The New Wifestyle Profiles | Paula

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i am so thrilled to share with you this “wifestyle profile” today from a very strong, honest and hilarious woman: paula! let’s show her some love and support as she shares her stories of an interesting upbringing to stripper to a happily married woman and mother who is the epitome of turning your life around!

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I’m one of those fools who partied all through her 20’s and half of her 30’s so I got a late start settling down. Luckily, so did my husband so we were equally immature when we met.

My folks came to Canada from Liverpool in 1967. Dad worked hard at Fords and Mom worked hard raising 3 kids during the 70’s and 80’s. There wasn’t a lot of deep conversation between them but they played golf and darts together – socializing was a big part of life. In working class English culture then, a Benny Hill attitude towards women predominated -topless women on page 2, political cartoons with sexual implications. It shaped the way I thought about male/female relations.

When I was about 10, my folks did a Marriage Encounter weekend and communication was attempted in our home. It was adorable. My dad called a family meeting, showing us this book “Family Time” with clocks all over it and us kids kind of laughed nervously. That was the only meeting we ever had. Hey, we’re English. We don’t express, we repress!

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The Snellgrove Family – 1994- doin’ what we do best!

Mom went back to school in the 80’s when I was a teen and became a florist. I was super proud of her for doing that- the first time she ever stepped out of her traditionally female role- although mom is no pushover.

I felt if I ever married, I couldn’t be trapped like it seemed so many women of my mother’s generation were. I was hostile to the idea and deliberately became aggressively promiscuous which was my understanding of the uber-liberated woman. Hurt before you get hurt was my clarion call.

My attitude and rebellion were difficult for my family to deal with and I left home before finishing high school. Coaxed into a stripping job by a trafficker just days after turning 18 and staying with it because of the amazing money and attention, this was where I began my legendary drinking career! Unsurprisingly, the money and the booze slowly stupefied me into a remarkably shallow person.

In close to a drunken stupor, I married at 23, took the sole breadwinner role in an Ali/Frasier-type relationship and we were separated by the cops for the last time 2 years later.

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I figured that would be my sole go-round with marriage.

9 years dragged by between the walls of Canadian strip clubs, where I worked for most of my adult life. Not the best place to meet emotionally healthy men. I became a very angry, disillusioned feminist. Every day the drunken customers and self-serving club owners proved what oppressive users men were. Of course, I wasn’t exactly emotionally healthy myself but duh, that’s what all that drinking was about!

I was 34, saving up to move to England in a hunt for a new life when I met my husband Lloyd at a club in his hometown of Brantford, Ontario. In his annual visit home to see his mom, he’d dropped in hoping to see some old friends. His back was to the stage; he was focused on his beer and the playoffs on tv. Stunningly handsome, I parked myself next to him at the bar.

We spent the next 8 hours talking to each other and I was surprised at how at ease and safe I felt with him- a rare occasion. Lloyd was and still is a daring man. He dared to tell me he loved me on the night we met. As much as you can love a complete stranger, I believed him.

For the next 3 months, we wrote letters and talked over the phone from Ontario to British Columbia where he lived. I bought a one way ticket and left the stage for the last time. I knew I wasn’t going back.

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Lloyd and I June 2003- perfect strangers

Lloyd and I are both recovering alcoholics but Lloyd quit drinking right before I arrived in BC. It took me another 11 months to take the leap.

I moved in with him immediately and it was a difficult time for both of us. We were strangers to each other, but more importantly, to ourselves. Neither of us knew who we were sober. We dealt with the mood swings of our withdrawls, sex and moral issues and learning to trust each other. It wasn’t pretty. Moreover, I was experiencing a profound spiritual transformation and didn’t know a soul.

I moved out for 6 months – a huge help in finding myself, although Lloyd was very hurt by it. When you finally give sobriety a try, you re-start your emotional and spiritual growth at the age you were when you stopped dealing with reality.   Lloyd and I were emotional teenagers. It was time to grow up.

We were blessed at that time to have an older couple in our lives who had been through some similar challenges. They were instrumental in helping us navigate the “real world” which was so foreign to both of us. We both had to do a lot of work on ourselves. Hard, honest, scary work. Work that still isn’t even done.

It’s been an empowering thing for our relationship- knowing that we can and will weather the worst of storms. Our relationship is pretty unique in its success considering the obstacles we’ve had. Many people have given up over much less but our faith was the foundation on which we built our new selves and our relationship. Yesterday on October 21, it was 12 years since we met and next April it will be 10 years in my wifestyle!

I think our biggest challenge has been and continues to be communication – ironic considering I’m a writer and teach public speaking  for a living.

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Teaching at Head Start Public Speaking For Kids

Writing has always been easier for me than talking- perhaps because I can express myself more deeply-perhaps because I don’t have to look anyone in the eye.

Whenever Lloyd and I have had a major issue that I need to deal with but am anxious to talk about, I write a letter. He probably dreads these because they’re so heavy, but to his credit, he never ignores them. He doesn’t have difficulty bringing things to me and when he does, it’s gently. He knows I’m a bit of a powder keg.

We also struggle to find time for us as a couple. We’ve actually scheduled dates in the past, even just ice cream sundaes on the porch, but we need to be more deliberate. We let it slide because it’s so easy to take each other for granted.

Do we argue? Hey, just ask our neighbours. We’re passionate, stubborn people and it can get ugly sometimes. We’ve gotten better at apologizing though- especially Lloyd. He really stunk at it until a few years after Meaghan (our daughter) was born and that was a sore spot for me. He’s come a long way.

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Me, Lloyd and Meaghan Christmas 2013

Lloyd and I genuinely like each other as human beings. We both like to reach for more than what we are and encourage each other to do just that. We laugh a lot, although being English, my sense of humour is obviously superior to his.

As far as our roles go, Lloyd works full time at BC Ferries and from March to September works his landscaping business. I get behind the mower to help in the busiest times. In his ‘spare’ time, he makes hand crafted knives and just finished his first cedar carving in the Kwakiutl tradition under a master carver. It’s a Raven and is spectacular. He also does most of our yard work.

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Raven by John Lloyd Howley Oct. 2014

I home school our 8 year old, Meaghan. This was my desire and primarily my decision. I also teach public speaking to kids two nights a week and write in my ‘spare’ time.

The Ferries is shift work, we have to dance around it. Lloyd usually makes breakfast and I do lunch and dinner. Lloyd and Meg handle dishes. I do the finances and birthday cards. I get annoyed because no one else seems to be able to figure out how to run a vacuum. I like order but am learning to let go of perfection since it doesn’t have a shot in this house. I tend to think that Lloyd needs too much taking care of and get resentful sometimes. Are you reading this honey? (See? I do letters.)

I never felt like I lost myself in our relationship. In fact, Lloyd helped me more than anyone in my life to find out who I am. He encouraged me to join Toastmasters when I was lonely and starving for creative and intellectual challenges. He got behind me in my big crazy dreams like going after the World Championship of Public Speaking or starting my own business. Even now, as I struggle through a personal spiritual battle, he assures me that he is in it for the long haul with me, no matter what. It allows me to breathe, knowing that he will always have my back. It is the greatest gift of my life.

Lloyd and I know that we will never ever give up on our relationship. We also know that we need to always put work into it because truly, it is the magnum opus of our lives. Just because it’s love, doesn’t mean it’s easy. Love is sacrifice.   Love is hard, gritty work.

And love is worth it.

1) Did any cultural influences sway your thoughts about male/female relationships?
2) Who does your vacuuming?
3) Have you ever written letters to each other?


  1. Amanda Wood

    October 22, 2014 at 8:55 am

    Such an inspiring story! I definitely do the vacuuming in our house, but Philip does the laundry and puts away the dishes so that evens out. I was raised to be strong willed and independent. My husband was pushed aside a lot because of his rebellious sister who claimed most of his parents attention. He requires a lot of attention and is easily hurt if I am busy with other things and can’t give it to him when he thinks I should. We are working on this. Like Paula said, “Love is hard, gritty work.”
    Amanda Wood recently posted…A Book Review… or Two

  2. Vivien

    October 22, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Awesome to see your post up here Paula, I love it! Thank you so much for sharing, and so candidly too.

    1) I think it’s safe to say cultural influences, influenced A LOT.

    2) Me, when it finally gets to the point that I can see dust bunnies without my glasses on.
    Vivien recently posted…What Do I Want?

  3. Karen

    October 22, 2014 at 10:48 pm

    That was a fun read! I was proud to be the ‘older couple’ in your story of life! I love the three of you and miss you even more! I do the vacuuming in this household, although not as often as it cries out to be done ….. us older people learn how to do that eventually ….. it’s a priority thang!