Genevieve Langlois knows what it is like to be empathetic, sensitive and genuinely affected by the energy of what is in her environment. She is a brilliant artist, loving mother and a woman who chooses to focus on the things that matter most – her family, her art and her community. Having had to overcome many challenges that many empaths face, Genevieve continues to be an inspiration to those who understand the challenges of being different. In special recognition for all that she is, whole, beautiful and true to herself, she is this week’s Woman of the Week.
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Genevieve Langlois also known better as “Genesis” or “Step” depending on how long you have known me. I have been a full spectrum artist all my life, ranging from classical/jazz/gospel & more recently trap soul singing, theatre acting, radio, TV and event hosting, to teaching dubstep & hiphop dance to youth, to now mostly painting, which is frankly the most special talent to me to have developed over the past 20 years to cope best with my anxiety, depression and bpd disorder. I was diagnosed with all this but still believe deep down that I am just a deep type underdog empathy artist individual trying to be me in a world who often does not understand or get me, which is fine. I have made creating art my personal & professional focal point in the last few years and would not be able to live without it. I breathe so I paint. Literally. I am also a mom to beautiful pre-teen daughters who are my highest priority & evidently the most precious human beings in my life. Children give us so much joy, keep us young and grounded and provide us great insight into ourselves. Living as a single mom with a disorder and being an artist has had its share of challenges, however, I honestly would not have it any other way. I see freedom of being who I am, going at my own pace and blooming into what I was suppose to become as one of the most valuable way of being/living, away from judgement from mindsets of people who just don’t understand this or even get the idea of wholesome marginal living.
Who inspires you and why?
God inspires me first because he is most unconditionally loving and mysterious, then my children, as well as the underdogs of society, good human beings who still find strength to love and trust others after being trampled on by the colder hearted…and the internationally undiscovered intellectuals and artists from my circle. The most fascinating people I have ever met are the most broken, yet , besides many serious setbacks and brushes with death, they still relentlessly go after their dreams and stand up against the status quo and people who tell them who they ought to be and what being “successful” should mean. I mostly hang out with like-minded people who inspire me to become who I am; spiritual teachers and mentors, writers, philosophers, artists, singers, painters, etc. We are a collective of talented people on a quest to self-actualization and are dedicated to our craft, our dialogues are to motivate and affirm one another in a world that often does not get us and can be hostile to us at times. I have a very deep appreciation for marginalized people who have been burdened with stigmas, I often go downtown just to talk to the homeless and the street youths as I find them the most inspiring; they have been marginalized by society and yet they still hang on, drug problem or not, they are still here, living with us, which is a testament of great courage & resilience. I also find immigrants very inspiring, as they have left everything that was closest and most familiar to them to take a huge risk for a better future for themselves and their children. Leaving your family, your friends, your home, your community, your belongings and your country is terrifying and it takes a lot of courage for a human being to detach and adapt in a new country; I admire immigrants a lot. At any point in our seemingly comfortable lives we can all quickly become immigrants and be forced out of our country, uprooted from everything that we know, and the only thing left to work with is our own heart, intuition, personality and ability to connect with others. In conclusion, I get very inspired by innovators, but mostly the broken and marginalized people who were once victims, brushing often with death, and yet by some powerful indescribable inner force, were transformed into these powerful warriors of change.
What have been some of the biggest challenges you have had to overcome in your life? What did you do to move through them?
Well, lol, my life has been nothing but one long challenge, sprinkled with glorious moments of success here and there, maybe as God’s way of saying “do not fret, I am still here, trust me, this will end well” type of thing…., lol.
The story is probably too long to tell for this exercise, as I am currently writing a book for the purpose of sharing my testimony of survival and how to thrive in such a context as an artist. However, I will do my best to cover most of my challenges, for which the most part, are still ongoing. I was born into a family that is very different then I am, and did not feel like I was accepted or that I belonged in it somehow. I was ostracized by most of my family and was severely bullied at school. As a younger girl, I was what seemed to be a sensitive empathetic type and also a very outgoing artistic individual. Unfortunately, this did not play out to my advantage most of the time as people interpreted my kind & open heart as a weak link. I endured over six years of constant bullying and various types of abuse and contemplated suicide during most of my childhood and teenage year as a way out of my pain, thankfully, I did not kill myself during these depressive episodes since I found peace only when doing art and during my long adventures in the woods where i would build forts, find cool insects and find lost hurt animals to help them with my specialized team of 9 to 11 year old neighborhood friends. At 13 years old, I started running away from home frequently, looking for peace and acceptance, and at 15, I ran and did not come back.
I spent most of my teenage years in street gangs, in and out of school & shelters & jail, always on probation, and hitch-hiking with friends from one city to another going to raves and living a life of unstructured adventures. I was on the run from myself and my family, and in this great paradox, I did find myself. I made friends on the streets that had heart, incredible talents, flamboyant and genuine unforgettable personalities, charisma, that were open-minded, and most of all who loved me and accepted me for who I was, and that was more then I could ever ask for. To many, I was called a delinquent at the time, but to me, I was finally feeling more like myself.
Thankfully, at 18 my criminal record was wiped clean and I had a new chance at building a life and re-inserting in the system with a shot at a “normal life” and potentially some outcomes of success. It was a long hard road where I suffered but slowly overcame the debilitating effects of PTSD, depression, anxiety and panic attacks… all this slowed me down of course at times but did not stop me somehow. I always had a sense of purpose and faith that kept me going. I also really have to thank my mentor and youth crisis counsellor Jacques from the Youth Services Bureau downtown who kept me on track during this most critical time, pretty sure I would not have made it without his help all those years when I was on the streets. I started doing art and music daily, it was my only way to stay in a positive mindset. The Arts literally saved my life…it was and still is, my lifeline. I moved in to my new home alone and registered to University to complete my 2 degrees in Media Communications (journalism) and Psychology and succeeded at both. I then built a family with my husband who was also a long time friend, who I also had admired the most, being a community activist himself, an innovator, a book writer and a go-getter. I loved this man with all my heart and my whole life revolved around us and our kids for over 10 years, but deep down I felt my artist soul dying as I could not express myself anymore as needed and was constantly shamed for my past. Our life had become about fast paced routine, hard work, sleepless nights, networking, religion had entered my life, office jobs, politics, TV appearances, and me becoming more of a classic new age woman, which I hated. In January 2012, my husband and I separated following tragic events that I will not disclose here, but let’s just say it was devastating and I spent many months on the brink of admitting myself to the hospital, which I did once. I cried my nights to sleep for almost six months straight. My friends and family had my back this time, but I still felt alone and full of despair, but they kept me sane and alive through the process. My friends and family really did a lot for me during this phase of my life so I give them and God all the credit for sending them to my rescue during this dark time. And my children….looking at my children reminded me of what I was here for and what I needed to do. I was faced with the fears of doing this life alone with my kids, leaving the management of the restaurant that we owned, selling the house that we had built our lives in and basically leaving my whole married life as I knew it behind. I was absolutely terrified. But finally, I surrendered… closed my eyes and jumped. My new life, again, had begun… Surrender, that is all.
It has been approximately four years since my separation, and as messy & hard as it may be at times, it has been the most vividly beautiful experience for me. Once again, I was faced with my inner paradox of growth, messy, unruly but artistically fruitful and mostly, soulful. I can truly say it has been the deepest journey of self actualization and soul searching i have ever had. I have never been more in tune with myself, my spiritual, emotional and physical self…learning how to slowly accept and embrace every part of my soul, personality and my body, even the darkest parts. I would of never been able to do this in the conscious mindset i was in and with the fast paced lifestyle I had when I was married or on the run as a youth. My art and music has flourished immensely and I have been leaping to new heights of success I had never imagined for myself before.
What did you learn?
I learned that for me, I needed to step away from my society’s expectations of me to find myself. I needed to find peace and quiet in a safe space, around like-minded people who genuinely understand the need for the arts, out of the box thinking, the need for space, for reflection and understanding. I started slowing down and doing one task at a time, reading more, sleeping better, living in the now…doing dishes without thoughts running around my head like wild gooses. I found doing tasks from a state of being instead of a state of doing was more productive and impactful for me. My soul started running the show as I learned more about myself, my dark side, my light, practicing mindfulness, visualization, prayer, emotional gratitude, meditating & doing yoga. I accepted that it’s ok to be somewhat of an eternal outcast to society and not to be the best at everything to feel accepted. I am good at what I do, and that is what i focus on; the arts. But most of all I know I am on a calling to be of service to others, to connect people together and feed the homeless and provide shelter to those in need. Everything else is not a priority for me, and that is okay.
What are you most proud of?
There are two people living inside you, the victim and the warrior. You can choose to live as one or the other. The only thing both people have in common is they both hate the victim…this is why i believe I subconsciously began to paint warriors and I can’t seem to stop. Because I need to rise from victim ashes often and transform into my inner warrior to be able face adversity again and again in my life…
Beyond all my trials, I am still full of faith and love for God…which is a miracle in itself.
My beautiful confident daughters who are loving, generous, spiritual and kind individuals who dare to believe in their dreams… and they are both artists as well, which is very exciting.
My heart being intact after all this; it has remained soft, selfless, loving and nurturing against the numerous attempts of mischievous people to change it, people who tried to change me into a bitter, angry, depressed and resentful person did not succeed.
All my artistic, community development & public speaking accomplishments/endeavors:
My several silver and bronze winnings at the Kiwanis Festivals when I sang opera for years under the mentorship of the talented Heather Dufault
My self-made R&B music album (12 songs) created in 2000 with Sharty-B Productions
Award for best youth Co-op development initiative, CCO – Ontario
Prix Decouverte Award for my TV talk show Mosaique Francophone , Channel 23 Rogers TV, 2008. A show i created and hosted to promote immigrant’s incredible contribution to Canada.
All my art exhibits & collaborations across this city and other Canadian cities. My art sales to incredible clients who often relate to my story and now own a piece of my soul in their homes ☺
All my live performances on stage throughout my life. Even though i always suffered from anxiety I still manage to tap into another deep liberated part of myself on stage to fully deliver to my audience.
Assisting my husband to obtain the Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award, the foundation of his co-op and the opening of our restaurant in addition to so many other local community charity events we spearheaded together. Behind every great man is a great woman and i played my role with fire in my heart, always motivated by the cause.
The book i am writing right now
My upcoming innovative music album project for 2017
The people I have helped along the way.
What do you want younger women to know?
Focus more on the growth of your soul and intellect instead of spending so much time obsessing over your body. Your body is a unique vessel, that is all. Love yourself in all your dimensions.
Find a way to love yourself, find a deeper meaning to life, the fact you are weird, unique or different is your greatest asset. Lots of lies will be fed to you by others, be cool and reflect…don’t assimilate too quickly, you might realize they were wrong about you all along. Trust yourself. Trust Karma, the Universe is on your side, working in your favor. Trust God you are meaningful and have your reason to be here. You don’t need to be the best at everything all the time, that is another lie from the world to make you feel confused, unworthy and exhausted, and you don’t even need to be the best at all. Perfectionism kills the soul’s actualization. Do all activities from a state of being, not from a state of doing. Let your actions flow directly from your Soul…learn this art of Oneness with yourself and the universe around you and you will experience freedom. We Are all One. Over-achievers burn out quickly and get sick, refuse this if you can….streamline, focus on what you are good at. The new age modern superwoman movement is one that burns out a woman before her time comes, do not fall for this false image of feminine success. This is another lie.
You are not alone, do not despair, the best is yet to come, I promise. Find your purpose and sense of self and push towards that. Please don’t always listen to what people say you should be or you should do. Trust your inner voice and have faith, you are a divine and powerful being full of great potential..you were designed for a great purpose you need to prepare for. The process is internal, not so much external….do not let your story end this way, the best chapters are ahead…you are not alone. Look at death in the eye and let out a big scream of resilience, be a Warrior. Find your inner warrior and leave the victim behind…pick up your weapons and look at your enemy in the eye, you are your most powerful on the moments where you are about to collapse. Dust, blood and tears coming down your face, Rise girl!! Rise for another fight. And it`s okay to be a victim too, but don’t stay in that place for too long…switch to your inner warrior and feel empowered by it.
What does living fully mean to you?
To live from the Seat of Self, to not let your thoughts and emotions control your life. To fully accept yourself in all your setbacks and your successes, just as you are. A setback is a setup for success…learn to embrace the dark and the light inside you and be graceful and kind towards yourself and others. You are stronger then you think you are, and once you realize this you can step into your purpose and begin to feel the pulse of your soul’s intuition guide you. Most probably the world will not like you very much during this process but that is okay too.
‘’Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not , in fact, just surrounding yourself with assholes’’ – William Gibson
A guided practice to let go of what is holding you back.