Love your life

Are you living your truth? Why not? Writer Samantha Ball talks to women who have changed their world for the better

Blogger Sarah Nicole Landry and her kids. Photo Courtesy Sarah Nicole Landry

With her children grown and out of the house, Kimberly Ellis wanted to make major changes to her life for the longest time. The 59-year-old Ottawa resident recalls feeling “tired and unhappy all the time.

“I read every self-help book I could get my hands on, but continued to feel unhappy with no real sense of purpose,” says Ellis. “So, I stopped reading the books and vowed I’d never read another self-help book again. (I) went on a spiritual journey thinking if I went to church and got baptised, that would give me direction and a sense of purpose. It helped a bit for a few years but then I became complacent, and the desire to go to church disappeared.” 

As Ellis describes, she had education and work experience in business and accounting but wanted to try something different.

“At age 50, I went back to school and did a university degree majoring in psychology. I excelled in the courses and passed with honours. I loved psychology so much and really wanted to continue my studies to become a psychotherapist. I thought that might be the answer to making a difference…The problem was that I couldn’t live as a student any longer, especially at my age and had to go back to work…So, against every fiber in my body, I took more work in the accounting field.  Eventually, I became a successful self-employed professional bookkeeper and general accountant, but I was still unhappy, lonely, and generally didn’t feel good about myself.”

Then she attended a bookkeeping conference where Ottawa-based certified life coach Carole Blackburn presented.

“I walked away with a feeling of hope,” says Ellis. “She was so uplifting and inspiring that I just had to go introduce myself…There was something special about her that I could not put my finger on.  She seemed familiar and I knew she would be the person that could help me change my life to be a happier more fulfilled person.”  

Working with Blackburn improved Ellis’ life. She started going to the gym, eating properly, and taking nutritional supplements on a regular basis. 

“She has helped me to start envisioning a life I want but never felt I deserved,” shares Ellis. “With Carole’s support, I’ve been able to change my living environment for the better…I’ve been able to move on peacefully from a working environment that was unhealthy and going nowhere.”

Ellis is one of many Ottawa women inspired by someone to change their lives. 

For Melissa Somers, 39, of Ottawa, that person was Canadian Sarah Nicole Landry of @thebirdspapaya.

The mother of Maya, 14, Jemma, 12, and Boden, 10, has made massive life changes.

Landry started blogging over 10 years ago as a stay-at-home mom. Her content highlighted her 100-pound weight loss and Somers says Landry’s transformation photos “seemed like the ultimate goal” as Somers wanted to get more fit after her last baby.

But Landry realized weight loss didn’t give her the happiness and fulfillment she was expecting. There were deeper issues.

She created her “life’s biggest plot twist” when she left her 11-year marriage with three kids in tow.

She had the typical roadblocks to leaving – she didn’t even have her own bank account – but she didn’t let fear hold her back. “When I made the move to actually leave, it was incredibly peaceful because internally, I had been holding onto so much fear, it was time to move through that fear and get to the other side.”

She credits having a therapist as an important resource during this time.

Landry’s parents were a big support. “For the first year, my parents had me and the kids come live with them. I was working part-time as a server, and eventually two jobs, so it helped to have childcare in the home when I had to leave… and to be honest, we all really enjoyed that year together.” 

“I think we all know deep in our gut when we need to make a change. Life just starts to get uncomfortable. Living like you’re living a lie is stressful. Whether it’s in your work, your relationships or whatever. Authenticity goes a long way,” shares Landry, now 35.

Each positive change improved her life. When Landry stepped out of her comfort zone and started a career at a publishing company, she met her now-husband Shane. Her career also provided her the stability to move into her own home with her children.

“He walked into a situation with a woman who was barely on her own two feet. I was wild and scared of relationships or the idea of being held down in one. So, he gave me space, independence, and made me feel like an equal… he listens to my work stresses and has always believed in my potential. I didn’t need someone to ‘save’ me. I needed someone to be my partner as I saved myself.”


The past few years, Landry has shifted her content from a focus on improving her body to one of personal growth, building community, empowering other women, and tackling societal issues, resulting in 1.2M followers. Joanna Griffiths (founder of Knixwear) is an ardent supporter and gave Landry her first modelling gig, where she showed off her real body – including stretch marks and cellulite.


Landry’s dramatic content shift and message “to show up in life” and not hold yourself back from things like swimming with your children, speaks to Somers. She says, “it’s a different view than what we face in most other media. A reminder that you are not defined by your body…Her followers are inspired to show themselves the same kindness that she is promoting.”


After years of work ethic and dedication, The Birds Papaya was incorporated in 2019. Landry now works full-time as a content creator, speaker, writer, and blogger.

In her role as a mother, Landry says, “I want my kids to see someone who was willing to do the hard things to get to a better place. I want them to see confidence in a woman for so many more reasons than what she looks like.”