After years of trying to conceive sent her spiraling into depression and panic attacks, Michelle Ready decided to channel her energy into something completely different.
That decision has launched her into a year of adventures. Each month, she's tackled something new, whether it was aerial hoops, axe-throwing, a sensory deprivation tank or art with alcohol inks, and each experience brought new joys into her life.
"Always having something to look forward to every month was just a game-changer," she said. "I felt so much better; it was just night and day."
Michelle said she and her husband Alex Ready had been trying to have a baby for four years, and that it had taken over their lives.
"I was tired all the time, crying every day. It was just really hard," she said.
Last year, they decided to stop with the treatments and the diets they had been trying.
"At that point, when I reached such a low, it wasn't worth it to go through that any more. We just figured it might be better just to leave it up to fate, and go from there — focus on ourselves and our lives."
The turning point came last August.
"I had a day that was just terrible and I was feeling so down. I was just looking in the mirror and was just like, 'I'm going to get my septum pierced,'" she said, laughing.
That decision, coupled with a road trip to Winnipeg to get a tattoo with her sister, inspired her to open up and try new things, she said. She made a New Year's resolution to reach beyond her comfort zone each month.
When she saw an ad for FLY Fitness and Aerial Arts, she decided her first monthly adventure would be trying aerial hoops.
Leaving the house for her first class, she said she was consumed with insecurity, afraid people might laugh at her. But once she arrived, she said she fell in love with a new hobby and a new community.
"The people are fantastic, they're so friendly. I never once felt like anybody was judging me, which was a major fear that I had," she said.
While she kept up with her aerial arts, she began experimenting with other new activities each month too.
Her husband began noticing the difference in her mood.
"I just thought it was nice for her to be able to do something that made her happy again," he said, adding that he joined her at times, and tried a few new things himself, including joining the Roughriders' drumline, "which has been crazy, but a lot of fun."
They both realized how they had become stuck in a rut, he said.
"Trying something new puts you in a different mindset." Alex said, explaining they'd become so focused on having a baby, they'd stopped doing things as a couple.
"It's made us realize that we kind of lost that," agreed Michelle.
While she still struggles with anxiety, it's much less severe than what it used to be, and she isn't looking backward, she said.
"I just feel great."