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Learning to Love Yourself

with Vanessa Pimentel

In this episode of Breaking, we sit down with Vanessa Pimentel, who has taught grades K to 12 in Ontario for over 11 years.

In the last two years, Vanessa taught Grade 8 in Brampton, Ontario. She is currently taking some time off from the School Board to explore other areas in teaching – with a focus on holistic education. She hopes to take everything she has learned and open her own education centre for children in the future.


• Growing up with her grandmother and how it nurtured her ability to connect with people on a deeper level.

• Her struggles with adjusting to school and how it impacted her decision to become a teacher.

• Wanting to be accepted in school vs following your own intuition.

• Being diagnosed with cancer and her downward spiral taking control of her life.

• Her road to recovery.

• How she learned to love herself.

• And much more.


Reach out to Vanessa at



Muhammad Kermalli –

Triena McGuirk –


Min Woo Park & Diana Hong @ 6 Story –

Episode Transcript

*This transcription was made for your convenience. Please excuse any mistakes the automated service made.

Vanessa: Today we have an asset Pimintel with us. Hello? Hello. Thank you. And, um, you know, you can tell us a little bit about ourselves, but I know she’s got lots of depth and lots of beautiful stories, uh, to share. And, uh, so just tell us a little bit it reviewers a little bit, but when you are, I am, uh, my mother and beautiful little girl Luna.

Vanessa: I have a nice husband. Michael is my partner. Um, I also am a teacher certified teacher in Ontario, been teaching for about 12 years now. Um, just moved actually to God’s country, as people would call it. I moved to the courses, trying to live a little more sustainable, trying to learn from my neighbors and create community there and spend, uh, it’s been really beautiful.

Vanessa: So thank you.

Muhammad Kermalli: You know what I always find in introductions, people give the introduction here. It’s like, that’s not the person I want to meet the one before that person. I always look at that as an, as an intern. Now I understand

Vanessa: why people give me introduction title.

Muhammad Kermalli: I want to know before that moment, before the teacher, before moving to Kartha.

Muhammad Kermalli: Right. So that’s interesting. Now I’m trying to understand a little bit, but I like, obviously when Trane was telling me about like your got a great journey and we were just talking about it in terms of, uh, native women, right. And how they come together. And, um, and you talk about, you know, the baggage and how we have to heal ourselves.

Muhammad Kermalli: All of this stuff is becoming pretty, um, it’s becoming talked about more maybe because nowadays media it’s like, Hey, you got an Instagram account and you can create your billion followers right off of that. So we live in a very, like, I think the times right now, there’s, we’re very fortunate to have this kind of tech, this kind of opportunity.

Muhammad Kermalli: So, um, so I think we’ve never lived in a better time to be able to help one another. And you talk about moving somewhere to create a community. Whereas, you know what, if, you know, some people can’t move somewhere or somewhere right now where their community from where they are, needs to be. You like, you know how you said you were asking the universe for Trina and they’re asking for somebody like.

Muhammad Kermalli: And you don’t yourself even know this, right? Like you’re sitting there. Do you ever feel like, cause you asked for someone, do you ever feel that someone might be asking for you? You ever felt that way?

Vanessa: I, um, I do. I think, I think the problem is that confidence, right? We lack that a lot and we feel that others can help us, but we can never help anyone else all, but my journey is not as you know, it’s not as in-depth as her journey.

Vanessa: And why would people want to listen to me? And, but thinking about what you just said, it did, it just clicked. And I said, yeah, people do probably want to hear my journey. People do want my help. And I love that you, you know, you got that positive side of technology. I like that you said that, that this is the best time to be living because we can make those connections.

Vanessa: Right. And I, uh, I liked that. You said that it’s giving me downside. Right? So I’m really thinking about that. Yeah, it’s a good tool

Muhammad Kermalli: and we’ve got great people we’re working with here. Like men would need, they’re actually making it happen and they know more about tech than I will ever want to know. Uh, but they make it look easy.

Muhammad Kermalli: What’s interesting. Is that through our, just conversation here, there are people who I never imagined would hear, you know, w the you’re, you’re a teacher. Right. And, you know, sometimes you’ve got a student, you say something to them, like until you’re blue in the face, but they didn’t listen to that perspective.

Muhammad Kermalli: And then next year, by not listening to you, they go to some other place and they hear another perspective. And then they walk around, like that was genius. And you’re like, I’ve been trying to, I try and tell you, okay, just let it go. Right. So that’s why I appreciate your perspective is because I think, um, yeah, there’s a lot of people who it would resonate with who, um, if you have this feeling, um, then it definitely, yeah.

Muhammad Kermalli: Yeah. And I don’t think that it’s some kind of like chance feeling. Absolutely. And maybe that’s the whole reason you went through this whole thing that you went through anyway, but I’d like to go further back if that’s okay. And sort of, you know, we were just talking about like where you were born and like, you know, early, early, like memories

Vanessa: early the NASA.

Vanessa: So I always, yeah, when I was making mud pies in my grandmother’s backyard, so it was the mud pie story. My grandmother was beautiful woman. I was, uh, she helped raise me because my parents worked. Um, I was, I was born in Toronto, raised in Toronto and she was a magical woman. Very beautiful. And she. She always told me, I will, you are something special, you know, you are something special and I just made an accident.

Vanessa: So my grandmother’s Italian she’s from yeah, she’s from Avellino. Well, she was from Avellino. She passed a few years ago. However, she was that, you know, that helped me realize the magic that I had inside and that energy that I always felt when I was with her. And when I was on her street and people would look at me and say, oh, you know, you’re such an old soul.

Vanessa: You four years old, four year old, little bit messed up. Oh yeah. It would be making bud, bud pies in the backyard and the neighbor would come and have this big conversation with me. And she would say, oh, you’re such an old soul. So it really did stick with me because I, I did, I did feel like an old, so I felt like, man, I think I’ve been here before, you know, this energy really.

Vanessa: Yeah, I do. I’ll tell you this when you were four years old, since I can remember. And I, I could remember there are times when I was four and five and having huge conversations with adults about life, about, just about, you know, how I felt last week. So there’s certain, not every day, but I remember like making them on pies in the backyard, speaking to the neighbors, my grandmother’s neighbors, elderly ladies who won, I think was from Portugal.

Vanessa: One was from Italy and having big conversations about how they would come, like how they got here, their struggles, right? Coming here with nothing. They would talk to me because I listened. I loved hearing stories about the struggle doing the mud while I’m making these pies. They’re talking to him about the struggle.

Muhammad Kermalli: Seriously, but it’s like a Martha Stewart

Vanessa: baking and making money. It was between, I was boat three to about seven. Those were my, I call them my magical years. And then I think I got lost a little bit. And then I found myself again.

Muhammad Kermalli: So, so that’s where it starts, like the three to seven. Why do you say like, uh, I still want to stay, stay there for a second because your, your grandmother means so much to you.

Muhammad Kermalli: I’d love to know more about that. Just that experience. Like why was it so special? Come on. I think

Vanessa: she, she always, she loved me right at the end of the day as kids, all we want is love and often our parents are so bombarded with. So much bills, jobs that I think they forget. I mean, they’re human. A lot of them times they forget to just love hugs.

Vanessa: You’re awesome. You’re beautiful. And my grandmother did that. She gave me those warm hugs where I could feel the room. It was just us. She always told me she loved me and how amazing I wasn’t how magical I was. And I think that really, really stuck with me. And I was there all the time. I mean, she helped raise me.

Vanessa: I went to university near her house, so I stayed with her when I was older. Um, but unfortunately she did pass from cancer and. Um, I hear

Muhammad Kermalli: like grandparents, there’s a saying the know big grandparents and grandchildren get along because they have a common enemy, something,

Vanessa: I think it’s also that release.

Vanessa: Right. So release that I don’t worry about exactly. Yeah. Like my parents are great. They call them the

Muhammad Kermalli: dividends

Vanessa: of his investments and it makes sense, you know, because my parents were great. They provided for me and there was a B you know, they, they did, they treated me well, it was just that. I never felt loved.

Vanessa: And that stuck with me for very long. That’s a real

Muhammad Kermalli: common thing, actually that while if you were to ask them, what did

Vanessa: you love? Well, yeah, of course. I loved her. We

Muhammad Kermalli: did this because we loved her and you’re saying all he needed to do is just say that mom or dad

Vanessa: or

Muhammad Kermalli: the hugs and right. But they’re like, uh, we thought we were saying it to you, so we’ll get to that later.

Muhammad Kermalli: But, um, that’s interesting. So that’s where like the source of love

Vanessa: starts. That was my, yeah. Yeah. My source was my grandma, my grandmother. She was definitely my source of love. So, uh, it was, you know, I was so, you know, you’re

Muhammad Kermalli: in a good place. You’re four you’re, you’re seven. You’re moving on. You’re growing up.

Muhammad Kermalli: You were always aware of this. So then you say you, what, what’s the word

Vanessa: that you use? I lost myself. How

Muhammad Kermalli: do you, Y w w when you’re, everything is going so. And there’s all this love. What is the first thing that, that you think that prompts you to say, okay, I’m going to go get lost now. You didn’t say that.

Muhammad Kermalli: No,

Vanessa: I did want to get lost. I think it was for me, my point was when she was diagnosed. That’s when I, when you were seven. No, sorry. I mean, when I was seven is because I left. I didn’t, I wasn’t living there anymore. I move, we, my parents and I moved to the country, so I didn’t get to see her as much. However, I was about, I want to say I was about 16 when she was diagnosed and what was a very tough year when you lose someone who loves you so much or losing someone and watching her suffer.

Vanessa: But yeah, it’s, I would say about 16, 15, 16 is when I started to. Go

Muhammad Kermalli: down. If it’s okay with you. I want to go back to when you were seven, because you use that as, as a line somewhere. So that, that was the beginning. Was it just because that was

Vanessa: when the proximity changed? I think the proximity was so something beyond your

Muhammad Kermalli: control, like takes you away from your source.

Muhammad Kermalli: Interesting.

Vanessa: Right? And that’s when you start school full-time right before it’s kindergarten. You’re only part-time youth with your family. So you’re in school for a lot of hours. And did you notice that you’re away from your source? I did. Oh, I, I felt it right away. I remember I, I can put myself in that space and that school, when I felt just, cause you know,

Muhammad Kermalli: is going to school for the first day.

Muhammad Kermalli: They’re like, there’s this thing to look forward to and your friends, but you see it as, at that moment, it

Vanessa: seems like it was, I was, yeah, for me it was. But I think it was because my grandma, my, that connection. She would lift me up. She would, was able to look at me and say, you’re not you’re perfect. You’re amazing.

Vanessa: As when I went to school, it was, oh, you know, you need to do this better. Sit down. Why aren’t you sitting down? Why you walking up? And it was constant attacks. Myself and my, the way I am, I was never someone who could just sit there at a desk. Right. It was hard for me. So I remember that exact moment when I started school, I just felt like I never belonged.

Vanessa: Yeah. I don’t like it here as much. I don’t like it. I like being there making mud pies and speaking to the neighbor about their struggles and learning how to cook

Muhammad Kermalli: bake. So you have the good luck and then you get everybody else’s life. Cause everyone else does go to school and everybody else gets told the same thing that you got told.

Muhammad Kermalli: Like it wasn’t just, you know,

Vanessa: we’re all, we’re all do that.

Muhammad Kermalli: But because you had the good life, the great source,

Vanessa: all of a sudden there’s this

Muhammad Kermalli: shift, right? So this is everything is now relative to that. Hmm.

Vanessa: Interesting. Yeah. I just. I remember, I just feel that school was for me was very, and I, I think that’s why I became a teacher.

Vanessa: I really do is because I struggled so much. So from seven to 16. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. I would say, I would say my whole time in school, there was always that struggle or favorite teacher. I had many favorite teachers, I would say not many. I’d say a handful who saw me actually saw me and helped me. Um, and I thank them so much for being there for me in a time that I needed them the most.

Vanessa: And they’re the reasons also why I became a teacher because I wanted to help. I really truly wanted to be there for the students that maybe never felt like they belonged or they were different or they learn differently. So you’re not getting to make

Muhammad Kermalli: mud pies. No, but at the same time, Your senior meeting, some other type of people.

Muhammad Kermalli: Um, and you’re starting to recognize that. Okay. Other than .

Vanessa: Oh, yes, yes. Right.

Muhammad Kermalli: And, and, and, um, anything that you would sort of look at through your sort of your, your student career? Cause I want to, I will get to the 16 and on, but there’s so much that happens. I think in those, I find that they go their like cycles of, I consider seven years a cycle for some reason.

Muhammad Kermalli: Anyway, so you go seven years and then you go seven about nine, right. Seven, nine years. Um, anything that stands out to you during that time, as far as like, what else you, you sort of, whatever, what else stood out to you

Vanessa: for me? Everything around me, the TV, right? The movies, the music, I always felt like there was, it was kind of blocking me being who I wanted to be.

Vanessa: And I started to become someone that truly I didn’t want to become. And I saw myself now I see myself at the time. I didn’t, now I can take myself there and say, oh my gosh, I watched myself transform into something I didn’t want to transform into. So forget

Muhammad Kermalli: about the, now go back to them that the person that you were as it’s happening, I’m curious right about that.

Muhammad Kermalli: So you, you start like, okay, I’m in a place. I have to learn that. Uh, you said right now that you were starting to become something that you weren’t.

Vanessa: Totally not aware of it.

Muhammad Kermalli: I

Vanessa: need to be, this is what you said. Yeah. This is the, and that’s the time it’s like, well, Vanessa, you know, snap out of it. This is the way everyone else’s.

Vanessa: You have to just be like this, for example, going to parties, right. At a young age, I remember party started in grade seven and yeah, parties started in grade seven, you know? And, uh, and these parties, you know, consisted of underage drinking the smoking, you know, the sex and all of the stuff that I personally didn’t feel I felt disconnected from.

Vanessa: But then I’m put into this world where it’s everywhere. So in our movies is in our TV, it’s in our music. And I shift, I start to see myself hanging out with people that are. Never really would have been friends with, you know, not my grandmother, you know, I’m not making mud pies anymore now. I’m, you know, we’re talking about things I never thought I would talk about or be with people that I didn’t feel comfortable.

Vanessa: And there was times that I remember being at parties and being this doesn’t feel right, but, oh my gosh, I could not call my mom to pick me up. They would make fun of me. I would get made fun of. So

Muhammad Kermalli: you’re aware of a choice. You didn’t see it as,

Vanessa: no, I just, this is the way I have to tow the line. This is it.

Vanessa: This is what I have to do. But I remember being in that table and that chair and the teacher saying, Vanessa, just do it. Everyone else is doing. Just sit, just stay seated. Right. So that again, when you’re, you know, 10, 11, 12 years old, you’re like, okay, no, Vanessa, come on. This is, this is cool. This is what has to be done.

Vanessa: And you kind of the way I see it as I lost my mind. I see as humans, I see we are magical. We have this beautiful power within us, and unfortunately, a lot of the outside sources can really put a damper on that and kind of hide that power away. That magic. Right. You’re not special. You’re just like everybody else.

Vanessa: No, man. We’re all special. Ah,

Muhammad Kermalli: wait till I tell you my special, because I was actually told him you’re special. Like I actually went into special ed, but I, so, so you see that’s a whole other thing, but yeah. So you were, but you managed, um, to adapt you conform. I tried to convince. And I sucked at it. So that kind of like, yeah.

Muhammad Kermalli: All right. So like I was at a, you got, you

Vanessa: got invited to the, I did, I did. I was popular and had all the cool friends. I’m going to do the cool friends because now I realize that wasn’t the core friends, but at the time, you know, I was Jose. That was Vanessa. I was that, it was amazing. I had never felt bad.

Vanessa: Did it at the time? No, it felt amazing. But when I went home, it didn’t feel good.

Muhammad Kermalli: Okay. Wait, so when you would go home, when I went home, not feel good, even though, cause I would, I was not in that crowd and I would always look at that crowd and I would think, wow, look at that life. Right? Look, he’s like these people and that’s the cool guy and that’s the cool girl.

Muhammad Kermalli: And that’s what the problem’s going to look like. You know, like you’ve got all these thoughts and yeah, you’re gonna not go to the prom, man. You’re not going to be able to ask anybody and all of this stuff. And I had no idea. To anyone could possibly think after having the life going home and not thinking that it was okay.

Muhammad Kermalli: Wait, so you

Vanessa: do intrinsic level. I knew, I knew because I had a journal and I read those journals. I had a journal ever since I was about grade. You know, what about eight years old? Isn’t that crazy now that I’m thinking about it? I have, and I kept them because I like to go back. I mean, actually, no, I, I did get rid of them, but I kept them for so long and I got rid of that’s a whole other story, but I kept them and I remember going home and writing in them and crying and be like, God ate up all the way until I stopped writing when I was 18 years old.

Vanessa: So I have many books and


Muhammad Kermalli: usually that teenager.

Vanessa: I started to see the difference between eight and nine years old. And I started to see that shift and yeah. And, but I remember, you know, that cool crowd, you know, I’ve went to

Muhammad Kermalli: two

Vanessa: when you were in it. I was in it, it was, it feels like it was like an act though.

Vanessa: Like, cause you, when you say you go home, so it was a complete act because there was times where I, I was always in fights with my friends because. I was the one that said, no, that’s not right. No, I don’t want to do that. And people, they didn’t like that.

Muhammad Kermalli: You said there things you didn’t want to do. And then you were doing them because everybody was doing that.

Vanessa: So I stood, I stood up, but then I fell back. I would stand up. Then they would get attacked. I would get attack. Then I’m like, okay, forget it. You’re right. Like, let’s not do that. I’ll do it that, but I always. And I was always that disconnect that come back, disconnect, go back. And it was that, like you said, oh, but I want to be a part of this group.

Vanessa: I need to be a part of that a little bit. It is fully like a drug that is there. It is a big time drug. It’s very addictive because it’s that there’s so much going on all the time and you’re afraid you’re going to miss out. And you attach your identity to these groups. It’s also that feeling of not being loved, not being accepted.

Vanessa: And when they accept, you

Muhammad Kermalli: really know you’re loved by your

Vanessa: grandma. But my grandmother at the time wasn’t around as much because I had moved away. I didn’t see her as much. Plus I was getting a little older and I, and it wasn’t, it was just a, a different time. I lost, like I said, I lost, I didn’t go back to where I should have went back.

Muhammad Kermalli: Did you like, sort of think to yourself ever good. I remember this happening to me too, but ever ask yourself. Oh, that’s like for kids, this is. The way forward. Did you ever convince yourself of that?

Vanessa: Like spending time with her grandmother?

Muhammad Kermalli: Like, I mean, you know, when you say like, when you, when you give up the fight, right?

Muhammad Kermalli: So you say you would, you would stand up and be like, this is not right. And then people and you know, it’s like, well, that’s for kids, you’re not a kid anymore. Did you ever say that to yourself to convince yourself

Vanessa: that there was definitely the times I did

Muhammad Kermalli: that, that this means you’re more mature when you can do this, or when you can talk about this sort of thing or waking act this way, this is what like older people do.

Muhammad Kermalli: That’s like what smaller younger people do. And now you’re older.

Vanessa: Do you ever get that? Yeah, I think that happened many times where I was like, oh, Vanessa, like I would in the middle of my conversation of standing up to this person, I was be like, stop. But again, it always goes back to being told, no, you need to conform.

Vanessa: You can’t be doing. You need, you know, you’re not special. You’re like everybody else in this class. And I keep going back to that because it comes up a lot. It came up. Absolutely. You ever do that to anybody

Muhammad Kermalli: at some point in time, you felt like you were at any point in time inviting others now to be this way, when you, because you were here, you were centered.

Muhammad Kermalli: They tend to, we tend to move

Vanessa: in. I never did. I’ve I still was. I still was separate. I was there, but I still was separate. There were times where I followed my intuition. Right. My soul spoke to me and said, stay home. And I stayed home. I didn’t go all the time. So I always struggled. Right. I w I was there, but at the same time, I’m like, Hmm, I want to disconnect because I hated going home after the party, or hated going home and crying.

Vanessa: Like, what was it that moment after the party? What was it that you hated? I did things I didn’t want to do. I felt almost like I was hallucinating or it was a dream. Like I wasn’t there. And there was times where my body felt like it couldn’t even get out of its chair, the couch, the chair, wherever I was when I would at the party.

Vanessa: Cause Trina sets a what, you know, where, how did you feel? And there was just like times where I would be there. And, but I wasn’t, I felt like I wasn’t there.

Muhammad Kermalli: Yeah. We went to parties and had a great time.

Vanessa: Do you know what? There was a lot of people who did not have good times, but they told people they had good times.

Muhammad Kermalli: Um, this is like I was dying

Vanessa: to get into this stuff. Many, many people in those groups that I hung out with were. And alone and abused drugs and it was fake. I’m going to pretend that I’m perfect. And my, you know, I drive, I drive a nice car. My parents have money and they would go on vacations every weekend and it’s all amazing and popular.

Vanessa: But at home it wasn’t like that. Wasn’t like that that’s the

Muhammad Kermalli: facade. Right. I’m just like, I’m blown away. Cause I just kept, I keep thinking, like there there’s a bunch of other people like me who looked at them and said, well, they’re the ones that’s there. We’re going to, that’s how you dress. And that we just never could pull it off.

Muhammad Kermalli: So we were just kind of like, oh, I guess we’re the, whatever the nerds or the geeks or whatever else we ended up being. But,

Vanessa: um, right. Those names.

Muhammad Kermalli: Yeah. Yeah.

Vanessa: You know, so those boxes that they want to give to everybody. And that’s, that’s the problem. That is the problem.

Muhammad Kermalli: The time though, you found a box. So there was this comfort level that you were growing.

Muhammad Kermalli: You were having this comfort at some point in time that even though everything seemed a little bit messed up, this was your, this was your zone though. Everybody hears, messed up. Okay. Yeah.

Vanessa: Oh, that, that helps. Right? I’m not the only one going home crying. She is. And he is as well, 100%. That helps that. That absolutely.

Vanessa: Absolutely. I agree. Yes. That that’s exactly because you’re not, absolutely. You’re not the only one crying writing in your journal. Why, what happened? Why did I do that? I shouldn’t have done that. And there’s other people doing the same thing. Um, so yes, I did feel comfortable in the box at that time.

Muhammad Kermalli: And that’s a story of so many sort of circumstances, not just for children, but so, so many kids as well, because a lot of times when we’re going through an S kids, I don’t know if there are actually any groups out there that kids actually get together where they go.

Muhammad Kermalli: Yeah. You know what? This is fake. We should stop.

Vanessa: There’s no like that,

Muhammad Kermalli: that I’ve heard. No. So here you are like to that kid saying, yeah, no, I’m the cool one. I’m cool. No, I’m not cool. Like, but you know, you were, you were wearing the, you were waving the flag champion of the cool kids, right. Uh, and you go home and you’re doing this.

Muhammad Kermalli: So did you, so you right there, it tells me that you see like two sides to yourself. You’re polarizing already. You’re on the inside breaking, breaking

Vanessa: down completely on the outside. I’m a full put together. Right. You know, got good grades did well. Shoot. That’s pretty stressful. Oh yeah. Right. Lots of stress.

Vanessa: Um,

Muhammad Kermalli: that’s interesting to me actually, because it’s funny how, like we all do this all the time. I see it all all the time. Not just with kids and the pressures there on kids, but I feel like there’s this, that kind of pressure on so many of us that we just in

Vanessa: hearing what you guys are saying too, is the thing that popped up for me was at a young age.

Vanessa: Not, not all kids, some kids are aware of it and I was one of them too. Um, the secret, I was one of the cool kids, but I was also one of the kids that went through. Like, remember I was living the duality, the duality of like on the bad path and on the green path, like great grades, you know, got the clothes, got this, got, got things figured out, but then I’m falling apart.

Vanessa: Absolutely falling apart over here. How are your grades? Her grades were good. Smart and cool. But I think what, what the issue is is that even in adult, and I’ve gone through this again as an adult, because lessons will keep showing up in different ways. And what I realized is with adult friendships or relationships or family could be anything, whatever you circle yourself with, if it doesn’t align with who you are and what she calls for magic, right?

Vanessa: Her inner magic. It’s going to deplete you a hundred percent and we hold on to these relationships. And because we want to, you know, we have a social structure, we have professional obligation, or we’ve been this person’s friend for so long. How do you not be their friend anymore? And so that’s where, that’s what peaks my interest the most is because it’s okay to disinvite things that don’t align.

Vanessa: And we’re not always taught that to do that. We’re not taught to reflect internally to explore, to understand, okay, what do I value? What do I value? And, and it’s not about quantity or sorry. It’s not about, yeah. It’s not about quantity of friends. Cause yeah. High school frame. It’s about quality. It’s totally about quantity.

Vanessa: It’s a numbers game. But it’s about authenticity and bringing what aligns with you, because if you’re living in this toxicity, like what you’re describing, which I’ve been through that world as well, thriving, thriving and drownings cutaneous. Oh, absolutely. And it is exhausting and the body will eventually break down.

Vanessa: It’s just so I read somewhere

Muhammad Kermalli: that says like, you know, as you were saying it, you’re nodding your head. Like, it’s this what you said? I read a line somewhere, says you should listen to the signs in the universe before you should listen to the universe before it starts screaming. And so, so we’ll get to your screaming

Vanessa: later, but,

Muhammad Kermalli: but you said it was shoe saying there were signs, you were nodding your head.

Muhammad Kermalli: So what were the sites

Vanessa: like she said, it’s that digging deep feeling that soul you, when you. It’s like that hot stove, you know, it’s hot, you see the sign it’s red. Right. But you touch it anyway because you want to know how that feels. Thank you

Muhammad Kermalli: for describing

Muhammad Kermalli: it was the actual sign you saw while you were there. Like for example, you would say you went home and you would write and you would, you said you would

Vanessa: cry. Absolutely. My release would go right

Muhammad Kermalli: back and you would do it again.

Vanessa: So I didn’t, I wasn’t listening. I wasn’t listening to myself. I wasn’t breaking no cycle.

Vanessa: I kept going with it because at the time it felt good. It felt good. It felt good. It felt good. The popularity part, the people wanting to be your friend, right? Oh, I love a soul deeply. Absolutely. That’s exactly it. You fill the void with whatever that is. Whatever’s giving you attention. And that night might not always be good.

Vanessa: And it wasn’t for me, it was still attention. That’s why students who are pegged as you know, bad or whatever behavior, why do they cause the troubles that they do because they just want to be loved. Hey, it’s me. And that’s see me. And for me, I’m going to school. I’m this loved person. But when I go home, I know it’s not me.

Vanessa: That’s not me. I am not being authentic. Leave Vanessa. I’m being what I am told to be what I should be. Absolutely. And when I tried to be authentic, I get just attacked always. And that’s where I had that struggle where, okay. I can’t be authentic, Vanessa. Cause I’m going to be attacked. I cannot be loved.

Vanessa: Oh my gosh, I’m going to be alone. Who’s going to love me.

Muhammad Kermalli: So the, uh, the ostracizing, um, I read somewhere something. I mean, these things, I don’t know where I forget, but it’s like, it says anyone who’s, who wants to be successful has to be prepared to live a life of austerity. Um, but it’s interesting because that’s the, that’s the hook, right? Uh, the very thing, the very thing that we seek, we just love that we get a version of here.

Muhammad Kermalli: We, we take and you talk about it in a way, lower quality and all that stuff, but we take it and then we fill as much of it into this cup as we can yet. It’s not enough because it’s not even real. That’s not real love these people like living this shallow, fake

Vanessa: life. It’s very transactional, transactional.

Vanessa: They

Muhammad Kermalli: use it. That’s interesting that you said that, but anyway, so we’re, um, so I love that you you’re, you’re going through this here and you’re all aware of this at this young age. So you’re, you’re smart enough to know

Vanessa: what’s going on and you kept on going and I kept on going,

Muhammad Kermalli: no, we’re

Vanessa: at like 14, 15 kept going.

Vanessa: You’ve been there, done that. Been there, done that. Okay. And then grandmother gets diagnosed.

Muhammad Kermalli: So there’s a universe saying

Vanessa: something to you now. Oh, 100%. But I do, but I, I didn’t listen. I didn’t listen. I, I allowed her sickness to take control of my emotions. I allowed that I became angry. I became so angry.

Vanessa: Why would you be angry that you, why her, why her, why her? She loves me. Why couldn’t it be somebody else? The one person that you attached to you and I was angry. I was so angry. And there was a lot of family fighting going on at the time, which angered me even more. How can we fight? Grandma’s dying? How can we fight?

Vanessa: And it went on for about 10 years. It is, you

Muhammad Kermalli: call it with maladaptive

Muhammad Kermalli: maladaptive.

Vanessa: It sounds so smart.

Muhammad Kermalli: not behavior. Then they’re fighting over the grandmother

Vanessa: dying. It’s more of, out of, they lack control over what’s happening. So people will turn to fight or they’ll turn to like withdrawal and like disassociate from people. So it’s more of not having the skills to be able to manage the big emotions and the big problems that come with an ailing parent or an alien grandparent.

Vanessa: And then rather than look internally at their own discomfort and what they’re going through and how that manifests in their behaviors and thoughts, actions, and words. They then you’re the problem. You always, you never, and that’s what you see happen. In fact, it’s a lot of projection project, a lot of. I know I’m suffering, but I’m just going to turn it into something else.

Vanessa: As opposed to saying, listen, I’m sad.

Muhammad Kermalli: He was a 16 year old, 16 you’re

Vanessa: popular, popular.

Muhammad Kermalli: I’m living like a decent life. You

Vanessa: know, like absolutely my, you know, my parents, they did, you know, they worked hard. They didn’t always have everything, but they worked hard. And I was, you know, my parents gave me what I needed.

Vanessa: My grandpa, my grandmother who loved me beautiful life. So there’s a

Muhammad Kermalli: little friction going on, but what happens is obviously it’s a big deal because she’s the matriarch. She is like the one that holds everybody together and she carries all of this on her. And it’s her pleasure to serve right. To do this for her family, but maybe lead sorted out this sort of phase that she’s at.

Muhammad Kermalli: And now you’re angry. What like you, so when you’re, when you’re angry about. Um, I’d love to understand a little bit more. Cause my, I had the same thing kind of happened in my life as well. And I had a lot of anger as well. Um, with me was my mother when he was my, my grandmother also died, but she died after my mother.

Muhammad Kermalli: Um, and when you have all this anger that you’re going through, right. You, you, you now have to find a place, a way to kind of like, right. We’re looking at targets to send it on.

Vanessa: Is that absolutely. And I oh yeah. And it, uh, it wasn’t, it wasn’t always, uh, it was, uh, the dark 10 years. Let’s just say that was really dark.

Muhammad Kermalli: I promise. Do you like above the dark part?

Vanessa: I think for me it was, I abused. Like I was drinking. I was, again, I was with men that I think. Loved me. Didn’t like me. They didn’t love me. They didn’t care for who I was. They just, they thought I was cool. And that was it. And it was bad relationship. After bad relationship parents screaming at you saying, what are you doing in your life?

Vanessa: You’re going to, you know, you’re going to fall and, you know, trying to be there for me at the same. That’s what they’re trying to do. But I don’t see that at the time, at the time I’m thinking, why you, why you nagging? Why you yelling at me and screaming at me? Why can’t you just grab me in LA or just love me, hug me and say, everything’s going to be okay.

Vanessa: I didn’t feel like I had that because again, I was not being a good daughter. I don’t, I didn’t see that. Then I see that now after my breaking, I wasn’t being a good daughter because I was coming home with baggage. I was, I was 17 and I was a lot. It was a lot going on. I was doing my best. I, I think I had a lot of anger toward them as well.

Vanessa: What else could you have done followed my intuition and got out of all of that

Muhammad Kermalli: still at seventeens, even

Vanessa: speaking to you, it went away for a bit. Yeah, it did. I would say about I suppressed it. So it went away for a few years. Yeah. Candle. They say it was gone. Oh, it was it wasn’t there.

Muhammad Kermalli: Oh, right away. Just like loses oxygen.

Muhammad Kermalli: And then you don’t realize when it turned off,

Vanessa: turned off, it’s complaining about little things. Getting into arguments with family and friends, just not caring for other people’s feelings. Not taking care of my mind, body and soul at all.

Muhammad Kermalli: You don’t want to find awesome. Amazing is that, so there is a point you call it the dark period.

Muhammad Kermalli: So the latest off the light side. So cool is today we’re talking to you and the light is bright,

Vanessa: so

Muhammad Kermalli: bright, but that’s the point is that you have a, you start from a point that’s very bright, like the mud pie magic. I won’t forget about the mud pie and the old soul. Right? So you start a match, then you go into this.

Muhammad Kermalli: Um, it seems like some choices are outside of your control. Like for so many of us and in some choices are right there inside of our control and we make the wrong decision constantly. And it’s not one wrong decision. It’s a, it’s a series and we, uh, we compounded and be compounded and compounded. And then.

Muhammad Kermalli: Now question for you when the light goes off. Cause I I’ve been there. Um, did you know that

Vanessa: I’m not, not in the beginning? No, no. I did not say there was, I didn’t know. It was like, I wasn’t even, almost all empty. I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t feel sadness. I came to a point. It didn’t happen until my grandmother actually passed as when I, so for 10 years I watched her suffer.

Vanessa: I just didn’t do what I should. I was in a, not the great place she passed. That was it. It was off the light was off because she’s like, you’re your regional school? She was still there. Right. Even though she was suffering her laughs her jokes. She was still there. Oh, I saw her all the time. I was there.

Vanessa: Absolutely. I was there. I was there with her. I was sat with her. I, you know, I would talk to her. But it started to fade. Right? The cancer took control and she just, she was in bed for the last year and my dark ness. There was absolutely no light. I was lost. I didn’t feel anything. Yeah.

Muhammad Kermalli: My mother was my light as well.

Muhammad Kermalli: So it’s like, I can understand what I, uh, what I wonder about is if someone were to have met you at say 18 or 21, would they know this about you? That you had like this?

Vanessa: No. Oh my gosh, no. I carried my life soul well,

Muhammad Kermalli: so, you know what. Uh, a lit of life looks like or should look like, and that’s what you would just show

Vanessa: everybody.

Vanessa: I went to university, I went, you know, I was becoming a teacher, was doing great. You know, I would, nobody would have getting married. Nobody thought, you know, my gosh, Vanessa going through that, no way I would always be the psychologist for everyone talk to people’s problems, but right. Like what they shouldn’t be doing.

Vanessa: Oh my gosh. And a lot of the times, absolutely. A lot of time, the person I was helping was going through the exact same thing as I was, and I couldn’t help. I could help them. I couldn’t help myself. Really cannot even I was completely lost.

Muhammad Kermalli: I also find that interesting that even on your way, when you would say the lights going out and you know, you’re, you’re lighting other people.

Muhammad Kermalli: Isn’t that. So like amazing that even while we’re doing the, that’s why I told you at the very beginning that you might not even know. But you’re helping people by just having this conversation with us. And, you know, you don’t even know who they are, but like, along your way, with all the struggles, with all the imperfections, all the things that you’re doing wrong, you’re like going out, you’re lighting the way for others.

Muhammad Kermalli: That’s crazy. That’s your magic?

Vanessa: Well, it’s, that’s my magic. And I, I did it for my, you know, when I had gotten married, I did it for my husband who went through a lot and I helped him through it. And at the same time I was, I was in dark. Yes.

Muhammad Kermalli: So would you say, like there was something special about you or do you think a lot of people are like this?

Muhammad Kermalli: I

Vanessa: think a lot of people aren’t, they, a lot of people are, and I think we’re also good at meeting the needs of others before we meet the needs of ourselves. Self-love right. So we know how to nurture and take care of others and what they need and how to guide them and help them. But we’re never taught or even have a conversation.

Vanessa: Um, that comes from within first. You have to love yourself and be strong for yourself to truly do that. And you see this in my professional and you even probably seen teaching as a lot too, is this, these are people that go into helping professions because we truly have a passion for helping and wanting to be there for people.

Vanessa: But we’re also on the same side of that. The flip side of that coin, we’re the worst at taking care of ourselves. Sometimes it’s our way of thinking it’s in ourselves, right? We can’t fix, I can’t fix me so I can help you fit. I can help fix it. Come on. I know it’s not authentic. It’s not. And

Muhammad Kermalli: actually even in that authentic self mode, we’re able to help people.

Muhammad Kermalli: And you

Vanessa: further burnout from doing that because you’re just tired and you become depleted from getting, I am very sensitive with energy and I, and I was taking it out on people. Or amazing to me. And I shouldn’t have, I was in a dark place helping other people, but going home and then taking it out on my husband, angry, poor guy, just there.

Vanessa: But again, that’s, that’s disconnect. That was my it’s my journey. And he’s part of that journey. And, you know, I’m still thankful that he stood by me in such dark times and he was there and he times he had to pull me off the ground because I was, I didn’t want to get up. I didn’t want to go with the day because I was so sad.

Vanessa: So you were married before 26? Yeah. I got married very young. I was 24 when I got married. So yeah, I was pretty young.

Muhammad Kermalli: 24 is. I was married early twenties as well, but what’s interesting is that you just said you were married at 24 and 26 is when the light goes completely out. So usually the first few years of, um, you know, parents,

Vanessa: that was the fake persona, right? So that’s

Muhammad Kermalli: the guy he married. I

Vanessa: got to meet him down. Cause he always saw the magic. It was there. I didn’t see it, but he tells me, he says you were on fire. You are magical. I was like, no way said, yes, you got off the, you know, you would lay down for three days sometimes, you know, I would shut off because, but you got up, right.

Vanessa: You kept getting up. So even though I thought I was in darkness, I actually wasn’t. There was stress. There was still, we feel like we’re in the dark because that’s what I see. But on his perspective it was, but you still got up, even though you were in the dark, you still got up. So there were some things still like it’s

Muhammad Kermalli: yeah.

Muhammad Kermalli: So

Vanessa: where does the shift come out of it? Because you were sitting in it, like what was for me.

Vanessa: Well, my darkness was for, until I was,

Muhammad Kermalli: um, your mom, your grandmother. I want to talk about her for a second, if it’s okay with, so, because you said that 26, so she’s

Vanessa: like last year, last year, she didn’t know by then. Cause in

Muhammad Kermalli: our case like,

Vanessa: well, she, she knew, oh, I knew the day before she passes, when she had that conversation with me, that a big conversation of just what you wish you would have done or what she, you know, what she wants from me, you know, do this.

Vanessa: And I hope, you know, I want you to be happy and find your, find that light inside of you, your magic. Remember your magic. And I just hold

Muhammad Kermalli: on. I still want to stay there a second because. Describe this to me. What was it at her place? Was

Vanessa: it, was that her place? You go from where I was? I would, yeah, we would go there a lot to take care of her.

Vanessa: We were caregivers, my mother and my father and my uncle. And I went a lot just because I loved her and I wanted to be there. Um, and she was like, yeah, there was times where it was hard for me. I don’t regret it. I did at the time I regretted it. Not being more, I wish should have been there more sure. Of course.

Vanessa: Right. Of course. But there were times where I was, it was so hard and I was in university trying to read this now. Right, right. It’s too much. Right. Trying to graduate university, trying to get my, this, trying to do this. There’s so much going on. And, and I was in the darkness at the same time. So I’m

Muhammad Kermalli: appealing to like distracting yourself to not think

Vanessa: about stuff.

Vanessa: Absolutely. That was for me at the dark time with alcohol, I would have, I would drink, it would help me. Well, I thought it was helping, but it wasn’t, it brought me to my breaking point. I wasn’t taking care of myself. So

Muhammad Kermalli: that’s like a brewing storm and your, your grandmother’s getting sicker and sicker and you’re

Vanessa: obviously I’m aware that she’s going to pass coming.

Vanessa: Oh yeah. Right. And that’s what you just don’t want her conference. That last conversation I knew she was going to pass within the next day or two. I felt it just her talk with me and like a weekend or like a, I wanna, I don’t remember the actual day. Um, I just remember, I know it’s crazy. You block a lot of it out of your mind.

Vanessa: I just remember crying a lot on the couch upstairs in her, in her room, in her house because she had just passed. And all I could think about is the conversation that we had and what I was going to do with this conversation. But again, I pushed it away. That was my sign. The universe was giving me a sign.

Vanessa: Wait. Get out, you can do this and did not listen. And I went further down, deep, deep, deep, where I shut everybody out. I just, I wasn’t doing my, I didn’t talk to my husband. You know, my parents and I was a little bit here and there, but it was so dark time and I would go out a lot, drank a lot. Didn’t take care of myself.

Vanessa: I don’t even think I drank water for days.

Muhammad Kermalli: So the conversation that you have with your grandmother, like this is the game changer.

Vanessa: The conversation that happened with I happened with my grandmother turned out that six months after that I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Muhammad Kermalli: Um, can you share what you’ve had in that conversation?

Muhammad Kermalli: I’m so intrigued by it.

Vanessa: There’s, there’s some things I don’t know if I could share, but her way, her, the way she was her treatment, everything about her treatment, everything that happened within the 10 years. Her seeing my darkness, she saw, and she almost said, Vanessa, wake up like, this is it exactly like that.

Vanessa: I mean, she spoken Italian, but she was saying, you know, wake up. This is for you. This is your time to wake up. Be happy, enjoy life she yelling at you was no, she wasn’t yelling. It came. You can see, she would struggle with her words. Cause it was, the cancer had taken over. She barely can move, but it was more like, you know, you’re loved.

Vanessa: I love you. You’re always going to be my Vanessa, my bunny. She used to call me Bonnie. That was my nickname. It was my family bunny. Just be strong and ask questions, always ask questions. Don’t just do things because other people tell what I’ve been doing, right? Oh yeah. Don’t just do things because people tell you to, even if these people are top and I’m like at the time, I didn’t know.

Vanessa: I knew, I know now. Always question and never take less, always know your magical, always know your special and fight. And that was the universe. That was whatever you want to say. The creator saying wake up. Does she

Muhammad Kermalli: know all this other background to, you

Vanessa: know, so she felt, she felt it, she saw it, she felt it, but she didn’t know a lot of people didn’t know.

Vanessa: She didn’t know. I think she knew. I think she knew. I think she knew a lot more than I think, oh yeah, she could feel it. She was like me. I was very sensitive to energy. I’d walk in the last few years and it wasn’t me. You could feel it. I walk in a room, I try brighten up that room, but I wasn’t doing that.

Vanessa: And she saw that ask questions, be creative. Jus you know, be, be you be magical, Vanessa. And again, always think critical. In her. I mean, in her ways of saying it, you know, she’s saying, she’s saying in Italian, it’s very hard when you’re translate. Oh, I’m not very good at speaking. I can understand it. It was just like, she, you know, she just said, I mean, she swore a couple of times she knows she had, she had it, you know, you know, don’t, you know, don’t listen to those people.

Vanessa: If they tell you this and you do that. And she knew, she goes, I know you and you, you know, I worry. She always said, I worry about you. I worry about you. And that ended when she, you know, the next day I wasn’t there. When she took her last breath, it was, I went after and I thought, man, she me, she worries about me.

Vanessa: It was going to happen. You know, you start to think, but I didn’t, I didn’t listen. I went dark deep, deep, deep to that, to the point where it was. I don’t even think I slept, there was days I wouldn’t sleep. I’d be up for three, four days, adrenaline, caffeine, red bulls, whatever would give me energy. Right. I was wanting to chase.

Vanessa: Right. I wanted that, that thrill, like I wanted to do this. I want to do that. I, you know, I would get lots of tattoos because of that feeling. And there was that feeling behind when you get a tattoo, it was like this adrenaline rush adrenaline rush. Absolutely. Absolutely. And then you’re just constantly, it sounds like you’re cooking, correct me if I’m wrong, like you’re masking.

Vanessa: Oh, I was masking my, I was absolutely going out, partying, drinking, staying up all night, you know? Yep.

Muhammad Kermalli: Okay. Okay. So I’m interested. What what’s interesting to me is that, uh, there’s no shortage of stuff like that to, to isn’t that interesting. Like there’s always, it’s easy to, it’s easy to access. Um, it’s.

Vanessa: And it’s all socially it’s socially encouraged my friends. Yeah. And that’s the hard part

Muhammad Kermalli: is the it’s great marketing.

Vanessa: Gotta say you give it to them for that, right? You do. You do, but it’s, um, it’s out there and it’s like you said, uh, no, I would say that the ask the answer is not

Vanessa: the bottles. No cookie.

Muhammad Kermalli: Yeah. I mean, for me it was like it’s forbidden to me to, to, to drink. So I just like, it was one of those things. I never got to experience that, but

Vanessa: I mean, I think it should be,

Muhammad Kermalli: but so I, I, I can’t relate to that. So I’m just trying to understand it because from those who I hear it from, it’s a magnet. You, what what’s amazing to me in your situation is, and that’s what I want to start getting to next was how you, you gain control again and how you start to break that cycle.

Muhammad Kermalli: Because what I’ve learned in my bad habits is that that’s the hardest thing to break, forget good habits. The bad habits are like the war. So you’re now stuck in it’s spiraling and it’s a, it spirals faster and faster,

Vanessa: and they go, right. Something’s bad for us. You’re uncomfortable. Or we’re not getting the rewards or what we need from it.

Vanessa: We find comfort in it because it’s familiar. Great. So, and it it’s a bad habit. We find comfort in the familiarity of the bad habit thing. It’s also the accepting part you’re accepted, right? You’re drinking. That’s your drinking your problems away. It feels good. And you’re craving attention and you get attention that you shouldn’t be getting attention.

Vanessa: And from, and it’s just this, you know, love me. I’m here. Love me. This bottle loves me. You know, this loves me. This cigarette loves me and not taking care of myself, not eating well. That was big thing. It wasn’t eating properly. I wasn’t eating. There was days I wouldn’t eat. I thought, Hey, I’m not, I’m skinny.

Vanessa: Feel great thought, you know? Sure. I’m primed. I was doing amazing. Right. I fit into the awesome skinny jeans. I looked great people down the street would whistle. You’re look how beautiful you are, but I wouldn’t feel beautiful. Felt

Muhammad Kermalli: horrible. And then, but all of that continues to be like this magnet, right?

Muhammad Kermalli: Actually. So when I talked to some people just as friends. She’s the expert, but we would just talk as friends. Right. And, and obviously you’re a great friend to people, but the point is, is that I would say, because I’m trying to get, I was trying to get myself to understand that I was actually in control.

Muhammad Kermalli: And so what I would say, I don’t know if this is right or not, but I would say you’re so powerful that when you create it, like where you are, I always say where you are is a result of choices you’ve made. That means you chose to be here knowingly, unknowingly. You are so smart. You are so powerful that when you created the state of yourself, you actually created locks on doors and you actually found ways to anchor yourself.

Muhammad Kermalli: So then when you want to get out from your present self, your past self knew that you would want to do this and found ways to lock you in so that you can start understanding that it’s not somebody else. It’s not some bottle, but it’s actually an old version of. That’s all you’re up against and that’s all you gotta be, that’s it.

Muhammad Kermalli: It’s actually you who put

Vanessa: you here absolutely smart that you

Muhammad Kermalli: locked yourself in

Vanessa: yourself and you’ll walk

Muhammad Kermalli: through, like, you’re like, I know you and I’m not going to let you out.

Vanessa: The key

Muhammad Kermalli: is this is the one I’m choosing, you know, like that’s how,

Vanessa: this is why I say we’re magical. It had to happen that way.

Muhammad Kermalli: And then at some point in time, cause then that comes to the ownership part that I’ll wait a decision I can own. And then things happen after it. But so back to you though, like, so you’re in this dark place that, uh, like when does it start? Like shifting on you, just like when you were like, you know, remember when you were four and seven, you found the shift.

Muhammad Kermalli: So now when you hear a

Vanessa: 26 and it didn’t, it didn’t, it didn’t, I wasn’t waking up. I didn’t look at any of the sign. There was plenty signs. Plenty of signs and I pushed them away while I had my cigarette crying my eyes out, that why this happening? And I remember, I remember exactly. I was living in Toronto.

Vanessa: I was on my balcony and it was, I would say maybe a week before I was diagnosed and I’m on the balcony and I’m crying and I got a SIF. So a smoker, a smoke in my hand and I’m crying and saying, just give me a sign. What am I, I need, I need your help creator universe. I need your help because I’m not doing well with my life.

Vanessa: I need your help and crazy enough a week later. I was sitting in a doctor’s chair being diagnosed with breast cancer and you go, thanks. It is

Muhammad Kermalli: going to make it all better.

Vanessa: Oh yeah, it was, oh my God. Wow. I mean, now I, yeah, I think, I think the creator, I think the universe for sitting in that chair and being diagnosed because seriously.

Vanessa: Yeah. So that was your rock bottom. That was my breaking. You

Muhammad Kermalli: were there when you got your, your news. I was alone, but then at that moment

Vanessa: now I see why again, the why me, my grandmother just died six months ago. Give me a break. Are you kidding me? Like really? And I know I completely shut down for three full days. Nobody could even speak to me. I wanted to be left alone for three full days and I did a lot of wise. Why, how come, why is this happening?

Vanessa: You know, the questions, why is this happening? What if you know, did I, did I cause this, I did. I, I talked to myself and said, did I cause this, I didn’t listen. He wasn’t taking care of myself. Of course this is going to happen. And I, after the third day it was like, well, come on, get up. What are you doing?

Vanessa: Right. It’s that three days of, of hitting the breaking where you realize, no, this is the sign that you asked for. You asked for this. And then I read back my, all my journals. I asked for it all the time, my journals, please universe, give me the sign of what I need to do in my life. Be there. I don’t want, you know, help me.

Vanessa: And it’s like, the universe was trying this whole time. And I locked myself up. I wasn’t, but I had to write that, had to get that breaking point to have this light. I feel like I’m walking in this light all the time. Why? Because of that breaking point where I, I say I died and came back. That’s how I, what I feel like.

Vanessa: Um, I w oh yeah, the version of, of that non magical person completely died. ‘

Muhammad Kermalli: cause a lot of people, I think even sometimes there’s a parallel universe that can start there too, where you lock yourself up and

Vanessa: absolutely absolutely apps. If my grandmother hadn’t had that conversation with me, I don’t know if I would have fought.

Vanessa: I might have gave it up, made fear, take control of me. And a lot of times that’s where it goes with cancer. It’s the fear, right? That fear you’re told you have cancer. That C word is like, whoa, whoa. And I, I remember in that chair feeling that way until I had to say, whoa, you remember grandma said, ask questions, fight.

Vanessa: Keep going. This is it. This is it, Vanessa. You got to fight. You’re not dying. Absolutely not. I told myself I was not gonna die. I will do anything to make sure I fight. And I always said I wanted to help other people. I want to help other people get through this. Cause it’s a kick. It could get dark. That word is a very scary word.

Vanessa: I had an experience with it. Well, yeah, we’re family ourselves, some of us. And it’s, it was within that moment. I remember being on the bed and just looking out. I was living in Toronto at the time, looking out at my Belkin. And the bed seen this window and just, it was raining. I’ll never forget it was raining.

Vanessa: It was just Trenchill downpour. And I said, will I know? And I said, oh my gosh, I got to get out of this bed because if I don’t get out of this bed today, I’m probably not going to survive this. It was like that day, that one day was, if I don’t get out of this bed, what’s going to happen. Will I end up like my grandmother?

Vanessa: You know what, we’ll see your future when you hit that bottom sometimes. Oh, absolutely. It’s like you see yourself, right? Flashes of what could be when you’ve hit that bottom. And you’re like, Oh, that’s what this feels like. Or that’s where this could go. But like w when my blueberry incident, right, you’re right.

Vanessa: But that’s, it physically get off the ground, but you’re like, that’s where you make the choice. That choice. That third day was raining. My, I remember my husband was working. It was by myself in my apartment, and I just said,

Muhammad Kermalli: So you’re, um, you’re

Vanessa: fatigued. You’re exhausted. You’re

Muhammad Kermalli: emotionally, spiritually, physically at your worst point,

Vanessa: your husband to the side, pushed my husband to the side, pushed my parents to the side.

Vanessa: The grandmother is gone gone. I have not at the time I’m thinking I have nothing. I have no one. Somebody

Muhammad Kermalli: feels that they have nothing. The next question comes is like, what are your chances now?

Vanessa: Absolutely. Oh yeah. That was my second day. That was the second day. But it’s true. I had those days, right. That second day was whoa, who’s going to, what am I going to do?

Vanessa: I have no one. I pushed everyone away. There’s no way. There’s no way exactly. How am I going to fuck? Who’s going to fight alongside with me. Can’t do this alone. Put a little me little mud pie. Vanessa was going to do this alone. Shut down for the day. I still shut down for that day. Leave me alone. Everyone just want to be alone.

Vanessa: But then that third day with the rain, something, I don’t know what it was. I heard my grandmother in my head, you know, you’re strong. You ask questions, don’t give up. And I thought, oh, it clicked. She was prepping me. Those prep. She knew inside that I wasn’t going to learn probably from that day and that this was going to happen.

Vanessa: It’s prepping. And I, I, I don’t, I can’t even explain that energy that I received that day, where I just shot out of bed, literally jumped out of bed. And that was the very first day of me training for marathons. I train that day. I said, I’m going to. I’m just going to run. I don’t know where I’m going to go.

Vanessa: I never was a runner before never ran. I just walked. I loved walking by, so I’m going to run. Got my running shoes on. Got dressed. And the rain actually, no, I did go in the rain. It stopped raining. And I’ll tell you the story. I was lived on lake shore. Oh, I did. I was like, I’m going outside. I was alone. I was alone.

Vanessa: Everyone is, I said, I’m going for this run. I don’t know where I was going to run. I’m going to run because I remember. I was just, I was teaching, um, high school at the moment and I was doing a, um, a spec spec ed class, and we were talking special education. We were talking about running. We were talking about running and actually it was called team unbreakable.

Vanessa: And it was how, how it’s, how running helps mental health. And I remember saying, okay, running helps mental health. I’m very going through a really hard time right now. I’m going to go run. And I ran down the lake shore. And when I got to the end, the sun, I remember just the sun just shining down. And I thought, I remember just bawling my face off right at lake shore by myself.

Vanessa: People probably were like, what is going on here? Crying and feeling this sense of power ran back. And that was it. I started running helped me so much. The running made me feel like I had my magic was coming back and it really did help you buy your grandmother. Absolutely. And when I just the thought of your

Muhammad Kermalli: grandmother, just a thought, the presence of her physically, just the spiritual, like,

Vanessa: and I, you know, I had to have some operations to remove the cancer.

Vanessa: And I think that doctor so much for helping me get through, you know, and then I went on my own healing journey and, uh, everything started to become clear. My relationships were getting better. I was so much better. So I would say so I would say I got, so I was diagnosed in July, um, and I had a few operations.

Vanessa: And then for about a year before I got pregnant with my daughter, oh, I wasn’t supposed to have kids. They had told me I can never have kids, but a year after the last little less than a year after I got pregnant with my daughter, I hear that story because my fear was gone. I had no fear. I knew I wasn’t going to die.

Vanessa: I remember telling my parents, no, I’m, I’m not dying. Oh, I’ll be here. I know I’m going to be here. And what helped a lot was meditation taking the time for self-care. Making sure that I fed my mind body and soul because unfortunately we’re not. It’s so disconnected mind, body, and soul. When you go see a doctor it’s about your body, what would

Muhammad Kermalli: you have this lifestyle already designed around the first part, the middle part versus say the dark part.

Muhammad Kermalli: So what did you have to, you had to do something you had to craft. You have to design an architect, a schedule you have to do

Vanessa: at least. Okay. So I, no, no. I knew that I had to, I started running and I knew I had to, I wanted to do a holistic approach. I wanted to take a different approach to my healing and I knew it was going to be hard work.

Muhammad Kermalli: And this is all

Vanessa: running when I’m running already admitted to me. It’s very true. When I ran, when I would run, I would be able to, no, it was meditate. It was my meditative time where I thought, okay, so what’s next? What am I going to do? That’s when you start to make your plans and making my plans, okay, I’m going to call my doctors.

Vanessa: I’m going to call doctors around the world to ask their opinions. I’m going to get a second opinion and I get a third opinion. I’m going to change my life. I’m going to quit smoking now I’m not drinking anymore. That’s for sure. I ate very clean. I got off a lot. I would have no sugars. No, you know, no dairy.

Vanessa: I just, I juiced every day I had a, you know, I had, I went to see a naturopath and they gave me a very good regime to follow. But my biggest thing and I say is that I let go of fear and was not afraid of dying. I wasn’t afraid to die, but I knew in my heart, I wasn’t going to die. Although I was told I was going to die, I knew I wasn’t going to die.

Vanessa: I sat in that chair and the doctor said, okay, this is bad cancer. You know, this is the, this is the most basic it’s gonna spread. We’re half to, you know, this is not good. I said, no, it’s good. I’ll be okay. And what do you mean? No, no, this is, I said, no, trust me. I’m going to be okay. I did no, I’m going to be.

Vanessa: And why did you

Muhammad Kermalli: feel so competent about how did you feel so confident you hear all these other stories and your grandmother passes away?

Vanessa: My grandmother’s conversation, the goal to say that to the doctor, my grandmother’s conversation, I knew, I knew that I was going to be okay because she had said, fight, stand your truth.

Muhammad Kermalli: And that was enough for

Vanessa: you. For me, that was enough because I started to see the changes every day, by running, taking care of myself, loving me self-care meditation. For me, it was meditation and prayer and letting go of things that didn’t serve me. And there was a lot of things that didn’t serve me, things in people I had to let go.

Vanessa: And when I started to see when I started to let that. I started to see things change.

Muhammad Kermalli: So let’s pause one second, because when you say, let go, when you make it sound like, oh, you just left because

Vanessa: when it’s hard to work, right. It hangs on, on. So like, we

Muhammad Kermalli: need to clarify a couple of things. You can just skip over that

Muhammad Kermalli: period. So letting go is some of the hardest stuff to do because it’s dynamic. You don’t just say, okay, I’m letting go. You. Cause the other person can say, well, I’m not letting go at you or it or whatever.

Vanessa: I think for me it was the letting go didn’t happen right away. It was carrying my healing myself from within that little girl that mud pie, Vanessa, who didn’t feel loved all those years.

Vanessa: It wasn’t anybody else’s fault. That was step one because you can’t do everything right? No step one was loving myself, loving who I was, took a while. Ultimately, I had to love who I was. When you say took

Muhammad Kermalli: awhile.

Vanessa: It’s not overnight.

Muhammad Kermalli: I have one it’s really important for free. Um, when you say it took awhile, what do you mean you don’t you just say to yourself, okay, love yourself.

Muhammad Kermalli: Move

Vanessa: on. No, it took many days of looking in the mirror and saying, you’re beautiful. You are worthy. I love who you are seeing the strength. That’s what made me love myself, how strong I was to question to ask why, how come, what is the next step? Getting those opinions from all over the world, different doctors, finding my strength within, you know, how can I heal myself at home?

Vanessa: What can I do here? You know, I know there’s my doctor side of it, but what can I do here? What am I bringing? What am I exactly? And for me meditation every day for hours, I would just have to, not while you’re running, you could do it hours out of your day. So I did make hours. I took a few months off from work.

Vanessa: Um, it was summer, so I didn’t wasn’t teaching at the time. I did go back in September right away, but I was off. I was, I was lucky to have all of July and all of August off to really focus on what I needed, what my soul needed. If you weren’t a

Muhammad Kermalli: teacher, you still got it.

Vanessa: You would have to find those time for the self love and the self cause I didn’t end September came.

Vanessa: I had to go back to school and I still continued. I made sure that within my day, That I was going to take care of myself. Often we leave ourselves off your day. I had to, you have to build it in the morning. You do it for me. It was my phone. I had, I literally had alarms drink your water, drink your water, Vanessa, take your vitamins, Vanessa.

Vanessa: Don’t forget the juice in the fridge, Vanessa. It was, it was a lot, but again, I couldn’t let that control me either because I know I’ve had experience with somebody who passed away last year, who unfortunately, it was all she did it again. It was that fear. Oh my God, I’m going to die. So I have to juice. I have to do this.

Vanessa: And she was so obsessive over the lifestyle. You can’t do that. Right? We are human. We are going to fall. You might have to still go out with your friends. You might want to drink a glass of wine. It doesn’t mean you’re going to die. You have to understand that it’s okay to fall falling. Helps you come back again.

Vanessa: Exactly. So although I was running and meditating, there was days where I didn’t want to do any of it, but those were the days that I, where I was in bed.

Muhammad Kermalli: So you were not afraid that the thing is, is like, it’s like simultaneous, right? Like you gotta be not afraid like you, except that if it’s going to happen, whatever,

Vanessa: but I’m not sure like you exactly what you have to accept.

Vanessa: The fact that this is real, this is happening. I have the breast cancer. I have to figure it out. But I’m not going to let it control who I am because that fear that I take in today is going to only make it worse for tomorrow. I can’t worry about tomorrow. I can only worry about right now. And right now I can control.

Vanessa: You know, what I find

Muhammad Kermalli: most interesting is that you’re the same person who had the fear. You said it earlier, fear of being left out of a group,

Vanessa: not being invited to

Muhammad Kermalli: that person, that same person who is afraid of missing out as they call it fear, most is not afraid of death,

Vanessa: the same person, and that is from healing, your self within.

Muhammad Kermalli: So you, you got step one out of the way, and that’s like the, like, you put that as step one.

Vanessa: Okay. Loving yourself. Because if you don’t have the love for yourself, you’re not going to drink your water. You’re not going to juice. Where’s your motivation, right? When you have that love or work toward it, right?

Vanessa: I’m not, you’re not going to just look. Oh, it’s ongoing. And it’s, it’s crazy that we are talking today because again, I asked universe for some help because I’ve been falling a little and this came. This is, this is it. This was a universe helping me out again, talking about is helping me realize I gotta take care of myself again.

Vanessa: I’m falling. And when we, when I fall now, I’m so sensitive to it. I can feel it all, Vanessa, what are you doing? You don’t do that. And you talk to yourself. Oh, it creeps. Especially with everything going on in the world. It’s like, okay, you know, I can go home and I can drink my glass of wine and sit in bed and cry, or I can say snap out of it.

Vanessa: And I can come here today and tell my story and hopefully help other people that are suffering or. Or having that fear or that pain. And if this is helping me, it really is. I feel blessed to share this space with all of you, because it’s that me asking the creator and the universe, please help me. I’m falling again.

Vanessa: And then Trina called me, Hey, you want to do a podcast about your journey? I said, whoa,

Muhammad Kermalli: kind of gives you a sign.

Vanessa: You’re like, oh, I’m not waiting to scream at you. I’m not waiting for the cancer to come because cancer, we can all can all come to us. I mean, it’s there. Absolutely. But that, that switch is what happens.

Vanessa: And when we don’t take care of her mind, body, and soul, I like to say that all the time because we often, we often separate them and I do believe that’s why we don’t heal properly is because our soul is disconnected from our mind and body. And it’s not, it’s all together. When you heal your body, you need to be healing your soul.

Vanessa: start delete*but if you don’t love yourself, that juicing can help you. When you look at that juice and you’re grateful for that end delete I would wake up and say, thank you God. For I got cancer. And my husband be like, what are you thinking God, for, for cancer? I said, because look how happy I am.

Vanessa: I’m so happy. I’ve never felt so, so happy in my life. I feel free. I feel, and people wouldn’t understand that, but don’t you have breast cancer. I said, no, I don’t have it anymore. It was removed, but you’re still a cancer patient. No, I’m not. Um, do you

Muhammad Kermalli: know how they say, like, you know how they say, what does that?

Muhammad Kermalli: It’s not positive people that are grateful. It’s grateful people that are positive.

Vanessa: That positivity is only because I was grateful. I’d be grateful. No, I’m being grateful. I would wake up every morning and say, thank you, thank you for giving me the strength to fight because some people don’t have that strength.

Vanessa: And I feel so lucky to have this strange,

Muhammad Kermalli: it’s that simple where I actually do think it is that simple, but I wonder what your perspective is that just by changing it from a whiny to a thank you,

Vanessa: five bucks mindset. I do think it’s that simple start delete magical when we see ourselves as magic.

Vanessa: We are magic. I don’t need you to tell me I’m magical. I know I’m magical. When you see yourself as magical, you then become grateful. You are so grateful. I’m grateful for this magic. Thank you for this magic. Thank you for giving me the space that I feel so safe in that practice changes, and I’ve done end delete And I’ve seen a shift with my students, huge shift, where at the beginning of the year, it’s negativity, they bring in so much baggage from their home life to then in June, where kids are skipping and thank you, you know, being grateful and you see this change and it’s, I mean, it doesn’t always work, right?

Vanessa: You’re going to have other people that have hard time with it, but just reminding them that you’re not alone. I too have these feelings. I’m not this Ray of sunshine every day. I have my fault points. No I have. Yeah. He’ll tell you, he will tell you. I mean, he’s definitely going to run to the end of lake shore and then, but he, you know, it’s, it’s true.

Vanessa: It’s that? And he’ll even vouch for me to say, yeah, she, she falls, but now my fall, I don’t, I’m not there for very long. I get up very quick. Why? Because it’s constant work and the

Muhammad Kermalli: longer you stay down to, or let yourself

Vanessa: stay down the longer, you will stay down and try not to feel sorry for yourself, because what was me?

Vanessa: I tell you it doesn’t get you anywhere. Didn’t get me anywhere because everybody’s going to have something. We all struggle. All of us with something, or we might struggle one day. It’s going, it happens. Or your offspring will stop. It is to this point, the struggles, what helps us, right? I mean, I’m so blessed to have found, you know, Trina as a friend and you and Mohammad.

Vanessa: Absolutely. And this space and these beautiful people, like this is so magical, like you said, in the beginning, right. Technology, and this is, there’s so much positive to it and we can share our stories without having to be in the same room as them. And that’s important.

Muhammad Kermalli: So one last thing to ask you, um, cause you so fortunate you had this like your grandma and not everybody has had that opportunity to have like that grandma around them.

Muhammad Kermalli: Sometimes they didn’t share the same timelines or whatever. Right. So share your grandma with the world now. So what’s your what’s like, I think your grandma was not just there for you. You would probably agree.

Vanessa: No, she was there for, for many, um, and her magic was always there as well. And fortunately, um, I think the fear is what took control of her.

Vanessa: Do you think she still exists? I do. There you go. I do. I feel I can feel her when I’m, when I fall. I feel her and my daughter shares that my daughter shares the magic. I can just, I see it in her eyes and that old she’s definitely an old soul and will have amazing conversations with you. And, and I do believe the universe wants her here for whatever reason, she’s going to be a little helper herself.

Vanessa: And, um, I’m excited to see her grow or grow up

Muhammad Kermalli: as they

Vanessa: go through a lot. Yeah. That, and I have my husband, I had that conversation about it and I it’s true.

Muhammad Kermalli: Right. They do not for your fault. Where you can pick yourself up, but now somebody else having to go through this in their version, and it’s even harder to watch because you talk about it with your son as well.

Muhammad Kermalli: Right. We were talking about it with our kids. Uh, you know, and you’re now that that’s, you’re like kind of next,

Vanessa: however, I think if we, if we, oh, it is. But I think the difference if I could interject is with her little one is her lessons that she’s learned. I’m just focusing on the gratitude specifically.

Vanessa: She’s just a little, she’s six, right? Six she’s. You already see that in her. She, she reminds people about gratitude. She, when she sees energy shifting in a room, she’d be like, Hey, let’s all hold hands. Let’s breathe. Let’s meditate. This is a six-year-old introducing these concepts. So what I love about the concept of introducing gratitude is.

Vanessa: It’s contagious, right? That’s already been, it’s already been a shining light with your daughter that way is that she’s out there doing that for other children and adults forget children. She does it for adults, but I think the shift is that I see with her little one with this kind of mindset coming in is that she looks at things through the lens of gratitude, not a lens of deficit.

Vanessa: And I think that’s the thing that’s missing is we’re always looking externally. We’re always like, I don’t have this, you have this. I’m not good at this. It’s always comparing, right. We’re always comparing our lifestyles, our thoughts, our feelings, and instead of just being grateful for what we feel and what we have.

Vanessa: And I think a lot to do with that is also healing ourselves. Our. I know many may not say it, but generational pain. Right. We hold onto a lot of pain from our mothers, mothers, or fathers fathers, and that pain, it goes onto the next generation and it will continue until you break that cycle. And I feel strongly that I’ve breaking that cycle and I’m that.

Vanessa: Oh yeah. See, and it’s, it’s, it’s there and it’s, it’s beautiful to see the shift. You, I can physically see this shift and whenever I feel like I’m falling, I just say, okay, thank you for this feeling. And people are, again, you’re thinking for the field, I’m thinking, I’m thinking for this feeling, cause this feeling right now is going to help me even get higher.

Vanessa: I’m going to feel I’m going to be on top. Why? Because I can, I understand that it’s okay to fall. I feel that, feel it and be grateful for it.

Muhammad Kermalli: Totally, totally agree with you because who’s it. We were talking the other day and I was like, uh, positivity is not for like sunny days. No, it’s not like

Vanessa: positive today.

Vanessa: Today’s a great day is not

Muhammad Kermalli: for like, when you got what you want. That’s not gratitude. That’s a reaction. Absolutely. There’s a proactive move. So it’s before it happens, which means in a situation like this, to be grateful for that, that is true. True, true gratitude. Absolutely. But, uh, would anything that you would trade to do

Vanessa: differently?

Vanessa: Not I all those, no, because then I wouldn’t have, I won’t be here. I wouldn’t be here right now. If I saw the light at 16, would I be here? Would I have fallen with a darkness? Come? I don’t, I don’t know. I think that our journeys, our journeys and this had to have been my journey. I had to get locked up in the dark so that.

Vanessa: I could see the light. Unfortunately, people will say, unfortunately it was no, fortunately the cancer hit me when it did, because I was able to give birth to a beautiful child that I maybe I wouldn’t have given birth to. If I hadn’t gone through exactly.

Muhammad Kermalli: All the questions or thoughts that you have to have had while you were pregnant on who, what’s your daughter’s name?

Muhammad Kermalli: Luna Luna. Interestingly, you call her Luna. So, which is like light. Isn’t it.

Muhammad Kermalli: Interesting. So, uh, did you think that when you were naming her?

Vanessa: I did. I, um, I gave birth to her on a full moon and I’m, I love them. I just have a thing for the moon, but it’s mostly because, I mean, it’s our light. Yeah, there you go. I got the moon. Well, the moon is the light right at the night. What lights our sky.

Vanessa: And she has phases, just like we do, we go through phases, but again, we come back, right. She comes back full, right. She comes back full and that’s, what’s beautiful about the moon is that she goes through phases, but she always comes back full and is so bright and so beautiful. We

Muhammad Kermalli: should have a conversation.

Vanessa: Yeah. That would be fun. I learned

Muhammad Kermalli: from everybody. And I tell you, sometimes I work with a lot of kids too, and just, it’s amazing. The things that they say in such a nonchalant matter of fact, like, oh yeah. It’s like comes right out of it and it’s so like genuine

Vanessa: the truth bombs. Oh yeah. And it always at the right time, it’s always at the right time.

Vanessa: And she will say to me, you know, oh, none now, which is Graham on. No, not hurt us. So what do you mean? I feel, but she never met her. So it’s, it’s crazy to hear her say things that way. And I said, wow, you know, I feel, I feel it too. Or there’ve been times where we go to bed at night and the next morning she’ll say I jumped at both this and this.

Vanessa: I drove to build that too. So I do believe that she and I were connected in some other life. And we had to be together on this life, riding this wave and this side of history right now. I honestly

Muhammad Kermalli: think there are other people on that topic, having the exact same dreams as the two of you. And that’s why I asked you to share your grandma with everybody.

Muhammad Kermalli: Because I think sometimes for, for many of us, when we’re there, there were just alone. We don’t even feel our grandmas. Right. So I’d love for you to share your grandma and the last word to everybody who would be listening

Vanessa: her dirty fingers, always her dirty nails. Why? Cause she was always in that garden.

Vanessa: She loved. Everyone always showed her love to her neighbors. If they were sick, she was there taking care of them. And even when she was dying, she was humble. It’s okay. I’m okay. Well, how are you? So she would take herself, remove herself fully, not care about her pain. Just to look at you and say, I love you.

Vanessa: Are you okay if you’re like, no, no, no. What about you? Your, your car, you know, you’re in pain, your stomach. Don’t worry about me. I want to worry about you. Who are you? And she on, even right before that last year, she was still in the garden picking her, you know, her veggies and her fruit trees. And she said that that was part of life that we had to get our hands dirty because the love connection we have with the soil, the earth is so beautiful.

Vanessa: And she was the happiest when she was in her garden. And I remember watching. Just went, Aw, making those mud pies saying, oh, I can’t wait to be in a garden. I want a garden one day for myself. And that’s what I’m creating is the garden. And just telling everyone is that, you know, you’re loved. Even if you think you’re not loved some energy and higher power out there, they love you.

Vanessa: My grandmother definitely loves you. And she’s up there making her pasta and telling you, you better get ready for the pasta because I’m going to feed you even if you’re not hungry and so much love. So I, um, I hope that, you know, wherever you are in the world, you can feel that love from the Mata. That was her name.

Vanessa: That’s what I was going to ask you. What’s her name down. Yeah.

Muhammad Kermalli: Um, so I really appreciate the time that you’ve taken. Thank you. You’ve driven a long way to get here. And when I say a long way. Metaphorically.

Vanessa: Oh yeah. Many, many light years away. No, I’ve come a model way

Muhammad Kermalli: to be able to do this and for it to just intersect at this moment where we’re trying to do what we’re doing to just share like an amazing journey.

Muhammad Kermalli: Um, and I, I keep feeling as when we talked to

Vanessa: somebody this last time. Right. There’s so much more I know. And so just want to just say thank you. Thank you so much. I appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you.