Paula believes in the power of the human spirit, that despite life’s adversity caused by hardships, that we are able to affect positive change by focusing on our mental well-being. When we nurture our mental well-being continuously, as we do with our physical beings, we can find true fulfillment and happiness in our lives.
Paula is a Tedx Speaker.
Her work has been featured by the Prince William, Prince Harry, Meghan & Kate’s Charity, ‘Heads Together’, Movember Canada and Global TV Montreal.
Paula has over 20 years of experience in Brand Marketing, Communications, Public Relations & Event Management and has worked professionally as a performer and published Singer-Songwriter.
Paula lost her late husband to his mental illness by way of his suicide when her sons were just 2 weeks and 2 years old. Months later, she said her last goodbye to her mother who had been battling Cancer and simultaneously, was left without a place to live, due to a flood and mould infestation in her rental. Within this short intense 6 month period, she was faced with two moves, the passing of her husband and mother, the birth of her son, and her own close call due to internal bleeding following the delivery.
Paula dug deep to find ways to make it through her grief and adversity. Moving across the country to be close to her family and her ailing mother also meant leaving her community, friendships and career in Marketing and Music behind. While nursing her newborn alone, with her toddler at her feet, in a state of severe distress and sleep deprivation, Paula had a moment of truth and gratitude. She realized that the only thing that she had to rely on was her breath and creativity. Her two young sons were the reason for her breath and their joy became her oxygen masks. She had experienced the power of connecting to her breath while singing, doing yoga, meditation and even during her two natural labours, one of which she did alone. Breathing, meditation and creativity through making music, had helped her through difficult times before and she felt it could again. Closing her eyes, she brought her attention to her senses and breath.
The meditation brought about a new awareness, a sense of clarity. And it was through this clarity that hope began to shine through. Paula connected with a social worker who called in favours for a free yoga membership and child-care. Through these gifts, Paula re-connected with her body. She re-gained back some physical strength which helped her morale. It was through this experience that she realized how linked our bodies are with our minds, our minds with our bodies, our hope and purpose with interpersonal connections, and our need to create and express ourselves with our will to live and desire to thrive.
As a nursing full-time mother with little child care support, Paula spent most of her days in isolation. It was during her children’s nap times and late at night that she reached deep inside herself to access her creativity and music, to tap into the joy that playing her guitar and writing songs once gave her. Using technology to her advantage, she began sharing her songs with her former Grammy Award winning producer, David Odlum in France, who later put her in touch with musicians in Australia, Ireland, the West Coast of Canada - all of whom contributed parts to her songs via Dropbox. Her album is still in the making.
Surrounded by so much loss, Paula began questioning her purpose and contribution to the world. She packed up her bags when her children were 3 and 5 years old, left her home and alone with her young children, landed in Paris. For 3 months, Paula and her sons used Paris as a home-base while exploring France, Italy and Switzerland. It was while living abroad that she tested herself by pushing past the fear of being a true sole provider, without the support of parents or a partner. At this time, Paula’s sense of discovery and joy, where the novelty of learning something new, flourished. It became clear to her that stoking her curiosity was the key to living an inspired life, free of irrational fear and anxiety.
When she returned back to her home-town, Paula began practicing the rituals:
pay it forward acts of service & compassion, humanity,
self-expression by accessing ‘flow’ and awareness through art and meditation,
novelty by discovering something new by way of micro-travel, new learnings, and/or long distance travel,
and physical strength training through sports and exercise, preferably in nature.
Through these acts, Paula realized that each could be individualistic, free of cost and accessible for nursing moms, those who are bereaved, individuals in recovery due to loss and misfortune, communities at large or corporations willing to implement mental well-being rituals into their work environments. Paula’s hope is to implement and extend these practices in schools, communities & corporations as a pro-active method to prevent distress and absenteeism due to mental health conditions. Years later, the acronym H.A.T.S. revealed itself and her ritual ‘H.A.T.S. Off’ stuck as an expression she would often say to remind herself to stay on top of her self-care and self-compassion mental well-being routine. It has been a practice she keeps and uses to help others exercise positive mental states of mind to reach their fullest potential. She writes about her ‘H.A.T.S. Off’ practices on her mental well-being blog Ode to Wonder.