Here’s to you, to us.


3 years… Time to make a difference.

September 3rd 2009 was the day that everything I thought I knew ceased to matter.  Everything changed for me that day.  I came home only to discover that my best friend had shot himself to death in the wee hours of the morning.

I miss him. Every. Single. Day. It’s normal for me, missing him is like breathing.  I’m so used to it now and the hurt hasn’t be completely erased but it is no longer the hellish nightmare that it once was.  Jason’s death however, was not in vain.  No matter how bad a situation, I try to take something positive away from it.


If anything to make it suck a little less.  I have learned that life is short.  Too damn short.  I stopped caring what people thought of me and started living life for me and me alone.  That’s why I am the way I am today.  It took something to rock me to the core of a soul that I never even knew that I had to wake me up.  I stopped taking things for granted.  I stopped taking people for granted.  I’ll admit it, I was one of those people.  I always thought that I had more time.  Don’t we all?

We always think we have more, I think in a way it’s a defense mechanism to offset the guilt.  Such as when we ditch our un-wanted animals in the alley.  We figure that they can fend for themselves.  Right?  Perhaps we drop them off at the local pound.  They’re super smart/cute/unique so they’ll get adopted fast! Right?


I will spare you the horror stories of how many cats I alone have seen in this area either dead or near death due to the carelessness of someone else.  I have assisted in the rehabilitation/rescuing/fostering and re-homing of several dogs and all of my animals have been rescues.  You’re likely wondering what NAYOP and animal rescues have to do with each other.

It’s quite simple actually.  Jason had the biggest heart out of anyone I had the privilege of knowing.  His kindness and generosity was something that always stood out to me and he would often donate to charities.  Jason also suffered from severe depression/bi-polar disorder and anxiety.  Jason was told that there was nothing they could do to save him.  Animals have been proven to have a calming effect on people who are suffering from some forms of mental illness and art has also be proven to be exceptional therapy.

When I lost Jason, my world fell apart.  I honestly and truly believed that I was going to die from a broken heart because it just hurt that bad.  It was because of someone else who was a part of my life at that time that I got in touch with my creative side and started painting.  I also started to focus on my photography more and Bandit, this amazing sweetheart of a dog from the SPCA stole my heart.

So I decided that this year on the anniversary of his death that I was going to do something a little different.  I am choosing to pay it forward using my art work, along with the donations of several other people’s work to assist the voiceless.  That being said (I’m) Not Afraid Of Your Pain (NAYOP) and Stuff by: Chef Steph will be sponsoring this event.

A special smug mug account has been set up.  You shop and smug mug does the rest!  The quality is exceptional and their customer service exceeds even my highest expectations!  Please share this album with your friends as it will only be around for a limited time!

Click here to check out the gallery and purchase prints!

The two rescues who will benefit from this for the month of September are: I am alive dog rescue and Bell’Anima rescue.  I am hoping that this is so successful that I can keep doing it (using different images) for different rescues across the globe.  There is so many and after doing countless hours of volunteer work, the costs are far more vast than one would think!

Along with the smug mug goodies, Chef Stephanie will be selling batches of her homemade dog biscuits!  Made out of 100% natural ingredients, they are fit for human consumption, a good source of protein and best of all: They’re made in Canada from start to finish!  Everything is locally sourced.  For more information on Chef Steph’s dog cookies please go to her facebook page for more information and how to buy.

Thank you all for your support!  It means a lot.


What about the others?

This is likely going to hit a nerve or five most likely.  It’s not my intention to do so, this however has been something that’s been riding on my mind for a while and I feel that it’s time I spoke up and said something.

I support and stand by anyone who has a suicide related cause, after all we’re all working towards the same goals.  This is not a competition, this is a fight for survival.  However it saddens me greatly that the media generally focuses on the younger LGBTQ community due to the rash of suicides that occurred (sadly) last year.  Now before you start sending in the hate mail, I have scores of friends who are members of the LGBTQ community and I absolutely adore them!  They add color to my life, inspire me and help me to learn about their plight(s) and in turn allow me the benefit of educating others.

That’s a beautiful thing. For that, I thank you!

However, what about the others? The friend who couldn’t cope with his broken heart and hung himself from a tree in his best friends yard only to have his best friend find him?  What about the friend that was suffering from bi-polar disorder, battling an addiction and just couldn’t cope anymore and took matters into his own hands by shooting himself in the wee hours of the morning? What about the guy I went to school with (both elementary and high school) who ended his life because his rights as a father were taken away?  What about the friend who felt that he couldn’t contribute to society and for whatever reason decided to end it one night after overdosing on barbiturates? What about the person I knew who jumped to his death because life had taken too many wrong turns?

Those are just examples of people that I know of personally.  They were all straight, white and male.  They all suffered in their own minds for reasons that I and others that knew them can only speculate upon and where’s the attention for them?

Bottom line is this: Yes bullying IS an issue, being different or LGBTQ can in fact be a struggle for some as well.  However it’s just not the bullied or the LGBTQ community who suffers.  We all do at some point in our lives and sometimes there comes a point where regular everyday people can’t take it anymore and take matters into their own hands and end it all.  Leaving their loved ones to wonder why.

They matter too.  Let’s not forget about them.


Beauty through the eye’s of a 6 year old.

So it’s early, I’m trolling the ‘net avoiding housework  looking for things for a project I have on the go at the moment.  Then I stumbled upon this on someone’s tumblr.

“This was written by a little 6 year old girl. I babysit her and her two sisters – Rebecca and Mia, and before they go to bed they all sit down and write little prayers to God.

This was the one that Hollie wrote last time, and it absolutely broke my heart. I mean, she’s six years old and she thinks she’s not beautiful. That’s not right. But she is beautiful, absolutely gorgeous. She’s got golden blonde hair, bright green eyes and a smile so beautiful that you melt a little inside when you see it.

When their mum got home, I showed her Hollie’s prayer, and she was devastated. She’s a nurse so she’s seen a lot of horrible things, but I have never seen her like that. And so I had to do something.

If you’re reading this, and if you have the slightest bit of a heart, please reblog this, so that I can prove to Hollie that she is beautiful, and that she is so special, and that God made her exactly the way she is because He knows that He made her perfect. Please give this beautiful little girl the confidence she deserves.”

Now I’m not re-blogging this on tumblr. because I don’t have an account and likely can’t be bothered to get one.  Nor do I think that re-blogging this will be beneficial to anyone, simply because true faith in yourself comes from within.  As I am fond of saying: “A million people in this world could believe in you and it doesn’t mean a damn thing until you believe in yourself.”   However this touched me on a different kind of level.  This child is 6.  SIX years old and is asking God to make her beautiful.  This reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend of mine a few years back when her young daughter asked her to go on a diet because some kid in kindergarten said she was fat.

Is this how fucked up our society has become?  I know scores of adults who have image issues, I think we all do to a certain point.  However it’s that much more disturbing when it’s coming from the mouth of a child.  Children are our future, children are supposed to be innocent and pure.  What kind of society are we that it has such a level of toxic image issues already on the horizon?

Something to think about.


It’s not going to turn out the way you thought…

*Re-posted with gracious permission from Kate   NAOYP has no direct affiliation with Kate or any of her subsidiaries or business.  Stephanie just felt this was a lovely, meaningful post worth sharing, please enjoy!  

It will happen later. His best friend will ask you out instead. You’ll be kissed in the movies instead of on a beach. You’ll end up going to a different school because the one you thought you’d get into didn’t work out.

She’ll move away. Someone else will move in next door. She’ll be a little weird at first, a little more shy, but ultimately really good at riding bikes and playing dolls.

That part you always wanted will go to that other girl instead. And you’ll rock it out in the chorus like your life depended on it. Because on some level it does.

The road you were going to take will be flooded and closed. The inn where you were going to stay will be under renovations. He’ll be taller than you thought. And have a funny accent. But will be a good kisser nonetheless.

You’ll get a flat tire on the way to that crucial meeting and end up peeing your pants laughing with the gas station attendant over a copy of Us Magazine. And someone else will fill in for you because they always do.

You won’t get that dream job like you thought you would. It will go to someone else with far less creative drive and vision than you. Someone far better suited for a cubicle than you.

You’ll be put in groups with people who put your panties in a wrinkle. You’ll sit next to someone on the plane who you’d never talk to except that they won’t shut up…and you’ll end up staying in touch for years and taking family vacations together.

Five years after you graduate life won’t look anything like you would have imagined. You’ll be single when you thought you’d be married. You’ll have kids when you thought you’d be in the Peace Corps. That trip to Laos will get delayed because you’ve got to stay home and take care of your grandmother. Laos will be there. You’re grandmother won’t always.

He’ll move over seas and oddly the Atlantic Ocean between you will bring you closer than you ever dreamed possible. You won’t get engaged, married, or pregnant when you thought.  You’ll miss the bus/train/plane/ferry that you thought you just HAD to be on.

You’ll fall off the turnip truck. You’ll jump on a different bandwagon than you intended.  You’ll get fired when you thought you ought to be getting hired.

You’ll realize you forgot the outfit you had planned to wear and that the shoes are all wrong now that you have a full-length mirror to see the whole outfit. Your shirt will be wrinkled and you’ll spill red wine on your white jeans.

Your dog will eat your five-year plan. You’ll drop your Blackberry in the toilet (at least once.) Your computer will crash and you’ll delete the first draft of your magnum opus. You’ll accidentally delete your hard drive and end up with a clean slate.

You’ll show up late to the date with the guy you were sure was going to fit into your husband suit and realize he’s less than graceful under stress and not so flexible. (Better to know now than later.)

When you thought you’d be baking pie and living behind your very own white picket fence you’ll find yourself doing something so entirely different you couldn’t have even imagined it a year before.  There will be moments when you’ll look around and not even recognize your own life…in a good way.

You’ll take a wrong turn and end up in an entirely different city than you intended. You’ll dial the wrong number and end up in love with an entirely different person than you intended.

You’ll flunk out and end up taking five years instead of four to graduate. You’ll have your heart broken when you were sure you were with the one and then meet the other one a month later. You’ll move to a new city to start a new business with those perfect new business partners and then it will all go to shit. And you’ll move across the country again only to realize that that’s where you belonged the whole time.

You’ll drive as far away from home as possible thinking that it will make you feel free. Then you’ll get homesick and drive back four months later because you suddenly feel trapped.

You’ll imagine the open road, country music playing loud, you signing at the top of your lungs, and flirting with a new man in every town. And then you’ll invite someone to come with you on a whim and realize driving around the country by yourself was a terrible idea anyway…and that its way more fun when you’re traveling with someone you love.

You won’t do it at the right time.

You’ll be late.

You’ll be early.

You’ll get re-routed.

You’ll get delayed.

You’ll change your mind.

You’ll change your heart.

It’s not going to turn out the way you thought it would.

It will be better.