. Life forced me to re-evaluate myself, my decisions, my past and my goals.

 

As one does, I kept myself busy and dismissed self questioning in exchange for Christmas parties and heavy pours of wine.

 

By the end of it all, I was ready to get clear. Yoga had been sneaking into my life subtly but the voice inside of me was getting louder:

“Make it a practice.”

 

And when a bourbon infused version of myself declared boldly on New Year’s Eve “I’m going to do 365 days of yoga!” I took my hungover limbs to yoga the next day, and decided that since I am a woman of my word, I would do exactly that.

 

When you get clear about what you want, you get it. So when I reached out to my favorite yoga studio and owner, and asked if I could work in exchange for classes, she welcomed the idea.

 

I realized that first day that yoga with a hangover really sucks.

 

I also remembered from previous times practicing that it always took away from the depth of my practice. When I was treating my body right on all accounts, I was able to get into the postures and my meditation on a whole new level.

 

So like any all or nothing gal (I live to self-experiment), I decided I would also cut out alcohol and coffee. At least for the first 30 days of my #365daysofyoga.

 

I can only describe the first two weeks as ugly but beautiful.

 

Whenever I do any kind of “detox” I always feel like crap at first. Normally, during this time, I hide from the world. But I was committed. So there I was on days when I was severely depressed, bloated, gassy, stinky from sweating it all out...you name it. I was there. Awkwardly unwinding my body and surrendering to the mat. I held back tears in child’s pose. I laughed. I felt embarrassed and I felt proud.

 

But no matter what I was going through physically or emotionally, I always left feeling calm and centered. I also found warmth in the community of the studio, appropriately called “Union”, and a sense of belonging I hadn’t felt since I moved to California.

 

One night after class my favorite yoga teacher looked at me before leaving and said, “You inspire me. You show up every day.” And I felt so humbled that even this wounded version of myself could somehow inspire.

 

I’m on day 17 now. They say it takes 21 days to make a habit, so I’m almost there.

 

Every day is different. Every class is different. I’m always humbled and fascinated by where my body and mind will take me. Some days it is (almost) effortless. Most days I struggle with my ego and remind myself not to compare my practice to others. But every day I leave feeling better. I am more and more mentally free. I am more and more me.

 

One of my teachers describes yoga as returning to your most natural state of being, and I couldn’t describe it any better way.

 

I am so grateful for this surrender. To the mat. To myself. To finding some inner peace during challenging times in such a sweet way. 

 

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Gillian Young Barkalow is my beautiful, wonderful friend and also a Health & Fitness Coach that is doing some pretty amazing stuff.

Find her on Instagram: @gybstrength

AND check out her 4 week online workshop that she'll be doing this February (details in the poster below!)

 

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Eating for Energy: Maca Energy Smoothie Bowl

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Eating for Energy: Maca Energy Smoothie Bowl

For todays post, I've paired up with Alyssa, founder of The Running Kitchen! Alyssa and I both agree that our lives began to shift when we began to pay attention to what we were eating, and how we were choosing to fuel our bodies.

Below she shares a little bit of her story, and what she likes to eat when she needs a pick-me-up:

I’ve dealt with weight issues my entire life. I’d feel upset after eating too much, and then I’d feel even worse when I stepped on the scale or looked at myself in the mirror. So after years of struggling, and practically starving myself to maintain what I thought was a healthy weight, I finally decided to make healthy eating and staying active a priority.

Even though I eat (mostly) healthy and regularly workout, there are times when my mood still feels completely off. Between balancing my career in advertising as a copywriter, starting The Running Kitchen and finding time to meal prep and workout – I’m often exhausted and completely stressed. That doesn’t even factor in spending time with friends or family. I wanted to find a natural way to easily help boost my mood, and give me a bit more energy. That’s why I decided to give Maca a try.


Maca is considered a herbal adaptogen. That means it can change the balance of your hormones, adapt to stress and help balance anxiety. I find that it has a nutty flavour, making it perfect to add to smoothies and other treats. Since it’s rich in magnesium, copper, iron, potassium, and B12, it’s also a natural energy booster.  


Maca has actually been around for thousands of years. It’s pretty interesting that warriors consumed maca in ancient times to boost stamina before going into battle. So you can imagine how beneficial it could be if you’re training for a race and need to increase your endurance, or just looking for some extra energy to prevent an afternoon slump.


I’ve created this nutritious and energy-boosting Raspberry Maca Energy Smoothie Bowl full of fruits, veggies, healthy fats, and of course maca. It’s perfect to help re-fuel post workout, first thing in the morning, or just as a snack. I hope you enjoy it!


*It’s recommended to take smaller amounts of maca when you first start using it, so around ½ tsp. is a great way to start.

Raspberry Maca Energy Smoothie Bowl
INGREDIENTS
- 1/2 Cup milk (I use homemade cashew coconut milk) 
- ½ Cup frozen cauliflower
- Handful frozen avocado
- 1/2 Frozen banana
- 1/2 Cup frozen raspberries
-  1Scoop vanilla protein (I use Genuine Health vegan fermented protein) 
- ½- 1 Tsp. Maca
- 1 Spoonful almond butter
Suggested toppings
- Granola
- Chia seeds
- Coconut flakes
- Fresh raspberries
- Hemp seeds

INSTRUCTIONS
Add all ingredients into a high-speed blender and blend for 2 minutes or until fully smooth and creamy. Add your favourite toppings and enjoy! 

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