Why I Freakin’ Love RMH (A True Story about my life and my Toronto Trip)

am wearing her mask outside RMH

Get set. I have a lot to tell (and show!!!) you today.  A ton of pictures, for sure, including a Slideshare slideshow I created of all of the pics I took during my recent trip to Toronto, plus a bit about my mom, a bit about my sister, a lot about my niece, and a lot about my experiences at RMH. Mostly, they are all intertwined!

My Life the Last Few Months

Today I am going to reveal what’s been going on in my personal life the last few months, including why I have been a bit “absent” from my blog and my online activities (such as commenting). These events are also the reason why so many guest posts have been published on Wording Well lately… and why more are yet to come!

First of all, my mom had major surgery. More about that in a minute… including some pics that might gross you out. (Sorry!)

Secondly, I took a trip. But I didn’t go on vacation. Instead, I went to Toronto, to SickKids Hospital. While in Toronto, I stayed at a place called RMH, which is actually supposed to be called Ronald McDonald House Charities Toronto, as that is their proper name, but which I will simply call RMH, as it’s much easier!

(By the way, I freakin’ love RMH! Later on, I’ll tell you why!) Read More

Prostitution Paid More Than Teaching & I “Tell-All” in a Podcast Interview

Join_Up_Dots_interview

Did you know…

Prostitution used to be a way of life for me?

Not anymore.

Now I write, edit, and blog.

I also help others turn their e-books into print books.

And I provide advice to others through coaching.

But prostitution earned me more money than blogging. Or teaching.

Seriously.

However, now my days are structured differently.

And I love them.

We All Have Skeletons

You probably have a story about your past that you’re not proud of.

In fact, almost everyone does.

But… do you own it?

Do you tell others about it, or do you keep it hidden, praying no one ever finds out?

I’m Open and Honest… and Gutsy!

I’m probably the gutsiest person I know.

Who else do you know that openly admits to being raped, doing drugs, and getting involved in prostitution?

Likely, no one.

Just me.

I’m Proud of Who I Am

I finally learned to be proud of my past.

Why?

Because it has made me who I am today.

I “Tell-All” in a Podcast Interview

I was recently interviewed by David Ralph from Join Up Dots.

The podcast is now live.

In the podcast interview, I mention:

  • that I quit school four times
  • that I was raped
  • why I thought it was my fault (19:01)
  • that I sought counselling (19:27)
  • that I turned to drugs and prostitution
  • that I got pregnant twice and had one abortion
  • that I brought my rapist to court (23:33)
  • that I gave my son to my friend to foster for a yearv (29:51)
  • that I quit teaching to return to prostitution because the money was better (begins at 30:52, ends at 33:07)
  • how and why I lost contact with my son for three years (41:52)
  • how I nearly died
  • what my big turning point was (42:12 – 47:35)
  • that I re-connected with my son
  • how re-uniting with my son changed my life
  • why life is not always about money (52:50)
  • the biggest compliment my son ever gave me (52:01)
  • how I became an author and entrepreneur

… and so much more. I also recite something special at 103:53.

Have a listen to it.

Get to know me better.

Perhaps you’ll learn how to be more courageous in your life, too.

Leave David a Review?

Afterwards, if you can, please leave David a reveiw on iTunes.

How I Pass On My Message

I use my book, Risky Issues, to help pass on my motivational message. This book is now part of the Thunder Bay Public Library, AND it’s being sold in one of the local bookstores!

BUY Risky Issues from Amazon or CreateSpace.

Me and My book

 

Share Your Skeletons

I’d love to know if you have the guts to share some of the skeletons in your closet.

Do so in the comments! I won’t judge you. I promise.

Baby Sammi, Now 3, Needs to Have Her Bad Eye Removed

Samantha_at_SickKids_Hospital

Samantha MacLaurin (AKA Sam or Sammi), aged 3, was born with cancer in her eyes. This rare form of cancer, called retinoblastoma, is hereditary. Her father has it, and has had one of his eyes removed, too.

Sammi is my niece and I’ve blogged about her before.

She was the youngest participant in the 2013 Relay for Life walk, and had the honour of kicking off this relay with her big brother, Alistair, her father, Charlie, her mother, Janice, and the wife of the the Thunder Bay mayor. She was the youngest participant, and is the youngest cancer survivor (to date) in Thunder Bay! She remained the youngest participant in the 2014 Relay, too.

Sam waving

Not at the relay, but cute pic of Sam as a baby, when she first learned how to wave!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITBSMvjnJa4&w=560&h=315]

A Diagnosis = Bad News

Sammi is currently at the SickKids hospital in Toronto. She’s been there since last Tuesday, when she went for her regular check-up. She’s been cancer-free for the past year, so our family expected her to be okay this time, which is why we were so shocked when we learned that she has a mass (a tumour) growing behind her bad eye. (She has had cancer in both eyes, but one eye is better than the other. We refer to her right eye as her “bad” eye.)

We were devastated to learn that her bad eye has to be removed, too.

Sammi also needs 6 rounds of chemotherapy. The poor kid. Each round will occur three weeks after the previous one. Then they will be harvesting her bone marrow, too.

To prepare her for treatment, Sammi had to have another port put into her chest. She had one put in her when she was a baby, but had it removed in 2014. She had surgery for this the other day, and was not allowed to eat until after her operation. My sister said Sam kept saying “Hungry, hungry!” all day.

Below is a the picture my sister took when she was FINALLY able to eat.

Samantha_at_SickKids_Hospital_eating

Tests and Treatment

Sammi also needs to have another MRI (she had one on her head ONLY last week) and a bunch of other tests, because the doctors are still unsure of the exact location of the mass. The tumor might be in the eye socket or in the optic nerve. What they do know, however, is that it is NOT in her brain. Her next MRI will be a full body one, and is scheduled for this Friday.

The plan, according to her doctors, is to remove her eye after the second round of chemo.

Sammi also needs to remain in Toronto for three to six months, which presents complications because someone also needs to care for Ali, Sammi’s six-year-old brother, particularly when Charlie is at work.

So far, with the help of his paternal grandpa, his maternal grandma, and his auntie (me), Ali has been okay, but he’s missing his little sister and his mom.

Charlie also goes to Toronto once a month for appointments. He is leaving later today for his next one, meaning Ali and I will be staying at my parents’ place until Charlie returns.

Sam’s first round of chemo will be given later today, too.

Sam’s a Fighter

Sam is fighter, and I’m sure she’ll be fine, in time — well, as fine as she can be.

Hopefully the chemo won’t make her too sick, and hopefully there will be no infection when she has her eye removed.

Living in Toronto for 3-6 months

My sister and Sammi will have to remain in Toronto for several months while Sam is treated.

It’s still unsure when Ali will be joining them.

Fortunately, accommodations are being made for them to stay at the Ronald McDonald house. Apparently they will be permitted to stay there for up to a year. This option is much cheaper than staying at a hotel, or even renting an apartment.

Many of the costs are covered through government funding.

However, if you want to make a donation to their family, you can. You can use the button below, and donate through either a credit card or PayPal. I’ll make sure all monies go directly to my sister.

Janice did not want me to ask for any donations for her family. Instead, she’d prefer that any donations be made to cancer research, which can be done through Sammi’s Relay for Life cancer fundraiser page. (Click the Donate to Samantha link to be brought to the donation page.)

Sam’s team is called Agony of DeFeet. At the end of this post is a picture of their team banner.

Cancer Research Works

The Canadian Cancer Society has funded Dr. Chan’s (one Sam’s former doctor’s) retinoblastoma research. Dr. Chan has discovered that Cyclosporin-A, when given with Carboplatin Vincristine and Etoposide, decreases chemo resistance in RB1 tumours. Basically this means that Sammi’s tumour has a better chance of being killed.

Dr. Chan and Dr. Gallie are the top two RB specialists in the world. Dr. Chan retired in January 2015, so Dr. Gallie is Sammi’s main doctor now, and she is, in Janice’s words, “AMAZING.” She treated Charlie, too, and goes well beyond the call of duty for her patients.

Dr. Chan’s work proves that monies allocated for cancer research are well-spent.

You can see more pictures and videos by visiting Sam on Facebook via her mom’s page.

How You Can Help Sammi

Go_for_gold_Samantha

Donate directly to Sammi and her family by clicking the button below.

Donate to Sammi’s cancer fundraising page by clicking this link. (Click the Donate to Samantha link to be brought to the donation page.)


And please say a prayer for Sam.

Thank you.

Some Old Relay for Life Pics:

Sam finished her lap!

Sam finished her lap!

Sam's team banner

Sam’s team banner

Jan and Relay Captain Candace

(At another cancer fundraiser. Notice Candace’s sweatshirt! Janice is holding a picture of Michael Antcliffe, who died of Cancer after writing his book, Hope is My Wingman.)

Jan and Candace

Some Newer Pics, of Sam and Ali

Ali

 

Ali 1

Sam tower 2014

Sam dec 2014

Sam and Ali

Help Sammi

Go_for_gold_Samantha

Donate directly to Sammi and her family by clicking the button below.

Donate to Sammi’s cancer fundraising page by clicking this link. (Click the Donate to Samantha link to be brought to the donation page.)


Finally! A Diagnosis I Can Live With!

Me at Starbucks

Today’s post is a personal one, similar to the True Tales Tuesdays posts I used to write.

I’m writing it for a few reasons, the main one being to let you know that I’ve FINALLY been diagnosed!

You see, the last few months, I kinda knew that something was wrong with me. I have been really tired, for no apparent reason. I even lost interest in blogging, although I’ve been publishing at least one post per week since 2014 and two posts per week the year before that.

I also have been publishing posts a few times a month on my author site, Laying It Out There.

Not to mention, I’ve been busy writing and editing for clients, doing website work on both my site as well as another client’s site, and working on landing a HUGE ghostwriting project.

I’ve also been doing a bit in the way of guest posting, and have participated in a few podcasts (and have a few more lined up). In fact, one is a live show/interview with Barbara Ehrentreu that is going to be broadcasted on Blog Talk Radio on May 23rd, 2015, at 4 PM EST, and another is a Q & A with David Ralph that will be available on May 29th, 2015, on Join Up Dots. I’m scheduled to record another podcast, too, on June 2nd, 2015, with Drs. Rob and Janelle on Authors Talk About It, although I don’t know yet when that podcast will be available.

While you might think that all of these things, combined, is enough to cause me to be tired, you are wrong. I’m normally a very productive individual!

However, I’ve not been spending much time on my laptop lately, due to a funk I was in.

The good news is that I have a REAL reason for feeling the way I have been.

I’m not as healthy as I should be.

In fact, I’ve been dealing with a few different health issues for the past year.

Now, I have to warn you that you might want to skip the first section of this post, as I get REALLY personal with my health issues. I would like for you to read about My Second Health Issue, however, and continue reading from there.

If you’re always tired, you might have the same problem as I do, and don’t know it! Read More

How to Ask for a Raise (and Get One!) from your #Freelancing Client

Image of a dollar sign

Good freelancers know their worth, but new freelancers are often uncomfortable asking for a raise, even if they know in their hearts that they deserve it.

Asking for a raise can be intimidating for a lot of people. (Heck, setting your own rates is tough, too!)

Today, I’m going to try to make things more comfortable for you.

By the end of this post, you’ll have the confidence to ask for the raise you deserve!

You’ll also gain a bit of insight into the negotiation process through a specific experience I had with one of my clients.

Give Valid Reasons for Your Request

For those of you who have been following my blog for a while, you’ll probably remember that I used to guest blog monthly on a site called Dear Blogger, owned by Greg Narayan.

I took Greg on as a client back in 2013, when I first began freelancing, and performed three different services for him: writing monthly blog posts of my own, editing some of his blog posts, and sharing Dear Blogger posts on Twitter on a regular basis.

I was paid for each of these services, too.

After six months of writing fabulous posts for him (which were, naturally, edited to perfection!), I decided that the rate of $50 USD simply wasn’t enough anymore, and so I wanted to up my rate to $75 USD.

(If you take a look at the post I wrote for Dear Blogger called Guest-Posting and Guest-Hosting: Best Practices, you’ll not only be witness to some stellar writing but you’ll see that this post is priceless! The tips offered in that post are evergreen, too, which further proves that I definitely was not charging enough!)

Anyway, about three weeks prior to this decision, I had also decided to increase my editing rates. I gave Greg one month’s notice regarding this change, and I also posted a notice of the upcoming increase on my Services page.

When I sent Greg my “bill” for May 2014, I wrote the following email to inform him of the change I was making: Read More