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Next Steps

First of all we have to say thank you!

When we begin accepting applications for the Ottawa Makeover Project each year, we know that we are about to be drawn into a world of emotion, motivation, celebration, and hope. This year was no exception. We are amazed at the number of people who came forward to tell us about themselves and their dreams and about how being part of this project could help them take that first, next or last step on their personal journey.

Now, the hard part begins for us.

Over the days and weeks that follow the deadline, the Partners review each application, read every story, and watch every video before eventually settling on a shortlist of candidates. We’ll soon reveal this year’s participant and we can’t wait to share his or her journey with you.

She did it: Photos from the big reveal

Well, that’s it!  Cathy 2.0 is here and the 2015/2016 edition of The Ottawa Makeover Project comes to a close once again.  Here is a look at the fun we had after the live-on-CTV-Morning-Live reveal on May 13th (you can see that here:

Cathy and her entourage

Cathy and Photographer Howard Sandler    Cathy and EFL Personal Trainer Kyle

 Cathy and Live Well's Dr. Sabrina    Cathy and Pierrette Raymond

Cathy and Eating Well Ottawa    Cathy and Rinaldos

Cathy and ScotiaWealth advisor Colleen O'Connell-Campbell    Cathy and Shelley True of TRUEdotDESIGN

Cathy and Lawyer Russ Molot    Cathy and the Supperworks crew

Cathy with Twiss & Weber    Cathy and Eyes on Ottawa's Stayci Keetch

Cathy with Doctor Andrea Stevens


Missing from the photos:  Our friends at Myers Kanata.


And now…for some behind the scenes fun:

on_set_4385 on_set_4396 reveal_4393 selfies_4461




All photos by Howard Sandler Photography

A Rather Private Person Changing Rather Publicly!

A.K.A My Ottawa Makeover Project Journey: In Cathy’s Words!


Ta da! Cathy Whitney 2.0 has arrived and I am delighted!

Ottawa Makeover Project 2016 Reveal


On Wednesday, October 28, 2015 just before noon, I went to Dr. Andrea Stevens’ office expecting to meet with three of the Ottawa Makeover Project business owners as one of three finalists. Shock and surprise, that was a clever ploy to get me into the office and tell me I was the winner! Nicely played, Andrea, nicely played! (Throwback: )

And, nothing will ever compare!

I’m not an expert at anything other than being ME! So, everything you have seen, read, heard or watched me do is me being me, just so you know.

Do I walk around my house with a microphone clipped to my shirt? No. Rehearse the video posts 100 times before they go up? Not so much. What was asked of me in the course of this journey is that I keep it real and that’s what I did.

I started performing stand-up comedy in 1995, but haven’t been on stage for years. So, when I’ve been in front of the camera, it was much easier for me than most, but part of that comfort was because of Stayci Keetch of Eyes on Ottawa – she is a great director!

Would I do this again? You bet! And I would put the same energy, passion and humour into the experience, start to finish!

In the course of the makeover, the OMP realm watched me experience so many things for the first time. Pretty much every single experience with the partners required me to step out of my comfort zone. A few examples…

Working out was brutal at first; it hurt quite a bit, but over time, it was easier. When I started in the gym, I could not do squats and refused to do some of the exercises Kyle wanted me to do. Sweat is just your body crying! But, by my final workout, I was rockin’ through multiple repetitions of so many exercises and banging through a 30 minute walk circuit in my neighbourhood in 20 minutes! Delightful bonus… so many of the workouts I did with Kyle, I can do at home!

Going to the dentist is tough for a lot of people for many reasons. For me, it was not in my meagre budget over the years; my kids came first and even they didn’t see a dentist regularly. Putting myself in the very capable and caring hands of Dr. Andrea Stevens & her team meant swallowing my pride and hoping I would not be judged for anything that was wrong in my mouth.That sounds so insecure and irrational, but that’s the truth. I didn’t track closely, but I would say about 75% of the time was spent on my Gum Tissue Therapy program. That was mortifying for me, but after 30 years of no professional dental maintenance, there was a lot to do. Having all 8 of my 40+ year old fillings removed and replaced was amazing. Now, I have a 100% healthy mouth – it is a game changer! So very much a smile makeover!

C L U T T E R!! That was a fire that took up residence in my home over the years, fuelled by my overwhelm, my depression, and the all but consuming grief of losing my Mom in 2009. This fire was well-fed for 20 years until December 17th, 2015, when the battle began. That fire was extinguished in grand fashion thanks to Pierrette Raymond and her team who will forever have a special place in my heart!

Sharing the scope of my clutter was hands down, the toughest part of the makeover and I know that having the Before & After happen so quickly made it easier for me. But, it was still a monumental source of shame.

My house is not perfect, I have boxes to get through and old habits to break, but the foundation has been laid for a clutter-free home and that is one of the greatest gifts in the world to me!

All the partners were equally wonderful to me and they were all part of the entire life-changing experience for me.

You probably already know that I’ve been a single parent for 22 years. What you might not know if that my EX is a total deadbeat and thanks to the Ottawa Makeover Project, my DIVORCE will be finalized in the weeks ahead.

I have taken better care of myself since 2012 after surgery. The Ottawa Makeover Project enabled me to take further steps in self-care thanks to partners like SupperWorks and Eating Well Ottawa through whom I’ve enjoyed healthy, home made meals and an incredible array of organic produce and groceries!

Live Well and Dr. Sabrina Bercovitch, gave me food for thought with the Live Well for Life program. I had a pretty decent knowledge of the concepts, but holey moley, there was a TON of valuable information and lifestyle modifications to make Cathy Whitney 2.0 a truly better version of herself!

My financial picture is pretty simple – I have no extra; I have just enough to live on, but that will change thanks to the guidance and support of the incomparable Colleen O’Connell-Campbell. Her quiet confidence is a strength I truly admire. I knew of this wonderful lady for years and admire her commitment to educating, enlightening and empowering women in transition – that certainly describes my experience and situation!

Now that you’ve SEEN Cathy Whitney 2.0, you have the visual proof of the incredible talents of Fiorella of Rinaldo and the ladies of Twiss & Weber! When I walk my daughter down the aisle TOMORROW (yes!) I will do so knowing that I look my very, very best! The fact that these wonderful women are so gracious and delightful is pure bliss!

When I was selected as the 2015-2016 Ottawa Makeover Project winner, FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY 30+ YEARS OF DRIVING, I HAD A BRAND-NEW CAR – the first person to drive it! That was total vehicular heaven-on-earth! Thanks to MYERS Kanata GM, this sweet ride enabled me to honour my commitments to the OMP partners and I logged about 10,000 km in this journey. Yes, some of that was ‘personal’, but it was a total blast to have such a sweet ride!

The tremendously talented team at True Dot Design are the technical and social media wizards behind a great deal of what you see related to the OMP. They have been such a wonderful team with whom to work on my journey and I am so grateful to them!

Last but not least, my family and friends have been so incredibly supportive during my transformation and this journey would not have been the success or amazing experience it has been without them!

A heartfelt shout-out to my daughter, Rebecca Stanley, who was my unofficial Manager, Roadie, Photographer, and all-round sanity-saving superstar! My son, Austin, was very patient with my wild and crazy schedule in terms of us having time together! I love my kids more than words could say and they are my greatest source of inspiration and a huge part of the reason that I immersed myself in this journey to be the best version of me.

I am Cathy Whitney 2.0 and I am ready for the next phase of my life. So, LIFE, are you ready for me?


Stay tuned!



TDOT and The Ottawa Makeover Project

TRUEdotDESIGN, an Ottawa-based marketing and design firm, is proud to be a partner of The Ottawa Makeover Project and contribute our services to the unique initiative! The Ottawa Makeover Project brings a group of community-minded professionals together to change the life of one deserving individual. The winning participant receives a “life makeover” consisting of professional guidance, coaching, and pampering, courtesy of the Project’s generous partners!

This year’s Ottawa Makeover Project winner is Cathy Whitney, a single mom for more than 22 years, she has always put the interests of others far ahead of her own. Raising her children as a single parent while taking care of her mother, Cathy rarely had enough time or energy to devote to herself. It is without a doubt that her selfless nature made her an incredibly deserving candidate to receive the “life makeover”.

As a team of educated and driven women at TRUEdotDESIGN, this initiative is truly significant to us – it hits close to home. We understand the challenges that women can face when trying to establish and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Whether you are a single mom, supporting a loved one in need, or if you are simply too busy to find time to dedicate to your own well being, you deserve a life makeover!

That time Cathy and her daughter visited TRUEdotDESIGN during Ottawa Makeover Project 2015/2016
Cathy and her daughter visited TRUEdotDESIGN during OMP 2015/2016

Dr. Andrea Stevens, founder of The Ottawa Makeover Project, understands this better than anyone. She is so passionate about making women feel wonderful about themselves that she started the project to bring like-minded, caring professionals together to contribute to the cause.

We admire Dr. Andrea Stevens and the other Ottawa Makeover Project partners so much that we felt TRUEdotDESIGN had to be a part of the meaningful initiative. We contribute our marketing and design services to the project because we feel that it is an important cause that needs a voice. Our goal is to facilitate communications and be the vehicle for the voice of the Ottawa Makeover Project. Through the website that we designed, our social media management, graphic design services, and other marketing efforts, our goal is to spread word about this amazing initiative and contribute to its overall success!

In Cathy’s Words: Two Thought Provoking Questions

A.K.A. Two thought provoking questions that set my commitment to the OMP in Motion…

Hard to believe that the Ottawa Makeover Project is set to wrap-up with THE BIG REVEAL next Friday, 13 May at 845 am on CTV Morning Live. I’m excited beyond words for that!

This blog post is VERY personal – it is my VERY FIRST response to Pierrette Raymond before we’d even met in person. It was tough to answer so honestly because it is raw, but it is real!

I invite any and all of you who read this to ask yourselves the same questions and save it. In 6 months’ time, pull out your answers and see where you are in relation to what you said on this particular day, in this particular moment.

QUESTION: If you knew you had just one more year to live and the next six months were going to enrich your life and the lives of others in more ways than you can count, what would be your biggest hope, wish, dream?

HOPE – that my children would know to their very core how much I love them, how precious they are to me, how the sacrifices I made were always worth it to make their lives the best and give them the solid foundation to launch into their destinies. The same essentially, for my family & friends – anyone with a place in my world, my life, my heart.

That those who have shared my journey, may be inspired to take a leap of faith, to commit to making 1 change or 10 or none; being comfortable with the person they are and recognizing that loving ourselves first opens us to loving others.

MY HOPE FOR ME would be that I made a difference. That those who knew me would have fond memories of me and what I brought to their lives.

WISH/DREAM – that I would get to buy my home and go to Disney. Both have been my dream forever; I wanted to give my kids a home that was truly ours (we moved about 14 times in 22 years) and I have loved Mickey Mouse my whole life – it is my dream to meet him and share the happiest place on earth with my children. (I am crying so hard right now in frustration that the 2 things I’ve wanted most STILL haven’t happened and I just don’t know if they ever will – it makes me so sad and frustrated. )
QUESTION: What legacy do you want to leave for your loved ones as you live fully today? What do you want to model as the person you are (or are becoming)?

Be bold. Be brave. Be Courageous.
Leap fearlessly.
Make mistakes and learn from them.
Hug your kids. Every time you see them.
Tell your kids you love them. Every time you see them.
Don’t take ANYONE or ANY DAY for granted.

My legacy – that I made the world a better place by being kind, funny, compassionate, empathetic, generous, enthusiastic, wacky, authentic and someone with a strong moral compass, hands made for helping, heart made for caring and feet ready to walk that extra mile (or more).

That I was someone they were proud to know.

As for who I am becoming… this is one ready to launch version of me.

The makeover is simultaneously exhilarating with its scope and exhausting with the magnitude of what’s to come!

I really like who I am essentially, but know that there’s a better version of me that is waiting to emerge from the chrysalis of stress, struggles and aggravation that have been my reality for far too long.

You will here more from me in the days ahead.

Stay tuned!


The Shame that Hides in Clutter

I’ll always remember the morning of December 10th, the day she was letting me in her home for the first time. We stood outside, her hand on the door handle, telling me she wasn’t sure she could do this but knowing it was time to. It took several minutes and she opened the door.

For the four preceding weeks, Cathy and I worked together to prepare her for the next phase of her makeover – her home transformation.

You see, Cathy had not had any visitors in her home since she moved over a year ago. She also admitted to me that she had not had visitors in her previous home for over a decade.

What Cathy was experiencing was not foreign to me. She had gone through some very emotional stages in her life and with it came the inability to deal with the physical stuff in her life. In fact, rather than deal with the stuff that was coming in, it became a toleration, something she just started to put up with. It became easier for her to let things pile up than having to make decisions about where to put them, to donate them, to organize them or throw them out. Instead, they piled up, just like the feelings Cathy was experiencing after significant losses in her life.

Cathy didn’t want to tell me how serious the clutter was in her home but on a Friday evening, after working with her for a few weeks, Cathy got real with her stuff. She had too much. It was a mess. And it was time for her to deal with it.

She took several photos and posted them on Facebook, as she shared the emotional toll her clutter had taken on her. She expressed deep shame and cried as she shared the reality of what she was living in.

She reached out to me and I couldn’t help but be extremely proud of her. She was taking the steps to get clear as to why she had clutter, why she had hoarded things, and that she was now ready, in full awareness, to let them go.

This was a monumental step for Cathy. It’s never easy to admit that there’s an issue. From the outside, all looks great. But what you don’t see behind closed doors, or what is going on inside, is what I see with my clients.

I reassured Cathy that she could let go of the shame she was feeling. There was no judgement on my part. I told her that she should be extremely proud of herself for taking the steps to now say enough is enough. It’s time to clear it out, make space for her home to breathe and for her to live life fully again.

As we stepped inside her home, it was immediately apparent that there was clutter. And yes, there was too much. But beyond all of that was Cathy, in the middle of it, asking for the support she needed to let it go. She wanted to transform her home as much as she wanted to transform her life.

We spent the next hour going from one room to the next, assessing what would stay, envisioning the home she has always wanted. I wrote my notes and planned in my head how we would transform her home in a week’s time.

We left on a high note. Cathy was feeling better and she had most definitely begun to let go of the shame that she was feeling. We stood in her kitchen, a space she confessed that she hated. I vowed to her that we would transform her home so that she would love every room, including her kitchen.

As we hugged each other goodbye, I knew that the next step, the day of her home transformation, would be a transformative day for her, and the rest of her life.

– Pierrette


My journey of stress & weight issues – Part 2 of 2

Where we left off…

I maintained this level of stress for almost 20 years! Yet, you’d never know it because I presented a facade of get it done and keep smiling. The stress/cortisol combo opened the door, and poor food choices, a lack of physical activity (overwhelm is a companion that keeps you from being any kind of energetic) and general malaise brought me to a breaking point.

The breaking point was a long time coming and manifested so severely that I had to be off for 4 months to regain enough health so my body could handle the surgery!

Being overwhelmed and dealing with clinical depression are ‘invisible’ issues – anyone on the outside looking in could have easily presumed I was a scatter brain, a dreamer, undisciplined and just a terrible housekeeper! If any or all of that sounds familiar, then I hope you can take comfort in knowing YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

On the surface, I was a devoted Mom, always worked to support my family and volunteered hundreds of hours at Manordale Public – Council Chair, ran the Breakfast program for four years, helped with the lunch program, helped out at book fairs and in my children’s classes. At Greenbank Middle School, I was Council Chair for 2 years and Grad Dance Chair for 5 years!

As well, I was in college for three years full-time (2004-2007) and earned a place on the Dean’s List in first year, finished my second year working at home while I nursed my son back to health after Austin was hit by a car on 8 March 2006.

My scholastic achievements included being a finalist for provincial and national awards. I even played a role in a local non-profit winning a National award for my copywriting of their campaign – which they used for 5 years! And created a tag line for a corporation who used my words for 5 years, too.

Who wouldn’t figure I was some kind of SUPER WOMAN?! Therein lies the rub… I put so much energy into everybody and everything I did NOT take care of me, so, I was pretty overloaded.

There was a particular Friday night I remember coming home, stepping inside my house, closing the door and physically sliding down the door, bursting into tears. Rebecca & Austin were freaked out, so promptly flew into action (as best a 12 year old and 10 year old can) to make me a cup of my favourite herbal tea and run me a bath after they both hugged me so tight and fought their own tears.

It was not the school work that broke me, it was being unwelcome by my classmates to be part of the groups for assignments. I was 40 years old; most of them were late teens or early 20s. We were among about 50 students selected from the 800 or so applicants – so, not an easy program to get into or from which to graduate.

On the surface, I acted like it was fine, but it hurt me deeply, every time. This changed dramatically over the subsequent two years of school and many of my classmates are following me on this journey with words of encouragement and support! That means a great deal to me!

Austin’s miracle was the MOTHER OF ALL WAKE-UP CALLS as related to PRIORITIES!! Seeing him in CHEO EMERGENCY, beautiful face smashed and he was unable to speak because of the mouth trauma – I almost fainted when I saw him, but I didn’t. Fearing your child could die is the mother of all motivators to get you across the room. From a nightmare to a miracle in days – no surgery, no broken bones, no internal injuries, home in four days and fully healed in 6 months. A humbling gift for which I am grateful. Every. Single. Day.

So, you can imagine how overwhelmed I was; and the weight crept up on me slowly – 60 pounds over 30 years is pretty subtle – 2 pounds a year is barely noticeable. I thought I had tons of energy, WRONG! I had tons of cortisol and adrenaline coursing through my veins.

It is easy to think you’re a super human when you don’t get sick, you accomplish goals and have two kids who are the light and joy of your life! WRONG!

My body was in fight-or-flight mode constantly; burning me out but I ignored the signs and powered through. That came to screeching halt on 28 August 2009 when my beloved Mom died. Her passing knocked me flat, but not for long. I was in the early stages of launching my business, with which Mom had helped in the months before she passed away. So, to honour her, I kept going and spent the next 2 years working tirelessly to launch my dream!

The dream came true on 3 August 2011, WOW MOM Homemade…To Go! – a catering business with a retail location that served breakfast and lunch (to go) plus catering dinners, parties, baby showers, weddings and funerals… EVERYTHING!!! It was a family business, my kids & I, plus a few friends who helped out on occasion. WOW MOM even catered for the NHL!

Unfortunately, years of ignoring my grief and stress; of powering through meant that only 8 months later, I had to close the doors and walk away.

My body was so out of whack, that surgery was needed to remove almost two pounds of fibroids from my abdomen. This became the FINAL wake-up call for me. My children were terrified that I’d die; that my body was going to just give up after all this time.

Four months off to regain my health, four days in hospital then 8 weeks of formal recovery was a journey of healing in many ways. Having given up my dream, I needed to find work. However, I needed to get my act together, so I made changes, SMALL CHANGES, more water, walking every day, quiet time every day, no matter what. And KEY TO THIS was DITCHING THE GUILT at my self-care!

ALL THIS TO SAY – the weight I carry is like a shield that I no longer need. It is part of my armour that I have worn so the world could not hurt me or my children; I wore it as a WARRIOR WOMAN to keep the dragons at bay.

There are so many sources of information as relates to self-care, weight-loss, stress management, staying healthy, getting fit – it is boggling.

I follow a few simple principles that I believe will enable me to become CATHY WHITNEY 2.0 and sustain what I achieve beyond this journey!

1. DRINK water, add lemon, fizz it up, doesn’t matter – keep water at hand throughout your day.

2. MOVE MOVE MOVE – we sit too much with technology and life – the good thing about knocking back copious amounts of water is you need to get up to go to the washroom. Park further from the office or stores – a burst of movement is a good little bit of exercise. Obviously, bona fide workouts are wonderfully beneficial, but JUST GET STARTED and then build on that!

3. GET ENOUGH SLEEP – don’t burn yourself out; let stuff go, delegate or eliminate.

4. DON’T EAT CRAP – healthy food is not always cheapest, but you can invest in maintaining your health now or invest in regaining it later. If you wish to indulge, do so, but MODERATION IS KEY!

5. TELL THE NEGATIVE THOUGHTS/VOICES to be quiet! Overwhelm loves to have the captive audience of YOU in a quiet moment. If it starts, tell it to stop and change your mind set.

Now, I’m off for some lemon water and a walk!

Stay tuned.

The Realization That It’s Time to Change

When Cathy and I first met via email in late October, it was very apparent that she and I were going to do a lot of great work together.

Cathy was ready! She was hungry to change the things in her life that she was fed up with. She had been putting everyone and everything else first on her priority list, and she was clearly at the bottom. It was now her time for her to be first.

In her own words, “This is my time. Time for me to be the woman I know I can be. It’s time for Cathy 2.0.”

For the first couple of weeks, I gave Cathy simple assignments and with each, she embraced them wholeheartedly. The gift that she gave herself was the awareness that she was creating for herself.

The first assignment that I gave her was to simply look at her life, all areas of her life, and make a list of all the things she had been tolerating. This included clutter in her home, feelings that were weighing her down, thoughts that didn’t serve her anymore. All she needed to do was become aware of them and add them to the list.

No sooner did 48 hours go by that Cathy sent me a detailed email about how this one exercise was opening her eyes to so much more than just the clutter she had in her home. It also brought old, negative beliefs about herself to the surface, including shame for all the stuff she had kept in her life, on the inside-out, outside-in.

I told her that her awareness was the first step and that we’d get through the tolerations and the extra stuff in her life, together.

For the first four weeks, we worked on the letting go process. I wanted her to then move from awareness to letting go. She was then assigned the task to begin letting go of some of the things that were easier for her to part with. These were extra clothes, towels and linens that she brought to charity. She started re-organizing some of her WOW Mom kitchen tools for a business that she once owned and was looking to start again.

Through this initial process, she began to rebuild her self-confidence. She was feeling more in charge and ready to make the next big steps. In a very short amount of time, she had begun to reshape her life so that she had more of want she truly wanted and less of what was weighing her down.

Cathy came a long way in our first few sessions together. The next big step was letting me inside her home to begin the home transformation.

– Pierrette

In Cathy’s Words: Cathy the Cortisol Container

a.k.a. my journey of stress & weight issues

There are defining moments in our lives, the indescribable joy of having my kids, the soul-deep sorrow at losing my beloved Mom. The I DID IT feeling of bringing a dream to reality and the I CAN’T DO THIS feeling when your body crashes after powering through for so long, dare I say TOO LONG!

There are moments where you stand proud and say I AM STRONG! I AM CAPABLE! I CAN SLAY ANY DRAGON WHO DARES CROSS MY PATH!

And then there are the moments where you drag yourself across the threshold of your castle, remove your armour and put away your sword while you weep from exhaustion and despair at battles fought valiantly, but lost. You close the door on the world outside and retreat to recover.

I’m here to tell you that I have lived all of the above.

The OTTAWA MAKEOVER PROJECT has shown me a version of me that is evolving, that is braver and stronger than I ever thought I could be again. You see, I’ve faced many dragons in the course of my life and lost many battles, but the scars remind me that I’m still standing, still ready for what life brings my way.

The biggest dragon for me has always been my weight. I was teased a lot about it growing up and it hurt. Every. Single. Time. So, like so many folks with a similar issue, I turned things around and would make fun of myself, if I am self-deprecating, it won’t be as fun for those who would tease me to do so, right? Nope, that is the deluded thinking of someone who uses humour as their armour. It still hurt whether I said it or someone else did.

Can we control what we look like? From a body mass perspective, yes, to some extent. But, we cannot choose our overall build, not naturally. So, we may have blue eyes or brown, blonde, brown or red hair, big boobs or small, fabulous butt or hardly any. Perfect teeth or not. NONE OF WHICH WE GET TO CHOOSE NATURALLY!

Yet, people are judged for what they look like, what they weigh, what they wear, where they live, their education, their bank balance, their job. ALL SUPERFICIAL!!!

I have been told that 80% of our body shape/build can be attributed to diet; to whatever we’re putting in our mouths. Makes sense to me! Your cannot out-exercise an eat-whatever-crap-you-want lifestyle.

Cathy wedding close-up


I was a smokin’ hot 18-year old. A truly stunning 25-year old bride. Then I had kids and went into my ‘shapeless-clothes-so-nobody-notices-my-shape’ phase. That enabled me to not have to face the long-standing unwanted and inappropriate attention of entitled men. And, by being shapeless, I focused on my raising my kids. A few relationships over the years, but nothing monumental.


ALL THIS TO SAY, that on 3 November 2015, I learned that I had about 100 pounds of fat on my body. 100 pounds – that was a stunning revelation. You’d be right to wonder, what happened to the smokin’ hot 18 year old & stunning 25-year old bride? Well, in a word S-T-R-E-S-S!

STRESS releases cortisol which puts your body in fight or flight mode as needed. My stressors were a combination of being a single parent with a deadbeat ex, struggling to provide for my kids, the shame of being on assistance because working part-time meant I could be with my kids and not spend so much of my income on child care. I always worked and volunteered; always gave back. There seemed to rarely be more than enough money for the basics; things didn’t seem to quite work out for me/us. So, I was essentially a cortisol container. Now, that sounds sexy!

I maintained this level of stress for almost 20 years! Yet, you’d never know it because I presented a facade of get it done and keep smiling. The stress/cortisol combo opened the door, and poor food choices, a lack of physical activity (overwhelm is a companion that keeps you from being any kind of energetic) and general malaise brought me to a breaking point.

Stay tuned.

– Cathy



In Cathy’s Words: Putting the Spotlight on the OMP Partners!

One would not necessarily expect so much laughter and comfort when visiting the dentist. Well, at Dr. Andrea Stevens Dentistry, that is EXACTLY what happens. I’ve never been much of a napper, but Dr. Stevens’ team takes such great care of me, I’m all but dozing off in the chair! So many people stay away from the dentist because they don’t want THE DREADED NEEDLE!! Well, in Dr. Stevens’ practice, it is a high-tech system that is virtually painless. Trust me, I’ve had a lifelong heart-pounding fear of needles, but not when I’m in this dental chair!

Financial planning may seem like a daunting task, UNLESS you’re fortunate enough to work with the wonderful Colleen O’Connell-Campbell, a senior wealth advisor at Scotia Wealth. Frankly, I have little money or assets, but with Colleen’s expert guidance, I am confident that a great foundation for long-term wealth will be in place. Part of the tool kit Colleen is providing is an iPad which is going to be put good use as I take my businesses forward! And, the happy bonus in meeting with Colleen is they are so comfortable even when discussing my financial challenges. Every meeting ends with a hug and that speaks volumes of the connection we have.

Eating Well Ottawa has been delivering an amazing array of fresh, organic produce and pantry items to my door 2 weeks. Saving the time and effort of shopping! That’s a big WIN right there for me. Having a great variety of ingredients for quick salads or slow-simmered soups or even fresh fruit to grab for snacking at work has made eating healthy so much easier!

Frankly, showing up at Executive Fitness Leaders the day after I won was a big step for me. But, from the moment I arrive, Kyle (my trainer) was ready to get me on the path to better fitness. I will be doing a blog post specifically about this experience because it has been and continues to be pretty powerful. A personal trainer is A HUGE MOTIVATOR to go beyond what you think; it is like having a cheerleader who is not afraid to have you mildly annoyed for having you do MORE than you felt like or thought you could. Lots of great changes happening for me!

EFL has also included 6 hours of massage therapy, so I’ve set-up bi-weekly massages with Jenny Wolfgram and it is 30 minutes of stress-relieving bliss! What a difference this makes. I foresee booking a few one-hour massages over the months ahead and will plan on keeping massage as part of my life beyond the Makeover!

Langevin Morris Smith’s Russ Molot is the legal eagle on this journey and WOWZA x 100, I am so delighted to have his services. For obvious reasons, I won’t share details here, but the first thing I asked when we met was would I be allowed to get my divorce done. He said, “Yes, we can do that.”. Rebecca and I looked at one another and did a very happy high five. Being free of my EX after so many years of him ignoring my efforts to get this done will be CELEBRATION WORTHY!!! Russ is a laid back and humorous fellow – we got along famously and I’m looking forward to having a number of matters handled by him!

Live Well Family Health Centre brought the delightful Dr. Sabrina & Dr. Jason Bercovitch into my world and it is truly a wondrous thing. As a project partner, they’re providing me their LIVE WELL FOR LIFE Program and it is jam-packed with useful information. Dr. Sabrina and I are together weekly for about an hour as we work through the 5 components – EAT, THINK, SLEEP, MOVE, and BRAIN & BODY CONNECTION. I look forward to every single meeting as the Drs. Bercovitch and team are always so warm & welcoming to me. My time with Dr. Sabrina literally flies by (and we do get a little side-tracked at times) but I know that this part of the Makeover will give me a solid education on lifestyle adaptations which are so beautifully in sync with other project partners’ offerings!

Pierrette Raymond has already changed my life! If you are living with clutter, ALL types of clutter – mental, emotional and/or physical, this amazing woman can help. My biggest stumbling block for the past 20+ years of raising my kids has been OVERWHELM on all levels. It is a sneaky companion that takes up residence and slowly puts blinders on you so you don’t NOTICE YOUR STUFF so much. And you adapt to the messy house, the too much stuff, the “I don’t know where to start” and every other block that keeps you stuck!!! When Pierrette and her team came through my house 2 weeks ago, it was a transformation.

Pierrette is also a life coach and I have turned some bright light onto some dark stuff in my world which has truly been a great amount of AHA MOMENTS that have set me on fire to make changes, big and small, in how I live my life and interact with those in my world, personally and professionally! I feel very safe and supported with Pierrette. Certainly makes it easier to be totally honest when I don’t feel or fear I will be judged. That alone is phenomenal!

I will be looking at getting in for a manicure and pedicure to Rinaldo at Carlingwood, in the next week while I’m on vacation. And, Fiorella at Rinaldo on George Street will be given the HOLY MOLEY task of my new and dramatic change in hair style. You will want to see THAT picture for sure. When my divorce is finalized, I will be visiting BOTH locations for pampering before a NIGHT ON THE TOWN!!! A severance that’s been 22 years in the making calls for a party!

Supperworks is one of the coolest concepts I’ve ever seen. I’ve posted a great deal online about my experience with the Kanata store (Susanna, Jason & their team) and most recently the Orleans store (Sonia, Nikki, and their team). Their process is brilliant, the ingredients are fresh and great quality. The time it saves to have a restaurant-calibre work station with everything you need ready for assembly, is one of the best innovations in meal prep I’ve ever seen. As a caterer, I can truly appreciate the value of the TIME SAVINGS of having all the prep work done. I am thoroughly enjoying the meals and the teams at each location have been a genuine delight to work when I visit. One of the most fun parts of the Makeover for sure!

Though I haven’t yet met the Twiss & Weber team in person, they reached out virtually immediately after I won and I will be going to see them at their store in February for a meet and greet. They graciously set-up a PINTEREST page for me to pin looks I like as relates to my wardrobe and what inspires me. I don’t know much about Pinterest, but my darling daughter Rebecca can show me. One of their gifts as a project partner is my REVEAL OUTFIT and the idea of having a custom-made ensemble is pretty exciting. I’m seriously considering asking them to make something for me to wear to Rebecca’s wedding, but need to think about that as I am thinking I would like to keep my outfit for that day under wraps. In any event, this will be a blast because my look is so basic; I wear bright colours and simple lines. However, CATHY WHITNEY 2.0 will mean some bolder choices and changes! I look forward to learning from these amazing women!

Myers Kanata has provided me with a sweet, sweet ride that is mine for the duration of this adventure! Over 30 years of driving and have NEVER EVER EVER had a brand-new car! OMG! 2016 Chevy Equinox – holy moley! It is incredible! Handles so well; floats along and even has WI-FI, so that is a bonus. I practically hug it every day when I come outside and see it. The wrap and logos are so tastefully done, but I keep the car clean and shiny so the Ottawa Makeover Project is always well represented. We always name our cars, so the Equinox is called Selina, as in Selina Kyle aka Catwoman – sleek, sassy, stylish and spunky!

TRUEdotDESIGN is a great project partner. I had a few challenges initially with my blogging and other web-related stuff, but Lianne was quick to respond and direct. Shelley True contacted me immediately and they have done a fabulous job of keeping the website updated. I will be getting more blogging done, video and written so there are more regular updates from my perspective.

I met with Stayci Keach of Eyes on Ottawa a few weeks ago – she knows so much about video/media production, it is boggling to me! She has already provided me with training on using my iPad for shooting video updates. Before that, she captured video of my DECLUTTERING day, where I cried while I spoke and then again on December 22nd at my workout, again, I cried. To me, the tears illustrate that a) I’m really a mushball and b) that Stayci has a presence that invites trust and being real. That’s what her message is to me – keep it real, be myself, that’s why I was chosen!