Hello world! It’s been over two months since the last update. Nope. We haven’t been hiding. Just busy!

We’ve been working on our new-to-us house, mostly painting and redecorating. We’ve turned the peach kitchen walls, the off-white hall and dining room, and the entire paneled basement into a soothing Silver Marlin and the living room into Battleship Grey – which is my favourite of the two colours. (Removing the very dated wallpaper border was the worst!) The kitchen cabinets were natural golden colour, now transformed into deep deep brown, almost black. We still have to install the hardware, but it’s AMAZING how changing the colour can dramatically change the space. We painted the backsplash, too, changing it from dated to crisp white.

Before:

3604 BLine 2

After:

after kitchen2

We’ve also added new appliances: fridge, dishwasher, washer and dryer, and a central vacuum. Plus we got our septic system replaced! LOTS of changes to our beautiful home.

For Hallowe-en, we took advantage our of renos-in-progress and turned our house into party central. We wrote graffiti on the walls that still needed to be painted, and Jesse made the garage into a haunted spooky display. Not sure how we’re going to top it next year! It was so much fun 🙂

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We’ve been planning big house parties every couple of months – the next one is New Year’s Eve. We have the space, and we don’t have little ones running around. People can come and go as they please, and we have lots of room for partiers to crash for the night. Our guests have told us that they feel welcome and comfortable, and that’s all the affirmation we need to continue hosting them!

And we’ve been getting used to living in this big house. As winter is upon us, we’ve been figuring out the best way to keep ourselves warm. We KNEW it would be a challenge in this house. The existing heating system is oil-burning forced air. Oil is expensive, so we’ve kept the thermostat as low as we comfortably can. We have a wood-burning fireplace on the main floor, so we’ve been trying to supplement the heat with fires during the day. But since we don’t have a “back-forty” to supply our wood, we have to purchase it – and that’s not inexpensive, either. In the evening and during off-peak times, we turn on an infa-red electric heater. But electricity is expensive, too.

One thing is certain: keeping warm in Ontario costs so much more than in Manitoba. Why? Have no idea! It would be good to have an explanation on how hydro/electrical companies come up with their pricing schemes.

Now it wouldn’t be so bad if I (Corissa) wasn’t a heat-seeking machine! I LOVE to be warm – hence one of the reasons I could pack ourselves up and relocate to somewhere warm in a heartbeat! (Costa Rica, maybe? 😉 ) Winter has become my enemy. I’d rather be cooped up in the house for days on end than face the Canadian Winter outside our doors. And inside, I’ve got on my slippers – that come up to my calves – over top of wool socks, a thick sweater (or sometimes 2!), long-sleeve t-shirt, long pants, and often a blanket wrapped around me.

Jesse, on the other hand, could wear shorts and a t-shirt, and go barefoot all winter long. (So much like Wayne! He did the same thing.)

Fall and Winter are his fav times of year. Mine? Spring and summer.

Ok. So we’re different in more ways than one.

But that begs the question: where in this world is the temperature more consistent? Yes, seasons are welcome, even for me. But the extremes? Not so much.

When we were in Costa Rica, we brainstormed ways we could earn an income anywhere in the world – the keywords being “location independent.” Really the only way to do that is to have an online business of some sort. Neither of us are tech-savvy, so unless one or both of us went back to school for IT/computer training, that type of work is out of the question. But with Jesse’s business degree and my health degree, and our wide range of life experiences, we figured there should be something that we could do together to generate some sort of income, just to pay for living expenses and a few splurges.

I previously wrote about using my passions upon which to build a career, and that drive to discover has become stronger ever since I decided to give up my nursing registration. Often my passions come from what I am currently experiencing or living. And now is no exception.

Remember the video I made in collaboration with Dr. Islur, my surgeon, and Courtney Martin (& cameraman Luke) of Surgical Studio? It was during the making of it that the seeds were planted to share my breast health journey in a more public way – in a GRANDER way. The video was an excellent starting point for that – not only in giving me confidence and motivation, but it allowed me to gain public exposure.

When Jesse and I went to BRA Day Ottawa (BRA = breast reconstruction awareness) in October, I was astonished to learn that the waiting time to have my type of surgery was TWO to FOUR YEARS! I met some women who had been on the waiting list since early 2013. I asked Dr. Kirsty Boyd, the Ottawa surgeon at BRA day, about this healthcare system discrepancy, and she said that there are only two surgeons in Ottawa who perform this surgery, and she had a wait list of over 1000 women. She said Ontario’s system is different than Manitoba’s, and Ontario does not place as high importance on reconstruction as Manitoba. This just does not make sense to me. Reconstruction is VITAL to a woman’s health and wellbeing after having her breasts/breast tissue removed – and doing so in a TIMELY manner. When I consulted with Dr. Islur about having my surgery, he asked ME when I wanted it – he performed the surgery on MY timeline. How could the provinces be so different?

And what was being done to help the women in limbo? Those waiting for not only their surgery, but even for a DATE for surgery?

Most of the women waiting had been previously diagnosed with cancer, and had their breasts removed already, along with chemo and radiation. Women in Ontario who choose to have their breasts removed for prophylactic reasons, such as myself, most often opt to have a simpler, much less invasive surgery: removal of the breast tissue and implants immediately inserted under the chest (pectoral) muscles. The waiting time for this is almost nothing in comparison to the more invasive surgery that I had. Having my surgery – DIEP flap – for preventative reasons was/is almost unheard of here in Ontario.

And to top it off, I heard of women who chose to wait to have my type of surgery for prophylactic reasons, but ended up being diagnosed with breast cancer while they waited! If they could have had the surgery in a timely manner, they would not have been diagnosed!

I need to play a role in this situation … to advocate for women at a higher level, such as government, to change this system. And to support women in their own breast health journeys while they are waiting – for a date, then for surgery – and during recovery.

But figuring out this role is HARD work. And VERY time consuming. But could I (we?) create a business of some sort around this?

As I worked through some of these issues, and researched more and more, I started intentionally interacting and connecting with a friend and colleague, Carey Adam of Running Moms. We met, initially, because her and her hubby and kids were seeking information about moving to and living in Costa Rica – which they did this past Summer. Once we started learning more about each other, we discovered that we had so much more in common than CR.

When I shared with Carey about my passions regarding women’s breast health, she encouraged me to seek out Lori Kennedy, RHN, who is Carey’s business coach. Lori has worked in the wellness industry for many years, and through her own business victories and struggles, has developed a program to assist other wellness professionals in their own business development – the Wellness Business Academy.

One of the first things that Lori impressed upon me was that I needed to stop living in “Plan B” mode. My nursing has ALWAYS been a Plan B – after Wayne died, that is. Nursing as a Plan A is over and done with. Plan A nursing was caring for him while he lived with dying. Plan B was to fall back on nursing after he died.

Once I committed to NO PLAN B mindset, the doors started opening for me. PLAN A = onward and upward!

Jesse came on board and fully supported – actually encouraged – my decision to enroll in the Wellness Business Academy. Lori had put out a free four-part webinar series about the very basics of maximizing a wellness business, and I got him to listen to most of them with me. He was impressed. Cautious, but impressed none-the-less.

This was the first open door – Jesse’s support.

My favourite place to work:

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The second came from Lori herself. In one of the webinars, she asked the attendees if anyone wanted to be put on the “hot seat” – if there was anyone who had a program idea and wanted to talk through it then and there on the air. I responded to that call, and she put me on the hot seat! When I shared with her about my thoughts around women’s breast health, she said that my knowledge was too valuable to sit on, there are too many women waiting to hear from me – do something NOW. She encouraged me to write a short eBook about the surgical process. I already had one going in my mind, and so I spent a few good days just throwing content into my computer.

Door #2.

Click here to view the first five pages of my book: dedication, acknowledgements, table of contents, and forward.

The next one opened a couple of days later when I met with MJ DeCoteau, founder of Rethink Breast Cancer, and Ashley MacIsaac-Butler, one of the Rethink team. Dr. Islur was instrumental in getting us together. I wanted to learn more about Rethink, and they wanted to learn more of me. Ashley is involved at the government level with advocating for women’s breast health. Here is where we can make an impact at the systems level – yes, we. They are interested in working with me in the New Year, as I am with them. Not sure how that will look, or even if it WILL work, but just meeting with them helped to keep the flame of motivated affirmation going. Rethink Breast Cancer is a powerful movement of support and advocacy for younger women diagnosed with breast cancer. I may not have been diagnosed, but I could have been – I decided to take control before cancer would diminish that control.

Door #3.

So now? What’s next?

I’ve met some others enrolled in the business academy – and we’re having our own Mastermind Meetings. I’ve called the first one. We’re meeting next week.

My book is ready for marketing – I’m just awaiting feedback and testimonials from a few key people. (But that means I have to learn how to market it! Yikes!)

My website is almost up and running – hopefully by mid-December.

I’m in the process of creating online programs for women in all three stages of breast surgery – pre-op, immediate post-op, and long(er)-term recovery.

Jesse and I are both learning with the business academy – some of it is common sense, and some is hard to wrap our brains around, especially the tech stuff! But we’ll get there.

And December is the month for my family to come see us: my parents and my children (except for Jen who is still in China!) and grandbaby who just celebrated her FIRST BIRTHDAY! Then finish 2015 and welcome 2016 with a gathering of our special peeps with a New Year’s Eve party.

The adventures are never ending in this One (Un)Expected Life!

Comments? Questions? Encouragement? Click on “send us a message” above, email us at cdlevair @ hotmail.com, or private message either of us through our FaceBook pages.

Thanks for reading!