GUEST POST: HOW I LEANED INTO LIVING MY BEST LIFE

Richelle Ready redefined what thriving looked like on her own terms

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GUEST WRITER INFO

Richelle Ready is a 200 hour registered yoga teacher trained in yin, restorative, vinyasa, hatha, and Bhatki yoga. She is the creator of Bloom Yoga, a community-oriented company striving to offer yoga that is accessible for all. Richelle has a Bachelor of Social Work and offers Vinyasa, Restorative and Yin Yoga from a trauma-informed and healing-centered perspective.

As of late, I have found myself waking up in the morning excited for what my day brings. I feel joy more often than I feel sorrow. When I am feeling frustrated or overwhelmed, this does not define me and follow me throughout the entire day. I find myself sitting with hard emotions and then releasing them to continue on. I say yes to things that bring me happiness, and say no to requests that do not serve me. I feel genuinely happy and content with how I am spending my time.

When people ask how I am, or what I’ve been up to, “living my best life,” has been my go-to answer. 

There are still bad days and stresses. I still worry about money, relationships and the state of the world. But in terms of the things that are in my control — I am living my best life right now.

This was not the case at the beginning of 2018. I was working as an assessment worker in the realm of child welfare. This means that I was assessing the safety of children within their families during times of crisis and hardships, as well as planning to ensure the safety and well-being of these children. It also meant that I was working from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm and going in on weekends to complete paperwork, in a position that was scheduled to be from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday. I felt overwhelmed by the stress and magnitude of the work I was doing, as well as the vicarious and experiential trauma I was absorbing daily. I lacked the time and energy to process and cope. I was also trying to start my business, teach yoga classes, stay on top of my additional casual positions, practice yoga, go to bootcamp, eat healthy, read books for book club, sleep and maintain relationships with those closest to me. Needless to say, there was not enough time in a day or a week to accomplish everything that I put on my to-do list.

One Friday evening, I came home from work four hours late. My partner and I were supposed to go to a friend’s wedding social. He came home to find me curled up in the doorway of our bedroom sobbing on my yoga mat. I couldn’t form a sentence or even begin to explain what was wrong. I had not eaten throughout the day so I had no energy, and all I wanted to do was sleep. I didn’t go out that night. It was a social event we had been looking forward to for months.

I felt low and out of control.

Every day it seemed that my to-do list grew because I struggle with saying no and  perfectionism. I had ideas about how I wanted my life to look, and those ideas were shaped by expectations shared with me by my parents, co-workers and friends, books, television, social media and my own inner critic. The weight of the expectations I was placing on myself was causing a downward spiral, so I kept adding to my to-do list.

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Busyness. Something that I have used as an excuse for not prioritizing those things that are challenging or outside of my comfort zone. I find that when things are tough, I find other tasks to complete before making my way to the one that challenges me. Busyness is also something that I have used as an excuse for not prioritizing my own personal well-being, self care practices, and the people I love. I find that when things are emotional, I find other events to attend or chores to complete before making time to sit with my shit and experience intimacy. This being said, this holiday long weekend is an excellent reminder to slow down, spend time with family and friends, and make time for myself. Do you find yourself returning to busyness as a pattern when things get challenging? Or when your body is sending you reminders to slow down? I invite you to take busyness off of the table this upcoming week and plan your time with intention. . . . . #thisisyoga #bloominginwinter #bloomyogabyrichelle #yogaeverydamnday #winnipegyoga

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There was a month where I insisted on pre-making all of my meals from scratch. It was as if my inner critic believed that making soup (like my mother lovingly does oh so often) defined my ability to be a good partner and roommate. So I spent several of my Sunday evenings in tears over the stove (not because of the onions). I was placing my worth as a person in the number of things I could accomplish daily and weekly because I didn’t feel good about my job in child welfare. It was out of alignment with how I wanted to live my life, and I didn’t feel like I was positively impacting people the way I wanted to. I want to help — my moon is in Cancer, it’s in my nature.

With a lot of pep talks and encouragement from those who love me, I made a decision to apply for a position outside of my academic education doing something I was passionate about: teaching yoga in a studio. I was scared. I was embarrassed that I had spent so much time and money on my education only to pursue something that did not require any academic involvement. 

I was ashamed that I did not have what it took to work as a social worker. I was terrified to be without the level of income provided by government pay cheques. I was disappointed in myself. My inner critic had a field day with all of the things she had to say about me — failure, sap, suck, loser.

I had only lasted a year working in the realm of child welfare and this was where I was “supposed to” work until I was fifty-five and could retire successfully. I felt physically sick to my stomach when I shared my decision with my parents. But I also knew that I could not continue to live the way I was. When I received the position, I was excited and relieved. I had my out and began planning my new life.

But then I found out the new position fell through. Suddenly, I was headed for unemployment and into a place of uncertainty, a place I do not think I have experienced since I applied for my first job at fifteen.

It seemed like the easy option to turn around and ask for them to take me back in my old position.

Back to “Monday to Friday.” Back to misery. Back to stability.

Going back was the option many of the ‘adultiest’ adults in my life encouraged me to take. My heart knew and I knew — I couldn’t go back. Especially because some of my personal values are living in alignment and living my truth. I was tired of compromising. I was tired of spiraling into despair and drowning in lists of expectations. I was ready to stand up for myself and believe in myself. I was scared shitless but I was ready to move forward.

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It’s gonna be okay. ✨ Maybe not right now. Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not even the day after tomorrow. ✨ But eventually. It is going to be okay. ✨ The only constant in life is change. This moment is not permanent. Moments pass. Things change. Healing happens. ✨ Maybe not right now. Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not even the day after tomorrow. ✨ But eventually. ✨ Bloom Yoga believes in healing. ✨ If you are interested in exploring healing, Bloom Yoga invites you to connect through email for an upcoming offering delving into our personal shadows. . . . . . #thisisyoga #bloomyogabyrichelle #yogaeverydamnday #winnipegyoga #manitobayoga #hopeandhealing #yinyoga #accessibleyoga #healing #roottorise

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So I decided to go all in on Bloom Yoga and create a life I love. No longer sacrificing Saturdays to paperwork. No longer working for twelve hours in one day on something I did not wholeheartedly believe in. No longer witnessing the traumas of others day in and day out. I made a big change and a choice to honour myself and what I believe in.  

Now, I am teaching yoga and providing access to yoga to those who may not typically have access to yoga. I have had the privilege to teach at residential treatment facilities for women who are experiencing challenges with addictions, poverty, trauma, mental health and the justice system. I have shared yoga with youth who live within the child welfare system. I share yoga with individuals who work within the world of social work and are exposed to experiential and vicarious trauma daily. I am travelling because it makes me feel alive and joyful, but also to learn about techniques and strategies for teaching yoga. I had the privilege in October to travel to St. Pete’s Beach, Florida with my mother and my nana to learn about accommodating for the needs of survivors of domestic violence during yoga practices. I co-created a yoga teacher training program to share my knowledge and experiences with others.

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Photograph of Richelle with her nana and mother in St. Pete’s Beach, Florida in October 2018.

I am practicing yoga for myself. I am reading for enjoyment and interest. I am sleeping. I am eating in a manner that best suits the needs of my body. I am interacting with my loved ones in positive and meaningful ways. I am not saying this out of grandeur or bragging. These words come from a place of appreciation.

At the beginning of the year, I could have not pictured myself being where I am now, living the way that I am living. I am so grateful to be living my best life.

WHAT COMES NEXT FOR RICHELLE

Richelle is continuing to travel, learn, teach yoga and partner with organizations that fit her style of teaching and values. She recently launched Inner Light, a trauma-informed yoga teacher training, created in collaboration with Wild Path and Ash Bourgeois.

You can see what workshops and events she has coming up on her website here.

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When we put our pen to paper, we have the ability to make a difference. ✨ When we speak with thoughtful words and phrases, we have the ability to make a difference. ✨ When we share space with others, we have the ability to make a difference. ✨ Introducing Inner Light, a Trauma Informed teacher training created in collaboration with @wldpath and @ash.bourgeois ✨ Inner Light is an educational platform designed to hold space for all those in need of reconnecting back in with their own light. ✨ If you are a yoga teacher, healer, or work in a field where you hold space for your fellow humans, we invite you to please join us to share in learning in a way that is non harming, non judgmental, and compassionate. ✨ When we come together to learn, we have the ability to make a difference. ✨ When we share what we learn with others, we have the ability to make a difference. ✨ Bloom Yoga believes in the ripple effect. ✨ We invite you to be part of the ripple and create a difference. ✨ For more information, please see the link in my bio. . . . . . #thisisyoga #bloominginwinter #bloomyogabyrichelle #yogaeverydamnday #winnipegyoga #yogawinnipeg #thisisyogatoo #yogateachertraining #winnipegteacher #innerlight #traumainformedyoga #traumainformedpractice Photograph by the woman making a difference through creativity @owlsatdawnphotography

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GUEST POST: I LEFT THE FAMILY BUSINESS

Why Jessica Antony walked away from a career in publishing (and what she’s doing now)

GUEST WRITER INFO

Jessica Antony is the owner of Anchor Editorial Services, where she provides editing, content creation, consultation, and facilitation services to a wide range of clients. She also enjoys making immature fart jokes on Twitter, and posting photos of her dog and passion for powerlifting on Instagram.

I was raised by hippie parents. But not the “we use crystals for deodorant and don’t believe in vaccinations” hippies – the “we’ve dedicated our lives to social justice and think capitalism is a scam” hippies. My parents are ambitious, incredibly intelligent, and have worked hard to support my younger brother and I in whatever we want to do with our lives. I looked up to both of them growing up – my Dad a book publisher and my Mom a professor – so it’s perhaps not surprising that my career path followed both of theirs. I finished my Master’s degree in Media Studies at Concordia when I was about 25, and shortly after started working for my Dad’s book publishing company, while also teaching a writing course at a local university.

My Dad’s company had its head office just outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia, so when I started working for him he moved from his home office to a “real” office in Osborne Village. Working for my Dad was amazing: he is hilarious, passionate about his work, a very patient teacher, and was dedicated to my learning and growing within the company. The joke was that I was his retirement plan, so naturally he wanted me to succeed. 

I learned so much in a short time when it was just he and I in that office. We quickly grew to include an office manager and promotions coordinator, so we had to move to a bigger office. That’s when we bought the property I now live in – a house with a separate office built onto the front of it. I was literally living and working in the same building. No more waiting for the bus in -30 degree weather: I could roll out of bed and be ready and at my desk in 15 minutes.

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My Dad and I were co-editors, along with Les Samuelson, of the sixth edition of a social problems textbook, Power and Resistance: Critical Thinking About Canadian Social Issues, the most successful of all of the book’s editions.

The work I did for the publishing company was just what I had envisioned for my life: I read manuscripts, I edited, I collaborated with authors, I travelled to conferences, I pitched book proposals, I vetted book proposals, I pushed professors to use our social-justice-focused texts in their classes instead of the multinational publishers’ bullshit designed to bankrupt students and perpetuate the status quo. I loved it. I took on more responsibility at work, I got more comfortable teaching my writing course, and after a few years I even started a side hustle, Anchor Editorial Services, doing freelance copy editing and proofreading.

About six or seven years in, my Dad approached me and asked if this is truly what I wanted to be doing. He was going to retire eventually, and the idea was that the company would be passed on (in some way) to the employees. Did I want to be a publisher? Am I happy editing books all day? Of course I was. I had gone to school to do this. I had settled into this being my forever. But he could sense that I wasn’t as motivated or focused as I once was, and because he’s the Best Dad/Boss Ever, he checked in with me a few times to be sure I was truly happy. But, and perhaps this is because he was not only my employer but also my Dad, he was right.

I wasn’t as focused or motivated. I eventually found myself going into work and staring at the list of things I had to accomplish and feeling immediately overwhelmed. This feeling didn’t manifest overnight, but crept up on me slowly, unnoticed. The book publishing business is a long game – it takes over a year to turn a book proposal into a printed book. Editing manuscripts takes months. I was starting to burn out and I didn’t realize it until it got to the point that I became unproductive at work. Eventually, though, I couldn’t ignore it any more. I was exhausted. I was losing my passion. I needed more than a vacation. I realized I didn’t want to do this anymore and it terrified me. I was the retirement plan! I can’t quit my Dad! He’s done so much for you, Jessica, and this is what you do? Work for him for a few years, learn everything about the industry, and then bail?! You have got to be kidding me you are the Worst Daughter Ever.

Admitting to myself that I wasn’t happy at work anymore was hard enough, but telling my father felt impossible.  I felt overwhelmed and couldn’t keep my thoughts straight – everything confounded me. So I decided to go see a therapist, and this is gonna sound ridiculous but at first I genuinely didn’t know what I needed to talk about (seriously?!), I just knew I needed help organizing my brain.

I was unhappy at work, I was dating a guy who was…maybe fine (spoiler alert: he wasn’t), I was teaching an undergraduate course, I was doing freelance work on the side, I had taken up powerlifting and was training for competition…there was a lot going on. As you might imagine, the first and only thing the counsellor and I talked about was work. She helped me deal with the process of breaking it to my Dad that I wanted to leave, submitting my official resignation, and coping with the outcome of that.

The actual process of quitting was heartbreaking. I cried like a baby when I finally told my Dad. It wasn’t until I officially submitted my resignation to the rest of the company that it became real. I had been working for this company for ten years – I had a stable job and a stable income and the potential to become a stakeholder in the future and I was just…giving it up. Is this the dumbest thing I’ve ever done? All because I was kind of bored of reading academic manuscripts? What if you never find another job again and you can’t pay rent and you end up a shameful scorn on your family’s name?! The terror was real.

At this point I had already been looking for a new job, but I wasn’t really sure what direction I wanted to go in. I had applied for probably forty jobs before I decided that I needed professional help and hired a career coach. Turns out my resume was trash and, perhaps unsurprisingly, not having any exposure to the job market in over a decade meant I had no clue what I was doing.

My career coach suggested that I only apply for jobs that I would be genuinely excited to dive into. When I started actually thinking about being in these offices and working for these companies I had be submitting my resume to, I stopped applying altogether. I didn’t want to work at any of these places! Why the hell would I leave a comfortable, stable job where I was actually contributing positively to the world, that was located quite literally in my house, to go to some corporate office where I have to wear pantyhose and write press releases about some horseshit nobody cares about? Pump. The. Breaks.

This whole time Anchor Editorial was still garnering new clients – entirely through word of mouth. I really liked the variety of work I got to do, the fact that I could do it anywhere, and the fact that I could do it all in my sweats. When my career coach asked, “What does your ideal work day look like?” I laughed and said “it starts with coffee and sweats.” Well, shit, why can’t that be my work day? I had never seriously considered freelancing full time. Who did I think I was? But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was the only option that made me simultaneously scared and excited.

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Hire freelancers! Like the freelancer who redesigned my logo, Nicholas Luchak.

I’ve been working for myself for over a year now. My days always start with coffee at the dog park, and very often include sweats. I still teach a writing course and I still edit academic manuscripts, but not so many that they burn me out. I’ve also had the opportunity to facilitate a leadership workshop, speak at a teacher’s conference, edit books, consult clients on obtaining literary agents, write and facilitate a conflict resolution course, pitch and write news stories, edit dissertations and proposals, work as a client liaison for a tech start-up, and contribute regularly to a blog for women entrepreneurs. In the last year I’ve also competed in four strength competitions (including one at a national level), travelled across the country, and met more ambitious women entrepreneurs than I have in my lifetime.

Jessica Antony
You need something edited, written, or facilitated? I’ll get it done for you. Right here in the woods. I’m all business, baby. (Photo credit: Brenna Faris)


Leaving the security of a career path that wasn’t making me happy anymore was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made, because it forced me to put myself first and actually acknowledge and address the fact that what I had banked on wasn’t working for me. Now, I can’t imagine doing anything else. Put your sweats on and do the scary thing. It’s worth it.


WHAT COMES NEXT FOR JESSICA

You can find Jessica teaching at the University of Winnipeg, writing for clients like The Ace Class, and working as the Media Liaison for the 2019 Canadian National Powerlifting Championship (you may even catch her on the platform!).