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Out there on the ice

Out there on the ice

The times you went for a drive because she was there.
All the times you showed up three hrs late, you were looking for her. Oh, it all makes sense now. It was her. The seductress you were in love with, the one you met way before me.
The one that you just can’t shake. The one who has her hooks in you.
The one who has legs for days, they say.
The ones wrapped tightly around you.
So tight, do you even know how much?
My love, she’s no good for you.

The Alcohol Experiment by Anne Grace

The Alcohol Experiment by Anne Grace

The 30-day Alcohol-free experiment is where I started in September 2020. Covid so all the AA meetings were online, plus I wasn’t really sure that was what I wanted to do. For the rest of my life I mean – never drink again? That sounded pretty far-fetched to me at the time, but I am actually ok with that now. I am really happy to have made it 105 days without a drink.
I got A LOT out of this experiment and the online support groups. There is a daily reading or video and a daily journal to complete, I just looked back at mine. It was pretty cool to see I have made some progress.
This book was really useful because it helped me recognize what was triggering the constant “fall off the wagon” or relapse.
I didn’t stop drinking after I finished this book and the 30-day experiment. I think I made it to 36 days or something like that. It’s best for me to “practice being sober”. The third time’s a charm, right? January 1, 2021, is my date.
Reading about different people’s experiences of trying to cut down or quit, was quite inspirational. It offers a lot of virtual support. I joined the social media groups and it was really great to talk to other people in the same situation in real-time.

Triangle, Triangle…Triangle!!

Triangle, Triangle…Triangle!!

I have been falling in and out of codependency my whole life. In and out of toxic relationships. All kinds of relationships, friends. lovers, family…in and out like waves. This is the first time I’ve really looked at it…not true, I’ve researched it before, and tried to work on it. But I actually really feel it this time. The more I read about it the more I learn about it, the more I recognize it.

Guess what? Classic behavior pattern for the child of an alcoholic.

People who knew my mom would say she was a creative, beautiful woman who was quick-witted and talented. Sing, dance, play the piano, act, sew, knit, cook, and do them all very, very well. People who really knew my mom would know that she was all these things plus, she was a troubled, sad, person, who couldn’t communicate and was a mean drunk. In all my therapy and reading, that is probably the worst, and most derogatory term to use, but it’s true.

She could be really difficult. I could walk into her house at any given time of the day, see her from the side and know, just know she was wasted. I would immediately go into caretaker mode, or rescuer role depending on what was going on, and then go into the suitable next step in the codependency drama triangle. She could hold her booze though, she never passed out on the couch, never vomited nor did she ever say or appear she was hungover, ever. Although I know from experience, the best cure for being hungover is just to not stop drinking. I could always hold my booze too, the first one to start and the last one to end. Apart from a few booze-fuelled fights with my most ex, I don’t really remember being mean to my friends or family. People liked to party with me, they always invited me on benders. I do have very specific times that I regret, some nights on the town. And some very fun ones that I don’t. Ever been to a party where people are not heavy drinkers? (regretful but fun). Or to one you’re not invited to but decided to crash it anyway in your dead mother’s fur coat? (Blackout regretful, not so fun)
I imagine my mom’s social life was like that, fun until it wasn’t and she’s calling me wasted saying she’s going to jump off a balcony. Not even kidding, the top floor too. The anxiety and depression that goes hand and hand with alcoholism is insane.

The one thing we codependents need to learn and to do is detach. Like mentally detach. It’s letting go of all the chaos. The chaos that goes along with living in a codependent state. You try to control everything, and in turn control, nothing, not even your own life…let that sink in, you get so caught up with what’s happening or “caretaking” (trying to control) your relationships that you ignore your own life.

Gross…. but that feels familiar doesn’t it? Here, let me relive taking care of my emotionally unavailable mother….forever, for every alcoholic and addict that I know in my life, (I live in BC…I know a few). Because it means I’m worthy.
Fucking upward reflection lizard brain. Brutal.

That is a really simplified version of my codependency, I have read a lot of academic papers and self-help books on this. The thing is, in codependency behavior caretaking is looked at as a problem. A negative thing, always ending in a victim role. Caretaking to the point where it turns the corner on the drama triangle into the victim role because “they didn’t listen to you” or do what you said, and don’t they realize how perfect their life would be if they just did what you said?! Then turn into the victim… oh poor me.

There isn’t a lot of information on the goodness of caretaking, or the compassion that goes along with it. I have helped a lot of people, who asked for it and wanted it. I feel good about it and they are happy about it. I actually love looking after people and caring for people. I guess the key is offering it for good, not evil. I am working on giving my relationships space to allow people to live their life or “truth” completely opposite of mine, while still having love and compassion for them.

Shutting off the chaos I am putting myself through. I mean, how many nights have I stressed and worried and thought about other people, and not my own thing. Work, relationships, kids, family, … honestly it is exhausting.

This apocalypse is probably not the perfect time to live out my life online, but I can’t help it.
I literally can’t stop. It’s hijacking my creative ability to do anything else! Stories are pouring out of me in big globs. Some are actually happy stories too. A few people like my writing and I like doing it. I am trying not to think about the people who may not agree with this, (and let’s face it I need to get back to actual life at some point). But for now, this is happening and helping me. And maybe getting some perspective might help other people too. A kinda social experiment on myself, that I didn’t really mean to start.

Karpman, S. (1968). Fairy tales and script drama analysis. Transactional Analysis Bulletin, 7(26), 39-43.

Poked the Bear

Poked the Bear

Well, I had a spectacular breakdown this week, it started with my new job, I thought I could handle it.. I thought it would be fairly easy and uncomplicated. It was …turns out I am not so easy and uncomplicated.

I have been working hard on my mental health, staying sober, exercising, meditating. But at the moment I feel like a crazy person. Let’s start with the panic attack I had at my new, now old job. After about three days of training, I mean really remedial training. I sat down to complete the corporate training online. It was pretty standard, lots of ethics preaching, be like us, Canadian Tire for a career and live a happy life. Middle-aged women, whose soul had slowly disappeared as their asses had slowly expanded. Lifers…lifers, That term seems extreme but the staff room felt like a prison cell, dark, dated ripped furniture, no joy, random people sitting eating their lunch with no conversation. No life, no joy, no ….nothing. I thought I can get through this, just eat outside, once the garden center opens I won’t have to train with Pete, the kind, older gentleman who was hired with me and could just not grasp the merchandise handheld computer. I was already helping him use the damn thing, It took me about two seconds to get it. I would be able to get outside, work with the plants and it would be ok.

My PTSD had other plans, you see PTSD is sneaky… it’s like that mean friend you have in high school, everything is great until she undermines you by stealing your boyfriend right from under your nose. And suddenly everybody hates you.
I think it’s under control but then I have these very dramatic explosions. Paranoid thoughts that I can’t control and that I actually believe …at the time. Racing thought, and physical pain in my body. That travels…one minute my elbow hurts, then it’s my hip, then my shoulder, and …and to top it off …a beautiful migraine, which will only be soothed with deep cold analgesic gel on my face…that shit is not meant for your face, But the stinging and smell is enough of a distraction along with a couple extra-strength Advil’s to make you forget about anything for an hour.

So I’m sitting down at the computer in the equally drab “conference” room at one of the two computers, following along with one of the other new hires. And it happens…I get a third of the way through, and I start to get this feeling of …no, nope…no…I couldn’t sit there for like one more second. The screen goes blurry, my heart starts racing in my chest. My ears start buzzing. The room is closing in. All I can think of is how to make my escape. Do I just bolt? Do I say something to someone? Which stairs will get me outta here the fastest without anyone noticing? I get my shit together for 2 secs. Got up from the computer, put my handheld computer on the conference table, and walked into the GM’s office. I told her it wasn’t for me. I gave some bullshit story and walked. I felt ok, I felt relieved, I thought whew…that’s over. I walked to the grocery store to pick up something for dinner and basically don’t remember that part. I know I came home with super random items because I was like a zombie.

Now I did not realize this at the time, at the time I thought it was just another spectacular fail, a walkout in true Louisa rebel fashion, It took me a week….a week to realize what had happened. I was thinking about it and guilting myself about it because I felt that I have been on EI long enough and it was time to join the land of the living. My mind had other ideas. You see I’ve been a bit of a hermit since I left Brentwood. I haven’t seen anyone except one other person, my daughters and Peter Pan. I’ve been walking, but by myself mostly, and the only other people I speak face to face with are the grocery store clerks and that’s it. In six months. That in itself isn’t so far-fetched with Covid restrictions going on. But it’s not great. And I have no desire either. I have been perfectly happy to sit in my house for days and do my own thing. I know I need to tell my Brentwood story but I’m not ready to process that yet. There are a lot of emotions involved and I’m not sure I can go there.
After crying and sulking for a week and getting some medical help, I feel a bit better. But not really. I’m afraid, I’m afraid that I won’t ever get better. I’m frustrated that I’ve been working really hard on inner peace and finding the self-awareness and strength to look inside myself. I feel stuck. And broken, unrepairable. I’m afraid that the people who love me will stop because I can be such a monster and say such horrible things when I’m having a crisis. I can’t think straight, my head spins and my mind races with unreasonable, paranoid thoughts and I believe them.
I’m so afraid.

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast

Soooooo, … being house poor sucks

“Hey I know… let’s start a really specific business during covid, in a sector that is sucking and will continue to suck for a while!!” – High pitched upward reflection girl

I have been second guessing myself for awhile now. Probably like any Canadian, (or any person in the whole wide universe) knows, Covid is no fucking joke on our economy.

We need to rethink this thing. Not stop, just shift…Slow the fuck down and pay attention to the climate of the economy, and what is going on around me…you know in actual life? I have to consider what kind of life I’m creating for myself and my family. Peter Pan (the alias thats suits my bff) and I have talked about this a lot, and when he first brought it up, in my mind I thought crap, crap, crap… this feels familiar, and not in a good way. How many times have I done this? I have been here before. I decided I wanted to go back to school at the same time as opening a second salon. I worked at my salon, was a single supporting parent and went to school full time. I also took a job at Clinique to make it possible. Clinique was dead easy. Great products, set hours, and great commission on sales.

However….

“OMG…lets open a second salon AND go back to school full time!!” – High pitched upward reflection girl.

This is the part that feels familiar. all go, go, go, not a lot of think, think, think. I see a pattern, I just love taking the long way round… (eye roll)

How are we shifting the business? I’m working on that… we’ve decided to start by slowing down, and taking more time to source the ingredients I want. Not compromising. We want to keep it local, we want to contribute to our community in a useful way. It is after all, a labour of love, and brings me joy. Peter Pan is a very patient “product tester” and gives me lots of feedback. This tattooed gentleman is a gruff mans’s man, and doesn’t know much about spa products, that makes it really fun and also useful.

And fuck it, I am going to be myself.. write my blog and mess about about with the products.

Getting back to my deep hatred of being house poor, I am also feeling a little bit stir crazy in the house, so I applied for a job in my neighbourhood. I will now be working in a garden centre. I am actually pretty stoked. I am very interested in keeping my life uncomplicated. I’m happy with the way things are now. I get to look after my house, my family, my cats. I can walk there, walk home, I get to be outside and lift heavy stuff..two of my favourite things. I have spent so much time and energy rushing from one thing to the next, now that I’ve got my energy back and my spirit, I don’t want to mess with that.

I have worked hard to get to this spot. A place where I feel ok. I haven’t had a drink in three months, but as the weather gets warmer, I have thoughts about it a lot. I am trying to consciously stop and smell the roses even if they have thorns. I am mourning a little, mourning the loss of my addiction. Or the finding of it. The thought of starting a new job next week, and where I was at in my mind after my last job ended, is scaring me. My lizard brain … meaning that sneaky little fucking voice that weasels inside my head to say, “omg its not like you could never drink again” is persistent. Peter Pan says my addiction is doing push ups, just waiting to get up in there and take over.

I think lizard brain and upward reflection girl probably date, and it’s one of those train wrecks that you can’t look away from. A tele novella but without the romance. A lot of drama and someone always gets fucked, usually me.

I have caught myself getting ready to drink before, but not like this time. I think most recovering addicts know, when we fall off the wagon we actually plan our relapse. Start making plans to drink using any excuse. This wasn’t like that, this just snuck up on me. A few weeks ago I almost made myself a drink, I pulled out the vodka, glass, even had orange juice. I looked at it. It felt so natural, so right… I was kind of shocked at how it just snuck up on me, I didn’t even think about it… Until I did. I put the glass away and immediately went for a walk. That doesn’t usually happen. I don’t always feel the need to get wasted. Booze can sit in the house for days and I won’t even think about it. But it happened again, a couple days ago. All I wanted was Prosecco. I would have done pretty much anything to pick up a couple bottles for the night. Writing about this is keeping me accountable.

I just have to stay sane and keep up with my routines. I am creating products, writing, drinking lots of water with lemon…eating health food, tea coming out my ass. Exercising every day, long walks… Just thinking about walking makes me feel better, calmer. More in control of my mind and my more at peace in my soul. If anyone wants to join me even better (pm me on FB!). This week my daughter walked with me twice and even Peter Pan walked with me once, and he normally flies.

Travel and the Beauty Bizz

Travel and the Beauty Bizz

I have always hated the winters in Ontario. For a lot of Canadians, winter starts in October and lasts until April. That’s like 7 or 8 months of harsh, freeze your nose hairs, cold. Huge snowstorms coming off the lake, and freezing rain if the lake warms up. Nothing like chipping your car out from under ¼ inch of ice, a few times a day.

A lot of people who live in southeastern Ontario and Quebec travel south to the Caribbean and Southern Mexico during the winter. Its easy to get too, and there are tons of options for resorts packages. There really is something for everyone (pre Covid of course). I have been to resorts were all the guests are either from Alberta, Ontario, or Quebec. I can’t imagine the pain they feel this winter with Covid restrictions. One thing I love about living in Victoria is the short, mild, winter. Today is sunny, warm and it’s the 3rd of February. Glorious.

By the time I was in my 7th or 8th year of being self-employed, I was able to really start traveling. Somewhere hot, were I could go to do nothing and make no decisions for a week. I loved perusing the web sites and looking at all the venues a resort had to offer. And, of course, which spa treatments I was going to book first. Every vacation always had a spa treatment or two. My type of resort is a five-star, adults only where it has full spa services, and gives me a nice suite right on the beach.

The design of the resort and spa are always a big decider. I like to visit destination spas for two reasons. First, I always liked to feel out how the estheticians are in that particular spa or country. What did they do differently that we weren’t doing? Second, spa treatments are so good for your mind and body. Honestly so good. Most of the destination spas I have been to are pretty amazing. Not your run of mill day spas. My choices always have outdoor hydrotherapy pools, private for the spa guests. Often if I booked a long enough treatment, I would get the outdoor pool and the hydrotherapy area all to myself for an hr. Mineral water, spa treatments and get in a little sunbathing?? Yes please…. I am googling spas on the side as I write this, lol. Combining travel and beauty, my two big passions for a long time

Yes…I’m addicted to spas and travel, it’s what I’ve known my whole adult life. I guess I’m a lifer. I have been to destination spas all over the place, New York, Germany, Las Vegas, Bermuda, Bahamas, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Dominican Republic… Fairmonts, Wynns, MGMs, Boutique Resorts, Bathhouses, (that’s a good story) Spa Cottages, all kinds. I’ve written a quite a few academic papers on it as-well.

In the spirit of a blog, I am going to add a little beauty show story here. This happened in Vegas, you know what they say. For years I went to the massive Las Vegas International Beauty Show. I would always drag my best friend along, not that she minded… she is a lover of spas, plus she grew up in the hotel industry. Her family had owned hotels since she was small. If anyone appreciated a good hotel it was her. This friend and I have known each other for 30 years. I think at this time we known each other for about 15 years. She has a wicked sense of humour, and we get along like a house on fire. We always had a blast in Vegas. We would start drinking the minute we got on the plane. Actually, we would start the night before, and fly from Ottawa or Toronto, I think one time we flew from Montreal. Anyway as most beauty show goers know, they have all the latest innovations in beauty. All the big beauty companies offer educational classes, and most of the hair companies do platform shows. That basically means working on stage on a model and demonstrating a technique.

My girlfriend was a client at both my shops, as was her mum. She has super fine, very curly hair. Pretty challenging for me, and I was a classic hairdresser. Everywhere I went I brought my styling gear and I always made sure I did her hair, I loved it! We were walking through the show, or should I say staggering by…we been up gambling and drinking the whole night before and then topped it off with a champagne breakfast that morning. We were there to party but to also see the whole beauty show, three floors of the conference center at Mandalay Bay, a huge resort…massive.
So we were at it from 9 am till 4 pm every day, and parting pretty hard every night. I’m telling you Vegas pumps oxygen into the casinos, just for this reason. We were pretty continuously buzzed …but not like fall down drunk, considering how much we had consumed on very little sleep. On this particular morning we stopped to watch an artist, he called my friend up on stage. I think she was heckling him, this girlfriend has a way of getting a good banter going with anyone, so he called her up.

And there she sat for the longest 15 mins of our lives… he proceeded to flat iron and grease up half of her hair.. But only half, and not from the nape of her neck up either. He flattened it from one side of her head up, starting by her ear up to her part, then left the other half super curly. Then flamboyantly and swiftly moved onto the next model on stage. Before we knew what was happening, she was back beside me with a half-done hairstyle mad as hell and bitching as much as she could … I was laughing my fucking head off. Platform work is like that, never know what you’re going to get. She eventually calmed down, laughed and for the rest of the day too and told everyone who would listen. I love this girlfriend. Anyway I think we fixed it up but I honestly don’t remember much of that vacation.
Did I mention I’m sober currently? LOL

 

 

Out of COVID comes calm

Out of COVID comes calm

I started this journey at the beginning of summer, leaving my resort managing job because I was very unhappy. I was drinking a lot, like every day, all day.  After a pretty dramatic departure, I continued to drink heavily for about two months. 

I have been a beauty industry entrepreneur for 20 years. I sold my two businesses and went back to school in 2015. I needed a change and I thought getting a Masters degree and a job in the corporate world was the way to go.  

Not for me…wow, so not for me. I didn’t realize how burnt out I’d become managing several departments. I felt overwhelmed and frustrated by closing and re-opening a resort during the Covid Pandemic, with a skeleton crew. 

I was struggling, a lot of people were struggling, and a lot of co-workers were struggling with me.

After lots of sulking and drinking on the couch, I decided to start walking. Sometimes I walked and drank. I walked A LOT during that time. It helped me think. I still walk a lot to clear my head. Eventually the drinking stopped, and while the walking continued, this business idea I had been mulling over for years came together. 

Before I started working on Element Amenities I felt stuck, stuck in my career, stuck in my relationships and defeated. I had high expectations of going back to school, which at this point it didn’t seem like it was worth the investment and life change. I had dreams of opening another business but I just couldn’t come up with something viable. I knew I didn’t want to own another brick and mortar beauty business.

I launched the first phase of this business in December. I had no idea if it would get any traction. I was and am still scared..my professional reputation is on the line. Could I actually make this idea work? 

Yes. 

I have wanted to launch a beauty company for years, I have been researching it for a very, very long time. 

I am ALL in. 

Recently I met with one of my “esti” friends for a walk (an esthetician). She is so excited for me. Having a professional of her caliber excited about something new feels amazing. She and I have always had a lot of respect for each other.  My closest friend and confidant supports me 100%. He acts as my sounding board, gives me good feedback and most importantly he helps me get out of my own way.  For that I am so, so grateful. Also the support and recognition I have received so far from industry professionals has given my confidence a real boost.  

Flash forward 6 months later, my life has changed significantly. I feel very alive.  I am looking after myself. I walk every day through my little neighbourhood for life supplies, (“The Beast” which I affectionately call my truck, has died, RIP) I drink herbal tea instead of wine, hang out with my cats and am creating something I love. I’m even down to one pack a day!

This business is starting to gain traction. I love this part about building something new, I’m on a total high, better than any drug. I realized yesterday, (while walking) that this is a familiar feeling. I felt this way while I built my last business, and with my first business – although I didn’t recognize it at the time. All I knew about starting a business at 28 was working “balls to the wall” to keep the bills paid. 

I love it when an idea comes together. 

A good friend once told me I have a unique skill set. She was right.