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Chapter 1: Second Nature Family Health and Wellness Centre

There aren't too many things that choke me up nowadays, but our new location at 69 Kempster Avenue in Ottawa, Ontario is one of them. Here's why.

I am a woman who wears many hats. I'm a perpetual student, I'm an educator, I'm a facilitator and public speaker, I'm a counsellor, and I'm an entrepreneur. I am a daughter, a friend, a wife. For good or for worse, I guess you could say that there aren't too many hats that I don't wear. However, the most important hat (no, crown) that I wear is that of mother of three beautiful young children. Three amazing, smart, rambunctuous, confident, and capable children, ages seven, five, and three. It is this role that I am the most proud of.

Some of you may know that motherhood hasn't always been smooth sailing for me. When my son was born, I was faced with challenges and decisions that I wasn't prepared for. The birth of my daughters added fuel to what most would describe as a family on fire. It wasn't pretty. After months and years of searching for answers to a question that I wasn't sure that I could communicate through words, but that I knew I felt, my son was given the diagnosis of Autism, ADHD, and ODD. The alphabet soup, the doctor joked. I wasn't laughing.

As support wavered and my friendships crumbled, mostly due to a lack of energy on my part but also as a result of a fear of not being understood, I found myself standing alone. Alone with a disabled child. Alone with a diagnosis. Alone with my regret and my fears for today and for the future. I want to say that I sucked it up and pulled up my bootstraps but I didn't at first. It took too much energy to avoid melting down.

It took months, and years, to heal from what had become my destiny: a mother of a child with special needs, special rights, special everything. But I managed. Through continuing education, community group involvement, and therapy of my own, I found myself getting stronger and advocacy became my fuel to move forward. I discovered strengths that I didn't know I had and energy that I wasn't sure that I could muster. For my children, I became exactly what they needed: an educator and counsellor; a strong woman who could fight for them and other families like ours. I started waking up at 5:00 am and worked to the bone. My family fueled me as I fought for a space where we could just be. I started by offering services online for free, and saw first-hand that there were other families out there like mine that needed help. That were standing alone alongside me. And I had no idea that they were there. Second Nature was born.

Second Nature is a space for children, youth, and individuals to access attachment-based, holistic and nature-centred, health and wellness services that work to strengthen the bonds that hold families together. Second Nature is led by a mother who survived, who has meticulously collected like-minded professionals who understand who you are even before your family walks in the door. We are a home away from home. We are a safe space where all people regardless of identity, are welcome to be themselves and where we work together, as a supportive community. You're not alone, come and stand with us.

Welcome to Second Nature.

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