Monday, April 5, 2021

Why do I want to be Mayor?

 So the question of the day lately for me is, "Why did you decide you wanted to run for the Mayor's seat?" And I thought I would sit down to write something out as a response. And it has been hard. First of all-I generally have not been doing much writing over the last few years. So I feel grossly out of practice, and secondly-it's a question that invokes so many feelings, and I did not want to come off sounding cheesy. 

I want to represent our region as the last few years of serving on council have actually been the most challenging of my life. And I love challenge, and I loved serving and getting to know the residents of our region more than any other job(besides being a mom) that I have ever taken on. On a personal note, our older boys moved out and on with their lives 3 years and two years ago-and after dedicating my life to raising my family I found myself with some extra time when I first got elected as a councillor. So I immersed myself in the role, while figuring out how to balance family and work as we still have our daughter, Shayleen at home(she's now 12). The more time I spent reading, preparing for meetings and listening to residents the more I felt that I had finally found something that challenged me and that I could do really well in my life. But it was only achievable because the residents elected me to the position.

So in the coming months, that will be my big ask-please trust me to elect me to be your mayor. And help me get elected. You can help in so many ways-by donating financially to my campaign, door knocking with me in your neighbourhood(once restrictions are lifted), share my posts on social media, take a sign when the time comes, or just share my contact information with anyone who may want to get to know me. Every single thing will help me. It's a huge region, and I know that I have a lot of work to do to gain the trust of the residents. I hope that my work ethic, my honesty and how approachable I have been in the last number of years will help convince people that I am worthy of the job. I would be proud to be your mayor-but I also want you to have someone that you will be proud of in the role as well. I have not brought my ego or any drama to my role as councillor, and I would do that same as mayor.

We have six months to do the work to convince people I would be a responsible choice at the polls. I need your help-so let's do this together. I will be looking for different ways to engage people as covid will certainly throw a wrench into what the campaign looks like, so watch for more blog posts and videos. Follow my new Murphy for Mayor facebook page, and thank you for those who have already committed your support to me-I am forever grateful. 

Monday, December 23, 2019

When did I start to hate Christmas?

Over the last few years I became someone I never thought was possible. I turned into someone who had come to hate Christmas. The pressure of buying just the perfect gift for everyone, the stress of how much said gifts cost, the baking, the shopping, the running around, I really dreaded the holidays. This year I could start to feel my anxiety creep up in early November. But this year instead of it allowing it, I started to analyze it. When and why had I started to hate it all? I wasn't always like this. I don't remember ever hating it through my younger years. And when the kids were small, I loved it. I loved decorating Christmas cookies, and the looks on their faces on Christmas morning when they discovered Santa had delivered their favourite gifts of the year.

I do remember the first year in Fort McMurray. I was so worried that we were not going to be doing what we had always done, and many of our family was back on the East Coast. I was so anxious about it all that I worked extra hard to make sure the kids enjoyed the Christmas break. I put a tremendous amount of stress on myself to have the perfectly wrapped gifts, a tonne of baking done and lots of friends over for skating, sledding and sleepovers.

This year I went all the way with my thoughts. I started thinking about the best Christmases I had over the years. And I made notes. And guess what? My thoughts did not include a "best present" or event. The best Christmases I had over the years were like the year I was able to go home from the hospital for a few days with my family and friends after having my bone marrow transplant. Or the year that we had an unexpected house full and I panicked because I didn't think I had enough food, and we ate cheese and crackers and had one of the best visits ever. And when I was younger, the best memories are of going to Midnight Mass with dad, and then visiting some neighbours, and him reading to me at the end of the nights while mom patiently waited so she could look after getting the gifts out for everyone. And of course, there was the Christmas of 15 years ago. That was the year my beloved Nanny was in the hospital dying of cancer. And even though we were all so sad we were losing her, she really got a last wish and had her entire family gathered and visited and she was able to watch our boys open their gifts that she had bought them in her hospital room on Christmas morning. She left us on New Year's Eve day morning. And I don't know how we all did it that year, but I do remember that it was just the way Nanny loved it...just everyone all together, with lots of food and love for everyone.

In the last few years my anxiety spilled over, especially to my immediate family. I would be snippy and cranky. Things would not be done properly, or good enough. The get togethers with friends were more sporadic. This year around December 5th I decided that I would not let it get the best of me this year. I try to be a good person and friend all year long, but would my friends really stop liking me if I didn't have the "ultimate" gift for them? And then a few more things happened.

Last Sunday Shayleen wrote her letter to Santa, and in it she said that the most important thing that she wanted this year was more time with mom. I have not mentioned this last year yet. But it truly has been one of the most stressful years I have ever had in my life. And for a few months I was in a very dark and depressing place. It truly was my friends who helped me through it all, along with Tim(I don't know why he continues to stick it out with me). I wasn't the mother, wife or friend that I really wanted to be for anyone. I felt like I continuously disappointed, week after week. I'm sure anyone who was not in my close inner circle did not realize, but I still feel that now that I am going into 2020 I have to make it up to those who stuck it out with me. So when I read that letter, it gutted me. The only thing that I wanted in life was a healthy, happy family. And now my daughter was just asking for time. Nothing else. And then my oldest, Mitchell,  came home last Sunday and we have been completely enjoying having him and our other son, Nathanial for suppers and evening visits. Eventually we had the conversation about what they really wanted for Christmas. And they both answered that they were so happy to be just be able to have my home cooking for the next two weeks. And just having them around is the best gift that I could ever receive. So now I'm just focused on giving my presence over giving presents.

The year that I was sick, I literally just wanted to be home with family and friends, and I don't remember one gift that I received that year. It's so easy to get lost in the "stuff" and the pressure to do it all, but this year I am going to give my family and friends the gift of not being distracted by work, and not being so anxious that I don't enjoy our get togethers. I'm not sure who will be here or not next year, so I am truly committed to just enjoy this Christmas with my family, parents, and friends as much as possible. I hope that you can all do the same. And keep reminding yourself that your real loved ones will love you no matter what is under the tree or on the table. And that the best gift you can give those same loved ones is your time, and undivided attention. Merry Christmas everyone! And only the best wishes of joy, love, and good health for 2020.

Thursday, May 23, 2019


I have opened this page 1000 times since January. And I haven't lingered long before closing it again. A few things happened that I will write about in the coming weeks, but long story short, I let other people's opinions/comments and negativity get to me. The final straw was after I started writing about my weight loss surgery I received several messages, some from people who I thought were friends, where I was told that I was completely full of myself for sharing the story and that I should stop immediately.

And I did.

I listened. And I quit.

But in the last few weeks, several other things have happened, and I'm back. In the end a few things happened that gave me the redirection, ie, kick in the arse that I needed. First, Shayleen went to the now annual girl day that they do here in Fort McMurray for the girls in grade 5. For several days after that, we had many conversations about what girls can do and how we think about ourselves.  I heard myself talking to her about making healthy food choices, working hard at school, loving her body and being kind to others. And then I had several nights in a row with older women, who ranged from their 20's-60+ where I could not help but think about how hard we are on ourselves as women. It made me sad. We criticize ourselves for our weight, our workload, our lack of work, how unorganized our houses are, how our kids are doing at sports, how our are kids are doing at school....all while trying to do the best we can do to get through every day no matter what is thrown at us. We deal with medical issues, depression, homework(christ I hate homework), our kids moving out, our marriages, our in-laws, our extended families, the deaths of loved ones, the frigging dog who keeps escaping, and feeding everyone. Our boobs are sore from nursing, saggy with age, any given week we need to lose weight while still are trying to make our butts bigger. We criticize ourselves the way that we would never criticize a friend. We hate our bat wings, the lack of time we have with our kids and we struggle with getting pregnant, losing babies, finding out we have cancer, and that our marriages isn't getting the work it deserves. So over the course of those few nights, I finally admitted to myself that life is complicated for all of us, and I once wrote about it all at one time. And I wrote about it because it felt good. I wrote about it, because when I was honest, people connected to that and reached out to me and shared their stories with me. I never told my stories before for any weird agenda or attention. Moving forward I want to start sharing again and not be so critical of myself. I am always open to criticism, but I need to write.

Here's the weird thing. Because I'm an elected official now, people have issue with me sharing my opinions. Which is kind of ironic because other people love that I'm real and approachable. So I will have to figure it all out as I move forward. But I also want to write about work some as well, especially to clear up misconceptions about issues when they come up. I will always be cautious of governance, but there are lots of things that I can address when rumours start flying about things that come up.

If you are on my social media, you know that I am quite wrapped up with everything that is related to Bills C-69 and 48. The week before last Mayor Scott, myself, Councillors LaLonde, Balsom, our CAO Annette Antoniak and some administration support went to Ottawa to meet with several MPs and Senators, along with a member of the Prime Minister's Office regarding Bill C-69. We went as part of The Coalition of Canadian Municipalities for Energy Action. A few of us were also able to meet very briefly with the Prime Minister. The Energy Senate committee came to Fort McMurray to hear from the residents of our region about three weeks ago. I will not mince words, if that Bill goes through without the suggested amendments, it will have very negative consequences for our region. While in Ottawa, we were also able to attend when Premier Jason Kenney presented to the Senate committee. I was proud of the work that we were able to do with the coalition. We literally hit the ground running and ran for two days. And I will continue to scream the Team Alberta message moving forward. I won't bore you with all the work details. But upon returning I heard many comments that "we flew off" to Ottawa on taxpayers money. So I have been dying to address that. I will always, as long as I sit as a councillor be conscious of every single nickel that is spent. No weather catchers on my watch, lol. And if you ever, ever wonder why I make certain decisions, just ask me. But I'm also hoping that I can use this forum to address such questions. The funniest part of those types of comments is the actual reality. We literally were so tired at the end of the first day of meetings that we ate chicken wings in our rooms. No fancy restaurant. It was a few girls with their feet up going over the agenda for the next day. And then I called my husband to tell him how the day went while we watched the end of a hockey game together. There are some cool things that you get to do as an elected official, but I will always put in the work and not take one second for granted. I remind myself every morning to get up and do the best I can for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and my family.

One last thought. I have heard other women's stories lately, and I often reply, "That's amazing, how did you do that?" or "You should tell that story." But I wasn't taking my own advice. So in the coming weeks, I will finish telling you how I have lost 148 pounds, and like the story of my bone marrow transplant, or when my husband, Tim was in a serious car accident when he was hit by a drunk driver, I will be as open and honest as I can. I hope you can take something away from the stories I share, but if not, I still feel better already for getting back to my writing.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Off to Mexico!

I decided that Tijuana was the spot for me for my weight loss surgery. It has become a medical tourism destination, with many weight loss and plastic surgery clinics and hospitals to pick from there. As I said, I researched for a year before booking my surgery. There are many facebook groups you can join if you are thinking of going through the procedure, and I even watched the surgery on Youtube. I ended up picking A Lighter Me because it was more hospital based, and many from Fort McMurray had gone there and to the Obesity Control Centre. 

Once my application was accepted, I had to fill out an extensive questionnaire so that my pre-surgery preparation could be put together. For the two weeks before the surgery, my diet was very strict, but I didn't find it hard to follow until the last couple of days. In the last few days they want your stomach pretty empty, so it's broth and things like popsicles and protein shakes. So that was a bit hard while still at home when you are cooking for everyone else. But I wanted to follow the doctor's orders to the finest detail so that nothing would go wrong, so that stayed in the back of my mind. 

On they day I was leaving home to travel to Mexico I was extremely nervous. As my family was giving me hugs and wishing me luck, my ever present comedian son, Nathanial hugged me and said, "Good luck mom. Don't wake up in a tub of ice with your kidney gone." And even though he joked, many had expressed the same sentiments to me. "Why Mexico? You are going to end up dead and alone down there," and "Aren't you terrified that something will go wrong?" Well...yes, and I don't need you fuelling the fire, just support me and my decision. Just a few days before leaving a gentleman from town reached out to me when he heard I was going. He had gone a few years before me, and encouraged me to ask him whatever questions I wanted of him. I had several friends who had gone, but this man was a tremendous support for me while I was down there, and when I returned home. Just before I went into surgery he was one of the people who texted me and said that he knew I would do great. His texts always seem to come at exact moments I could use some encouragement. 

On the Lighter Me facebook page, I had "met" a few others who were going down at the same time as me. I really connected with one woman from Arkansas, and when we arrived in San Diego staff from A Lighter Me picked us all up and took us to the clinic for some blood work and an ECG. Before we got to the clinic I knew that the woman from Arkansas, and her friend were going to be my best buddies on the trip. We had so much in common, and they pledged right away that since I was alone that they would check in on me and we would keep each other company. 

Once we finished the basic tests and were given a quick tour of the small hospital we were taken to the hotel to check in and do some paper work. The hotel had "hospital" floors, where the front desk was much like a nurses station on the floor, and after the surgery they were there to check in on us and help us change our bandages. I was the lucky one and would be the first one into surgery the next morning. I hated the thought of waiting any longer than necessary. I can't really remember that first evening, except that I fell asleep fairly early and then woke up at midnight and drove myself crazy with my racing thoughts for the rest of the night. Staff were downstairs waiting for all the morning patients at 5a.m. We were all nervous in the van, but also excited about the positive changes that we hoped were in our future. 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Some back story to the decision to have weight loss surgery.

It took me a full complete year of research before I decided to go for weight loss surgery. In the end, I went with vertical sleeve gastrectomy, or what is more commonly known as "getting sleeved". Funnily enough when I finally decided to tell my sister in law in a text, she thought I was going to get my arm covered in tattoos. It led to some funny texts before I figured out what she was thinking.

The plan was that my husband would travel with me when I went for the surgery two years ago, but as fate would have it, he had to have hip surgery about a month before I was to go to Tijuana, Mexico and he couldn't go. I didn't want to ask friends to take vacation time to go with me, so off I went all by myself. When I think back on it now, I don't know if I would do it alone again, but I can fill you in on it all as we go along.

In the year leading up to my decision my blood pressure was extremely high, and I was on medication. I went on an extra "water" pill and my pressure was still staying high. I was extremely low on energy, I hated going out where I had to dress up at all, and I was sick of dieting, losing a few pounds and then gaining it back. It felt like all I thought about was food, exercise and dieting. I constantly beat myself up for overeating, and would try to plan ahead when we went out to such an extreme that most times the fun was lost. I knew I had to do something, but I was absolutely terrified of surgery. Every time I have ever been put "under" I did not react well. My heart has stopped, I am sick to my stomach, I have a hard time waking up(every single time for this point), and I'm generally one of those foolish people caught on camera who are crying, laughing and not making any sense. I remember one time that I just was partially sedated for a procedure, and it took me two days to be able to walk around and make any sense. During those two days I would wake up crying, telling my husband, Tim, how much I loved him and I was sorry. I would fall back to sleep and even if I woke up 20 minutes later I would repeat the whole procedure. So thinking about all the horrific things that could happen to me in another country, alone no less, made me almost cancel the whole thing three times after I had decided to book it. But I didn't. And this week marks two years.

When I booked the surgery I was sitting at about 260 pounds. I say that as a guess. When I hit 250 pounds I literally hated checking my weight. I remember trying for a couple of weeks to lose some weight, and when I got back on the scale it said 252, so I stopped weighing myself. When I filled out the application, I put down 260, but it could have been a little higher, or a little lower. I never in a million years imagined my weight would get to that point. I can remember after my bone marrow transplant years ago that I promised that if I got better I would always look after my body, but as the years went by many hard situations, and stress had brought me to the point where I felt completely overwhelmed on how to get it back under control.

What was the final push for me? I really love my family doctors. I say doctors because in my whole life, I have only had four. Dr. Bernie MacLean brought me into this world, and was my doctor until I was 25 or so. Then I had Dr. Nicholson during my pregnancy with Mitchell. Dr. Pluta was my doctor when we lived in Mackdale, and for about the last 8 years I have had a wonderful doctor here in Fort McMurray by the name of Dr. McCombe. I have always been very particular about my doctors. I have to be comfortable with them, they have to be willing to answer all my questions, and they have to have my complete trust. So when I finally went to Dr. McCombe I was nervous. If had said it was a horrible idea, I would have put the idea out of my head and never thought of it again. But he was so supportive. He gave me research to read, and talked about the benefits of losing weight and keeping it off. Part of me had hoped he would convince me not to do it. Instead he gave me information and helped me prep, and told me what to expect afterwards.

Everyone is different, and the same is true for those who decide to go for weight loss surgery. We all have to prep differently, we choose different places to go, and we all have different results. In my next post I will start telling you about the actual trip and what the whole experience was like. For all my research and experience, I literally never once regretted the decision. I have been sitting between 125-129 pounds now for about 8 months, and I literally had 170 as my goal weight. You never know what you can accomplish until you put your mind to it.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Want to find out how I lost 140 pounds?

I probably am asked about my weight loss every day, and I have been saying I am going to write about it for over a year now. Over the last few days as I started thinking about sitting down to do this series of posts, I noticed I got anxious almost every time. So then I started really thinking about it. And you know what I came to? I haven't written about it because of a few reasons. First of all, I don't like "bragging". I think part of that comes from growing up in Cape Breton, you probably will never meet a group of people who downplay everything they do more so than Capers, lol. So talking about what I have done in the last two years to lose 140 pounds seems very much like bragging. But I also realized that I didn't want to write about it because I live in fear of gaining it all back. It's like my brain hasn't caught up yet. Some mornings I wake up and honestly expect the scale to jump up by 20 pounds. Over Christmas I gained 2 pounds, and during the first 5 days of the new year I lost it, but my first thought was's coming back.

It's no secret what kicked off the weight loss for me. I went to Mexico and was "sleeved". That was two years ago this month. In this series of posts I will tell you all about every detail, from how I made the decision, to what it was all like, and how it's not the "easy way" out for anyone who makes the decision to go. It was by far one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made. I researched the surgery for almost a full year before finally booking it all. And I researched the options of where to go for a couple of months as well.

What finally gave me the push I needed was the wild fire of 2016. After coming back to Fort McMurray after the evacuation, I felt like many things were out of my control, and I was extremely frustrated. I literally was lying in bed one night, and thought about how I could at least try to control my weight. That was something I could do. I was lucky that my husband, Tim fully supported my decision in every way, and that night I told him I was ready to finally go through the steps to see if I qualified for the surgery. Looking back now I wish I hadn't taken so long to decide, as it obviously was a good decision for me and my health. Over the next few days I will dive into and share my weight loss journey with you all. I hope it might inspire some of you as we go into this new year to take control of whatever challenge you want to take on in your life.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Sad but Happy.

In the next few days I am going to publish a series of blog posts about my weight loss journey. It's probably one of the top things that I am asked about. So buckle in, and if you have someone that is thinking about tackling the mountain that it can be, let them know, or share the posts when they go up with them. It really is a journey, and it's easier if we have support.

But tonight it's all about my family. The day after tomorrow our oldest leaves again, and we don't know when we will see him next. How is it that they can be six months one minute, and be 21 years old the next? I am trying to suck up every minute. I am literally that sucky creepy mom that went down and watched him sleep a couple of nights, curled up with him and cried on Christmas Eve....I'm sure he felt a bit smothered at times over the holidays. But he seems happy to be home, and actually wanted to come here, so I will always go with that.

About 9 years ago I wanted a raclette grill, and my parents gave us one for Christmas that year. Every year since we have done it up over the holidays, and tonight was the night to do it. Raclette is not something to be rushed, so it's a perfect way to hang out for a few hours and chat. Tomorrow night is beef wellington, and Friday I just might cry in a glass of wine. These last few months was the longest amount of time that I have gone without seeing one of my kids. In the coming months, I don't know when we will all be together again, and I feel lonely already.

For now, I will go enjoy the sleepover for the nine year olds, catch up with the rest that stayed in tonight to bond over Shark Tank, and try not to be miserable for them all as I block out how fast Friday is coming.