Rolled a Lucky Pair of Dice

It’s hard to believe that a year has past.

12 months ago I was manic with packing my life away, settling things at work and emotionally prepping to live away from all that I knew for an entire year.

And now it’s over.

And I have changed.

I don’t really know where I want to go with this post…I haven’t set time aside for a long time to put the thoughts in my head down on paper…but I feel like my journey deserves recognition.  There is not a lot in my life I’d say I’m proud of myself for…many things I’m extremely happy about but pride never really fits with me.  I think it’s probably because of my quiet personality and my own weird issue that if someone feels proud about themselves its a bit too showy (but I don’t feel that way when others say they are proud of themselves…my own silly issue).  It’s funny because I feel proud for so many of my loved ones but don’t really allow it within myself.

Until 2014.

I took a huge gamble in March of 2013 when I applied for a teaching exchange to Australia and to say it worked out well is an understatement.  I packed up my life, said goodbyes to my family and friends (and my final goodbye to my dog) and sorted out my last few days of work and then shipped myself off to the unknown…granted, I knew a few people in town before going, but it still is quite a daunting adventure.

Everything was new.  New house, new job, new town, and (having to make) new friends.  I’m almost 40…you don’t really make new friends when you’re almost 40!!  And, with being an introvert, this was one of the scariest things I was faced with.

The main reason I wanted to do an exchange was to get out of the funk I was feeling at work.  Teaching, for me, had become too routine.  I needed a bit of a challenge and I know I needed to grow professionally.  In Australia I was thrown into a system I knew nothing about (still aspects of it I don’t totally understand) but instantly fell in love.  My new work colleagues fit nicely into my life and it was just “easy”….the work aspect was hard, and for the first month my head was spinning with all the differences and changes, but in terms of who I was working with…it was eerily easy.

I just fit.

A year later and what I have come away from all of this with, besides saying ‘reckon’, is such a greater sense of self.  In all aspects.  It’s funny because just a few days after my arrival home I ran into a friend at the supermarket and he asked “well did you find yourself?!”…a question I didn’t really think I needed to be focused on during my exchange…but has been, in the end, what it was all about and one of the greatest gifts this journey has given me.

I know now, more than ever, who I am, what’s important to me and where I belong.  I have realised that for the past ten years I have been living a life that is not true to me, my heart or soul…but boy am I excited to start!

And that is something to be proud of.

May you all live a life that is true to your soul.

Happy New Year!!!

~ Hugs and love ~

 

Mirror Mirror On The Wall

I hate my body.

I have always hated my body.

Maybe it’s because when I was in Primary school I heard echoes of “Debbie, Debbie, 2×4, can’t fit through the bathroom door” while in class and on the playground.

Or…

Maybe it’s because I tipped the scales at over 200 pounds when I was in Grade 8.

Or…

Maybe it’s the fact that the genetics gods thought it would be an excellent idea to make my skin resemble that of an orange peel (or, more accurately, like the skin of an over ripe passionfruit)

But…

I am loved, regardless of the size of my clothes, by so many amazing people.  I am also incredibly blessed to have someone in my life who looks me in the eyes and tells me I’m beautiful even when I am at my most vulnerable…

Yet…

I still cannot find peace in my body.

And…

I know it’s ridiculous…I have run four half marathons, completed multiple triathlons, I can kick ass in any spinning class, can flip tires, do jump squats (although begrudgingly) and sling huge, heavy ropes…yet, instead of seeing the strength I carry, all I see is soft and all I feel is doughy.

However…

I know I’m not alone.  I have stunningly beautiful friends who all struggle with body image…who complain, find fault and allow their unhappiness with certain aspects of their body to control their emotions…

Which leads me to ask…why is it so hard to think about all the positives of our bodies?  They carry us, grow babies, give nourishment and hold and give warmth to those we love.  Why is it so hard to switch the negative thoughts we hear in our heads to encouraging, positive thoughts?

Well, I’m going to try.

Little by little, starting in the month of June, for every negative thought that creeps into my head I’m going to silence it with two positive thoughts, said out loud..from me, to me…all while looking myself in the eyes.

If you’re like me and the first word that creeps into your mind when you look at yourself in the mirror is “disgusting” I challenge you to join me on a journey to positive thought and love.

~ Giving you strength and love ~

Blackjack

On Friday I returned home from what had been one of the best weeks of my life.  I was so excited to sit down and share my experiences on my blog.  Upon waking Saturday morning I contacted my mom who was anxious to hear all about it.  After telling her all the amazing things that I had been blessed with the past week, she gave me the saddest news I have received in the the past ten years.

On Wednesday, March 19th the world lost an incredibly sweet, furry soul.  Blackjack was a stubborn old man and I believe lasted as long as he did because of all the love that was given to him and also because of the love he still had to give. Although we were apart in his final days he was never alone and never far from honest love and the warmest hugs and pats.  Even though I was prepared for him not to be there when I returned home, the loss is still incredibly hard…my heart is broken and the grief is, at times, too much to bear.  What will get me through are the reminders that he had such a good, happy life and that he finished his years off exactly where he belonged.

For those who do not know, here is Blackjack’s story:

I met Blackjack in the winter of 2001.  I had gone back to University to study Kinesiology and in one of my classes I met Jeff, a very cute boy, who I was put together with to work on an assignment.  He invited me to his house to get to work and when I arrived I was excited to learn he had a dog.  A young, adorable, crazy, black and white Lab/Border Collie cross; Blackjack.  I gave him a “hello”, and I’m sure quite a few pats, and then sat down at the dining table to get to work.  And then something crazy happened…Blackjack came up to me while I was sitting in my chair, climbed up on my lap, and with two paws on one leg and his other two on my other leg he just stood on me…right up, not sitting or curled up on my lap but stood on me…as if to say “I like you, I claim you”.  He gave me a few kisses and then jumped down after some instruction.  Jeff had never seen him do that before and in all my years of being surrounded by dogs I had never seen that either.

As time moved forward, Jeff and I progressed to a relationship.  We were together for a few years so Blackjack became a huge part of my life.  A big change saw us moving away and sadly where we were going we couldn’t take Blackjack with us. It was a difficult day saying goodbye, a bit more so for Jeff because Blackjack was his after all, but he was going to a good home so we took comfort in that.  After a little more than a year away, my relationship with Jeff ended and I found myself back in my hometown.  Not long after, my brother asked me if wanted Blackjack back.  His friend, who had taken him in, had moved to a tiny apartment in Toronto and felt it was unfair to keep him in such a small space (Blackjack, though not a big dog, had a medium build and LOVED to run).  I immediately said yes, and, after convincing my mom it was a good idea, I was off to pick him up in Toronto.

It was an emotional reunion and a pretty quiet ride back to my place but it didn’t take long for Blackjack and I to find our rhythm.  After my breakup with Jeff I was almost 30 and was not in the best of health.  Blackjack rescued me from a very dark place and he quickly became my world.  He fell in step with my family and friends and was always willing to become part of a good story.  For the past ten years he has been where he was meant to be.  He was so incredibly loved that I know, without a doubt, it is not only my heart that is breaking because of his passing, but countless others as well.

He had his trying moments:  peeing on peoples legs, killing and eating bunnies, humping any dog that came into the house, very VERY selective hearing and of course his “old man” gas…but for all his inappropriate behaviours there were many more delightful ones: he loved anyone who took the time to say hello to him, he was fiercely loyal to me and his family, he loved unconditionally, he knew when you weren’t feeling well and would do whatever he could (in doggy ways) to make you feel better, he was kind, incredibly gentle and extremely patient.

My life will not be the same without my crazy man beside me and I will forever be left with a Blackjack shaped hole in my heart.

“He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog.  You are his life, his love, his leader.  He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart.  You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion”

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“He is my other eyes that can see above the clouds, my other ears that hear above the winds.  He is the part of me that can reach into the sea.  Has has told me a thousand times over that I am his reason for being: by the way he rests against my leg, by the way he thumps his tail at my smallest smile, by the way he shows his hurt when I leave without taking him.  When I am wrong, he is delighted to forgive.  When I am angry, he clowns to make me smile.  When I am happy, he is joy unbounded.  When I am a fool, he ignores it.  When I succeed, he brags.  Without him, I am only another man.  With him, I am all-powerful.  He is loyalty itself.  He has taught me the meaning of devotion.  With him, I know a secret comfort and a private peace.  He has brought me understanding where before I was ignorant.  His head on my knee can heal my human hurts.  His presence by my side is protection against my fears of dark and unknown things.  He has promised to wait for me…whenever…wherever – in case I need him.  And I expect I will – as I always have.  He is just my dog” ~ Gene Hill

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bolgdog~ Hugs and love ~

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

I have the best friends in the world.  Fact.

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In just under three months I will be on a plane, moving half way across the world to live, and work, for an entire year in Australia.  (For those not in the know, I applied for a teaching exchange and completely lucked out and was placed back in the area I was located almost two years ago.)  When I was applying, I was thinking only of myself.  I missed the country so much and ached for the weather and the views I had fallen in love with so deeply.  I wasn’t putting much thought into anything other than how much I wanted to go back.  I knew I’d be leaving family and friends for a year but it seemed like no big deal…what an idiot I am…

I was reminded today that my adventure is not all about me.  I am leaving behind so many amazing people and so much love.  My life is incredibly blessed with wonderful individuals who I have the honour to call my friends.

I’ve been feeling poorly for quite some time…the longest I can ever remember.  I was out running some errands and when I got home there was a sweet little care package waiting on my doorstep from one of my closest friends and her two little ones.  It was full of everything one would need when sick…soup, magazines and of course a tasty yummy treat…but more importantly it was full of love.

I’m just realizing now how hard being away from my friends will be.  I might not get to see every one of them as much as I wish I could (different careers, living in different cities…etc) but they are always close by.  Not having a girls night in or a Sunday brunch with my favourite people for an entire year is fully setting in.  The last time I went over to Oz I was gone for only six months and my Frister and I couldn’t stop crying when we were reunited….I realize now that my friends will miss me just as much as I will miss them and I feel badly for putting them in that position….but I know that regardless of the miles, and hours, between us they will be held close in my heart and only a Skype call away!

Thank you to each and every one of you who have supported, and tolerated, my craziness for as long as you have known me.  I couldn’t be as adventurous as I am without the safety net of love and support I get from all of you.

Love and huge, HUGE, hugs.

xox

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Don’t Need Diamonds or Pearls

Howdy Do Blogger Friends

Well.  It’s been a while.

I could make up some lame excuse but it would be just that.

An excuse.

There’s no reason why I couldn’t have posted before today.  Things happen, life happens…but I find it not overly interesting for me to blather on about mundane things like hosting my first Easter dinner or the fact that I can’t walk because I pretended to be in the same shape I was over a year ago.

So no excuse.

I just really felt I had nothing overly exciting to contribute.

That’s the weird thing about blogging I think.  Well, one of the things anyway.

I could think I have come up with the most amazing topic or experience to talk about and the majority of people might think it’s lame…and then the other side could be just as true….talking about such and such is sooooo boring to me but maybe you would find it interesting.

Meh.

I guess I’m still trying to figure out the dynamics of what I’m doing here.  And I know, from reading other blogs, that it should all just be about what I enjoy so that’s what I’m going to stick with.  I’m going to go with the umbrella “lifestyle”.  I think that pretty much covers everything.  Well I guess more specifically MY lifestyle…with topics including, but not exclusive to:  life, food, love, beauty, family and travel.  It’ll be a mashup of sorts.  One week you might be so bored you fall asleep on your mobile then the next you might think you just read the best thing on the internet (then you’ll come by and continue to be entertained with my blog).

The thing is…it’s just a place for me to come and share when I feel like sharing.  I was going to try to keep myself to a schedule of making sure I post on certain days…but screw it.  I don’t want to post just to post.

Which gets me on to this post.

Finally.

I am on Facebook.  A lot.  Maybe too much.  But it’s interesting to me and I have actually learned some things on there…(thanks ‘I F&*%king Love Science!)…But I also skip over A LOT of things.  I don’t often buy into sappy stories or get scared into sharing something because if I don’t my tongue will go purple and my wishes won’t come true.

So when a friend of a friend invited me to some “event” I was skeptical.  Even more skeptical when I read further and it was trying to get someone on to the Ellen show.  But then I read the event description…..and people’s comments….and I became less skeptical.  Then I watched a YouTube video about the person who had set up the initial event, the young man who so desperately wants to make Ellen laugh and to always be remembered.

And I was sold.

I teach high school and I have met some very extraordinary people.

But this kid…

This is a story I believe every young person needs to see.  Every old person at that.

This is courage.

This is love.

This is living.

I don’t know this person.  I am not affiliated in any way with him or his family.  It is just a story that has touched my heart and if by sharing his story on my tiny little blog helps, even in the smallest way, I will be happy.

Please, take the time to meet this young man.

You don’t need to join in his crusade to get him on Ellen’s show (unless, of course, your heart tells you to).

Just be inspired.

Be humbled.

And laugh.  Always.

Hugs and Love

You Only Think Of The Best Comeback When You Leave

Firstly, let’s just address the fact that I attempted to get into the blogging world just over a year ago and have been quite lame at keeping up with it.

Really.  QUITE lame.

I think it all boils down to the fact that I really don’t think my life is overly exciting and that people don’t really care to read about a secretly lazy, (almost) middle aged, pudgy, single woman who has a love for PJs and movies on the weekends.  But….after searching for some inspiration I have found some truly great blogs which have motivated me to get cracking again…(namely:  www.jackstrawlane.com, sprinkleofglitter.blogspot.ca, and www.zoella.co.uk)

 I originally started this blog as a way for friends and family to follow my adventures in Australia but what I am hoping it will turn into now is a place to share my life, thoughts and maybe some sneaky shopping trips.

Alright then…on to this post.

It’s about love.  Self love to be exact (…get your minds out of the gutter…)

It’s February….Valentines Day.

 A day this singleton really doesn’t mind…because, well, I love love.  And yes, you shouldn’t need a designated day to remind you to love, or guilt you into doing things/buying things for those you love…but I love that it is a day all about love. Love, love, love. (barf)

Now there are a bunch of different forms of love; love for family, for friends and being in love with a partner…I have been blessed with a history rich in all those forms of love….but one area that I still struggle with (I’m talking 30+ years of struggling) is being comfortable with my body and loving my physical self.

I honestly can’t remember when I haven’t obsessed about my body.  Obviously as a toddler I wasn’t worried about my bongo belly when I would be put in a bathing suit and I never worried about the size of my thighs. I would play on the beach and interact with other kids who never judged.  They also didn’t care or know anything about body image.

It was around grade 6 (age 10/11) when I started to become aware of the fact that I was a bigger girl.  Kids started to get meaner and more judgmental about my size.  The friends I had in elementary school were now growing tall and skinny and I was staying short and growing outwards instead of upwards.  I started to really struggle with and hate my body.  And it has never stopped.

Until today.

On this day of roses, fancy dinners and chocolates to pledge your love, I am making a different kind of “love pledge”.  I’m going to stop, once and for all, obsessing about my weight and my size.  When the negative thoughts start creeping in I am going to focus on what my body has done for me (4 completed half marathons along with a handful of triathlons for a start), not about the size of my pants or the cellulite on my legs.

It doesn’t mean that I am “giving up” but I’m shifting my focus.  Instead of running/spinning/working out to burn X amount of calories, I’m going to do those things because I truly love to do them.  I’m going to eat butter (is it REALLY butter?!!) soaked movie popcorn with friends, who love me unconditionally, and not secretly hate myself afterwards.

  I’m going to look at my naked self in the mirror and smile because I know I’m strong and that my beauty isn’t dictated by the size of my ass but rather the size of my heart.  And I love my heart…it’s time to love my ass!

Hugs and Love