be THAT girl who inspires others women to connect

CONNECTION is why we’re here; it is what gives us purpose and meaning to our lives

~ brene brown ~
Carrie Doll ~ The Inner Circle Community on Facebook

Today has been one of those days where things are feeling extremely heavy on my heart. I can’t really explain why or even exactly what it is….but they just are. I know I am not alone in feeling this way. A friend of mine suggested that it could be “pandemic burnout” which really resonated with me. I do feel like it could be just that.

Is anyone else feeling this way?

If there is any one thing that I have learned about myself over the last 8 months, is that I need CONNECTION. It was amazing being quarantined with my family for 2 months. What a great time to reconnect and just get to enjoy each other but I needed more. I felt like I needed to connect with other like-minded women that I could draw inspiration from. We were, and still are, going through a lot. Most of us are carrying loads that we have never had to bear. Losing sleep, losing jobs, losing direction, losing loved ones, losing purpose and sadly…losing hope.

This morning I was fortunate enough to get to listen to a live interview between Carrie Doll & Ashley Mielke that was literally all about Hope. It was exactly what I needed today. I have been part of an amazing community that I want to share with all of you. Carrie Doll, who you will all recognize as being one of CTV’s former news anchors here in Edmonton, wanted to create a space for women to connect, network, share ideas, learn, educate and empower. And that is exactly what she did. She created “The Inner Circle Community” on Facebook. I have to tell you that this community has been a game changer for me. I have met so many amazing women that I can honestly say are my friends. We have laughed, we have cried, we have shared and we have healed. We hold space for one another to be courageous and vulnerable. But it is also a space where we can have a lot of fun! Our Friday Virtual Happy Hours were awesome during quarantine. We were introduced to a lot of great restaurants and chefs that taught us how to create some fun dishes, appetizers and of course some fun drinks! We have also met some kick-ass women who are killin it in business. Their interviews have been so inspiring! The stories they have shared with us are incredible. I have to say that my absolute favourite part of being part of this community has been learning that we all have a story to tell and when we share that story with others, it is not only inspiring for the receiver but it is healing for the person sharing it. Fortunately, I was able to be one of those people. With Carrie guiding me, I was able to share a life-changing part of my story. I’m not going to lie….I wanted to shit myself thinking about using my voice. I’ve never felt so nervous, anxious, and vulnerable in my life. But as we chatted, Carrie and the Inner Circle Community wrapped their virtual arms around me and I felt peace come over me….a peace that I had been searching for. I felt free. I felt brave and most importantly, I felt heard.

Friends, if you are looking for a place where you can feel connection with like-minded amazing women then this is the perfect place for you. I share this because I truly believe that being part of this community has helped me grow in so many ways and I want this for you as well. Right now, life is hard and it is heavy but together we can lift each other and help each other thrive. HUGS to all of you today.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/InnerCircleWithCarrieDoll

Carrie also has an amazing podcast with so many more stories. Do yourself a favour and go give it a listen. You will LOVE it. So many inspiring humans!!

https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/the-inner-circle-with-carrie-doll/id1438898194

be THAT girl who shares her story…

When someone shares with you a piece of their story, they’re giving you a gift.

Tj Aneca

“Babe, I need to talk to you about something”…

Not the words I wanted to hear in that moment that night. I remember it like a broken record in my head. Those 9 words changed my life in ways I could never have imagined. Thirty-nine years, living a life that was working and with that one sentence my whole world flipped. Not how I saw my life playing out at all.

Thinking that he needed to talk to me about the kids, as we lay side by side in the dark as we usually do right before we fall asleep, I asked him “what’s up?” “Teej, I can’t do this anymore.” Silence. “I can’t continue to help lead a congregation when I don’t truly believe that this religion is true.” Silence. “I am leaving the church.” Tears. “If you and the kids decide you want to continue to go, I will support you and go with you but just know that my heart is not there.” More tears.

So many thoughts were swirling around in my head but none of my words would come out. Just tears. I don’t think either of us really slept much that night. You could feel the sad tension between us. In my mind I played out every scenario. We continue to go and I ask him to join us. The kids and I continue to go without him with us. I take the kids and leave. I kick him out. We get a divorce. Weeks went by where we continued to go and put on our brave face. I could see how miserable he was which broke my heart. So, I did what I had taught my young women to do, I questioned.

Now questioning beliefs within some religions is not exactly welcomed. I never had because I was the girl that believed what her parents, friends and leaders said was truth. I just trusted that they knew and that was good enough but those 9 words challenged me. They made me dig deep and go somewhere I had never even considered going.

I remember I was alone that day. I had several hours where I would have absolutely no interruptions. As I sat on my bed with my phone in my hand, I put my hand on my growing belly and made a promise to my baby that I would try to make the best decision I could, not only for him but for the rest of us. I landed on the official church website. As I pondered what to search, I thought about one of the many topics that I had always felt uncomfortable with but was too afraid to question. I’m not going to get into specifics about WHAT I read but what happened next brought me to tears. As I read, I actually couldn’t believe what I was reading. My heart broke. In fact, I think a piece of it actually died. I just sat there in silence, tears streaming down my face. I remember actually saying a prayer out loud pleading for an answer. Asking for a sign to help me in my decision. Looking back, I knew. I knew that that aching feeling in my soul was telling me exactly what I needed to know. In that moment, I knew that this religion was not for us anymore.

I could not imagine life without my best friend in the whole world. The one who holds me when I need holding, the one who humbly corrects me when I’m wrong, the one who has seen me at my worst yet still seems to love me, the one who supports my crazy whims and ideas. The fact that I entertained the idea of letting go of that amazing human definitely opened my eyes. I need to question EVERYTHING! I may not always find the answer. Sometimes I just need to trust ME. Trust my own intuition because most of the time my gut feeling is right. The beauty of it all….this is a gift we all hold. We all know “that feeling” that we try to ignore. Maybe try giving it a chance. You just might find the next chapter in your story.

There is so much more to my story and I plan on sharing it over time. One day, this will be a book. A book titled, “Free To Be That Girl”. A story for my children about my journey and how I discovered my authentic self and my true purpose . This is not easy to write about because I fear hurting people I love but those that truly know me and my heart know that this comes from a place of healing. If there is one thing that I have learned thus far is that I have a gift to share and by allowing myself grace and kindness, I can help others find their true purpose.

be THAT girl who tries to understands racism…

You Don’t Fight Racism With Racism. You Fight Racism With Unity….

As I sit here pondering how to put into words about how I feel about the brutality of George Floyd’s death….my heart breaks. I feel ashamed. Ashamed that I too have become ignorant to the reality of racism. I have been hesitant to post anything about the situation for I fear I will say the wrong thing.

I was living in Edmonton in a townhouse on the west end with my husband and a few of our children. I had been at the church attending an activity for the women. It was probably around 9:30pm when I came to a 4-way stop close to our house. When I pulled up to the stop, I was signalling to turn left. There was a car straight across from me who was also signalling to turn left. So, I proceeded to pull forward and turn but just as I did, the car facing me, who was signalling to go left changed his mind and decided to go straight therefore resulting in me cutting him off. As I headed in the direction of my home, I noticed that someone was following me very close. This made me very uncomfortable and extremely nervous. As I pulled into our parking lot, I noticed that same car park right behind me. I sat in my car for what seemed like forever to see if that car would get out of the way but it didn’t. It just sat there. I got out of my car, and as I did, I heard a man get out of the car behind me. He started to yell at me for cutting him off. I froze. I couldn’t move or say a word. I forced myself to walk toward the house and as I did, I turned around to look at him. As I looked at him he says to me….”oh…that makes sense. Why don’t you learn how to drive or go back to your own country!!”. He then got in his car and sped away. I walked into the house and I began to sob.

I had experienced name calling as a child but that was the first time I felt like an outsider as an adult. It immediately brought me back to the days where I hated the colour of my skin and the slant of my eyes. I just wanted to look white so no one would say shit like that to me.

I want to be clear that I am not saying that my experiences are the same as any black individuals. I’ve been on the receiving end of racism but I am also guilty of being on the racist end as well. Going to school in a predominantly white and indigenous community, I stuck out as different. A half Japanese girl that didn’t really look like either or. I had good friends of both of those races that treated me as an equal and I to them. There were also those that were so insecure about themselves that they had to focus the attention on others which is easier to do that when that person looks different. Because of the name calling when I walked down the hallways of the schools, I noticed the one’s who did this were white and indigenous which caused me to have some pretty negative feelings towards their race and who they were as individuals. That was not fair. Not fair to their culture and to their history of injustice. That was not right and I do apologize. I do believe that as a human race we do need to acknowledge any and all racist acts in order for us to educate each other and ourselves. We need to each take responsibility for our own actions and become more aware of the injustices that go on. You know the saying outta sight outta mind….well that shouldn’t be a thing. We may not notice it happening right in front of us but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening!! It is 100% happening and right in front of us. We are just choosing not to look, listen or learn about it. That is ignorance.

So I ask you to decide today. At this very moment. For yourself.

Will you commit to help stop the injustices that are going on?

BE THE CHANGE!

I believe Garth Brooks says it best in his song “We Shall Be Free”…

When the last thing we notice is the color of the skin,

And the first thing we look for is the beauty within;

When the skies and the oceans are clean again,

Then we shall be free.

We shall be free, we shall be free.

Stand straight, walk proud,

‘Cause we shall be free.

When we’re free to love anyone we choose,

When this world’s big enough for all different views,

When we all can worship from our own kind of pew,

Then we shall be free.

We shall be free

be THAT girl who knows her weight is not her worth….

I am an absolute fucking babe and my weight does not define me

Real talk today….

Hands up if you have ever felt fat! {insert my hand going up}

How many of you have tried a “quick fix diet”? {insert my hand going up}

How many of you have tried throwing up? {insert my hand going up}

How many of you skip meals in hopes that you will lose the weight? {insert my hand going up}

How may of you feel this way right now?

I am going to get real with you all today. Most people don’t know that these are things that I have struggled with. I know you are thinking….as if, you are so skinny. My skin crawls when I hear those words. Just because a person look skinny to someone does not mean they automatically feel that way. The reality is, no matter how thin or curvy we are, we all have our insecurities and struggles. No one is immune to it friends! We are bombarded by it on the daily by media telling us that we need to look a certain way to be attractive.

I was probably in grade 9 when I really started to feel like I was not enough. My acne was horrible, to the point where kids would ask me what was on my face, I was getting my “mature” body in all the wrong places and I had heard from a friend that some boy was grossed out by my back acne. All the fun things! When I hit high school I quit my sports and started partying with my friends on weekends. I remember being told that people could tell I was gaining weight because I was partying so much. So, I decided to try throwing up so that I could still party with my friends on the weekend but not gain weight. Made perfect sense to me. I couldn’t actually make myself do it. I tried and it never worked. I ended up slowing down my partying and I maintained my weight. Still didn’t change the way I started to feel about myself. I felt ugly. I felt fat. I felt worthless.

Fast forward several years….I had babies and my weight fluctuated like a pin ball machine. Obviously to be expected when creating and growing tiny humans in your body. When I hit 30, I had a plan to get in shape and get control of my weight. That would happen every so often when I would feel guilty for eating crap that I knew wasn’t good for me. I wanted to try every fast weight loss pill there was! None worked. As soon as you stop taking them, weight comes back. I would start working out and then stop because I didn’t have enough time. I had 5 kids you know and they took up every waking minute of my day and even some of the sleeping hours. I was just too exhausted. That’s the lie I would tell myself anyways. I could basically talk myself out of anything. The reason I wasn’t invested in my health like I should’ve been was because I didn’t love myself enough to make time for the things that really mattered. I was more concerned that my kids got to do all the things. I put everyone elses’ needs before my own because that is what I was taught. Serve others and worry about yourself last…at least that was the message I was receiving.

Yesterday, I sat down and made a list of what my body does for me:

  • allows me to breathe
  • allows me to create life
  • allows me to be a MOM
  • allows me to think thoughts
  • allows me to walk
  • allows me to speak
  • allows me to sing
  • allows me to dance
  • allows me to see
  • allows me to touch
  • allows me physical activity
  • allows me to feel

I know that this is not everything but seriously…LOOK at what our body can do for us! Now think of this…if your best friend in the whole wide world, gave you these gifts, what would you do for them? I want you to picture one of your very best friends and think about this.

Would you look at them and tell them that they are fat? Would you tell them they are ugly? Would you look at them and tell them they are disgusting? Would you tell them that they need to stop eating the things that make them happy because it makes them look gross?

NEVER EVER EVER!!!!!!

So, why do you tell yourself that? Why do you treat your body, your best friend, that way?

I was listening to an interview between Jen Hatmaker and Hillary McBride, where Hillary had the best suggestion. When we speak about our body as an it, we are objectifying it. When we speak about our body as a Her, we are turning Her into an actual subject. Now, think about that for a minute. If you name your body, it literally changes the way you start thinking about Her. We are wired for connection, give your body a name and connect with Her. Become Her friend! Speak to Her as if she is your bestie.

This past 9 months I have promised myself that I would get healthy. I have been loving my journey. It has not been easy and I have wanted to quit so many times but I know that if I want to be around to see my kids have kids and maybe even their kids have kids, than I need to take control of myself. Over the years I have taken many “before” pictures so I could see the change that I was going to make when I committed to my latest diet and exercise regime. Want to know where they are….I deleted each and every one of them. I never wanted anyone to see how “fat” I was. Ya. Sounds crazy but that’s how I was feeling at the time. Yes sometimes I wish I had them but it is a reminder that in all actuality, those pictures don’t matter. I know how far I’ve come and that’s what matters.

I have ONE life, ONE body, and ONE mind. It is up to ME to make sure I am fueling Her properly! Most days, I do something for my mental health, my physical health and for my nutritional health. What that looks like for me may be different for you but I can tell you that these have helped me become a much happier, stronger, and positive human. I no longer rely on the number on my scale to define who I am and how happy I get to be. I will continue my journey to become even stronger in all areas of my life. I believe my purpose is to help others to see that they are unique and beautiful regardless of size, shape, race, or sexual orientation. Take back your control. Let yourself decide who you are meant to be! Get comfortable in your skin. It is completely up to YOU!

On a side note…I have created an accountability group on Facebook for the ladies if you need a little direction on where to start! It is a great group to help encourage, empower and inspire you to get started and take control of your life. If you have any questions, you can shoot me a message through Messenger or Email, tj@aneca.ca. Always happy to help you!

be THAT girl that loves her Mama…

EVERYTHING I AM, YOU HELPED ME BECOME…

Where do I even begin when it comes to sharing how special my Mom is. I’m sure most of us feel the same way right? Or maybe I’m one of the lucky ones? Being a Mom myself now, I realize just how patient, kind, and selfless she actually is. My Mama is such a great example of how to be a Mother! What I love most about her though is her capacity to love. She has the biggest heart when it comes to loving unconditionally. Let me explain….

Quite a few years ago, my Grandma Takahashi was diagnosed with cancer. After years of treatment, my Grandpa couldn’t take care of Grandma so my Mom, as well as some of her other siblings, would go help them out when they could. Eventually they needed someone there 24/7. My Grandpa was deteriorating from old age and Grandma from her cancer. Mom lived with them 6 days a week for a long time. Eventually they both passed away. This was not only taxing on my Mom but my Dad basically was a bachelor most of that time. They got through it…they have the most incredible marriage…but what an act of selflessness on my Mom’s part. She doesn’t regret those years of helping them out. She was able to spend those years getting to know her parents better and was able to be there when both of them passed. How beautiful is that.

About 4 years ago we went through a huge change and made a life decision that rocked all of us. It was not an easy decision but one we felt was best for us. I remember calling my Mom and bawling to her. She just listened while I tried to form words between my sobs. I remember her saying to me, “you do what you need to do….we will still love you and support you”. In that moment I knew that regardless of whether or not they thought we were making the right decision, that her and my dad would not shame us or make us feel like we we had to follow the herd to be loved. And they have continued to do just that.

My Mom has been a huge part of who I am becoming. She continues to push me to be a better version of myself….not by what she tells me but by what she models. Her determination is one that cannot be reviled. My Mom is 68 and is in the best shape of her life. I believe it was after her parents passed she decided to take up body building and man has she ever impressed me with her discipline. 5 to 6 days a week she is in the gym working out, eating healthy and drinking all her water plus more I’m sure because she always has to do a little bit more than what is expected. LOL! I don’t know a more talented human. Whatever she wants to learn or do she does it 110%! Almost a fault….when she learns something she makes 500 of them instead of just a few.

Mom…I sure love and appreciate you and who you are. You have the ability to make EVERYONE feel like they matter. I know that there are many people that have had the opportunity to feel that unconditional love you give. My hope is that one day I can be at least half the incredible human you are for my family and friends.

Happy Mother’s Day Mama!!