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Working Mama

5 BIG Emotional Mistakes People make while buying or selling Real Estate

By Sajida Pellegrini

Buying and Selling real estate is usually  a very emotional process. As a REALTOR® I  know  part of my job is to remain objective and keep my clients on track. This is because people may not be thinking as clearly as they would like to during the process, which can lead to mistakes that can cost them.

Why do people make emotional mistakes in real estate?

Real estate transactions often coincide with important life events both happy and not so happy. For example having a baby can be an amazing joyful experience, however it is often accompanied by many stress factors. Parents  are overwhelmed with so many important decisions about the baby, and now have to also think about logistical issues of perhaps needing more living space to raise a family.  And can they  afford to upgrade to a larger home?

Other emotional life events that often accompany a real estate transaction include divorce, a death in the family or moving to a new city.

Read more

In Lifestyle, Style, Working Mama on
May 2, 2018

Spring Fashion for the Busy Mom

Top Spring Looks

I feel like we may have by-passed Spring and headed straight into summer around Alberta…. This sudden change of seasons always seems to create some inner panic in me every year. It’s suddenly hot during the day, colder in the morning and evening and not totally appropriate to wear full on summer clothes yet BUT I’m totally over my winter threads. The panic is real, guys. This year, I’ll admit, I do feel a little more prepared. Maybe it’s because winter lasted so damn long this time around. None-the-less, I thought I would share my favourite spring fashion ideas with you.

1- The Kimono

I was rocking this item last year as well, and thank goodness it seems here to stay! My reasons for loving the kimono are: it covers you up when you need it (spring) and it makes you look put together in an instant when all you are really doing is throwing it on over your yoga pants and a tank top. The best.

Spring fashion trends

A selection of my personal Kimonos from Hot Dame (Sweet Boutique), Belle & Bliss Boutique & The Hudson’s Bay.

2- The Flats

As tempted as we are to wear sandals, some mornings are just not quite warm enough yet and nothing is worse than stepping in some wet, cold, mushy spring grass…. Investing in a pair of easy to slip on flats either in a sporty style or with a more dressed up flair will take you from the playground to a meeting to dinner, all without having to tie them or do up annoying straps. Heels, you say? No mama has time for running around in heels. None.

Spring fashion trends

Esprit flats from a clothing swap!

3- The Leather Jacket

Leather jackets can be difficult to wear in Alberta. It’s usually way too cold in the winter for them and then by full on summer you are sweating just thinking about wearing one. That’s why I wear my leather jackets as much as possible during spring. It’s so easy to throw on over jeans, a dress, even with yoga pants. No, I never stop wearing yoga pants #sorrynotsorry.

Leather Jacket for spring

BCBG Leather Jacket, yet another gem I acquired from a recent clothing swap!

4- The Mini Backpack

When this trend started, I hated it. It reminded me of the 90’s when girls would wear them. I guess it just made me feel old? I broke down and got one and I am now eating my words. A leather (or leather-like) mini backpack is like the crossbody purse, but even cooler. You look trendy, but you are actually just allowing yourself to be hands free and a super multi-tasker. This style is really difficult to pull off with a pouffy winter jacket, so I think it’s a great spring item.

Mini Backpack

My first adult mini backpack from Miniso.

5- A New Pair of Jeans

I’ve been coveting the casual and cool look of ripped jeans over winter, but who wants holes in their pants when its minus 20? Now that we’ve got some warmth out there I am loving this look.

Jeans for Spring

Spring denim from Grace & Lace

6- The Jumpsuit

I never, ever thought I would take the jumpsuit plunge. I tried one on recently and it was love at first fit. I feel like the jumpsuit is the new maxi dress. Once you find one that works for your body type, it’s so easy to wear! Note, I said jumpsuit, not romper. Spring gives you a chance to try the one piece trend with full pants first. I’ll report back to you if I ever get brave enough for the romper, haha.

A jumpsuit is a new spring fashion must have!

Chris, one of our gorgeous founders, rocking her jumpsuit from H&M.

7- The Swimsuit

Ok. Ok. This one isn’t exactly spring. BUT warm Alberta sun does get you thinking of beach season. And, we still take our kids swimming to the pool, so there. No one wants to be rushed once they realize they have to go to the beach and last year’s suit is just a little worn out. So, start looking now. Selection is at its best and you might need time for this one.

Spring is the time to start looking for the perfect bathing suit!

This sexy little one piece is from The Hudson’s Bay

I hope this helps you sort out some quick and easy ideas for updating your wardrobe into spring/summer/whatever season it decides to be today. If you want some more ideas, visit us at St. Albert Centre on May 16th where we (The Alberta Mamas) will be sharing some of our favourite curated Spring looks at the Denim and Dresses event!

Let us know, what’s your favourite new Spring fashion item?

Every Day Girl


In Parenting, Random Thoughts, Working Mama on
April 19, 2018

What Your Wife REALLY Wants For Mother’s Day

Mothers Day

Alright people. Mother’s Day is coming May 13th 2018. You are getting your fair warning.

On top of this warning, I’m going to help you out. This is what your wife/partner/spouse REALLY wants for Mother’s Day. I asked my mama friends on Facebook, our contributors and friends in person. ( I happen to also be a Mother of course).

And the theme I have concluded is, we want to feel appreciated and cared for. The way we appreciate and care for others. I don’t need to tell you how hard Moms work. The mental workload, physical workload and social pressures can be seen on our faces most of the time, if not found in multiple blog posts and sappy commercials.

In honesty, we just wanted it to stop. For one hour, one spa treatment, one day or weekend. Many moms joked about just “wanting to be alone” or “doing whatever I want”. And it’s not because we don’t love motherhood. It’s the opposite in fact. We love it so much we give it our all. We worry, cry, hold strong, kiss boo boos, console, laugh and are squishy because we love it just so much.

All we ask, is that we feel someone is doing the same for us. For one hour, one spa treatment, one day or one weekend.

We are all for cute hand made mugs (actually I would really love another) and flowers (they Do brighten the days following our “one special day”), but we NEED time to fill our cups again. Recharge. THAT is what we are really asking for.

A clean house, that we didn’t clean, hear complaining about or have to clean up after tomorrow.

Time alone in the bath without hearing “mommy what are you doing?” through the door.

A trip with or without us planned for something fun with the kids. That we had no hand in figuring out. Then joy of our kids having fun. Without us planning it.

Take the mental workload for a day. We want to step outside of our very big roles and feel safe to unload it onto you.

The mundane tasks, the grand tasks and everything in between.

We don’t need fancy gifts as reminders we are good mothers. We want you to show us that you KNOW we are good mothers. Show us by walking in our shoes.


Here are what a few Mom’s have said:

Andrea – “I would love to have my whole house purged and cleaned. And the support to do so.” Kids aged 12, 9, 7, 4.

Allison – “I’d love for my husband and kids to acknowledge the fact that they understand that I am the only reason the house is not falling apart.” Kids aged 9, 7, 4.

Patricia– “Time. Time with my children” 28, 25, 23.

Holly– “I’d like a day where I could do whatever I want. Show up for a homemade meal with cake that I didn’t make.”

Erin – “Hot Coffee and no obligations time to do what I want before family time.” Kids aged 11, 10, 8, 5, 2.

Poom – “To pee in peace. Without interruption.” Kids aged 7, 5, 2.

Alli – “I’d love a day to myself, no kids needing me for something. A day where I could go get pampered and then enjoy a quiet meal that I didn’t have to cook.” Kids aged 2 and 1.

Jenn– “Time alone! An overnight stay in a hotel, spa day, just some me time!” Kid aged 4.

Among these requests a lot of Moms asked for family photos, family rings, family necklaces. So all these request to me say. “I want some time to myself, reminders of my family, because this is the best job in the world and it will all make me better at it.”


And ahem, in case anyone is wondering. My ideal day would go as follows:

Wake up whenever I want. (which is usually before anyone else). Have coffee. When the kids wake up they wake up my husband before even coming downstairs. 

Breakfast is made for me. Pancakes or french toast.

House is cleaned while I bathe. 

My husband takes the kids out for lunch and something fun all afternoon. While I literally do whatever I want.

Meet them at families hosue or restaurant for dinner with all family to celebrate our mom and all moms in the family.

Family snuggle time on the couch.

Watch a sappy movie with wine after the kids are in bed. Sleep. The end.

We all just wanted to feel fulfilled, appreciated and respected. That’s it.

Save your money.

Give us time.

The Bitchin' Housewife

Jen is a yoga teacher, fitness enthusiast and health blogger over at

In Parenting, Random Thoughts, Working Mama on
March 30, 2018

When the “Bully” Tables Turn

My daughter has seen her share of bullies and she’s only in Grade 2. From preschool on there’s always been that one child. She has been the child who runs to the teacher immediately so has been a “bully” target because of it. My initial reaction is Mama Bear but almost always secondary I wonder about the child. We know that kids who bully are sometimes modelling behavior they’ve seen or as the Have You Filled a Bucket book says, they have an empty bucket and don’t understand that hurting others won’t fill theirs.

Honestly, I’ve thrown my Judgy Jessie hat on more times than I care to admit when watching said children’s interaction with their parents. Saying to myself, “Ah, now it makes sense”.  Does it though? Do I know the back ground of what’s going on with that family? No, I don’t and I hate judgment. I feel guilty every time I think back to any time I decided to do that to another human being.

Let me tell you why this has suddenly become so clear to me that it’s the wrong thing to do. Because recently, it was MY daughter that was the bully.

And I am sort of ashamed it came to that. I’m not going to get in to great detail but she made some bad choices, along with some other kids that were making bad choices. The only reason I know is because her little bro ended up being involved.

When she finally opened up and let me know what was going on I was in shock. It was like the first time you realize your parents aren’t perfect. MY DAUGHTER? The “tattle tale”, help everyone who’s in trouble, compassionate, smart, funny little girl had made the CHOICE to treat others badly. Needless to say it was a very long conversation. Followed by further conversations with her AMAZING teacher, and at least one apology letter being written.

In the end, I feel like the whole situation was one of the best things that could have happened to our family. They say kids teach you more than you teach them. Truth. I had to hold in my reactions and think a lot about how to make this a teachable time. I also took this as an opportunity to remind her that I’m here to help her get through mistakes like these. She learned from this, showed remorse and even now, weeks later, we discuss it as a cautionary tale.

Cause kids make mistakes. Our kids make them, other kids make them and we make them too. Our job as adults is to help them through, learn as we go and withhold the judgment against other adults who are maybe just doing the best they can.

I know that’s what I am hoping for the next time either of my kids decide to dabble in bad choices. I’d love to say they’ll never do anything like this again, but if I thought that, then this situation would have taught me nothing.

Edmonton's Child

In Random Thoughts, Working Mama on
March 26, 2018

Instagram 101

By Brittaney Moore

Facebook has been around for quite some time, something that is fairly new but widely popular is Instagram. Using Instagram for your business seems foreign to most people, but it is a very important tool to have in the toolbox. I can share with you a few tips to help you get an Instagram account up and running.

First off, grab yourself a coffee. Then, you are going to create an Instagram account for your business. This should be done from a mobile device such as your phone or tablet. Ensure that you use a username that matches the username of all your other social media platforms. This will make it easy for people to discover you. *Side tip when it comes to usernames: Make your username memorable, and easily searchable. Keep it short and to the point. If you are looking to change your username on any platform, I recommend seeking help from a Social Media Manager, such as myself, to help alleviate any negative impacts* Once your profile has been created, it is time to design.

  • Profile Picture: Your profile picture should be your brand logo. This makes it easy to discover your business. This should also be the case with all your social media pages. If your logo doesn’t fit within the dimensions, I recommend sending it to your graphic designer and having them send you a social media package. This should include graphics that will fit a number of different social media pages. If you do not have a logo, a professional business headshot would be next appropriate. A selfie should never be used as a profile picture in a business page.
  • Website: You can add a clickable link to your Instagram profile that will lead any viewers straight to your website. You can also use this section to promote any event tickets you may be selling at the time. When your event is over, remember to change it back to your website address to increase website traffic.
  • Bio: Use this section to tell people about what services or products you offer, what types of things they can expect to see from your page, or any branded hashtags you are using or would like people to use. You only have 150 characters, make each one count.
  • Facebook Page: You can directly link your Facebook page to your Instagram account. I never recommend “double dipping”. What that means, is that you have the ability to post everything you post to Instagram automatically to Facebook. “Double dipping”. 2 platforms, 1 post. Don’t do it. Your audience on Facebook and Instagram are looking for different tones.
  • Category: Like your Facebook page, choose this wisely. Choose a category that best represents the products or services that your business offers.
  • Contact Options: Choose how you would like people to contact you. Enter in your email, phone number, and/or location. This will allow followers to contact your company through direct buttons on your Instagram page

Once you have this completed, your Instagram account is ready to go. Before you go on a posting bonanza, set yourself some Instagram goals. Keep in mind this is your business image, choose your posts wisely. If you ever have any questions or would like to know more about posting on Instagram, you know where to find me.

Brittaney is a Mom to an adventurous boy, an espresso addict, and a Social Media Expert helping Mompreneurs across Alberta.

Find her on Facebook: MooreMediaManagement, 

Instagram:@mooremediamanagement,  @captamericasmom,

and on her website

In Lifestyle, Parenting, Working Mama on
February 12, 2018

To All The Parents on Valentines Day

To all the parents who send cards and gift bags to school for my kids on Valentines Day, thank you.  I know the time and effort you put into those cards and if you send them, gift bags, take. Pouring over the lists, sitting with your kids making sure they’re spelling the names right, making sure no one was forgotten.

My kids are older now and Valentines Day has morphed from excitement to downright dismissal of the day.  I miss the excitement of a grade 2 kid coming home with a box full of Valentines Day cards and treats.

To the parents that put together the gift bags on Valentines Day, I know that you spent a lot of time, money and effort into those little bags, and my kids always loved them.  Although I have to admit, we need to come together as a community and stop the Valentines Day pencils. I try to remember every Valentines Day that it wasn’t a gift for me and that it was a gift from your child to mine. Forgive me in July though when I’m super irritated when those stupid Valentines Day pencils are still floating around the house. You understand though, you’ll have them too.

My kids won’t be the kids sending gift bags with goodies to school on Valentines Day, and I’m sorry to the parents who send gift bags that your generosity won’t be reciprocated. You get it though, you’re a parent too. You know we have to pick and chose how we allocate the tiny amount of hours we get to pull life together for our families. For my kids, sending the Valentines Day cards with the perforated lines is what they’ll be giving out. If I manage to get organized early enough, they might even be the fancy ones with the holograms, though I highly doubt it since I just realized Valentines Day is only a few days away.

The great thing about kids is that they don’t really notice who sent gift bags and who sent in just a card. These are things parents worry about. If your kids are like mine they come home and dump the bag of Valentines Day cards and treats. They’ll re-read the cards from their friends and sort the pencils and eat the candy not noticing who gave what. Kids are cool like that. It’s the parents who will sit back and think, “who has time for that?” and “how much did that cost?” and my favourite “why can’t we do things like we did in the olden days?”  I have to admit I’ve wondered who has the time to make these little bags, but then I realized that was pretty judgy of me.

These little Valentines Day traditions aren’t for us adults, they’re for kids and we often forget that kids are little for such a short period of time.

So I’d like to thank all the parents in my kids classes for the cards and for the treats. You’ve been a part of making my kids Valentines Day really fun and there’s nothing more I can think of that really shows the meaning of Valentines Day, to make someone feel special. ♥️

In Parenting, Random Thoughts, Working Mama on
January 25, 2018

Taking My Daughter On A Date

Recently my daughter told me that I don’t spend enough time with her. (Annnnnnd cue allll the mom guilt). I was having a super busy day after I was gone all weekend in trainings that were 12 hours each day. She was upset because I told her to play with her sister while I got just a bit more work done. The tears started (hers and almost mine).

I have been a stay at home mom since my first was born. All my time was spent with my kids. Allllll my time. My husband worked out of town and I sort of had to put in double parent duty. I have taken them on all the play dates, mommy and baby classes, volunteered at preschools and so on.

Of course, life changes. My husband no longer works his lucrative out of town job, meaning I also work. (By the way, this isn’t a woe is me. I LOVE the work I do). Even, in reality I work mostly from home, but of course computer time at home isn’t the same thing as play with my children. That’s a whole other story and set of mom guilt.

Anyways, back to the tears. I told her “okay how about you and I go on a date?”. We planned a mommy daughter date in two days when I knew I wouldn’t have to rush to get somewhere after. And this was the amazing result.

It was so simple. So perfect.

We went to the library. Free fun. Read some books together, played some games and worked the sign out process together. I happened to loose her Library card and she got to pick out a new one and everything.

Afterwards we went for a sweet hot chocolate date at Second Cup. She got extra whip cream and I couldn’t have cared if it spoiled her dinner. We talked about her favourite subject in school, her friends and they silly things she loves about them. Pondered why strawberries are red and what strange flavours of popcorn we could come up with.

Now because I’m (sort of) smart, earlier that day I took my younger daughter on the exact same date. Same place and everything. So of course there was no fighting over it all.

At first I was hurt and full of guilt by what my oldest had said to me, but in reality it lead us to these wonderful memories. Memories I know I will keep with me forever.

Time with our kids doesn’t have to be big grand gestures or lots of money. All they want is us. Our love and attention. And that’s pretty amazing isn’t it?


Take care,

The Bitchin' Housewife

Jen is a yoga teacher, fitness enthusiast and health blogger over at

In Lifestyle, Working Mama on
January 21, 2018

Social Media Basics for the Mompreneur

By Brittaney Moore   

With the economy being what it is, more moms have been entering the workforce, and the pressure of being a successful career woman is higher than ever. We are so fortunate that there are many opportunities for moms to work at home, starting a revolution that is known on social media as #momboss. Small Business owning moms are in fact so popular, that we have our own title; a Mompreneur is defined as a female business owner that actively balances everyday mom duties, and the role of an entrepreneur.

As a mom myself, my daily activities include chasing after a toddler, cooking multiple meals that do not get touched, and checking my social media accounts sitting on the toilet to make sure my fellow mom friends look just as exhausted as myself. Through the past few years, we have adapted our social media use as a powerful outlet to create our home businesses. I have more friends on facebook groups that I talk to than I do face-to-face, and I know I am not alone. On average, 1.9 billion people log into Facebook every month. Naturally it is a perfect outlet to build your business, post your sales, gain recognition, and all while your sweet, adorable, tiny humans write on the wall with sharpie.

For the majority of Mompreneurs, your Facebook page and Instagram accounts are your only source of marketing for your business. It seems simple, you’ve posted about  a million pictures of your kids eating spaghetti, so how hard can running a Facebook page be? There are several common mistakes that people make when running a Facebook page that can lead to low reach numbers (the amount of people that can see your content), an account suspension, or even removal of a page in its entirety. I am going to share with you a few tips to keep your page active, seen, and following the terms and conditions.

  • Read through Facebook’s Terms and Conditions. I know that 99% of you have agreed to the Terms and Conditions without reading them. For a personal account, you can probably get away with it, but when you are representing your business, it is a different story. I scroll through Facebook everyday and it is full of businesses that have broken the rules. The biggest one, and my biggest pet peeve, CONTESTS! Personal timelines may not be used to promote contests. This means that contests requiring your followers to “Share this Post” or “Tag a Friend” are not permitted. Failure to comply can cost you your entire page. When most of your customers and clients come from Facebook, the removal of your page can be devastating to your business.
  • Make your page and all your posts visibly attractive. A trick that I use when creating business pages, and all my posts is always having my devices with me and open. When I create and edit a page, I have it open on my desktop, my mobile phone, and my tablet. The key is to ensure that all your content is easy to read, see, and maneuver from every type of device your potential customers may be using.
  • Be Interactive.  Facebook has so many different options for you to post to your business page. Do not be afraid to use them! By posting different medias such as status updates, pictures, videos, and even going live, you are really engaging your audience and bringing life to your page. Using avenues such as Facebook Live can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t take too long to figure out and it is a great excuse to change out of your pajamas and attempt a winged eyeliner.

Following these 3 simple tips can help you develop better brand recognition and take your business page to a different level. I can go on and on, giving you tips and tricks for successfully running your business page, but I know by now your tiny humans have strategically thrown every toy they own all over the living room, or it is midnight and you are fighting to keep your eyes open. Keep up the great work, Mama.

Brittaney is a Mom to an adventurous boy, an espresso addict, and a Social Media Expert helping Mompreneurs across Alberta. Facebook: MooreMediaManagement, Instagram: @mooremediamanagement


In Parenting, Random Thoughts, Working Mama on
January 13, 2018

Balance, Books and Being a Better Mom

I’m a book lover. I love reading to escape, reading to learn, even reading to keep up to date on who’s dating who in Hollywood.

Recently moving to full-time work, I don’t have as much time to sit and read as I used to. I’ve also been feeling a lot of guilt because I am not always able to completely disconnect from work when my kids are around so I decided to utilize my love of reading to check out some parenting help books.  My job also involves a lot of driving around so I figured why not utilize our local library and check out some audiobooks.

I went through a few before I found one that really resonated with me. I’m a firm believer in recognizing that we can’t do too many things at one time, and taking snippets of wisdom from the plethora of parenting literature out there is the best way to approach this stuff. We all parent differently and what works for one family may not work for another, this is why taking pieces works for me. I talked to friends about it after, the pieces I took from it and even they were intrigued.

The book I ended up really hungry to press play on is called Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids by Dr. Laura Markham. At the beginning, she talks a lot about connection. How having a good one with your kids at an early age can really help when those later years come – when you have less influence on them because peers, the world, all that influence starts taking shape in their lives. I think I honed in on this because I feel like that’s something that I missed out on in my childhood and I really felt like I was lacking in giving to my kids with all the other “STUFF” getting in the way.

I picked up on 3 things she suggested doing that sounded like things that would help me, and I stopped listening to the audiobook at that point. Because I can’t do a bunch of things at once, I just need to apply a few things, then go back to it.

  1. Quitting Yelling – her suggestion might not be something all parents would be willing to do. You give a bit of control over to your kids but honestly, I really wanted to see if it worked because I was tired of being that mom. It’s a sticker chart. For the parent. Every day you don’t yell, your kids put a sticker on that day. Crazy thing is, it worked. I’ve got a month and a half worth of stickers to prove it so far. Who knew I was motivated by that? I have come close to yelling and honestly, it’s the fact that I am on a yell-free streak that I don’t want to break.
  2. 15 min – 15 minutes, with an alarm of uninterrupted time focused on one child, at least, daily. Now I applied this to work days only. Each of my kids get their one on one15 min with me, one day I chose what we do, the next day they chose. We set an alarm, I ignore my phone and we do something. One day it’s reading a book, the next day it’s painting nails. Of course on the weekend I just try to spend as much quality time with them as possible, no time limit, but with my afternoons working from home with my son, taking that 15 min break to focus on him has been really good. Some people might think this is silly, some people this time comes naturally to. I’m not one of those people so this helped me.
  3. Bedtime snuggles -I used to not want my kids to get used to me laying down with them. They’ll need me to fall asleep and what about the nights I’m not home? My husband even expressed his concern about my starting a dependency but I’ve set some clear expectations for them and it’s working. They know if mama’s not home we don’t get snuggles that night. They know it’s 5 minutes and they know it’s an open forum. Things come up from the day that they hadn’t told me, even though I’d asked about their day. And I just keep thinking those days will come pretty quickly when they’ll say they’re “too big” for bedtime snuggles so you know what, I’ll take them.

As I said, I didn’t finish the book yet. I actually had to return it to the library but I’m on the list again to finish it up. I needed to apply these things first before adding more on my pile.

Do you enjoy parenting books? Have you ever read anything that really resonated with you? As a mom struggling to find balance with recent changes in my world, I’d love to hear your recommendations, tips or advice.

Edmonton's Child

In Health, Random Thoughts, Working Mama on
December 21, 2017

How does she do it?

You’ve seen those headlines, leading into the blog post about an awesome and capable mompreneur on the scene who juggles it all: the carpool, the snack bar, the home (or away) job, the kids, the husband or the single parenting, the downtime, the self-care, the manicures, the crafts, the pets. Maybe she even shares the tears, the wine, or the softness of falling apart in the shower where no one can see you…

People have been asking me how I do it all, in awe and wonder how I do it all, painting me as that person. But I’m here to tell you, I am nothing to be inspired by. I am nothing to aspire to.

Doing it all nearly killed me.

I am a Gemini. I am an INFP/INFJ. I love labels because I am a perfectionist whose life is a hot mess of chaos but whose brain doesn’t appreciate disorder no matter how many times her voice drips with denial. “It doesn’t matter; it’s fine.” I also have ADHD, diagnosed in adulthood during university, after years of feeling like I hadn’t quite mastered this whole “adulting” phase of life.

I am a full-time student at 36-years old, finishing an Arts degree in a second language I didn’t speak for 18 years until I actually went back to school in 2016. I am heading into a competitive after-degree program next fall with a 3.7 GPA, with plans to finish my Education degree and become a full-time elementary school teacher.

I am also a Chamber of Commerce award-winning business owner. I run a dance studio full-time, but I barely break even each year because I am also an artist and a creative and an empath with a heart too big for my own boundaries. I care too much about my students to stay focused on the bank accounts, and I try my best to ignore the bookkeeping that is a terrible mess.

I’m a mom to 9-year old twin daughters, one of whom is as roller derby princess in the throes of preteen angst and the other of whom is in a very intense pre-professional ballet programme. I also have a husband whose business is unpredictable. He is often away or works longer hours than expected. We lack the stability (and income!!) of an oilfield family but with all the stress that comes with solo parenting.

I regularly did it all, thanks to that never-ending whirring combo of perfectionist/ADHD/Gemini/creative, piling on the challenges and projects and responsibilities until my life looked the balancing chair act of the Chinese acrobatic circus I saw when I was a child.

My 2017 was already shaky. I had long-time dance teacher leave our studio in an abrupt and unprofessional manner than upset my already delicate balance of passion vs income. I was enrolled in the hardest semester of my degree. I would be subbing at Alberta Ballet every weekend for two months, and my ballerina had taken on extra rehearsals for a Christmas production with her dance school. Somehow I also had to be a mom, be a business owner (not just a teacher), be a wife, and somehow be myself.

Oh yeah: and I was 13 weeks away from taking 17 dancers and their families to Disneyland to perform in one of their holiday parades, during university finals week. Extra rehearsals, extra fundraising, organizing and liaising every aspect of a trip that would not run smoothly, with all the responsibility for its success falling squarely on me.

But I could do this. I could survive this. I am a survivor, and I thrive under stress, and I could do this. I just had to get to December 17th with a strict regimen of university/teach, university/teach, university/drive the ballerina, university/teach, university/drive the ballerina/teach, drive the ballerina/teach, Disneyland rehearsals. Somewhere in that Monday to Friday mess was homework and studio administration.

On Thanksgiving weekend though, a mere 5 weeks in…our friend died. She died horrifically and tragically and instantly and unexpectedly. I say “our friend” because the pain was not mine alone. So many of us, so many of you reading were devastated by Steffi’s death. It broke me into a thousand pieces at a time when I could barely get through my responsibilities in one piece. I cried day and night, never having lost a friend, never having lost a dear family member. Never having lost someone close, I didn’t understand the pain. The never-ending, 24-hour pain.

Then four short days later, one of my dance moms died from breast cancer. And I lost it. I lost everything. I broke more than I’d ever broken before. A few years ago, I had someone tell people that I’d gone crazy. That I had a mental breakdown. Back then, it was all mean and petty lies. This time though? It was really real. On that day, on Wednesday, October 11, I broke down in my car and then on my dad’s couch. I went to my doctor. She took me out of school and recommended I take time off of work. She prescribed sleeping pills, Valium, and an increased anti-depressant. I used our Employee/Family Assistance Program (EFAP) to find a local counselor to help me for free. And I started to my road to recovery.

But it didn’t end there. Rock bottom had a basement, and underground plumbing and the hot fires of hell to still reach first. Between October 11 and December 16, I endured more personal pain than ever. I had people blame me for things beyond my control at my studio and call me some of the worst things that I can’t even write out here. I found out that being an empath means having connections to spiritual energy, and my dead friend was everywhere I looked. Disneyland was killing me. School was killing me. Parenting was killing me. Marriage wasn’t killing me because I didn’t even have time to realize I was married. I’m not a crafty person, but I was stress crafting at Michael’s, gluing rhinestones onto document folders and laminating homemade luggage tags for 47 people.

And on November 30, I spent 3 hours wrapped up on my couch hyperventilating through a panic attack that should’ve taken me to the ER, but instead left me wishing the blanket I was clutching would suffocate me. I spent the next week leading up to Disneyland wishing a truck or a moose or an airplane would hit me and put me out of my misery while I ironed logos onto t-shirts. I created things to control because I couldn’t control myself. Travel-wise, everything that could go wrong with our Disneyland trip was going wrong. I would close my eyes while driving on the backroads to get home, seeing how long I could keep my car in a straight line before survival instincts forced my eyes open again.

I spent the week before Disneyland in a haze, but somehow we got on the plane made it to our hotel. And we danced down Main Street USA in a fury of ponytails and red lipstick and the most Christmas magic I have ever known. I missed out on seeing my own daughter in the parade though; I was on the wrong side of the road. I cried my eyes out over it because I saw all my other dancers completely but missed my own girl, and it was just so par for the course in 2017 to come this far and miss her. But I was proud of my dancers. All of them worked so hard and they sparkled. They were amazing.

And then, it was over.

I was exhausted. I was holding my surface tension up with Disney magic while the storm inside me rolled with Valium, dark humour and a thin string of hope. The last 72-hours of my marathon began our flight landed. Between 3 am on Thursday and 5 pm on Saturday, I wrote three final exams and taught 4.5 hours of dance at Alberta Ballet. I nearly fell asleep on the Yellowhead highway three times and allowed myself to use my doctor’s personal cell number as a lifeline. I coordinated my ballerina’s stage rehearsals and three performances despite her utter exhaustion. And then I stopped.

So after going to bed at 6 pm last night, here I am. I’ve rambled for 1400 words so that I can tell you this:

    Do not think that you can do it all.

    Do not think that you SHOULD do it all.

    Do not think that you NEED to do it all.

You don’t. It’s not good. It’s not healthy. I’m here to tell you that you can’t do it all. You won’t. And that’s okay. It’s really, really okay. If you lose yourself trying to be everything to everyone, you won’t have anything left of you. I’d rather be alive than be everything.

We understand when people eat poorly and don’t exercise and end up with diabetes and heart problems. We understand when athletes overtrain and end up ruining their careers with injuries. But we don’t realize that we average women can ruin ourselves just by keeping up. It might not kill you the way my brain wanted a car to crash into me at 110km/h, but it will kill your soul and your spirit. There’s a reason that minimalism is trendy right now: there is too much expectation.

Keeping up will kill you.

My brain and I have a long road to recovery ahead of us, but at least I know now that I am not all the things. I have a lot of appointments and rest in the next three weeks of Christmas break, and I’m terrified of what the downtime will do to my mind. I’m terrified of the silence that won’t be drowned out by the busyness. I am scared of what my therapists and doctor will ask me to learn and unlearn. It’s unfamiliar and new, and it means letting go of my expectations of myself.

But I don’t want to be everything anymore. I just want to be me.

Magz Dickert is a bit of an overachiever. She is the owner of Expressions Dance Studio in Onoway, AB and used to blog furiously and inappropriately at MagzDLife. She has too many pregnant cats on her acreage, gets distracted by shiny things, and hates glitter with her entire soul. She puts 40,000km on her car each year but refuses to use a travel mug for her coffee when she’s on the road. Oh, and she freaking loves Lilo & Stitch. Like, freaking.