I never set out to be in cannabis, it called to me.
I used it of course. My first time I was around 13 years old. I don't remember specifics, there were too many lost days from those years. It could have been a bedroom as easily as it was a street corner, I was known to sleep on the latter like the former during those years and for a few after. I have always said the Oakland Greyhound Station was the safest place to sleep... not safe, but safest. The park in downtown Santa Cruz was another favorite but only in the warmest months because the fog makes it too wet to sleep on the benches long. But the people were friendlier and that's where I learned to panhandle. I learned a lot of things on my own, sometimes bouncing between parents homes and mostly bouncing from strangers until eventually juvenile halls and then group homes.
The last group home taught me I had the power to change my future by letting go of my past. It was the first of many times I put that philosophy into action. For then, my goal was to be "normal" or as much as I could be. I got good grades, dated the best boys and learned to be popular so I could be seen as normal.
Sadly, what I recognized as "normal" wasn't discovered to be dysfunctional until many years later as another relationship failed and I had missed the red flags for 6 years that indicated mental health was the problem. When I realized the man I had been raising my daughter with was suffering from paranoid delusion it was too late - he had moved out of the state and was no longer in my ability to help. It was heart breaking for my daughter - who had lost the father figure in her life, and for me - who felt blind and stupid I didn't see it earlier.
I became a single mother at 23 years old on Valentine's Day in 2001. I knew from the time I was a couple of months pregnant that I would raise her on my own. There was no interest from the other party and growing up with my own parents constantly fighting over me and then over not wanting me - I didn't want my daughter to ever feel that. Of course as parents we can't always protect our children from heartache and the experiences their souls agree to here, but I felt incredibly responsible to have exposed her to such heartbreak without being aware it would come.
My anxiety had always lurked but suddenly it flared as I no longer felt I had the ability to trust myself let alone others. I went inward. No one in my life seemed to understand my inability to show up and go places with them or for them. In addition, my sudden awareness of my lack of awareness led to stress induced physical ailments - gallbladder attacks, eczema, gluten intolerance, migraines, pre-diabetes from being nearly 300 pounds which also led to PCOS, as well as the mental anguish as I felt my body was under constant attack.
One night in late 2015, I smoked half a bowl of indica and exhaled. I laughed because I realized the feeling was so foreign to me and it really was like the movie... Waiting to Exhale was a THING. So much a thing that I had been waiting to do it my whole life. Exhale... inhale, sure... hold it all in.... but now, to truly EXHALE. I started doing it all the time. It felt like purging. A couple of years later I started doing yoga and when DownDog came up with Yin Yoga I moaned and groaned it all out - it felt like all the years of others opinions and judgments and the beliefs I had developed because of them. I hadn't realized cannabis was also a THING, that would come later.
I poured myself into my work and for many years happily hid in the success of it all. The little as-built company had done well the 10 years before I found them but I found my own confidence helping them grow further with the many skills I picked up in my career prior. From job costing in Quickbooks to setting up Dropbox for client delivery and multi-site projects. Creating systems and workflows to learn to propose projects and schedule field and drafting times and teach teams to do the same. Perfecting communication with scripts and systems meant to exceed customer expectation and even measured it with a neat little NPS survey at the end of each project. As we grew into an Inc 5000 fastest growing company I was just hitting my stride. I had also created a Culture Committee and was recruiting to the vision with great success and no turnover - getting emails from disappointed candidates who loved their interviews with me and the vibe of the company and what we promised. I spent weekends decorating for holidays and updating computers as I wore the hat of IT Manager for 3 years in addition to HR and overseeing Customer Service. I wore many other hats as well but you can check my LinkedIn for more information on that. I loved every minute of helping my "Bustas" learn about each other in order to support each other better in their work and personal lives. Studying from greats like Simon Sinek and Patrick Lencioni and implementing what I could into our workspace.
As the company kept growing the owner decided it was time to open a service hub in Utah that could be the central drafting location for all satellite offices. It turned out setting up a service hub was no small task. Many of the candidates lacked the specific skill-set we were needing and so the focus shifted to working with local government, universities, trade schools and community colleges to create programs to train them to a level we could more accurately asses ability and take over training from there. Weekly visits to a place I was extremely uncomfortable in was one of the most empowering things I could have done. It challenged me to overcome all my thoughts and "do it anyway" and I couldn't have done it as easily without cannabis. At this point I knew cannabis was helping me although I still didn't understand why. I wouldn't find that out until the next year.
July 17, 2019 I was asked by a co-worker to attend a cannabis event she heard about from her 2nd job at a local dispensary. I accepted despite feeling a bit anxious. I had learned from Utah that I COULD indeed go to places unfamiliar to me and be ok and this sounded interesting enough. I had no idea how interesting it would be. The speakers were local advocates. One whom had suffered from CRPS and who was able to manage her pain with cannabis because we have an endocannabinoid system. Wait.... what?
Instantly I saw two cages - one made of prison bars and all the people incarcerated through the years for a plant that our bodies NEED and another, golden and gilded cage like the one I had felt like I had been in since I made that decision to have a "normal" life. All the pressure to perform and succeed. The stress of being a good mother alone. The anxiety over being good enough and being enough. The inescapable feeling of not living my life to its fullest, time slipping away and so much spent on things that didn't feed me. Loss... of things I didn't think were meant for me but had always dreamed of. The ache that comes from telling yourself they were just childish dreams we all have and put aside for what is in front of us.
In a moment I knew I was meant to help others find the freedom this plant had given me through the years. The peace at night to exhale and sleep. The way CBD tinctures were easing my stomach and eliminating the migraines. The way I could parent with ease and reflectively respond rather than react when my teenage daughter was having a teenage moment. Not that THAT always turned out perfectly... but it was SO much better. I had actually resigned from my job the month before and had plans to start my own business consultancy A Curated Culture, and then use my free time to work in juvenile halls to make sure the children there know now what took me so long to learn. I wanted to empower them with the knowledge they are not what happened to them but what happened to them is fuel for their dreams and they are ALL possible.
Cannabis has taught me that.
Cannabis has taught me that all we need is to relax, breathe in and out, listen to ourselves, trust ourselves, connect with ourselves and then with those around us. Cannabis has taught me to not be afraid to speak out into the world what I want. Cannabis has taught me that there is a world of people out there who I exist for and who exist for me and the multitude of others we are all meant to affect. Connection. That is the soul purpose of this plant - to help us realize anything is possible. The plant doesn't have a sole purpose, this plant has over 50,000 purposes - from medicinal to clothing to building materials that are fire resistant. This plant who has regenerative properties not just for us but for the ground it grows in.
I still had yet to know the ways this plant would change my life.... but then we begin to tell the tale of The Canna Boss Babes and that is another post.