MY STORY

Thank you for stopping by to read my story and learn more about me.

I want to share my values; they are at the core center of who I am.  They define what I stand for; create community, always be curious, lead with integrity, be dependable, open heart with mindfulness, accountability always, share knowledge.

My vision is to create purpose and changes lives through the power of mindful storytelling.  Why?  Because I live to teach, motivate and inspire people every day, it fills my cup.  And now, here’s more of my story…

I was born and have always lived in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I love this city.

I was adopted at 12 weeks but I used to think it was 3. In late 2019 my story of my adoption changed when I was given my adoption papers for the first time. I knew nothing about my birth parents before that moment. It turns out they were just young and couldn’t figure things out as a couple. I’ve never been curious about them. I can’t answer why. It was more fulfilling for me to discover my heritage. I am Russian, Scottish and Italian…I think this strangely explains a lot that I have been curious about over the years.

In my younger years my biological parents were super loving, caring, giving people. I grew up, in what many would describe as the “All American Family”. It’s not that it came easy to my parents. They worked very hard for the middle-upper class life I grew up accustomed to. In fact, their story in the beginning is one of courage, strength, discovery, and true love. Life for them was not easy.

“You’re braver than you believe and stronger and smarter than you think.”
Winnie the Pooh

Both of my parents were born in Montreal to immigrant German, Jewish families. My father is from Snowdon, which he fondly refers to as the “other side” of the tracks and my mom grew up in the wealthy neighbourhood of Westmount. They met circumstantially on the t-bar of a ski hill in The Laurentian mountains. My mom was a really good looking lady so of course my dad could only be swept off his feet from the moment he saw her. My father was a true romantic so courting her came naturally. They were married in 1967. It was a complicated year for them both.

After they were engaged, life changed. My mom was hospitalized and almost died. She developed a giant blood clot, the size of a tennis ball in her lungs. She remained in the hospital for many months and was diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis, a rare form of a blood clotting disorder that altered her path completely. She stared it down bravely and changed her life to focus on giving back. She set a course of purpose entirely different than what she had intended and for that I am forever grateful. I spent my life watching her in awe.

My father never once left my mom’s side. While he had come from a difficult home life, he had learned to work hard, harder than most, and he ultimately became CFO of Canadian Tire. He was always a path paver. He always worked tirelessly but ALWAYS made time for us. He made it seem easy. I know it wasn’t. But I know that watching both of them I just knew that I felt they were going to be hard to match.

“I still don’t know what it really means to grow up. However, if I happen to meet you, one day in the future, by then, I want to become someone you can be proud to know.”
Makoto Shinkai

I wasn’t an easy child. I struggled growing up. I was always pushing boundaries. Always teeter-tottering on the fringes.
In grade 1 I experienced bullying first hand, some girls decided to form a “Hate Jennifer” club.

I had no idea what it really meant but I knew how I felt – SAD, CONFUSED. How it made me feel always stuck with me. The loudness of the hate and how mean kids can be impacted me more than I was willing to face for many years.

I was so lucky to have the opportunity to explore and build a love for many things like dance, horseback riding, and of course just having fun.

“We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.”
Max De Pree

As I became a teen I was consumed with angst, wonderment and adventure. My life seemed “normal” until it wasn’t anymore.

I started to have seizures at the age of 14. It was a peculiar time for me. I had no clue what was going on. I was scared but I tried to be brave. All of my friends were growing up; experimenting, rebelling, and trying new things. I was going to doctors, therapists, and living with my mom sleeping in my room at night. I was consumed by fear, confusion, anxiety and shame. All I wanted was someone to tell me I would never have another seizure again but of course they couldn’t. I felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone around me so I just pushed it deeper and deeper down inside me, until it reached my big toe. There was nowhere else for it go.

At the same time I was being put on medications. It was like a sick experiment, at least that’s how it felt to me. I would try one, the side effects would terrible so they would say “you have to come off slowly, wait and we will try another one”. This went on for years. I put on 65lbs before I left for university, I lost short memory capacity and was having problems processing information, and I just wasn’t feeling like myself. As I was heading off to university I had no idea who I was…
I felt broken, nervous, and afraid.

“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.”
Henry David Thoreau

I spent most of my university years trying to get by. I was smoking a pack a day and partying with my friends. University felt like a time in my life when I was floating. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be so I came home and just started to work.

AND THEN I BROKE… literally. I cracked my ribs and was forced to be confined to my bed for months. It was devastating. I couldn’t walk, drive, go to work, and socialize. The experience was traumatic but it gave me this need to never want to feel helpless again. I started to realize that in order to get there I would have to make changes. It was up to me; No one was going to do the heavy lifting. Things hadn’t been great at work before I broke my ribs. I was having problems with my boss. I was a victim of corporate workplace bullying. The methodical pain was hard to deal with but wait; We aren’t supposed to talk about that out loud are we??? It’s not important the details, what’s important is I made the decision to change my future. When I finally went back to work I quit my job, I quit smoking, I finished my thesis, I trained for a marathon, and I started my journey to my healthier self.

“You can always time distance, never tempt fate.”
Finley Quaye

In 2007, I met my husband and my life changed again. He proposed 24 hours after we met.

3 months later we were married, committed, purposeful, and full of love. This was an exciting layer to my life but I didn’t have my purpose yet. It was fascinating to watch my husband fulfill his purpose during this year… His was so clear to him. He knew the difficulties of the industry he chose to be involved with but he was pushing through the challenges and making headway on his dreams. Watching this determination was frustrating, fascinating, and inspiring. I was hoping to get there some day…

We incorporated our first business together, following my husband’s dream, and Admit One Productions was officially born. I knew what I liked, I definitely knew what I didn’t like, but I was really struggling with my identity. My 30’s were a big turning point in my life…

Courtney became not only my partner but also my teacher. We are both ALL IN. He challenges me every day and ultimately led me to dig deep and discover my passions and purpose.

“Once you know that big “why” of your life, you can go on to create such positive changes in your world that the deep relief in your heart can only be called joy.”
Nancy Trites Botkin

I progressed up the corporate ladder always learning, being challenged, and growing.

I was working with some of the biggest brands and companies in the world; Marvel, Fox, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, WalMart, M&M Food Markets, Giant Tiger,…the list was long and getting longer. I was helping these companies build, transform, evolve, and grow.

But I had an inner friction, I really wanted to do something different but I was having a hard time figuring out what.

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
Maya Angelou

I decided I wanted to leave the Corporate world in 2015 and I became a Consultant. I started my own business, took classes, studied new practices, and got my coaching certification. It was exciting and scary all rolled into one. What came out of this wealth of knowledge and practice was Double J Lifestyle…It was the start of my journey to fulfilling my purpose.

The next 5 years I kept getting pulled back into these big corporate contracts. One would end, I would have a few months off to get my bearings, and another would begin. I felt like I was on a hamster wheel. I was still climbing, building, growing but I knew I wanted to repurpose my skills and values.

In the background of these great corporate opportunities, I kept working on my purpose. It was like a lightbulb just went off… It was clear and I felt confident with this choice. It fulfilled me…

My vision now is:
~creating purpose and changing lives through the power of mindful storytelling~

And then it happened, the pandemic, life turned upside down for a moment.  So much loss… in those times of uncertainty Courtney and I adapt, shift, and thrive. We created The Art of Mindful Storytelling and life began to shift once again.

“Change is like the deep dark waters of the ocean, sometimes bottomless and unclear, but I know from experience that if you commit to yourself and working through it, you are guaranteed to clear the murky waters.”
Jennifer James