One of the courses that I really enjoyed during my university experience – even though I nearly failed it – was PCUL 2P21 or otherwise known as Popular Culture Studies.
It was interesting to see my fellow students’ perspectives on the media that we consume regularly, but the reason that I almost failed was because of severe social anxiety which triggered an inability to participate in the required weekly seminars.
Those seminars were part of our core structure and I failed almost all of them.
Not almost all of the PCUL ones, almost all of the seminars that I ever took while studying at BrockU.
I did not know what social anxiety was or that I was experiencing it until my final year where I had such a terrible panic attack before an exam that I drove straight out of the university parking lot and into my doctor’s office.
She prescribed me antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication and that was the beginning of my experience with medication to treat mental illness symptoms.
When I decided to wean off of those medications, and I remember Effexor being one of them, I experienced symptoms which included my first seizure.
It has been almost eight years since I have been medication free, but I still suffer the occasional seizure due to acquired Vasal Vagal Syndrome.
I did not have that before I started brain-altering medication and that is the reason I decided not to take antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication when my mother died, although I desperately wanted out of my feelings.
The last time I fainted was after a routine pap smear in November of 2019. I lost my license for six months because of it, and I can’t even begin to describe the way that impacted my family. I knew I was going to faint.
I shouted to my doctor just as I went out, and my biggest fear is that my heart will stop beating the next time it happens.
She said it looked like I had stopped breathing and my muscles had seized.
To complicate things, we know that my grandfather and aunt had suffered brain aneurysms so there are compounding factors that don’t exactly point to a specific cause; thus we are being safe and exploring all possible options.
An MRI is the next step after several rounds of EEG’s and basic testing.
As mentioned in the previous entry, I had experienced something profound upon contemplating suicide while preparing for my mother’s funeral.
That feeling saved my life.
In an attempt to understand what I had experienced, I sought out spiritual literature, philosophy, religious texts and more to better grasp the profundity of what had happened.
Somehow, in a matter of a moment, I did not want to die.
The exact opposite had become true: I wanted to live.
And the urge to live was stronger than it had ever been in my entire life, it was like all of my mother’s wishes and hopes and love for me were placed into a syringe and she shot it through my heart, causing it to explode through my circulatory system.
There really aren’t words in our language available to describe it, and I think that because it was so unreal it forced me out of my sad reality and into full-blown introspection.
That happened in 2014 and today, my life looks unlike anything I could have imagined.
The first major incident that shifted the course of my future was the day that I met my husband.
Although he was one year older than me, I assumed he was a young kid who had been assigned to me as a mentor at work.
I scoffed and wondered to myself why on earth they would put me with someone so young, and then Tim proceeded to demonstrate his trade knowledge and I was floored.
This man who looked so young was actually older than I was and a veteran in the trade.
He taught me how to bend copper tubing correctly, install it with fittings and how to use an old-school alignment tool.
He taught me an abundance of trade tricks while I was working with him.
I was impressed, but cautious. He was talkative, but not flirty and very professional.
I did not date people at work, so I maintained a professional working relationship with him while we were paired, but it was obvious as the weeks passed that a different type of relationship was forming.
We had so much in common that it was eerie, and the more we opened up the better our conversations were. Eventually, we decided the best option was to wait until I was out of the department – I was a rotating apprentice and he was designated to the area as a mentor – to begin a friendship.
Three months into our relationship outside of work I became pregnant with our daughter, and the rest is history.
What was the most challenging aspect of our relationship was my concern for my reputation.
I had always vowed to never date a fellow tradesperson, let alone someone I worked with, however I couldn’t imagine going on without ever contacting this person again.
I had never been so consumed by a personality before and my intrigue was growing because every time I’d ask spirit to give me a sign through him as a ruse, he’d say or do exactly what I was thinking.
This was the first time I was attempting to calibrate my natural spiritual resources by directly asking for what I wanted and waiting.
Eventually I was shown information regarding twin flame relationships which helped to clarify a lot of what we were going through.
Our relationship began quickly and was intense; it was as though two kids in a sea of adults had found one another and just wanted to go have fun and explore.
We have been doing that ever since, and he’s been one of the most critical roles in my creating The Mindful Millwright at all – together we are pursuing our purposes both as individuals and as a pairing.
I never would have believed any of it if it hadn’t have happened to me, unfortunately.
You know how on Love is Blind you see Lauren and Cameron and we’re all:
“There is no way that’s going to work! They barely know one another! What the hell is going on between those beautiful people!”
Well, there’s a reason that I love that show and it is because I have experienced a similar love scenario.
Lauren had said she asked Jesus for her match and look what happened!
I’m not religious, but I know that spirituality and religion hold very similar magic.
She manifested that man, and I manifested mine!
Our personalities were connecting long before our appearances had anything to do with it.
Mind you, we were not in pods, but if you have ever seen steel manufacturing or the way millwrights look when we are working, you know damn well I didn’t look like a princess during our time together!
I was always makeup-free and sweaty, with my masculine side in full force and he was always complimenting my education, writing, persistence, skills, etc.
It was never about appearances, though we are both hopelessly attracted to one another; that all came afterwards.
The most pivotal moment was the day Tim shook his hair out from under his hard hat and the light in the lunchroom lit his green eyes right up.
I nearly choked on my lunch and was immediately embarrassed to catch anyone’s attention; I would have been mortified if anyone could see what I was thinking.
Our coworkers could sense something was up, of course.
I couldn’t stop giggling or smiling around him, and that frustrated me because I took pride in my work and serious nature, but our chemistry never affected our work performance.
If anything, we did a better job when we were together because of the way we effortlessly communicated.
We still do that, and I’m very thankful to have waited to leave the department before actually beginning our relationship because it allowed me to maintain my reputation as such.
And those guys in his department who poked fun at my girlishness are now some of our lifelong friends!
I don’t want to hide where our relationship was born, but I do not advocate for entering into the skilled trades to find a husband. Apply for Love is Blind if you really want the experience!
Rumors and gossip ruin careers, and I was lucky.
When we first met, I was reading Basic Teachings of the Buddha by Glenn Wallis.
There was a whole world of philosophy and practices unraveling under me and I decided to put them to the test using my poor husband as the medium.
He was good looking I thought, so eventually he was bound to slip up!
At least until then, that was my experience with relationships.
I was used to putting in effort and being left at the sidelines…until now.
When he first told me where he lived, I couldn’t believe it.
He lived in the exact condominium that I had imagined myself living in years prior while skipping a day of university to go shopping downtown at the Eaton Centre.
As we turned off the highway and onto Spadina Street, I looked up at the high-rises and thought about how luxurious and trendy it must feel to live there.
Never in my life did I imagine I would end up there myself and when I looked out onto the highway from the twentieth floor sipping my morning coffee from our balcony, I started to grasp the severity of my premonitions.
They happened my entire life and I hadn’t noticed, but I was noticing now and it was happening in droves.
All of my fleeting wants and wishes about big city living were actually experienced when I met and moved in with Tim in his downtown Toronto condo.
It was one of the most memorable times of my life.
Another discerning factor was that he is a vegetarian. For years I had attempted the diet, but was defeated.
I had taken Animal Studies as an elective in university and knew the perils of the meat industry.
But I couldn’t get my strength up to a level that allowed me to pass the physical at work or to keep up the strength required for physical labor with the way I interpreted how to eat meat-free.
I found myself pounding back chicken nuggets and anything meat related that I could palate, just to gain weight and some muscle. When I told Tim this he was shocked.
“You can be a tradesperson and a vegetarian, I’ll show you…”
And initially he would offer recipes and let me try what he made or bought for his lunch.
He would ride his bike around Toronto during the evenings to source a special treat for us to share the next day at lunch, and if that isn’t love I don’t know what is!
It was pretty quickly that we decided to move in together, and we still drove separately because our hours could fluctuate because we worked in different areas.
When I became pregnant and suffered Hyperemesis Gravidarum, I could no longer handle the commute.
We still own that condo and rent it out to tenants, fully planning to retire there together one day.
Our consciousness is affected by what we eat and to put animal consciousness into our bodies adversely affects our spiritual growth.
I am not an expert on the subject so I encourage further research into the topic, however I noticed the difference and it was great enough for me to never crave meat products again.
I cannot look at meat without seeing flesh or sentience and to chew it makes me physically ill. We eat tofu, paneer and beans to replace the meat and supplement for iron when required.
The biggest challenge was facing pregnancy as an HG sufferer and vegetarian, so I spoke with my obstetrician and nutritionist who offered me the resources I needed, and I gave birth to a healthy little girl on May 07, 2018.
Medical professionals are a valuable resource and spiritual/natural products and techniques should always accompany our innovative science.
We have come so far and I find it mind-boggling to turn away from the medical advancements that people dedicated their lives to offer us.
We owe our livelihoods to these miracles.
Magic surrounds us in ways we cannot often recognize via our muggle lens. For example, I use makeup as a form of magic to attract others towards me, knowing that I am dressing my corpse like one decorates a Christmas tree.
If you were walking around in a forest filled with evergreens, but one was all lit up, wouldn’t you want to stop and stare if not for a moment?
It is the same kind of attraction.
Makeup is the medium and the spell is my wishing to look attractive to others.
On the other hand, there are spells we perform using crystals and manifestation techniques to attract experiences/people/careers/etc.
One day at work, I walked through the mill and saw a jib crane I had not noticed before with the numbers “333” written on it – my angel numbers.
It was confirmation for me regarding a question I had asked spirit.
Because spiritual signs are so subtle and often disguised as fleeting thoughts, many of us overlook them. Magic is very real, and very useful in our ordinary lives.
When Tim and I would walk around Toronto, he would bring me to metaphysical or occult shops that he would stumble across during his bike rides, and I had never had anyone assist my growth like that, let alone a boyfriend.
Tim is the type of person who is accepting and encouraging of my interests whether he believes in it or not; his goal remained to keep me smiling and he has done the most wonderful job of that ever since.
When I was in the worst of my depression, my mother had asked me where her happy, smiling child had gone.
That statement broke my heart at that time, and I knew that she had some hand in my meeting.
Tim because of the way he made me smile.
My mother had the same type of light in her eyes when I would smile, and I will cherish the rest of my days with gratitude for being able to look into his.
On one particular day while visiting a witchcraft store, I picked up my very first tarot deck.
I thought it would be a good time to learn because I was pregnant and would have maternity leave to study. I did that, and began to practice on family members, fully doubting my experience.
I was blown away by the results, and now continue to read for close friends and family members who ask, offering collective readings on this website and via social media.
Since the middle of December 2019, it was as though my spiritual experience had been doused in gasoline and lit on fire.
It was very hard for me to hear spirit because of the increased noise in my mind.
Life-stress began to pile up from my father’s declining health to a sudden change in departments at work, and I was overwhelmed and unable to cope.
This had happened because I was under the illusion that things would stay the same, and falsely believing that I could manage it all while being sleep deprived as a toddler parent and moving house three times in three years.
It grew to be a lot.
There were times I was finding myself watching more television than usual, eating junk food, drinking way too much beer and I’d all but stopped exercising.
I had mistaken an apocalyptic dream for nuclear war; I did not see a pandemic coming.
Reading entries from my journal over the past month illuminated this for me, and that is why I find it so important to write things down.
Some days just come and go, but put them together and you will start to see patterns and cycles.
`That is where you can begin to hone your own magic and see what works for you.
For me, immersing myself in the elements, yoga, meditation and diet are the key factors for mental health thriving.
If these things are not in order, neither is my mental health. I would not have discovered the correlation if I had never started journaling.
These days, I end my week with a hot saltwater bath and a mug of green tea, and I go to bed when my daughter does.
I started to do yoga for the last half of my lunch break and I work out before dinner at home.
The improvements have already shifted my mood and my patience grew back along with my sanity. It has enabled me to write more clearly.
Now that I am feeling more clear as I move forward with The Mindful Millwright, I have decided to open up about past experiences in all aspects of my life, from mental health and spirituality as mentioned to conscious parenting and my experience as an industrial millwright apprentice and mechanical maintenance planner for the steel manufacturing industry.
I have had such a wonderful experience in my career that I feel it is a disservice to keep it to myself, and I strongly advocate for anyone to explore jobs in the skilled trades because the foundation of knowledge is so vast.
Not only did I gain a fantastic and viable long-term career, but I also acquired skills that are transferable and useful at home.
If you have come here from my Instagram page @themindfulmillwright – you already know that I do not look like the average tradesperson.
What does an average tradesperson look like?
Historically, these jobs were taken on predominantly by men.
It is easy to understand why, some of the work is physically laborious and mentally challenging.
Sixteen hour shutdown shifts in the middle of a Canadian winter in the mill can also likely be a deterrent, or apprehension about burning and grinding could also send some people away.
I have learned over the years that the fear of the thing is usually worse than the thing itself, and there was a time where I thought grinding a drill bit would harm me.
Injuries tend to occur to people who work unsafely or with other factors involved.
We live in the most technologically advanced and politically correct era which works both to our benefit and against us – “us” being women.
Technology allows us to rig and lift parts and equipment without using our bodies, however politically correctness sees the guys apologizing to me almost daily.
It is something that I have grown accustomed to.
We are not all easily offended, and we can surely appreciate and take jokes and laugh along.
At the same time, there have been times when lines have been crossed.
I am not afraid to speak up, and I think that having some understanding of people’s varied backgrounds and positions in life help me to see from the perspective that they speak from.
I never take the hurtful words of another person personally, because it more accurately reflects their mental state than it does anything to do with me.
There are things that I do and things that I keep to myself while at work. It is a matter of understanding my environment and the personalities that I am working in close contact with.
At the end of the day, we are all there to manufacture goods and to go home to our families.
As far as the actual job goes, industrial millwrighting differs vastly from the role I now assume as a mechanical maintenance planner.
There are several factors which put me in a position to apply for the role and land it with success.
What continues to drive that success is the foundation of mechanical knowledge I built out on the floor, and I plan on becoming a Red Seal Certified Millwright in the very near future.
Until then, I spend my time in an office decorated with engineered drawings of our mills and planning work orders for our tradesmen.
Using my experience working with cast iron bearing housings as an example, there is a reason why my role is typically offered to seasoned tradespeople.
The cost difference of ordering a complete bearing housing assembly differs vastly from ordering the bearing that ought to be replaced inside of it.
If I was unaware of what a bearing or a housing was, it would be very hard for me to distinguish what the equipment specialists are requesting for me to purchase.
Some might go ahead and order the five-thousand dollar bearing housing while I know to only order the hundred and fifty dollar bearing that is to be replaced inside our refurbished housings onsite.
We work right down to the finest of technical details, and attention to such is a must.
I know my limitations, and brute strength is simply not natural to me.
Shop work like pump rebuilds, welding, measuring and fabrication work was where I excelled the most.
I can hold my own when using power tools like impact guns – have you ever seen a 1” drive impact? They’re heavy! – and using these tools repetitively gave me fantastic arm definition. Nowadays I still carry a wrench, flashlight and channel locks in my pocket out of habit because as a millwright, you never know when you’ll need them.
The most challenging obstacle besides physical strength/stature in my becoming an apprentice was initially my math skills.
I just could not perform math in any way nor read measurements.
At first I was extremely apprehensive that I would be able to learn the skills I had skipped on as a child out of fear, but because I was adopting a new mindset I kept going until I figured it out.
It took time.
I would spend my break-time studying my tape measure alone, measuring random shop tools to get the numbers down pat.
I would use measuring tools like a Vernier or micrometer and practice what the thimble felt like when I turned it too forcefully, calibrating my hands to properly use these tools I was introduced to.
The first time I measured the outer race of a bearing I was completely off, and totally mortified.
My mentor had me repeat the task until I could do it with my eyes closed, and experiences like these filled with patient and understanding teachers are why I so willingly advocate for anyone to enter into the trades.
People are people no matter where you go, you just have to find the ones willing to work with you, and rotating through different mentors provides an array of unique experiences from people who have done the work for years.
Many of my mentors have long since retired, but I made sure to tell each one of them how important they were to me, and I thanked them. Their refusal to give up on me are the reason I am thriving in my career today.
Finally, I wish to address the global shift we have been experiencing.
This shift began in 2018 with an increase in societal, political, environmental and diversity groups advocating for their rights.
We are witnessing our world change so quickly that our children as adults will see a world that more so resembles the sci-fi movies that we grew up watching.
Think touch-less doors, mall closures as we move to little specialty shops while most go online, and a cashless society. The pandemic was the final shaking of our old foundation.
We are already advanced as a species, and this is like a universal growth spurt that will propel us into further development.
We have come a long way, even from when I was a child in the nineties with disposable cameras and no cellphones at all.
My grandmother would have been fascinated by our face-timing technology, but sadly she passed away just at the height of the social media movement.
One of my first ever Instagram posts was of my grandfather, long before videos were introduced on the platform back in 2012.
I miss them both so much, but I am very thankful to be able to connect to their energies since their grand departures. In a blink of an eye, we will be together again.
Until then, my hope is to watch the world unfold as it should while raising my own children.
I want my daughter to know the duality of life and live confidently in that we are eternal beings in a temporary vehicle.
I live fearlessly that the light will prevail over the darkness, and that global leaders will begin to reflect our vibrational upgrade.
There is no more room for hate, discrimination or any other fear-based program to reside in us as we move forward navigating this new world as a collective. Threats of nuclear war, terrorism and pandemic will be replaced by peace, love and happiness. I promise you that.
Copyright © The Mindful Millwright 2020. All Rights Reserved.
The Mindful Millwright
Kaila A. Notto