Tuesday, November 18, 2014

what we see depends solely on what we look for.

tired of seeing your weight or faults every time you look in the mirror? look for the opposite. want to see good in someone? look for good qualities. dreading going into work on monday mornings [or any other day]? celebrate the good parts of your job, and cling to them. if you look for crap, you'll find crap, but if you look for beauty, beauty is what you will find.

you see, when you start looking for the good in the people around you, recognizing the good in your job, and in life, period, you become more grateful, and "gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. it turns what we have into enough, and more" [melody beattie].

thanksgiving comes once a year, but thanks-living can happen every day.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

you can get through anything.

i know this because i can, and if i can, you can.

i feel discouraged today for the second time in a long time, and when i started to reflect on why i was feeling this when i woke up this morning [there is a time and a place for that], i was reminded of this simple yet profound truth: sometimes when we feel discouraged, it just means that we could really use some sleep.

let's face it; life can be exhausting. some of us have draining jobs, long commutes, and an early alarm clock. others of us have children who demand our attention every second, or relationships that do the same. we're sleep deprived people. so much in fact that we're still talking about the hour of it that we gained last weekend; it's like we need the 'fall back' to 'spring forward'. [see what i did there?].

when you're lacking sleep, little things like a broken washer and dryer can seem like a mountain [of laundry], which then turns into frustration when your good friend siri isn't of any help when you ask her where the nearest laundromat is, and thinks it's funny to point you in the direction of vacant store fronts, or better yet, local dry cleaners, when all you're really in need of is clean underwear and not a pressed suit. not im'pressed', siri, not impressed.

but in all SIRIousness, [sorry, couldn't resist] there are more pressing issues in life than busted appliances, and like some of you, i'm feeling those today, too. but here's the thing - the same principle applies here, too - sleep more, lose less sleep.

it's a catch 22, really. getting proper sleep can help us function, make wise decisions, and worry less, but the very things that we blow out of proportion because we're sleep deprived are often the things that cause us to lose the most sleep at night.

feeling discouraged today? sleep it off.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

i remember it like it were yesterday.

weeks before my friend and i were taking a team of girls with us to africa, a - let's call him a know it all - kindly let us know that we were going to die in malawi. if that statement wasn't bold enough on its own, he felt the need to write it in caps, and leave it as a comment on one of our blog posts for the whole internet world to see. [do that here and i will delete you] =)

now, the rational side of me could, and did, disregard this comment at the time, but i'd be lying to you if i said that it didn't stay in the back of my mind leading up to the trip.

so here we are, making our descent into the malawian airport and what pops into my head but this stupid comment. to make matters worse, it took the pilot a couple attempts to land, only to bring the plane back up, and down, and around and around before doing so successfully. i was going to die in malawi alright. on the runway.

we landed safely [thanks, captain obvious], but as i'd soon find out, the know it all's comment had its grip on me until i stepped foot back onto canadian soil weeks later.

my team and i spent a considerable amount of time at one of my favourite places in the world: the village of hope. this little community consists of about ten homes filled with beautiful orphans and their 'house mothers', who by the way, treated each child as if they were their own. beautiful, simply beautiful. any ways, we step into a small building on their property only to see a gigantic picture of a man's face hanging on the wall. soon after i find out that the very building that i was standing in was dedicated to this man because he was, get this, trampled by an elephant. naturally, thoughts start racing through my mind faster than i would run if there were an elephant chasing me. [which would have to be faster than 40 km/hour, i may add, and this girl wasn't going to zumba back then].

less than two weeks later, i faced my first wild elephant head on during a safari, and one too many after that.

our safari guide, george, or george of the jungle as i liked to call him, was an adrenaline junkie. not only did he like to get as close to the wild animals as possible, but he equally enjoyed hearing girls...okay, one girl in particular, scream. and that girl would be me, because, well, i was going to die in malawi. in the middle of nowhere by an animal that weighs a cazillion times more than i do after a delicious thanksgiving dinner.

so here we are, driving around what seemed to be a deserted park, and BOOM - out comes an elephant. it stops, turns towards us, blocks the road, and locked eyes on what could possibly be the biggest meal of his life. [i'm pretty sure i saw him licking his lips]. while i'm biting my sweater - hard - like hard enough to chew a hole in it, george of the jungle proudly announces that there's 'an elephant on the road' [looks like i'm not the only captain obvious here] as my team instagrams this gigantic road block and most likely my shredded sweater along with it. #myleaderisasissy #elephantonroad

the elephant, after winning the scariest staring contest of my life, turns around and continues on his way. and thankfully, we do, too.

i wish i could tell you that this was the last encounter i had with a creature far too huge for my liking, but it wasn't the case. i could sit here and recount each one to you, like the time our boat died in between a family of hippos, alligators, and elephants [the bermuda triangle has nothing on this malawi one], or the countless arguments a stressed out leader had with her team about the zoom feature on a camera being just as effective at capturing pictures of elephants than being up close and [too] personal is, but then you'd miss the point of this blog.

and my point is, fear can be crippling.

in light of the recent events in ottawa, the articles circulating the internet because of it, and the conversations i've had or overheard since, i think it's fair to say that fear is becoming more and more prevalent as time goes on; people, and maybe even you, are worried, on edge, and just plain scared.

i get it. admittedly, i had to talk myself out of the nonsense i was thinking as i traveled to work this week, and as i walked through busy malls and transit stations. but i refuse to let fear control my life like it did when i could have been instagramming sick pictures of elephants instead of chewing through my sweater and planning my own funeral.

but hear this, friends - fear, though it can have some truth to it, is often irrational.

i heard of one man dying of an elephant trampling - one! - and all of a sudden i thought thirteen of us were destined for the same thing. i see a surreal and devastating news clip about a guard getting shot, and i keep my eyes peeled for gunmen in my own backyard.

you see the same and don't let your kids out of your sight, or maybe hear about a life-altering disease going around and start washing your hands as if were about to 'scrub in' on an episode of grey's anatomy.

could any of the above situations happen? sadly, yes. many could. but are they going to happen? to me? to you? that i don't know. none of us do. but what i do know is that there's no sense worrying about things we can't control. be alert and wise, yes. but worry, no.

because really, we don't know what tomorrow holds or when our time on earth is up, and personally, i would much rather experience life to the full than to let fear rob me of what could have been a fascinating journey through an african safari, and an even more exciting one through life.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

the drummer in me is embarrassed to say this, but i feel like i have two left feet on thursday nights as i try and keep up with my zumba class. sure, i rock at some of the dances, especially those of the hip-hop nature [i have more soul than both of your shoes], but the salsa type dances? apparently the ladies who are dancing circles around me have hips that don't lie [shout out to team shakira], but unfortunately mine do, in fact, they barely co-operate. like someone get this girl a hoola hoop.

even still, zumba class has very quickly become one of the highlights of my week, and here's why.

1) no matter how many dance moves we have, or in my case, don't have, we're all on the same page.

i was talking to some of the ladies before class this week and we were all sharing our weaknesses. for some, it was the amount of rice that was accessible at home after class, or the 12a.m. cravings, and for others, it's pumpkin spice lattes, which will very soon turn into egg nog tazo chais, or cheggnogs as some of you know them by [speaking on behalf of a 'friend' here]. regardless of what we struggle with specifically, we all struggle; getting [and remaining] healthy is no easy task, and surrounding ourselves with people who are on the same page is almost as important as putting the work in ourselves.

2) you can't get anywhere if you spend all [or any] of your time comparing yourself to another.

it would be easy, and even natural, to stand at the back of class and compare myself to the other ladies' body types, but what good what that do? i'm still the size that i am, i'm still paula, - you're still you - and as i mentioned on facebook the other day, nothing good ever comes out of comparing yourself to another; there will always be someone thinner, smarter, stronger, richer, and more beautiful than you. so be YOU; be your YOUnique self.

3) and lastly, music is powerful, and the music they play in zumba class makes me happy.

i'm not going to belabour this point, but i don't think we realize the effect that the music we listen to has on us. of course, the same can be said about what we watch on TV, the books we read, and dare i say, the friends and family we choose to listen to, but whatever the means, i'm a firm believer that what goes in [your mind and your heart], will come out [of your mouth and actions].

so ... here's to zumba [raises 'my friend's' pumpkin spice latte].

Monday, October 13, 2014

there are a lot of perks that come with living where i live; i'm within walking distance from a major shopping centre, i have a killer roommate [not in the literal sense, of course], access to a gym and a pool, and, get this, a subway at the base of my building, so i can always 'eat fresh'.

the veggie sub lover in me used to frequent this particular subway three to four times a week, but recently stopped due to the overly rude man that was prone to serving me every time. [please note: this blog isn't about his bad attitude, but mine, as you will see below].

a few weeks a go, however, i had a sub craving that couldn't be satisfied by just any sandwich.

i go downstairs, and as expected, this particular sandwich artist was being ... himself. 'um hello? you are not ordering properly!" he kept saying over and over, after yelling at me because he didn't hear me say that i wanted a six inch sub and not a twelve. i kindly [at this point] told him that he didn't have to be rude to me, twice in fact, which just ended up making him more aggressive. after telling him i no longer wanted a sub, he mumbled something, and i, in response, ... called him an asshole - like to his face - and left his store for the last time.

for a minute, i felt proud. "i showed him", i thought. "yeah paula, STICK IT TO THE MAN. STICK IT TO THE SUBWAY MAN".

but then, minutes later, i felt like the asshole. a hungry, sub-less asshole.

this one moment alone sent me into deep reflection.

1) i obviously had/have some misplaced anger.

chances are, though he was rude, the subway man wasn't the root of my anger that day.

for the past two or three months, i've been harbouring bitterness towards people i felt abandoned by during one of the hardest seasons of my life.

my mom's been on quite the medical journey over the past year. i won't go into too much detail because it's her journey, but she got diagnosed with cancer a while back, had an operation, and recently spent six weeks undergoing treatment at princess margaret hospital in toronto.

let it be said that she displayed nothing but courage and optimism throughout this whole process, but admittedly, this was one of the scariest and loneliest seasons of my life. it should have never been about me, i know, but part of this was my journey, too, and i struggled through my part of it each and every day.

i struggled with the commute almost every night after work, wrestled with fear, felt loads of compassion for my mom and the other patients who did nothing but inspire me throughout this whole process, found myself missing my dad more than ever, and struggled through deep bouts of loneliness when my friends appeared to be nowhere in sight. if i'm being honest, i'm still carrying the latter, which still serves as a huge burden on my heart and shoulders to this day, but is something i am trying to work through even now as i type this.

2) i needed/need a healthy outlet.

believe it or not, i was having a hard time coming up with the words to express what i was going through to the point where i couldn't even bring myself to blog or journal, which is weird for me. so i found an alternative outlet: the gym.

i joined good life almost two weeks a go now and soon after realized that while working out has obvious physical benefits, the fact that it's helping me de-stress and relieve some anger is helping me even more. a few days a go, a certain song came on as i peddling away on the stationery bike, and tears started running down my cheeks. [if anyone asked, i planned on telling them that i was working out so hard that sweat was coming out of my eyes haha]. i got off that bike feeling ten pounds lighter [figuratively speaking, that is].

3) at the end of the day, life is a journey, and i'm grateful for the process.

i adopted the word 'ameliorate' as my word for 2014, which means, "to make something unsatisfactory better; to become better" and i am happy to report that i am making much progress with this. in the midst of working through some of my above issues, which is all part of becoming a better me, i've been doing a lot of reflecting about this past year alone, and choose to celebrate how far i've come and how better my life has been since i made some significant changes, and continue to.

i thank God that i'm not who i used to be, and for the hopes of being an even better me tomorrow.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

one of the most fascinating things about my favourite animal is the amount of affection that they have for one another; if one goose falls sick or becomes injured, two additional geese drop out of the v-formation to help and protect him. if the injured goose gets better, the three of them find another flock and continue flying; if it doesn't, the two geese refuse to leave the one's side until it succumbs to its injuries.

geese take care of each other and stick together.

research shows that as each goose flaps its wings, an intense uplift is created for the birds behind them. even further, studies state that geese are able to fly with 71% more range when flying together than they are alone. 71%? that's insane!

but when a goose leaves the formation, the opposite happens. not only are they able to fly with less range, but they immediately feel the resistance of the air and find it difficult to fly alone.

i don't know about you, but i find it difficult to 'fly' alone, too.

my newsfeed, though all about image, is full of couples, families, and vacations that people take with their friends, and i sit here and continue to scroll through it alone wondering what's wrong with me, why i can't stop scrolling, and why i can't seem to connect to people the way i long to.

sometimes i keep how i feel to myself, and other times, i blog about it.

i wonder, though, what people would do if i really shared how i feel? would they, like my favourite animal, leave their formation and sit with me for a bit, or would they keep flying? and the bigger question - is loneliness something we all struggle with despite what our newsfeeds imply, and something we just have to accept and persevere through?

maybe. but i'd like to believe that, like geese, we get more range - and a lot more out of life - when we stick together.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

as humans, we use our car horns to get someone's attention, show someone how annoyed we are at them in traffic, or as of late, celebrate a world cup win. [unless you're an england or spain fan that is - oh burnnnnnn]. geese, however, honk to encourage one another to keep going.

luckily, our words have the power to do the same.

my roommate and his family have been facing an unfathomable situation as of late, and i sit here feeling heavy hearted and helpless. i felt led to write him a note of encouragement this morning before i left for church, so i grabbed a post-it note and did just that. when i got home, i noticed that not only did he keep the note i wrote, but he placed it somewhere where he can read it over and over. a timely word can give us hope, and the courage to keep going.

i started an extremely challenging job this week, and felt overcome by feelings of inadequacy as i attempted to remember everything i need to know about the company i work for and the role i've been given. i felt so overwhelmed, in fact, that i found myself tearing up throughout one of my shifts.

a day later, one of the girls from the office came up to me in the bathroom [awkward], and told me how smart i was, and how well i am doing. i may have walked into that bathroom feeling discouraged, but i walked out feeling like i was - hear this - smart and capable. words have the power to uplift, and make you feel like you can conquer the world.

call me crazy, but i think these geese are on to something; let's follow suit and get honkin'.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

1) cell phones.

i have a love/hate relationship with them. sure, they're convenient and a handy thing to have on you in case of emergency, but i can't stand the fact that no one can seem to put them down and be present. why is it that we spend way so much time scrolling newsfeeds full of crap about people we don't know anymore, never did, or don't care about, instead of engaging in conversation with people we do?

that, and they keep us from the beauty of enjoying moments alone. when's the last time you waited for a bus, sat in a coffee shop, or walked through the mall without staring at a screen? i wonder how many opportunities we miss around us, and how many beautiful moments we overlook when we fail to put our phones down.

2) PAULAtics.

i cringe every time i see a political commercial. why? because instead of letting the public know what they will bring to the table if elected [which, let's be serious, could be a lie any ways], they waste two minutes of their time - and my time - bashing their opponent. why is it that we humans feel the need to bash other people instead of shining ourselves?

3) elliot rodgers.

let me bring your attention back to a story that filled the very newsfeeds we were reading a few weeks a go instead of spending quality time with our loved ones. [just playin'].

seeking 'retribution' against both women whom he said sexually rejected him, and sexually active men who were living a 'much better life' than he was, elliot rodgers went on a killing spree, killing six and wounding thirteen.

like you, i have many problems with this.

one, the world places too much emphasis on sex and men are not entitled to it.[disclaimer: i am in no way implying that every man feels this way; i'm just merely commenting on elliot's mindset when it comes to this, knowing that he's not alone in his thinking].

we live in a world saturated with sex. so much in fact that pre-teens and teenagers are in a hurry to 'get rid of' their virginity, feel like something's wrong with them if they don't, and young adults and adults alike are jumping at any chance they get to give into their desires for both sex and intimacy far too quickly, and lack self-control as a whole.

these, of course, are just my observations, as anything i write in my blog is, but i know they hold some validity.

regardless, is sex really worth somebody's self-esteem, emotional baggage, or in this case, someone's life?

my heart breaks for young girls who think that they need to have a boyfriend to be complete, feel attractive, or be deemed worthy. we need to teach our girls to be somebodies and not somebody's.

my heart also breaks for guys like elliot rodgers, who think that masculinity is defined by the amount of notches on their bed post, and feel as though they need to prove their manhood in other ways, like resorting to violence, if they don't 'measure up' otherwise. we need to re-evaluate what being a man looks like. [again, not implying that every male or female fit into these boxes, but a lot do].

and two, stories like these only add negative feelings to the already inaccurate stigma attached to mental illness.

"oh elliot? he was just mentally ill".

oh yes, i'm sure he was, as are a lot of people, but i'm tired of this being used as an excuse when people go on killing sprees, and making it hard for people who genuinely struggle with mental illness to admit it to themselves or others in fear that they'll be deemed crazy. not all mentally ill people are crazy, in fact, studies show that people who struggle with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of it.

let's be realistic here; i've struggled with mental illness [depression] my whole life AND still haven't had sex at age 34 and you don't see me shooting anyone and everyone who has ever rejected me or is having sex as i type this.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

"we assume life will go a certain way, and then it doesn't...and we find ourselves in a place we never would have imagined on our own. and so it was difficult and unexpected and maybe even tragic - and yet it opened us up and freed us to see things in a whole new way. suffering does that; it hurts, but it also creates..."

a few weeks a go, i wrote a blog about the hurting side of suffering; you know, the part that most of us focus on, and the stuff that we'll do anything to avoid or cover up. this week, though, i'm turning our focus on the outcome of it, the 'end' result, the creation, if you will.

it takes me all of five seconds of scrolling down my twitter feed or watching the news to read or hear about something horrible that's happening in our world, but what the news doesn't show you is the good that can come out of tragedy and suffering ... if we let it.

situated in the core of toronto, the first freestanding HIV/AIDS facility in canada, casey's house [www.caseyhouse.com], exists to provide treatment, support and palliative care for people affected by this life-altering disease. what you wouldn't know from reading this, however, is that casey's house was birthed out of unimaginable pain. after losing her only son at the hands of a drunk driver, a lady by the name of june callwood decided to open casey's house to ensure that no one would ever have to die alone or uncared for. suffering creates.

emma was a beautiful soul with an unshakeable faith in God and a passion for kids. at the age of 15, after a courageous eight and a half month battle with acute myeloid leukemia, she passed away.

i watched her family, as they faced insurmountable grief, carry on the legacy of their daughter by creating an organization by the name of 'emma's house' [www.store.emmashouse.ca], which exists to build orphanages across the world. i'm proud to report that the very first 'emma's house' was built this past spring and is currently home for eight orphans in northern uganda, with plans to build their next one in zimbabwe, and many more after that. suffering creates.

a lot of us may not be able to relate to the grief and pain that comes with losing a child, or anyone close to us for that matter, but we all know what it's like to suffer in our own way. the question i pose to you today, however, is this: do we all know what it's like to allow the pain that once paralyzed us to be used to create something good?

it doesn't have to be as big as creating a home for those dying from a horrible disease or african orphans; it may look as small as letting your pain free you to see things in a new light, propel you to reorganize your priorities, give you the kick you need to start following your dreams, or it could look as simple as creating a deep connection between two people who desperately need to know that someone else can relate to the loss or pain that they feel.

whatever it is, don't just suffer; create.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

while this generation is playing XBOX, candy crush, or their favourite iPhone app, i'm sitting here reminiscing about the good ole days when we used to sit around the table and play board games. games like monopoly. risk. hungry hippo. scrabble. [insert your favourite game here].

remember clue? colonel mustard? miss scarlet? the conservatory?

i was baffled by the weapons mentioned in that game. i understood the revolver and knife thing; i could even make sense of the rope and the pipe, but the candlestick? i still can't wrap my mind around it. you better watch out; i'm gonna kill you with this ... tiny flame? and maybe, if you're lucky, hit you over the head after with this long piece of wax, even though the wrench [?] would make for a better option, or the revolver a quicker one.

of course, if the game were invented now, we'd have a whole slew of weapons we could add to the list. chainsaws. machetes. bombs. poison ...

our tongue.

what? our tongue? that's more absurd than a candlestick!

maybe. but while weapons have the power to take someone's life, a tongue has the power to kill one's self-esteem and damage their spirit.

proverbs 18:21 tells us that "the tongue has the power of life and death". in other words, what we say has the power to 1) tear down, or 2) build up.

1) [don't] tear down.

if your tongue was made of glass, would you watch what you say?
what if i told you that the words that you speak can cut any way?

yes, sticks and stones may break our bones, but names and words will hurt us, too.

i've been the subject of some pretty harsh words lately, and let me tell you that it takes a lot of work to combat what people say sometimes. there have been days like yesterday where all i keep reminding myself of is that famous "it's not the critic that counts" quote by teddy roosevelt. [if you haven't heard it, i suggest you look it up]. the truth is, there will always be critics. there will always be those people in our lives - or outside of them - who can't help but stick their nose in our business and critique anything and everything we say and do, people who misunderstand you, are jealous of you, or are driven by insecurity and have nothing better to do than make themselves feel better by putting you down.

truth be told, no matter how 'strong' you are, it is incredibly difficult to stop a negative word from affecting you. think about that the next time you're tempted to use your tongue as a weapon. [as always, i'm speaking to myself here, too].

2) [do] build up.

i know, i know. encouraging someone can be awkward and uncomfortable, but we have to be intentional about doing it any ways.

when's the last time someone looked you in the eye and spoke life into you? sent you a text saying how much you mean to them? wrote you a letter [a lost art] and let you know what they see in you?

for those who can recall the last time, how did it make you feel? like you were on top of the world, right? don't you want the people around you to feel the same way?

and for those of you can't remember the last time somebody encouraged you, you need to find different friends. kidding. but for real though, start today by encouraging yourself [YOUR words have power, too], and then move on to encouraging someone else.

the world would be a much better place if we all stopped using our tongues as weapons and started building each other up instead.

so what are you waiting for? get out there and encourage someone today!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

take a trip back with me to the end of 2013. i was sitting in jack astors with my bff and her kids and we were talking about what we expected in 2014; it was during this conversation that we all came up with a personal word that we wanted to adopt for the new year.

i chose the word ameliorate, which means, 'to make something unsatisfactory better; to become better'.

little did i know that this would mean that i would soon have to let go of a few unsatisfactory things in my life, in exchange for [soon to come] better things. [sometimes you have to let go of the good for the best].

so, a few months later, i quit my job.

truth be told, without going into too much detail, my job sucked the life out of me. working 50 hours/week, often until 3 or 4a.m. drained me, as did the demands of the job itself; it got to the point where all i did was work, and sleep, and work and sleep some more. so i quit, and i did so without having anything else lined up.

i've spent countless hours since job hunting, pounding out cover letters, filling out applications, emailing my resume, making calls, and showing up for countless interviews, and ... nothing has come of it. i can't wrap my mind around this, either. not only am i qualified for the jobs that i have applied to, but i have yet to walk away from an interview where i didn't connect with the interviewee and make him or her laugh in the process.

it's tough, you know. i've battled regret, wondering if i made the right choice in leaving my other job. i've wrestled with feelings of failure and rejection. i've stressed over money, been driven crazy by the boredom and loneliness that i feel on an almost daily basis, and i've relentlessly fought through a good share of hopeless days, and bouts of depression.

i was reading through a few of my journals today and oddly enough i came across pages upon pages of entries that were written during times similar to the season i find myself in today. now, while on one hand it's important to recognize patterns and cycles in our lives, grow from them, and do what we can to stop them from repeating, it's equally important to remind ourselves of the very fact that we got through them, too. and if we got through them then, we can get through them now.

"we assume life will go a certain way, and then it doesn't...and we find ourselves in a place we never would have imagined on our own. and so it was difficult and unexpected and maybe even tragic - and yet it opened us up and freed us to see things in a whole new way. suffering does that; it hurts, but it also creates..."

coming soon: part two: suffering creates.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

let me bring your attention back to a facebook status i posted in light of the most recent NBA/sterling scandal:

"no, sterling, NBA doesn't stand for 'No Blacks Allowed'. you're out of your league...and now you're out of ours. see ya. you've been clipped"

though a clever status if i do say so myself, i ended up taking it down a few hours later due to the fact that i felt like a hypocrite.

that's right, a hypocrite.

please hear me out. racism is wrong, very, very wrong. and so is what sterling said, but if we're all being honest, we all struggle [or have struggled] with some form of racism or prejudice towards people who are different from us.

maybe it's not 'as extreme' as what came out of sterling's mouth. maybe it came out of yours when you got cut off from a certain race when you were driving to work the other day ["certain races shouldn't be allowed to drive"], or for my serving friends, maybe your comment came out of your mouth the minute you saw a certain race sit in your section ["they shouldn't be allowed to eat out if they don't learn how to tip"], or maybe, just maybe, you fall into the "i bet he's a terrorist" category, or the "i'm going to cling to my boyfriend's arm when a certain race walks by at night" one. i don't know. but what i do know is that throwing stones isn't going to get us anywhere. especially if it prevents us from doing a heart check of our own.

is sterling's mindset off? absolutely. was what he said/implied wrong? for sure. but let's not forget that what he said was taped without his knowledge or permission. after all, how many of us would be in trouble if our thoughts were exposed for the whole world to hear, or if someone we knew backstabbed us like his girlfriend did him?

look, i know that this is a sensitive issue, not to mention a controversial one; my point in writing this blog isn't to make light of racism, or downplay what recently happened in the NBA, but to make us think about how quick we are to point fingers, and how slow we are to self-reflect.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

this may come as a surprise to many of you, but i hate carrying a purse [and not because it's 'too girly' either]. truth be told, i hate having to carry anything; i would much rather throw some cash in my pocket and walk out the door.

but a lot of us walk out the door each day with a lot more 'baggage', don't we? stuff that weighs us down? stuff we could do without? stuff like unnecessary relationship drama, conflict, pain from our past, and the list goes on.

as some of you know, i take pride in the fact that i've been on 62 flights in the past 13 years. that's 62 take offs, 62 landings, and 62 times where i've had to check my baggage through customs, and unpack it when i arrived at my destination.

but there's a time to check your baggage in life, too.

i'm sure you've all heard your boss or a co-worker say, "leave your baggage at the door". i know i have. "i don't care what you're going through, you better walk in here with a smile on your face and get to work". while these words may sound harsh to some, they do carry some weight.

the truth is, no matter how much pain we're in, we have to be able to function.

[disclaimer: before i go any further, please know that i am in no way, shape, or form downplaying things that some of you may be going through. i understand that there are times in life where this doesn't come easy, or where an extended period of time is needed for grief etc]

but for the rest of us, we can't be walking around moping all of the time and letting our past affect our future. [i'm talking to myself here]. there are times where we need to 'leave our baggage at the door', and check it.

but there's also a time to unpack it, and put it away. for good.

we live in a world of self medication; we're constantly avoiding our pain by doing drugs, drowning ourselves in netflix, or by pulling up the nearest bar stool. but, if you're like me, you've learned that your pain is waiting for you when the novelty of your choice of medication wears off. naturally, the cycle continues; we pick up another bottle, pop another pill, or turn on another movie, when the truth is, we have to work through our junk. we have to take time out to reflect and think it through, recognize patterns, talk to someone, cry it out, whatever we need to do to let go of it.

our generation's whole 'just be strong and move on' facade is not only unhealthy, but it's dangerous. perhaps it's time we change our thinking, start unpacking our baggage, and travel light ... you know, without a purse.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

someone i know tried to take their life recently, which served as a huge wake up call and reminder to me of how many people suffer from depression/despair, how many people walk through it alone, and why i should write this blog.

as most of you would know from reading previous posts, depression is something that i battle myself. i've seen some inexplicably dark times over the past 21 years, admittedly, as recent as this past easter weekend, and if i'm being honest, even a little bit today.

that being said, i know that there isn't a formula to getting better, but i've included a few things below that help me get through the rough patches, in hopes that they will help those of you who 'get it' through yours, too.

1) get up and get out

i know how much energy it requires to get out of bed some days, let alone the energy it can take to even think about such a daunting task, but hear it from one who has stayed in bed one too many days in her life, getting out of bed is one of the best things you can do for your mental health, and health, period.

so get up. go for a walk. jump on the treadmill. watch a funny show. cook your favourite meal, or better yet, cook mine for me [chili, in case you are wondering]. but seriously, whatever you do, just get up, and get out.

2) celebrate the good.

no matter how dark your life may seem at the time, there are always things to celebrate; like sports victories, good weather, or in a literal sense, your nephew's 10th birthday [love you, matthew]. whatever your 'good' is, find it, and celebrate it.

3) treat yo self [before you wreck yo self].

yesterday, i treated myself to two of my favourite things [at two different times of day, of course]: booster juice and sushi. and today? today i think i'll treat myself to a pedicure, and maybe, just maybe, a blue jays' game or a movie. after all, i deserve a treat once in a while. and so do you. so treat yourself.

now if you'll excuse me, i must eat my own words and 'get my feet did', so i don't sit here feeling de-'feet'-ed.

until next time, friends.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

wyerton willie is often the bearer of bad news. we see sun one day and pull out our flip flops the next, only to find out that a groundhog - a stinkin groundhog! - is calling for more snow. 'it's april 15th!. are you out of your mind?', we think. i can't deal with this wind. my back hurts from shoveling. it's too dark. i'm cold!

we have time frames in place for the four seasons. winter should end by march at the latest. spring, june. summer, september. and so forth.

and such can be said about the seasons we face in life, too. relationships should last longer. we've been unemployed too long. sick too much. stuck. poor. depressed.

but i'm here to bring you good news! no matter how long winter lasts, spring is guaranteed. no matter how long you've been unemployed or depressed [a blog on the latter coming soon], the sun is due to come out!

so ... don't give up. keep going. press on.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

1) "it's okay".

i was out in public the other day and had no choice but to listen to a mother try to calm her screaming baby down. "shhhhhh, it's okay", she said, "don't cry".

somehow, in this random brain of mine, i started thinking about how you and i often comfort our friends.

sometimes, our friends need to talk. other times, they need a distraction. some fun. laughter, you name it.

but sometimes, just sometimes, they may need to cry. and that's okay.

i find that our natural reaction to someone crying can be harmful at times; we, like that mom and her baby [which, i acknowledge, is a totally different story], are quick to try and stop our friends from crying, and do anything we can to 'cheer them up'. "it could be worse" we say. "you have so much to be thankful for".

while statements such as the above are true, they can be quite damaging.

next time your friend needs you, try and gauge what it is they actually need, and do your best to help them accordingly.

2) monkey see - monkey do.

my team and i were enjoying a lovely breakfast on a hot summer's day in malawi a few summers a go when my eyes were drawn to the rustling i overheard coming from a tree near by. to my surprise, a monkey climbed down the tree, jumped on a table next to me and stole a piece of toast out of the hand of a fellow traveler. i clinched my toast and laughed. seconds later, a second monkey came down, jumped on the same table, only to leave with some jam. "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?", i thought. "if that third monkey comes down and grabs a knife, i'm going to die" [of laughter that is, not from a monkey stabbing].

this whole experience baffled me for years until my friend reminded me of the familiar saying, "monkey see - monkey do" the other night. those monkeys had been up in that tree watching us humans lather our toast with strawberry jam, and expected nothing less for their breakfast.

and somehow, in this random brain of mine, i linked this whole thing to leadership.

those you lead don't listen to what you say, they watch what you do.

i can't tell you the amount of times that i've been told to do something, only to have the one who told me to do it turn around and do the complete opposite, leaving me feeling confused and wondering whether or not i could trust them as my leader.

the truth is, we've all been there.

your boss stresses the importance of showing up to work on time, and comes in 20 minutes late each day himself.
your mom tells you to hang up your jacket, but throws hers on the kitchen chair when she gets home from work.
your prof emphasizes deadlines, and yet hands your paper back three months after you handed it in.

you get the picture.

truth be told, true leadership isn't proven in one's ability to 'talk the talk', but in their ability to 'walk the walk'.

because, well, monkey see - monkey do.

Friday, April 4, 2014

our 'behinds'

i was driving my sister's car the other day and it hit me; i spent way more time looking through the windshield than i did the rear view mirror. what was ahead of me, the cars,[ahem, parked cars], stop signs, snow banks and the like, were more important to me than what was behind me.

shouldn't the same be said about life?

sure, in some ways we can't escape our past, after all, it's responsible for shaping us into the person we are today, but we can't live there; we have too good of a future ahead to worry about ... our behinds.

our 'butts'

i should really study for my exam, but ... i'm tired and can do it tomorrow.
i should call so and so to see how she's doing, but ... she's probably busy.
i'll go to the gym, but ... my legs are sore from yesterday's work out.
i should eat these carrots, but ... this crème egg looks good.
i should, but ... but ... but!

you get the picture.

truth be told, our 'buts' get in the way of doing the very things we need to do to ensure a better life and future, and so can our 'behinds' if we let them.

"let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you" [proverbs 4:25]