Finding the Gifts in Juvenile Arthritis


Juvenile Arthritis is a pain in the ass joints. My son CJ was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis when he was 9 years old. The diagnosis took my husband and I by surprise though it shouldn’t have…Arthritis is a prominent disease in both our families. The thing is, when we think of Arthritis we tend to think of it as exclusive to adults. People don’t talk much about Arthritis affecting our children. CJ complained a lot about pain. Mostly when he was asked to do something like take out the garbage (!!) We thought he suffered from a case of laziness. But it was natural for him  to complain only when he was asked to do something…when his joints caused him discomfort, he would sit down with his legs up and watch TV or play video games to give his legs a rest. Otherwise he was out climbing trees, riding his bike, jumping on the trampoline, or getting his chores done. The Doctors believe the pain had probably been there since birth, so the pain he felt was “normal” for him.  He never questioned it. He knew that when he was sore, he was tired and it helped to rest and so that’s exactly what he did, naturally. We only ever really needed to ask him to do something when he was ‘having a lazy day’ on the couch.

CJ had been training in Taekwondo since he was 7 years old – 2 years before his diagnosis. He loved it. He was determined that one day he would earn his Black Belt. Although the Arthritis did rear it’s ugly head a few times during practices and he missed his first tournament due to a flare up, he didn’t allow it to slow him down. He learned the true meaning of perseverance, and indomitable spirit.

CJ had always been thoughtful and compassionate of people and animals. Suffering the pain of Arthritis as the flare ups worsened actually made him even more so. He was driven and moved to “help people who couldn’t move their arms or their legs”. When we came across the Walk To Fight Arthritis, he was so determined to help that he took off down the road knocking on doors trying to raise funds. He ended up doing much more than that!

As people opened their doors to him, he shared with them his story which prompted many to share theirs as well. I will never forget the excitement in his voice as he threw open the door saying “Mom! I met more people who have Arthritis! I didn’t meet anyone my age with it, but lots of old people! And I raised a lot of money! Someone even gave me $20!” He raised $1800 that year and he only had 9 days to do it. People were so generous and CJ found a sense of connection with others in sharing his story.

Every year CJ sets a goal to beat last years donations. Last year he achieved that goal. CJ also sets a goal to keep moving toward his Black Belt.

In December 2013, CJ tested for his Black Belt. Part of the testing was to write an essay of his choosing. CJ’s wrote about Taekwondo and Arthritis. He wrote about the obstacles and the challenges he faced on his journey to becoming a Black Belt. He also wrote about the gifts that he has found in Arthritis – He knows who his true friends are. He has become more compassionate and caring toward others. He feels a sense of accomplishment contributing in the community. He has learned that by being himself and sharing his story, he has achieved what many adults do not; authenticity. He has learned to live by the tenets of Taekwondo in every day life; Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-Control, and Indomitable Spirit.

On September 15th 2013, CJ was presented with The Ontario Youth Award for his efforts with The Arthritis Society. This is the first time this prestigious award has been presented to someone in the Ottawa area. On December 7th 2013, CJ earned his Black Belt and although it is considered a great honor to be tested by a Master in Taekwondo, the Master singled CJ out telling him the honor was HIS to have been a part of CJ’s journey in Taekwondo because he emanates the essence of Taekwondo in the Dojan as well as out in the community.

When life presents you with a challenge, learn from it, find the gift in it, and kick it’s  joint ass 🙂

If you are interested in helping CJ reach this years goal please visit his donation page here


Living Your Best Life – Part 3

If you are waiting for your ideal life to materialize, it’s time that you realize your life is waiting for you!

Here’s where change happens! This week we are going to take the first step to living life on your terms.

What are you hoping to take from the “Living Your Best Life” series? My best life starts with you…I love blogging, I love putting together the videos. My passion is helping you discover yours. My reward is sharing in your journey so please keep in touch. I would love to hear from you 🙂

Embrace your awesomeness!!

Living Your Best Life – Part 2

We’ve finally fully completed and uploaded Part 2 of Living Your Best Life! I hope you are as excited about this little adventure as we are 🙂

“Living Your Best Life” doesn’t have to feel like some grand gesture or mission impossible. It’s simply about living every day on purpose – making each day significant. Sometimes even putting it that way can sound a little daunting. Fortunately, it doesn’t need to be.

Through a series of videos, I would like to take this journey with you – from surviving each day to fully enjoying each day, going from content to being genuinely happy.

“Life’s Journey is surely not to arrive safely at the grave in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways totally worn out shouting WooHoo! What a ride!”

Here’s to making every day count! Please keep in touch, if something in these videos has struck a cord with you or you notice changes in your life as you take this journey with us, we want to hear about it!

Embrace Your Awesome Self 🙂

Keep Calm and Stop The Nonsense

stopBullying has become a hot topic among youth. Everyone’s talking about it, every child has experienced it in one form or another. If they haven’t bullied or been bullied, they’ve certainly witnessed it. As adults we jump to protect our children. We are all over the schools about dealing with any bullying problem our children may experience. But what about Adult Bullying? Why haven’t we talked about that? How come we have yet to open that can of worms? Haven’t we all experienced it in one form or another? I, myself, have experienced the wrath of another; manipulating, lying to be hurtful, the ridiculous rumors. The only thing harder than going through it myself is watching someone I love being treated that way.  I have witnessed marital bullying, workplace bullying, even parental bullying. It’s an issue worthy of discussion.

I’m not a fan of conflict, I run at the first sign of confrontation or aggression. I can’t stand people not getting along. One day, I will share my whole story however, I’m not going to get into my personal experience at this time out of respect for HER privacy – go figure! What I will share is what I’ve learned along this long and bumpy road in the hopes that those of you out there who find yourselves in a similar situation may find some shred of peace or understanding.

How it started and why it started are answers I am all too familiar with. Sometimes I wonder if it wouldn’t have been better to walk away and never look back. Unfortunately, I’m too stubborn to give up that easily. Walking away to escape her wrath would have meant walking out on 2 people in my life I love dearly and that wasn’t going to happen. I am as determined as I am stubborn and I was determined to find resolution.

In the beginning I was patient. I honestly believed it would eventually just die off. It didn’t. Throughout the years, it only went briefly into remission every now and again, it never stopped completely. If it wasn’t me being put through the ringer, someone I loved usually was. I sought answers in books, with counselors, through prayer, and in spirituality. I even traveled to study with spiritual leaders hoping someone, somewhere would have an answer. Somebody, somewhere would teach me whatever I needed to know or provide me with whatever healing I needed to take back control over my world. Somebody, somewhere would know the secret to living a peaceful life where madness didn’t exist.  I just needed to find that someone.

What I learned was that the healing had to come from me. I first learned to love myself exactly as I am, all my faults, failures, qualities, and shortcomings. I learned to find the gift in difficult situations and find the light in those who projected darkness. I learned to forgive – turns out there is a ton of helpful information out there about forgiving people in your past, but not so much on forgiving people in your present – that one I had to figure out for myself. What I learned about forgiveness is that forgiveness doesn’t mean to forget. It means to learn from the experience to better be prepared for the future. I learned of the importance of setting and sticking to boundaries. I learned to accept what is. I learned not to waste energy trying to figure out how to change things/people you can’t change. I even learned to send loving thoughts her way (which I do every day), some days are harder than others. I’m not going to lie. Some days sending that love is simply saying “Thanks for experience. I’m a better person for it.”

It’s taken me almost 2 decades to learn the lessons I have, 2 decades of hard core seeking. I was so determined to make that destructive relationship work that I put more time and attention into it than I did any other relationship in my life. Including my relationships with my husband and my children. I wouldn’t advise anyone to do the same.

I was fortunate enough to learn and grow through the experience, some people don’t. What about children who are repeatedly told by one parent they are not loved and cared for by their other parent? How hurtful is that? How is that hurt undone? Is that hurt ever truly reversible? What about the significant other who habitually tells their partner they are unworthy of respect? Is that ever truly reversible? How about the adult siblings who consistently go out of their way to make another sibling feel like they don’t count for anything? Reversible? Adult children who make their parents feel that no one cares? Reversible?  How often do people need to be told they are unworthy of love and respect before they start to believe it themselves? Newsflash! As human beings we are hard enough on ourselves. We don’t need any help from anybody else to feel crappy every now and then.

One of the things I learned that usually helps to ground me when things get particularly bad is the knowledge that how people treat others is a direct reflection of how they feel inside. It is not possible for someone to continually make others feel bad unless they feel horrible inside themselves. If someone is repeatedly trying to make you feel worthless, they surely feel truly worthless themselves.

Bullying doesn’t only come pint sized. This is a subject that needs to be addressed, discussed, and squashed.

My Child is My Hero – His Journey With An Invisible Disease

cjI can’t tell you how much it hurts my heart when people judge what they clearly know nothing about. As many of you know, my son CJ was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis two years ago when he was only 9 years old. The journey with this disease hasn’t been easy, especially for CJ.

CJ is an active kid. He loves to run around, ride his bike, and push his limits every chance he gets. The kid’s a spitfire. He just doesn’t stop. When he first started complaining about pain, we didn’t take him seriously. “I can’t take out the garbage, my feet are too sore”, “I don’t want to go to school, my legs are sore”. When it came to “I don’t think I can go to Taekwondo tonight, my wrists are really sore” we started to wonder what was going on. I’m ashamed to admit “Oh CJ, you’re fine once you get there, suck it up and let’s get going” came out of my mouth more than once. He never complained when I said it, he showed up every time. I often wonder if there are other children and parents who go through the same thing without a single thought that something more serious than ‘laziness’ might be going on.

CJ’s likely had Arthritis his whole life, he’s just learned to live with the pain as ‘normal’. When he shows up and gives his 100% at school, in sports, and on outings, he does so in spite of the pain. As he says “my body might be hurting but I’d rather that than miss out on the fun”. Each day is different. Sometimes the pain is barely there, sometimes his joints just don’t work so well, and sometimes the pain is severe. When he has a flare up (as long as it’s not too severe), it will usually only last a few hours if he stays off his feet, doesn’t use his wrist or whatever joint is causing pain that day. Using his crutches helps with a speedier recovery. He won’t use his crutches anymore though. He suffers through the pain, even if it’s worsened and prolonged because he doesn’t get treated the same when he uses them. People aren’t so nice when he’s got his crutches. They aren’t so nice when he complains of pain. Arthritis is invisible and is therefore often misunderstood. The judgements just don’t come from the kids in school, a great many come from the adults in his life as well. “Big faker” gets tossed around a lot. “Milking it” does too. “He’s smiling, he’s fine” they say. “He only uses his crutches for a bit then leaves them behind to run with his friends and grab them again” Yes, that is exactly what he does. He uses the crutches to alleviate the pain and allow his joints to heal. When he sees his friends playing it hurts more to miss out on the fun. He plays through the pain knowing full well he will pay for it later. They call it faking. I call it perseverance and determination.

Imagine being 10 years old unable to get out of bed in the morning to go to the washroom, having to rely on your mom to carry you around. Imagine being the Mom who sees her sons tears knowing that this day, he will be too tired and too sore to move at all. Knowing that no matter she does this day, there is nothing she can do to relieve his pain. The Arthritis is not limited to CJ’s ankles, and wrists. He has Arthritis in his spine, his hips, even his jaw. Will it continue to get worse? What does his future hold? Will it ever be cured? Will he grow out of it? There just isn’t enough research available to answer the questions that rest in our minds all the time.

The Arthritis Society has given CJ the opportunity to be part of an elite group when he feels left out from the rest of the world. Since CJ’s diagnosis, he has raised over $5000 for the organization that gave him back his confidence and self-worth. This year, our family will be hosting a fundraiser to help raise funds for this exceptional organization and in an effort to get kids taking about this disease, we will be contacting schools in the area to see if they would be interested in putting a basket together to raffle off on our big day.

If you’d like to help CJ reach his goal this year, please share his story with others and visit his donation page.

Butt Jiggles to Vemma – Journey to Health


Inspired by Louise Voisin’s journey and disappointed with my own deteriorating health, I decided it was time for change. High anxiety, TMJ, headaches, chest pains, irregular heart beats, exhaustion, laziness, foggy thinking, it all had to go. I knew my body was shutting down on me and if I didn’t make necessary changes, there was no doubt in my mind I was headed for a breakdown. My kids deserve the best of me and they were being severely short changed.

Not having a clue as to where to start, I sought out the help of a Wellness professional. Knowing in your heart that your body is in trouble is one thing, hearing it out loud and seeing it on paper is a whole other experience. My pancreas, my kidneys, my digestive system, and my heart are only a few of the organs that aren’t doing so well. The supplements that I require are numerous. I’m not taking 6-8 here, I’m talking a dozen or so. A complete overhaul. Overwhelm. Despair. There’s no way I could afford to “fix” this and yet how can I afford not to?

After grieving over the body I took for granted for so long, I set out on a quest to find something that worked for me. It had to be simple, easy, tasty, and affordable. All musts. Determined. I was on a mission. If not for me, for my kids’ mother.

I came across a company called Vemma. Vemma has been featured in Esquire, Ms Fitness, and Men’s Health magazines. It’s been featured on both Dr. Oz and Dr. Phil. Their new Bod•ē program was designed with TV celebrity transformation specialists Chris and Heidi Powell. How could I not try it?

I’ve been on the Bod•ē program for a week now and I absolutely love it. My energy is increased, I’m more productive, more alert and aware, I sleep well at night. I feel great! I’ve even lost 3 lbs. and truth be told I haven’t even exercised yet! My daughter has noticed such a change, she’s started on the shakes too. She says “Mom, you’re glowing! Even your skin looks better!”

True story – My kids made up this “fun” game where they playfully kick, knee, or box my bum and giggle. Yesterday as they began their little game I hear “awww….it doesn’t jiggle like it used to. That’s no fun!” My heart sang! Oh, sweet victory!

We’ve already placed an order for Vemma’s Next juice to super charge the kids immune systems. In fact, I’m so passionate about the transformation it’s already made in my life, and I’m so utterly impressed with the company itself that I’ve decided to join the company as a Brand Partner.

As passionate as I am about helping people live their best lives, Vemma is a perfect fit! As far as I’m concerned, of all the truly awesome transformational courses and workshops I’ve done, this is by far the biggest transformation I’ve undergone. This is a lifestyle change…a total overall wellness makeover.

Feeling genuinely great is addictive, even more so than chocolate! I look forward to my shake every morning, it tastes so good, it was easy to commit to the program…even for me!

If you’re looking for a health makeover of your own, I would love to be part of your transformation. For more information on Vemma products click here and feel free to contact me directly anytime.

Here’s to an even better us!

Embrace Our Health!

Embrace Your Awesomeness!

Pamela Tourigny

Vegan / health-focused business & lifestyle expert

Living Green. Bean Vegan.


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