I cannot express how much this spontaneous, yet temporary, move to Ottawa, Ontario has opened my mind, my heart and shown me a different side of myself. My weekends are for exploration – thank goodness for friends and family with cars. Praise the Lord that they are willing to make my dreams come true, let me pull out my camera and try new things.
If you know me at all, you know that two of my favourite things are wine and being by the water. Niagara Falls and the Great Lakes have hundreds of amazing wineries and views. This means, my weekend my stellar.
Sometimes I would rather travel solo – it makes for a deeper reflection and appreciation for the nature around you. It increases the about of socializing with strangers and integration into the local culture. You can create your own selfish itinerary without considering anyone else’s comments or goals. I had a few chances to sneak away, and these were some of the best moments of my entire weekend (beside snuggling and running after my ADORABLE twin baby cousins in Toronto).
Your 20s are for mishaps, mistakes and meaningful exploration. I have a finite amount of time on this earth and I intend to discover all that my life has to offer. With my health, my support systems and my innate desire to discover, I am set.
Summer 2017, you are more than I ever dreamed you would be. I am 100% certain that teenage me would never have been able to predict the wonders, joys and delicious treats that you’d have in store for us.
Sidenote: Happy 150th year Canada! I love you so much.
If now is not a good time in your life, don’t quit.
“Hey do you have any spare change? I’m looking to buy something real nice like your girlfriend… not that you’re something to purchase you’re not something to purchase lady,” she uttered with a slurred, yet quick release of the tongue. She thought she had to get it all out in a single breath if she wanted to be heard at all. I can only assume she has mere seconds to make a lasting impression on passers by.
This woman, this street stranger, called out to us as we briskly walked in the fresh fall of summertime rain. It wasn’t the objectification that caught my ear as we trod hand in hand. It was this single word: girlfriend. My stomach filled with boisterous butterflies; my heartbeat quickened. It had been a long time since the word girlfriend meant something simple and sweet as opposed to a sour aftertaste in the mouth. My mind conjured up daydreams of days past in your arms, and days future still ahead of us. In reality, this was our fourth date. The boyfriend/girlfriend titles were not yet brought up in conversation. We were infants, mere children in terms of getting to know each other, but to me it felt as if you were a lost winter mitten found in the wrong season. Something familiar, and something unexpectedly needed as the coolness of Spring lingered.
Meeting you was a snap decision, gone right. Your teddy bear hugs, your warm embrace and concern for my comfort and happiness is genuine. The way your soft eyes sparkle behind your dark circular glasses plays on repeat, in an endless loop in my brain. There’s new circuitry carved in sulci and altered white matter pathways from my head to my heart. From my heart, to the tips of my fingers and toes, I can conjure up remnants of your touch.
Trophy – an event I had the pleasure to stumble upon this past Saturday afternoon offered the community a chance to hear about life-changing moments that altered others’ lives.
The white tents each had someone in them, with a short, true story that happened to them. All of these tales centred around the themes of hope, change, small moments, shifting and enlightenment. I wandered through the exhibit for hours. Some stories, were hard to listen to, others caused spontaneous laughter shared between us. At the end of each sharing session, the storyteller asked you a single question. They were deep, and meaningful questions you don’t normally share or discuss with people you have just met. However, when someone is vulnerable in front of me, I cannot help but share as well. I almost feel compelled to. If felt safe to share with these people. Everyone was respectful, genuine and lovely. I particularly enjoyed the Native influence stories. Collectively, this small area of the city, had overcome adversity, poverty, sexual abuse, fires, floods, disapproval, insecurity, shame, doubt and so much more.
Some of the questions I can remember are as follows:
“What have you done for love?”
“Who has impacted your life, in a positive or negative way and how would you thank them?”
“How do you feel about the future?”
There were also several stations where you could interact and leave a message of something you want to let go of (This was all burned that night), plant a seed and leave a message of your personal growth and appreciation of self on the tree, send a postcard to a loved one and more.
Everyone seemed more chipper that Saturday afternoon. United and more hopeful than ever. The energy was palpable. I wondered: who thought of this event? Has this ever been done before? And if so, where was I? It was what I needed on Saturday. It was a “treat yo self” type of day and one filled with anticipation of the future, reflection of the past and pondering.
Until next time Ottawa, I hope you amaze me again soon.
Today is the day! *cue Taylor Swift’s infamous song: 22*
Thought I would share 22 things I’ve learnt in the last year and expand on a few that have shaped the lady I have become over the last year. There’s no order of importance, because they are all equally significant. Hope these are #relatable and provide you with belly laughs and joy this wonderful morning.
Warning: This is definitely a longer read, so feel free just to pick out the ones that speak to you or read the numbered and bolded one liners. (I won’t even know or be offended).
1: Relationships are fluid and whatever you want them to be.
Forget the labels, forget the judgement of passersby, friends or family and enjoy the people you are with. Of course if everyone in your close circles do not like said significant other or new bestie, they are probably right and you are… less right. Which brings us to number two.
-To your parents (they are wise beyond your years and know a LOT more than you think they let on to)
-Your body (It is unique, and it is yours. Treat it with respect, dignity and care.)
-Your health care professionals (they have experience and they have seen it all. Let them make recommendations and ask them a million questions, I swear they love it when you do this)
3: It’s okay to say NO.
It’s better to say NO right off the bat. Say you are not able to commit to something rather than attempt to complete it and burn out, or back out. People don’t like this, and it doesn’t feel so nice either. I’m definitely guilty of over-committing myself and trying to keep my schedule full but it’s better to find a manageable balance.
4: Speak your Truth.
Your truth may not be the same as the person next to you. It may not even be the same as the person you experienced something with – a moment, a relationship, ANYTHING! You don’t have to share your truth with others, it can be as simple as speaking aloud to yourself, writing it down or keeping it in your heart.
5: Love yourself.
Get to know yourself and feel comfortable in your skin, your thoughts, and in solitude. Everyone is a different, you’ll get to know what you like. Treat yourself right and this will begin to merge into how you treat and love others too.
6: Get help.
This ties into number five. It’s difficult to truly love and cherish everything about yourself. It’s a good idea to share your struggles with a friend, a family member, counselor or therapist. Life isn’t meant to be lived alone; it’s not about suffering silently. There is absolutely nothing too BIG or too small to be shared. It’s all relevant.
7: Take breaks and unplug.
Don’t be a hero and push yourself. Whether it’s work, studying or social media. It’s more than okay to get up go outside, take a dip in the pool, write, read, watch some TV or whatever makes you relax.
8: Dream big.
Whatever it is, whatever you want to accomplish there is nothing stopping you from reaching your potential. Sure, you may have to take the scenic route, exit off the highway and re-route along the way but this shouldn’t stop you from trying altogether. Pick yourself up, grab your closest buds and get back on the road to success and dreams come true.
9: Stay connected.
I don’t mean on social media, or through text message. There are important friends, and professional connections that can get you places and bring opportunities to you just by staying in touch. Try to email or visit significant mentors or figures in your life to keep that line of communication open. You never know when something unexpected and wonderful may arise just because you didn’t let that connection die off.
10: Try new things, even if they seem scary, and don’t leave before they even start.
I cannot stress enough how hard this one is for me. I used to be that child that would show up to a sports try out, a presentation, an interview, or ANYTHING new and unfamiliar and want to leave before it even started. I would try to sabotage the opportunity, not want to show up, leave as soon as I got there and just quit because of fear of the unknown. I also cannot stress that EVERY SINGLE TIME that I pushed myself and stayed to try the thing that scared me or made me extremely anxious led to the BEST memories, opportunities and times in my life. Funny how that works, hey?
12: Prayer is powerful but God is even more so.
Spending time in a church community, wherever you go, and whether you are visiting temporarily or not, to me it’s always been home. There’s something about worshiping and simply being with fellow believers that makes my heart full and my soul dance.
I’ve increasingly found that the mornings I start in prayer are infinitely better. Discovering this has led to many happy days and much healing in the past 6 months.
13: Solo adventures or adventures with strangers are just as good adventures with friends.
14: Family is everything and has your back always.
I always grew up thinking that everyone had a tight knit family, and everyone loved everyone. Put simply, this is not true and I was very naive. I took for granted the support I’ve constantly been given. Well, never again. My family rocks!
15: Be honest.
16: Be forgiving, but not foolish.
What’s that saying… Fool me once, shame on you – fool me twice shame on me? It’s important to recognize that people make mistakes. No one is perfect and misunderstandings happen. If you’re being duped on a regular basis and ending up dishing out forgiveness constantly it might be time to realize that the only fool here, is you.
17: Be grateful.
Recognize and give praise for the wonderful things in your life. Taking some time to reflect on 5 things that you are happy about, or 5 things you are thankful for really boosts the mood and puts you in a great mindset.
18: Express yourself.
Let other people know when they’ve done something incredible, made something worth noting or you like their outfit. Be plentiful in your compliments and express how they make you feel.
This can also extend to expression of self through how you dress, what you do with your hair, or how you treat your body. Make yourself presentable in the ways that YOU like, not how you think you’re supposed to look or what society deems as pretty, feminine, desirable etc.
Get rid of the fantasies and the preconceived notions in your head. However, living in reality, recognizing what is real, what is good and what is right is a lot harder done than said.
20: Don’t settle.
21: Eat right, and exercise.
This is most definitely the Kinesiology student within me talking. Sitting is a real issue, and lack of physical activity contributes to many physical and mental disorders. Personally, I find that when I am exercising more often and more regularly, I naturally start to eat better. This year a new spark of kitchen curiosity ignited and I’m all about trying vegan meals and new recipes.
22: Keep in touch with your creative side.
Writing, painting and music are mine. What are yours?
I now commence my 22nd year around the sun. Living, loving and learning every single day. Hope it’s a good one. Thanks to all for celebrating with me!
Mary Carol and I met touring a gym in the small town I moved to over the summer. This white haired, rounded woman walked with fervor and grace. She took her time reading the instructions for each cable weighted machine with care, as if her life depended on it, which it might have. The weight of her legs, her protruding voluminous stomach and her barely swaying arms slowed her down, yet the smile on her face remained with each strained movement. Her voice, like honey poured into morning tea, asked questions to the seasoned trainer walking us through the concourse. She was ready for a change in lifestyle, and so was I.
A week went by before I saw Mary Carol again. The sight of this lady caused a nerve-like pang in my heart and as it spread memories of my grandmother deep in my brain back towards that heart of mine, a slow smile crept across my cheeks. The loss of my grandmother hit hard. The first month was like living in a sandstorm, my eyes were constantly filled with gunk, I fell frequently as sudden winds took all the strength I had away, and the volume of my lungs severely reduced. I could still smell her smokey apartment, feel her fragile grasp of my hand in her final moments and hear her dry swallow my name. I can admit, I’m still not over this loss.
One look at Mary Carol and you knew she was close to her neighbors, her family, and her community. She looked as though she were once a traveler of the world, with stories intertwined in the wrinkles on her loving face. This grandmother figure probably gardened, made a stellar batch of chocolate chip oatmeal cookies and owned a sofa chair that made you sink deeply into the cushions the second you placed your bottom on the fabric.
When Mary Carol met my gaze, she smiled back warmly. Her crystal blue eyes read my soul in that moment. As if she heard what my heart needed and my spirit desired. I approached her on the stair climber, mounted the machine next to hers. Here, began an unlikely friendship.
Thanks for reading today, friends! Little pieces of my thoughts lay in this piece and I present this unedited, unfiltered short fictional read with a heart full of gratitude this morning. Elements are taken from my life, with a twist of exaggeration and imagination. Enjoy your Monday!
Adventure, adventure, explore, explore, and get lost?
But don’t stop trying, don’t stop wandering and seeing buildings, people and places in a new and wonderful light.
I boarded the VIArail at Fallowfield Station in Ontario for the first time last Thursday night after work. It was exciting and I was full of wonder, boundless energy, and soaring expectations. My cousin and his fiance warmly greeted me upon arrival in Toronto. That night I dreamed of sunshine, coffee and taking pictures (so, the usual).
Friday I took an Uber for the first time, as they are somehow not available in Vancouver yet (which they should be). I toured the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC) and fell in love with the campus, the students and the alumni that greeted me. It’s becoming more of a possibility to pursue this career for me. As this is the only English speaking program in Canada, I may end up staying in Eastern Canada longer than anticipated and may have to brave the chilly temperatures of the winter season.
On my walk back from CMCC, I spontaneously decided to walk along the East Don Mills River. There, I met an uninhibited and wild spirit in the form of a 32 year old woman named Dorsa. We walked the refreshing banks and babbling waters together, sharing a passion for exploration, outdoor adventure and life stories. She was a reminder of an Aunt of mine back on the West Coast; this was an unexpected encounter that brightened my day. It was an instant connection, a peaceful afternoon of good company and genuine conversation.
Reflecting on this small encounter, reminds me that we are all human. Whether it be elements of personality, life events and upbringing, you WILL find something in common with nearly everyone. It constantly amazes me how wonderfully we are created. How hand-crafted and individual we are, yet how strongly we are bonded to one another through common experiences, thoughts and themes throughout our lifetimes.
Taking this small and seemingly random afternoon into consideration, I reflected on relationships in general. Breathing a relief, let go of some burdens and opening up with my immediate family this past week was absolute bliss (Yes, bliss!). It led to amazing growth and opened channels of communication that I only imagined as a small child when I used to have big thoughts, questions, fear and feelings, but didn’t know where to turn to. 21 year old me sits here today, typing obnoxiously loud and quickly extremely proud of the leaps and bounds that I have made in emotional stability and willingness to share and be open with those close to me, and even strangers.
I challenge you, my friends, family and readers to ask yourself this question: “If I didn’t care what others thought, if I didn’t fear failure where would I be right now? What would I be doing? How would that be different than where I am now?”
Sorry this turned a little heavy and retrospective! I think it’s important to have these little blimps in our lives expanded sometimes and really give The Father credit where it’s due! Without his support and comfort through this past 6 months, can’t see I’d be the happy-go-lucky and FREE girl I am today.