Growth

First it hurts, then it changes you.

This post is a part of our series “If I Had Listened", in which we're reached out to strong-minded women we admire to tell us about a moment they chose to trust their gut and follow a different path despite other people's opinion. Read more on the blog!

If I had listened to the thoughts of doubt and negativity in my head, I would have never had the courage to reinvent my life.

There’s something to be said about being forced to move on from a relationship that I knew wasn’t working and gaining the courage to start a whole new life that wasn’t in my plans.   

 
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I started the journey of self reinvention at the age of 39 shortly after I received my walking papers from my ex wife. I didn’t move on gracefully.  The relationship hadn’t been working for a long time really so it shouldn’t have been a surprise.  On the outside it looked like I had it all; the great career, a large home, fancy car - the works. But, inside I was empty and unfulfilled. The scariest part was leaving behind this comfortable life that I had built. Would I ever find love again at my age? How was I going to start over as I approached midlife?

A few months into my newly single life I left the pitty party behind and began to refocus on myself. I now had the chance to  live a more authentic existence and I vowed that I would get it right this time around.

What did this mean? Happiness. I was no longer going to do things or be with anyone that would make me unhappy. It was time to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

 
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At the age of 40 I left my high paying corporate job to do something that filled my heart rather than my pockets. I tried new things. I took better care of myself mentally and physically. I travelled on my own. I met the love of my life while on vacation and moved to another province to be with her. I went back to school to learn new skills and another language. A baby soon followed at the age of 42.

I now have a supportive partner who is in love with me and is proud to be by my side. I have my own business doing something that I love. I speak another language and I'm a proud mom of a 2.5 year old daughter that dances like nobody's watching. She's magic. My life is magic. Midlife is magic.

There is this saying that I love and it says “First it hurts, then it changes you.” It’s amazing how allowing yourself to feel and own the pain of hurt or disappointment can change your life for the better.

I’m now a 45 year old sex positive, body positive, queer woman who is living her best life. I celebrate my perfectly imperfect body because it can move and I’m healthy. I nurtured and birthed another human being with 42 year old eggs. How magical and awesome is that? 

Because the process of life reinvention has made me a more courageous and confident person, I decided to start a blog. The goal of this blog is to empower and inspire other midlife moms who feel like they’re undesirable, lost and losing time to rediscover and reinvent themselves. Just like I did.

I once thought that I was too old to start over. I soon realized that even if I had only one day left on this earth, I’d rather spend it happy than with sadness and regret.

People like to say that life is short. It’s really not. Life is long and at midlife you have so much life to live. Why live the rest of your life unhappy when you can live everyday celebrating it?

If I had listened to the negative thoughts in my head that told me I was too old to start over again, I would have never had the courage to reinvent my life for the better. Tackling the fear of the uncomfortable is what lead me to the bliss.

 
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I was consumed by an inner dialogue that incessantly told me I was a “waste of space”.

This post is a part of our series “If I Had Listened", in which we're reached out to strong-minded women we admire to tell us about a moment they chose to trust their gut and follow a different path despite other people's opinion.

We met Eden a few months ago and she was one of the first participants for this project. We are happy to let you know now that she is also about to tag along in the Scandaleuse journey, as we will be combining services very soon. Read her story below!

If I had listened, then… I wouldn’t be here today

Before I embraced myself in all of my authentic glory (weirdness, flaws, and all), I was consumed by an inner dialogue that incessantly told me I was a “waste of space”.

If I listened to this inner dialogue, then I wouldn’t be alive.

 
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My journey towards embracing who I am is a colourful one, but its colourful spectrum is not limited to the pastels and vibrant colours of a beautiful life.

Instead, the spectrum of my life includes dark and shadowy aspects that painted my imbedded need to conform to someone proper, petite, and poised. Someone who “should” fit perfectly into a designated box.

Well, the “rule follower” in me cared what the “rules” were. The rule follower in me cared how I was being perceived by others. The rule follower in me allowed my uniqueness to be dimmed by the rigid regulations of the external reality I faced.

The attempt to conform my wild and extraordinary imagination caused me to feel weird, othered, rejected, and unlovable. My thirst for knowledge and inclination to pursue academics caused me to be made fun of and labeled as a “know it all”. The comparison of myself against bodies that were slender and airbrushed caused me to look at my body with disgust and hatred.

On an ongoing basis, I would find myself tightly constricting my stomach with a tensor bandage with the desperate need to morph my body into someone “beautiful”.

I was trying to conceal myself, which was perpetuated by a deeply ingrained desire to be someone “different”, someone “acceptable”.

It truly felt like the parts of my existence were being pulled by its threads, ripped apart, and shattered.  Looking into these tattered fragments of myself, all I could see was someone who was broken, someone who didn’t belong, and (like broken things) someone who should be tossed away.  

 
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The journey towards the reclamation of who I am was not an easy one. My desire to ignore and disobey the toxic negativity that filled my head required me to care just enough about myself in order to step in and survive. I’ll never forget the moment that I decided not to listen, the moment I decided to survive.

One step at a time, I learned to appreciate the beauty of my uniqueness, the importance of my sentiment, and the perfection of my flaws.

I am here, having a human experience and contributing to the world in a way that no one else can because no one else is me. Step by step, moment by moment, I allowed myself to re-invigorate my imagination. Yes, I do believe in unicorns, mermaids, goodness, peace, and love. Allowing myself to indulge in the pleasures of learning new things and expanding my mind has sufficiently equipped me with a unique skillset that helps my clients do the same. Most recently (partly with the help of Scandaleuse Photography), I have decided to love my body the way it is and find beauty in the way that it twists and turns, whilst simultaneously finding deep appreciation for the adventures my body brings me on.

I am so grateful that I didn’t listen. I am so grateful because I am here shining bright like a beacon for others who feel like I once did.

I was my own worst enemy until I decided to no longer be a victim

This post is a part of our series “If I Had Listened", in which we're reached out to strong-minded women we admire to tell us about a moment they chose to trust their gut and follow a different path despite other people's opinion.

If I had listened, I wouldn’t have bloomed.

If I had listened to the voices telling me “you’re not strong enough, popular enough, skinny enough, worthy enough, relatable enough”, I wouldn’t be where I am today - powerful.

 
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Over the past 2 years, I have struggled with depression and anxiety. I battled them until I couldn’t bare it anymore. I reached for help, went to therapy, am medicated and try my best everyday to work towards healing. It seems simple to say out loud now but the path was not easy.

I was my own worst enemy until I decided to no longer be a victim. As a victim we listen to the voices in our head that trap us, suffocate us and if we allow them, they can also drown us.

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On my way out of the depths of sadness, my business has become a platform for women. A platform to allow women, like myself, to have a place to share, to know that they aren’t alone, to feel empowered and be surrounded by a safe community. For years, my business was creating and selling jewelry until I found it was no longer my passion. I found myself disconnected and that is when my success dipped. I searched for a creative muse but it just wasn’t there.

My business slowly shifted and this shift happened when I started to share my struggles. The more I dug deeper into healing, the more answers came and the more I felt connected to what I was creating - an expression of growth through a line of t-shirts. Though I do sell a physical item, it is so much more than a product - it is body positivity, a community of strong women and a place for us to heal and grow.

The hard truth is, I am MORE than enough, WE are all more than enough. I am more than a body, more than a mother, more than a wife. I am a mentor, teacher and role model. I am everything I wanted to be because I believed, because I stepped into my power and because I did not listen.

I was called a failed journalist and copywriter.

This post is a part of our series “If I Had Listened", in which we're reached out to strong-minded women we admire to tell us about a moment they chose to trust their gut and follow a different path despite other people's opinion.

If I had listened, I wouldn’t have founded Salty Woman.

I was called a failed journalist and copywriter, but I was just writing about the wrong subject matter.

 
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I grew up obsessed with Cosmopolitan magazines, desperate to work there one day. My dad said I was chasing fame because how many magazines are there for people to be an editor at? I didn’t have any awards in the category and no network of family or friends or mentors to tap into.

I went to New York and London chasing this dream and when I was finally in the Hearst office writing the Cosmo “look of the day” I realized this wasn’t the end for me.

I moved on to copywriting at some of the top creative ad agencies in Toronto, only to then quickly switch to strategy, taking a special focus on digital and social content. Eventually I built up my own department, my own team, and a whole new line of business working with influencers. I guess you could say I “made it” and all I wanted to do was step away from it all and bartend or something.

After years of fighting to get to where I was, it was the scariest thing telling my dad that I wanted to throw it all away.

It’s been a year since I walked away from my career in digital marketing. I’ve started bartending part-time, expanded the Salty Paloma business to add cocktail classes and bartending services for private parties and events, and freed up some time to dig deep into myself and find a new venture that spoke to my heart - Salty Woman.

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Salty Woman was born as a passion project to just meet a bunch of women I wouldn’t normally get the chance to meet in my daily life, hear their story and share it.

All I’ve ever wanted to do was tell the stories of women. The full story. Not just the good part, but every inch of it.

I think I really needed to hear it for myself and realize I wasn’t alone in my journey of not knowing where I am, who I am, or what to do. From then I couldn’t help but share the beauty of it all, and now I’ve committed to a monthly series involving an integrated workshop element and speakers. I’ve since then reached out to local non-profits and am working more closely with the Barbra Schlifer Clinic, that provides legal counsel for women survivors of domestic abuse.

They called me crazy for leaving my super successful, super respectable, super comfortably salaried full time job to bartend at 30 years old. Now I only work 4 days a week, never on Mondays, and I’ve never been happier. I spend a lot of my free time for myself, and that includes meeting a bunch of beautiful women in the city. I could do this all day for the rest of my life.