How I Saved My Life.

This is how I saved my life.png

Today, I want to get personal with you.  I want to share EXACTLY WHY clarity is the name of my game, so you get it.  I don’t want to see people struggling the way I did, with no idea how to transform their life.

I was 22 & divorced, broke & aimless.  The life I thought I wanted had dissolved away, slowly at first, then (seemingly) overnight.  At 22, I couldn’t believe I’d fallen so far, I’d stood strong by my truth and put myself on the line multiple times, but the idea that my wants and needs would change as I grew was something I never took into account.  

I tried to help myself out of the hole I was in.  I talked kindly to myself & about myself whenever I could. I got a job at a little restaurant, and I rented an apartment across the street so I could live on my own for the first time ever.  I was meeting interesting people, I finally thought I found a good group of friends, my boss seemed to like me well enough (I remember him telling me: “We love you, Andrea. You’re going through so much right now and we have your back.”)  This, I thought, will be how I center myself in this swirling storm around me.  

It didn’t work, even though I thought it should have.  It didn’t matter that my best friend came to see me everyday, it didn’t matter that my family was worried, it didn’t matter that my boss had no idea what happened to the sparkly, vibrant waitress he hired & quickly promoted months before.  I was coming home after partying early in the morning, a few hours before my 8 hour day shift, so I could feed my cat and sleep, which I could barely afford to do. What little I had was slipping away, and only I had the tools to stop it.

I knew, deep down, that it was me and me alone who could pull myself out of this, but the loneliness I felt through this time was as though inside my ribs was a canyon, empty, but with sharp edges that reminded me of my pain when I would move.  It truly was one of the most difficult times in my life. I filled this canyon with smoke, junk food, sloth & empty promises from people who would forget me in a few hours, and couldn’t figure out why it was still so painful. Every moment of my life was filled with something that I craved, why wasn’t that enough?  It must have meant that I needed more, but meeting my immediate needs were difficult enough, so I didn’t even entertain the idea to get clear on what really made me happy. When you struggle everyday to make your life even come close to bearable, the idea that a little extra effort could change everything was something I didn’t even let myself think.

I was there about 6 months.  In that apartment, in that mental space, in that constant pain, before I reached my threshold.  I realized that the strangers, the drinking, the pain, that the making JUST enough money to pay my rent & party wasn’t my dream life and I was finally ready to admit to myself that I needed to figure something else out.  It wasn’t about improving my life at this point, it was about simply surviving, but my day-to-day life was so painful yet enthralling that it held all of my focus.

Clarity came to me first as an escape.  Sitting on my couch, stoned out of my mind, dreaming of what a less painful life would look like, was where I started.  I wasn’t even letting myself imagine a life of my dreams at this point, but simply dreaming of a life where I could afford my apartment & groceries with $200 extra at the end of the month was all I ventured into.  No fancy clothes, no owning a home, I started with something I felt safe in wishing for.

Then, a few weeks later, in a car ride with my Mom, I confided:  “I’m so unhappy. This has been the hardest year of my life.” This wasn’t a truth I’d ever said sober, at most it was a tearful whisper between bars around 1:30 on a Tuesday night with people that I knew weren’t listening.  But my Mom was listening. “I know my life could be something so beautiful, but I don’t have any idea how to do it. I want my life to be so beautiful, that people couldn’t resist sharing it with me. I want a real partner.”

So, for the first time in months, I wanted something real.  I said it out loud to my mom, who held space for me & squeezed my hand.  We drove home in silence… but not the bad kind. The kind where the air between you is drinking up the words you both needed said out loud.  She might have given me some wisdom on that ride, but not a lot. We both knew that the next move was on me, and the confidence I felt in wanting something out loud and being heard was what really brought me forward.

So, I went home, hopeful for the first time in months.  Not the fleeting kind, either, but the kind that seems to suck the sunlight in from outside & illuminate my dirty, dusty apartment.  I deserved to want something better than this, so that’s what I did.  I envisioned a house full of plants, a cat who meows because she’s playful (not hungry), a partner with a great beard & a dishwasher.  I envisioned a life that would survive whether I tried or not, surrounded by nature, with a group of close friends & lots of laughter. I didn’t worry about how I’d get it, I just revelled in the fact that no matter what decisions I’ve made in the past, this was available to me, no matter how hard I’d failed in the past.

So, this is why clarity is my jam, especially if you’re feeling stuck in a life you hate.  It was something I didn’t even know I needed, and when I realized I needed it, I didn’t think I deserved it.  It presented itself to me simply as the freedom of possibility (not a strict 5 year plan) but here I am, 2 years later and further ahead than any plan I would have dared to make.

Clarity didn’t come to me as a timeline with goals to check off.  It came to me as the clear entitlement to happiness, and while I had some things in mind that I thought could get me to that feeling, the means ultimately weren’t important.  I became clear on the bliss I deserved, and that was the key.

It’s been two years since my life shifted for the better, and I’m grateful for the clarity I stumbled upon every single day.  But, the thing is, I know that I could have easily not found that clarity that fell into my lap one day while I was high, and I could have struggled for much longer.  I could have stayed in the vulnerable position I was in, surrounded by people in the same boat, not knowing I could do more & be more. We’re all doing our best with the tools we have, except my tools were in a pillowcase in the back of the closet because I forgot I could use them.  

Now, I’m holding a challenge to help people gain clarity on their dreamiest life.  This clarity has truly been transformative in how I look at myself & my past, and it’s really empowered me to move forward and claim the things in my life I really didn’t feel that I deserved.  I’d love to hold your hand & get you started on the journey I’d learned so much from, so if you’re into it, I’d love it if you signed up for my FREE 5 day challenge starting on June 25th to help you change your life.  You can sign up right here, I’d really really love for you to join me.

So much love,



Recovery Update: 7 Months Later

If you missed my 5 month recovery update and want to catch up, you can check it out here.

I still don't feel like myself.  I wish I could say that sometimes, I forget about this big surgery that swept up my life and turned it into something unrecognizable, but I can't.  It catches me in quiet moments as well as loud, when I'm struggling to think or when I'm next to someone talking on their cell phone too loud.  It catches me with things that get my attention right away, like physical pain, or a limp, or the question "why do I still feel this way?"  I wish it didn't happen so often, and its not even really that bad, but it does take me out of some pretty great moments I'd rather be present in.  It's not really enough to complain, but in those moments when I feel like a guest in my own body, I wonder will it always feel like this?

My tumour was growing in the part of the brain that controls fine motor skills.  Specifically, the motor skills on the left side of your body.  Luckily, I still have movement in my left side… I’m aware that it could have been much worse.  But the type of fine motor skills that I've taken for granted are still gone.  They improve gradually, but my fully functioning right side seems to say "keep up" as it effortlessly moves forward with my left side struggles to keep up.  Playing piano? Laughable.  Typing?  I went from 70 wpm to 25.  That's with months of practice.  Even tying my shoes seems to catch me up; my right hand, swooping around my left hand with just muscle memory, and my left hand fumbling for something that feels familiar.  It's uncomfortable, but I try not to dwell on it.

My swallowing also hasn't caught up, and I'm not sure why.  Here's what I know:  After my surgery, when I woke up, I was told I'd need soft food only for a while, because my swallowing will take a while to come back.  This is pretty normal, I think.  When I was in the hospital, it took lots of work for me to eat.  I'd chew, move the food to the back of my throat, and it just wouldn't go down.  7 months later, it still doesn't.  Water, juice and things like that are totally fine for me, but anything with substance, anything that needs to be chewed, doesn't really work for me unless I have water to wash it down with.  If I’m not sitting, focused, and quiet when I'm eating, it's easy for me to forget to chew and make sure my food is going down properly, and I'll straight up choke.  Some foods, as you can imagine, are easier than others, but I'm getting frustrated with withdrawing myself every time I eat, in case I get called on to chime in when my mouth is full. 

I'm starting to run out of patience, especially with my swallowing.  My mind is often buzzing, wondering what the problem could be.  Is there some type of damage or scar tissue from when I was intubated?  Could my surgeon have hit a nerve in surgery that caused some type of damage to my swallowing reflex?  Is my throat chakra blocked?  I wish I had the answer, especially because neither me nor my surgeon have any idea what's going on.  I really hope that something I'm doing isn't inadvertently making it worse, but it never causes me pain.  If I was really doing something wrong, I think my body would tell me by being in pain more often.

I'm pretty torn between whether I should be ignoring my difficulties and pushing through or coddling myself and taking it easy.  So far, I'm doing my best to push through and try and do all the things I normally would, I just make sure I have lots of rest.  The only exception I can think of right now would be the gym; I’m not even able to jog 20 feet, so I think that the gym would be a little more than I'm able to take on right now.  Besides, my job keeps me moving and active, so I think that for the short term, I'm being active enough.  As long as I get enough rest.

As much as recovery's weird feeling and sometimes uncomfortable, the last few months have felt really stable and secure, which isn't something I'm used to.  In the past, I've dealt with really extreme mood swings, often feeling sky high one day and crashing the next, or even just on a moment-to-moment basis.  It was something I was learning to deal with, but it was still a pretty big challenge for me.  But, for whatever reason, removing the tumour seems to have made it stop.  I'm not sure if maybe the tumour was pushing on a part of my brain that just really knocked me off balance, or if the gratefulness I've felt through this process has permeated so deeply that it changed a part of myself that I was really struggling with.  I've especially noticed that even as the weather gets more grim, my mood seems unaffected; something I haven't experienced since elementary school.  Maybe it's temporary, maybe it's all in my head.  At this point, who cares?  I'm riding this wave as far as it'll take me.

Bullet Journalling: A Peek Into My Planner

I'm not the type of person who gets things exactly right.  I'm so far from detail oriented that my personal slogan should be "good enough."  In my opinion, why would anyone sweat over the details when they could make it work just as easily without an extra 20 minutes of pointless frustration?  I know I can't be the only one like this, and I do it with almost everything.  Especially my bullet journal.

When I found bullet journalling, I saw a lot of meticulous examples with tiny floral borders, and while it was cute, I was just not about it.  I wanted a journal I could customize as I went, but I didn't want a huge pain in the neck that I felt obligated to spend hours crafting every week so I could start the actual planning.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy that my Bullet Journal leaves room to have fun, but it's not a part of my daily (or even weekly) routine.  If I feel like its something I have to do, I'll resent having to do it, and if I'm going to put that much effort in, I'm going to enjoy it.  Life is too short to hold yourself to a standard that you resent meeting.

So hopefully, this will be a bit of a refreshing take on a bullet journal.  Not too cluttered, not too over the top, and it just does what I need it to do.  I really don't want to make this overly complicated or intimidating… so let me reiterate:  your bullet journal doesn't have to be perfect, every page doesn't have to look like its fresh from Instagram, and it's totally ok if you lose track of a few days.  It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to work for you! 

Now, I'm going to take you through my journal a little bit, just to get some context.  Here's a fun little page I did to ring in the new year.  I don't do these decorative pages as much as some people do, but I love that its easy to sprinkle these in if I feel so inclined: 


But on the flip side, you can keep it simple.  This is an example of one of my weekly spreads; I've done some more elaborate ones before, but to be honest I just don't find it enjoyable.  I've learned that I like a clean view of not just today, but an entire week.  That way, I know what I have on the go and I feel much more in control.


Here's my more minimal weekly spread.  My helpy boy, Biscuit, wanted to get involved and, well, I wasn't going to say no.  What a helpy boy.  Helping mum with her blog.

You can also take a look at what I'm using for a monthly spread.  I have a pretty small calendar up top, with the days of the month listed below.  That's where I'll put things like major holidays and birthdays, but it's not quite filled in yet.  The other page is where I put monthly goals, I added the yoga because that's all I could think of at the time, but I also track things like vegan dinners, meditation, and other things that I can track to try and live really well.   Monthly goals and tracking go here too, I put my social media numbers in at the beginning and end of the month, because it's an easy thing to track in terms of my goals for the blog and other things like that.


Diary: Recovery, Rediscovery


Recovery of any kind is hard to talk about.  I'm having a hard time talking about it now, because coming back from your most vulnerable isn't something easy.  Its like gluing together a vase you broke; piece by piece, you arrange the fragments until it looks like it did before it broke, but in the right light you can see the glue seeping out of the edges.  You make a mental note:  this will do for now, but I definitely need a new vase.

When you're recovering, you don’t get a new vase.  You have to be the new vase.  I'm going to share while I glue myself back together.

In April of 2017, I learned that I had a large tumour growing at the back of my brain, and the medical team at my hospital luckily had it removed about a week after finding it, despite the Easter long weekend being fresh in the air.  It was affecting the area of my brain responsible for the coordination and fine motor skills on the left side of my body, and it presented with severe headaches, gradual loss of motor skills on my left side and poor vision in my left eye (which we learned was due to the loss of muscle control).

My tumour story fits pretty easily into a couple of sentences, my recovery story does not. 


There is a physical aspect to my recovery.  I lost my voice after my surgery and it never really came back.  My motor skills aren't 100% back on my left side yet, so I'm unable to go back to work waitressing yet.  Despite being able to walk with little difficulty, I'm completely unable to jog in place for more than ten seconds.  These serve as daily reminders that I'm not quite my old self yet, but I try to push past the frustration and wear it as a badge of honour.  It doesn't always work.

In my recovery, I've truly learned how loved I am.  I've also learned that being loved doesn't always make hard things easier.  Coming back from surgery felt like crawling from a hole in the ground, screaming Here I am, pity me in all of my pain to a horde of onlookers.  I felt gawked at, my eyes didn't point in the same direction at first, my medication broke me out and made my hair very greasy, and I knew everyone knew how weak I was.  Humiliating.  But I wasn’t able to walk without difficulty for months, wasn't comfortable driving and whether I liked it or not, I needed them.  Really needing them and being forced to live in such public vulnerability for so long left me in this hangover of shame.  From needing too much.  From taking too much. 

I've also, like most people, learned a lot about myself and how I want to live my life through recovery.  I've always felt afraid and anxious, but when I rolled into the surgical ward on that stretcher, I knew those could be my last moments and I wasn’t afraid.  I remember thinking in that moment that I was at peace with whatever happened, and now the things that used to scare me just don't seem so bad anymore.  Like being seen, or making mistakes, or being myself.  Now, to me, those things all just sound like a beautiful life, and that's what I want more than anything.

Here is where I'll be sharing the ways I want to make my life beautiful. Creating a meal, a home or a painting is part of it, but truly accepting myself and sharing my journey is how I'll create my most beautiful life.  I learned that I only have one.