Beyond The 140: Part 3

It was almost time to leave the audience and hit the green room to get ready... I had time for one more talk before I left though.

Andy and his wonderful wife Linda. Let me tell you, Andy looks like a teddy bear, his mild manner and friendly disposition did not prepare me for his talk. You see Andy is a felon. Honestly, the word itself kind of scares me, felon. There arn't many people that can say they hear the word felon and don't flinch a little inside. As their talk went on I realized that we all make mistakes, the gravity of these mistakes varies. I listened to them passionately talk about how we were dooming children by seeing them through their family history, especially those who had incarcerated family members. How people (including me) were guilty of felonism (a term Linda and Andy coined). It definitely made me think, a lot. Especially with my brother and his history. Has my mind changed about him? No. I do however see that not every ex-con is my brother.

Time to leave my seat.

Wave to Jacki and Gord.

And walk away from the stage of the 92nd street Y, knowing the next time I saw it, it would be underfoot.

Surprisingly calm I found the amazing (and fabulously organized) Melissa Pierce, who took me back to the greenroom. On our way there I got to see Jeff Pulver for the first time that day. I was wrapped in a loving hug and asked if I was ready. I told him I was as ready as I was going to be, he reassured me I would rock and I continued into the back.

My first thought entering the greenroom? "It's actually green". My second thought? "Oh good, Andrea and Joe are here." Andrea I had met months before at a 140 get together in Toronto. We instantly connected and I was lucky enough to have been a guest on a taping of her documentary for OWN Canada. Joe I met the night before at the hotel but immediately took a shine to. A sweet quiet woman from a small Kansas city. Minutes after I walked in it was Joe's turn to take the stage to talk about surviving incest in a small town, I was honoured to be able to be the one to tell her she was going to kill it and give her a hug before she hit the stage. Unfortunately due to the commotion in the greenroom I missed hearing both her and Andreas talks (I will be going back to watch, promise!). I knew they were both going to be amazing.

In a incredibly surreal moment Andrea and I started chatting, small talk, conference talk, neither of us showing the nerves I'm sure we were both feeling. People came and went in the room, Lil Jaxe (a 13 year old rapper out of Toronto) and Eric Alper (A music producer (Producer? Eric? Right? CRAP! Dude I just like YOU, havn't paid attention to your title lol) and friend also from Toronto). And then, as I'm putting on my makeup, in walks Carlos Delgado. Andrea beside me leans over and says "I don't ever do this but for my dad I need to ask for a picture with him.". The fact that Andrea, a celebrity in her own right, was having a humble moment for her father made me smile.

I looked up into the mirror, ready to put on mascara and caught Mr. Delgados eye. We gave each other warm smiles before he was distracted by another person and I went back to my face. Yup... in this surreal bubble I was living in for the moment I was putting on make up and smiling at Carlos Delgado. Never in a million years did I think this would be my life.

I hugged Joe as she came back in from her talk and then was called over by the mic guy, Anthony. Now, I suppose I should get used to getting mic-ed, but I still find it amusing to have a mans hand down my back fiddling with my bra for a reason unrelated to removing it. Andrea returned to the greenroom, signalling me that I had 10 minutes. 10 minutes until the stage was mine... and I had to pee. OMG I suddenly had to pee worse than I had ever had to pee in my life, and I was attached to a microphone. Someone asked if I was ready, all I could say was "I have to pee". Thank god for Andrea, who looked at me and said "I've pee-d while mic-ed a hundred times. Don't worry about it, just go." So I pee-d... and then it was my time...

I walked backstage, shaky and wiping sweat from my brow, and into another hug from Jeff. Terrified but confident, I was ready...

I was ready.

To Be Continued...


Beyond the 140: Part 2

My first tears of the conference came during Dan Lewis's talk about Sesame Street and finding the mystery Gordon from a pilot episode of Sesame Street. He showed a clip and Jacki and I went to pieces. Having grown up on Sesame Street, we were both heartbroken when Mr. Hooper passed on, and then there he was. On a screen that brought him to life again. This may have been the first moment of tears, but it was far from the last.

Enter Kevin Honeycutt. The man commanded attention with his personality, humour and iPad? Kevin showed us the amazing things that iPhones and iPads could be doing for children, especially musically. This is where I got choked up. I have always wanted to play the guitar, as a vocalist being able to accompany myself would be a major boost. However, my right side and left side do not naturally work independently of each other. I can't drive a manual car because my feet want to work together, guitar has been the same with my hands. Kevin pulled out his iPad, velcro-ed it to a paperjams guitar, and played. If I had had a teacher with that kind of passion and willingness to innovate, I don't think I would have dropped out of school. Suddenly in front of me this man was playing the guitar, with one hand. Kevin opened my eyes to the fact that this piece of tech would finally allow me to learn to play the guitar maybe not traditionally, but what do I ever do traditionally? I was overcome by this realization. On the edge of my seat, tears flowing. When I tracked Kevin down later I couldn't thank him enough. While crying, I explained how badly I wanted to play and how I just couldn't. How his presentation was going to change my life. I'm now saving up for an iPad, I know it's going to take a long time to save but still less time then reconfiguring my brain.

It was a morning full of Sesame Street love as my dear friend Heather Hamilton took the stage to tell us about her son Zack. His life, his love, his legacy. I had heard Heather talk about Zack and her mission for Zacks Dream Room before, but something was different. Heather was beautifully calm. The pain was still there but it was outshone by something I can't put my finger on. Purpose? Acceptance? I just can't decide. It was almost as if she had realized how much Zacks short life meant to so many people and that he had a life purpose bigger than any of us. I was lucky enough to see Heather later that night after she had been to THE Sesame Street. She was glowing, like a proud mama should be. I just hugged her and felt the joy flowing through her, she had kept her promises to Zackie and all I wanted to do was hug her until she exploded. I was so proud, so happy for her. She lived through hell and came out on the other side.

We were roughly an hour from my talk... I could feel my anxiety creeping in. I took some deep breaths and looked around at my friends. I was ready for this, I had waited almost a year plus a lifetime for this moment.

It was almost time...

To be continued...


Beyond the 140: Part 1

I've been sitting on this all weekend. How do I explain something so amazing that I'm not sure it really happened. How do I tell you I spend 4 days falling in love with strangers. How do I express the feeling of bottled magic. I'm going to try. I will not do it justice but hopefully I can at least acknowledge those who touched my soul.

This will not be a 1 part post... It will take me days to wrestle through the emotions this post will take.

And with that said, I'll start with my Knight In Shining Armour, Lyndon. We met up at the airport unexpectedly on our way to New York. He was on the earlier flight, but I got there early and we had some time to talk. After finding out I was super nervous to get from the airport to the hotel he offered to wait for an hour on the other end and travel with me. This was only the start of Lyndons chivalry. Waiting places for me,  taking in a room mate he had never met because I asked him to, coming back to the airport, sleep and family deprived to drive me home. This is just what he did, it doesn't even get into how just his presence kept me calm and his voice made me smile.

I say I fell madly in love with strangers, and I did, none more so than Matteo. From the moment we were in the same room the first time I knew my life was better because he was in it. We connected. I wanted him in our world, involved in our fun. I wanted to experience 140 with him. We had so many sparkling moments, not big moments, but important ones. It was like we had been friends for our entire lives. I ran like a crazy person to make his talk Wednesday morning and to see him come so alive on stage brought tears to my eyes. I was lucky enough to get to connect with his partner Pheobe online and realized that the awesome ran through this family like a waterfall. Proof that true beauty finds its mirror image.

Just writing about these 2 amazing men has brought on the tears. I went through so many kleenexes the past week that I should probably be out planting trees. I spent 4 days in New York and saw none of the city, but I saw world changers, dream makers, I saw magic with my own two eyes.

Going into day 1 only hours from my talk I spoke to my dear friend Kat. My nerves were frazzled and my anxiety through the roof. I told her I had no idea how I was going to speak between my childhood hero, Carlos Delgado, and a man who inspires me every single day, Mark Horvath. I didn't know how I could possibly come up to their level. She looked at me and told me I could do it, I would do it and I would be great. I stopped and breathed in the air around me, then put it out of my mind. To think about it would spiral me into anxiety. People asked if I was ready, if I had my talk together, I laughed and said I wouldn't know until I hit the stage. How true this was, no one actually knew. I had nothing when I got to New York, absolutely nothing prepared. I woke up at 6am that day, realizing I had another hour or so to sleep I curled up and closed my eyes.

Then I had a dream... A dream featuring another new friend, Tiffany. I was giving my talk just to her. Her stunning smile was the only thing I saw. I woke up and knew. I knew exactly what I was going to say, how I was going to say it... I knew I was about to bare my soul and I knew it was going to be worth it. The nerves and anxiety never went away, but from the moment I opened my eyes after that dream I was in control. I was prepared to take on the world. It was my time to stand up and sparkle.

I was ready...

To be continued...


I am the Phoenix

Ive been trying to write about my #140conf12 experience, and I will, but first I need to get something out there.

I miss my family.

My #140conf family.

Leaving New York has been a painful heart wrenching experience.

I'm sad that my life only has moments as life changing and inspiring as 140. I'm grieving the loss of support and love that I felt all week. I'm angry that I can't seem to connect dot A to dot B to make something amazing out of my life. That I have to come home to a life that involves counting quarters to buy milk for my baby girl. I can spend 4 days changing lives, inspiring people, standing in a city of light and love and singing my heart out. Hundreds of people were involved in my moment of musical heaven and now? Now?

I'm sitting in my government housing apartment full of crap wondering which bill gets paid this month.

And no, its not about money. Its about being capable of greatness and waiting in mediocrity. Its about not being able to give the most beautiful girl in the world the same experiences I'm having. Its about knowing I have the power to change lives through words and music and be shouting them out into the wind that just takes them and blows them away from me.

My sweet little girl deserves better than this. Dammit I deserve better than this.


The post conference fallout is so painful. I'm still getting amazing messages from people inspired by me, people I've just met but fallen madly in love with and yet I can't shake this feeling. I want to wake up in the morning and be scooped up in hugs and kind words and giggles. I want to make people feel. I want to inspire every day. I want to change the world.

I don't want to drive by a dream, be so close, but never know if I'm going to make it there.

I want people to know it is ok to have a mental illness and you can succeed in life with one.

I want the world to see you don't need "traditional" beauty to BE someone.

Selfishly I want to be able to eat everyday without worrying. I want to know I can see friends without running out of gas. I want to not have to think about buying a treat and if its going to make it so I cant have a phone. I want to travel. I want a car that I can trust. I want a computer that works every time I turn it on. I want more.


I can change the worlds opinions about those with mental illness so why... why can't I make my own life better.

I know people are going to look at this and say "You just had a free trip to New York. Spoke and sang on a beautiful stage. You have a roof over your head. What the fuck is wrong with you?"

Please trust me when I say I am in awe of how far I've come and all the blessings and people I have the privilege of calling friends. Every time the key goes in the door, the fork goes in my mouth, the phone vibrates... I thank the universe for having just one more day to enjoy it. But I am worth so much more than this. I will never stop fighting to be more than this. To be the woman people think I can be. To break the cycle.

The phoenix doesn't float on the surface of redemption... it rises from the ashes.

I am the Phoenix.


Vibrating: NYC


3 more sleeps until New York City!!

I'm dying! Nerves have made me jittery and anxious but so so excited!

I can't even tell you how happy I am that Jacki, Krystal and Gord will be there with me. For so many reasons. It's not very often that a girl gets to live out a dream with some of her best friends beside her. And by beside me I mean, keeping me from falling over and making sure there are kleenexs available at all times.

Is my talk ready? Well define "ready". It changes, daily, hourly, by the minute. I have so much I want to say. So much to tell the world. So much of myself I want to give. The encouragement I have been getting just makes me want to give more, do more, be better.

On top of all of that, there is talk about #140karaoke in NYC. Did you hear that? Probably not since it was me, unable to catch my breath. I've mentioned before my dream of singing to finance my mental health projects. Singing in NYC would just blow my mind... BLOW. MY. MIND. The experience would be stellar, killer, amazing... pretty much any word you can find in the thesaurus under "incredible".

This whole trip is going to be incredible.

I'm trying to figure out how to download my brain so I can have space to fill with all the new memories I'm going to make. Another reason I am so glad I'm going to have friends with me, to remind me of what the hell happened!

I'm not quite sure how I'm going to be able to thank Jeff Pulver and the 140 family for making this happen.

3 sleeps.

Well 3 nights, I don't know how much sleep I'm going to get.


The Fear of Opportunity

So my last post I talked about the amazing opportunity that #140conf is going to be for me. I am vibrating with excitement, fear, amazement and nerves. Getting to see and talk to Jeff this week was even more uplifting. Knowing what is coming in the future settled my brain a bit. Plus Jeff radiates magic and I can't help but learn from him and be in awe when he is around.

Now here is my fear.

I don't know what the hell I'm doing. For 8 months my life has been focused on 140 in NYC, now it's here and then what? What do I do next? This is supposed to be my big break but I don't know how to grab it. I don't know who to talk to, who to work with, who to grab by the arm and hold on to.

What do I do?

Like I've said, in a perfect world I would be singing. This would actually support my family and allow me to finance projects to help end the stigma of mental illness. But that's a perfect world. Right now I'm scared my life will never move beyond a minimum wage. That I won't be able to support my daughter like she deserves. That I won't be able to reach the people who need me to be their voice when they can't be. What if I have built this up so much in my head that I have made the pedestal too high.

The last few weeks my confidence has been super high. I know what I have to offer and I know that I can and will be an asset to this world. Right now though, I'm like a toddler. I see blocks, I see a tower, but I have no idea how to make those blocks into a tower. I am missing that crucial middle piece that tells me how to take the raw potential I have and turn it into something great.

How do I do it?

Do you know? Can you help me? What do I do at the starting line to get me to the finish?

I have seen miracles. I have worked hard. I am ready to be the person I dream of being. I just need to know how.


Ten Minutes (#140conf)

I wish I could just open up my brain and let you see whats going on inside of it. To try and put it on paper is proving to be a more difficult than I thought it would be.

I have so much going on right now.

I'm going to focus on the State Of Now (aka #140conf) conference in New York City coming up in less than 2 weeks. An amazing man who I have been lucky enough to become friends with over the past year, Jeff Pulver, invited me last September to speak at his conference in NYC. At the time I didn't know much about 140 or Jeff but I knew New York City and immediately said yes. Now? Well the more I learn about Jeff, the conference and my fellow speakers the more nervous I'm getting.

It's anxiety, but its good anxiety. It's nerves. This is the opportunity I have been waiting for. A global stage. A global stage in a room full of people who inspire, support, and amaze daily. I am lucky enough to be speaking with some of my dearest friends, Jacki Yovanoff, Heather Hamilton, Taylor Jones. And some people who inspire me greatly, Wes Prankard, Mark Horvath, and the man himself, Jeff Pulver. This certainly is helping with the nerves, knowing i'll be surrounded by friends. However knowing i'll also be surrounded by people such as Deepak Chopra, Carlos Delgado and other amazing people, sky rockets the nerves again. I know people are just people, but my god... Just... my god.

I have two major passions in my life. Educating and advocating for those living with mental health issues and in poverty and singing. My dream would be to sing as a career, make enough money and gain enough popularity to be able to make a viable impact on the stigmas surrounding mental illness and poverty. To be able to say to people, "I have a mental illness and I lived in poverty, but I never gave up dreaming. Now I'm living my dream and not hiding in the shadows". I would totally be happy doing just one or the other. I need a platform though. I need a mentor, a guide, a plan. I think #140conf is where I am finally going to be able to meet people to show me my path and influence how I continue to move through life.

But at the moment, my heart is in my throat. How in ten minutes do I explain to the world who I am. My failures, my successes, the miracles I have seen, felt and been a part of? That my world is full of beautiful, amazing, awe inspiring people. That I have been to rock bottom and been lifted back up from the bottom by people who I have never met or met through social media alone. That I've been able to provide things to my daughter that I would never have been able to provide alone. That I've been given strength and support I have only dreamed of. That even in my darkest days of mental illness, I have never felt completely alone.

Ten minutes to explain my history and reach out and grab a hold of my future.

Ten minutes.