Tag Archives: Commitment

From The Depths Of Zero Fashion Sense

Tom boy Liz, in all her glory, has been known to rock soccer shorts, baggy man tees, ripped jeans (not the fashionable ones…I take care of tears all on my own), stained tank tops and mis-matched socks with shoes that have reached a point that no manufacturer envisioned for them. I’d like to say those days are long gone, but I confess to still being clad in massive sweat pants and shirts with holes in them way too often. If you ever intended to pick up some fashion tips from this blog, just click the little ‘x’ in the corner – I’ve got nothing for you.

My employment history easily assists in an explanation as to my pathetic style-sense. I’ve worked in scrubs and clothes that are guaranteed to get torn and dirty on a potentially daily basis. Animals aren’t the most considerate of fashion and I’ve (not so unwillingly), abided by their rules.

Now, without the excuse of animal interference, I’m faced with learning the art of being presentable on a regular basis. Sure, I can clean up when I need to. I’ve obviously not been totally hopeless. Living in a house of five girls, having a ‘girly’ best friend and maturing have all aided to my overall comprehension of how to dress. Malls are still places of struggle, dressing rooms mind as well be chasms and ask my opinion on accessories and I can promise a stare filled with mild confusion and a hint of fear. Oh and make-up? Nope. Just nope – Let’s leave it at that.

With this new path I’m wandering along in life, I’ve had to encourage the style-aware part of me to take some reins. It’s a sad truth that the way we look greatly affects how we do in life. It’s why theories such as the Halo vs Horns affect exist. Sure there are exceptions to the rule, but vaguely speaking, we’re judged a lot by how we carry ourselves. I’m not horrendous looking, but I’m far from stunning. Add some frayed jeans and ill-fitted shirts, and I’m barely grazing a 5/10. Professionally speaking, I’m in need of a re-vamp.

I’m not good at this. It doesn’t come naturally. Yet, what in life really does? Even the creative of us need practice to affirm those skills, and those fresh out of school need a little guidance in a new work place. There’s rarely just ease. Not being a natural at something is a poor excuse. It means that getting to the finish line may take longer, but at least your staying in the race. I’m working on myself. On my confidence, my style and even my hair. I need to up my game in every department now that I’m pursuing this new life. Be honest in my efforts and commit to each little step that may get me closer to my goals. It may seen like an insignificant change, but if it can, in any way, vouch for my word on how much I want this, then it’s big enough for me.

Cheers to a year of keeping track.

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Once Upon A Time, I Was A Vegetarian

Hot dogs, mac and cheese, pb&j sandwiches and a total avoidance of the colour green on my plate. Those were my staples growing up. I was a picky kid to say the least. My parents would demand I not leave the dinner table until my veggies were gone. Luckily for me, I’ve never been short on stubborn flare and yes, I was THAT child; the one wrapping broccoli in paper towel and feeding the dog one pea at a time.

Fast forward almost a decade and I found a new cause for stubborn antics. It happened unceremoniously. On a trip home from my summer job before my first year of university. I sat at the dinner table with my family, a juicy steak fresh off the barbecue on the plate before me. Unenthusiastically, for no obvious reason, I cut a piece and put it in my mouth. Chewing slowly, something just clicked. I gently placed my knife back on the place mat and realized I wasn’t going to finish that steak.

For years I avoided meat. People would constantly ask me why, as though this choice were an insult to our evolution. I never understood the point in pressing for a reason…maybe it was the simplest conversation starter, or perhaps we just inherently seek cause or reason for choices – we seek validity through those around us. I stopped eating meat because I just did. I can list tons of reasons to back up why if I wanted. All I’d really have to do it point you in the direction of the shocking documentary, Earthlings, and it would all become a mute point. Sure, I disagreed with most farming techniques we use for our meat, and I feared what I was putting into my body due to my knowledge of the steroids and questionable diets my food had been raised on, and of course I love animals. I’d known all the facts before I put down that knife, but I hadn’t considered them in relation to my own eating habits. I became a vegetarian because I looked at the meat before me, and just didn’t want to eat it.

When I looked again years later, and I did want to, I did. There weren’t hoops to jump through or personal battles waged. I’m conscious about what I put into my body and like to consider most food choices I make to be, for the most part, smart. That said, I don’t turn my nose up to desserts all the time and I enjoy my cheat days to their fullest. One of the best lessons to learn in life is to enjoy yourself. To be true to who you are and follow the path that makes you happiest. You can let yourself explore all options and never feel criticized, judged or questioned. Never forget that you’re living for you.

Cheers to a year of keeping track.

Pursuing Writing. For Serious

Committing myself to writing each day has been super trying. My brain has been very strictly kept tracing along a scientific dotted line for years and now I expect and demand creativity on a daily basis. That’s actually just cruel of me. Yet, here I am. Still writing.

This isn’t something I believed myself capable of. I’ve never thought my writing strong or sure enough to carry me. A gamble as big as I’ve taken is almost laughable with that track record. When I was a kid I danced through career potentials and landed firmly on Zoologist for the greater portion of my youth. It actually wasn’t until applying for university that I ‘responsibly’ sought more job rich studies. Hence, Environmental Resource Management. Funnily enough, I was bored out of my mind in this program and found much more comfort and stimuli in my minor in Biology and even greater joy in any Zoology course I could get my brain on.

Labs, dissections, proposals, research assignments, endless papers with formal citations and theoretical and scientific jargon got me through school.

Years of work in zoos, aquariums, animal rehabilitation centres and emergency veterinary clinics followed. I’ve bottle fed tigers, cleaned up after way too many species, led enrichment programs, rescued orphaned and injured wildlife and everything else linked directly to an animal related profession.

And now, I write. I write in the personal, in the abstract and with as few professional references as I can manage. From the blog posts I make, to the articles I submit to help finance this life of mine right now, and straight back to this book I’ve been working on, it’s all me playing by my own rules. I’m flying by the seam of my pants here. This is me taking a chance on something I’ve come to be passionate about. Sure, my confidence likes to waver, and yes, I read much better work on a regular basis from anyone but me, but this is where I’m going right now. I’d like to imagine that this writing commitment is similar to practicing an instrument. You play and play until you improve. The songs become more sure in themselves under your fingers and the masterpieces slide inch by inch closer into your reach. I’m hoping, by sitting here each day, and clicking away on this lap top, my words, sentences, thoughts and ideas are getting firmer. My personality starting to maybe slither between lines and my witticism not only audible in my own head all the time. I want my writing to just keep getting better. I want to grow and stretch in this new endeavour and find the footing I’ve been stumbling for. Maybe it’s coming. Maybe I’m onto something here. Maybe if I just keep writing…

The Benefits of Raging, And The Art Of Being Pissed

Having a temper is discouraged in our society. We lean towards terms like ‘easy going’ and ‘laid back,’ giving a nonchalant attitude towards the rare anything that could anger us. A temper is confused for cruelty or meanness. I’m definitely guilty of taking pride in my ability to excuse the irksome and I constantly try to overlook others poor behaviour when my irritation is already being cheaply ignored. The description of ‘easy going’ is very much me in many ways, but there are exceptions.

I’m a clean person. So being surrounded by chaos or disorganization pushes me to a new level cleanliness that could only be described as Molly Maid perfection. That can hardly be called easy going! An easy going person would just shrug and toss a pair of dirty socks into the mess, assuming it’ll have its time to be reckoned with; a gift for future-me to deal with. But I’m not easy going about the condition in which I live. People have many facets and each of us have a thing that can and will get under our skin. How we respond to it says a lot about us, but generally, those that react in anger are judged and resented for their inability to mask it. That’s really what it is to deny a temper, isn’t it? It’s a deception, a carefully controlled and masked emotion to protect our reputation as a calm and laid back person. Out of fear or embarrassment we neglect the fury that could be asking us to just be pissed and then condone the ‘strength’ it took to control that urge.

There are tempers that swoop out of control and hurt those around them with carelessness and vulgarity. And I can’t encourage those. What I want, is controlled rage. Responsible but honest anger that doesn’t need to be lessened for the sake of keeping face. Letting yourself feel is a struggle familiar with many people. Too often we try to limit our emotions, whether it be the stubborn cling to not fall in love or the tongue biting clench of true, hit something hard, anger.

One of my biggest accomplishments over the past few years was learning to be angry; learning to hate. Not a petty hate born out of ignorance or annoyance, but genuine, nearly blinding, hate. I learned and seethed in an acceptance of being genuinely mad and let myself be pissed. It wasn’t like I’d never been mad before, but it had always stemmed from my personal transgressions or jealousies. This new emotion I allowed myself was raw and was a reaction to someone who had wronged me. Playing the role of humble martyr, belittling the anger I was deserved and being too understanding were routes I’d always been all too familiar with. Letting go of the cautions of feeling all that was there, I finally let rage seep out, And it was amazing. I spoke with shocking power and emotion that wasn’t in complete juxtaposition to my normal calm demeanour and realized the lies I had been telling myself all along. I wasn’t ok with this person. I wasn’t willing to accept or forgive anytime soon. This was inexcusable of them and I had all the reason in the world to be pissed. Pissed at how cruel they had been. Pissed at their words, actions and hurtful assumptions. Pissed at how they had disappointed me. Pissed at myself for allowing it to have gotten as far as it had out of my own hesitation to being angry in the first place.

The weight that fell from my shoulders along with the honesty of my emotion left my breathing easier, and more surprisingly, smiling. Behind the hot tears that burned the back of my eyes and the solid lump in my throat was a pride only slightly bigger than the rage simmering below it. My words had been mean. My intentions had been to hurt. Every inch of me wanting him to feel how angry I was, how much he had disappointed me. The fight I brought out of the both of us was unexpected but hugely necessary. We needed to be angry. I needed to be angry. He needed to know that this was unacceptable and I was finally strong enough to react truthfully.

Being pissed can be sloppy and reckless. Ugliness can be so easily stumbled into when the red mist descends, but the trick is to remain in control. Say the words that you need to, but don’t forget why you say them. Be honest with yourself. What you feel is not wrong, is not weakness of character. What you’re feeling is important. There’s never cause to snap unwarranted, or throw a fist through a wall. But stealing the heat of an emotion is dangerous in its own ways. You won’t steal the heat of the anger away, you’ll only store it, like hot embers, lying beneath a cool bed of soil.

Commit to yourself, to all of yourself. To the emotions that demand your honesty, and the power to be true.

Cheers to a year of keeping track.

Be Brave Little One. A Letter.

You are questioned by everyone including me. There are few triumphs worth praise in your line of work, but keep your head up, little one. The path you walk is lined with doubt, judgement and fear. Insecurity is an ugly coat of speckled sequin you cannot hide and leaves you scratching and tugging at its edges in embarrassment. You’re guilt ridden and feel foolish by your selfish hopes and dreams.

This world is a huge, intimidating place that seeks to challenge you. I will always challenge you along with it. Beneath the pleasure that you seek are painful memories that strip you of willpower and serenity. A past of failures has chiseled your once unscathed gleam and robbed you of your inherent innocence. You may believe that too many moments have been sentenced to the shadows of dark clouds; too many opportunities stolen by your own hesitation and uncertainty.

But, awkwardly, you will maintain yourself. You won’t heed my fears and you’ll be strong. Those that challenge you, most notably me, intend to awaken in you a beast of magnificence. In you, lives the harmony to quell anxiety, the fortitude to surpass the obstacles of ineptitude.

Apprehension has cloaked you for too long.

You are brilliant and hold the secret to success in your tiny existence. Simmering beneath your cool surface is a pool of heat and fire with the potential to blaze a path through your pained past. Despite the hardships you face under my skeptic eye, the beauty and strength you possess will shine.

Stand up, little one. Believe in yourself. Trust in your own sustenance and sneer at the terrors that my mind conjures. You are the defining factor in all that can be blessed upon us and my quiet has no say in your capacity for excellence.

You, my confidence, will bring us greatness in time. Prove my insufferable insecurities to be falsehoods and be brave in the face of my doubt. I am your worst enemy, a nightmare that collects the most painful potential outcomes of all life decisions and replays them on a loop to challenge all that you are.

Be brave. You are only as little as I dare to make you seem. You can be the largest part of me. You are stronger than I give you credit for.

Cheers to a year of keeping track.

Twenty-Six, Quitting My Job, Scared Sh*tless and Feeling It.

At this time, every day, a neighbour practices piano. The tune seeps through the walls and gently crowds our apartment. If you happen to be lounging outside on the balcony, you can close your eyes and steal the performance. It has become a beautiful perk to where we live. I have no idea where the mystery pianist lives, or what they look like, but each time the melody makes its way into our lives, I like to imagine this person calmly sitting before the keys, their fingers moving with purpose and ease. Their commitment to this skill as unwavering and dynamic as what they play.

So today, I sit here, typing to the melody of a slow, heart-wrenching Roxanne and continue to abide to my own commitment. My silence this past weekend was in respect for my birthday. Sweet sixteens filled with giggles and candles, nineteens dipped in screwdrivers and beer, twenty-ones and big old twenty-fives have come and gone. On Thursday the sun set on my 25th year in this world, in this life. Now, I’m into the 26th and I’m a whirlwind of emotions that differ in zero ways from yesterday, or the day before…or the year before. The biggest difference is in the risks I woke with the courage to take. These weren’t new ideas to sweep my mind in the hour of the anniversary of my birth. They have been glimpses of bright light illuminating dreams and hopes that my skeptic mind has scoffed at.

I’ve always been adamant that the change at the end of a date when the bells chime at midnight on December 31st, or the steady lapse of time as an age ticks up on the sunrise of your birthday does not signify real change. They are just numbers, they are just stats. Unless you make them significant, that is. Sometimes we cling to these minute changes because they are changes that can be enough to force our own hands. We mark our own progressiveness, our own decisions, our resolutions in the pursuit of betterment to the rhythm and clock of these occasions. This new number now pin points the starting line. A point to mark growth from, a buoy to cast glances back at to measure distance.

This birthday marks the day I quit my job.

That is a terrifying line. I felt my stomach clench and the breath hold an uncomfortable moment longer in my chest. A fear so deep rooted in the unknown, in needing to trust myself and my motivations. My heart is made up and my mind is staggering with this decision. I feel like I’ve dove into deep water, my back against the dark depths, my face watching the lighted surface stay firmly in one place as I sink farther.

But, I can swim. I know I can. I won’t drown.

Cheers to a year of keeping track.

Schedule

6:15am – Wake up.
6:30am – Run.
7:45am – Stretch and shower.
8:15am – Walk and feed dog.
8:30am – Prep lunch for work and have breakfast.
9:10am – Walk to work.
10:00am to 6:00pm – Work.
6:00pm – Walk home.

A schedule always seems methodical when formatted like that. But, like this, it’s deprived of emotion and can’t be trusted. In between the lines there’s pride and beauty.

When I wake up, it’s with Sam’s sleepy voice lulling me into wakefulness. With the earth under my heels and a morning air that reminds me what it means to be alive, I run. The deep stretch of yoga followed by a moment in meditation as cool water soaks my body leaves me clear. Each day I’m greeted by puppy cuddles and the feeling of unconditional love that my dog exudes for me with no hesitation. Warm water with lemon, fresh fruit and yogurt awaiting me is a luxury I furiously remind myself not to take for granted. Our walk to work follows the bustle of mid-town Toronto, soaking up the sun, the people, the smells of fresh produce and breads and the sense of community unavoidable in the city I know and love. Surrounded by friends and people who admire my ambition and intelligence, I’m awarded with the sense of accomplishment and pride at work that people strive for in life. I’m blessed to have an income doing something that can make a difference to the lives of animals and the people who get to call them their best friends. As I head home, the exhaustion may be wearing me thin, but the evening is beautifully inviting and my home is welcoming and I slow everything as I appreciate the day.

In finality there is peace but a sweet after-taste of what is to come. The end is rarely the end. A schedule is not merely a schedule. Timetables do not dictate monotony. Beauty is fresh and new when your eyes are open no matter the repetition.

Today I got up at 6:15am. Tomorrow I will get up at 6:15am. I can’t wait.

Cheers to a year of keeping track.

My Idol

I’m a little sister and the only daughter in my family. My big brother is my idol. We have the sort of relationship that is mocked for being too movie-family cliche. The only fight we’ve ever had involved me punching him in the stomach, me running wildly away, me locking myself in a room, some door banging and the anti-climatic finale of us using a poster to hide the foot size hole in the door, that very much resembled my own 7.5 shoe size. He’s never been that overly protective type who chases guys away, but with friends like his, I never totally dodged that bullet anyways.

But I’m fiercely protective. Ian is the more strong silent type of the two of us. He’s kind and unbelievably smart and hogged all the hereditary good looks of our gene pool. Yet, when we were in grade school, his confidence wavered and I will never forget the immense pain I felt at the idea that he was hurting in any way. I was that little sister that unabashedly told my brother’s first crush that he liked her because I knew how great of a catch he was, despite his own blindness. I’d do anything in my power to make my brother safe and happy.

Now, in our twenties, (him shockingly close to the big 3.0.), I don’t need to worry about him. He recently bought his first condo with his girlfriend of 9 years, has a job that suits him better than I could ever have dream for him and he’s still casting an unavoidable shadow on his little sister – One I’ve never resented or been embarrassed of. I’m so proud of Ian.

I’m always going to be that little sister that worships her big brother. He doesn’t know the extent at which I care for him or the height of the esteem I hold him to. He is a best friend that I have the solidity of blood to be tied with. He’s the older sibling that I can look up to every day of my life and aspire to be. He has been, and always will be the immovable rock that founds all my own strength. It’s through Ian that I’ve developed my strongest attributes and with him that I’ve grown. My hardest moments will forever be softened in memory by his never waning presence and I owe him more than I could ever word.

As part of this years commitments, I’m learning to appreciate and recognize with no subtly the amazing people and things in my life. I can gush, I can brag, and I can let myself just smile. Smile at the fortune I’ve acquired in people that make my life greater than I deserve.

So grateful. So happy.

Cheers to a year of keeping track.

Fear

We spend an inordinate amount of time rejecting, denying, avoiding and skirting our fears. We’ll down-play them to people around us to seem bigger, or we take the other route and hype them up to attempt to dissuade being subjected to them – our seriousness potentially saving us from the risk of a prank, for example. Fear pricks our resolution and buries our resolve.

The metallic taste lingers on our tongues, betraying our better judgments. Fear of failure, of rejection, of death. Lives are lived in the shadow of what could harm us or abuse our prides. Embarrassment alone can ruin us at times.

We need the fear though. We need the goosebumps, the anxiety and the cold that grips the pit of our stomachs. It pushes us, and accompanies us on our greatest achievements. It’s the nagging teacher that forces you up to the black board in front of the class. A silent promise of living in learning.

I hold my fears close. I respect them. I adore them. Each blunder, accomplishment and possibility has been tinged with fear. Sometimes I’m drenched in it, and sometimes I can sit quietly and let it seep through me with indifference. A companion that challenges me; sometimes with malice, but more often with content. I embrace them because they are a part of me that can promise the best of who I am.

I hold my fears close. I respect them. I adore them.

Cheers to a year of keeping track.

Smart Eats

Toronto is a city that rocks an eccentric look like none other. Farmers markets shaded by skyscrapers, hiking trails and ravines that snake through central neighbourhoods into the core of the city, and an overwhelming amount of restaurants and bars to explore. Multiculturalism spills out of neighbourhoods such as Chinatown or Little Italy. Religious foodies, coffee fanatics, tree huggers, hipsters, professionals and everyone in between call Toronto their home with pride.

The freedom to support local agriculture and eat organic is a luxury that all Torontonians have at their fingertips but rarely monopolize on. I know over the years my excuse was centred around my living-at-home accommodations – my parents ruled the menu and swam in the habits of routine shopping trips to the nearby Metro. Now as the dining responsibilities land neatly on my shoulders, I have the opportunity to pursue more environmentally supportive food choices.

My new neighbourhood is flanked by Wychwood Farmer’s market to the west, Brickworks to the east and little AppleTree market just north. With some operating all year round I have no excuse to skimp on local purchases and have come to look forward to my weekly or biweekly trips to the busy, fresh scented kiosks. The aroma of fresh brewed coffee and earthy vegetation welcomes you in on Saturday mornings and the surrounding charms of the areas that house these markets offer scenic walking trails and new ways to live Torontonian.

Eating healthy is a trend that our city happily invites and these markets brilliantly portray our potential for smart foodie relationships. I’ve committed to being more environmentally friendly and healthier in general this year and I intend to excel in both areas. This isn’t unrealistic at all, thanks to where I live.

Cheers to a year of keeping track.