Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

To all our beautiful readers,

As the holidays approach, I just wanted to take a minute and say a few things I have come to understand over the past couple of weeks. The holidays are a beautiful time of year, a time we get to spend with family sharing stories and laughter, it’s the time of year where we get to give as much as we receive, it’s a time for blessings, a time to be grateful for all that we have, it’s a time of joy and peace and immense love. It’s also the time for new beginnings, of fresh starts, it’s the time of year where we get to press the refresh button and become who we truly believe ourselves to be and there is something so magical and inspiring about that. For some however, it can be a difficult time, as someone who struggles with mental health, I know that this time of year can be exhausting and emotionally straining, but it doesn’t mean that it still can’t be beautiful and special. It’s important to remember to take time for yourself, you are just as important as the people around you and deserve to give yourself some alone time and some gentle TLC. I read this quote recently, actually it’s more than a quote more of a statement, that we need to learn to fill our cup up first, like putting your mask on first in an airplane before you help those around you. You need to fill your cup up first, fill it with love, compassion, and kindness then allow the excess to spill over onto those around you. It’s not selfish to take time for yourself, to love yourself first, to be kind and compassionate to yourself. There is nothing more selfless than taking the time to make sure you are in a good place and allowing that goodness to spread to those around you because you are always more when you are whole. So take the time to nourish yourself even if it’s just for 5 minutes, make the most out of those 5 minutes because you deserve them. Also take the time to be grateful for all that you have this year, remember that the holidays are about more than presents, the perfect Christmas tree and delicious food. Choose to be grateful for the roof over your head, for the food filling your belly, for your body and all the miraculous things it does for you on a daily basis, for your loved ones, for the gifts given to you, be grateful for all the many beautiful blessings in your life. We all live blessed lives and sometimes we need to remind ourselves of that. Remind yourself that you live in a country that doesn’t take peace for granted, that allows us to think and speak openly and honestly, that allows us to love freely and more importantly, allows us the freedom to choose who we love. If we could all just take a minute this holiday season to remind ourselves of that, the world is that much closer to being a more loving place. Choose to be the light this holiday season, reach out and tell those closest to you that you love them, smile at strangers and always remember to be kind.

Our deepest wish for all of you this New Year is that you allow yourself the space to just be, to accept the present moment in all its glory, that you radiate light and love to those around you, that you believe in yourself as much as we believe in you, to be kind especially to those who have been unkind to you (choose to be the kinder person), to forgive yourself and those who have wronged you, to allow yourself the space to restart and decide who you want to be in this great big Universe. Remember that you are enough simply because you exist. You do not need to be more or less. Just be the glorious human that you are. Remember that you are worthy, that you are valued and that you are loved. Remember that you are an important part of this Universe and that your voice matters. Stand up for what you believe in. Choose your words and your actions wisely, have them come from a place of love and goodness in this new year. Remember that you are human, that you will make mistakes and fall on your face a couple of times. Choose to be strong, to get back up and to keep on fighting. You have 365 new opportunities to be the person you truly believe yourself to be, don’t waste them focusing on the past. Keep moving forward, one step at a time. Choose to be a positive force in this world. There is nothing more powerful than someone who is empowered to do good in this world, choose to do good. Be the change you wish to see in this new year and in the world. We are in this together, bring it on 2017!

Before we sign off, we just want to say a massive thank you to our readers, as we approach the new year and the one year anniversary of the blog we want to thank you SO much for taking time out of your day to read the words we write here and allowing them to have an impact. We receive so many kind words of support and encouragement and they are all immensely appreciated. We wouldn’t be here doing this without you beautiful humans so thank you! Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to share our thoughts and views openly and honestly. We hope to bring you more inspiring content in the New Year! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Wishing you all the happiest of holidays and all the best in 2017,

Melanie and Stephanie xo

 

 

On Facing Rejection

Hi everyone – it’s been a while! I’ve been all over the place mentally, trying to get my life in order. I don’t like saying it that way, because my life is pretty awesome, but sometimes it feels like everything is a mess and needs to be taped back together. I’m trying to keep myself on track in my health journey, trying to figure out how to get more activity into my days, trying to figure out how to find myself a sustainable job, and trying to generally feel balanced. They’re all lofty goals, and everything feels like it’s at risk of falling apart if I make the wrong move. I think it may benefit me to focus on one thing at a time – but sometimes life requires you to balance many changes at once!

For the purposes of this post, I can (and I want to!) focus on just one thing, and that’s facing rejection. I’ve done a whoooole lot of this in my short life, if only for one very specific reason: I did a heck of a lot of theatre during my University years, and while I have a lot of shows on my resume, I auditioned for a whole lot more than I got cast in. I got very used to hearing “no” – or, more accurately, hearing nothing at all after an audition and just having to assume I didn’t get it. Gradually the rejection in that context became easier and easier to stomach. I learned that it wasn’t always about me, and that there were myriad factors that played into whether I would be hired. And that was fine, because there was always another audition around the corner. The rejection was a hit to the ego, but once I got past the initial sting of “no” (or silence) I started to put myself out there more, and as a consequence I got offered more opportunities.

This doesn’t exactly translate to my current job search. For one, the stakes are a lot higher. I’m looking for something that I want to do every day that will also provide my livelihood. I’m very fortunate to have had a lot of savings and a lot of help, allowing me to prolongue the job-hunt as I work part-time. But as I’ve discovered in the last year, being rejected from something you really want (and need) doesn’t only sting – it burns.

I had a particularly nasty day on Monday, starting with a massive delay on my commute. Then, mid-day I received a highly anticipated follow-up from an interview I had last week: and it was a “no”. All of a sudden, all of the negative self-talk I’ve been shushing over the past few years bubbled up to the surface and just started firing at me willy-nilly. I had walked into that interview feeling good, and I left it feeling even better. I couldn’t see how they wouldn’t want to see me again. Over the next couple of days I second guessed some of my answers to their questions, but I was sure I would have a chance to prove myself again. When I got the “no” on Monday, I was full of confusion and uncertainty. I don’t feel better about it yet, per se, but I feel calmer. I’ll admit I drowned my sorrow in a ton of popcorn – which I didn’t want to do and did out of habit and compulsion – but my reaction could have been much worse.

I think hearing “no” is so hard in this context because I felt so GOOD about my performance. I was myself in the interview: I felt genuine, funny and like I fit in. I felt like I was, despite my relative youth and inexperience, able to do the job in question. And then, to find out it just wasn’t the right fit, my brain started going, “Why? Was it your personality? Did you make an inappropriate joke? Was your shirt gaping? Did you come off too keen?” Of course, all of a sudden I’m a loser, a fuck-up, an underachiever…and while I’m yelling all of these horrible things at myself, I’m also yelling at myself to “SHUT UP!” Instead of being kind to myself, I fought fire with fire. I’m lucky I had my partner and my mom to be the voice of calm during my little mental storm.

It’s hard to feel invincible and then be told you’re not, but that seems to be the reality of the job market: I may have to do a lot more interviews before I find “the One” (or “the One” for now.) As I move through my job search, I need to realize the lesson I learned while I pursued theatre in University: keep putting yourself out there, and the opportunities will come. The more people I meet, who find out who I am and what I’m about, the more doors will open for me. And each rejection, while a shock to the ego, is an opportunity to find something else and something that might be an even better fit.

Have any tips and tricks for getting over rejection? I’m still feeling kind of funky, so I’d love to read them in the comments.

Peace and love,

Stephanie

The Feminine Perspective: Special Edition – A Letter to the World, Post Election

Hello!

So I’m just going to jump right into this one and reflect on what happened in the US on Tuesday, or actually early Wednesday morning when Donald Trump (its feels like a He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named moment for all my fellow Harry Potter nerds) won the presidential election. I think I can say, as a Canadian watching from the outside that the shock and disbelief was real. I had so much hope that, despite whatever flaws and mistakes she may have made that Hillary Clinton would have won. I had so much hope that the world was open to a woman being in a position of power. A position dominated by men, how beautiful a moment it would have been for her and for womankind to have broken that tradition. As it is, a man who doesn’t really seem worthy of the position and the power is in power. A man who has consistently and rigorously demeaned and humiliated anyone who he decided was inferior to him. He has humiliated women, demeaning them and turning them into objects or using crude language when referring to them (we all remember the “grab them by the pussy” moment). He even referred to his own daughter as a sexual object that men could take and do with as they pleased. Like really?! What kind of father throws his own flesh and blood to the wolves and tells them to have at it? If that wasn’t enough, he proceeded to isolate and dehumanize any and all immigrant communities, implying that they were not welcome in his country. In a world that is being destroyed by hatred, chaos and war, discrimination, that last thing we need is to make people feel like they don’t belong. There is no progress in isolation, there is no progress in doing what has already been done. Does no one remember what happened in World War II, when the Jewish community was isolated and massacred in the most brutal way imaginable? Or how about the massacre in Cambodia? Or even worse, the massacres and cruelty that took place in Rwanda? Does no one remember what happened there? Or how about what has happened to our Native American communities (and is still happening by the way)? Has the isolation and discrimination of these communities provided any good, any growth to human kind? No, they haven’t. They’ve just revealed the ugliest side of human kind. The sides of us that is dominated by the Ego, by narcissism and pride, and our obsession with power and money. And if you think he had a point, you need to check yourself. What’s more, he doesn’t believe in climate change. Like really? You don’t need to be a biologist or environmental expert to notice that things are changing, and not for the better. Ice is melting at record speeds, water levels are rising, natural resources are declining just as rapidly. The weather is slowly starting to go out of balance. Turning a blind eye to the problem and pretending like it doesn’t exist, is not only ignorant, it’s quite possibly the dumbest thing you could do. When the time comes where the world is not longer inhabitable, you know who is going to be the first to cry wolf and want to leave? It’s the people who turned a blind eye to climate change. And the chaos he has left in his wake keeps on giving, he has disrespected and turned his back on the LGBTQ community. Another community of beautiful souls who have sacrificed and worked tirelessly to get to where they are today. To be given (and rightfully so) the same rights as any heterosexual couple and the respect to be exactly who they are with no judgment. Voting for him is voting for hatred, for cruelty, for disrespect, for ignorance, for discrimination, for no evolution or growth, for Ego, for money and greed, for misogyny and sexism, for older Republican men who feel like they know what is best for the rest of the world. I have a hard time wrapping my head around what people saw in him and the things he has said. Obviously they heard something the rest of the world didn’t. My greatest hope is that all the derogatory comments and disgusting stuff he has said was just that, stuff, with no substance or true meaning. My greatest hope is that he is a smart as people believe him to be. I hope that this experience humbles him and the people who voted for him. I hope that the next four years opens every one’s eyes to the reality of the current world and not the world we have returned to because voting for him is simply disregarding centuries of blood, sweat, tears, sacrifice and fight that thousands upon thousands of people have given to improve the world and their country, to make it into the world they wish to be apart of. I hope that something good, productive and positive comes out of what is simply the most shocking and unbelievable moment in history.

To my fellow super-females or #nastywomen, it is time for us to rise up and fight with everything in our hearts and souls to be heard and to be seen. The path has been laid down in front of us by decades of brave women and now it is our turn to come to together, to be so strong and powerful that the world will have no choice but to listen to us. We need to stop fighting with each other, stop the comparisons and the jealousy, we need to, as Beyonce once wisely said, get in formation and lift each other up. We need to start celebrating each other and the successes we have worked hard to earn. Every step forward by one is a step forward for all. Hillary Clinton has shattered one of the biggest glass ceilings yet and it is our turn to keep on shattering any and all obstacles in our way. We have to own our power and our voices. We have to speak loud, then speak louder. We have just as much right to positions of power and an education as any other human on this planet. We have a right to own our bodies and to have them be respected in turn. We have a right to be in charge of our reproductive systems, no one can tell us how to handle something that is solely female. We need to teach the world that it is okay to be vulnerable, sensitive, gentle, kind, polite and compassionate and still be a badass mother-fucking warrior that tears down any obstacle in her path, that commands power and respect, a woman that has earned her right to be treated as an equal and as human as any. I want to live in a world that I am one day proud to tell my future daughter about. A world where I don’t have to tell her that because she is a girl that things will be harder, that there will be limitations and expectations placed on her. I want her to grow up in a world filled with badass warrior women who are fighting to own their place in this big beautiful world. So ladies, it’s time to get in formation, let’s stand together, grab opportunities by the pussy and break some mother-fucking glass ceilings. Our time is now, let’s rise up.

To minorities of any race, culture, colour, shape, or religious beliefs, to the environmental warriors, to all the beautiful souls of the LGBTQ community, I stand by you and I see you. You have a voice that is just as powerful as anyone else’s and the world needs to hear you. Now is as good a time as any to stand up tall and proud, own who you are and own what you stand for. Love harder than you have ever loved before, spread so much kindness and respect to the world that it doesn’t know what to do with the excess. Use your voices for good, fight for what is rightfully yours. Own your humanness and command respect. Don’t let anyone tell you you are less than, because you are more than those who try to tear you down will ever be. You are love personified. You are enough. You are worthy. You are seen and heard and loved. Together, let’s make the world a more beautiful and loving place.

Humbly and lovingly,

Melanie & Stephanie

PS: Thank you Mr. Trump for giving the feminist movement our battle cries that will carry us as we venture forth to destroy any and all misogyny, sexism, discrimination, hatred and bigotry. The future is female, can you dig it?

 

Feminine Perspective Edition 1: Mothers & Daughters

Hello! Happy November! How time flies! As we move into a new month, a new beginning, I’ve decided to start writing these pieces about feminism that I’ve been waiting to write and wanting to write for some time now. When I started this blog I always knew that this was the direction I wanted it to take, in the beginning I knew that we had to establish a reading base and I believe that we have now established an incredible one. A mixture of friends, friends of friends, mothers, aunts, distant family members, grandmothers, boyfriends, male friends, fathers, brothers and strangers who happen upon our sacred space. You may wonder what this has to do with anything, let me tell you that it means everything. When you have women coming together and appreciating each other and their success, it means progress. When you have men reaching out and appreciating the success of women, it means progress. Now, you may be asking why there needs to be progress, why women appreciating women and men appreciating women really means anything, why this should even be an important topic of conversation, well over time I will answer all of these questions. But firstly, let’s start with the biggest question of all, what exactly is feminism? And how does it impact you and your life? For those of you who don’t know what feminism is (let’s face it, it’s a trendy topic right now, and rightfully so, but I will enlighten those of you who don’t keep up with current events), feminism is a movement that has been going on for a really long time (we’re talking 16th century) but really got recognition in the 60’s when women fought for the right to vote, to be seen, to be heard, to be treated as human as anybody else. With the upcoming US elections it’s become a hot topic once more, and with the UN Women starting the He for She campaign with Emma Watson at the forefront, feminism has continued to be an important point of conversation. Feminism isn’t complicated, it’s not something that requires a  PhD to understand and it’s not a movement with the goal of bringing down men, which always seems to be the argument of choice against feminism. It’s simply about raising women up to the same level as men, where we are treated rightfully as equals. It’s not about tearing men down but lifting them up to a place where they can understand that we are all the same, yes, we may have different genitals but at our most basic, biological level we are all human. Thus, whether you are a man or a woman or transgender you deserve to be treated with equal amounts of respect and dignity. Now, you may ask what the hell does this have to do with me and my life? Well, I ask you this, where would you be without the women in your life? Without your mothers, your grandmothers, your great-great-grandmothers? The answer is, you wouldn’t Be. You wouldn’t exist without the women in your life. Just like you wouldn’t exist without the men in your life. You require both, equally, to exist. That is why feminism should always be a part of your life. To have an appreciation for the things the women in your life have done for you. Moreover, to have an appreciation and respect for human life, period. Now that we have established a very basic and general understanding of what feminism is  I want to start this series of posts with a discussion on one of the most important relationships in a woman’s life, the relationship with her mother. You may not know it, but this dynamic and relationship shapes the way you see yourself, the way the world sees you and how you see the world.

Let me begin by telling you my story and journey to feminine enlightenment, it’s not a complicated one, it’s fairly simple actually and came from a very naive place. I will be honest, I didn’t know much about feminism until about 2 years ago, which is when the movement towards it started to pick up again. I always subconsciously knew, even as a child which sounds strange, that I wanted to be a strong, independent female that was treated equal to the boys she played with. I always demanded to be treated equally when we played sports or video games. I wanted to be on the boys teams because I felt my skill was equal to theirs and I wouldn’t take no for an answer. I was always the type to boycott stereotypes of how a young female should behave and look, up until high school. When I got into high school, I did the typical/stereotypical high school thing and assimilated myself to the current trends in order to fit in. It’s something every teenager does to feel like they belong. But it always felt wrong to me because it went against everything I thought I believed in. I started presenting myself to the world in a manner that would appease the girls and attract the boys. I started listening to society’s definitions of what a young girl should look like and act like. I started to feel like I was trapped in this transparent glass box, like a Barbie doll in a box, presented to society as society expected me to be seen. I remember sitting in my room at night just feeling so uncomfortable in my skin because I wasn’t being who I was nor was I attempting to be who I wanted to be. I gave into social and stereotypical conventions of how young girls should be. Now, you may say well this is how it is, this is how life has always been for young girls. There are expectations placed on us, that is how it’s always been and you can’t expect it to be any different. There are boxes you must check as a female in order to be seen as human in the world’s eye. The truth is, I refuse to accept that. Now, that I’ve come to understand what feminism is, that it’s not about reducing men to dust or shoving my ideas in people’s faces, it’s about demanding gently, but still demanding to be treated equally and to be given the right and the respect to decide how I want to present myself to the world. It’s my basic right as a human being, regardless of whether I am a female or a male, quite frankly it’s irrelevant what sex I am because at my most basic roots, I am a human being and deserve to be treated and respected as such. When I finally came to realize that, it was like a weight being lifted off my shoulders and the curtains being pulled away from my eyes, I had given myself permission to be who I was. To be a strong, independent woman who has the right to choose how she wants to be seen and heard. That I have the choice to not check those boxes, to refuse to give into society’s expectations of who and what I should be. I have the choice to make my own boxes to check. This is the world I strive to live in and I am determined to help create this world I envisage in any possible way I can. My first step is with this post; now, I didn’t become this person on my own. I was brought into this Universe by a mother who has always been strong and independent. She has always known  who she is and anyone who knows her knows that she is strong and opinionated. She taught me that I am my own person, that I must be strong in order to survive in this world and that no one, male or female, has the right to tell me how I should live my life. Granted, there have been moments of weakness on both our parts (we are human after all, perfectly imperfect and filled with beautiful flaws) where we have forgotten this fundamental right but it has always been there, hidden deep within my subconscious. This dynamic, this relationship (especially the conversations) between a mother and her daughter(s) is the most vital relationship in a woman’s life. It’s the catalyst to how we see ourselves, how we allow the world to see us and to treat us and how we choose to see and treat the world. There is no greater or more impactful relationship than the one between mother and her daughter.

I don’t know what it is like to be a mother, I don’t know what it is like to raise daughters in a world where she will always be told how to exist in this world and treated like an object whose valued is based and decided on her outward appearance, her ability to assimilate to convention, her ability to stay small and not use her voice. I may not know what it is like to raise daughters in this world, however, I do know what it is like to be raised by strong mothers. I am surrounded by them, mothers who are unrelenting in their determination to raise daughters who know their value, know that they are worth more than beautiful then pretty than whatever physical qualities society demands from her. Mothers who are willing to have the difficult conversations, the conversations that go against the grain of what generations of mother-daughter conversations have been. My mother has always demanded more of me, more than simply being pretty, she has demanded that I be strong, be intelligent, be educated, to not let others make me small, to be kind and giving, to give respect when respect has been earned. My mother has taught me that respect in a relationship has to be earned, that I should never settle for less than I deserve, that simply because I am a female does not mean that I must obey, and that my body is mine, that it is not to be objectified and used. She has also had to have the very difficult conversations, the conversations that frustrate and anger me because they shouldn’t be conversations that need to be had. The conversations where I am told that there will be men who will not see me as human, who will see me as an object to be manipulated, who will demean and belittle me, who will try to make me small. Men who will view me as lesser than because I am female, who will use my physical appearance as reasons and excuses and explanations, that I will lose out on opportunities and experiences because I am female. I have moments where that knowledge terrifies me, but I choose to let it inspire me. I choose to let it motivate me to be strong, to have a voice and to let it be heard.  Even though I have had those moments where my body has been objectified, where I’ve had to cover myself in fear of provoking sexual comments, where using the word “no” was taken as a joke or as me being a tease, where men have told me that I would be more attractive to them if I dressed a little more feminine, wore more makeup and had longer hair. As if my value and worth can be measured by the length of my hair and the amount of mascara I applied that morning. We have all had experiences with misogyny in some significant way, the point isn’t that it happened to us because we can’t change that, the point is how we choose to handle it. After all of my experiences with it, it has made me stronger and more determined to change the conversation. To take what my mother and all the women before me have given me and use it to change the conversation here and now. If we look back on the conversations our grandmothers had with our mothers, and our great-grandmothers had with our grandmothers, it’s not the same type of conversation, which means that change is happening. We need to keep that momentum going, to change the conversation even more from one of complacency and acceptance of the way women were treated by society and by men, to one where our young generations of girls are empowered to be who they truly are without judgment, to be treated as more than pretty objects, to be given the same rights, opportunities, experiences as the boys around them. We need to empower our young girls to take charge of their lives and focus on building self-respect and self-love instead of focusing on which Instagram filter they should use to appeal to their friends and followers.

So if you are reading this I ask this of you, if you are a mother with daughters (or a grandmother or friend of a friend of a friend) I implore you to have the difficult conversations with her about what is truly means to be a woman in today’s world, because by taking the time to have a conversation about feminism, it makes it real. It becomes more than a simple conversation it becomes awareness and awareness is like a spark that creates empowerment and change. Beyond that, I ask that you teach your daughters that it is not her job to be pretty, she was not placed on this Earth to simply be pretty. She was placed on this Earth to shatter convention, to be so intelligent and strong and determined that it shakes the core of your being, that her value and worth is not measured by her beauty but rather by her ability to feel things deeply, to be vulnerable and open, to be kind and loving, to be compassionate and passionate about life. It is our duty and responsibility as women to change the conversation, to make the conversation about empowerment, about owning our woman-ness and finding a power in that. I truly believe that by changing the conversation we have with our daughters, it can create a tidal wave of evolution that can slowly but surely change the way women are viewed in society. Even more than that, by allowing our daughters to be themselves, to choose how they want to present themselves to society, allowing that independence to blossom there is no telling what she may be capable of. Within every woman is the power to change the world, you just have to allow her the space and knowledge to shatter her glass ceilings.

Here’s to my strong females, much love and respect,

Melanie

PS: On the eve of what could be one of the greatest moments in history for women and for mankind, I want us to take a moment to appreciate all the women who have gotten us here. The women who have sacrificed so much, fought so hard for this moment, for raising the bar on what is possible for us. I want you to take a few moments out of your day to thank the women who have given you so much. Thank them for teaching you what it truly means to be a nasty woman who can shatter all her glass ceilings. Then let’s get to work creating a generation of #nastywomen who get shit done.

 

 

 

Fall Forward

I’ve been bullying myself for weeks to write something “important”, “hard-hitting” and emotional, but the truth is, I just don’t want to. I’m not there right now. Everything I’ve tried has seemed trite, and I haven’t been anywhere near satisfied with my attemps to write about my job search, my weight-loss, or anything approaching the personal realm.

So, today, I concede to write something about fall. Fall, autumn, that time of year where everything dies: it’s the best season there is.

I love taking a drive up north to see the leaves change. I’m lucky, in Toronto I can see them every day when I take the subway over the Don Valley. The leaves are changing, slowly but surely. Every day there’s a little more orange, yellow and red, and a little less green. Surely I’ll be upset once it’s all gone, but then the ground will be covered with white fluffy snow and I’ll be happy again.

Now, there are certain essential things that come to mind when I think about fall. I want to highlight the most ubiquitous fall-y things and try to make jokes about them. Sound good? Too bad.

pumpkin-spice-latte1. The famous PSL: I am guilty of subscribing to this particular fall staple. In the past, I’ve been quick to pick up a good ol’ Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte (and, soon enough, their red cups!) as soon as they’re reintroduced. However, I have yet to find a Pumpkin Spice Latte that’s worth ordering this year. I – GASP – haven’t had my first PSL of the season! Does anyone know where to find a PSL with sugar free syrup? I’ve been thinking of making my own since I heard about the Skinny Taste syrups one can buy at Homesense, but I only found them in a 3 pack and I will never use that much syrup. Ew. If I can find an individual one I will certainly pick it up to make some pumpkiny beverages all season long – or maybe until March.

2. Sweater weather: I’ve lost a significant amount of weight since I posted about that for the first and only time in June (yay!) When I went through my wardrobe last some of my stuff was way too big, but I’ve found I haven’t necessarily had to go shopping for a whole new wardrobe; most of my clothes simply fit me a lot better than they did last year. I did indulge in one new sweater to take advantage of that cold-shoulder trend, and I’m rockin’ it.

3. Boots: It hasn’t quite gotten cool enough for boots in Toronto yet, but I’ve definitely busted out my knee-high boots already. I recently discovered that there is such a thing as a plus-size knee sock. I’ve always had very large calves so this sounded like a godsend: I’ve always wanted to wear my (large-calf) boots with (plus-size) socks peeking out! I’m not being sarcastic – I’m very glad that this stuff is available on the market for most body types. Anyway, I went to a couple of plus-size stores that would carry this kind of item (Torrid, Pennington’s…yeah, that’s it. That’s pretty lame) and unfortunately neither had it. BUT! I discovered on Etsy these little things called boot cuffs and lemme tell you, they might be game changers. You don’t have to wear full tall socks, you just need to slip them on as if you’re putting a bracelet on your leg (or something) and tuck them into your boots. I am so, so tempted.*

4. Peach eyeshadow: No, this isn’t something I look forward to all summer. I just got cable and of course who can resist the Marilyn Denis show when you’re home in the morning? Well, a makeup artist was telling her about peach eyeshadow and glitter for fall, and what did I do? I went out and bought a dual peach eyeshadow and glitter liner (from Revlon, $13), wore it last night, and felt like A MILLION DOLLARS! I want to wear this stuff every day, it’s amazing.

img_34995. FALL FAIRS: I have a problem with fall fairs. I don’t take issue with them on any level; on the contrary, I am totally obsessed with them. I wish I could go to a fall fair every weekend. My parents always brought us to Vermont for the Champlain Valley Fair on Labour Day weekend, and it planted a serious seed in me. The event I look forward to the most in Toronto – above the Ex, Cask Days, or anything else – is the Royal Agricultural Winter’s Fair. I get so excited about it that I made up a song about it. Don’t ask me to sing it. Please. Just be aware that it exists, and that you’ll never hear it. I love hanging around with all the farm animals and eating some artery-clogging fair food. There is nothing better in this life. Don’t challenge me on this. I will win.

Bonus: Blue Jays post-season! I’m watching the Wildcard game right now and who knows what will happen. By the time this is published we will know if the post-season will be longer than one game. My boyfriend love love loves baseball, and if they make it past tonight I’d better love it, too.

Well, that’s all folks! Just a few little things to get us all pumped for this beautiful new season. Less jokes than I anticipated, more thoughts – I guess I’m no Tina Fey. Hey – what are you looking forward to for fall? I want to get excited with you, so please share whatever’s on your mind!

Love and leaves,

Steph

* Dave would like me to add that he’s also very excited about boots.

Stephanie’s Guide to Moving House

Moving is different for everyone, but I don’t think it’s totally fun for anyone. I’ve moved twice now, and both times have been relatively easy. Some people have to pack up whole houses, and I’ve mostly just packed up one room and a bit. My parents took care of my first move, and this time around we were able to move things over a week rather than just in one day, with the help of both of our sets of parents. I’ve been very fortunate.

Now that Dave, my boyfriend, and I have been in our new place for a few days, we’re slowly but surely unpacking. He’s cooking our inaugural meal as I type this. Yes, HE is cooking! Again, I’m lucky. Also, I’m a terrible cook. [I wrote this on Friday night as he made his famous mac and cheese. Yum!]

While I’ve had it pretty good for my moves, that’s not to say they’ve been a cakewalk. I’d like to share a few tips that I have for moving. To be honest, I can probably use my own advice.

Dave looking right at home in our new kitchen

1) Have enough supplies.

Boxes, bubble wrap, garbage bags, snacks – have enough of all of it! I ran out of every single item above, and regretted it. I’ve got mugs wrapped in t-shirts, and I needed to steal boxes and bags from my boyfriend after he’d used them. It’s a pain when you don’t have them, so make sure you do.

2) Organize your time.

Don’t just wing it. Think about the things you don’t use every day, and pack them first. That way you aren’t stuck throwing things around when the clock’s running out. Guilty as charged.

3) Take your time.

This might seem to disagree with the other one, but try to give yourself enough time and don’t rush. Make sure that everything is neatly packed, and that you have time to rest and take care of yourself between packing frenzies.

4) Label your boxes.

I had a moment today of “where are my pants?!” and it took me over 10 minutes to find them. Don’t be that person. Label your boxes.

5) Don’t forget self-care.

I just kept looking forward to taking a bath in my new bathtub, and lemme tell you, it was worth it. While I was packing, I consistently took time to read and watch a fun TV show, which let me come down from the stress of packing. I tried not to let the process take over my life. Keep your regular routine as much as you can.

6) Be nice to your partner.

Or to whoever is helping you move. I warned Dave that I was going to get frazzled, and that when it happens he should just tell me to go outside to get some air. I was feeling good enough that I never needed him to remind me. On our moving day, I took some time to head outside and call my mom, and it really improved my mood. He and I are still living together, so everything seems to have gone alright!

7) Have the essentials ready to go.

Brushing your teeth is not something that can wait until you unpack your boxes.

We were able to make the bed pretty much right away. The rest? Not so much.

A bonus piece of advice from Dave: “Move in with Steph, she’s awesome.”*

If you’ve recently moved, I hope this resonates with you and that you can get a good giggle. If you are planning on moving sometime soon: good luck! Like all the best things in life, moving is simultaneously scary and exciting. As annoying as it is to pack everything up, it feels amazing to arrange it all in a new space. Appreciate the moments from beginning to end for what they are, and you’re in for an amazing ride.

 

*He didn’t really say that, it’s just what I imagine he’s thinking.

Letters To My Friends

Hello!

We are back! Finally, after about a month of trying to catch up with life I am back and ready to write and share some more stories. I have been thinking about what I wanted my first post back to be and I was reminiscing this past week about the friendships in my life that have changed my life and helped me become the person I am today. To me there is no other bond like the bond of friendship, it lasts years, goes through so many ups and downs and life altering moments that it’s on the same level as a romantic relationship but without the romance. Which I guess is why it’s called a friend-ship and not a relation-ship. Either way, friendships are as vital to our survival on this Earth as any other relationship. Our lives are marked and documented by the people in our lives we call friends. Every single important moment in my life I can remember the people who stood by me, the people that I chose to stand by me, my friends. My life wouldn’t be what it is today without my friends. So I would like to spend this post paying tribute to them and the significance they have had to me and my life thus far.

Now I will be the first to say that I am the world’s biggest loner, I don’t have many friends and I am not ashamed to say so. I am not a person who needs a massive group of friends, I prefer to surround myself with a select few that have really had an impact on me and my world. To me, friendships are one of the most important relationships we make in our lives, they are like extended family, the family we get to choose. Our friends are the ones who are always there when some other aspect of our lives aren’t going to plan, when we have issues with our family or our romantic relationships, our friends are the first people we turn to. For me, there have been four people who have completely altered my universe the moment they stepped into it, they are the friends I hold dearest to my heart and who have been there through so many ups and downs that there aren’t enough words in the world to describe their significance to me. Some of these friends are still a vital part of my life today and some have come and gone but the impression they left is still ever so significant.

The first friend I would like to share with you is my blog partner, my partner in crime, my right hand man, my soul sister from another mister and that is of course, Steph. Steph and I first met in high school, actually on the first day of high school I believe. I thought she was literally the coolest person ever and I desperately wanted to be her friend, there was something about her that I found inspiring and I looked up to her in a way. Steph is one of those friends you always dream of having, she is loyal to the bone and always has your back no matter what. She inspires those around her with her positivity and joy, it literally vibrates off her. If you ever need advice or a kind word, Steph is the one you turn to. She always knows exactly what to say, which is a rare quality to find in someone. She is also the most grounded person I have ever met, being around her helps me feel grounded when I feel like life has knocked me off my feet. Beyond all that, Steph is fiercely herself, something I always envied in her. From the day I met her she has always known who she is and what she wants and she goes for those things with such determination it’s incredibly inspiring to watch. Our friendship hasn’t always been unicorns and rainbows, we have had our moments of difficulty but we always manage to work through them because we know that our friendship is more important than any conflict or difference in opinion. We both have been there to witness each other’s moments of success, moments of growth and moments of struggle. There is nothing more powerful than having someone there that you can share all these moments with and know that through the good, the bad and the really ugly they will always be there to support and love you. It makes going through this life a lot easier and there is nobody in this world quite like Steph in that regard. She pushes you to dig deeper and to think beyond convention. She inspires you to fight for yourself, to find the things in this life that make you happy and to fight for your dreams no matter how big and impossible they may seem. She teaches you that forgiveness is the single most important quality to have in life. And one smile from her makes you believe that joy and magic still exist in this harsh world. She is one of those rare friends that comes along only once in your life and shows you what the meaning of true friendship is.

The second person I would like to share with you is SHB (I won’t write their real name just to protect their anonymity). I also met SHB in the beginning of high school and I’ve always believed that we were destined to be friends. I truly believe that some people are meant to come into your life, that some relationships are pre-destined and this was truly one of those things. We clicked from the moment we met and I have never met someone who truly understands me without me ever needing to explain myself. It is rare to find a friend who knows you better than you could ever know yourself, that is SHB. I also believe that some people come into your life to challenge you, to force you to do better and be better and SHB has been that for me. Not only does he understand me unlike any other person, but he pushes me to try harder, to be better and when I am around him he creates this bubble of safety where you feel completely comfortable being yourself. His friendship is unconditional, which is the purest form of friendship I have ever encountered.  He is also a beautiful person on the inside, I have never met a human being more selfless, more kind, more understanding and supportive, and beyond patient and forgiving. He is truly one of a kind and a remarkably special person. And as I sit here writing this, I can honestly say I am a better person for knowing him and that he has been there through some of the toughest moments in my life simply as a means of support and there is no friendship in the world more powerful than that. He has taught me that true friendship goes beyond the hanging out, the conversations and the “good times”, it’s about being the person someone can lean on when life pushes you down and being the source of light and hope when life gets dark. It’s about being a source of unconditional support, understanding and love that can only be found in your closest of friends. SHB is that and so much more. I also have immense pride in the fact that we have defied the notion that a man and a woman can’t be friends, and more than that that we can’t have deep, meaningful friendships. It gives me pride to show the world that you can be friends with a man and have it be one of the single most important friendships in your life.

The third person I would like to share with you is KP, now KP and I had a unique beginning in that I actually do not remember at all the moment we met and officially became friends. It was literally like one day we weren’t and the next we were the closest of friends, like we had been in each other’s lives our entire lives. We met half way through high school and had known of each other through mutual friends before that moment but had never actually became friends (it’s a little bit backwards but just go with it). The first thing you need to know about KP is that she is fiercely independent and probably the most responsible/grown up out of all of us. She is the definition of #girlboss goals. KP is probably one of the strongest, most determined, ambitious, hilarious, sassy and sweetest souls I have ever met. She is that friend that serves it to you straight but with love and kindness. A rare combination but one that is incredibly powerful. She is definitely one of those friends that inspires to do better and reach farther and work harder. More than that though, she is one of the best listeners and advice givers ever, she has this ability to hear you, like really hear you and knows exactly what to say to make all of life’s woes seem simple and surmountable. From the day we met we just clicked, and like with SHB, it was like we were pre-destined to be friends and soul sisters. KP is my person (basically she’s the Cristina to my Meredith, the Yang to my Grey), the person I go to whenever I need someone to lean on and vent to. We could talk for hours about absolutely nothing and have it be the best conversation ever. And when we talk about things that really matter, her kindness and compassion and realness are unlike anything else. No matter how much time we spend apart, when we come back together it’s like no time has passed at all, the mark of a true and real friendship. KP has taught me that some friends are just meant to be in your life and when that happens, you don’t question it. She has shown me that there is nothing more powerful and important than having a friend who has your back, who you can turn to and have them give it to you straight without fear of hurting your feelings. KP is also one of the most inspiring people with her fearless determination to live life fully and her unfailing optimism, just being around her you can’t help but have that rub off on you. She has shown me what a true soul sister is, from day one we just understood each other like we had known each other our whole lives (literally sisters from different misters) and nothing is more compelling than having someone who just gets you.

The fourth and final person I would like to share with you is JB, this person is no longer a part of my life but the friendship we shared for the time we had was so significant and so special that it has left a lasting mark on my heart and soul and it would seem unfair to not give it the recognition it deserves. Our friendship near the end was complicated and messy, and sometimes really ugly, and given the opportunity I would have done things differently. But as life doesn’t give do-overs, I have to settle with the memories we shared before the chaos. My friendship with JB was a unique one and to a lot of people didn’t really make sense but it was so special and one I will treasure until my last day on this Earth. The connection I shared with JB was beyond the description of words, our friendship was my safe haven and he was my rock. Our friendship was so unique that we could barely go a day without speaking to each other, we would talk all day every day about everything and nothing all at the same time. He was someone who truly knew who I was and accepted every bit of me, it was an acceptance and an understanding that went beyond anything I have ever experienced or will ever experience. Every single memory I shared with him is a cherished memory and something I hope to never forget. Writing about our friendship is both heart wrenchingly difficult and really doesn’t seem to do it justice. Although the complications, the chaos, the messiness and the ugliness all lie with me, a day doesn’t go by that I don’t miss him and the connection we shared. The end of our friendship taught me that some good things must come to an end but it doesn’t take away from the importance and significance of that relationship. That although that person may no longer be a part of your life, you can still take the memories and the lessons you learnt with you. Our friendship taught me that life happens, that people and circumstances change and that’s okay, that some friendships only come into your life only for a brief period of time to teach you something about yourself and about life. Looking back now, our friendship was what it needed to be and even though I wish I could do some things over, I will take it for what it was. No animosity, no bitterness, no hard feelings. Just complete gratitude and appreciation for what it was and for who he was. And if he ever reads this, I hope he knows that.

You are probably wondering why I have introduced you to four people who you don’t know and probably don’t really care to know, but there was a point to all of that sappy rambling. All of us have these people in our lives, the people we call our friends, and the relationships we have built with them have had a lasting impact on who we are. If you need to know who I am, just look at my friends. These people are every bit a part of me in some small and significant way. I wouldn’t be who I am today without these incredible people who have chosen me as their friend. As I said in the beginning of this post, the relationships we build with our friends are in my opinion, one of the single most important relationships you will ever build. Our friends, over time become embedded into the fibres of who we are and who we become, they literally become family. They become the family that we choose, the family that we need, they fill the spaces that our biological families can’t fill. Our friends challenge us in ways that our family cannot, through them we learn things about ourselves, whether good or bad and from it we grow. I believe the strongest incentive for growth and evolution comes from our friends and the relationships we form with them. Growth comes from the lessons they teach about ourselves and they are the ones who help us to see ourselves as we truly are. They are the ones who show us what it means to love unconditionally, they don’t have to be a part of our lives, they choose to be and nothing is more unconditional than that. So I challenge you to read the stories of my friends, to find something in our stories that inspires you. Then go out there into the world and tell your friends how much they mean to you and tell them how important they are in your life. Put in the time and the effort to build those friendships, I promise you you won’t be sorry if you do. Because at the end of the day, your friends are the ones who will be there to pick you back up when life slaps you down, the ones who see your imperfections and choose you despite them, the ones who will make you smile and laugh when life seems unbearable and the ones who will show you that there is still light and hope in a world that sometimes feels too dark. They are the ones who will always show you who you truly are and believe in you even when you can’t. Nothing is more special that that.

To all my friends, I love you and I hope you know how much you have meant to me and my life.

Much Love,

-Melanie