Sometimes I think of the people I loved before (or thought I loved… or didn’t actually love but thought I might eventually grow to love if it was ‘right’ in the end) and it reminds me of what it means to be attracted to someone. What does it mean to be “attracted” and what does it mean to be “attractive”?

When you’re in high school, attraction is all about looks. They like to pretend in high school that they know what it means to be actually ‘in love’ with someone beyond their looks and there may be that capacity there eventually, but I’m of the opinion that when we’re young, we go for appearance first and foremost. And if there is something beyond that, then maybe we struck gold. When I was in high school I had pretty Abercrombie & Fitch male models stuck to my desk in residence and on my locker. I had this huge crush on Josh Hartnett because he represented this tall, dark and handsome ‘hot guy’ I’d love to be with. But I was young. And when we’re young we have just one layer of what makes attraction attraction. We scarcely remember or look at multiple layers.

As I’ve grown older I’ve realized sincerely that attraction is looks, but it’s so much more than that: there’s no scientific formula to falling in love. It’s not something that can be forced, changed or ignored. You meet someone and you feel this initial electricity with them. You can’t explain it but there’s just something you see in them that you know almost instantaneously you couldn’t feel with anyone else. Are ‘looks’ a part of that? Of course they are. But only a small part. And sometimes that little bit of fairy dust magic that is sprinkled on you when you know you’re falling in love is sprinkled before you even know you’re attracted to that person. And then it hits you: they’re the hottest person you’ve ever laid eyes on.

In life we spend so much time looking a certain way for the benefit of others. We try so hard to meet a standard of beauty that supposedly is to help us “feel the best we can about ourselves”. But it’s important to ask yourself, where does that come from? It doesn’t come from within. The motivation does, but what is being strived for comes from some mythical societal standard and we don’t really know where those come from. It’s important to note that attraction is completely subjective. There’s no rhyme or reason why we feel attracted to someone. There’s no magic spell that we can cast to force people to fall in love with you. There is just love, or there isn’t. By all means, meet the standards that society prescribes to equate to beauty. But, it’s not going to help you find love any more than anyone else.


Happiness Challenge 9.

With so much going on in my life in general, it’s hard to make time for things that are easy to not be a priority, but should be. Like fitness.

There was a time in my recent past when fitness was a HUGE priority for me; I was going for 4-5 runs a week that were anywhere between 40 and 90 minutes. And if I renagged on that commitment I would feel unlike myself. So it would be easy to get back on that bandwagon. During that time of my life I had signed up for a Running Room clinic to help prepare for my first half-marathon. I did that for a while before I realized I preferred to run by myself and I quit.

While I was doing the clinic though, I remember one of the instructors – who was an incredibly good runner, by the way – saying that she fluctuated often between months of “couch potato mode” and months of regular fitness. That stuck with me to this day and gave me hope in some ways that no matter how settled into my couch I got, there would always be an opportunity to look at my life and make fitness a priority once again.

The last year and a half, my relationship and my career have been my priorities and it’s been difficult to fit any kind of extra workouts in. Where I live now, it’s not even a very pedestrian-friendly place, so there’s a lot of excuses that can be made as to why and how I can’t make fitness a priority for me. But I have decided that at least for now, those excuses end.

It is getting lighter out. It is 6:35 pm and the sky is still that last flicker of royal blue. There hasn’t been a lot of precipitation in the last week so the sidewalks are more or less bare (albeit icy – I found that out the hard way today…). I have people in my daily life who are also making commitments to fitness, and I know what I need to do to feel stronger and more prepared to take on another huge fitness goal this summer.

So I did it. I made fitness a priority today. And with continued prioritizing I hope to make this a regular or at the very least, semi-regular occurrence. I had forgotten what runner’s high feels like and how it is to feel like you did something accomplishing during the day that has nothing to do with love or work. It’s something for me, and something that makes me feel reinvigorated.

I hope future editions of Happiness Challenge entries will see continued success in re-discovering old parts of myself that, until today, have been loved and lost.

Happiness Challenge, Day 6.

It’s what we call “Blue Monday” and I could feel the atmosphere growing stale today. On the bright side, it warmed up from the -20s to -5 by the time I left work today. That was something I gained from today that made the clouds lift at least a little bit.

One of the only things that brought me sort of a back-handed joy today was doing yoga. I have NEVER liked yoga but a colleague offers free classes at work on Mondays and Wednesdays. After a nearly-two year hiatus from a regular fitness routine, I felt like it was 100% necessary to get back on track and this seemed like a good way to get started. It was kind of rough but admittedly not as rough as I assumed it would be. There was something resembling joy that I felt – whether it was actually the centering or the breathing or any of that stuff I’m skeptical about is irrelevant. I just felt like I was doing something outside my comfort zone, and something that took me away from constant work/hermit mode throughout the work week.



Here is a selfie of me before the first date. I don’t know why I took this photo; it’s as if I knew it would be important to me someday.

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I don’t love this photo by any means. But it reminds me of a night where I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect, and didn’t know how much my life could change since the day I looked like this in this living room.

Fifteen Things I’m Glad I Did This Year.

This was a big year for me in many ways. Sometimes I felt like I was backing up into a corner and other times I felt like I was bursting through double doors. Here are the best things I did, the best decisions I made, and the best memories I’ll keep from 2015.

  1. Going to Sasquatch again was one of the best decisions I made this year; with my new career life, that American May long weekend isn’t the best time for me to go away anymore, if I’m even able to. So sadly, this may have been the last time I might be able to head to Sasquatch, or any festival for the matter. There’s something that happens at festivals – we get to be young gain and we get to experience a life of what I refer to as ‘peaceful anarchy’ – the idea that everyone gets to collate and join metaphorial (and sometimes literal) hands but outside the confines of society. It’s a magical place full of amazing music. I’ll really miss festival life, especially in the Gorge. But this year’s festival was wonderful and to go back again and live those experiences again was something extraordinarily well worth it for me heading into the final year of my twenties.
  2. I was incredibly grateful to move back to Alberta this year as well, for reasons that were right for me, and incredibly practical, and also incredibly fortunate. What I found in terms of a passion for the love of my life and the career I’ve been waiting for was back here; and to stay in a city I loved without those things felt at the time, like a foolish sacrifice to make for what was best for my life in the long run. I made a difficult choice. Time will tell if this will all pay off, but it was the best thing I could have done and I’m so  much happier now with the certainties of what brought me back here in the first place.
  3. I lost a few really important people in my life this year who felt like belittling me for whatever reasons they had. Who ousted who is a question I ask myself too. But despite how said-ousted people argue the situation, I made the decisions to walk away from these people in the end. Hanging on and hanging on with the hope that the people you used to know who have changed into ugly, selfish and mean versions of the people you knew once, to revert back to who they were, is a pointless and frustrating endeavor. I’m not going to pretend it was easy for me to let go of any of this. I’m not going to pretend either that I was happy and felt nothing doing it. But again…. sometimes what we don’t necessarily want is actually what is for the best. So with that said, FUCK those people. FUCK THEM. What I’m doing for me now and the people I’m doing it with are better for me than the people I thought I knew. And fuck me too, for not knowing better sooner.
  4. Following a positivity movement right here on this blog over the month of July 2014, I reached out to the ex. My first love. And what I got in return was the assumption that I was doing so to rekindle some sort of flame (I wasn’t. I was actually just trying to make peace with former ‘enemies’). Following the move on the part of my partner and I to become “Facebook official” I noticed through a mutual friend that First Love had blocked me. Sigh. Facebook is interesting. It is a series of sophisticated communication that allows us to present ourselves how we want, to who we want. It allows us to be dialed into our friends, family and acquaintances any time we want. It allows us access to pertinent and crucial, and frankly, useless information, from our phone and our workplace and our PCs whenever. I hear people talk about its frivolity but really, blocking is a statement. And it’s quite a very large one at that. But having said that, what I am grateful for is to see something very important about First Love: that he is a sad, petulant, egotistical little child. I will never understand any of the bullshit he put me through in the past, and I don’t care to understand any of the stupid bullshit he’s trying to put me through in the present.
  5. While this is not one thing, it is a million little things but since my shot at my current career, I have found it important to note that I have really worked hard at becoming more assertive in 2015. I showed solid assertiveness in standing up for my prick of a landlord after a really unpleasant standoff I had with him just before I moved out. I show something resembling assertiveness that I have in my job every single day. It’s something that, when I first started this whole career I never, ever thought I could do and I do surprisingly decently mot days. I’m not some masterful guru of assertiveness but I do my best and my best now is better than my best two years ago and beyond, so that’s something I’m incredibly grateful for.
  6. I’m so glad that I saw Wilco again this year. Despite that it’s no secret how much I LOVE Wilco, I’ve only seen them in concert four times, including this one in 2015. It was like a nice break from everything that was garbage about the few months prior to my move. I was able to stand front row-centre for the show and watch my favourite band melt my face off and remember how good it feels to be young and unencumbered and independent living in a world-class city and hanging out with awesome people doing what I love to do.
  7. I’m not an athlete by any means, but this year I put those insecurities aside and tried rowing in an eight-man rowing class. I was HORRIBLE at it. HORRIBLE. But the scenery was beautiful, I made minute connections with friendly people, and I learned a little tiny bit of a new skill. With more practice I might have been a lot better than I was, but the environment and timing were not right for me in the end. But still, I’m glad to have tried.
  8. This year, I spent a great deal of time (and money) consistently travelling to and from the city I lived in and the city where my long distance partner lives. Being apart was painful and getting such little time was even more painful; furthermore, the suffering of not knowing when or how we would be closer again prior to me taking a job closer to him was incredibly stressful and frustrating. The world was topsy turvy and difficult and pricey for the first half-year of our long distance relationship. And what I learned from that is, just how important it is to be around the people you’re insanely in love with as much as possible. Home really is a person and not a place.
  9. I’m so glad I never quit searching for what I thought might make me the happiest and most secure. As I move forward in my career I find that sometimes I feel like crying on a daily basis, or tearing my hair out, or walking away and never coming back. I am overwhelmed and tired and burnt out and often incredibly frustrated. But — never bored. And never checked out. And never with the urge to quit. After searching for the better part of a year, I DID find what I was looking for. I don’t know if it’s all I dreamed of but I never quit. And that’s what’s important.
  10. I’m glad that this year I didn’t succumb to the negative feelings I have about myself. I learned that when you have love and a purpose, your looks and the shallow views of an ugly and misogynistic society are second to everything else that’s important. I’m not where I would like to be in terms of body image and physical health. But what would have been a spear to my heart and self-esteem in the past, is now a mere inconvenience.
  11. I live in an incredibly small and concentrated right-wing conservative riding in my town. And I never really saw the purpose in voting, as for these reasons I didn’t think the party I vote for would win in my riding, so what’s the point? Having said that, I’m so glad I voted in the federal election; as a Canadian citizen, I have a right to vote for the party of my choice regardless of the riding and what kind of educator would I be if I forewent the civic duty of voting? In addition this election is HISTORIC and I was pleased to be a part of seeing a generational and image turnaround of my country.
  12. Ever since I left my advising career, I’ve always wondered how life would be if I went back into that line of work. I did, briefly, in Vancouver; in a different capacity, with slightly different duties, and in a very different working environment. I hated it. I was bored and under-appreciated and I felt like all the work I’d put into doing something more was wasted going back to Square One. I was glad I had this opportunity so I had a clear vision of what I wanted, and what I didn’t want.

  13. Only recently did I come to the conclusion that I didn’t want to live as an empty shell of a human being in this black hole of a complete lack of confidence. After years of suffering through crippling self-criticism and low self-esteem, I have learned that I can’t do it alone. I have started getting real help for that,  and I look forward to seeing where it takes me.
  14. After learning more about “self regulation”, I have come to find that I have happy places I venture to as well when I feel lost and lonely. I have been baking more and now that I have people to bake for, it’s been a great way for me to make people happy and clear my head.
  15. The world can be a rotten place. But when you can shield yourself by loving the shit out of someone else and have them love you back the same way you can get through the tough times – yours and the world’s – through the constant reminder that no, it’s not all bad. I’m glad I allowed my walls to come down with the person I love the most and allow them to help me through the darker and drearier parts of this year. My partner and I both saw a lot of strife and personal tragedies this year and towards the end of the year things became smoother and clearer. I’m glad I had the support and love of him to help me be the best I could be this year.

To anyone reading this: I hope you too, can take the time to articulate fifteen wonderful things that happened to you in 2015 and that you have an enjoyable end of the year.

Chronic Trauma.

Yesterday, I went to my district’s institute day and I had both the sadness and the privilege of attending a session on how to help kids who are dealing with chronic trauma in their personal lives – primarily kids who have faced repeated sexual and physical abuse at the hands of a family member or caretaker.

The woman who spoke was this amazingly empowered and powerful child psychologist who, on a daily basis, sees kids who’ve been to hell and back, don’t trust anyone, and have absolutely no adult supports in their lives. They come to school with nobody who cares about them and then somehow, on top of the fact that their oppositionally defiant and have to flight or fight every single day of their lives with every single social interaction that comes their way, then suddenly they have to learn concepts and study and write quizzes and assignments and interact with people they don’t know who are outside their social circle. It’s something I think of from time to time, but then again, in the onslaught of everything else that teachers – especially new ones – have to think about day to day, I don’t as much as I want to.

What hurt me the most though about this presentation, was the idea of a cycle of negative thoughts.

Psychologists and experts are of the belief that when kids have experienced this kind of trauma, they talk themselves down. They tell themselves that they’re bad and no good and that they deserved what they got. They’re ashamed of themselves and where they came from and the kinds of terrible and unbeknownst “adult” behaviours they’ve engaged in with people who are supposed to love them and who they trust in their own ways. And this negative self talk permeates into so many other areas of their lives. Suddenly, everything becomes “I can’t do it”, “I’m worthless”, “I don’t deserve love”, “I’m not attractive”, “I’m not smart”. And that becomes that child’s story. And on top of that, they have guttural emotional reactions to badness in their other relationships; they either disassociate completely, or they become overly and overtly touchy, volatile, or inappropriately sexual. Their organizational and fine motor skills, their ability to grasp concepts, falls secondly to sleeping with one eye open, watching their backs, and mistrusting and tossing everything good about themselves and the world into the trash.

I often don’t correlate my own misgivings, mistakes and deficiencies with this kind of psychological turmoil. I see them as truths. Hard-lined truths about the way I am and the story that’s been written for me, and the people in my life. I consider myself “lucky” a lot of the time – that I somehow got away with successes and obtaining close relationships because of the fact that I am a miserable, ugly, worthless, unintelligent and overall unable person. These are things I believe about myself to the core of my being and I don’t think of them as results of my own chronic hells that I’ve faced, the bullying I endured even after being fortunate enough to have been air-lifted out of this private 9-year old hell day after day. I often think of myself as someone who can carry that weight on her own and even when she can’t, deserves to carry that burden, and feel deficient and feel ugly and feel stupid and feel like a bad person, if only because that’s just how it is.

I hear about these things – what happens to the brain during and after a traumatic event, the aftermath of trauma, the state of arousal where kids are hyper-aware, can’t calm down, are essentially looking over their shoulder for anyone who would hurt them again… I think of these things and it makes me so sad. Not just for me, but for anyone else who’s been in my shoes and had to put countless measures in place for themselves because they can do nothing and have no help, so they are forced to constantly protect themselves from potential harms and triggers and pains and abusers… against all the rapists and harmers and bad people in the world. Against the person they sent to the grave as an innocent and free man who is fondly remembered by all who knew him in their tiny little town.

I’m sad. I mourn the loss of all those childhoods. They serve as a reminder for me that for an educator, there is so much more at stake and involved than whether a kid can pass an exam, or whether a kid can read. I don’t want to fail anyone. I hope I can at some point reach the kind of experience where I no longer feel like I am.

The Most Inspiring Thing I Heard This Week.

Lately I’ve felt overweight. I am technically “overweight”, I guess. I look at myself in the mirror versus myself about a year ago and I can really see how much I’ve let myself go. I know for a fact that there are people out there who love the fact that I’ve let myself go. And to those people I say this: there are lots of reasons – good reasons and ‘bad’ reasons – why people gain or lose weight, and before you go judging how someone looks on the outside maybe how you feel about someone’s weight gain says more about you than it does about them. ANYWAYS, moving on…

I met this truly lovely and wonderful girl the other night at a party. She was awesome and full-figured and vivacious and fun and beautiful and stylish and a staunch feminist and she was one of the most empowering positive people I’ve met in a long time.

She and I had somehow gotten on the topic of weight loss accounts on social media, and questioning why people couldn’t just be private in their exercise regimes, and what kind of validation are they seeking by posting about their shrinking hard bodies every day. And she had this to say:

You know what a bikini body is? It’s a body. That fits into a bikini. I have one right now, and so do you.

I think the capabilities of your body, and your inner happiness are what I took away from this conversation. And the fact that beauty doesn’t come in just one size. It was an amazing thing to hear from a rather amazing person, and I wanted to share it as a reminder to all of us that we can only be who we are and if we’re happy and alive, being who we are is enough.