Me Too

I know this is a little late. A few weeks ago, the #metoo movement swept through facebook and social media of both women and men chiming in on the violation against themselves at the hands of others. With all of these stories about the Harvey Weinsteins, the Kevin Spaceys and, the Louis C. K.s we are hearing about all of these situations where they have been the perpetrators in someone elses’ nightmares, and I have had mine in my life.

It took me a while to post about this, I’ve had some version of this post in my drafts for a while, and I’m pushing myself to finally re-write and publish it because maybe my voice will help someone see a perspective that isn’t their own. I honestly could write a whole book on the weird, uncomfortable, creepy, and sexually innappropriate things that I have had to deal with at the hands of guys. From having that weird guy in my grade ten English class thinking it’s a game to through things from different angles down my shirt to having a guy who I should have been able to trust caress along my groin after I said no. These are some of my stories, and by baring these difficult parts of my soul, I hope that some of you will see, this isn’t okay and this isn’t normal to treat anyone like this.

I apologize, this isn’t going to be eloquent or easy to write, it’s going to be long too, but my voices matters, and I hope that if you read my story and you have found yourself complicit in situations like these, that you know to stand up next time. That your voice against these acts matter, and that you’re totally capable of making that change.

In high school, I always felt like an ugly duckling. I didn’t date much, though I had a few guys who had a crush on me (apparently, I had like no idea) though I did date a few guys. I didn’t really get a whole lot of attention, except for the guys that I dated and from the weird guy throwing things down my shirt. When I turned eighteen and had my first job in public service, it was like I went from being that ugly duckling to a beautiful swan, and it was because I was receiving some weird attention from guys. At the time, I just thought I was flourishing, and some of it was that, and it was fine. Other times it wasn’t.

I had guys start coming to the restaurant in the food court I worked for regularly, and it didn’t matter that I was barely a legal adult. I had a guy that was 26 at the time who had asked me out to go down to a bar with him, and when I told him I was underage, his next response was to just hang out somewhere where it wouldn’t matter if I was legal or not. At the time I thought it was kind of funny, but looking back on it, that was a really creepy and weird thing and should have made me feel infinitely more uncomfortable.

I had another guy who was probably about 28 when I was nineteen who started to come in regularly, and thought because I had learned his order and knew his name that I was into him. The amount of regulars who’s orders and names I knew was numerous, so it wasn’t like it was anything special with him. One day he showed up about ten minutes before I got off of work, I don’t know how he found out, but I knew he did it intentionally because he asked me if I would join him for lunch. I respectfully declined, and felt like I had to leave out a back way as not to get stopped by him on my way out.

There was a point in time when I would have a couple of guys come in who worked at the gym down the food court as personal trainers. They were the types of guys who had the mentality that because they worked in a gym that they were all of that, and then some. I’m happy to say that I know not all of personal trainers are like this, one of my best guy friends is one, and he’s the sweetest and he treats his ladies with respect, and knows that if he didn’t he would hear it from me. These two guys though, they always thought it was hilarious to make sexually inappropriate jokes to the girl who was making their lunch. When I was ringing them up for their order and told them to insert the chip because the machine was ready they would make a crude joke and laugh. This wasn’t even a one time thing, it was daily, and it was disgusting and weird and even after seeing them recently, those old feelings of being uncomfortable was still there.

Then I started college I had to change up my schedule at work and ended up working only one morning a week before going to my afternoon classes, and when a new guy at the construction crew who were regulars came in. After one interaction with me, he thought it was appropriate to find me on facebook, add me and message me, asking to hang out. I should also note that I never, ever told him my name and I didn’t wear a name tag, so that alone made me uncomfortable with him.

There was a guy who had to have been at least 50, into some serious drug issues who also delivered the pitas to our store daily that I had an issue with. He would constantly stare at me like I was something to eat, to the point where my bosses would hide me behind the front counter while he was there. He constantly was leaving his personal number for me on the receipts, and if he didn’t see me, was asking about where I was. Eventually it got so bad and to the point that my bosses had requested a different delivery person, and then went with a whole new pita source.

We also had a regular customer who came in once a week with his girlfriend, and later I ended up going to the same college at the same time as them, and at the time of them being customers I wasn’t uncomfortable. It wasn’t until he had caught me on the bus to school one morning, sat next to me and proceeded to talk about how attracted he was to me. How every time I would walk by him he would admire my shape and appreciate the way my body looked. He told me personal details about how he had cheated on his girlfriend before, and it made me feel weird and uncomfortable, as if he was hinting that I should cheat with him. Just an FYI, I am not that person, and I absolutely refuse to be a willing participant in the hurt and destruction of another person.

I mean, there was a point in time while I was working there where I was harassed by a guy for about a year and a half. A lot had happened there, and it’s not something I’m going to go into again, but if you’re curious, you can read about it here.

I wish I could say all of my situations were caused by some random dudes that weren’t significant at all to me, but unfortunately that’s not the case. A few years ago, while I was in college, I dated this guy. I feel he was manipulative, and in general just an overly sexual person. I mean, the very reason we broke up was because I wasn’t willing to “put out”. Our conversation basically went, “I’m not interested in having that type of relationship with you right now.” and they said, “Well I can’t live without it.” and my response was, “Well I can.” as I walked out of the door. As I stepped into the hallway and I looked back, I saw him tearing up, and in that initial moment, I felt bad, and as time went on and his actions afterwards showed, it was what I think was a manipulation tactic to try and get me to change my mind.

You can applaud at my strength in that moment for walking away from a guy who tried to give me an ultimatum, but it didn’t come without a price. Because you see, while I was in this relationship, I was put in situations where I was uncomfortable, there was no consent when it came to how I was touched, and treated. At the time I had chalked it up to it just being what “boyfriends do” because honestly, I never dated much. I thought it was what was expected, despite it making me uncomfortable. And it wasn’t until I was dating someone new that I realized, acknowledged and admitted out loud to him that I was sexually assaulted. Where I laid ground rules, and said, “Hey, these are the things I am okay with, anything else, please, just ask for consent.”

I imagine this college boyfriend doesn’t even realize that what he did was sexual assault, in fact, if he were to read this, having his perspective, he probably would think that he did nothing wrong. You see, I made it clear to him that I wasn’t an overly touchy-feely person, especially in the beginning of relationships and I learned that he didn’t like the word, “no.” I remember, sitting in the photo studio with all of my new classmates, colleagues and friends, sitting at a table while people where shooting. I remember him sitting beside me while one of my classmates was on the other side. The hem of my t-shirt had risen above the waist of my jeans after stretching, and this guy decided that it was perfectly acceptable to place his finger under the waist of my jeans and try to caress my hip bone from underneath.

My way of standing up for myself in that moment was simply to pull the hem of my shirt back down, moving his hand away from my waist. I was horrified, especially because that was a moment where I had half of the people I would be working with for the next two years in the same room and felt that it was such an inappropriate gesture. To top it off, as I was pulling my shirt back down, he had this look that told me that he was offended that I didn’t want that advance.

I wish I could say that this was the only time that day that he tried something, but no. Later on, he walked me to my locker where I was getting what I needed to go to my next class, and he thought it was appropriate to grab my ass while I was in the middle of the hallway at college. For some people, that is okay, but after knowing me for a couple weeks and we weren’t even ‘officially dating’ at this point, we were in what I call a ‘flirtationship’. When I just ignored it, because of how he reacted when I rejected his advance with the waist of my jeans, he got upset and offended again.

You see, I didn’t say anything because I didn’t realize what it was and I thought it was all normal. And those things most certainly can be in healthy wonderful relationships, don’t get me wrong. It’s when those lines and boundaries haven’t been established that you can never be sure and that you need to have some form of consent before proceeding.

Again, I wish I could tell you these were the only times that I felt violated or uncomfortable with this guy, but it’s not. I remember being at his apartment, just the two of us watching a movie on his laptop. I should tell you that we were sitting on his bed, solely because his apartment was so small and there was literally no where else to sit. Before the movie had started, I told him that I wasn’t feeling well, that my period cramps were really bad. I ended up laying next to him basically in the fetal position while he sat with the movie on. Once the movie had finished, he closed up his laptop and laid next to me, and that’s when he thought it was okay to start to touch me inappropriately. He caressed the underside of my thigh, crossing over my crotch, and I froze for a moment, terrified. Then I reiterated that I wasn’t feeling well, and that maybe I should head home.

I know that there are more moments with this guy in particular that I can’t even remember because I have blocked them out. I purposely choose to forget because they’re easier to than these three instances I wrote about. What blows my mind though, is that his classmates and friends knew what he was like and didn’t warn me. I’m thankful though, that after everything that happened, despite not knowing the details, at least from my perspective, they still apologized and I consider them friends.

Even in my current job, I’ve had weird and uncomfortable interactions with male customers. I currently have an all female leadership team, and I know of a few that would proudly put a guy in place if I had called them to the scene in those situations, but because I work with the public, it’s hard to know when to call for help from a creepy customer and when to just let it slide despite being uncomfortable.

I mean, a while I go I was helping a male customer place an order to ship back home to Ontario, he made a comment about how he’d like to package me up and send me to his home, all in the name of a joke. What is even more disgusting, is that this 40 or 50 year old man said this in front of his mother, and I’m thankful she called him out on it, but he brushed it off and just said that he was joking. Here’s the thing, even when someone is called out for being disgusting, they laugh and brush it off because “it’s just a joke” and “isn’t a big deal” but if the stories shared here and elsewhere aren’t enough, what will be?

I’m telling you now, sexual comments, harassment, assault isn’t something to laugh or scoff at. Listen to the voices those who are speaking their truth and their stories. I’ve had to hear after the fact of people I love having comments said to them like, “I like it when a girl is on her knees” while she’s on her knees cleaning up a mess in the kids department. Or the countless other stories that I have had to hear that absolutely break my heart.

So here is my voice, here is my story, here is my “Me Too.” I have other stories, and I bet if know a girl, she probably has so many too. Listen with your heart, and stand up for your friends, both male and female, who tell their stories, they’re not easy to tell. I should know.

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Meeting Becky Albertalli, Julie Murphy and Angie Thomas

Can I just talk a little bit about how awesome parts of my job are? Because it’s moments like these that make being an #indigoemployee so incredible.

I mentioned last month in my post about Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give that there was a possibility that I was going to meet her, and this past week I was able to. I also had the opportunity to meet two other wonderfully lovely authors as well, and now I’m really excited to read the stories that they have written. I was able to meet Julie Murphy, the author of Side Effects May Vary, Dumplin’ and Ramona Blue, and I was able to meet Becky Albertalli, the author of Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, and The Upside of Unrequited.

If there’s one thing that I can say about this ladies is that they are so hilarious and kind. The way that they talked about the stories they have written, it was with so much heart, and then them sitting and listening to how every one who had read their novels loved and felt changed because of them. It was incredible to see that these three ladies who’s stories touched people’s lives have so much humility and kindness and watching how they engaged so well with each person who stepped in front of them. How they each took the time to write a little something in each book, and talk to everyone. I honestly cannot stop talking about how kind these three women are and how I hope that I will be lucky to cross paths with them again in the future.

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The night before the big event in my store, us booksellers had the opportunity to sit and listen to a couple members of the Harper Collin’s Canada marketing team talk about all of the books coming out in the next few months (shout out to my friends Kaiti and Cory!) and then for us to listen and interact with these three world changing ladies.

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At the end of the night I was given some treats (total perk of the job, and I love it!)FullSizeRender 2
As well as my own personally signed copies of the books by these three lovely ladies!
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Then, when I get to work the next evening I get to see everything all set up and waiting for the event to start. There was that little bit of anxiety that comes with waiting to see if people are going to show up for something that you are incredibly excited for.

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Abbey, my co-worker and work twin (as well as fellow blogger) was very, very excited to see the turn out as well.

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We slowly started to fill up, and I was able to sigh a sigh of relief, knowing that so far it looked like it was going to be a really good turn out. For small little Nova Scotia, having some authors in doesn’t always bring in a huge crowd, but man, this was just the beginning.

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When the even started, there was so much excitement, and we all got to sit and listen to these three ladies talk about their books (as well as a little bit about the movies coming out for them as well).

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A panorama some of the people who came out to see our special guests, and I can tell you, I was so happy to see such a big turn out. We had to bring out extra chairs, and STILL didn’t have enough space for everyone to have a seat. We had people standing in the aisles, in the back, anywhere that they could sit and listen!
IMG_3804It was also so great to see how engaged and and in sync the authors were together when one was talking.

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And we had MC extraordinaire Kaiti asking them questions before opening the floor to others to ask questions.

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Then everyone excitedly lined up to spend a few moments to get something signed…

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…and take a picture. Honestly, there were so many happy faces leaving the store. Nights were made (including mine!)

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It was great seeing each person who came up and share a personal story to these authors that changed their lives and how kind Angie, Julie and Becky were. Honestly, these ladies were rock stars.

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It was so great spending the night working an event where it felt like just hanging out with a few cool ladies and talking with each customer who was so happy or excited to be there.

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After everyone left, we got to take a photo with these three awesome women, as well as some of my co-workers who were working the night. I love these moments in my job and I love my team.
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Now, I get to sit outside with a copy of one of the signed books I haven’t read yet, read it, and always have these memories attached to their stories. (Which, by the way, I’m really enjoying Dumplin’ so far. I’m only like fifteen chapters in and liking it.)

It’s moments like these, genuine interactions with customers, bringing that joy, but also the incredible moments that I wouldn’t get to have if I didn’t work with books. Honestly, I think these two nights were my favourite nights ever working for this company. I’m a little spoiled, and very blessed.

Adios Twenty-Five, Hola Twenty-Six

Last year I wrote a little blog post about the things I was excited to see in my twenty-fifth year, and as it comes to a close, I check a lot of things off that I listed and I can also check off a lot of things that I didn’t think of.

I finally can say that I’m a licensed driver. Like, I can be on the road without having someone else in the car, I get take myself out on adventures, be a little bit more social if I want. I know I’m a little behind when it comes to that, I honestly can be so introverted that I had no drive to get it because I never really wanted to go anywhere (with a few exceptions.) Now I can if I want to, or I don’t have to. I have that freedom now, and I guess it’s pretty nice.

I started volunteering again with the youth group I was working with before I started college. It’s been a challenge coming back, there are the nights I come back and I ask myself, “Why am I doing this again? I still don’t fit in, even among the leaders, why do I do that to myself?” It’s this internal battle, but then sometimes I have a glimmer of why I do it. The younger girls, the slightly more awkward, not sure how they’re going to navigate Jr. High who were a lot like me when I was their age are looking up to me. I’m slowly building those friendships with them, and they’re coming to me with questions, and I see that I have a reason to be there. We also have a ridiculous amount of fun when we have game nights, which brings a lot of laughs.

I’ve built really strong friendships this past year. They were pretty strong before because in the last year, I’ve really tried to value the people in my life, letting them know that I’m a listening ear if they need it, or a friend they can go out with if they just need to get out. My core group of work friends have made the effort in the last year to go out and spend time with each other OUTSIDE of work, and man, it’s awesome. The last few times have been playing games at the Boardroom Game Cafe in Halifax, (which is an awesome spot, and I’m so happy to have finally discovered this little gem in my city,) and we have a blast. The most recent trip was a good bye night for one of our co-workers who was moving back home to Ontario, and we were easily the most obnoxious table there.

I’ve also had some awesome and fun photo adventures/projects that I really enjoyed. From shooting newborn baby twins (swoon) to a personal project with MeToWe bracelets to photo adventures on a island with a bunch of people I don’t really know to head shots with an old friend. I had so much fun with them, and I’ve been a little slow this summer in doing photography, but hopefully I’ll be back at it again soon.

Twenty-five was such a great year for me. Making new book friends (shout out to Katelyn and her poor husband who come into my work and when she finds me he knows he’ll be there for a while, ha) to healing for the really crappy things that happened in twenty-four, and now I’m looking forward to what twenty-six is going to bring. I hope that some big changes will come, but if not, as long as I’m moving forward I’ll be happy.

So, bring it on twenty-six!

Here’s a story all about how, an important teen book fell into my lap and flipped my life upside down.

Every once in a while you read a book that just changes you or your perspective. 10 years ago for me it was 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher. After reading that book, I stepped back and looked at the way I treated the people in my life, even the ones who just pass me by for a moment and wondered to myself, “Am I adding to the list of things in their life that doesn’t make life worth it anymore? Am I adding to the list of things in their life that does make life worth it?” I wanted to always try to make the answer that I was adding joy to people’s life, or at the very bare minimum, not making it worse.

Then, here I am, working at Chapters (#indigoemployee holla!) and there is this book coming out that a friend of mine received and advanced copy of and I hear that it was just so good and so important. I marked it on my “to-read” list on Goodreads and vowed that I would read it this year. Fast forward to the beginning of July and I’m sitting on a conference call with Harper Collin’s, representing my store with their marketing team, and I hear that there’s a chance that I’m going to get to meet this author in the fall. I had to step up my game and read it by the end of summer, and here we are.

For those of you who follow me on instagram or facebook, you’ve probably already seen my post, but for those who didn’t, the book is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

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This is one of those books that no matter your background will make you think. The story follows Starr Carter, a sixteen year old black girl who lives two lives. She has grown up and lives in Garden Heights which is considered “the hood” but goes to school at Williamson which is in a rich and predominately white part of town and a bit of a drive from her neighbourhood. There are a lot of issues in her neighbourhood, drugs, gangs, you name it. The story opens up where she’s at a party and ends up leaving with one of her old friends who she hadn’t seen in a while, and when he’s driving her home they are stopped by the cops.

Unarmed, Starr witnesses the murder of her friend at the hands of a white cop, and the repercussions that follow are huge. There are protests, and riots, the story making national news. This is a story that may be fictional but very heavily based on some very true stories coming out of the US with police brutality and the deaths of young black men. Now, if you’ve known me for a second, you know I’m quiet and not vocally political, but damn this story is so needed right now.

Me, a white girl, so white that when you turn the lights off, I’m probably still glowing. I grew up going to a Jr. High where half of my school’s population were black, so I might not be completely unfamiliar with this story, but I will tell you right now, I, in no way have been able to relate because I am white. I don’t feel the struggle that Starr Carter or any black person feels because of their race, I acknowledge that I’m in a privileged position to never have to understand that struggle. This book though, this book is letting me look through the eyes of a young black girl, and it’s breaking my heart. I’m still never going to truly know what the black community goes through, but having this story, this perspective, I hope, will make me a more compassionate person who puts bravery on and stands up for injustices.

The thing about books is that people who read tend to be more compassionate people because they are always seeing the world through the eyes of other people, even if they’re fictional. I’m seeing this world where Starr lives, and I know I would be straight up terrified to live there, and here she is, standing up against police brutality, standing up against the murder of her friend. She is a character that I can look up to because she has gone through some tough things before she’s even eighteen years old and she’s handling them. It’s a book like this that we need to be getting into the hands of everyone, just so that they can see this perspective of what the life of someone they feel like that they could never possibly relate to. Just to see that we’re all human, and we humans, we can do crappy things to other people but that we have the ability to be the change.

Please friends, if you are white, don’t just look at this and say, “Naw, it’s a ‘black book’ I ain’t interested.” I’m telling you right now, you are doing yourself a disservice and you’re doing your brothers and sisters an even bigger disservice. Read it. Honestly, do it and I hope and pray that it helps to give your perspective. You don’t have to go out and be an activist after you read it, (though, that would be cool) and you don’t even have to LOVE the book, but I honestly think it’s so important and that now that it’s out, it should be read in schools, and the conversation it centres around talked about.

Just to add, the story does use a lot of slang and “words them young people use” (like dab?) and there’s a bit of swearing in it, but please don’t let that deter you. When reading it, at first I was a little uncomfortable with how the English language was used (because I’m so used to reading books written in a certain way) but it adds to the authenticity of the story. Please, give this book a try, and then tell me what you thought, because I would love to have a conversation!

In 365 days, a lot of things can change

It’s incredible how much can change in 365 days. This year I have experienced so much change in my life, but I’m also thankful that so much stayed the same as well. This time last year I wasn’t shooting with my camera anymore, in fact, it had been almost a year from that point that I had barely picked my camera up. Now, I’m shooting again, and relearning everything, and rediscovering why I loved photography in the first place. I have been taken under the wing of a photographer who is really good at what he does, and it’s such a blessing. If you had asked me 365 days ago if I would be working with this photographer, learning from him, I would have laughed and said, “No. No way.” It’s funny how things change.

I like that I’m moving forward too. I was so stagnant in my life, kind of just floating in one spot, not sure which direction to swim and what was to come next. I’m still a little unsure of where the destination is, but I know the I’m taking this journey forward, and it’s nice that it’s with people who are encouraging and wanting me to find happiness. They want to see me succeed, and that, in itself in a priceless gift, so if you’ve encouraged me, pushed me forward in the last 365 days, I want you to know how thankful I am. I love you a lot because of it.

In the last 365 days, there has been a change of the people in my life too. There is one person in my life who I thought would be very important to me for a very long time, who barely crosses my mind now. It’s funny how someone who felt like such a permanent thing in your life doesn’t even make a blip on your radar anymore. It took a lot of hard work to get there, because letting go of someone who you had hoped would stay for a while takes a lot of effort, but I’m better and stronger for it. And it’s nice knowing now that they really weren’t worth keeping around in my life, that when I held the door open they walked over the threshold, and stood there staring back in until I closed it in their face, which, trust me, was needed.

Then, this time last year, my anxiety was on the rise, and made worse by certain events. I was sure that the panic/anxiety attacks were never going to end. They were so frequent and even irrational, and I thought, “Why can’t I just not be like this anymore?” Trust me friends, I’m still kind of like this, but I’m better at handling it. These last 365 days have helped me take those steps that I needed to gain the tools to handle my anxiety better, and for that, I’m a stronger person. It would be a lie to that I don’t get anxious or that I don’t have attacks anymore, but I’m better equipped to take them on and not let them build into something more. They’re fewer, and not as debilitating lately, and it’s because I’ve taken the time to better understand what makes me panic and using that as a jumping off point to get myself in a better headspace.

I’m moving forward in my faith too! What would have tore me apart and away from God a couple years ago only brought me closer and building that trust that through any storm I have an anchor to keep me still. I can see and put into practice what I learned from my season of anger with God, especially after this past year. Between the losing someone I thought would be important for a long time and my anxiety trying to rip me apart from the inside out, I am still standing. I have a couple scars from the battle, but I also have a faith built on a relationship and unwavering God. I honestly don’t know if I would be around right now if I didn’t have that relationship, because when my mental health was taking a nosedive, I saw some pretty dark places. Places that I hope that I never, ever will have to see again.

Overall, there has been a lot of changes since this time last year, changes that at the time I saw as something bad, with some distance and perspective, I can see as some of the best changes to happen to date. I’m excited about my future, and where I can go next, I’m excited to grow and see new places in the next 365 days. I know that having a post like this in the middle of May is kind of odd, it’s one that you usually do at the end or beginning of a year, but I can definitely pinpoint that this time last year was when a lot of these big changes were happening, and it was kind of good to look back and reflect on how far I’ve come since then.

I look forward to what will happen in my life by May 2018. Maybe a humanitarian trip to the Dominican Republic (I’m seriously considering this one), new opportunities with my photography stuff, stronger and happier relationships and so much more. Whatever is to come, I’m excited.

I ❤ the beach

I’m incredibly blessed to be able to live five minutes from the ocean and ten from the beach. It’s always been in my life, and I’ve never lived anywhere where the ocean has been more then 30 minutes away. I consider it my home, and have experienced it in so many different ways. Last year I had an experience that tainted the beach for me, made it a place of sadness and hurt…a place of anxiousness. I was determined not to let that ruin one of my favourite places to be, so I decided to make new memories there.

It really sucks when something that usually brings you so much joy gets tainted by a painful memory, and when you’re there/when you’re experiencing it, it’s all you can think about and it makes you feel like panicking. I’ve made a point to try and make new and happy memories with the things that have been tainted. I’ve made many visits back to the beach to shoot, and just enjoy the peace again that the ocean brings me and bring joy back to it.

Below are some of the photos I shot the last few trips out, where I made new memories, learned something new and brought new joy to going to the beach.

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April 14, 2017
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April 18, 2017
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Quick, make a list!

What if we only had 8 months and 12 days to live because an asteroid is hurtling towards earth and we were all going to die, what would you want to do before that day came? What things would you put on your “Apocolyst”? A friend of mine suggested that I watch a show on Netflix called No Tomorrow with this very premise in mind, and it got me thinking, what would I like to do before I died? After finishing the first season I mulled over the idea for a couple of days, and I decided to make my own “Apocolyst” or sorts and do it.

I know I won’t get everything on it done, but I wanted my list to be realistic, and I didn’t want it to be just big things. So my list contains a lot of little everyday things, and I’m constantly growing it (I’m at over 250 items right now, wow,) and I wanted some of them to challenge me into being a better person. There are things to push me out of my comfort zone, to get my creativity going, to try and be selfless, and simple things that I have never done that I would really like to do. Some things, I have already done earlier in life, but haven’t done in a while and would like to do it in my adult life.

I’ve spent a lot of time scouring Pinterest for ideas and inspiration for my list and as I was doing so, I felt so blessed that some of the things from other’s bucket lists I had already done. “Own a fancy camera.” Done. “Learn how to use a decent camera.” Done. “Call someone from a red telephone booth in London.” Done. “Ride on a double decker bus.” Done. “Go up the Eiffel Tower.” Done. “Travel to a new continent.” Done. “Go to Disney World.” Done. There were so many other that I could say, “That can’t go on my list, I’ve already done them.” and it felt like making a list and already having things checked off. It’s so satisfying.

I’m not going to put my whole list here, but I hope that as I check things off that I can blog about them and share my adventures. I have this cute little Hello Kitty Moleskine journal that I had bought on sale a year or so ago, just sitting, waiting to be used for something inspiring. So, I decided to write my list in it, allow myself to check things off as I went. I have a matching Moleskine journal that is a bit larger that I plan to be a companion to the little one, to write about the story attached to a completed task. IMG_2866

I want to inspire myself to try new things, re-try old things, be better, fuel my soul with adventure, see the world, and do small things with great love. I want my list to be ever growing, and be a journey to push myself out of my shell and live a joyful life. I want to encourage people, do things for others, and just generally feel like I’ve accomplished something.

Below are some of the things on my list, and as time goes on, I hope to post blogs that have some that I didn’t list here with accompanying stories and photos!

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1. Visit the Studio Ghibli Museum in Japan!
2. Meet Meghan in person!
3. Leave a note in a library book for someone to discover!
4. Go on a photo adventure with people I barely know!
5. See the Northern Lights!
6. Go on a missions trip to a different country!
7. See McFly in concert!
8. Try to make amends with someone I’ve hurt!

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46. Tell someone how much they mean to me!
47. Do something selfless and expect nothing in return!
48. Tell someone who gave me great customer service that they did!
49. Go snorkelling/scuba diving!
50. See cherry blossoms in Japan!
51. Truly forgive someone who hurt me!
52. Have my own personal library!
53. Have a date on Valentine’s Day!
54. Attend a high school reunion!
55. Have a photoshoot with a celebrity I look up to!
56. Try and meal I would normally never try!
57. Write a letter encouraging someone!
58. Have a tea party!
59. Leave a 100% tip!
60. Meet an author I look up to!
61. Shoot photos of a concert with one of my favourite bands/artists!
62. Go apple picking!
63. Join a book club!

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147. Find something good or happy for 100 days!
148. Make a baby laugh!
149. Learn a new word everyday for a month and use it!
150. Finish a novel in a day!
151. Leave anonymous love for someone!

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226. Have a yardsale!
227. Send someone a postcard!
228. Have a ‘treat yo’self’ day!
229. Just sit out in the sun and blow bubbles!
230. Fly a kite!
231. Buy a pet fish!
232. Learn origami!

I’m always looking for new interesting things to do, and try, so if you have any ideas or have done some really cool things on your bucket list, let me know! Let’s encourage each other to go out and check things off our lists.

 

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Self-Care

Most people who have read this blog know that I struggle with my anxiety. I can get anxious over really big things, but I can also get anxious over really little things too. A memory can wipe out my day, and sometimes there’s just an avalanche of really crappy things that can knock me out for longer. As I go through my life, I worry about things, and a lot of the time, they’re things that I don’t even have to worry about but I just can’t help myself. Sometimes they’re silly, sometimes they’re not.

Sometimes when I start to worry about things that I would have to make a decision about, I weigh my options into “do I need to” and “do I want to”. Example: The other day I was worrying about having a much needed day off. That day and the day before were really bad days, and I was worrying about what would happen if they called me into work a shift, and how I didn’t want to do it if they did because I just had two really bad days and I needed to just not be there. But then I started to worry that it would effect how often they called me when I was actually feeling up to taking an extra shift or two. I was worried about saying “no” when I needed a day to take care of me, which typically includes laying in bed with a book and a cup of tea, or watching Netflix, or photo editing. They’re kind of the lazy day things, and I was worried that they weren’t good enough reasons to say no to taking another shift or extending a shift I already had.

My friend and co-worker then reminded me that it’s okay to say no to those days sometimes because if you can’t bring your best self to work, then you’re likely to have resentment grow or lose whatever joy you’ve found if it’s a job you love. She’s right, and if you neglect yourself and your needs, especially when it comes to your mental health stuff, you only hurt yourself. Because of this, I’m learning that self-care is very important. That sometimes we need those days off, and we shouldn’t feel guilty to saying, “no” when you need your scheduled days off to relax and recoup.

This is a hard lesson for me, and I know that moving forward I’m still going to have to fight with myself about saying “no” because I don’t like disappointing people or letting them down, but I also have to remember that I’m no good if I’m not well taken care of. If I’m not taking time for me to recharge myself (especially because people are energy stealers and they wear me out) then I burn out and hate everything. That I really truly need to take care of me because I feel like I give so much of myself to others, and I don’t want to have nothing left.

Here are some of my favourite ways I try to show myself some self-care:

  1. Read a book. Lots of people read for different reasons, and mine is to relax and to escape. I don’t read award winners unless I’m genuinely into the stories because I don’t find reading something because I “should” or “have to” relaxing. I read the stories I like to read, and if I’m not digging the story, I try to not waste my time in finishing it.
  2. Have a cup of tea. This is usually combined with many other sources of my self-care choices, but mostly when I’m reading a book. It’s warm, and delicious and just makes snuggling up with a blanket and a book so cozy.IMG_2797
  3. Listen to music. Music is almost like soul healing it feels like. If I’m feeling down I usually go for some upbeat fun music, or something comforting like an old favourite album of mine. If I just need to relax and mellow out, or just need some white noise while I’m working on something or reading, I have a couple playlists with some of my favourite musical scores from movies, tv, and video games.
  4. Taking photos. There is just something about you + the world + your camera. A solo adventure or even one with some other creative people, it’s all good. Photography is just something that really fuels my soul, and makes me feel at peace…when I’m doing it for me. Sometimes I get lucky with a photo job that I really want to do, that makes me feel like this as well. They’re my favourite jobs, and make me feel better.img_9744
  5. Photo editing. I don’t know what it is, but I find editing photos just so relaxing. I find that it can be done at a decent pace, and gives you a final product which makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something while still being relaxing. Also, the colours when editing a landscape helps make me feel calm, especially when it includes a sunrise or sunset.
  6. Writing, even if no one will ever see it. It’s just an outlet to get my anxious thoughts out into the universe so that they’re not bundled up inside of me and making me more anxious. Write novels, write short stories, write blog posts, anything. Writing is such a therapeutic way to take care of yourself, and seeing your thought process in a physical way.
  7. Watching an old favourite or discovering a new one. A couple of years ago I realized that I watched a lot of my old favourites over and over again. Beauty and the Beast? I’ve probably seen that thousands of times in my life time. So I started keeping track of, and pushing myself to watch more movies that I had never seen before. I still very much watch my old favourites, but with this push to watch things I had never seen before, I found some new favourites that I can add to my repertoire of “I need to feel better, so I’ll watch this” movies.
  8. Spend some laid back time with people who don’t drain me. I like getting out and spending time with people, despite being an introvert. I like sitting at a cafe, both of us with our laptops working on something, or having a book, or just catching up, and it not feeling like a chore. I don’t do it often, because I’m really rather lazy, but when I do, I feel better.
  9. Crocheting a crap ton of roses. I don’t know how many I’ve made, but I’ve made quite a few crochet roses. They’re quick and easy and good for when I’m feeling anxious. It gives me this sense of accomplishment when I feel like I can’t do anything, and it keeps my hands and mind busy while I count stitches. I don’t know what I’m going to do with them all, but they make me happy.FullSizeRender.jpg
  10. Skyping with my beautiful friend from Connecticut. We don’t get to do this often, but when we do, we can literally talk for hours. It’s so recharging just to have this person who I trust and love so much to talk to when things are going to crap. She’s an incredibly supportive friend and I’m forever thankful for her.
  11. Naps. Do no underestimate the power of a really good nap. Sometimes you’re just so emotionally, physically or socially exhausted that a good nap pumps you up. I think we all need to take more naps.
  12. Colouring is magical, and if you haven’t tried it, you must. We all coloured when we were in elementary school, and some of us even participated in the adult colouring phase. I’m pretty sure I was apart of the teenager colouring phase, because even before it became a big marketable thing I was still colouring, in my Hello Kitty colouring book with a 64 pack of crayola crayons. It calmed my anxiety, and helped me relax, which made it an important part of my self care.IMG_2524.JPG
  13. Mindless scrolling through Instagram, or Facebook, but mostly Instagram. I have such a love for that app. It’s where I’ve connected with local photographers, found inspiration, and found accounts that give me an unreal amount of joy. (shoutouts to twhiddleston,  bonpon511, blackjaguarwhitetiger, popyeyethefoodie, logreglan, elsasketch, hotdudesreading, and a few others.)
  14. Just spending a day with no responsibilities or any set plans. It’s nice to be able to just lay and do nothing, or just go with the flow.
  15. Spending time in the sunshine. I struggle a lot in the winter, because it’s cold and grey a lot of the time, and that makes it hard to motivate myself to get out. Sitting out on the dock at the cottage with a book and a cup of tea in the sunshine is a soul healer.
  16. Spending time away from the regular world like at my family’s cottage outside of the city and by a lake. I grew up on this lake at my grandparents cottage, next to ours, and there’s just something about spending a weekend away down there. Sometimes I get anxious while I’m there, but it’s usually just left over from what I have been pushing back. I usually have no real responsibilities or things to really distract me from dealing with the issue, but sometimes that’s a good thing. It allows me to process it.
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There are so many more things, big and small, that I do to practice self care. It’s important to remember that we sometimes need to do things for ourselves, especially if we’re the type of people who do a lot for others. We need to remember that while we’re taking care of others, while we’re doing stuff to bring people joy, we also need to bring joy to ourselves. I truly believe to have a happy and joyful life, we need to have a nice balance. If you only give and never take, you wear yourself out. If you always take and never give, you’ll never be satisfied. So, for those of us who gives a lot of ourselves, those of us who are introverted and being around people takes a lot of energy, please don’t forget to take care of yourself a bit. You’re worth it, trust me.

Thank you to the women…

Thank you to the women who walked before me,
Building bridges, burning down road blocks and sacrificing of themselves.
Thank you to the women who fought so that I could keep moving forward,
For making a way so that we don’t feel so constrained in our fight forward.
Thank you to the women who laid the ground work so that our paths are a little bit smoother than those who walked before us so we can go farther for those ahead.
Thank you to the women who taught us, who mentored us, who poured into us, who fought for us and who prayed for us.
Without you doing those things, we wouldn’t be able to do what we can for those who will come after us.
Thank you to the women who have led me, who gave me chances, who stood up for me and who didn’t give up on me when I fell.
Your wisdom and faith in me have helped me see what I have to offer to other girls and women who cross my path.
Most importantly, thank you to the woman who gave me life, who held me when I hurt, who pushed me forward when things got hard, who built me up when I was tearing myself down, and who shows me such an unfathomable amount of unconditional love.
I am so lucky to have such a wonderful example of what it means to be a strong woman.
You are why I know that I can be a strong woman too.

Thank you.

Those damn winter blues

I know that a lot of us struggle during this time of year, I know that I do. This time of year makes me feel dull, like my light is going out. I’m always tired, I’m even more introverted then I am when the weather is nicer, and almost all motivation to do the things I love is at an all time low. Don’t get me wrong, I do have some pretty good days where I do get out with my camera, or catch up with a friend, but winter is mostly blah for me. On those good days, I feel my brightness and my glow come back for a little bit, but it doesn’t last, the winter blues come back full force. It’s a genuine effort that I just don’t have sometimes, to make these days filled with light.

So far this winter, I have spent a good deal of time secluded from everyone. I just don’t have the mental energy to sit in the living room with my family or go out with friends. I know that I get so tired after a day at work, where I am constantly surrounded by people and having to talk with them. I have spent a lot of quality time with my Netflix account and books since the weather started to get colder. I’ve watched seven seasons of Gilmore Girls, plus the revival, the second season of Fuller House, two and a half seasons of Jane the Virgin (season three is currently running), I’ve watched the first season of Dirk Gently: Holistic Detective Agency, two seasons of iZombie, I’m keeping up with Riverdale as well as keeping up with the network shows I’ve been loving (This is Us, Gotham, The Good Place and Schitts Creek). I have also been re-watching Veronica Mars with my mom, because she had never seen it, and has been enjoying. Then, since October I have read eleven books and I’m currently working on the twelfth one. I’ve just been consuming this low energy loves to keep myself sane.

Even blogging has been an absolute chore, which, I suppose you might have noticed because they have been abandoned, when I used to write one almost weekly. Winter blues have got me feeling super blah. I have ideas for posts, but no motivation to actually sit and write them, let alone finish them. It’s a miracle that this is even being written at all, and it’s not without it’s challenges. I keep getting distracted by things, like my phone lighting up every ten seconds because I just posted a photo to my photo instagram and I’m seeing the likes coming in, or because I’m watching Pitch Perfect and I started to actually watch it and sing the songs instead of writing. I’m not kidding when I say that I have 17 drafts of unfinished blog posts sitting in my account, waiting to have new life breathed into them. I just cannot bring myself to finish one, and it sucks because it’s one of my outlets for my excess anxiety.

I’m trying though, I promise you, I’m so trying. I hate this time of year, it makes it hard for me to get outside. Not that I’m an overly outdoorsy type of person, but I definitely enjoy it more when the sun is shining, the weather is warm, and getting up early doesn’t feel like such a chore. I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember, and you’d think that I would have found a better way to cope, but not really. I’m trying though, actually writing this post is proof, and the mornings I get up and actually go shooting. Even extending invitations to spend time with people when I know that it’s a real effort for me to do so.

I look forward to the days that are sunnier, warmer, and when the landscapes are greener. I look forward to my energy being restored, being able to get out more with my camera, not freezing to death or just feeling absolutely drained all the time. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way, and I know that sometimes things are too dark to see the light, but I promise, it’s there. I struggle to see it often at this time of year, but I promise that things do get brighter. And I’ll extend this to you as well: if you feel like you’re in the winter blues and want to get out and grab a coffee, send me a message. I can’t guarantee that I’ll always be down, because y’know, winter blues, but I’ll definitely try to make that effort. Send me a message, or a text, let’s grab coffee, let’s go out shooting with our cameras. Let’s try to make the darkness of winter a little brighter together!