September 9, 2021

3. Cousin Michelle – Big Moves, Big Loss, Big Decisions

Choose Your Own After Ep 3
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‘Choose Your Own After’ Podcast

Our moms are sisters; mine is the oldest and hers is the youngest. I’m the eldest cousin and Michelle does a good job in this recording of reminding me that I’m much older than she.

Michelle lives in Calgary, Alberta with her fiance and her three step-children. Originally from the Region of Durham in Ontario, Michelle eventually settled down across the country in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies.

So how did this carefree, theater-lovin’, trash-tv obsessed gal come to be a wise old soul with more life experience accumulated in 11 years, than many twice her age?

Cousin Michelle

You’ll have to listen to today’s podcast to hear it from the source. But she breaks down four big events that changed the course of her life and thinking, in a big way:

Big Move

Michelle and her boyfriend packed up their lives, hugged their family and friends goodbye and embarked on a blind adventure to Grande Prairie, Alberta to forge a new life on their own. It took some courage to admit that it may not have been the right move and so six weeks later, they packed up again and moved down to join me and my family in our home in Calgary, Alberta.

Michelle shares a bit more about this experience in her post ‘You always have a home to come back to‘.

Big Loss

Michelle and her family went through the devastating experience of her father’s ALS Diagnosis shortly after she married. When Paul died, he left behind a legacy that he passed on to his daughter. Life is fleeting, live it to its fullest and don’t sweat the small stuff.

Michelle and her dad
Michelle and her dad

Editor’s note: I learned that as the disease progresses & more support is needed, the average cost of ALS to a family is $150,000-$250,000. If you have been touched by this story and you’d like to make a donation in Paul’s memory to help offset this financial burden for another family, you can do so HERE.

“Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (a-my-o-TROE-fik LAT-ur-ul skluh-ROE-sis), or ALS, is a progressive nervous system disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causing loss of muscle control.

ALS is often called Lou Gehrig’s disease, after the baseball player who was diagnosed with it. Doctors usually don’t know why ALS occurs. Some cases are inherited.

ALS often begins with muscle twitching and weakness in a limb, or slurred speech. Eventually, ALS affects control of the muscles needed to move, speak, eat and breathe. There is no cure for this fatal disease.” (Mayo Clinic)

You can read more about Michelle’s relationship with her dad in her post ‘Missing you Dad, on Mother’s Day‘.

Big Decision

Equipped with her new outlook on life, Michelle trusted her gut and knew she needed to make her happiness a priority. It meant some tough decisions and led to her divorce shortly after, because she knew that the right person for her was out there somewhere.

Her intuition/inner-voice has guided her many times over and she writes about it in her post ‘Trusting My Gut‘.

Bigger Decision

All of the tough stuff Michelle went through brought her to the moment when she had to grow up quick and make the biggest decision of all that held the greatest risks. Ultimately, she learned to always choose love, when she chose to stand by her fiance when he was incarcerated after a devastating vehicle accident that ended in the tragic death of his passenger.

This interview revealed so many lessons that established Michelle’s positive mindset that she’ll carry with her in all the future challenges that may come her way. I urge you to take a listen.

Read some more about the difficult time she experienced, ‘I’ll Never Hide Again

References from the podcast

As a post-script, you may have been indirectly introduced to Winnie the Pug and Rosie the Retriever in today’s episode. Thank you for your understanding of our quirks and glitches. As promised, we’ll never be perfect, but we’ll always be real. Episode 3 of today’s podcast was:

Directed and hosted by Stacey Haley

Special Guest: ‘Cousin Michelle D.’

Sound Effects – William Haley

Production – Liza McClelland

Stacey aka WillowjakMama

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  1. […] Our introduction to Michelle in our 3rd podcast episode: Cousin Michelle – Big Moves, Big Loss, Big Decisions […]

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Willowjak Blog 

My blog started as a way to document my journey to wellness, but turned into a place to be inspired by others through our collective messy & authentic stories. We chat about themes that are often ignored and voices that aren't often given a chance at the mic. Now it's my favourite place to be. 

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