09/08/2013 11:23 EDT | Updated 11/08/2013 05:12 EST

Scars, Spaces, and Life in the Raw

As a teen, I was your typical moody and private daughter, who thought nothing more important than to yack on the telephone with my best girlfriends for hours on end, from the minute I got home off the school bus, until the minute mom or dad would finally convince me to hang up, lest anyone else in the family need make any calls.

These days, If you know me well, you may have at some point noticed a razor thin scar that runs horizontally across the upper bridge of my nose, right between my eyes. And even if you don't know me very well, I am sure that you have certainly noticed the space between my two front teeth. These are part of who I am, things I am proud of, things that I feel no shame about; now.

If you have been reading my columns for a while, I think that through my previous posts, it is clear that I have maybe had more than a few issues with self esteem throughout my life. As a teen I was overly concerned with appearances, obsessed with my weight (I could never be too thin), and was determined to "fit in" at any cost. I wanted to live up to that image that bombarded us as teenage girls, printed in YM magazine, shown dancing on MTV music videos, embodied in the "cool" girls in school. I too longed for that Kate Moss model-waif thin ideal. Many teen girls strive towards that unrealistic image of perfection at some point... and quite a few of us take it over the edge. To the extreme.

I was a cute kid. With my bright blonde hair and big green eyes, I was a stress-free, giggly, happy little gal. As I got older however, I began to notice things about my appearance that were less than desirable in my quest for excellence. Some might have just called them quirks, but I started to resent these physical traits. These traits had been lovingly passed down to me through my genetic bloodline, and helped make me who I am -- a Pearson and a Donkers.

But as I saw it, the big gross mole smack dab between my eyes and the massive space between my two front teeth were mistakes. Ugly. If I wanted any chance in hell to be beautiful, we needed to take some serious action. I think I was only in the tenth grade when I had cosmetic surgery to have that hideous mole removed. It was an in and out procedure, with a plastic surgeon in London Ontario. His name was Waldo. And, I think it was about the same time that I underwent a dental frenectomy operation with my dentist that involved removing a bunch of gum tissue from my upper jaw in hopes to bring my front teeth together.

Well, now I have a scar, and a space. No mole, but the frenectomy clearly did not "take". And for that I am now grateful. I embrace my space, as it pays homage to my roots. And heck, people even tell me they like it.

And you know what else? I am finally beginning to think that I am pretty darn great. I love my body and all that is does for me. I love that my legs and lungs can run 5k with ease. I love my stretchy yoga limbs that sometimes don't want to bend as far as they did the day before. That's cool. I love that some days I am tired and don't feel like wearing make-up. I am just fine with my sun spots, and I recognize all of my various scars from cooking, working, skating, and just plain being a klutz (I come from a long line of fantastic clumsy folks!) as signs of a life well lived. I adore my intense emotions, sometimes introverted tendencies, and new found need for spontaneous cries. I feel how I feel, and am learning to be ok with all of it. And you know what else? I finally feel really pretty, inside and out.

A while back I had a photographer friend take some sassy pics of me. I was 29 and feeling almost awesome enough. And now as I approach my 33rd birthday this fall, and celebrate keeping things real and raw, I wanted to share one of them below.

Oh, and if you hadn't hear, I wrote an (un)cookbook! Yes, "MAP Wellness Morsels: Life in the RAW" is available now! If you want to buy a hard copy and live in the Toronto area, head down to 889 Yoga or Integrative Health Institute and pick one up today!

Live in the raw. Be real. Eat real.