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.

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

The Dark Side Of The Moon

 

When I was in college one of the engines we used for practice was a big old ugly Deutz that had definitely seen better days. Someone along the way had dubbed it “the dark side of the moon” (I’m guessing in reference to the Pink Floyd album) and it stuck. If you look up what the meaning behind that album is, there’s one interpretation that I love. The author states:

“…The album discusses the philosophical and physical ideas that can can lead to a person’s insanity, and ultimately an unfulfilled life…”

That engine has since been sent to the dump, having outlived its purpose as a training tool, but it will remain the most memorable diesel I took apart. I think that the speculative explanation of the meaning behind the album kind of suits that retired engine, in that it was missing so many parts after years of students taking things off and failing to put them back. There was an ever expanding pile of parts on the workbench next to it, and trying to deduce what was supposed to go where could bring bouts of insanity. And not being able to put the Deutz back together in its entirety was most definitely unfulfilling. That engine was left physically in shambles, to the point of no return.

A friend of mine is an avid Pink Floyd fan, and requested a painting years back in tribute to them. I don’t remember if I took a picture of it or not. Probably not because I don’t document most of my art work. It was The Teacher if anyone is familiar with it, and he still has it in his home to this day. Whenever I think of Pink Floyd I think of that engine, my friend, and my Daddy. Daddy was a Pink Floyd fan, and an artist so it all ties in to my memory bank.

One of my strongest opinions is on depression. Most people have found themselves on the dark side of that moon once or twice, and it doesn’t always have the same landscape or even scale of darkness. There are so many factors that tie into that one remarkable word. The marks it leaves, the ripples that lap out from pebbles dropped into that big black lake, the signs and side affects, and how it differs for every individual. If you’re wondering why I’ve jumped from Pink Floyd and a decrepit old engine from college days right into the bleak topic of depression, it’s because I honestly equate that phrase to depression. Anyone who’s ever suffered from depression, or has bore witness to a loved one caught in the throes of a dark moment can probably understand my comparison.

The world has started to recognize depression as a serious “illness”, and there is much more awareness on the subject now than there used to be. When Robin Williams committed suicide, the masses were shocked. How could such a notoriously funny, happy comedian succumb to suicide? Mrs. Doubtfire was depressed? It was proof that everything presented on the surface is not indicative of the deeper layers. There are varying degrees of depression, and by no means am I an expert on the topic, but I have been a survivor of my own depression and have also had my life altered irrevocably by depression in loved ones.  So I feel like laying out my personal experiences and views on such a widely debated and previously taboo subject.

When I was 9 years old, my father committed suicide. It was the first huge turning stone in my life. You ever wonder when exactly it is that children lose that wondrous sense of innocence they view life with? I’ve thought about it a lot over the years. Personally I think it’s when they first experience heartbreak. Every human being will at some point be forced to suffer a blow they’re not initially willing to accept. A pivotal experience they’re forced to recover from. It could be the death of a parent, or sibling, a family member or pet. It could be a divorce of their parents. It could be as simple as learning that Santa Claus doesn’t really exist, or that wrestling is fake. This seems like a big discrepancy, and maybe you’re thinking How on earth could you compare losing a loved one to finding out Stone Cold Steve Austin is a fraud? One of the best life lessons I learned was that everything is relative. In Deep Blue Sea, LL Cool J describes Einstein’s theory of relativity pretty accurately:

“Grab hold of a hot pan, a second can seem like an hour. Put your hands on a hot woman, an hour can seem like a second.”

Not the same situation, but same principle. Something bad can seem to go on forever, something good can seem to pass in a blink of your eye. But it’s different for every person. If my worst heartbreak came from losing my father, that doesn’t mean it hurt any more or any less than someone who’s worst heartbreak was moving to a new city and losing all their closest friends. It’s all relative. You can’t compare your pain or grief to that of anyone else’s, because we all experience things that make or break us differently. And some people are fortunate enough to have their first “life lesson” in pain be finding out their parents lied about the big jolly man coming down the chimney on December 24th every year.

As a child, you view the world in perfect, untainted, naive clarity. Everything is as it seems, and there’s no grey area. It takes those moments of growth to force us into the realization that life isn’t always fair. It isn’t always good or bad, happy or sad, do or don’t. Those simplicities we favour in our youngest years become complications as we start to see more and more of the world, and experience things that no one can describe quite right. When you’re five, you view the tree in your backyard as a haven. You have a treehouse that your parents built, there are limbs to climb and explore, animals to watch, maybe a swing to play on. There’s nothing to be thought of other than getting  up that tree, enjoying it as it is, and coming back down again. Maybe at ten you see that treehouse as childish. You’re not a baby anymore so it doesn’t hold the same appeal it used to. You’d rather be out playing track down or on your pogo stick with friends, and only little kids can spend endless hours with make believe friends in trees. By fifteen, you don’t even notice that tree. It doesn’t do anything for you anymore, just serves as a reminder of how simple life was before school and tests and friends and enemies. Before experiencing life through the eyes of  a growing adolescent. You remember that time you fell out of the tree and broke your wrist. You remember the year a hurricane came and broke down the branches that housed your childhood playground, and you were stuck cleaning up the mess and branches while your friends were at the mall. Same tree. Same memories. Different views. The magic has worn off. As you get older you learn to look for the tougher parts of things. Because after your first traumatic experience that begins to shape your realism towards life, you now know that it isn’t all easy. It can’t all be explained from a book or Mom or Dad, there’s a grey area for things that used to be so easy. Every boo boo can’t be forgotten about after a bandaid and a kiss. You really realize that some boo boos are internal, and only you can make them better. And there isn’t always a blatant sign for how to go about fixing them.

The change in our views of the world continue after our initial turning point. The older we get, the more we experience, the more cynical and guarded we become. It gets a little harder to come up with positives when you find yourself drowning in negatives. You grow up and learn hard lessons in loss. In failure. In deceit and dishonesty. And sometimes those things can weigh down heavier than you realize. A lot of people don’t really recognize they’ve been on  a downward spiral until they hit rock bottom. Human nature is a constant natural insult of ideals. “Be good, but not too good. Enjoy the moment, but don’t stop focusing on the future. Get mad when you’re wronged, but don’t do anything rash. Dream but don’t be unrealistic.” And so on and so on. There’s a balancing act expected of every faucet of life, and sometimes it’s natural and easy to flow with. But sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s a war being waged without any training in combat.

One of those wars is depression. And as aforementioned, there are definitely different types. Some people literally have a chemical imbalance that doesn’t allow them to see the world in full colour, everything always seems stark and dreary and grey, with occasional glimpses of colour. These are the types that benefit from antidepressants because you can’t change the chemical processes in your body with psychology or behavioural/situational changes. The only way to start seeing life as more than a burden or chore is to get those chemical reactions balanced with drugs, and learn to live a happy life with the assistance. Some people have degrees of depression which are brought on by life experiences. Sometimes therapy can help. Behavioural modifications, drastic changes in their environments, becoming aware of triggers and removing those toxins can help. This is why it’s never a one-size-fits-all when it comes to mental health. Everything is relative, but we can only experience our personal interpretations of situations or feelings as such and it’s not always easy to figure out. There isn’t a quick fix for most things in life, and depression least of all.

Now I’m going to delve into my own battle with depression, cause all I can really give is my personal take and feelings on such an overwhelming topic. So, as I said, Daddy committed suicide when I was 9. I feel like my whole world ended right then and there, and I started to build a new one in the aftermath. I’ll do an “Ode to my Fallen Angel” at some point, because most of my memories of Daddy are happy ones. When I was still carefree and young and blissfully content as all kids should be. This particular post is more so about the ways it shaped me, the negative affects, my stages of grief and then my making peace with his decision, and why I’m constantly wanting to fix people or help them fix themselves. Also this is my modern journal, and it’s a painful relief to get some of the ugly out of my system.

I was Daddy’s little girl, so as anyone else who’s shared that title can attest to, he was my knight in shining armour. When I wanted my first pair of platform shoes and Mama nixed the notion, Daddy quietly took me out to the Shoe Company, bought me my black Bongos and I was happy as a clam. We just bonded from my birth, and he was my hero. I’m much more like my Daddy than I am like my Mama, Quinn has always been a total Mama’s boy and they too are so much alike. Quinn and I both acquired lots of traits from both of them, and I like to think we’re a good combo of both. It’s hard to explain the different kind of relationships I had with them, and I know parents always say they don’t love one kid more than the other, but 9 times out of 10 there’s one of their offspring they identify with more so it’s a distinct variance in the relationships with the others. When Daddy died, Mama was left trying to forge a new relationship with me because before, it was kind of them and us for the most part. We were a super happy close knit family, don’t get me wrong. But it was just different between each parent/child duo, I think that’s fairly common. A family balance at its finest. Mama was left trying to play the part of both parents, grieving silently and in a kind of solitary confinement, because she had one kid who didn’t understand what happened and was SO angry and SO confused, another kid that was also unaware of the changes about to happen and experiencing his own pain, and then her own loss of her love and best friend and partner, and the fact that life continues on even when you feel like the whole universe should stop. So my first experience with depression was certainly after Daddy died.

Looking back on it, I can see the changes now. I can pinpoint when I started to go off track, when my mentality flipped and grew cold and hard. I began smoking the year after he died. Started getting into bad stuff that I’ll leave for another day. Started being defiant and dismissive and all around difficult to be around. It wasn’t until I was forced to go to a psychologist in boarding school that I really saw how far I’d fallen. I honestly believe that we’re wired to forge on, regardless of inner turmoil, because we’re genetically coded to be survivors. We have a fight or flight instinct, and you don’t always know when you’re in those modes. Most of the time we’re in flight. But there comes a time when that flight can lead us down a dark path and we’re so focused on looking for the light at the end that we don’t notice the darkness closing in. And when you’ve made one too many mistakes, or had one too many close calls, or one too many failures, that’s when you stop and take it in. You see that you’ve lost sight of that light and you’ve become lost on your path to it.

My psychologist did what she was trained to do, and quickly pinpointed the root of my anger and behavioural issues to be the death of my father. At the time I remember being so resentful, and still so sad and confused, that I thought “Great, you’re a genius. I’m fucked up because my dad committed suicide. Not a revelation lady, what a waste of time.” But every session after that became easier, and I started understanding the relationship between my subconscious and actions. I was amazed by the science behind it, and decided I wanted to become a psychologist too. I figured that I was cured, no longer going to be a problem child and now that I was forced to admit my deepest and darkest fears to a stranger, I was on the path back to happiness.

Except I wasn’t. Wasn’t cured. It’s not as simple as being able to identify the primary source of whatever it is that breaks our fragile psyches in the first place. That’s the stepping stone to recovery, but then you need to work through it. It’s all well and good to know that you’re unhappy because you don’t like your body image for example. But if you don’t take stock of what the contributions to that are, and how to go about making changes to alter your perception and ultimately fix the issue, you’re left with being an informed victim of depression. You’re not becoming a survivor by sitting idly and hoping it will fix itself. Just knowing the cause isn’t a solution. You have to figure out what the main reason behind it is and then learn to cope and learn to heal. If the problem is chemical, you try different meds until one works well with your body and mind, and you can confidently get back on track and learn to see life in colour again.

I didn’t do anything to address my depression from my traumatic childhood. I was still mad at Daddy. Still couldn’t rationalize how he could have hated his family so much that he couldn’t bear to live at all. Why didn’t he just leave? Why did he have us if he didn’t really want us? What did I do to make him so sad? Normal questions in a child’s mindset. Not the same questions I ponder about him now. I spent my youth feeling lonely and bitter, I felt abandoned and unloved and unwanted. Yes, now I know that I wasn’t. Now I can see with empathy what everyone around me was going through, and I can understand their actions. But as a kid, it made no sense and in all honesty I was entitled to selfishly deal with my own demons and screw everyone else’s. So when I got into high school, and hormones started changing and the normal adolescent problems came up, all it did was get worse. I tried to commit suicide myself when I was 16. It was a useless attempt, and now I see that it was more a cry for help than anything else. I’d gone on antidepressants, didn’t react well with them, didn’t deal with the reasons my teenage self was depressed in the first place, and chalked it up to “genetics”. You’d have to google the ins and outs of it, but basically if someone has a parent who suffers from depression, there’s a greater likelihood that the child will develop it too. It’s like a cancer in its own right. Malignant in some cases, benign in others. So I got off the antidepressants and sat down to muddle through what was happening. It was at that point that I went from being angry and confused with Daddy’s death, and began to empathize. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t mad at him. I was sad for him. It took me allowing myself to hit the same rock bottom to truly look at his situation and say “I’m so sorry Daddy, I wish I would have known you were feeling like this.” If you’ve never been suicidal, it’s hard to actually put yourself in the shoes of those who are. You kind of hit a mental space where you feel like you’re a burden to the people around you, and you truly believe their lives would be better without your dark cloud swallowing their sunny days. No, it’s not rational and it sure as hell isn’t true. Because I think anyone would take a sad loved one over the memories of them and a grave to visit. I used to lock myself in my closet with my cat Cookie, and just cry and cry and cry. I didn’t want anyone to see me falling apart, and I didn’t understand why I was. I don’t even remember what it was that pushed me over that edge now, but I just remember feeling so alone and unlovable, like I was wasting space that could be better used by someone else.

Crying is different for me now than it was when I was younger. Mama rarely cried when I was growing up, Quinn was always a happy child so he only ever cried when I was trying to dismantle him limb by limb, or putting him out in our yard sale for 1$. All while smiling like a lunatic, so many baby pics of us have me laughing while he’s crying. And no I’m not a psychopath, I just didn’t like him as a baby. He was too quiet and well behaved, and I’ve always been loud and curious aka getting into shit I shouldn’t. Off topic haha, shocking for me eh? Back to the crying, basically I wasn’t raised around loads of tears, Mama was busy working and raising two kids, and since I had a huge chip on my shoulder and felt like I was suffering through life alone, I didn’t cry in front of people. Occasionally when drinking with friends in high school, I would have these heart to hearts and let people in. Always in tears, always sad memories, always feeling a love I will never forget. Now I cry just as rarely, but it actually feels good. It’s basically my pressure relief valve. When I get too sad or upset or overwhelmed, instead of pushing those feelings down I let them run their course. If that means half an hour of ugly crying, so be it because I feel cleansed when it’s done. Weakness isn’t asking for help or knowing when you reach limits and just can’t carry on. Strength is knowing when these moments come, and being strong enough to swallow pride and say “I’m not okay”. It helps to have people you love and trust who will listen with no judgement, hold you when you need it, wipe those tears off and help however you need it. But getting to the point where you can openly admit you need help is the biggest battle. And most people suffer in silence unfortunately.

Not all depression ends in suicide, but almost all suicide is the offspring of depression. I admire anyone who has battled those deep, dark sides of their moon and come back from it. You don’t always make a full recovery, but as long as you take steps forward with the steps back, you’re doing just fine. It took me getting to the sad point of wanting to end my life, to understand the man behind the cause. I now think back fondly of Daddy, and I’m not mad anymore. I found a way to forgive him, and also to forgive myself. Hindsight is 20/20 so when someone loses their battle with suicidal thoughts, you can see their faraway eyes in pictures. The smiles that don’t quite make it to those eyes. The grief being reined in so tightly because they don’t want to further burden the people they cherish so greatly. And honestly you couldn’t have done anything differently because you didn’t know. If you’ve never been suicidal, you can’t understand right away that the fallen angels thought they were being selfless, not selfish. But having been a survivor, of both those thoughts and as a partially orphaned child due to it, I can honestly say that Life Does Go On. It’s not always easy, and everyone has different causes of their sadness, but it is all relative and everything does pass. And usually the hardest battles you fight provide the sweetest victories.

This is why I will always identify with someone who has some serious baggage. I love people who have scars that run as deeply as mine because it’s almost like a brotherhood. Survivors. Doesn’t matter what you survived, or how you think it rates on the scale. There is no comparison for anyone else’s pain or grief to yours. There can only ever really be understanding. Understanding of the hurt and pain carried by all of us. Understanding that everyone has different limits to their tolerance of their pain. And understanding that we’re all fighting battles internally but sometimes we all need a little help. I’ve been much happier in recent years. Long story short, I learned to cope with Daddy a little better, I dropped bad habits and people, and started pouring my energy into becoming better. Making a palpable effort to grow into someone I could like, instead of hating what I saw every day in the mirror. And there are still days where I’m not very nice to myself, as we all have. But I count my blessings more than my burdens, and I also know that I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without it all. It’s hard losing people you love, but it’s harder to lose yourself. Depression wears many different faces, has so many different causes and triggers, and is always a personal fight. But there is also always a solution to it, just have to keep those gloves up and stay in the ring for another round.

Earlier this year I found some of those old feelings creeping up on me and immediately went and found a psychologist. I was referred to her by one of my closest friends and biggest inspirations actually. We talked about my need for stress management, got to the root of things, and just as quickly as I felt the cool shade starting to close in, the sun came back around. I vocalized my newest fears and feelings of inadequacy, and just having her to bounce everything off made a world of a difference. I’m extremely self aware, so I can see when I need help objectively. My father’s depression shaped who I am today in so many ways, but I’m also proud of the survivor I’ve become and I know he would be too. I am very vocal, I actually do well with constructive criticism, and I love to talk things through. Communication is key. I’ve learned to channel my hardships into motivation towards my triumphs.

I guess what I’m trying to convey in this long-winded stream of consciousness is that we can all find ourselves on the dark side of the moon. Find ourselves living a life that’s unfulfilling and feeling those beating wings of madness that fly a little too close for comfort. I find writing helps me cope in some ways, hugs and heart to hearts with people I love help, the gym is a wicked de stressor. I’ve discovered a few different methods to dealing with my roadblocks on the path to a happy, fulfilling life. And those methods will change and evolve as I do. I just hope that anyone who is dealing with their own demons can keep fighting, keep surviving a day at a time, until they find their own methods and breakthrough. Do whatever it takes to stay in the game. I don’t believe depression is a weakness, nor something to be ashamed of. We all suffer blows that can take a little time to recover from, and some of us are unluckier than others with how many we take and how hard they hit. Be patient, be understanding, and most of all hold onto anything that gives you hope. There is always a glimmer of light to be found, and the victory of beating those demons is indescribable. Find your rainbows and chase em folks, cause we all go through life changing ordeals, but we all deserve to love and be loved. In the end, that’s the most powerful drug of all.