Love Letters

One of my favourite things about my father was his poetry. He had such a beautiful way with words, and he used to write my Ma love letters and poems and paint her pictures. He was so raw and open and honest with his love for her, and he swept her off her feet and kept her there. I still have some of the poems and notes he wrote to her. Every time I read them it makes me smile. It makes me so happy to know that she had a love that was so pure and rare, and even though he’s not here, that love will never die. That kind of love lasts a lifetime and further. Now that I have found my own soulmate, I understand the depth of their love and devotion. I understand why after all this time, Mama still hasn’t fallen in love again. They say once you have the best, you can’t do better. That’s what your person is. The best for you. Your match out of billions of people across the globe. Until you find your other half, it sounds cliche. But I promise it’s true. I could never really understand Daddy’s inspiration for these acts of love, or how he never ran out of words to describe how he felt. Then Geoff came along and stole my heart and I get it. I write him love letters. Before I moved I would mail him cards. When he goes to work and I’m home I sneak a little letter into his bag. I’m leaving for work tomorrow and he comes home next week so I wrote him a letter to read when he gets in.

Love Letters

Technically I wrote him two letters. The first one I just finished shredding. I wrote it two days ago and it was 7 pages (ridiculous I know, but we all know I don’t shut up to begin with and once I get going I can really talk). It went from my usual “Hey babe, you rock my socks and I’m so lucky to have you blah blah blah” to me justifying why I’m broken for like 4 pages. THAT’S NOT A LOVE LETTER, THAT’S A DIARY ENTRY. It actually made me cry, and not happy tears. It dredged up all my insecurities and magnified flaws I’ve found in myself. It was basically me trying to explain again why I’m hard to love, why I pull away, why I am basically a mess of a human being at times, and how I’m never trying to run from him, but from myself. I have spent a few sleepless nights since meeting Geoff wondering how on earth someone so pure and innocent like him could want to make it work with someone so scarred and hardened by life like me. We’re from two different worlds.

Example: My nightmares consist of my dead father breaking through a bathroom window to strangle me while I wash my face with water that turns to blood. Geoff’s nightmare consists of being at a rock concert and having his wallet in his lap and then getting up and leaving and losing his wallet. Both are terrifying to us, but mine holds a little bit more “what the actual fuck” whereas his is a normal person’s fear. I’m not saying he hasn’t been through some shit himself, everything is relative and we all feel the blows we suffer equally, regardless of where they rate on an overall scale. But seriously he is angelic compared to me, and sometimes it leaves me in a cold sweat. I have those moments of insecurity where I’m like, “Man he is such a good guy with such a good heart, and I only just found my mummified excuse of a heart when I met him. How on earth is it going to work when he sees into all my dark spaces? Will he run screaming like others have? Or will he deem me unworthy of his full love and abuse/cheat/hit/use me like others have? Is he going to be able to handle me in all my broken glory like he says or will he get sick of it and throw in the towel?”. All mind games I play with myself, and yessss I’m aware it doesn’t do me any good. If he’s going to do those things, he’s going to do them whether I psychoanalyze all the reasons why he could or not. But it’s been almost two years since we first started talking and he hasn’t done any of the things I worried about. I am a very upfront person so as soon as things started to get a vibe of legitimacy I let him know exactly what kind of battle he was in for. He was well aware of the myriad of shitty exes I have because I’m one of those “get em before they get you” types. Meaning, let him see exactly why you’re fucked up right off the hop and then it’s his decision to run. I wanted him to have an easy out because I’ve been battling my many demons for several decades and still can’t always keep them at bay, so I can’t assure anyone new coming in that they’ll last too long. Or that they’ll even want to. No one has before. I didn’t want the possibility of disappointment when he decided he’d had enough of my shit and realized he doesn’t have to pick up the pieces other people left behind.

I have what we call “push away days”. They’re my days when shit gets real, I start to panic, and I push away. I get distant and lost in my own head, basically try to rebuild my wall around my heart, and save myself from another heartbreak by running away from love. People can only withstand so much heartbreak, self inflicted or otherwise, before it just becomes impossible to have normal functioning relationships. I was pushed to that point a couple years ago, and cannot have a normal relationship. I am quite capable of love, it just doesn’t come easy and it doesn’t come cheap. The price to pay for my love is having to wait through the push away days. To remain constant and understanding, while trying not to take offence. You have to be pretty self assured to suffer through someone doing their damnedest to push you out when you’ve already fought hard enough to get in. And it’s a 2 steps forward, 3 steps back deal because people who have been hurt have guards in place. Humans are coded to survive, and this is just another coping mechanism to ensure survival mentally. I know I’m not the only crazy person who has found their soulmate, been absolutely terrified because of it, and tried to find reasons why it won’t work. It’s scary finding someone who is willing to fight for you when no one else was, who loves you with all your scars and war wounds and the deep, dark crevices of your mind. Someone who knows exactly what they’re in for because you’re trying to heal, and is happy to suffer the storms because they believe you’re worth it and they know they can help you on the path to whole again. When you feel unworthy, it’s hard to think anyone else sees you as otherwise.

Love Letters Rose

Normal people can meet someone they like, fall in love, be happy and not question it or themselves or worry that the person they love is going to leave them. I think that I am beyond being normal because for the first time in my life I have an amazing guy with no ulterior motive, no malicious intent, no games to play, who has never cheated a day in his life and never would, has a job and pays his own bills, makes me feel beautiful and safe and secure, and for months I tried to prevent things from getting serious. I was so scared of getting close and giving up my heart, because if he chose to leave me it would break into pieces too small to put back together. I don’t think you can recover fully from the loss of a soulmate. And I have spent my life being self reliant, knowing that I have to have my own back because other people can’t be depended upon, and have also spent majority of my life feeling unlovable. Irrational to the nth, but lots of unfortunate events in life can lead you to that train of thinking. With my father’s suicide aside, being a child is hard and confusing and you can get stuck believing no one loves you when you’re lonely and don’t understand why things are the way they are. As for relationships, I think most of us have wondered after a break up what we did wrong. Why we weren’t quite good enough to stick with, or what we could have done differently to change the outcome. If you’ve been cheated on, you know the multitude of questions and self doubt that follow. If you’ve been cheated on in several relationships, it stops being something wrong with the person who cheated and starts bringing up suspicions about what’s wrong with you. It’s easier for us to rationalize things into personal flaws or wrong doings because then it’s still something within our control. If it’s something wrong with us, we can fix it and prevent it from happening again. If it’s just someone else being a shitty human being, how the fuck do we make sure that doesn’t crop up again? It’s much easier to justify things when we can control them. It’s also detrimental to our mental health.

My grandfather told me this summer that I apologize too much and should stop. He said when people do that, it makes them look like they have an inferiority complex. He is 93, still works 3 days a week at the company he’s run for decades, lives unassisted in his home, and is one of the spunkiest and funniest people I’ve ever met. I love him to bits. I also respect the hell out of him so when he told me that, it stuck. I find myself apologizing less for everything, and stopping myself more often than not. I think that when we get our hearts broken for whatever reason, we kind of start apologizing for everything we think is wrong with us. And that’s what the first letter I wrote to Geoff for this set of days off was. It was pretty much a massive letter of me saying I’m sorry for the jerks who helped create the monster I’ve become. I’m sorry for being hurt. I’m sorry for making you deal with the residual heartbreak from people who came before you. I basically apologized for being me. The point is, he knows all these things. He loves me regardless of the fact that I’m guarded. Regardless of the fact that I don’t trust easily, he has managed to become the only person I depend on. He is my best friend. He is my love, my shoulder to cry on, my biggest supporter, and he loves me as I am. And who I am and what I’ve been through all led me to where I am today. Which is with him. So I shredded that letter which made me sad, and wrote him a new one. It was much shorter, much sweeter, and didn’t include me defending my bouts of push away days for fear of him getting tired of me and leaving. I’m worth the fight to him, just like he’s worth the fight to me. We both have things we’re working on, and we’ll both get to where we need to be for ourselves and in turn for each other. I listed some of the sweetest things he’s said to me or done for me, and some of the things I love most about him. I send him texts all the time telling him how much he means to me and how proud he makes me (he brings out the Daddy man, I can’t help it) but I don’t tell him of the things that stand out most. He is helping me heal from the past, and for that he deserves to know why and how he’s doing so. I like showing people I love why I love them from time to time. Sometimes it’s a short card, sometimes it’s a long text, and sometimes it’s a letter. Life is short, so when you find the people who make you a better person and add greatness to your life in ways you didn’t imagine, just tell em. I can’t wait to see him in a few weeks, I’m sure he’ll skim through the letter and be like “awww Cassanova” and then promptly fall asleep and forget all about it, but writing is cathartic for me and I just want him to know all the good he does. I don’t need to defend myself to him because he doesn’t attack me. I attack myself, and someday soon I hope that stops. Maybe I’ll write myself a love letter on one my happier days so I can pull myself together on my bad ones. Who doesn’t love a love letter right?

The Pot or the Kettle

My personal qualms with social media and the three main issues I have with its ridiculousness.

Social media is a beautiful thing. Since the creation of ICQ, we’ve had the ability to message our friends near and far from an online platform which doesn’t require a fee for every message sent. I remember when texts used to cost $0.10 apiece and it was easier to make an event using ICQ or messenger and get everyone on the same page than it was to send a text or make a phone call using precious daytime minutes. The evolution of technology the last several years has been amazing, and now we have the capability to talk to people around the world, see what they’re posting, and have people from all over view our own posts. But with great power comes great responsibility or so the saying goes. I find a lot of people kind of abuse the apps and programs we now have, and so many people are trying to keep up with the Jones’ or promote the life they wish to lead. I’m not bashing ambitions, or dreams, or even posts of accomplishments. But one of my biggest issues with social media these days is how many people spend more time making their lives look great to others (and to how they would ultimately like it to look to themselves) than they do actually working for that finished product.

I personally only use facebook, instagram and YouTube. I couldn’t get into twitter, and don’t really know or care about what other big platforms are out there. So this blog is going to be based on what I’ve observed on those 3. I love the fact that inspiration and motivation is at our fingertips. A world of knowledge is accessible by a click of a button. Social media does so much good, but there are times I find it ridiculous because it goes from being a harmless way to interact with people who share similar interests, hobbies, or checking in on loved ones or idols to a harmful cycle of trying to compete and compare our lives with those around us.

 

Issue #1:People who buy things for the sole purpose of impressing/keeping up with other people.

Everyone who has ever set (digital) foot on instagram has seen snippets of celebrity lifestyles. Whether it’s a favourite singer, actress, vlogger, whatever really, we have all seen the lifestyles of the rich and famous. As a nerd, I love seeing other people’s houses and am forever finding myself so happy with interior design or  inspiration for things I would love to incorporate into my dream home from Pinterest, but I also don’t have any misconception about the fact that my chances of ever owning a “mansion on the hill” are slim to none. And honestly it doesn’t appeal to me beyond enjoying the aesthetics. But with the prevalence of these icons and hashtags about #lifegoals #squadgoals #relationsipgoals #cargoals #fieldgoals #nogoals it’s hard for most people to be able to view these things objectively, and not feel the need to create their own version for presentation.

We’ve all seen the vacations strangers have taken, and decided that we NEED to go to Fiji before we depart this world. But for most people, it doesn’t just motivate people to find ways to build their own versions of these lifestyles they covet or admire. It causes people to overextend on their lines of credit, or max out cards, or in some cases I’ve seen and heard of, to gold dig so that someone else is footing the bill with a different kind of payment for the product. Still not judging, we’ve all done something we couldn’t afford at one time or another, and most likely it was worth every heavily interested penny. But when you’re constantly bombarded with a barrage of pictures from places you would love to go see, or of cars you wish you owned, etc how can you not feel a little envy and the need to try and show that you’ve made it some what yourself? Which is why it drives me NUTS when I see/hear people posting about the amazing trip they’ve got coming up, yet behind the scenes they’re behind on all their bills, unsure of how they’re actually going to afford the trip, let alone have spending money and tip money. Isn’t the point of a vacation to get away and relax? Some people like to go on adventurous vacations, some like to just find a beautiful beach somewhere warm and just be for a week. I personally think vacations are integral to surviving adulthood, BUT I also think they should be done conscientiously. If you know your budget allows for a week in Dominican, why would you wanna stress yourself out and break the bank going to the Bahamas for a month? I totally get that once you’ve been away, you catch the bug and start planning each future trip shortly after arriving back to reality from the last. But if you know you really wanna go on balls out vacays, SAVE THE MONEY. If it means you need to trim off your spending from other areas to make it happen, you know exactly what you can and cannot sacrifice so go with whatever is in your realm of possibilities.

To owe money on things that are ultimately just going to stress you out more seems ludicrous to me. To do it so that you can post a few wicked pictures and make your friends or strangers jealous? Why in the actual fuck? No one cares once they’ve scrolled past it. I have never spent days and weeks obsessing over a picture someone posted, comparing my life to theirs, thinking how cool they are and how much better their life looks than mine. If someone leads a dope life I’m happy for them. Hard work pays off. But so much gets so sensationalized these days that it’s hard to tell the real from the fake. And I’m also happy with where I am, where I’ve come from, and what I’ve done. There are a ton of things on my bucket list, and when I have the funds I’ll chip away at them. I haven’t been on vacation since the two weeks spent in the Bahamas (which I paid for upfront, didn’t owe a penny and had the time of my life). This is because the past year or so hasn’t been so kind in the employment department, and a cross country move is expensive. When I have enough money in the bank that I’m good on bills, savings and everything I actually need to have money for, I’ll save and splurge on a trip. I love Gale Vazoxlade and her jars. My goal for trip savings is 250$ a month so that at the end of a year I’ve got 3000$ to play with. Realistic. And maybe when I have good financial years, I’ll increase that amount up so I can go to the floating villas in Bora Bora. This has been me rambling about trips, but this can apply to houses, cars, makeup, clothing, literally whatever you see posted on social media that creates a sense of status, that makes people want to sell off their kidneys in order to be able to say they did it too/owned it too/went there too.

Bottom line on this train of thought; it’s great to see where other people have gone and to appreciate their passport stamps and experiences. It’s awesome to discover amazing destinations that we want to check out in the future when it’s feasible. But when it goes from genuine pleasure at seeing how someone else has spent their time or getting inspiration for things we want to do, to feeling inadequate and restless and feeding a compulsion to pretend we’re in the same boat, it becomes hazardous. The saying about watering your own grass instead of worrying about your neighbour’s grass is legit. Appreciate their yard, maybe even pick up tips and pointers to use in your own, but don’t neglect or overwater your space to mimic someone else’s.

 

Issue #2: “People who fake happy relationships for the sole purpose of impressing/keeping up with other people.

Not one person reading this can say they haven’t seen this at least once. Maybe you’re even guilty of doing it. I know that just about no one goes on social media and wants to share their private problems with the world. Especially when most of what we see is “the highlight reel from someone else’s life.” I love that saying because it’s so true. You can’t compare your entire existence to someone else’s highest points. We all have moments of triumph, where we feel so proud and accomplished and where our hard work pays off. And it’s awesome to be able to share that joy and those moments with others. It can motivate, inspire, or serve as a reminder that you are capable of great things when you’re having a less than stellar moment. But when people begin to post about how perfect their relationships are and how they just couldn’t dream of being without their person, and turn around a week later and have a nasty breakup, you’re left to wonder how on earth something that was so spectacular crumbled to dust so quickly and seemingly out of the blue. Well, that’s because it WASN’T perfect, they WEREN’T happy, but no one wants to admit what they feel is defeat.

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In a world where we’re influenced to keep up with everyone else and prove to others as well as ourselves that we’re actually just fine as we are, it’s not ideal to post about the low points. And privacy is key to longevity for relationships. When people are stating to the world that they’re so happy, feel so loved, can’t wait to spend the rest of their lives with this person of their dreams, and then turn around a split up and have nothing good to say about their ex, or blast all kinds of dirty laundry for the world to see, it becomes quite clear that things were never really as they seemed. I personally don’t understand the need to pretend things are good when they aren’t. Why bother telling the world you’re happy when you’re not? How much does it actually affect people’s perception of you if they know that you have rough patches? Why is it more important to play house and pretend you’re happy and committed and in heavenly bliss? You don’t need to tell anyone anything quite frankly. You make the choice to present a fallacy to your friends, family, strangers. You decide to spend more energy keeping up appearances and convincing the world you’re happy than you do on either fixing the situation or separating amicably. I get that each situation is unique, and it’s no one else’s business. But the moment you choose to present every facet of your relationship to social media, you’re allowing people into a corner of that relationship. And when you ultimately crash and burn because you can only fake it so long, you’re inviting the backlash that we know comes from using social media.

Every relationship is going to have strains. We will all fight, scream, cry, act irrationally and feel pain and hurt from the one we love who loves us back. It’s part of growth. It’s healthy to argue, to have different opinions and to struggle to find ways to compromise. You can’t live with someone without having things they do that irritates you. And you will be irritating to the one you love because we are all wired differently. You have to find ways to make it work, and if you hit a brick wall or just can’t find a way to muscle through it, maybe the relationship has run its course. No shame in breakups, you take something away from every person in your life. It helps you discover what you need from the next one. But to go from posting daily about how much you love your boyfriend/girlfriend and publicly planning a future etc to “Fuck him, he’s a deadbeat piece of shit and I can’t believe I ever loved him” or “She’s a whore, fresh D on tinder now swipe right for the ride of your life whaddup ain’t no one gonna tie me down #singlelife #fuckbitchesgetmoney” is a clear sign that it wasn’t an overnight decision. If you have feelings like this towards someone you “loved with every fibre of your being” a week ago, it makes us wonder how much love there really is? There are amicable splits when there are no resentments. Communication is so vital to every relationship we have, especially those with our life partner. A lot of times we don’t feel those needs are met just because of how technology has evolved and changed the way people interact. If you’re not actively finding ways to talk things through, or voice concerns and fight through them when need be, you will wind up with a failed relationship. End of story. When that happens and it comes from people who literally post NON STOP about their relationship and how perfect it is/happy they are/excited they are for their collective futures, they look wind up looking fake. It’s worse to look like a massive liar/attention grubber when shit hits the fan than it does to look like a normal person who has happy moments they post about and then not so happy moments they keep private.

You don’t need to pretend for the world’s sake that you’re happy. It’s no one else’s business at the end of the day, and not in anyone else’s control to be honest. If you have a great relationship, kudos and rock that shit and post away. If you have a shit relationship but don’t want your friends to see that, maybe you should just consider keeping the “I LOVE HIM/HER SO MUCH WE WERE DESTINED TO BE/BONNIE AND CLYDE/JAY AND BEYONCE/ LIVING RELATIONSHIP GOALS HASHTAG IT’S THE REAL DEAL” to a minimum…

 

Issue #3: “People who troll pages/sites and even worse, the people being trolled who end up trolling out of control in retaliation.

 

We all know about internet bullying. We all see the lame comments made by childish weirdos, and most normal people don’t make rude comments to strangers so we’re all usually appalled to some level by the gross things people say. Lady Gaga got body shamed hard for her Super Bowl half time show, because she had rolls I guess??? I watched her show and not once did anything remotely rude pop into my head about her. I didn’t notice anything wrong with her body. All I could think of was how amazing she looked, how crazy it was to me that she could keep up such an intense performance while singing and engaging the crowd and basically just how fucking BOSS she was. She wound up posting a reply to all the trolls on her instagram a few days later about how she’d heard her stomach was the topic of conversation and that she was choosing to ignore it because it was ridiculous. Go girl! People will always be petty, there will always be something negative to be found in any situation to any person by someone who isn’t happy internally and whose purpose when they get out of bed is bringing others down with them. What REALLY gets me is the people who get these rude comments, instead of gracefully saying “I will just be deleting the ignorant and hurtful comments/blocking rude users, keep it nice or don’t play at all” or choosing to ignore it, decide to blast the person responsible and shame them to a worse degree than they themselves were shamed.

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There is one account I follow on instagram, and yesterday was the third time she had made an extremely rude post about someone on her page who left a rude comment. I agree with standing up for yourself. I agree with not tolerating disrespectful behaviour and not allowing things that make you uncomfortable or hurt. I do not agree with turning around and trolling through someone’s account yourself and finding the least flattering photos, creating a collage, tagging that person and then RIPPING them to shreds. I get that the user had made a really rude comment about this woman’s body on a photo. Welcome to the internet lol. You will have people making rude comments and picking out flaws and being malicious for no purpose other than just being mean. If you open a page and work hard to generate a following, and want loads of traffic and to promote your services or whatever, you don’t get to pick and choose who initially views and comments, or what they say. You obviously  wanted loads of followers, you left your page open instead of private, so you’re bound to get some keyboard gangsters in the mix. Strangers making awful observations about it sucks. It truly does. But if you put yourself in a position where you’re vulnerable to these things, the best rule of thumb is to just delete the hurtful content, block the user, and move on. By calling the user out, making extreme comparisons and probably saying worse things than they had said to you, you are not only being a complete hypocrite but you are actually worse. The user wound up deleting their account, my guess is from this page’s followers going on and commenting nasty things and attacking them. No, it wasn’t cool that this user trolled and hurt this woman’s feelings. But it was far worse that this woman (who I won’t follow any more because she does this a fair amount and it’s childish and petty and cunty and hypocritical) who has such a strong fan base  used her platform to openly attack someone. She used her followers to attack this user and bully her. She was offended over a comment, but chose to react like a spoiled child throwing a temper tantrum instead of staying classy and mature and just blocking the user and deleting the comment. I have never seen Lady Gaga make a collage of the people who say rude things about her, tag them, and let her “monsters” run loose and harass them. If you have an active, large following, I think you have a duty to be a good role model. If you don’t like someone making one comment about you, how could you rationalize making a massive post about them AND TAGGING THEM?!

I just don’t leave rude comments. If I have a rude thought when I see something, I say it to myself and keep scrolling and forget about it within seconds. The average attention span for humans is something like 6 seconds. So why waste precious time and integrity typing up rude things to strangers? You’ll forget about it within seconds if you don’t choose to react like a savage. And you’ll be acting like a decent human being. No one likes it when someone has something bad to say about them, and we are all WELL aware of our own flaws so no one actually needs a stranger to point these things out.

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My coffee is now cold, and I need to properly wake up and hit the gym with my SIL. Just wanted to rant and rave about how ridiculous people on social media can be for no real purpose. Don’t fake your happiness, don’t fake your life, don’t try to live someone else’s life, and don’t be unnecessarily rude to people. Someone needs to make an etiquette book for social media standards. Who are we really trying to impress at the end of the day? I’m far more concerned about how I feel about me than how my friends or family or strangers feel about me. Gotta look out for number one, and the above habits are bad for the self. Happy Saturday peeps.

 

 

Ardy’s Essence

I just finished a midnight FaceTime with one of my best friends. Today was a tough day for her. Her mom has been battling aggressive cancer for 4 months now and passed this morning. It wasn’t unexpected and they’ve been preparing for it for a while now, but I don’t think that anyone can ever truly be ready for heartbreak like that regardless of seeing it coming from a distance or otherwise. My friend is the epitome of strength and endurance. She has been dealt a lot of shitty cards throughout her life, and like her mama, she has dealt with every single obstacle and unfortunate experience and traumatic situation with the grace I can only call “Ardy’s Essence.”

“Ardy’s Essence” is a rare mixture of optimism, pragmatism, realism and sass. It is the ability to find reasons for gratitude in a thankless and bleak situation. It is the ability to remain hopeful when everything seems doomed and irreparable. It is the ability to touch the lives of everyone around in a healing manner and provide wisdom and courage and love without judgement or an expectation of anything in return, when that healing is needed most internally by the giver. “Ardy’s Essence” is a feisty, fiery spunk that can never be dulled or diminished. It is living life with integrity and honour and loyalty. It is giving kindness where it hasn’t been earned, love where it isn’t deserved, and forgiveness when none is justified. It is the essence of everything good and just and beautiful in this world all bundled up into the tiny package of a human being. It is an essence I think this world could use so much more of. The absence of it in majority of the people on earth just adds to its value in the few who possess it.

As I was facetiming my friend, trying not to cry for her and her family, I was so humbled by her attitude. She told me her mama wouldn’t want me to be sad, and I explained that my tears were of empathy and a bit of a personal loss as well as the overwhelming feeling of gratitude that She and her loved ones were there to see Ardy off from this life into the next. The tears were for the fact that it was Ardy’s soul shining through her daughters eyes and actions, and for the fact that Ardy will never really be gone because she has created a being who embodies all of her finest qualities. She inherited “Ardy’s Essence”. I feel a fraction of the loss of Ardy because she had an impact on me the moment I met her. She was one of those peoole who you instantly feel at ease with. It could be eerie to experience her because she made you feel as though she was seeing right through to your soul. She was insightful and intuitive and highly spiritual. She did a couple tarot readings for me, and it was uncanny the predictions she made and the things she knew about me without having any possible way of prior knowledge. That was just who she was. Her smile was contagious, the same smile my beautiful friend wears to be exact. But just as quickly as she was to smile and laugh, she would call out bullshit. She had a strong moral compass that she remained in tune with until her last breath, and I’m sure she’ll continue to follow into her next chapter.

There is a fire burning for her for 4 days, in order to light her path into her next life. She was a strong advocate of her Micmac heritage, and she must have been so at ease as her loved ones honoured her in the traditional rituals today. She was bathed in cedar water for purification, although she was about as pure as you can get because she lived her life openly and honestly and faithfully. She was robed in a handmade linen and sent off with locks of hair from her loved ones. Native hair is extremely important to the culture and signifies much more than I know about, so out of respect for their heritage I won’t even begin to try to explain because I would make a mess of something so beautiful and so sacred to them. But my beautiful friend cut her hair for the first time in ages to send off with her mama, she was marked the matriarch of their family and she shouldered every responsibility with dignity and respect and class. She truly was “Ardy’s Essence” today.

Ardy has left a strong legacy behind through her loved ones, and I can only hope that they find strength from it on their weak days and find pleasure from it on their strong days. I hope that when they feel a shiver running down their backs, or a calming sense that they’re not alone, they know that it’s Ardy lending her light and love and courage to them when they need it. I know they will treasure every memory made, every lesson learned and every hilarious smart ass remark made by Ardy.

The fire leading Ardy into the next life won’t burn half as bright as her spirit, but I know that she’ll have no trouble using its light and creating a whole new legacy on her journey. She will always have her mark on this world, and no doubt leave some new ones wherever she winds up. Ardy’s Essence is timeless and ethereal and magnificent, and my beautiful friend is another wonderous example of a mothers love running deeper than anything the eye can see. Rest easily through your transition Ardy, and may you find peace and relief in the next life. You will be greatly missed, and every thought of you will bring the same peace your presence did in person.

 

Ps (Thank you to Ardy for creating such a stunning daughter who came into my life and brightened things up more than I could have dreamed. She’s beyond special and she’s got good peoples taking care of her now, which you know because you helped guide her to us or maybe guided us to her. Either way we know you’re still working your magic and we’ll keep doing you proud and making sure your daughter and granddaughter are well loved always ❤)

Dieting & Training for a Show; the Good, the Bad and the Ugly (in fairly lengthy form)

I’ve been wanting to write about my experience and opinions on the fitness competition I did in 2015 for EVER now, but as we all know I slack and get “writer’s block” aka I’m lazy. And this is going to be a pretty detailed post so I had to wait for the inspiration to strike instead of half-assing it. I get asked a bit about how I went about training for a fitness show, or people wanting to know how to lose weight without a starvation diet because I sure as hell didn’t follow the plan I was given to a t. We’ll get to that somewhere in the mix. Disclaimer in advance: I’m not a coach or a dietician. I don’t think I’m a coach or a dietician. I am not qualified nor do I plan on becoming qualified to do either. This is just my personal experiences, and a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way to help out anyone who’s just curious or is thinking of giving it a shot themselves. Also I don’t have anything against people who do shows seriously and competitively. Some of my biggest role models are heavy into the fitness world and do several shows, and all I can say is HOLY THE BODS ON THEM. The ones I admire are the ones who take a healthy approach to it, and who don’t force drugs on clients or leave their clients misinformed and harming themselves. We’ll get to that. I do respect anyone who does the shows because it takes a lot of commitment, and I love seeing anyone do something to boost their self confidence. That being said, I’m not a fan of the drastic and unhealthy approaches people are willing to take because personally I don’t think it’s worth it. This is all MY opinion, so I’m not bashing anyone or calling anyone out. Just stating observations. Disclaimer is cutting into my word count, and we know I don’t make em short and sweet as it is lol so let’s get to it.

 

A little history on me and why I decided to train for the Atlantic Classic Fitness Show in March 2015:

I was always petite growing up. Super short, small waist and fair sized bum. Hourglass shaped which I took for granted as most of us do when we’re young and vain. I maintained a weight of about 115-120 from age like 14 til I was about 20. I could eat literally whatever I wanted and drink every weekend and not fear stepping on the scale. Then I hit 20 and my metabolism went on strike. I had a really hard heartbreak that felt like the end of the world to my barely 20 year old self, and I got fat. I don’t say that lightly, I was almost 170 lbs on a 5′ 1 & 13/16″ frame and that jump was literally in less than a year. I went from 120 lbs to 170 lbs and hated my body. Below is a picture from a Halloween when I was still tubby, and then the difference less than a year later when I got my first sleeve started.

I tried the Atkins diet (which resulted in me cutting out all carbs, going drinking for my best friend’s birfday, blacking out because my body couldn’t process the liquor, I guess I punched her in the face? I was a complete train wreck, and I woke up the next day with no shoes and an hour drive back to my college town to work a shift with alcohol poisoning and no clue why my best friend wasn’t talking to me. FML moment x 1208387.) Needless to say, that shit didn’t fly and I went right off it. I picked up running that year, and to this day I still LOVE running. I finally graduated college and got happy again. One day my broken heart stopped bleeding and I went a day without being sad and it felt like all of a sudden my metabolism kicked back in. I dropped back down to about 135 lbs and felt really good.

So maintaining that weight for a couple years, I had a few friends from high school who were getting into the world of fitness. I’ve always been an on-again off-again gym goer, Mama has been teaching fitness classes since Daddy died so I’ve always had it around me as well. I’d never really sat down to think about how you can sculpt your body using training and good diet, so when I saw my friends make amazing progress and compete in these “bikini shows” I was super inspired. I downloaded the LoseIt app (I now use My Fitness Pal) and started tracking what I was eating. I saw the coach that one of my friends had used in the past and decided to give it a shot towards the end of 2014. I did a 3 month phase to start, saw some results and decided to do the less competitive show in April of 2015. When I say “less competitive”, I mean that the placings don’t allow for advancement. There is a novice show called the ECC in Halifax each year, and if you place well you can move on to provincials. From provincials is nationals, etc. I wasn’t doing the show as a serious sport, I just wanted to see if I could make those changes to my body and have fun in the process. The Atlantic Classics is a super fun show, it’s less pressure and everyone is actually so sweet and supportive so I highly recommend a show like this for anyone starting out or who wants to use competing as a tool the way I did.

I didn’t follow my diet plan very well and tracked my own macros loosely, basically monitoring my caloric intake and using some of the meals that were provided in the plan. I was much more compliant with the training plan and schedule because I’ve always enjoyed exercise. I work in a FIFO job too, so at that time it was super easy to get into a routine because when you work away your life is one big, repetitive schedule. I didn’t do the amount of cardio I was supposed to as per my plan, I didn’t do the full workouts as per my plan, and the reasoning was a few things:

  • I do a manual labour job so I’m already torching a ton of calories just at work, I didn’t think it was healthy or realistic to expect me to turn around and burn another 500-1000 calories a day with workouts. If I’m too tired to do my job, it’s an easy choice as to what is getting cut out, and since my job paid my coaches, I said screw the extra cardio.
  • Since I was doing what I could in the gym, I didn’t want to under eat. I followed my meal plan loosely as well because I felt that the caloric expectations were too low for me personally. I also have researched a ton over the years (I research everything and anything that captures my attention for even a moment) and women shouldn’t be falling under 1200 calories a day for more than a week max. In my opinion (and that of numerous others I gather my intel from) you shouldn’t be below 1500 or thereabouts a day. As soon as your body dips below that 1200 cal intake for a sustained period of time, you go into “starvation mode” where your body begins to burn muscle instead of fat. It’s coded into our DNA, even though the world is now at our fingertips, our ancestors weren’t so lucky and they had to store as much fat as they could for survival. Our bodies haven’t caught up yet. Same with leg and armpit hair, and other areas  which I’ll pretend to be too classy to mention. Get with it genetic coding, this is unfair.
  • Last reason for slacking on my planned workouts was that they weren’t designed for my camp lifestyle. When I was on days off I could spend an hour and a half in the gym doing weights, but in camp you have very little free time after working and sleeping and eating. I only had an hour max to put in at the gym before work, sometimes I would try to get just cardio in when I woke up and go back for a quick weight workout after work. But it’s exhausting and time consuming, and I’m up there to make money above all else. Towards the end of my prepping, since I was still eating ice cream and pizza and burgers and fries several times weekly, I did go to the gym twice a day most days. It helped that my camp had an amazing gym as well as offering classes, and one of my best friends I met at work would come with me and be my partner. But it was cardio in the morning, and some weights at night most of the time. Or a class at night.

 

We’re caught up now as to the backstory of chubby Caoimhin deciding to become lean Caoimhin and into the actual prep time line. I’ll add some pictures of my starting point and progression as I went on. This was before starting the prep in the end of October.

Next is my progression from October until February. It’s another reason why taking progress pics is SO important on a weight loss journey, you’re always the last person to see it so you really do need to have irrefutable evidence that your hard work is paying off.

That was a lot of pics LOL but it shows the slow and steady whittling of my body into the goal I had. And the funny thing is, I don’t think I was happy with my body yet. One of the bad points of competing is the magnified body dysmorphia. You don’t see the changes like everyone else does, you focus on the one area that really troubles you instead of celebrating the total package. Even when I was at my all time leanest, I still had cellulite on my bum and thighs, it’s part of my genetics and I doubt it will ever go away unless I do starve myself. But I would love to be back to my happy weight where it’s less noticeable. Some people hate their arms, and no matter how great the rest of their body looks comparatively, they will always be a little dissatisfied because of the one thing they can’t change. It’s human nature and we all have our flaws we’d pay a million dollars to eliminate, but realistically no one else notices them. I will never have small thighs. I’m cursed with a full bum and fuller thighs, complete with stretch marks from puberty and a massive weight gain. My tiger stripes will never go away, and I think I’m finally okay with it after doing this show and seeing them still proudly blinging for the world to see. They’re scars that show my battle with making it into adolescence, my battle with my first real broken heart, and my eternal battle with my first place I gain weight. If you look closely at my stage photos you can see the stripes nice and bold on my inner thighs. But I am what I am, and that’s a tiger so RAWRRR. img_2989

I was eating about 1600-2000 calories a day throughout prep (excluding peak week), and burning about 300-600 in the gym depending. I still ate soft serve ice cream with crumbled up cookies in it like it was going out of style. I still had wedge fries with gravy and delicious pasta in camp. I still had pizza and burgers and fries on days off. But I also learned to use moderation a little bit, and I was faithfully tracking my food, even when I knew it would be over my goal. I also spent a lot of time at the gym on days off because my schedule permitted it. A point I want to make about the good of competing is the friendships and camaraderie and support you gain. I have very few friends these days, and 3 of my 5 bestest best friends I met solely from this competition process. They will forever be a part of me, and not a day goes by that I’m not grateful for having found them through this sport. And a lot of my friends now -outside of the handful of suckers I’ve latched on to full swing- are because of my decision to compete. Either from sharing a coach, or being at the gym the same time and meeting through the grapevine, I have a lot of really awesome friends that I met and sweated with and still feel supported by and loved by. You end up cheering on the other athletes around you, and motivating each other or sharing tips and workouts and recipes, or enjoying your treat meals together because they understand exactly why it’s a treat. I love love love my fitness friends because they are genuine and hardworking and beautiful inside and out. Now the bad that can come from people you meet while competing is very limited if you don’t throw yourself into the shark tank. Some people are highly opinionated, extremely narrow-minded in their approach, unhealthy and honestly miserable so it can be hard to be around. You learn pretty quickly to stick with the good peeps and not worry about the ones who aren’t on your side as it were.

I’ll chat quickly about the dieting aspect because it is so important for weight loss. You cannot lose weight if you don’t have a deficit. Basics with how many calories your body needs is as followed for those who don’t know (sorry if you do know or don’t care, skip on through haha):

  1. Your body needs a certain number of calories just to function. If you multiply your weight by 16 it will give you a rough idea of what that “maintenance” number is. For example, if you weigh 140 lbs your body needs 2240 calories just to exist.
  2. One pound/lb is 3500 calories. Gained or lost, every 3500 calories is 1 lb. If you want to lose weight, you need to cut out 3500 calories, aka go below your maintenance number for a period of time. The normal goal is 1 lb a week, so you would cut out 500 calories a day (3500 cal/7 days a week= 500 less calories a day). If you wanted to lose 2 lbs a week and you could do so without going into starvation mode, cut out 1000 calories a day (7000 cal/7 days a week=1000 less daily). You can play around with it, but that’s the very very basic formula.
  3. You’re obviously going to burn more than that base maintenance number if you’re implementing a gym routine. So some people will add the number of calories burned from a workout to their daily goal, and ultimately be able to eat more food and still hit their target. I.E. 140 lb person wants to lose 1.5 lbs a week (3500 x 1.5= 5250 calories to cut a week, 5250/7=750 calories to cut a day). They have a daily goal of 1490 calories. Same 140 lb person does 30 mins sprints on the treadmill and is wearing a heart rate monitor, sees they’ve burned 250 calories in that time, they can add that on to their daily allowance and eat more and still be at their goal. So instead of eating 1490 which we’ll call 1500 for argument’s sake, they can eat 1750 and still be under their desired cut.
  4. If you want to have a detailed plan for how much you should eat and when and what kind of exercise to do and when, etc either hit up bodybuilding.com which is an amazing resource for everything you have questions about, ask around because I’m sure there are people who are willing to help with what they can, or hire a coach to get set up and get a plan tailored to your wants and needs. There are tons of online coaches, as well as coaches locally. Be sure to ask questions, and if something doesn’t sound right or feel right, DON’T DO IT. Your health should always come first to you, and honestly to your coach. Be wary of a coach who advises you to take T3’s (which I only ever thought was Tylenol until last year cause I’m naive AF) because it will help create an overactive thyroid and melt the fat off your body. What happens when you finish that show though and your thyroid decides to shut down? Or you’re not given instructions on how to reverse out of whatever cocktail you’ve been prescribed? The only person left to deal with it is YOU and if you had a hard enough time torching off fat the good old fashioned way with diet and exercise and a normally functioning body, I assure you you’ll have an even harder time torching the fat that pours back onto your body because there is nothing regulating it. ***I’m not a scientist, I’m not a doctor, I’m just basing my opinion on what I’ve heard has happened, and the research I’ve done after hearing about the poor clients who wound up miserable and uncomfortable and unhealthy to whatever degree. If I’m wrong on any points here my bad*** Basically in this long ass paragraph I’m just trying to say be careful and ask questions. Find a reputable coach. Spend the time and effort if you’re going to be spending the money. I was never asked to try any of the drugs out there that some athletes use, prob in part to my attitude problem, the fact that I wasn’t competing on a serious level and wasn’t planning on it in the future, and the fact that my body responds well to training and a balanced diet. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY AND YOUR BRAIN. Period.

This is getting long and I haven’t even gotten to the last bit of prepping or the show itself. Sorry folks. So as you can see, following a fairly structured program began to work wonders for me. I ordered my suit from Sherry’s Originals in PEI (she makes amazing suits btw) and that expensive little number was my motivation. It was GORGEOUS!

I began wearing it for my check in/progress photos closer to the competition date, starting in February with about 7 weeks to go before the show. It didn’t fit very well prior to then, hence why it was so motivating.

My posing SUCKED for the first mega hahaha, I had to enlist a friend of mine whose posing is UNREAL, like literally she works it like a pro. She helped me big time, but I was still awko taco and looked a bit silly on stage with competitors who had experience and also body awareness. It was a lot of fun practicing, but I still suck which is why my booty will never be popping in pics on insta. I just don’t have what it takes. Sigh.

I maintained the same calories and workout schedule until peak week. If you don’t know what that is, it’s HELL. Easiest explanation. It’s the final week pre-show to lean out, dehydrate and get shreddy as fawk. I still ate ice cream that week cause I’m terrible, but it worked wonders for leaning me out. I was in one of my best guy friend’s wedding at the start of peak week, so while everyone else was drinking and eating their delicious food, I heated up rice and chicken and brussel sprouts. It took me a year to touch brussel sprouts again. I felt fantastic body wise, I’d never been that leaned and defined, and I still had a bit of energy (because it was the beginning of the week). Fast forward to mid week and I was starting to get diet brain bad. End of the week I was useless. I decided to do a photoshoot so I have something to always look back on from my show. I loved doing the shoot, it took me out of my comfort zone, but I would love to do another shoot in the future. Here’s a slideshow of those shots. I actually LOVE them, BHH Studios in Halifax, check him out cause he’s honestly amazing. Also Mike Mousseau is hella talented and next on my list for a shoot (sorry sucka I want to do one, love ya LOL).

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I had such a great time at the show, I got all dolled up and strutted my stuff and just felt awesome all around. I had proper abs. ABS DAMN IT, you could see each one!!! More so the last few days leading to the peak week anyway. I got 3rd callouts (which means I was like 13/27 or 28 or whatever it was?) but I was ecstatic to even get that. I did the prep my way, didn’t starve or binge or hate my life, I listened to my body and adjusted what I was doing according to what felt right to me, and I loved it. By no means was I anywhere as lean as the competitors who had already done shows or put 110% into their training. But I was so good for me, and I didn’t rebound two weeks after the show and gain it all back. Until surgery last March actually I was pretty good still. Then it all went to shit again. I’ve also been eating 3000-4000 calories a day and been SO slack in my workouts aside from when I’m at work. If I’m away at work, I go to the gym every day, eat well every day because I need the energy to make it through the shift, and I walk like 8-12 km a day on site. Up until this month when I’ve been home I’ve been a sloth. Now I’m working with a new coach (coaches actually, super cute couple who actually have a realistic, HEALTHY approach, have tailored a plan to me personally instead of giving me a cookie cutter plan and ignoring my dislikes etc) and I’m excited to start the process again. I’m not doing another show, but I want to get back to my happy and healthy body, and maintain it as a lifestyle. I learned so much about myself through competing and I don’t regret it for a single minute. In fact, I had so much fun with the first show that I bought a suit to do the novice show. Decided after a long reflection that it wasn’t for me, but I still have that suit in its packaging. I’ll show you cause it’s beautiful and funky and colourful as hell ❤

 

I’ll prob finish this off here because it’s long as fuck, I’m STARVING and I have now written through my normal time when I call my grandparents on Sunday nights. I’ll have to do that tomorrow, I’m a bad granddaughter. When it comes down to it, competing was an amazing experience. I can see why people get such a rush from it and choose to do it competitively and religiously. It’s so amazing watching your body change and being able to create what you want your body to be. I’ve been working shoulders pretty consistently since the show (except for when I wasn’t going at all LOL) and since I was def over maintenance calories I gained a bit of muscle. I caught sight of straitions at the gym the other day and was pumped. Now I’m super stoked to lean out bit by bit again, and kind of carve away at the clay I’ve been moulding.

Final pieces of advise for anyone who wants to compete, or even just wants to begin a regimented weight loss journey;

  • Write down why you’re doing it. It’s easy to fall off the bandwagon so if you have a goal, write it down and review it. When you lose focus it will show you why you started. Also make sure you’re doing it for you and not for someone else. You won’t stay committed to something that you’re not into deep down.
  • Take progress pics and measurements. The scale isn’t always the be all to end all, it’s a great tool for measurement but if you find the weight staying the same and you’re still busting your ass, check your measurements and compare pics. You might be adding muscle. Plus it’s so cool to look back on how far you’ve come.
  • The slower you lose it, the better the chances it stays off. If you lose 20 lbs in a month, it might be because you were under eating, or cutting out foods that you’re likely going to miss and wind up binging on, sorry to say, and the chances of gaining it back when you’re sick of the extreme diet are high. Patience is everything. You didn’t gain weight overnight so you won’t lose it overnight. ***Not for everyone though, the more you have to lose, the faster it will come off at first. So if you’re 230lbs and lose 20 lbs the first month, maybe it’s cause you did stick to a 2500 calorie diet and it made a huge difference. That being said, the more you lose the harder it becomes to come off safely and in a healthy way. You won’t lose as fast when you weigh less because your body will require less for maintenance. Am I rambling from hunger at this point???***
  • Actually, off that point and most importantly, EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT. We all lose weight differently from different areas first, we all handle carbs and fats and proteins differently. Basically what works for one person isn’t guaranteed to work for another. I can’t do low carb or I gain weight. I also can’t do super high fats. But some people do amazingly cutting down carbs and bumping up fats. You kind of have to experiment to find exactly what is going to work for your body.
  • We all enjoy different things, so don’t do a workout just because you’re told you should if you HATE it. I hate the elliptical so you will never see me on it. I love sprinting so that’s my go to. If I’m on a plan that says otherwise, I talk to my coach because if I don’t enjoy what I’m training, I’m not going to stick with it. Find what works best for you and go for the gold. The most important thing is doing something at all, so make it something you enjoy. It’s hard to be motivated for a workout or diet plan you can’t stand.
  • Google form for exercises if you don’t know. Start light when trying new equipment or routines. Better to start light and get it right than to overload and hurt yourself.
  • Take rest days. Your body needs time to repair itself. Rest is good. Especially if you’re trying to grow muscle and eating a surplus. You can’t add muscle if you aren’t giving your body time to heal the tears and in turn create new fibres.
  • Have fun. Changing your lifestyle or deciding to compete should be exciting so be sure you’re enjoying it.

 

Ending with a slideshow of the show day and peak weak and then 8 months later. Goodnight fam, hope you had a wicked weekend and Monday isn’t too rough on you.

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The Seasons

I somehow stumbled across an article about “bullet journalling”, and anyone who knows me knows my obsession with/hoarding of journals. So instantly I was intrigued. I discovered so many AMAZING layouts and designs by people across the globe in their own versions of bujo’s. For anyone unfamiliar with it, it’s basically a journal typically done on dotted paper, used as a compilation of diary, to do list, daily log and doodles. But the beauty of it is you can do whatever your little heart desires with it and you won’t be doing it wrong. I was super inspired by all the gorgeous calligraphy and doodling I saw on so many talented pages, and then quickly lost interest because I don’t have the time or energy to consistently make my pages awe worthy. So I use mine in a super simplistic form, and so far I’ve actually written in it every day. The point I’m slowly getting to is that when I took out my bullet journal this evening to check off some of my “habit tracker”, I saw that I STILL hadn’t blogged. And I keep harping on about how I want to be more consistent with my writing, so I decided to sit down and try to finish one of the 2 unpublished blogs I have from December.

As I was going through it, (it’s only a measly 880 words, and I usually write 2500+ because I simply can’t shut up) I couldn’t really pick back up on the thread I’d begun. I realized there was no feature photo yet, so I decided to go through my FaceBook and see if I could find any pictures I’d taken that seemed suited to the post while I waited for inspiration to strike. As I was trolling through my uploads, I was reminded of so many good times and good people, as well as so many hard times and people I haven’t seen in ages and most likely won’t see again. I’m now in a super nostalgic mind frame and much more motivated to pour out my mental clutter on the topic of the past. The seasons of life as it were.

life-is-too-short-meme

It’s so crazy to think about how much changes in the run of a year, let alone two or three. I have very few close friends these days, and some I’ve known for 15 years and others for less than 2. Time doesn’t measure the quality of your relationships, I know we’ve all seen the meme and most likely it’s struck home with just about everyone who reads it. Just because you’ve known someone for all your life, doesn’t mean you’ve grown into adults who still harbour the same characteristics and attributes that can provide a meaningful friendship. Or a sustainable one. It’s not a bad thing by any means, we all grow up and grow apart from people we once thought we’d sit with in wheelchairs reminiscing on “the good old days”. People change quickly, people change slowly, but I promise they’re ever changing. If you’re lucky you can change and still be in a position to share a true friendship/relationship with those you want to have in your lives til the end. But you’re also lucky if you both wind up changing and your interests and hobbies don’t compliment your relationship any longer. You’re lucky because you learn something from every person you encounter. And just because that person may not spend a long period of time in your world, they still contributed to some fibre of your growth. You have good memories to cherish for a lifetime, and maybe you have hard lessons they forced you to learn. Regardless of which category it falls into, we need every experience to continue to push our growth and help us recognize who we are as we get older.

If you’ve ever lost a good amount of weight, you know you’re the last person to see it. Everyone else around you notices it before you do, and even more so with people who don’t see you often. They have more of a comparison to go on because they don’t see you daily to mark the progress. It’s like that with our personal growth as well. We don’t get to see ourselves blossoming into outgoing, determined, feisty creatures who can be a force to be reckoned with when we are in our zone. We don’t get to see our hard shells soften up and crack when we’ve met that special someone whose very being is a balm to our scarred, scabby hearts. We don’t get to witness firsthand the beauty of our evolution. But the people around us do. And through them we’re able to catch glimpses of how the world sees us, of the growth we’ve made over a period of time, of the characteristics we possess that make someone else’s day a little brighter. On the flip side, we also don’t get to see our destructive qualities, how our impulses and urges are self destructive or destructive to others, how hurtful we are when we’ve broken someone else without realizing it. We need the people around us to show us the good in us, as well as the bad. My little wave of memories from friends come and gone made me realize that I hold not one single grudge to anyone in my past.

I’ve had so many amazing people in my life in every kind of relationship. I’ve lost family members to death. Some of those losses I’m still recovering from and doubtfully will ever fully be okay with. But I still have lots of family members who I either talk to daily, like Mama and Quinn. Or every few weeks or months, like my grandparents and aunts and uncles, cousins. I have friends who I’ve lost over the years from death, from me being a shitty person, and from them being shitty people. And some I’ve lost just because we’ve grown up and grown apart. Or moved, or changed schools and just lost contact. Boyfriends as a general rule I’ve lost because they were bad news bears. I am in my longest proper relationship as of right now, and I haven’t been cheated on or abused so he’s already ahead of every other guy I’ve dated. I probably could have been a better girlfriend to some of the dudes who did cheat, but the past is the past and decisions are made that are irrevocable. I’ll never condone cheating so even if I was a mega cunt, have the decency to break up with me instead of sleeping with my friend. Insert eye roll. I still have a lot of love and respect for a few of my exes, and wish them nothing but the best. I have a few who I wouldn’t piss on if they were on fire haha – not holding grudges, just don’t like em as human beings. And I’m sure the same goes for them. People make mistakes, and usually learn from them. From every failed relationship either with friends or boyfriends, I’ve learned more of my shitty qualities and things I can work on to be a better person for the people to come. I’ve also learned my limits, the things I’m okay to compromise on, and the things that I just can’t deal with and won’t ever be able to. And I’ve learned some of my strengths and high points. Because every person who gets to see you as you are, introduces you to yourself over and over. Each person’s view is completely unique and so you get different opinions with each interaction. Even hearing things from strangers can be so liberating and informative.

When I looked back on some pictures from events and trips, and even just run of the mill daily hang outs, I feel nothing but love. It’s taken a long time and maybe the distance (literally 6600 km in some instances) helps with my standpoint, but I am actually grateful for every person who I was lucky to have in my life at some point. If they hurt me, it taught me lessons I’ll treasure til I’m old and grey. If I hurt them, I’m reminded not to repeat past mistakes when it’s in my control. If they loved me the best way they knew how, I’ll be reminded that not everyone’s love looks the same, but damn does it always feel good to have. And if I loved them the best way I knew how, I hope that they can still feel it even though it’s disappeared to a dull ray. If we had nothing but good times and just faded out of each other’s lives, I learned that nothing lasts forever and sometimes you just grow apart for no reason other than your season has passed. Even for the ones who broke my heart unashamedly and held no remorse, I hope that somewhere down their line they learn to give to someone else what they couldn’t give to me. And to anyone whose heart I’ve broken, I’ve learned to love someone else the ways I could never love before. Everyone has good qualities, and something extraordinarily beautiful about them. I know that every person I’ve shared a piece of my life with is showing someone else their beauty, and no doubt teaching them lessons as well. I’m hoping they’re good lessons, but we all need the hard ones in life too.

I’ve got a few good friends these days, and I think I’m extra appreciative of their qualities and the love and support and guidance they grant me because of every other friendship I’ve had. From the inseparable friendships to the casual coffee dates, I can look at the friends I’ve got now and know that they’re irreplaceable. Drake was wrong when he said “no new friends”, you can’t possibly spend life with all the same exact people and never grow apart from any of them. And you need new friends because as your hobbies change, or your goals, you need to have people around you to support you and challenge you and to love you through it all. If those friendships fade out sooner than you expect, it’s okay because they taught you things about yourself you’d never see from looking in the mirror. And you’ll have taught them things too. It’s okay to walk away from situations you don’t agree with, or respect, or even just don’t have any interest in. There is no rule that says you have to stay exactly where you are, as you are, with whom is there. You’re allowed to hang on to people as long as you can, and you’re allowed to let them go too. And it’s okay for people to let you go, it’s not always a bad thing or due to something you’ve done. You can’t always change the way things pan out, and there isn’t always just one more thing you should/would/could have done to make it work. As for the times that it is a direct correlation to something you did, chalk it up to a tough lesson learned and don’t make the same mistakes again unless you want the same outcome.  Life is messy and sporadic and impossible to predict. Treasure everyone you have while you have them, and if that’s a lifetime make the most of it. If that’s a year or two, make the most of it.

Life is far shorter than we think, and it will take until we’re old to see just how short it is or how quickly time passes by. I’ve come to realize that I wasn’t meant to have every person I wanted to keep forever, and not everyone who wanted to keep me forever was meant to either. People drift and don’t necessarily find their way back to where they started, and no one can say where they’re headed. But there are a few who I do expect to hold close until my days are over, no guarantee it will happen. I’m hopeful they’ll continue to teach me about who I am, and I can keep teaching them who they are, and we can keep making memories and loving each other from this lifetime into the next. And I can keep stumbling upon pictures and memorabilia from the relationships long gone and have moments of clarity and closure, and send them all good vibes and wish them well silently from afar.

bestie-toast-and-eggs

 

 

2017 Resolutions; Annual Evolution

I can’t believe how inconsistent I’ve been with this blog, considering how happy I am when I write, and how it’s been one of my primary goals for the last several months. How fitting that my first blog of 2017 is my resolutions, so far I haven’t been following them very well LOL.

I posted a pic a week or so ago of the cards I make for my resolutions. For the last few years, every New Years Eve I write out my little goals on coloured cards, and then hide them away to be reviewed the following year before I write out new ones. I’m a very visual person, so when I took them out after our trip to Halifax for NYE and saw that I had only completed 3/13 for 2016, I was super disappointed and can attribute some of my failure to the fact that I haven’t been looking at them to keep them fresh. It’s hard to be reminded of things that are kept tucked away. So I took a pic, posted it, and now have my cards out for display on my computer table as a reminder of what I’m working towards. I’m gonna start this off with a picture of the cards as posted on my social media, and then state each one and kind of go over them.

nye-resolutions

 

Why yes, that is a glass of Barefoot Refresh, thank you for noticing 😉 Wine helps me think. I’m actually drinking a glass right now as I write. I decided to keep the cards that I hadn’t accomplished, as well as creating 3 new ones. I wrote the year on each of them, so I currently have 8 carrying over from ’16 and 3 for ’17. Let’s start with the goals from 2016.

I accomplished 3; 

  • Explore more of the world, starting with Canada
  • Get my red seal finally
  • Be less controlling and more willing to compromise

I accomplished the first one, because I drove across Canada to move to beautiful BC this summer. I still need to go to Newfoundland and the territories, but I do feel as though I got to see a lot of what Canada has to offer on the week long trip. I would never want to do that drive again, so in the future I’ll either road trip up to the territories, or fly to the provinces I missed or would like to explore more of. To be honest, I could spend a lot of years just exploring BC because it’s so big and beautiful and has such a diverse landscape. Geoff’s mama got us a Canadian park pass for 2017 when it was out as a promotion for Canada’s 150th birfday, so we are going to try and get to as many parks as we can in the west. Overall, I’m okay with this goal and feel I met it.

lake-louise

Next goal was get my red seal finally. After 2 attempts and wayyy too many flashcards, I did just that. It’s so nice to be able to put “journeyman” on my resume. ‘Nuff said about this one.

The 3rd I feel I accomplished was to be less controlling and more willing to compromise. Considering I’m in my first “adult relationship” -which I will do a full blog on at some point, or maybe even a vlog since I’ve been toying with that idea since I got my GoPro last Christmas- I feel as though I have most definitely learned to be less controlling, because there are now two personalities in one living space in close quarters, and I see myself spending my life with him so I of course needed to learn how to love him properly, and to adjust to having someone else to take into consideration. We’re both alpha personalities so it’s been a learning curve for us. But there are way more pros than cons to what we have, and he’s worth every bit of change I need to make to continue to grow and strengthen our love. He also doesn’t expect me to change who I am for what we are. That makes it so much easier to be okay with him leaving the toilet seat up, or making sauces a little differently than I do, or being the primary driver because we only have one parking space and it’s technically his. He’s also really good about my OCD habits, and having to make the bed before we leave the house, arranging the placemats just so, etc haha. It’s give and take, and you can’t survive a one-sided relationship for any amount of time on either side of the coin.

 

Now I’ll talk about the 2 which I feel I kind of met, but could continue to work on;

  • Be more aware of spending and stop wasting money
  • Get dive license and explore the coast, and hopefully the Caribbean

I was much more aware of spending money because I spent 8 months unemployed, and in that time moved across the country, made a house my home, and went to school. I could have spent less on the home stuff, but I believe that even if your living space is temporary, it shouldn’t feel that way. I though we would be living her for 2 years, joke’s on me cause it was sold as of Tuesday 😐 but regardless I made this place feel like home and it was worth every penny. And it helped him sell the condo for a nice little profit which is a source of pride to me. There was actually a bidding war on it, and the condo sold within 24 hours of listing. I do need to go back on my “jar” budget ASAP, but that’s also why I’ve decided to carry this forward to 2017. I want to pay off all my debts and have a good chunk of change to put down on a house before Geoff and I buy a place, and in order to make it reality I need to stick to a plan.

I did get my dive license and did a tiny bit of diving in Nanaimo, but I would like to actually go out and explore all over the island’s coasts, and when we ever do get a trip down south we will be going diving with sharks. WE ARE GOING TO DIVE WITH SHARKS GOD DAMN IT. That was the whole motivation behind getting the course.

 

The goals I didn’t reach;

  • Make more time for art, get back to being creative
  • Find healthy stress management tricks
  • Eat less processed sugars (ice cream, cookies, cakes, pizza) and learn to enjoy them as treats
  • Learn to find BALANCE
  • Find 3 hobbies: one to make money, one to keep me in shape and one to be creative
  • Wear makeup more often and feel prettier with what I have, less focusing on what I’m lacking
  • Do another fitness comp, put 110% into it and stay consistent
  • Stop focusing on making and keeping everyone else happy, and start looking out for #1

I definitely didn’t make more time for art. I’m going to lump my journalling, blogging, possible vlogging into that category and aim to do a little painting and clay work as well. I’m naturally drawn to creative endeavours so I’m going to keep spending a little time on the various avenues that interest me. Geoff is also down to try throwing, and I used to LOVE pottery so I’m excited to do that at some point.

I still don’t feel like I’ve mastered healthy stress management, because I’m so inconsistent with the ideas my psychologist gave me. I don’t knit consistently. I don’t practice yoga. I don’t write out all my thoughts in a journal, despite having a bajillion to do so. I’m gonna keep working on that cause the last year was SO stressful, and we all know stress is bad news bears.

Fuck eating less processed sugars. I think I’m vetoing this stupid resolution cause I love that shit. I (occasionally these days) go to the gym so I can eat what I want and maintain a balance. I’m not into punishing myself over things I love that maybe I shouldn’t depending on who you talk to. I’m going to make a new one to just keep making healthy choices for 80% of the time, be consistent with logging my foods and be consistent with workouts. Notice a theme in this post? Consistency. I got a wicked journal from Mike & Kirsten for Christmas, and it’s now my bullet journal, and one of my words for 2017 is “Consistency”. Maybe I’ll post a pic at some point of my words for the year.

Learn to find BALANCE (yes I wrote it in caps on my card haha, these are typed up as I wrote them so don’t judge…at least I left the stars and hearts and smileys out of this). I think this is going to be a continual resolution or goal, because as we grow and change and evolve, our meaning of balance and terms will change and grow and evolve with us. I guess right now I need to balance my books 🙂 but for reals, I think balance plays a part in everything so I’m gonna keep at that as I have been and as it comes.

Find 3 hobbies… I don’t have a hobby to make money yet, but I do have a plan in my head and will find a way to make it reality. The hobby to keep me in shape, I think I intended to finally sign up for boxing when I wrote this? I’ve wanted to go into boxing since I was 16 and typical to Caoimhin form, just never bothered to actually do it. Pisces are dreamers, and one of our poor qualities is our lack of gumption to follow through with plans we have dreamed. But we do have dreams, and that’s got to count for something. The hobby to be creative I think was kind of blogging. But I’m a slacker. So we’ll aim to be better about it this year.

views-on-view-street

I am so lazy when it comes to my appearance 97.3523% of the time, so I didn’t wear makeup more often. I am going to try to do that this year, because who doesn’t feel better when they feel they’re putting their best foot forward? I got rid of majority of my closet for the move so I actually do wear what I have and mostly feel pretty in it. Going to aim to wear more dresses this summer, and to keep up my workout routine so I can feel confident in doing so. Strong is sexy right? I don’t always focus on what I’m lacking. I have good days and bad days just like everyone else. Most of the time I’m totally cool with who I am and where I am. I’ve overcome a lot of obstacles and poor choices, and I really do think I’m pretty solid all around because of these experiences. But I have a lot of days where I slip up and wish that I was a little smarter, or had chosen a different career when I have really bad days at work, or feel like I’m lacking in the looks department or whatever. This will also be a lifelong commitment because human nature is to see the good and the bad.

Also fuck my “do another comp” goal. I don’t think it’s healthy for me personally, I’m not willing to go to the extremes that are required for placing well and I can be hella competitive, and to be honest I used my one and only competition as a vessel to learn about my body and endurance and to find healthy alternatives for what I already do. I promise I will actually do a post about my experience competing and what my opinions are, and I’m not bashing anyone that does them because I actually admire the hell out of competitors. Some more than others, because despite the amount of people who do it unhealthily and harmfully to their bodies, a few of my role models do it in a happy and attainable and HEALTHY manner. Most don’t. Some do. Anyway, it’s just not for me at this time and point because it was expensive, time consuming, and I don’t wanna lol. I am grateful for my decision to do a competition in 2015 because it taught me so much about myself and my body, which was exactly what my intended purpose was. No regrets, just no desire to do it again now that I’ve thought back on it.

Last one I didn’t hit was to stop focusing on making and keeping everyone else happy, and to look out for number one. I am a people pleaser by nature when it comes to those close to me. In a perfect world, all the people I love would be so happy and healthy and successful and want for nothing ever, so I try to do what I can to make them happy. Sometimes it’s a peril to me and my own happiness. It ties into learning to compromise because sometimes I have to compromise what I instinctively want to do for the people I love in order to keep myself above water. It’s hard to train yourself to take care of you first and foremost, we’re conditioned to believe that self love and self preservation is in fact selfish. Quite the contrary. You’re better equipped to give love and help to those around you when you’ve loved and helped yourself first. How can you give someone fruit from an empty basket so to speak? You have to nurture your own happiness and contentment and peace with who you are deep down to your core, before you can fully accept and nurture and grow your love for someone else deep down to their core. I’m going to spend more time on things that make me happy this year, instead of putting it on the back burner to invest in someone else’s happiness as though mine should be an afterthought.

meme-january-2017

My NYE Resolutions for 2K17;

  • Spend more time blogging and writing, use copious amounts of journals consistently
  • Start saving for a house, figure out dream house checklist with Geoff
  • STAY GAINFULLY EMPLOYED!!!

I am going to spend more time blogging. I get so lonely in my new city, Geoff’s listening skills are lacking at times so it can be a little disheartening when I don’t feel heard, and my friends and support system aside from two friends I’ve made in Campbell River are so far away and on another time zone that I think my best chance of being able to offload and feel less isolated is to blog. And to write in my journals. And again, maybe start vlogging. I talk A LOT and having a minimal amount of human beings to talk to is hard. Geoff can only pay attention to so much of what I say because I DON’T SHUT UP so I think it might be healthy for both of us if I use these things in as my outlet. Basically I’m an open book and need to get all the tangled thoughts out of my head for my own sense of enlightenment and therapy. So whoever reads this or chooses to follow my social media are stuck being my inadvertent support system 😉 .

Starting to save for a house is a big one because Geoff and I don’t want to work away forever. We both want a space to call ours, and it will be so nice to have a permanent home. And I don’t want to have to depend on making 120k or more a year to keep a roof over our heads when we would only get to spend 25% of our time there, so the more we have to put down, the lower our mortgage and the easier it will be to work jobs we want from home. #adulting

Stay gainfully employed. I think I wrote this one because of last year being my worst year financially ever. It’s hard to stay gainfully employed in the trades because you never know how long you’ll actually be on a project, or with a company. But I would like to maintain regular employment so I’m paying down debts consistently and can get savings set aside for a house asap and be able to live the life we both want.

 

 

This is long, as with all of my posts. I hope whoever reads this can either empathize, or maybe take inspiration, or just kill time during a smoke break or commercial lol. I think it’s good to have goals, and some people hate the “new year, new me” mentality but I like the thought of always worker towards a better version of yourself and maximizing your potential and happiness. And even if you like every facet of your life and yourself, each year you change so it’s still technically a goal to remain the same I think. I can smell the beef vindaloo Geoff is making for dinner, it’s actually my favourite meal that he cooks aside from his roast. A man who really knows how to capture and keep my heart, through my stomach hahaha. I’m gonna go top up my wine, eat some delicious food, and enjoy the feeling of contentment and purpose I get from releasing all my thoughts into written word. Happy two thousand and seventeen to everyone, may it be your best year to date. And keep in mind that even the shittiest years serve their purpose, sometimes you need to hit bottom to rekindle the fire you need to get where you want to be.

 

 

P.S. (Mama and I have always agreed that odd years are better than even years, the worst years of my life have statistically been even so proof is in the pudding. Therefore, we are STOKED about the year to come)

Sit Still, Look Pretty – Prologue

 

*This was one of the 3 blogs I wrote in December and never got around to posting. I’m calling this “prologue” cause there’s a second part of the story, kind of a continuation from the drama and what’s transpired since my last shift before Christmas. I’ll have that one up tonight I hope*

4039-9356Remember back to your days at elementary school. Everyone’s favourite day was when PhysEd class was on. Playing dodgeball or soccer or skipping. Running around and burning off steam with your classmates. A time when we’re carefree and invincible. But it was always nerve-wracking waiting to be picked for a team. Dreading being the last one standing and being unwanted by either team. And when you’re actually the last one picked, it’s awful. Maybe it’s because you’re too slow and the game involves running. Maybe it’s because you’re too weak, and the game involves strength and endurance. Regardless of why you’re last to be called, it fucking sucks. That’s how I’ve felt the last few weeks of work.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again I’m sure; being a woman in trades is hard. Every new job is like being the new kid in school all over again, knowing you’ll be the last one picked for the game. No one to eat lunch with until the crew warms up and gets used to you. No one who knows you and your capabilities or experience who can vouch for you in the beginning. Surrounded by people but super lonely and isolated. Being new at any job feels like this actually, but being the new girl on site is a cross between being the last kid picked for soccer-baseball in grade 6 and having a bloody, gaping wound in a pool of piranhas. You know you’re instantly being sized up, and for the most part people will quickly scan over you, deem you decent and carry on about their days. Many will give you lingering looks because as soon as you’re on a work site, it’s clear no one has seen a woman in what must be decades and you’re obviously there looking for a mate. Some will openly glare and leave no room for doubt about the fact that you don’t belong in their eyes and they would rather be a player short than have you on the team. Once you’re aware of this, it’s pretty easy to just ignore the attention and keep your head up and eyes forward. You kind of wait it out and see who is going to be cool and build a work friendship, who is gonna hate you no matter what happens, and who could swing either way. Most of the time there are enough good peoples that you don’t really care about the few who are anti modern women. These become your lifeline and make work easier and more fun, and let you do the job you were trained for with no drama and no bullshit. If you’re fortunate enough, there are other women in trades and you band together, even if you don’t speak, out of mutual respect and empathy for the often frustrating integration into a new environment. It’s nice to see your “sisters” (as my wicked shipyard ladies put it) out in the battlefield with you, and to know you’re not the only female around. 9 times out of 10 it’s a pretty easy transition into the new job, you get used to your new crew and they you, and life goes on until the job ends or you take your leave. Today’s post is not about that preferable situation.

I was super stoked about the new gig because for the first time in years, I’m working with a bunch of other millwrights. No longer am I one of 2 or 3, and have to constantly answer questions about what my trade does. It’s wicked to be surrounded by so many other people who have the same ticket as I do, who have lots of experience for me to draw from and learn from, and to have a real crew. My foreman was awesome right off the bat, my GF was solid, and most of the crew who I briefly met were decent. So day one, as always, starts with the guys I was paired with making typical comments/jokes about being a woman. Quick list of literally the same shit I hear every job I go to, and any of my fellow women in trades reading this will guaranteed hear the same things too:

  • “Those don’t look like millwright nails”; please insert welder/pipefitter/electrician/crane operator/rigger/iron worker/literally any job that guys do which apparently come with a prerequisite for shitty nails. I guess all our hands are supposed to look the same? And god forbid I take care of my hands and wear gloves at work. And I actually wasn’t aware that each job had a standard appearance that I’ve personally defiled. Oops.
  • Any comment about needing a purse instead of a tool bag. Come off it lol, we can call them “murses” if that makes you feel any better. Also not super creative, yet every dude thinks he’s hilarious when making this same old, tired ass comment.
  • “You don’t look like a millwright.” Again, insert any and all trades or male dominated career choices. I’m still missing the memo on what we’re supposed to look like in general…
  • “Why did you decide to go into a trade?” The first question I ask guys I’m working with isn’t why they decided to take industrial mechanic instead of something else, but everyone is always curious about why I did.
  • “They make steel toes that small?” As if women are doll sized and therefore our PPE are novelty items.
  • “Let me get that, you’re not strong enough.” I could rant about this alone for mega but I’ll leave it alone for now. Cause I’m weak.
  • “Have you done any of this before?” Nah dude, I actually quit my job as a research analyst for the New York Times yesterday and thought this would be a fun change of pace for a day. Derp. Granted, things are different at every job, and also our trade is so broad that chances of doing everything we learn in school are zero to none, it gets a bit old when I’ve already stated that I have 2 years experience doing this exact task. If I haven’t done something I say so. So if I haven’t said so, where does that leave us?

There are a ton that I’m missing I’m sure, but these are the standard questions and comments I get everywhere. And it’s super super super fucking annoying to be treated like a first year apprentice when I have 6+ years in my trade, as well as my red seal and it’s known. I get that a lot too. It’s assumed that I have no idea what I’m doing, my opinions don’t count for shit, and I know nothing about anything. I can handle it to a certain degree, but seriously all the prejudice gets really old. And I’m quite sure that even the 1st year apprentices of the male persuasion don’t get half the ridiculous questioning and coddling women do. It’s frustrating because even though women in trades isn’t a new phenomenon, it’s still treated as though we just started getting into the industry. I’ve spoken to so many ladies over the years who suffer the same treatment and uphill battle of proving their relevance and capability in the blue collar working world. We build up thick skins, learn to give as good as we take, ignore the hard days and are thankful for the good ones.

This last shift was one of the hardest ones I can remember in over 10 years of working in male dominated jobs. I’m usually good about the stupid comments. You honestly do get use to them and can laugh them off because the guys who make them sound like idiots, not us. I can usually be less than concerned if someone doesn’t want to work with me based on my gender. I don’t want to be around anyone who doesn’t want to be around me and I don’t lose sleep over it. But out of the 5 different crews I worked with in my 2 shifts, I had one group who didn’t make any comments out of turn. Who literally couldn’t have cared less that I’m a woman, and who didn’t have preconceived notions about my abilities. That’s not to say that all the guys I worked with were sexist. It’s just not commonplace for them to work with women I guess (even though there’s actually another woman on my crew, and from what I understand she was a foreman on their last gig so they’ve worked under her), and I really don’t mind most of the jokes. But I found out that two of the other shift’s foremen have a huge issue with women in trades, and have been going behind my back to try and make me look like a useless twat. I don’t take kindly to being set up for failure and I have no patience for fake people. It really bothered me that there are men who get to dictate my daily tasks putting me with guys who have been known to dislike working with women. My direct foreman has even less patience for that kind of shit than I do, so he’s been one of my saving graces. There was one individual in particular that I kept getting stuck with, who made stupid comments more than necessary. He also made super inappropriate comments, and for anyone who knows me, I’m really hard to offend so you can imagine just what kind of stuff he was spouting out. I talked to my GF and won’t be working with that gentleman any more thankfully, but it’s still so insane to me that there are guys out there who don’t think women can or should do the same job as them. When I’m not allowed to carry tools (they’re too heavy obviously), or have any of my opinions taken into consideration for the job we’re doing (even though it’s a job I’ve done countless times and we wind up having to do what I suggest after several failed attempts their way), or when I pretty much spend my 10 hour shift frozen because I’m a glorified lawn ornament, I get fed up. This is why I like the supervision who actually notice who works well and with whom. Makes such a difference when you like and are liked by the people you spend 70 hours a week with, and when you can enjoy whatever job you’re doing and actually get to work.

So I was super drained from the first shift being stuck with the douchebag, and trying to fit into a new job and new site and new crew. Geoff and I want to buy property and build a house in the next couple years, and I was just laid off for 8 months so I really do need this job. It’s slim pickings for employment right now and I figured I could handle the shifts if I kept reminding myself that it’s only temporary. It’s working towards the greater good. I went back for shift number two, Geoff started up there as well so things were looking up. Same stupid comments from different people on round two. But even the guys I don’t mind working with who seemingly don’t mind working with me  say some questionable things so by day 10 I’m getting antsy to go home. I shouldn’t be referred to as “helper” when I’ve got the same ticket and same job assignment. I shouldn’t even have to participate in a conversation about “how are you going to learn anything if no one lets you get your hands on the tools” when I’ve told you several times that I just left a job doing literally everything we do on this site, but by myself because I worked alone so it’s not a matter of learning anything. I just want to do my job, which coincidentally is the same damned job as the other 40 millwrights with our company. I just really don’t think I should have to constantly defend myself based on the fact that I’m not a man. I don’t like having to feel ashamed of choosing the career I did, because it’s so much harder when you’re the wrong gender. It’s exhausting maintaining a wall to keep from freaking out or breaking down, having to work twice as hard to prove I’m qualified for my position. And then knowing that any little mistake I make is magnified because “that’s why we don’t hire women.” We’re not held to the same standard as men, and it shouldn’t be this hard to just do my job. It shouldn’t be a constant battle to do my job. When I texted Mama to vent about it all, I actually cried partway through writing. I’m just so tired. Her response was that she’s sad and angry for me, and she asked why do I have to fight just to do my job. Valid question.

So after that shitty day, I was in the smoke pit the following afternoon. There’s a cranky old twat on the other shift who literally complains and whines about any and everything. He is miserable and no one likes to be around him because he’s actually horrid. So of course he comes over to chat as always (it’s always a rant about something, or the rare times he seems to be happy enough and talks about boring golf). That particular chat was about how women should know their place. Basically he spent 10 mins dictating to me what a woman’s role and job is, and that cooking/cleaning/dishes/changing the tv channel/making coffee without being told/mowing the lawn/shovelling the snow is pretty much what we’re here for. He dead serious thinks that the only reason you get married is to have someone to cook and clean for you. He asked if I was learning anything, and I said that I have never been more grateful for Geoff in my life. I said I don’t mind cooking or cleaning or any of the rest of it, but it sure as fuck isn’t my job. That’s when he told me I was wrong. That I’m just an apprentice and that women like me are basically what’s wrong with the world. That we went and ruined a good thing and women don’t know their place any more. I was so stunned. The fact that it’s 2016, almost 2017 and this mentality exists baffles me. One of the guys who was outside listening to Donald Trump Jr’s rant actually had to walk away. He doesn’t like him to begin with, and he couldn’t believe the things coming out of his mouth. When I told Geoff what happened he wanted to go find buddy. Buddy kept referring to his sister-in-law as “the stupid bitch” who ruined his life by teaching his wife that she doesn’t need to cater to his every whim. Hates her for her feminism and was rattled that she convinced his wife not to get up and change the tv channel for him or have coffee ready and waiting without being asked. And he has a daughter. That’s the scary part to me. Some poor girl was raised to believe that her only purpose is to find a man and to jump at his every command. Fuck love, fuck happiness, you just find a man who’s stuck in the 1950’s and be the perfect wife. When I found out later that day they’re considering him as the new foreman I broke. If I have to take my orders from a man who honestly believes my only purpose is a dishwasher, my days would be even more miserable than they have been. When my foreman asked me about it and I told him that I shouldn’t have to spend my smoke break listening to some old greaser tell me what I’m doing is wrong, and trying to preach to me that women aren’t equals, the higher ups literally just took Donald Trump Jr aside and “spoke to him.” And their next action is to “speak to all the millwrights about inappropriate comments towards the females in our workplace.” My union rep asked if I wanted to lodge a formal complaint since buddy is still in the running for foreman, and clearly that little “talk” did nothing seeing as he spent his next break losing his shit about it in the lunchroom.

I’m kind of torn. Part of me is like “Yep, let’s do this because he’s just going to keep at it and it will only get worse” and the other part of me wishes I hadn’t even said a word because nothing is going to change. I just shouldn’t have to spend my work hours worrying about if the foremen who don’t like women are going to win and find a way to get rid of me, and then spend my breaks listening to a coworker belittle me and embarrass me with his misogynistic remarks. I know people can’t help how they feel and we’re all entitled to our opinions. But I shouldn’t have to listen to shit like that, and to be honest people should know better than to speak shit like that out loud in this day and age. Save that for outside of work when you’re with other pricks who agree. I was raised by a human rights lawyer, so I don’t tolerate racism, bigotry or sexism. I don’t like bullies, and that’s just another form of it in my opinion. I don’t think I will make a formal complaint because that’s basically putting the nails in my own coffin. Pathetic that we have to worry about backlash when it’s a matter of sticking up for ourselves in situations that shouldn’t even exist. I hear the other girl has been dealing with his shit for a long while now though, so the fiery part of me wants to see it through for her sake as much as mine. I spoke with my best friend Brit who is also a woman in trades. She’s a welder (and hawt af might I add) and she’s dealt with all the same typical comments in her time at shops. We kind of came to the conclusion that we can laugh it off when it’s guys we feel comfortable with, meaning those who don’t seem to have any malicious intent with their narrow minded commentary. It’s still not really acceptable but it’s ingrained in a lot of people’s mentalities and so long as they don’t mean to be hurtful it’s not worth the hassle of correcting or arguing opinions. But she’s dealt with some awful guys over the years, and it’s things that wouldn’t happen to men (ie asking if she wants to see their genitalia…seriously.) Gloves are on, backbone is strong again and most importantly I will not spend any more time feeling stupid for choosing the education I did because there are pathetic men who are intimidated by me making the same pay and doing the same job. I shouldn’t have to second guess myself and my choices solely because of a few men with small minds and huge insecurities.

I’m exhausted from writing this all out, time for snuggles with my amazing boyfriend. Who cooks as much as I do, shares the household chores without a second thought, who is proud of me as I am and wipes the tears away when the burdens get too heavy. Who is instinctively ready to fight my battles with me, and only wants to see me happy however that may come. All the Donald’s of the world make the Geoffs shine that much brighter.

Sell Yourself

There is nothing more daunting than applying for work. Honestly I can think of a million things I would rather do that leave me with the same feelings of inadequacy and defeat than sending out my resume in hopes that someone will want to pronounce my name, give me a call and more importantly give me a chance. I’ve been laid off for far too long, sent out innumerable applications and resumes, and heard nothing. Not a peep. Not even so much as a “thanks for trying but no dice.”

I hate trying to sell myself. I was actually going to write that I hate talking about myself (which I do for the most part) but seeing as this is a blog entirely about me and my experiences and opinions and such, that sounds like a fib. I’m not good at listing my good qualities or why I would be a good fit in a role because self deprecation comes more naturally than self praise. I do know some of my strengths, but I also am painfully aware of all my weaknesses so it’s difficult for me to state the qualities that make me a good candidate instead of apologizing for the things I’m lacking. If I was asked to make a cover letter for any of my best friends, I could gush about them for pages and run out of space before I ran out of words. In fact, when I was fresh out of high school I wrote my best friend’s entrance essay for university because she has the same trouble I do with being objective about her strengths and why she should be accepted. I’m a decent writer so the essay was pretty solid, and I got to sit and write from my perspective about how her raw talent was on par with some well trained and experienced students/alumni so just imagine what could come of harnessing and perfecting and expanding on those natural inclinations. How she has the ability to work in any medium and produce beautiful work, how she has a passion for her decided career path and would be an asset to their institution based on her talent, drive and ambition alone. She got into that school, her portfolio was amazing and no one who looked at it could argue otherwise. For a little while I helped her with her writing for courses but eventually she got confident with her writing skills and didn’t need my help any longer.

Unfortunately I can’t sit down and write about myself in the same way. I know cover letters are important and most recruiters will discard an application regardless of credentials if a cover letter is lacking particular key words or content. I know these things. But I can’t write a decent cover letter for myself to save my soul. I know that I’m mechanically inclined. I’m a really fast learner and I do well with theoretical knowledge as well as practical applications. I’m interested in my trade (most of the time) and want to learn as much as I can about it, but it’s a very broad trade so there will never be any way possible to get good at all the areas it qualifies me to work in. Actually, millwrights are referred to as “jack of all trades, master of none” because we literally are expected to know pieces of all the other trades but don’t have any real focus on one over the others. That’s not to say that some millwrights aren’t specialists. If we’re lucky enough to get a position that allows us to master a main area like turbines or pumps or rotating equipment, then we can use that as our guide to the lines of work we want to apply to and would be a frontrunner as an applicant. But for most of us, jobs are unreliable and you take what you can get when you can get it. Could be a shutdown for a canola oil company which is focusing on annual maintenance of all their main machinery which gives a quick overview of a bunch of parts and pieces. That lasts 2 weeks so afterwards you never set foot in another plant like it unless you decide that maintenance in that setting is what you really enjoy and want to dedicate years of your life to. Could be working at the shitty Shipyards doing ship repair on ferries and tankers and other ships coming through and routine maintenance on the old frigates, which I can assure you doesn’t give you any real sense of confidence in any area of your trade because it’s always changing. I got really really good at crawling into tight spaces, changing out engine mounts, packing valves, and beyond that I honestly got to work on bits and pieces randomly but I wasn’t the go to for anything. We had one guy who was the best at SONAR so every time it came up on the job specs he was the one they’d put on. We’d get to help him as apprentices but it was an unspoken rule that he was the guy who did the job.

So I guess the lack of confidence comes from never having had a job that taught me how to be really good at some aspect of our trade. I went to school for diesel engine repair. I love engines. I love taking them apart and know what goes where and how to check for signs of wear and when they need to be replaced. Unfortunately I didn’t land my dream job in an engine shop or working for a company dealing solely in engines out of college. My first post college job was in truck and transport at one of the local waste management companies. I got hired on because they needed a grease bitch basically, and my boss wasn’t a fan of women in trades but it looked good on paper having a girl in the shop. So I went out and got my Class 3 endorsement right away, was promised to be indentured as an apprentice and that my road test would be scheduled by them before the permit expired. Needless to say, buddy was a massive prick and had no problem with me driving the trucks in our yard but had no intention of actually booking my road test or helping me set it up at all. I spent 3 months greasing garbage trucks. Before you roll your eyes and say “everyone starts at the bottom, you have to work your way up, stop whining” I am NOT complaining about that on its own. I have no disillusions about what needs to be done maintenance wise on trucks and anyone who knows me knows I have no problem getting greasy/dirty/oily etc. But when you spent a small fortune going to college and worked your ass off to graduate with honours all while working 2 jobs in a town you’ve basically been in solitary confinement in for the sake of a better future in a career you find interesting and potentially rewarding, it fucking SUCKS to be let down at your first attempt in the real world because some disgruntled old twat doesn’t think women should work in trades and wants to teach one a lesson. I changed one hydraulic fitting and one shock in my several months there. And that was only because one of the guys took pity on me after an especially brutal week of greasing compost trucks in 40 degree weather with maggots falling into my face and hair and not being able to rid myself of the ever present stench of rotting food. I was paid minimum wage, while the apprentice who actually got registered (yes he was a guy, how did you know?) and got work lists for proper repairs and maintenance beyond greasing was being paid 5$ an hour more. He started a week before me. When I continued to ask about when I would be a registered apprentice and when I would be doing my air brakes practical, I was brushed off with a myriad of excuses. I finally got so sick of feeling like less than nothing at a job I clearly wasn’t welcome on and I threw in the towel. When I took my resignation to the smug little shit, stating it wasn’t the job I had been hired for and that I couldn’t see myself greasing trucks for the rest of my days, he laughed and told me “That’s why we don’t hire women. You don’t understand that it’s a dirty job and you want to work in a man’s world without actually pulling your weight.” Funny, because I was tasked with doing the job that none of the men wanted. And they happily lumped it on my plate because I was eager to impress and prove that I would do the grunt work and do it well, and eventually be accepted into the boys club and actually be allowed to learn how to do the job I was hired on for. I left with as much grace as I could muster, cried the whole car ride home because it sucks being instantly judged and dismissed on the basis of gender.

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I didn’t stand a chance at that job, but I’m glad for it now. It helped me develop a nice thick skin, and showed me that it doesn’t matter what you do if someone doesn’t want you. You can’t change people’s minds when they’re determined to dislike you, and no amount of hard work will change someone’s opinion of you if they don’t choose to see it. I had applied at several places after graduating, and most of them would call when they received my resume but as soon as they heard my voice they would politely make excuses. “Ah, yes Miss Ross we did state in our return email that you were a great candidate and that we wished to speak to you about prospective employment but unfortunately circumstances have changed and we regret to inform you that we’re pursuing other candidates.” Really? Cause your email yesterday said that I was an extremely strong candidate, you were very interested in speaking with me about a position available as early as next week should the preemployment tests pass. And funnily enough as soon as you hear my voice in an octave you didn’t expect, you fumble through hasty excuses and “wish me luck with the job search but you’re not what we’re looking for.” I even had one place tell me that a woman in the workplace would serve as more of a distraction and it wasn’t in their best interest to bring me in regardless of my enthusiasm and references. Being a woman working in a man’s world sucks sometimes.

But I applied at the Halifax Shipyards, was called in for an interview and hired on as the first female engine fitter they’d had since WW2. It was an amazing feeling to be brought on because of my qualifications, experience and gender. They were huge on “work place diversity”, and for whatever other faults they may have in my opinion, they took a chance on me when no one else was willing. That job didn’t wind up having anything to do with engines, I haven’t worked on an engine since my OJT and I missed an amazing opportunity to work with a wicked engine rep last year, foolishly thinking the oil prices would rise and I would be gainfully employed for a while to come. I spent 4 years at the yard, made friends I will keep for life, and still stay in touch with some of those coworkers because they’re spectacular human beings and cheer for me from a distance as much as I cheer for them. My old supervisor is actually one of my main references, Larry you’re good shit and I miss you and your passouts 😉

Now I’m back to feeling like that annoyingly self conscious little girl fresh out of college. Trying to assure potential employers that I may not have a ton of experience in one particular area, but I’ve got experience with a bunch of different job scopes and I’m a fast learner and determined, ambitious and charismatic so I feel I can adapt well into any working environment. I’ve actually debated getting my best friend Brit to write up a cover letter for me because I honestly can’t think of anything to sell myself with at this point. Everyone wants red seals with years of post apprenticeship experience. And it makes me laugh because even if I had gotten my red seal 6 years ago, most likely I’ve never worked on their equipment and it would be a learning curve for any new employee past the rudimentary basics of any job and most new employees would be adapting to the new work and learning new things. I’ve got very few contacts in the oil field, but I genuinely love working away. I love the lifestyle, the family you make in a situation that most people don’t like or wouldn’t want to do. You miss birthdays and holidays and day to day activities with people you love because you want to fast track your future and provide a life to those you care for that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. I love the long days and interesting work, helping other trades when we have nothing to do ourselves. I love learning about new systems and how things work, and that general feeling of accomplishment when you sign off a completion with the client. I love that I appreciate what I miss at home so much more, sleeping in my own bed is a treat after 2 weeks in camp. I love the freedom that comes with putting in 2 weeks of work and being rewarded with one whole week to myself. I just like being a FIFO worker, regardless of how hard it can be in some ways. I’ve been trying to get on with companies who have work in the oil field because I like working in the oil field. I know that when my EI runs out, if I haven’t gotten a job I’ll have to apply at a mill (which honestly makes my heart hurt a little because it’s not interesting to me and I don’t want to waste any of my life just floating by on a job that isn’t for me. I don’t want to waste an opportunity for someone else who is actually interested in the work and would be happy to show up every day.) I wasted the last year at the shipyard being so sad and disinterested and unhappy to go to work every day. It was unfulfilling and I knew it was time to leave because I couldn’t bring myself to give any of my personality or enthusiasm to the job anymore. I don’t put effort in to things I don’t care about, one of my many character flaws, but I just can’t bullshit anything in life. If I don’t feel it, I can’t fake it. I would much rather spend my time happy and engaged which reflects in my work, instead of being seen as mediocre because I can’t be bothered to care. It’s so much easier to take the sneers and rude remarks and judgements of people who don’t think you belong when you are passionate and enjoy your work. It’s harder to ignore the hate when you aren’t really into it yourself.

I’m hoping that some of my experience and credentials will land me another gig in the oil field sooner than later. I want to bring what I know to a job, learn new things, be challenged and feel pride in my job and in my workplace. Industrial mechanics have such a diverse training range, our blocks consist of bits and pieces of everything and we all try to latch on to the areas that interest us the most. That’s the beauty of our trade isn’t it? That’s the most appealing part of it in my mind; the fact that it’s so multifaceted that if I ever get bored of one area I can seamlessly transition into the next because we are jacks of all and masters of none. It’s expected that we have an eclectic pool of experience to draw from. I’m remaining optimistic that someone will give me a shot in the field I want and know I’d be good in before my EI runs out (which is perilously soon actually) and if not, I’ll suck it up and apply for a job that I don’t want and likely won’t excel in because of the lack of interest on my behalf, and keep sending out resumes with “Kevin” in brackets to prod recruiters to give me a call and give me a job PUH LEEZE. Keep your fingers and toes crossed for me 🙂 In the meantime, I’m gonna keep sending applications and emails and try to come up with a good cover letter and sell myself. If anyone has any tips for this, or the best things to present when looking for a job in trades out west holla at your girl cause I need all the help I can get lol.

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Take Thumper’s Advice

If ya don’t got nothin nice to say, don’t say nothin at all.

Disclaimer: this post will be highly inappropriate to readers who find profanity offensive, I’d encourage anyone who doesn’t like that kind of language to give this one a pass. I didn’t even think to make this disclaimer until my boyfriends Mama texted about reading “Cleanliness Is Next To Godliness” and I instantly went into a panic induced cold sweat thinking about her being appalled at everything below. I don’t like to swear around his family because they’re wholesome and respectable and just all around amazing people and it seems grossly wrong to be crass around them. And my grandparents. Oh god they would make me wash my mouth out with soap after this one. Please don’t read this if you don’t like curse words or inappropriate commentary. My bad*

 

I’m one of those annoying types who’s conditioned myself into the “get the world before it gets you” mentality. It works wicked for things like going after the job you really want, taking risks in the different aspects of life, maybe trying something that terrifies the living shit out of you i.e. sky diving, horseback riding, lawn bowling, etc. But it is BRUTAL for self worth.

That nasty little double edged sword cuts deep when it comes to how you view yourself. By this I mean, making sure you find your flaws and weaknesses before someone else can draw attention to them and use them against you. I’ve always been self deprecating, and while it can be charming in some instances, it can be extremely pathetic in others. I’ve met people who have said “you are so hard on yourself, give it a break because this is sad” and those are the moments where I realize how unconsciously I tear myself apart to others. And the root of this is my grade 6 graduation from elementary school.

I was 11 years old, so excited to walk across the gymnasium floor wearing the Club Monaco kids dress that I begged Mama for, when my best guy friend (who actually to this day is still one of my fav human beings, and is such an all around solid dude <3) looked at me and asked, “Why is your bum sticking out so far?”. I was mortified! Literally didn’t understand that I had the beginnings of the Ross Booty, and I just wanted to curl up and cry.

I’m mostly kidding about that being the start of my long war against my body image, but it’s one of those things that I’ve always remembered cause it was the first time a boy said something to me that made me self conscious. Now I can’t be arsed (pun intended) to care about how much my bum sticks out of anything cause that puppy has a mind of its own. And most days I like my shape so I’ve grown to own it.

Basically this is a recap of some of the shit dudes have said over the years that made me feel bad about myself, and has kind of stoked the fire on making sure I know EVERYTHING that is less than attractive, desirable, pretty, whatever other adjectives you wanna insert that just basically make you feel like a gremlin inside and out. Pfft. Body dysmorphia is a real problem for majority of people out there, and I’ll do a different post on it cause it deserves serious attention and most of this post is making me giggle. This is just a nice photo that perfectly embodies my facial expression when I remind myself of the douchiest comments I’ve gotten.

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Maybe they were onto something though hahaha…

  • You’re gonna look way better when your teeth are finally fixed“. Well. Usually that’s the desired result when a child’s parent spends 6000$ on braces, or when they don’t wear their retainers and have to pony up another 5300$ for round two of braces themselves. Cunt. I had a MAJOR underbite when I was a kid, I’m talking full on bulldog. I got braces in grade 8 and wore them for 3 years, 3 weeks and 2 days. Second time was 13 months.  My teeth were perfect after each set so I guess he was right. But still, cunt.
  • It’s funny how most girls with big bums don’t have boobs. At least you’ve got one out of two.” HAHAHA oh my good lord, I literally got this up until February of this year. I still don’t have big boobs but I’m balanced and proportionate now so I’m happy. And no, all the douches who made this comment (there have been SO many in several different contexts and phrases) did not actually have any bearing on that. I have known since the booty was popping out of my grey Club Monaco dress that I had “speedbumps/mosquito bites/itty bitties etc”. My lower half didn’t match my upper half. I’m slightly retarded, not blind. But nonetheless, they vocalized my number one physical unhappiness. Thanks boys, you know how to make a girl feel good 😉
  • Does it bother you that all your friends are prettier than you?” LOL nope, well aware dude but thank you for the vote of confidence. I’m a realist so I know what I bring to the table, in good and bad equally, and it has never bothered me that my friends are 9’s and 10’s or over and I can scrape by with like a solid 7 when I put my makeup collection to use and actually brush my hair. I’m cool with it. Nothing but love for all my beautiful friends, and this comment actually came from a guy who suffered a rough fight with puberty *cough*acne scars*cough* which I never commented on, cause he was still attractive to me and the scars made him more so. I like flaws. But he also used to shave his balls over the toilet WITH THE COVER UP AND THE SEAT DOWN for christ sakes and never cleaned them up. After a couple months of staying there I got super sick of either having to clean the toilet while desperately having to pee or having sat down unknowingly and cursing him and his wiry gift to my thighs. So I may be the ugly duckling of the crews I flock with, but at least I have good manners and was smart enough to pack that one up. Bullet dodged with my less than stellar looks 0:)
  • You’re a pretty girl until you open your mouth.” Numerous guys have told me this over the years. Including my favourite teacher in high school. Mr Kuchler yelled this at me in front of the class because I swore too much… I still do. Most dudes mean it because I say what’s on my mind and I’m blunt. And I also don’t take shit so when you’re acting like a knob I’ll go right ahead and tell you. Or if I think you’re being a bag licker, I’ll ask if you tickle as you bob. Precious I know, and they’re correct. I’m vulgar and gutteral and probably better off with my mouth shut. Ain’t happenin though suckas.
  • You would be so pretty if you didn’t get fat, get back to the size you were before and you could be a model.” So after high school I had an awful heart break, got fat, and it wasn’t until I actually got happy again years later that the weight melted off. I’d tried Atkins and started running, went to the gym and watched what I ate. I was about 30 lbs heavier than I am right now which is a lot on my frame, and about 45 lbs heavier than I was in high school which is what buddy was referencing. Went for a coffee with a guy I had “talked to” in high school and actually had it pretty bad for back then, and this is what he came up with. It was SO rude and uncalled for, and really threw me for a loop. He meant it in a nice way I guess? Either way I felt like shit and to this day still feel uncomfortable about how I looked.
  • Smokers are so unattractive, you should quit. You’d have an easier time finding someone to date if you didn’t stink all the time.” Hahahahahaha fuck off.
  • Why do you dye your hair weird colours? Aren’t you worried you’re scaring guys off? I wouldn’t want to date a woman with purple/blue/green hair.” Well seeing as I give a flying fuck about if a guy likes me with brown hair vs blue vs green vs fucking bald if I wanna be, I’ll go straight home and google “What colour hair will land me a superficial douchebag ASAP”. If my guy doesn’t like me looking like Marge Simpson from time to time, he’s barking up the wrong tree. I get bored hella easily and I thrive on change, so if he’s that cuntish and judgemental, chances are I’m gonna get bored of him faster than my current ‘do.

 

That’s a couple of the big ones off the top of my head. I laugh at all of them cause it’s actually funny. I have gotten over each slight and backhanded compliment, and have grown into someone who is super confident with who I am. I’m not always confident with how I look, but that doesn’t come from how someone else views me. I’m good with who I am, and actually proud of myself for the most part. And most of all I’m so grateful I don’t have to deal with these whiners anymore 🙂 By being myself and rocking my flaws and strengths all in one, I found a guy who loves me for me and thinks I look great however I am. And yes, he’s an ass man 😉

Cleanliness Is Next To Godliness

This is something that has stuck with me since grade 5 at J.W. McLeod Elementary School. And not just because I’m an obsessive compulsive neat freak. Mostly because I argued that “cleanliness” wasn’t a word so why was the teacher making up such a ridiculous sentence?! I went home and complained to Mama about it, and low and behold it actually was a word. I was irritated about being wrong (although I begrudgingly admitted it), and about such a stupid word being correct. But now I’ve evolved into the creature I am today, and also make up my own words on a regular basis (shittily is a perfectly acceptable adverb in my mind – I think it would count as an adverb anyway lol – and I use it frequently, I encourage you to do the same) so I’ve grown to accept it for what it is. And every time I think about cleaning and organizing at all that intoxicating fun that comes along with those things, I sing that little quote in my head. Cause I’m crazy. For cleanliness. HA!

As promised, this post is going to be a happy one. The last post left me feeling a little wrung out and emotionally drained, so I wanted to go to bed with a happier mind frame. Geoff isn’t home until Sunday night so I don’t have someone to snuggle the residual sadness out me at the moment. I’ve got wine and my Kindle and Despicable me for now. I love Pixar. Never fails to make me happy, I watch the Despicable Me’s and Minions at least once a week. Another one of the many things that makes me happy is organization and decorating my space. I know I’m not alone in the need to have everything in its place, and orderly and aesthetically appealing, so I’m gonna hold faith that at least someone out there will be as happy with what I’ve done with my new space as I am.

Mama was into interior design somewhere between her many degrees in many universities, and as expected some of her finesse has rubbed off on her sprogs. Fun fact: our license plate from Calgary was actually a personalized one that read SPROG. I didn’t understand it for years, and even now knowing the definition doesn’t shed any light on the significance of it to them. I’ll have to ask Ma about why they chose that some day. Says the girl whose plates read GIVERGO. Whatevs. I have a weird sense of style, and not everyone would want to live in the spaces I enjoy. But home is where we go to decompress from our days at work, or after surviving a Saturday at Costco (Hell is what that is in a nutshell, I get road rage with a shopping cart and it’s a race to the finish line), where we share love and laughter and fights and tears in privacy. You get to choose who you invite into your house, and I think it should represent your individuality in whatever capacity you find appealing. I don’t like a space I inhabit to feel temporary regardless of how long my stay is going to be. Home is your place to unwind, take the bra off, eat cereal out of the box, and no one can say dick because it’s your kingdom and you rule it how you wanna. And as Geoff’s sister said to me when I was telling her that what I’ve done might not be for everyone, “We don’t live there so we don’t have to like it. It’s your space and it should be what you like, not what other people might.” So solid and so true. And I don’t have to want to replicate what I see in someone else’s home in order to appreciate it, therefore I’m sure even if you guys wouldn’t really want to design your spaces like mine, you can still appreciate my personality in my design.

So let’s get down to it. Beautiful 780 square foot condo in downtown Victoria. And I mean downtown proper. Everything is so close! A few blocks in either direction takes you to the waterfront. Gah I’m in heaven here! 2 bedroom, open concept for the dining and living room areas. Nice half wall for the kitchen, leaving it all feeling very open and inviting. Which is great cause it’s tiny in the grand scheme of things. Spare room is 9×8, master is a whopping 11×10. Walk in closet that provides an entry into the bathroom for the master. And the walk in is maybe 3×3 on either side. Like I’ve said before, not a whole whack of space for a newly reformed hoarder. Originally Geoff wanted me to move without seeing it in person. He sent me the floor plan and figured it would suffice. Needless to say he’s still learning about how much of a control freak and planner I am, and I don’t think he took me seriously when I said I had enough clothes to last months without wearing the same thing twice. He’s shacked up with a princess, bless his heart, and after seeing all the boxes moving in he gets it. But back to the story, I refused to move my life across the country into a space I’d never set foot in. Aka a space I couldn’t draw up plans for possible furniture arrangement, clothing management, etc. I used to draw up floor plans of my room when I wanted to rearrange my furniture. I am neurotic and obnoxious when it comes to that stuffs. One of my many flaws that will never change. So on my last trip to the island as a visitor he acquiesced to drive down to Vic and show me the condo before his tenant moved out. First impression of the outside was that it was super modern, interesting architecture, well laid out. Clean lobby. Lots of natural light everywhere. Mirrored windows during the day in all the units. The condo itself was as small as I was expecting, bare because the tenant was almost completely moved out so there was no furniture remaining in the bedrooms, but Geoff had rented it with his dining room set and massive L couch and TV. But it was super impersonal. All the walls were white or off white. No shelving. No pictures on the walls. No personal touches. The only colour was the blue and grey cabinets in the kitchen, which I LOVED right off the bat ps. So my first order of business when I got home was to draw up the floor plan on paper and plot and plan furniture configuration and to Pinterest ideas of making “small condo living” work.

After Geoff agreed to the plan I came up with (he’s literally the most chill, laid back and easy going man I’ve ever met, he totally balances my high strung, neurotic tendancies) I started looking online for the stuff we’d (I’d) need. Please keep in mind that when I say “we” in this, I really mean “I”. Geoff genuinely doesn’t give a shit what I do in terms of decorating because he says he loves my style and thinks I have good instincts. Super flattering and also made my life so much easier cause I can just splash my personality all over this bitch and he won’t bat an eyelash. The most input he’s given is “I like that colour for the accent wall” when he’s been dragged into Home Depot and then forced to admire 7 different swatches taped to the walls. He’s liked everything I’ve chosen, and nothing has been returned as of yet so we’re doing well on the literal home front 😉

Biggest concern was the bedroom. There is minimal storage space, meaning we have the front hall closet and the spare room closet, for vacuums and tools and ladders and step stools and his storage bins of clothes and books and camping gear etc. He got us a new bed to be delivered the second day I was in Victoria, and when Brit and I got into the condo late on Monday night he had a wicked queen sized air mattress (and I mean wicked, again total princess who doesn’t do the camping stuffs – yet. I will try it because he loves it, his whole family camps, and this is the most gorgeous place to do so) set up for us, complete with pillows, sleeping bag and throw blanket on the end. It’s one of the sweetest things he’s done yet in my mind, I can’t help but smile when I think about him. So we’ve got those stashed in the spare room closet, and it came in handy when Mama was here to visit since the futon still hadn’t shown up. He also had camping chairs and a beer can set up for us on the balcony so we could sit and smoke comfortably. Again, he literally melts my heart and I’m constantly grateful for how thoughtful he is. It was hella cute and hella impressive considering dudes don’t usually do home stuffs. Anyway, I ordered a new patio set, got planters and those camping chairs are back in their bags hanging in the clutter closet.

I just had to stop and review that cause I lost my train of thought LOL, I literally don’t even know what I’m going to type next 90% of the time. Winging this shit homies, bear with me. BEDROOM. CLOSET. How could I forget?! My main concern was space, and the fact that we would need the walk in to provide extra storage space so it wasn’t practical as a clothes closet. IKEA is one of my all time favourite stores, and we don’t have one back east so I was overjoyed at the prospect of being able to peruse that magnificent store in person, instead of drooling over my keyboard on their website. I knew years ago that when I had my own space I wanted, no NEEDED, a PAX Wardrobe System. This is already a long one and I haven’t even gotten pics up or descriptions of the pics. Holy guacamole I literally don’t shut up eh?

***decided to go read for a bit and didn’t bother to get back to it last night so I’m finishing it up tonight, I’m a slacker***

I used the PAX Wardrobe Planning tool on their website to create a wardrobe that would fit in the master without taking up precious floorspace. We decided to go with a queen sized bed, being unsure of how the space would look with a king. Totally could have gone with a king in the end, but the queen is plenty big for us and it fits the space well. We went over to the mainland to IKEA, bought the pieces needed for our dream wardrobe and got to building when we got home. Speaking of which, it’s actually really good quality for the price and was SO easy to put together so I would highly recommend the PAX system to any and everyone. I managed to fit majority of my clothing into my side of the wardrobe, and hung up my longer dresses and Lulu hoodies in the walk in. I feel like I should just add the pics and try to describe as I go. I wish I’d taken “before” pics, when Geoff comes home I’ll get him to rummage up some photos of when he bought the place 4 years ago.

Let’s start with the main bedroom since that’s what I haven’t stopped talking about.

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Brit stayed for a few days after we got here and helped me move in, paint and get started setting up. It was white walls EVERYWHERE so we did the bathroom a pretty robins egg blue, the master a grey which I used in Halifax, and the spare room a wicked teal.

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Stuart sleeps with me when the boy is gone, but he gets banished from the bed when the boy is home cause he thinks Stuart is creepy lol.

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Floor to ceiling corner windows is actually awesome, but the only downside of this room is that it doesn’t have an overhead light. Super weird eh? I got us lamp bedside tables so we had an integrated light for each side.

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We’re obsessed with Eiko Jones prints. He’s a local photographer, and we’ve got two versions of his “Kelp” now, one being the pano in our bedroom 🙂

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Ooh baby, look at that beaut ❤ I could happily have taken over the whole thing, but relationships are compromise so I’ve gotten better at (reluctantly) sharing space and not encroaching on his territory. Yay me! As previously described, it’s 9′ ceilings so we went for the taller model for the PAX. It left just enough space for storing our suitcases and such up top. Except I need the step stool to get anything above the top rod down.

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Shorter dresses and maxi skirts hanging on the left, with a pull out hanger which houses my crop tops. Bathing suits in the top left drawer, followed by bras, then sports bras, then socks and undies. Right side goes from workout tops to dressier casual tops, then blazers and sweaters. Top drawer is nice sweaters that I didn’t have hanging space for and jeans (which never get worn cause fuck doing the worm to get into pants that don’t fit the booty and the waist properly when I can just live in Lulus), next glass front drawer down is Lulus and gym pants, then tees and tanks, fourth drawer is skirts and dresses that I didn’t/couldn’t hang and shorts, and bottom is sweats and jammies. I roll all my bottoms to maximize space, and decided to put down the funky grey and white floral drawer liner after seeing how nice the solid grey looked on Geoff’s side. It was a busy gym week and today was laundry so that’s why there are gaps below and you can see the drawer liner properly haha. It’s all colour coordinated, and goes by length and type.

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I wish it was still the height of summer… There’s the suits which will sit lonely until I get back to work and can budget for a trip, or next summer lol. Let’s all say a little prayer for the former.

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Pullout tray for sunglasses and clutches.

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There are a ton of black crop tops on the back knobs, and all the dresses closet to that end are black too. Can’t see them in the pic which is super helpful *insert eye roll*

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Again, colour coordinated in their respective types and lengths.

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And the few pairs of heels I decided to keep are living on the shelves above the clothes.

 

Next up we have the “walk in”. Wouldn’t have been enough space for a quarter of my stuff so I’m stoked we got the wardrobe. It was worth every penny spent. The walk in also houses comforters, knitted socks for work that Mama made with love, towels, my sneaker collection (I have an over the door hanging shoe organizer that houses my 18 pairs of flats), the vacuum, and our laundry baskets. It’s still feeling a bit cluttered but space is a premium here and Geoff suggested putting the “ugly” stuff in there and it works. I installed a robe hook in there too a couple weeks ago which wound up working perfectly. Geoff hasn’t seen any of the new paint in person, or the newly organized and unpacked closets and spare room, or the computer desk. Or my new hair. So he’s coming home to a new girlfriend and new condo basically every shift LOLOL what a lucky guy.

Again, super cluttered so don’t judge. I’ve officially blown my budget out of the water (spent literally double what I had allotted) and now the stuff I would still like to do or add will be on the back burner for a while. C’est la vie. I always run out of money before ideas when it comes to home stuff.I roll all the towels for (again) maximizing storage space. I’m gonna start vacuum bagging the comforters because they’re so bulky.

Next up is the bathroom. There was no shelving in there which doesn’t work for a woman addicted to Sephora and raised from an early age to take the utmost pride in proper skincare. Thanks again for that Mama, if I look half as good as you in 20 years I will be stoked. Geoff had hung up the photo printed on canvas when I got there, it was one of his birfday presents. It’s from our trip to Nassau at Christmas time.

Pretty self explanatory and basic. On to the next area, my fav room I think actually, the spare room!

 

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I’d been planning on getting a MALM dressing table, until I saw that gorgeous table in HomeSense and knew I had to have it. Champagne coloured mirror and hair tower basket thingy match the sand coloured trim in this room. I’m digging it. May or may not paint the table legs white at some point though. For now I’m so over painting. I need shelves for the wall beside it to organize my brushes and such, but again, budget is way gone and it will have to wait. It’s a want, not a need. Also NEED lighting over the vanity but I haven’t found what I envision yet…

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And this is where I’m currently sitting, typing all this up for you lovely folks. It’s 3 sq ft and it has SO much storage! It’s from Staples online if anyone is curious. Mama always used a stability ball in her office when I was growing up, and computer chairs are expensive so I’ve been rocking one in the meantime. I wanted a white oval style chair from IKEA to roll between the vanity and computer desk. Maybe some day. For now I’m happy with the ottoman which is currently hiding all my boots, and the ball which is bouncy and kinda fun when I’m stuck for a word haha. The little storage unit next to the desk is my fimo stuffs. I haven’t done any clay work since moving and I dunno when I’ll bust it out next.

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That was a cubby that lived in the walk in for towels until I had a “Eureka” moment and realized I could use it in here, and that the blankets could just chill in its place. So it’s got bins for all my extra toiletries, my bags for travel and for makeup, and I put my Polar watch and sensor in that dish every time I come home from the gym so I know where it is the next morning. I installed a coat hook to hang my purses and necklaces from. My old bike plate is tucked on top for now cause I haven’t decided how I feel like displaying it yet. And that painting above is from a super rad artist named Lora Zombie, I fell in love with it the moment I saw it. Geoff snorkelling is the canvas on the wall with the peacock wind chime that his mama gave me for my birfday 😀

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The futon is surprisingly comfy. I wanted a sofa bed, Geoff wanted a futon. He’s been amazing about everything else I’ve chosen and bought thus far so it was only fair to get what he wanted. And I gotta say I’m digging it.

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Organized chaos.

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Miss bunny featured on the shelf there was actually from Mama and Daddy the day I was born. I take her everywhere I live, she makes my heart happy. The hippo is dope too, sup my spirit animal? Loads of knick knacks from people who love me and who I love, and fun stuff I’ve collected over time.

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Another view of the vanity area.

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And the clutter closet as it’s been dubbed. Aptly named as you can see. Ladder and heavy duty dolly for furniture and such (condo life must-have), paint supplies in tubs, work clothes in tubs, work suitcase just itching to be used again, camping chairs, pillows, sleeping bag, etc. Mishmash of goodies.

 

Mmm I’m gonna do kitchen next. Everyone always wants to see how people have their cupboards organized, I literally make my friend Amanda send me pics of how she organizes her life because she is a fellow OCD neat freak and she’s the queen of clean and orderly.

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Good amount of space, I really love this kitchen. And the cupboards.

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WHO CAN REACH THAT HIGH?! Gawd. I need a stool in here at some point, I literally have to get up on the counters to reach the 3rd shelf and I’m not going near that devil 4th one. Bullshit.

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My biggest complaint about these pretty looking cupboards is how deep they go back and you can’t reach dick. What a waste of space. Some point I’ll invest in a pullout rack for each one. Today is not the day. Also slowly getting the spices built up, fresh move meant all new errythang and it’s an ongoing process.

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Rice, pasta, and wine glasses.

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Managed to find lazy susans for the top shelves in the corner cupboards. Helps with the shitty deep waste of space a bit. Slow cooker, kettle, glass vases and jugs up there, down below is tupperware.

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This side’s lazy susan has oils, vinegars, sauces, onions and potatoes. Mini spinning pantry if you will.

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Oven stuffs.

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I love this hutch. We don’t have a lot of usable space for taller items and storage cause the shelving is super restricted in the kitchen, so I decided I wanted a hutch to serve as a practical and pretty piece. Mirror up top to add some depth, and also Geoff can check his hair on the way out somewhere hahaha. Tray for his mail and things I pick him up when he’s gone, flowers from him actually but usually I buy myself a bouquet on pay day at the market next door. I love fresh flowers. And a jar of Popeye’s dollars cause we are pseudo guidos. Leave us alone.

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So inside the hutch is where I keep our paper towel, tissues, lightbulbs, toilet paper and then protein, BCAA’s, and oats lol. It works. Middle open shelving boats the booze needed for Bushwhackers. “Milkshakes for adults” our buddy Jordan calls them. They’re potent and delicious.

 

I’ll do the hallways and living room/dining room areas now.

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The washer and dryer are cleverly hidden behind those doors. Solid setup in my opinion.

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Big comfy couch. It’s honestly so relaxing, perfect for napping too. That’s one of Daddy’s paintings hung on the wall, and it matches the throw pillows Geoff already had in here so it’s fate. I’ll do a close up of it when I do my (happy) Daddy post. Got Geoff that rug cause he wanted it but wasn’t sure we needed it when we were at IKEA. I’m an impulse person, and think it’s better to get it and regret it than leave it and wonder. It definitely wasn’t regretted.

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On Labour Day weekend, I finished the last of the painting I wanted to get done in the condo, which was the same grey from our bedroom throughout the rest of the area. That was actually Geoff’s idea, I was just gonna do the living room area and didn’t think he would be cool with the balls out grey everywhere. He said if we didn’t like it we could just repaint it. And he got to pick the accent wall colour out of the swatches I liked. We’re a dream team for this stuff I think 😛 So I painted everything else in two days. So much tape. So many 5$ shower curtains for drop sheets. But I LOVE the final product, well worth it.

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Such a wicked contrast.

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The first “Kelp” we bought of Eiko Jones’ collection. It hangs proudly above the fireplace and we literally just sit and stare at it periodically. That fish came from Nassau too actually, I loved the lantern fish as soon as I saw it. There’s that impulse again.

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I’ll throw up the front hall closet if anyone wants to see it, but it’s basically jackets, tools, Geoff’s shoes, my bucket of flip flops and two most frequently worn pairs of sneakers, my 3 motorcycle helmets, and the little shopping dolly I’m learning to pack in the trunk on big grocery shops/Walmart outings. Condo life dudes.

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There’s so much natural light here. I love it.

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Ooh and the mop lives in there too lol. We gots a lot of stuffs in a small space.

 

Lastly is the patio. It’s about 5×6 so not big enough for a bbq or big patio set, but I’m a full time smoker so I spend enough time out there to warrant a decent set up. And I get to see the prettiest sunsets from there too so even when I quit smoking, I’ll still hangout there. I just moved Geoff’s palm tree out there today, it hasn’t been very happy since before I moved in so I’m slowly nursing it back to health. There’s been some new growth since I started babysitting it so I wanna see if being out in the direct sunlight helps it any. It used to live in the corner between the mantel and window. Brit made my first hanging basket which I adore, and then I tried to make one too but now it’s end of season so they’re dying on me. My hibiscus had wicked blooms up until a week ago. Now they suck too.

 

Such wicked sunsets from that patio. Otay speaking of which, I’m gonna log off this one now and go chill out there. This essay’s got more than enough meat already, and I’m tired and wanna bedtime smoke with my wine which I left forgotten while I decided you guys NEED to see where I live and how I organized it all. It’s Saturday night so there will be loads of entertainment as I review this outside lol. Downtown condo living, I love it and now that I’m unpacked and my OCD has been fed for a while I can relax. Today was cleaning day too so tomorrow I can just wake up and go do legs, clean the car, and hang out til I pick up Geoff 😀 😀 😀 happy perusing folks, hope it inspires or at least intrigues someone who has similar space constraints and shopping problems ❤