Shine Your Light

Hello my friends,

This blog is a place where I plan to post stuff that brings me joy and to share my home -St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada – to my friends around the world. It’s a pretty special place. I am posting tonight to share this beautiful song with you. It was written by friends Maureen Ennis and Perry Chafe and performed by the Ennis Sisters. They partnered with the Canadian Mental Health Association of Newfoundland and Labrador and wrote this song to bring awareness to mental health and wellness. It is a good reminder to those who are suffering that you are not alone. Even in your darkest moments….you are not alone.

Have a listen. It’s inspiring and hopeful.

 

You’ll be fine. Put your light next to mine.

Together we can face the darkest night.

We’re all stars, you’ve just forgotten that you are.

You’ll be fine. Put your light next to mine.

Powerful words.

Wherever you are in the world, shine your beautiful light.

Until next time!

Only joy, only love,

Michelle

xo

P.S. If you liked this song, check out The Ennis Sisters at http://www.theennissisters.com. So many deadly tunes!

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Happy Canadian Thanksgiving

Today is Canadian Thanksgiving. Every day there are reasons to be grateful. I am especially grateful for all the love and support that has been shown to me and my family over the past few months! I love a holiday that is all about gratitude -cherishing and loving the people in my life.

It was a beautiful, restful and rejevunating weekend with some pretty amazing peeps!

Happy Thanksgiving my friends!

Here’s to a fantastic week.

Until next time!

Only joy, only love,

Michelle

xo

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It has been 9 months. Time to catch up. ❤️❤️❤️

Happy Wednesday! How are ya and where in the world are ya? I am writing from St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. It has been 9 months since I last posted and a lot has happened. Please indulge my long post. Future ones will be shorter, more concise and hopefully, a lot lighter. 😜😁 The last time I posted, it was the end of November and we were getting ready to celebrate the Christmas season. In early December, I went to China for a week to deal with the stuff we had in storage. I had interviewed and accepted a new position and was scheduled to start on Jan 3. We were settling into life back in St. John’s and were stoked for 2018 to start!

But just before Christmas, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was devastating news in the wake of an especially challenging year. On January 3, instead of starting my new job, I had a right mastectomy and sentinel node biopsy. It is normally a day surgery and I should have been back home in 5 hours but during surgery, I had an anaphylactic allergic reaction to one of the meds and my heart stopped. I ended up in ICU on life support with so many tubes. I also developed double pulmonary embolisms which all led to an extended stay in the hospital. It was a scary time for me and my family.

The OR doctors and nurses took life-saving measures and they saved me when it could have gone the other way. Dr Chris Cox, Dr Jeremy Pridham, Dr Michael Zhou, Dr Brad Evans, Dr Matt and Dr Lisa Kenny.…….you are my real life heroes!! Because of you, my daughters still have their “mama“, which they say in the sweetest voices, and I was able to walk them to the door on their first day of school today. This could have been a very different day for us all. There are no words to describe my gratitude. My medical team is growing as I go through different phases of my health journey and I continue to learn so much. I have the utmost respect for the doctors, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, physiotherapists, massage therapists, x-ray/ultrasound technicians ….everyone that has helped me on my journey. There have been so many caring and intelligent people. It’s a humbling experience.

My family, friends and community played a huge role in my healing because they took care of so much so I could rest and concentrate on healing. The food and soups were incredible and my children were well cared for and loved! Go Team Smantle!!!  I have so much love for the people in my life. I healed very quickly and started a new job 5 weeks after my surgery! That was pretty ambitious but it was the best thing I could have done. I was physically well enough and it kept me busy and gave me something positive and productive to do and think about instead of having too much time to worry about what tests, results or appointments were coming up. All I really could (and can) do is live as healthy a life as possible, work hard and manage my stress…..and laugh. Laugh a lot! The waiting was/is a big challenge….waiting for tests…..waiting for results….waiting for more appointments. That is the system but it does test one’s patience.

The best news is that the cancer was caught quite early, contained to the breast they removed and did not spread to my lymph nodes. I do not need chemotherapy or radiation. I am getting a monthly shot to put me in menopause. That’s another story but it is all totally doable and so much better than being dead. 😜😁 I have been meeting with allergy doctors in Halifax and St. John’s to determine what medicine I reacted to so severely and we are getting some answers to those questions. Progress is being made and it is all good! I am feeling great. Finding and using the resources available to me has helped me immensely and I am taking self-care to a whole new level. I am going to be a 90-year-old, one boobed wonder, doing yoga on the beach….just wait for it. 😁😁

There has been so much joy, love and growth in my cancer journey but it has also introduced me to fears and anxiety I did not own before. It’s pretty terrifying to wake up in ICU with a breathing tube down your throat and just knowing I had killer cells multiplying in my body is unnerving, to say the least. While I have learned the tools to help cope with that, I have also learned that it is OK to not be OK all the time, that stress management and overall self-care is imperative to everyone’s well being and also the real importance of pacing myself and listening to my body. And certainly not least, the strength of community and true connections with people. It was a stressful time for our family and friends and definitely difficult for them to see me so sick. But now that I am all good, we can talk about it (mostly) without crying and there is always something to laugh about in there somewhere. I mean, I have one boob….there’s a ton of material right there. 😂😂.

8 months ago I almost died and today I had a normal productive day at my job. Our girls started school and they both went in smiling and never looked back. ❤️❤️ Our baby turns 7 years old on Saturday. Life carries on in the midst of trauma and we are creating and enjoying a beautiful life here. I look forward to sharing snippets of it here on http://www.onlyjoyonlylove.com and posting more regularly. You know I love connecting with my friends and family all around the globe so please keep in touch. I’d love to hear how you and your families are doing.

Life is short, my friends.  Don’t forget to breath.

Until next time!

Only joy, only love,

Michelle

xoxo

P.S. Here are a couple photos of the girls on their first day of grade 2 and grade 6. I was instructed by my oldest to please not take photos at the school. 😂😂.

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Christmas in Newfoundland begins

Hi friends,

I hope the beginning of the holiday season is full of a ton of fun for you and your family. We are still loving living in St. John’s. We absolutely LOVE being so close to our family and friends and living in this beautiful city. The slower pace has been a welcome change, as well. It feels so good to be home. Especially now that we are kicking off the Christmas season! The girls are so excited to be home. Julia has been praying for snow for at least two weeks and last night, her prayers were answered. 😁😁

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We spent the weekend hauling out our Christmas decorations from storage and started decorating the house. I love the glow of Christmas lights.

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Last night we went to Stella’s Circle for their Light Up Hope event. This organization does amazing things for the community. Check out their website to read about the many ways you can get involved and support this organization – http://www.stellascircle.ca. Their message of HOPE is an inspiring one for the holiday season and year round. The cider, hot chocolate, candy canes, Christmas carols and treats from the Hungry Heart were a hit with my family. ❤️❤️

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I am heading to Shanghai on Sunday to sort through everything we have in storage at a friend’s house and basically have a garage sale. Only I would travel half way around the world to have a garage sale. 😂😂 But seriously……Shanghai friends, I have a lot of good stuff to get rid of. I’ll be in touch on wechat. I can’t wait to see my SH peeps and have some Taiwanese noodle soup. Yummy! ❤️❤️

Wherever in the world you are, I hope you are enjoying beautiful time with your tribe. This is such an optimistic time of year and the world could use more of that.

Until next time!

Only joy, only love,

Michelle

xo

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Ellen is my Human Xanax 😁

Hello friends,

I hope you are having an amazing weekend wherever you are in the world. Sending out love from St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.

I was once referred to as a Human Xanax. I took it as a compliment. Having a calming effect on people and situations. Can’t be a bad thing. 😀

Well, Ellen Degeneres is my Human Xanax. I’m not kidding. Those days when doubt and worry seem overwhelming, I sit down with a cup of coffee and put on the Ellen show. So many beautiful stories, a great stress reliever and a nice break of pure enjoyment, love, laughter and all that is good in this world. After watching, I am then in a better headspace to take on any challenges for the day. I often watch the same episode with my daughters, ages 6 & 10, when they are having their after school snack and my husband always joins in when he’s free. I love that we can watch it together and we are all belly laughing. Although it has taken my youngest daughter a little time to warm up.  She was getting a little irritated that she couldn’t watch Horrid Henry immediately but being a family is all about compromise, right? And she is not resisting the Ellen show as much as she use to. Those who know my youngest personally will surely be able to picture this scenario. 😂😂

Even the days that you think you feel fabulous already, Ellen will make you feel even better. Thank you so much, Ellen! We love you and wanted to give you a shout out for being totally awesome. ❤️❤️

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I also wanted to share a photo of my three favorite people. They are my heart and soul and bring me joy and love every day…and sometimes a little aggravation.  I mean, some days, I practically have to go berserk to get the girls out of the house in a timely fashion but hey….a momma’s gotta do what a momma’s gotta do. haha

Until next time!

Only joy, only love,

Michelle

xo

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Free Child Labour :-)

What do you do when you have a house full of youngsters?  Send them out in the backyard with rakes and bags.

A definite pro to having children.  And the funny thing is that in the morning my mother texted and asked me to help her prepare for her stamping class so I helped her out for a couple hours in the day. Free child labour through the generations. haha

And the moon was incredible last night.

We are looking forward to Glenn getting home tomorrow night.  He’s been away for 3 and a half weeks and it feels like 3 years! We are doing good and have enjoyed our girl time but there is a lot of estrogen in this house. Glenn balances us all out. 🙂 I have a tremendous amount respect for the single parents out there.  It is A LOT! You are superstars!

Happy Friday, friends.

Until next time!

Only joy, only love,

Michelle

xo

 

 

 

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My first post on www.onlyjoyonlylove.com and my last (for a while) on www.shanghaiorbust.com

Writing is therapeutic for me. It helps me process, appreciate, learn and connect with people. I truly love it. I have been desperately wanting to write over the past few months and tried but could not get more than a few notes down. Total writers block. It’s like I was in a bit of a fog. That fog is finally lifting. I think I was too busy and my brain has been in overdrive. Let’s face it….we’ve had a bit of a shit year but we are coming out the other side of it. 😁😁

We have moved back to St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada for an undetermined amount of time. Could be a year or could be forever. Either way, we are so happy to be home. It is a beautiful and special place and we are surrounded by the love of our family and friends here. Our daughters are adjusting really well and loving their new school but they do miss Shanghai. Last week, I asked Georgia if she loved being back in our house and she said “Yes, I especially love it when it is filled with my friends and cousins”. How sweet is that! ❤️❤️

For those who don’t know, St. John’s has a population of about 250,000 people. Quite a difference from 26 million in Shanghai.  Here it takes minutes to get everywhere and I love driving again. Grocery shopping is a joy and I have a full size washer and dryer. After three years without one, we finally have a dishwasher again. Oh and the glorious clean water from the tap and the ease of washing fruits and vegetables in that tap water. I have gained hours in my day from reduced travel and vegetable washing time. It’s incredible. My friends in Shanghai will appreciate that! 😂😂

Since we are no longer in Shanghai, I have decided to put http://www.shangahiorbust.com on hold and start writing on my new blog www.onlyjoyonlylove.com. Although there are parts of this past years journey that make me really sad, I cannot be sad about the journey itself. The experiences, the joys, the tremendous growth, loads of laughter and plenty of tears and swearing but most importantly, love. So much love and kindness. I feel like this is a new chapter for our family and I am choosing to focus on what brings me joy and love in my everyday life. www.onlyjoyonlylove.com will be my space to do that and share snipets of some of my favorite people, places and things that bring me joy, make me laugh out loud or sometimes shed a tear.

And I fully realize that life is messy and there can be a lot of shit in between all that joy and love so you can expect some humour as I deal with all that as well.

A huge thank you to my friend Monica who encouraged me to get the domain http://www.onlyjoyonlylove.com months ago. It’s just been sitting there waiting for me to be ready.

Hope you’ll follow along with me there. Sign up for posts to be sent directly to your inbox 🙂

Until next time!

Only joy, only love,

Michelle

xo

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